"Testimonies from the Warsaw Ghetto" online conversation series

Dwie osoby oglądają portrety bohaterów wystawy "Wokół nas morze ognia" wiszące na ścianie.
fot. M. Jaźwiecki / Muzeum Historii Żydów Polskich

"Testimonies from the Warsaw ghetto" – online conversations with the children and grandchildren of those who wrote about the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising while hiding in the ghetto. Their testimonies are the basis for POLIN Museum’s temporary exhibition, "Around Us a Sea of Fire. The Fate of Jewish Civilians During the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising," which commemorates the 80th anniversary of this event.

Dates of the live events:

  • Sunday, 5 November, 2023 at 8:00 p.m. CET (Featuring: Anette and Marina Wajnsztejn, family of Stella Fidelseid).
  • Moderated by Dr. Zachary Mazur, a Senior Historian of POLIN Museum.

Who were these authors? What were their lives like before the war? What did they endure during the war? How did they survive the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising? What happened to them after the war? How did their wartime experiences shape their lives and the lives of their children and grandchildren?

The final episode of, "Testimonies from the Warsaw ghetto. Stella Fidelseid."

A woman of many names, each representing different stages of her life (Stefania Fidelseid, Stella Fidelseid, Stefania Świeca, and Stefania Milenbach). Stefania or ‘Stella’ was a young woman in the Warsaw ghetto working as a lab tech when she met her husband, Dr. Salomon Świeca. In 1943, Dr. Świeca would be ripped out of her life, and sent to the notorious Majdanek concentration camp; taking his own life with poison. Stella’s parents and younger sister had been deported to Treblinka 1942. She was alone and pregnant when the Uprising broke out, surviving by moving from bunker to bunker. She found shelter in other hideouts with other survivors, and gave birth to a son in November 1943. However, due to hunger, the baby only lived a few days. In December 1943, she and the group of survivors she was with finally escaped the ghetto to the so called ‘Aryan’ side. She ended up in Milanówek, and would stay there until the War ended.

After the War, she would settle with friends in Łódź, attending the famous Polish film school, and studying film directing. Though in the 1950’s, she immigrated to Israel; settling into a job as a lab tech. It was there in Israel she met Mordka Milenbach, and were wed. Soon after the couple moved to São Paulo, Brazil, and had a daughter named Anette.

For more details on Stella Fidelseid go to Virtual Shtetl >>

On 5 November, 2023 Dr. Zachary Mazur will be in conversation with the family of Stella Fidelseid.

The second episode of, "Testimonies from the Warsaw ghetto. Leon Najberg."

By the time the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising broke out, 17-year old Leon Najberg had lost all his nearest and dearest. His older brother died as a POW in German captivity. His father died of typhoid fever in the ghetto. His mother, sister and younger brother were deported to the death camp in Treblinka in August 1942. His younger brother would escape and then join the partisans, but perish in combat.

Following a selection at Umschlagplatz, Leon was sent to the Opel factory in Bielany. Right before the Uprising, he sneaked into the brush makers’ shop to volunteer as a fighter, but he could not join a combat unit due the shortage of weapons. He stayed in hideouts at 38 and then 36 Świętojerska Street. After the Uprising had been suppressed, he hid in the rubble left from the ghetto. On 26 September 1943, he escaped to the ‘Aryan’ side.

Leon would find shelter at the home of the Szczypiorski family, and record his wartime experiences in a diary. When the Warsaw Uprising broke out he fought using the code name, ‘Marian.’ After Warsaw fell to the Nazis, he was sent to the Pruszków camp with his Polish papers. After the war, Leon settled in Łódź, and got married. In 1949, he and his wife emigrated to Israel.

For more details on Leon Najberg go to Virtual Shtetl >>

On October 1, Dr. Zachary Mazur spoke with the family of Leon Najberg – his sons and grandchildren.

The first episode of, "Testimonies from the Warsaw ghetto. Mira Piżyc."

Mira Piżyc was faced with a decision to follow German orders to join a transport of shop employees being sent out of Warsaw, or to hide in a bunker. She took matters into her own hands, and hid in a bunker with her father. Many members of her family were sent on the transports & murdered in Majdanek.

With the outbreak of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising it was impossible for Mira and her father to flee. Eventually they escaped their bunker at 50 Leszno Street, and by chance bumped into a relative of theirs, a Jewish police officer, whom they paid to help them get out of the ghetto. With the help of ‘Żegota’ Council to Aid Jews, she and her father were able to hide in various apartments in Warsaw till the end of the war. Soon after the war had ended, the Piżyc family left for Sweden.

On September 3, Dr. Zachary Mazur spoke with the family of Mira Piżyc – her son Dedi Flint and sister Ruth Berlinger, who left the ghetto a few days before the uprising and spent the rest of the war in hiding.

About the moderator:

Zachary Mazur earned his PhD at Yale University, and is currently a Senior Historian at POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. His research interests are in twentieth-century Europe, national identity, law and economics. He is the author of numerous articles such as "The Grabski Tax Reform and Jewish Merchants: State Building in Interwar Poland." He’s currently working on a book on interwar Poland on the basis of his doctoral thesis which was completed under the direction of Professor Timothy Snyder.

Logo of Jewish Cultural Heritage Project: from right side: logo of Norway grants, logo of Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of Republic of Poland, logo Polin Museum and JCK project.,,