Tomasz (Toivi) Blatt

Tomasz (Toivi) Blatt

Born: April 15, 1927

Izbica, Poland

Tomasz was born to a Jewish family in Izbica, a Polish town whose largely religious Jewish community comprised more than 90 percent of the population. Tomasz's father owned a liquor store.

1933-39: In September 1939, a drum sounded in the marketplace, calling the town to assemble for a news report. Germany had invaded Poland. More news arrived shortly; the Soviet Union was invading from the east. Tomasz and his family didn't know what to do. Some people said to run to the Soviet side; many, including his parents, decided to stay in Izbica. His father explained his decision by saying, "The Germans are antisemites but they're still people."

1940-43: By 1943 Tomasz had been deported to the Sobibor killing center, and was in the uprising there that year. During the revolt prisoners streamed to one of the holes cut in the barbed-wire fence. They weren't about to wait in line; there were machine guns shooting at them. They climbed on the fence and just as Tomasz was half way through, it collapsed, trapping him underneath. This saved him. The first ones through hit mines. When most were through, Tomasz slid out of his coat, which was hooked on the fence, and ran till he reached the forest.

Tomasz went into hiding, and then worked as a courier in the Polish underground. After the war, he remained in Poland, and then moved to the United States in 1959.

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