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Auschwitz Concentration Camp


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Irene Hizme, A Twin Remembers the Medical Experiments at Auschwitz

Irene and her twin brother Rene were born Renate and Rene Guttmann. The family moved to Prague shortly after the twins' birth, where they were living when the Germans occupied Bohemia and Moravia in March 1939. A few months later, uniformed Germans arrested their father. Decades later, Irene and Rene learned that he was killed at the Auschwitz camp in December 1941. Irene, Rene, and their mother were deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto, and later to the Auschwitz camp. At Auschwitz, the twins were separated and subjected to medical experiments. Irene and Rene remained separated for some time after their liberation from Auschwitz. The group Rescue Children brought Irene to the United States in 1947, where she was reunited with Rene in 1950.

Personal Account: “I, of course, have, um, unfortunately a lot of memories of, um, of the hospital and, um, the doctor's office. It, I seem to recall spending a great deal of time, um, there. And also being in the hospital and being very sick. And, um, I know one time, when I went to the doctor's office, that they took blood from me and, it was extremely painful because it was from the left side of my neck. That's a strange thing to remember. I also remember having blood taken out of my finger, but that wasn't quite so bad. And I also remember having to sit, um, very still for long periods to be measured and, or weighed, or in X rays. I rem...I remember X rays, X rays. Um...and injections. I remember injections. And then I'd be sick. Because then I, I'd be in this hospital. And I remember having a high fever, because I know they were taking my temperature, somebody was. Um, I really got to hate doctors. I, I got to be afraid. I used, I was terribly scared of doctors, I still am. They're a nightmare. Hospitals are out of the question and illness is unacceptable.”

Source: United States Holocaust Museum;

Rachela Olewski-Zelmanowicz of the women's orchestra

Rachel Olewski [Zelmanowicz]




Daughter of Jehuda-Leib Zelmanowicz and Jocheved-Jached [Londner]

Sister of Dov-Beniek [Zalman-Ber]


Bendzin, Poland – Ramat-Gan, Israel


Rachela was born on 8th October 1921


She lived with her family on the second floor of in Malachowskiego st. 10, at the center of Bendzin.


She studied at the Furstenberg Hebrew Gymnasium and was a member in the "Hanoar Hazioni" [Zionist Youth] youth movement.


She was a skinny and spoiled girl, with a minimal appetite [which helped her later to survive Auschwitz…]


She was very shy girl. She always hid after her father when they were visiting people, and she would wait near the door when he went to the toilets…


She was a big movie fan, and she regularly went to the cinema hall near her home.


In the Hebrew lessons at the gymnasium, she used to read Polish novels under the table, which led to her imperfect knowledge of Hebrew…


However, she spoke high Polish and perfect German, and when she lived in Israel, she used to quote German journals.


Her grandmother of the Londner family had a sweets shop [Cukernia], and she spent there a lot of time.


She was a day-dreaming girl, and in the time of the ghetto in Bendzin she once told everyone that her brother [who was a policeman] said that the Germans ordered to close all windows in the Jewish houses. Finally they found out that she dreamt it…




September 1, 1939: World War II begins. Germany invades Poland.

September 5, 1939: The Germans enter Bendzin.

September 6, 1939: SS-men murder 2 Jewish bakers.

September 9, 1939: The Great Synagogue was burned down.

October 8, 1939: Rachela celebrates her 18th birthday.

End of October 1939: Radio receivers were confiscated from Bendzin Jews.

November 1939: 100 Jewish leaders were arrested in Bendzin and Sosnowiec.

November 23, 1939: The Gestapo ordered to put arm bands with the Magen David star.




January 1940:  A central Judenrat of the Zaglembie region was established in Sosnowiec, headed by Moshe [Moniek] Merin.


Jewish families were evacuated from their apartments in the best parts of Bedzin, replaced by local Germans. Rachela's family was deported from one apartment to another in Bendzin ghetto.


"Shop Kilof" – the first carpentry shop, was opened.


May 1940: "Shop Rosner" for tailorship was opened ["Tailors Shop"]. Rachela works there in buttonholes making.


"Shoemakers Shop"[1] [Dr. Braun] was opened.


September 27, 1940: Rachela's mother – Jocheved – passed away after illness in Bendzin ghetto. She was buried in the cemetery in Czeladz.


October 8, 1940: Rachela celebrates her 19th birthday.




March 1941: 3000 Jews evacuated from Oswiencim [Auschwitz village] arrived in Bebdzin.


June 18, 1941: Rachela is sent to the "Farma" [agriculture farm].


October 8, 1941: Rachela celebrates her 20th birthday.





Chaim Molczadski was appointed Chairman of the Bedzin Judenrat.


May 12, 1942: First deportation of 1200 Bendzin Jews to Auschwitz.


End of May 1942: Mordechai Anilewicz arrives to Bebdzin.


June 1942: Second deportation of 1200 Bendzin Jews to Auschwitz.


August 12, 1942: Preparations for the next deportation are made in terrible heat of summer.


August 15, 1942: 8,000 to 10,000 Jews were deported to Auschwitz.


End of August 1942: Mordechai Anilewicz returns from Bendzin to Warsaw.


October 8, 1942: Rachela celebrates her 21th birthday.


End of 1942: New ID cards in different colors were issued.





April 8, 1943: The Germans ordered to gather all 19,000 Jews in Kamionka ghetto [between Bendzin and Sosnowiec].


June 22, 1943: 4000 Jews were deported to Auschwitz, among them Moshe Merin and relatives.


Since that day till August: Rachela and her father hide in a bunker in Kamionka ghetto.


August 1-7, 1943: Final deportations to Auschwitz-Birkenau.


August 1, 1943: Dov [Beniek] Zelmanowicz [Rachela's brother] is deported to Auschwitz.


August 3, 1943: Rachela and her father are deported to Auschwitz.


August 4, 1943: Rachela' father, Jehuda-Leib, was sent to the gas chamber upon arriving to Auschwitz; it was one day after he became 53.
Rachela gets a tattoo number on her left arm – 52816, and was later sent to the women's orchestra of Auschwitz, A-Lager, Block 15.


October 8, 1943: Rachela celebrates her 22th birthday, playing to survive.




October 7, 1943: Dov, Rachela's brother, was killed when he took part in the Sonderkommando's revolt in Auschwitz, two days after he became 27.

 October 8, 1944: Rachela celebrates her 23th birthday.


November 1944: The Jewish girls of women's orchestra are deported by train to Bergen-Belsen.





April 15, 1945: The British army liberates Bergen-Belsen.


After some weeks, Rachela and some of her friends start to walk to Palestine… They arrive to Celle, 20 km from Bergen-Belsen.


In Celle Rachela meets her future husband, Rafael Olewski.




January 15, 1946: Rachela (24) marries Rafael Olewski (31) in the local synagogue in Celle. The rabbi who weds them is Rafeal's brother, Rabbi Israel-Moshe Olewski, The Celler Rabbi.



March 15, 1949: Rachela (25) gives birth to her daughter Jochi [Jocheved- Rivka] at the Glyn-Hughes hospital in the DP camp Belsen.




April 3, 1949: Rachela, Rafael and Jochi arrive to Israel from France on board the ship "Atzmaut" [Independence].




December 24, 1950: Rachela (29) gives birth to her son Arie [Yehuda-Arie] in Ramat-Gan.




November 25, 1981: Her husband Rafael Olewski passed away at the age of 67.




Rachela becomes sick with breast-cancer. She is operated, gets chemotherapy and seems to overcome it.




April 1985: Rachela travels with Jochi and Arie to Germany and Poland, in the context of celebrating 40 years of liberation from Bergen-Belsen.


She arrives to Auschwitz and tries in vein to find her Block and her brother's letters to her, which she had hid near the block.


She travels to Bendzin and visits her home in Malachowskiego st. 10.




August 17, 1987: Rachela dies of cancer at the age of 65.

[1] Schuesters Shop

  • Israel
  • 9-Feb-2010

Dov-Beniek [Zalman-Ber] Zelmanowicz of the Sonderkommando revolt

Dov- Beniek [Zalman-Ber] Zelmanowicz


Son of Leo-Leibek [Jehuda-Arie] and Jocheved-Jachveta

Brother of Rachel


Born in Bendzin, Poland, 5 October 1917


He was the commander of Beitar youth movement in Bendzin, and called himself "Dov Ben-Barak".

 In 1939 he served as a soldier in the Polish army, and became a Prisoner-Of-War. He managed to escape and returned home. Because of his temper and Jewish national pride, the Germans called him: "The real [Herschel] Grinschpan"

In the Bendzin ghetto he served as a Jewish policeman.

In 1 august 1943 he was deported to Auschwitz, only after he managed to hide his father and sister in a hole of one wall at his home.

He was working outside Auschwitz probably as an electrician, although he did not had the knowledge.

He, who was tall and handsome, became a broken shadow, but did not lose his spirit. He was due to go over a treatment of castration, but he managed to escape it.

He also managed to correspond with his sister Rachela, who was playing the mandolin in Auschwitz-Birkenau women's orchestra. She was sending him bread and medicines with her girl friends.

In 1944 he was picked up to join the Sonderkommando people.

In October 7, 1944 he took part in the Sonderkommando revolt and the blowing-up of a crematorium. He was executed apparently on that day, two days after he became 27 years old.

It might be that he was captured and executed with his friends, probably by gas poisoning in the EntlausungKammer, after being driven in a closed truck, which was driving around Auschwitz to mislead them.

  • Israel
  • 9-Feb-2010

Contributor: Clio
Created: July 29, 2009 · Modified: November 12, 2015

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