Former inmate recalls daring escape from Auschwitz
What a wonderfully bittersweet and amazing story of love, sorrow and remorse… By MONIKA SCISLOWSKA, Associated Press Writer Monika Scislowska, Associated Press Writer
NOWY TARG, Poland – With every step toward the gate, Jerzy Bielecki was certain he would be shot.
The day was July 21, 1944. Bielecki was walking in broad daylight down a pathway at Auschwitz, wearing a stolen SS uniform with his Jewish sweetheart Cyla Cybulska by his side.
His knees buckling with fear, he tried to keep a stern bearing on the long stretch of gravel to the sentry post.
The German guard frowned at his forged pass and eyed the two for a period that seemed like an eternity — then uttered the miraculous words: “Ja, danke” — yes, thank you — and let Jerzy and Cyla out of the death camp and into freedom.
In 1985, the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem awarded Bielecki the Righteous Among the Nations title for saving Cybulska. The institute’s website account of the escape and its aftermath is consistent with Bielecki’s account to The Associated Press.
“I was very much in love with Cyla, very much,” Bielecki said. “Sometimes I cried after the war, that she was not with me. I dreamed of her at night and woke up crying.”
“Fate decided for us, but I would do the same again.”
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