Bronislaw Honig

Born October 8, 1935 - Cracow, Poland

Bronislaw, the son of Rose and David Honig, was four years old when the Germans occupied Cracow. His father had been a salesman in a hardware store, and his mother worked as a dressmaker. His grandmother stayed home to care for him. Bronislaw was a bright, happy little boy; he was good-looking and well-mannered. The Honigs lived in Cracow, a large industrial city. Jewish cultural and social life flourished there between the two world wars. By 1939, Cracow, the third largest city in Poland, had 60,000 Jewish citizens.

Cracow was occupied by the Germans on September 6, 1939. They immediately began to persecute the Jews. Jewish property was looted and several synagogues were burned down. By March 1941, approximately 40,000 Jews were expelled to neighboring towns and their property was confiscated. At the same time, a sealed-off ghetto was established. The worst problems included overcrowding, hunger, and poor sanitary conditions. The population was impoverished, and the Germans set up several factories in the ghetto, where people were forced into slave labor. Many Jews died in the streets from starvation, disease, and exposure.

In May 1942, the Germans began rounding up Cracow's Jews and deporting them to the Belzec death camp. Many strong and healthy Jews were sent to work in the Plaszow slave labor camp. Bronislaw's parents were sent to Plaszow in January 1943, but they arranged for Bronislaw to stay with a friendly Jewish policeman. Mr. Honig was forced to work in a warehouse outside the camp. When the ghetto was about to be emptied, the policeman sent him a message. Bronislaw's father smuggled himself out of the camp and back into the ghetto at night. He could hear shots being fired all around him. He took Bronislaw back into Plaszow with him, hidden in a suitcase, piled onto a cart filled with clothes left behind by the deported ghetto residents. A few day later, after another child was discovered living in the camp and shot, Mr. Honig desperately sought a way to get Bronislaw to safety. A young Christian woman who worked with him in the warehouse offered to take the child. Bronislaw was smuggled out in a backpack to the woman, who waited outside the camp. Seven year-old Bronislaw and the young woman were betrayed to the Germans by her stepfather. They were both arrested and murdered.

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