Tag Archives: Simon Gronowski

Full of Life … Escape from Transport XX


① memo 20180419 ~ Full of Life … Escape from Transport XX ~ Today 75 years ago , that night of April 19th, 1943 in Belgium , Elias Gnazik helped jump the pregnant Isabella Weinreb from the fast moving 20th train heading for Auschwitz. Viviane – meaning ‘full of life’ – was born 6 months later.
Discussion – moderated by Ingrid Vander Veken – of Simone Korkus’ dutch book “Het dienstmeisje van Degrelle” on 15 oktober 2017 in Kazerne Dossin , Mechelen , Belgium.
This new short film (with english captions / partly english spoken) highlights our discussion in that ‘Literary Cafe’ on Oct. 15, 2017 in Kazerne Dossin, of Elias’ rescue of Isabella and Vivian ; it continues with our visit later to the Kazerne Dossin portrait wall (portrait’s of deported people) with Simone Korkus and Jan Maes (the first to point Simone to Hannah’s story) ; and ends with me having a short improvised talk in english with a visitor’s couple .
Film ① memo 20180419 ~ Full of Life ~ Michel van der Burg | michelvanderburg.com | 1-memo.com | miracles.media

Isabella Weinreb Castegnier was three-months pregnant that night – 75 years ago – on April 19th, 1943 in Belgium – when she froze the moment she had to jump from the fast moving 20th train heading for Auschwitz ( Transport XX to Auschwitz ). The man waiting in line behind her , did not hesitate for a moment , and embracing her from behind , pushed her out – jumping together they both landed in a ditch.

Isabella escaped with a broken wrist and bruises all over her body, but otherwise without major injuries. Her daughter Viviane – meaning “full of life”, and named so for her will to live and hold tight in her mother’s womb – was born six months later on October 30, 1943.

That man saving Isabella and Viviane was Elias Gnazik – we discovered recently in a joint effort – when Simone Korkus had almost finished her book about the life of Elias’ daughter Hannah Gnazik , and contacted me to find out who that woman was that Elias Gnazik helped jump and escape from that cattle car of Transport XX to Auschwitz. For Simone it was a great honor to bring Hannah and Viviane together – the child of the rescuer , and the child of the rescued pregnant woman.
This new story became the epilogue in Simone’s book , written in dutch , called ‘Het Dienstmeisje Van Degrelle’.
During the discussion at the presentation of Simone’s newest book – interviewed by Ingrid Vander Veken – in the Kazerne Dossin museum I asked Simone to tell us something about this spectacular story of the probably youngest that escaped that death train.

Background

Simone Korkus (author , reporter) contacted me via facebook messenger May 2016 asking for information about Mrs Lilly (Wolkenfeld) Schwartz , and telling me Mrs Schwartz had escaped from Transport XX from the same car as Elias Gnazik , the father of Hannah (Gnazik) Nadel.
Simone had actually finished the writing of the story of Hannah (Gnazik) Nadel for her new dutch book “Het dienstmeisje van Degrelle.” but felt she would like to get to know more about Hannah’s father Elias activities in the war.
Mrs Lilly (Wolkenfeld) Schwartz had helped me and Richard from 2011 with our documentary Transport XX to Auschwitz (published 2012, a film by Karen Lynne & Richard Bloom and Michel van der Burg). Mrs Schwartz, unfortunately, had passed away in 2014 .
However , I could help Simone with the story of Mrs Schwartz’s friend Isabella – who had escaped too , right after Mrs Schwartz’s jumped from that car – while being pregnant – with a baby born 6 months after that escape, and named Viviane , meaning ‘full of life’ !
That miraculous story I had first worked on and published together with Viviane in 2014.
Further research by Simone , with the help of Viviane and the researchers of Kazerne Dossin, let Simone to the insight that Isabella had been that pregnant woman Elias Gnazik had helped jumping , and he thus , too had saved Viviane’s life !
Simone Korkus details this beautiful finding and miraculous story in a final chapter – the Epilogue – of her new book , the research , findings , conclusion and her witnessing the emotional meeting of the daughters of the rescuer and rescued in Ramat Gan , Israel.

Sources / links

Viviane Castegnier Yarom & Michel van der Burg (2014) Escape from Transport XX – to be born 6 months later – Viviane’s story.
Michel van der Burg online publication (michelvanderburg.com) link https://wp.me/p14gqN-nq

Simone Korkus (2017) “Het dienstmeisje van Degrelle. Hoe Hannah Nadel de oorlog overleefde” Paperback ISBN 978-94-6310-093-9 / E-book ISBN 978-94-6310-300-8
Polis publisher – fragment online – https://issuu.com/uitgeverijpolis/docs/preview_het_dienstmeisje_van_degrel

Book presentation – On Oct. 15th , 2017 , Simone Korkus presented her book in Kazerne Dossin , in a ‘Literary Cafe’ conversation with colleague author Ingrid Vander Veken. I published a full video report of that conversation Nov 4, 2017 . All in dutch. Het Dienstmeisje Van Degrelle – Presentatie – link https://wp.me/p14gqN-nhp

Documentary film “Transport XX to Auschwitz” (2012) A film by Karen Lynne & Richard Bloom and Michel van der Burg https://wp.me/p14gqN-hA

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PUSH Coming to Brussels Opera House Monnaie | Munt

① memo 20180319 ~ PUSH Coming to Brussels Opera House Monnaie | Munt ~
Good news ! The community opera PUSH (written by composer Howard Moody) inspired by the true story of Simon Gronowski , a boy whose mother pushed him off the ‘Transport XX’ train heading to Auschwitz in 1943 – an action that saved his life and gave the opera its name – is now programmed in Simon’s hometown in March 2019 in the De Munt | La Monnaie opera house of Brussels .

Howard had met Simon, now in his 80s, in Brussels and promised to write an opera based on his life. PUSH tells this story but also deals with much broader themes of persecution.
After the world premiere of PUSH in 2016 in the UK , and a recent second performance in , Howard Moody once again brings together professional musicians and amateur performers – both adults and children – from the UK and Belgium in a unique theatrical experience.

Push! Push!
Push your child off the edge!
[…]
My mother gave birth to me twice
Pushing me towards freedom and life

More info / links

PUSH in Brussels 2019

The full film ‘Transport XX to Auschwitz’ is presented online here at this site 

PUSH opera premiere in the UK 2016

Ma vie n’est que miracles. My life is only miracles

A full documentary on Simon’s life , the film Miracles is in production now – more soon on Miracles.Media

Miracles


Today ‘Miracles’ is announced : our title for the upcoming documentary on Simon Gronowski and Koenraad Tinel !

Today, also, we announce the birth of the Miracles•Media site and new film house !
Miracles•Media is first and foremost for promotion of the Miracles documentary film, and will further serve as platform and online portfolio of other productions.

Ma vie n’est que de miracles – My life is only miracles – Simon Gronowski.

Blues Duet


① memo 20170426 ~ Blues Duet ~ Blues with a jamming piano duet by ‘Boogie Boy’ Paul Ambach and Simon Gronowski together with Dennis Jacquemyn (guitar) and drummer Jamal Thomas at the Transport XX commemoration last Sunday April 23 , 2017 , were music was the theme this year – Boortmeerbeek , Belgium

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(video edit update 20170601 : sound volume increase and slight image exposure edit)

BBC News – Opera PUSH tells how a young boy escaped Auschwitz horror

transport-xx-to-auschwitz-scene-chana-and-ita-gronowski

BBC News – 2 October 2016 – now with online video (click image above)

How a young boy escaped Auschwitz horror

A new opera tells the story of how 11-year-old Simon Gronowski escaped incarceration in Auschwitz in 1943, after being pushed from the train transporting the family to the camp by his mother.

NOTES
1) Source of this BBC film poster image – of Simon’s mother Chana (Kaplan) Gronowski, and his sister Ita – is our doco Transport XX to Auschwitz –  available online via Richard Bloom’s youtube channel.
More info on this film is posted at this site in this post : Documentary film “Transport XX to Auschwitz

2) Below more on PUSH in a post published February 4 , 2017  by one of the participants ‘Pippa’  (found online January 30 , 2018)

Ma vie n’est que miracles

International School for Holocaust Studies acquired films

International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem , Jerusalem , Israel - Photo : Yad Vashem

International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem , Jerusalem , Israel – Photo : Yad Vashem

The media collection of Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies acquired this month – July 2016 – the DVDs of two of our documentary films :

1) The 2016 film of the premiere play “Celui Qui M’A Rendu Mon Âme” – the French-spoken adaptation of the play “Who returned my soul… “ originally by Kelly D. Brock – that retells the stories of 10 holocaust survivors – now by students of the Saint-Sépulcre school in Liege , Belgium (Philippe Renette – Centre Scolaire S2J.eu / Michel van der Burg – michelvanderburg.com). Online available and documented via this post CELUI QUI M’A RENDU MON ÂME.

2) The 2012 documentary “Transport XX to Auschwitz” – a film by Karen Lynne & Richard Bloom and Michel van der Burg. The attack on this 20th deportation train in Belgium – by three young men – the rescue, and the many escapes and escape attemps are documented in this film by the first-hand accounts of one of the attackers, people that jumped from the train and survivors who returned from Auschwitz. The film is online available and fully documented via this post Documentary film “Transport XX to Auschwitz”.

Link to the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem , Jerusalem , Israel

Souvenir Simon

① memo 20160511 ~ Souvenir Simon ~ Richard Bloom writing for Simon Gronowski a souvenir on the flyer of our film documentary « Transport XX to Auschwitz » in Kazerne Dossin , Mechelen, Belgium – May 11, 2014.
I finally saw Karen and Richard Bloom in the flesh in Amsterdam , May 10, 2014 – after years of working together ‘in the cloud’ from opposite sides of the ocean on our film documentary « Transport XX to Auschwitz » . Next day, May 11, we drove together from Amsterdam to Mechelen ,  to meet up with Simon Gronowski and friends in the Kazerne Dossin in Mechelen , Belgium.