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Marcel Ginzig (*1923)

Photo panel of Marcel Ginzig'© Fritz Bauer Institute
Photo panel of Marcel Ginzig
© Fritz Bauer Institute
Marcel Ginzig and his wife, Krisha Ginzig, 1947'© Marcel Ginzig
Marcel Ginzig and his wife, Krisha Ginzig, 1947
© Marcel Ginzig

“They were, how should I put it, they were shadows of men, who walked with the strength of their exhaustion. Who worked as if they were not working. Who didn’t think, who were already totally, I won’t say ‘stupefied,’ I don’t know what they were. They were, they were not men, they were just slaves without any thoughts, without anything. A work animal, until he dropped in his tracks, and that was it.”[1]


Marcel Ginzig, the oldest child of David and Frederika Ginzig (née Diamant), was born in Cracow in 1923. His sister, Halina, was seven years younger. The Ginzig family belonged to the highly assimiliated middle class, which had abandoned most religious practices, and Marcel grew up bilingual in Polish and German. His father owned a company that dealt in chemicals and construction materials. Marcel Ginzig entered a Hebrew elementary school in 1929, and later attended secondary school in Cracow. After the occupation of Poland by the German Reich, however, he was not allowed to graduate. The German occupation of Cracow was quickly followed by introduction of anti-Jewish measures, and the family was forced to live in the ghetto and share an apartment there with two other families. On December 13, 1939, Marcel Ginzig was arrested, roughed up by the SS, and placed in the Pustkow labor camp. Through bribery, his father succeeded in getting him back to Cracow.


In May 1942, the occupation authorities started the deportation of Cracow’s Jewish population. David and Frederika Ginzig were among those taken to Belzec and murdered there. Marcel, along with his sister, remained in the ghetto, but a few months later he was arrested and put in the Płaszów concentration camp. Twelve-year-old Halina was left behind alone in the ghetto, and Marcel Ginzig never succeeded in learning anything about her subsequent fate.


In Płaszów, he declared that he was a mechanic and was assigned first to build barracks, later to repair sewing machines. There he encountered a friend from his school days, Henryk Hershtein, and together they survived the following years in the German concentration camps. In November 1942, they were deported from Płaszów to the Ostrowiec concentration camp to work on building a cement plant. Marcel Ginzig developed typhus and only narrowly escaped death at the hands of German apprentice medical orderlies, who gave the sick prisoners fatal injections. As the Red Army approached in late summer 1944, the Ostrowiec prisoners were deported from Ostrowiec to the Buna/Monowitz concentration camp. There Marcel Ginzig met Yehuda Maimon, known as Poldek, who had been a prisoner in Auschwitz since 1941. Poldek took him and Henryk Hershtein out of the cable-laying detachment and got them jobs as welders, which enabled them to survive.


On January 18, 1945, along with thousands of other inmates, the two friends were sent by the SS on the death march to Gleiwitz. From there, they were taken in open freight cars via Bratislava and Buchenwald to Sonnenberg, where they once again were used for forced labor. They were freed by the U.S. Army in April 1945. After a stay in the hospital in Karlsbad, Marcel Ginzig decided to return to Cracow, but none of his relatives had survived. He met Krisha in Cracow in 1946, and they married and emigrated to Israel, where Marcel Ginzig worked in the field of adult education. Their children and grandchildren were born there. Today Marcel and Krisha Ginzig live in Tel Aviv.

(MN; transl. KL)



Marcel Ginzig, oral history interview 

(Hebrew, with German subtitles)


Photo Panel of Marcel Ginzig


Marcel Ginzig, oral history interview [Hebr.], December 17, 1996. USC Shoah Foundation Institute, Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Archive, Code 25050.

Marcel Ginzig, oral history interview [Hebr.], July 25–26, 2007. Archive of the Fritz Bauer Institute, Norbert Wollheim Memorial.

[1] Marcel Ginzig, oral history interview [Hebr.], July 25–26, 2007. Archive of the Fritz Bauer Institute, Norbert Wollheim Memorial.