Pinhas Wajcmus

Born May 20, 1927 - Zarubka-Nadrybia, Poland

Pinhas, the son of Jacob and Brucha (Rozguwaje) Wajcmus, lived in the tiny rural village of Zarubka-Nadrybia in eastern Poland. Pinhas was a twelve year-old schoolboy when the Germans invaded Poland in September 1939. Though the Germans persecuted the Jews in this area, the Jews of Zarubka were, at first, better off than most of the others in occupied Poland. They were not forced to live in a ghetto until the beginning of 1942.

In 1942, however, the Jews of the village were forced to move 25 miles to the sealed-off ghetto in Wlodawa, where they lived under terrible conditions. The ghetto was overcrowded and lacked food and medicine. People died daily of disease and hunger. The Nazis began deporting the Jews of Wlodawa to the nearby Sobibor death camp in May 1942. In June 1942, all children under the age of ten were deported and gassed. At the end of October 1942, before the ghetto was to be completely emptied, hundreds of Jews escaped to the surrounding forests. Pinhas was among them. Many formed their own resistance units, while others joined Soviet partisan bands operating in the area. The resistance fighters also set up family camps to offer refuge to women and children who were being hunted down like animals. Soon, those who lacked weapons or who had problems enduring the hardships of the forest were enticed back into the ghetto when the Germans promised to end the deportations. The deportations resumed, however, in 1943, and the ghetto was emptied of its remaining inhabitants by the middle of that summer.

Pinhas hid in the forests until July 1944, when the Russians liberated the area. He was seventeen years old when he came out of hiding.

Pinhas came to the United States in 1949, where he became a butcher. Pinhas was murdered in April 1989. He was trying to stop a thief from stealing his car, which was loaded with food for the Passover holiday.

In This Section

Buy Tickets Contact Us Simon Wiesenthal Center

Become a Member Volunteer Calendar

Sign up for E-News