Majlech Kisielnicki

Majlech Kisielnicki

Born: August 18, 1920

Kaluszyn, Poland

The second of three children, Majlech was born to Jewish parents living 35 miles east of Warsaw in the small, predominantly Jewish town of Kaluszyn. Majlech's father owned a wholesale grocery store, a restaurant and a gas station, all of which were located on the heavily traveled main road. Majlech attended public elementary school and also received religious instruction.

1933-39: My pals, Mindele, Sara, Adam and I loved to discuss politics. We'd heard the Polish propaganda claiming that German tanks were made of cardboard. Then, just after I turned 19, war broke out. My father, brother and I fled eastward towards the USSR because we were afraid that the Germans would send us away to forced labor. But we returned home when we heard that a battle had been fought at Kaluszyn. We found my mother unharmed.

1940-44: When I heard that the Germans were rounding up Jewish men for deportation to a forced-labor camp, I fled the Kaluszyn ghetto one day in late 1942. I managed to sneak into the Warsaw ghetto to stay with some cousins but on January 18, 1943, I was caught in a roundup and put on a cattle car headed for the Treblinka death camp. The train was moving quite fast, and guards were positioned on its roof, ready to machine-gun escapees. Still, I had to take the risk. I saw someone ahead of me jump. Then it was my turn.

Majlech jumped without getting hurt and returned on foot to Warsaw. He was later deported to the Majdanek and Auschwitz camps. After the war, he immigrated to the United States.