From the Auschwitz death camp to a British internment camp on his way to living on a kibbutz in Israel and fighting for independence and until moving to Ramapo, Teddy Znamirowski lived an interesting and wonderful life.
As a young man, when he was delivered by train to Auschwitz, he told Journal News columnist Bob Baird in 2004, he came face to face with Josef Mengele, the concentration camp doctor known as the “Angel of Death.”
After surviving Mengale – who chose many of whom lived or died immediately – Znamirowski made his way to Israel in 1946 after the Auschwitz was liberated in May 1945. He first went home to Poland to find out if any of his family was still alive. The Nazi and their collaborators killed 128 members of his family during the Holocaust, he told me in a 1997 interview for an article on the 50th anniversary of the state of Israel.
In British mandate of Palestine as a 17-year-old, he lived a Spartan life on a Kibbutz, saying he was free from the Nazi terror.
He recalled the day the United Nations partitioned the region and authorized a state if Israel in November 1947.
“We all stopped work and had our ears stuck to the radio day and night, ” he said in 1997 on the 50th anniversary of the Jewish state. “There was no talking, just listening as the votes were counted. We cried. We laughed. We kissed.
“For us orphans of the Holocaust, we knew we had a home,” he said. “But we were very scared. We knew already the Arabs were not going to give up without a fight.”
In Israel, he joined the underground group, Bricha, and helped smuggle a few thousand Polish Jews – including the woman Rita who would become his wife in 1955 – across the border to displaced persons camps in Germany. They married and came to the United States, raising a family in Ramapo while he worked in construction, helping to build the modern Rockland.
Funeral arrangements were pending.
PHOTO upper right: Teddy Znamirowski and his wife Rita at their home in 2004