Survivor/Camps, Escapee, Hidden
Jaslany (Poland), Biesiadka
Allweiss was born in Jaslany, a small town in southern Poland, in 1925. He was one of nine children of a land owner, farmer, and horse trader. He describes his parents as pious Jews and highly respected in his hometown. The town of approximately 1,600 people was home to about 400 Jews. Allweiss attended public schools and encountered only occasional anti-Semitism.
Following Germany’s invasion of Russia, his three older brothers fled to Russia. None survived the war. In June 1941 Allweiss, his mother, three older sisters, and younger brother were taken to a labor camp at Biesiadka. The 400 inmates of the camp were used to build roads. The camp was not guarded by Germans. The Germans instead offered an award of ten pounds of sugar for any Jew caught outside the camp. His mother died in the camp.
When the Biesiadka labor camp was being liquidated, Allweiss escaped and found refuge with a friendly farmer in a nearby village. He recalls that his sisters and brother were transported to another site, but during the trip his brother cut the canvas top of the truck and jumped out. He urged his sisters to follow, but they were afraid. The destination of the truck was a killing site, where everyone, including his sisters, were executed.
Allweiss and his brother were reunited near their hometown, and for approximately two years they hid during the day in nearby forests. During the night they took shelter in barns and obtained food from farmers. One farmer from Jaslany, whom they trusted, obtained for them a rifle and a carbine, with ammunition, in exchange for a harmonica and bicycle they had stolen from other farmers. The two boys were dressed in the German army clothes, without insignia, they had been given in the labor camp. Allweiss remarks that in these outfits and with the rifles, they looked like Polish partisans. To stay alive, they ambushed people on their way to the railroad station and took food and clothing from them.
When the Soviet army came in 1944, the boys surrendered to them and asked to enlist to fight the Germans. Too young to fight, they were given civilian jobs in the kitchens. The end of the war found Allweiss with the Russian army near Breslau, Germany, and his brother with the Polish army. Both Allweiss and his brother went to a DP camp in Germany and immigrated to the United States in 1947.
Of Allweiss’s immediate family, parents and nine children, only he and his brother survived. Of his extended family of aunts, uncles, and cousins, numbering about sixty people, only three survived the Holocaust.
Date: March 8, 1993
Interviewer: Hans R. Weinmann
Length: approx. 1 hour, 30 minutes
Format: Video recording