“OUR “GRAVE” WAS A DUG-OUT HOLE in the ground about
3.5 feet deep and 6 feet wide. The three of us could only sit or lie down on the straw that was under us. There were boards above us covered by straw. It was dark twenty-four hours, seven days a week. We stayed like that for 8 months…”
Yaakov Wodzislawski was not quite 14 when the Nazis invaded Poland. He survived ghetto life and the labor camp in his home town Częstochowa, although his parents were sent to the fires of Treblinka. Wodzislawski escaped the labor camp and found shelter with Barbara Hajdas, a Pole who was later honored as a “Righteous Gentile” for putting her own life at jeopardy by saving 14 Jews from the Nazis. When Poland was liberated, Wodzislawski emerged from his hideout, headed back to his native Częstochowa, and made a promise to himself: “I knew I had to do something so that the Jewish nation would never again risk annihilation. I knew that we had to build our own state so that Jews could at last defend ourselves, and I knew that we couldn’t trust our fate to anyone but ourselves.” In 1945, Wodzislawski entered Israel as an illegal immigrant. In January 1948, Wodzislawski volunteered to join the
ranks of the Haganah. Yaakov married Irena, who was also a child of the Holocaust,
in 1978. Together they founded the Ariel Holocaust and Heroism Memorial
Mr. Wodzislawski died in 2013. This publication is dedicated to his memory.