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Gusta Dawidsohn-Draenger

Representants of Jewish resistance in Krakow Ghetto, Gusta Dawidsohn-Draenger first to the lefr, photo thanks to www.eilatgordinlevitan.com.

Gusta Dawidsohn-Draenger

Justyna’s Narrative

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(Gusta Dranger-Dawidsohn, Justyna’s Narrative, 1996, tłum. Roslyn & David Hirsch

From this prison cell that we will never leave alive, we, young fighters, who are about to die salute you. We offer our lives willingly for our holy cause, asking only that our deeds be inscribed in the book of eternal memory. May the memories preserved on these scattered bits of paper be gathered together to compose a picture of our unwavering resolve in the face of death. …

History will never forgive us for not having thought about it. What normal, thinking person would suffer all this in silence? Future generations will want to know what overwhelming motive could have restrained us from acting heroically. If we don't act now, history will condemn us forever. Whatever we do, we're doomed, but we can still save our souls. The least we can do now is leave a legacy of human dignity that will be honored by someone, some day. …

Dolek was seated at the head of the table, surrounded by those faces so dear to him, so filled with radiance and warmth. … It’s as if he can feel death approaching, because he talks about it at length. He no longer believes they will survive, and he doesn’t want anyone harboring false hopes. … He wants those going out on assignments to realize that death is near. He hurls his hard words into the heart of the festive atmosphere: “We are on a journey of no return. The road we’ve chosen is the road to death. Remember that. Whoever hopes to survive must not seek survival among us or in our work. We’ve reached the road’s end, but it’s not an end that will plunge us into darkness. We’re going out to face … death, but we’ll face [it] bold[ly].  

I have a feeling this is the last time we’ll greet the Sabbath together. We have to leave the quarter, because our whereabouts and activities are too well known. This week we’ll start to liquidate this oasis we’ve established at Number 13. One more phase of our lives is about to close, but we can’t afford … to regret anything we’ve done. It couldn’t have been any other way.” As the Last Supper drew to a close, a gray dawn peeped in the window.

(Gusta Dranger-Dawidsohn, Justyna’s Narrative, 1996, tłum. Roslyn & David Hirsch

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Gusta Dawidsohn-Draenger

Pseudonym Justyna (1917, Kraków – 1943, Kraków), fighter, member of the Jewish Fighting Organizaiton (ŻOB). She was a prewar activist in the Akiva Zionist youth organization, and editor of the movement’s newspaper Tseirim (Youthful). Author of one of the first narratives about the Holocaust, Justyna’s Diary, written in 1943 on the scraps of toilet paper, while incarcerated in prison at Helclów Street, to which she came voluntarily to join her husband, Shimshon Draenger, one of the ŻOB leaders (next to Adolf Liebeskind and Abraham Leibowicz) after his arrest. The diary, written in Polish, was published in 1946 by the Jewish Historical Committee in Kraków. Gusta and her husband escaped from prison and died a few months later, murdered by the Nazi Germans.

Szymon Lustgarten’s apartment at Józefińska 13 was a meeting place of the ŻOB members, during the ghetto existence (1941-43), where they used to greet Sabbaths together on Friday nights. Gusta eternalized their “Last Supper” together.

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