Scrapbookpages Blog

December 5, 2016

the little Jewish boy who wasn’t just whistling “Dixie” when he jumped off a train bound for Auschwitz

Filed under: Holocaust, Uncategorized — furtherglory @ 9:37 am

I won’t keep you in suspense: the little Jewish boy, who survived the Holocaust, and is now out on the lecture circuit, raking in money, as he tells his Holocaust story, was actually whistling Glenn Miller’s famous song entitled “In the Mood” to distract the German guards. [He wasn’t just “whistling Dixie”, a phrase that means that a person is lying.]

The following quote is from the news article, which you can read in full at

Begin quote

Simon Gronowski  [a Holocaust survivor] said he often thinks about the moment in April 1943 when he was eleven years old and jumped from a train carrying more than 1,600 Jews to the concentration camp at Auschwitz. Gronowski and his mother, Chana, who had been arrested by the Gestapo at their hiding place in Brussels, were being sent from a transit camp at Mechelen in Flanders to almost certain death in the gas chambers [at Auschwitz]. 

Many prisoners were still dozing that night when the death train was ambushed by three resistance fighters, allowing 233 [Jews] to escape, including Gronowski. He was among the 118 passengers on the infamous 20th train who got away safely. Others were shot by the Germans.

End quote

You might think that it is easy to jump off a moving freight train, but it is actually very dangerous. When I was a child, I lived in a house that was only a few feet from the tracks of a major railroad line.

The homeless bums, who were “riding the rails” would jump off the freight trains that went though the small town where I lived. Then they would head straight for the house where I lived and knock on the back door. They would offer to chop wood for our wood-burning kitchen stove, in exchange for a jelly sandwich. The bums didn’t expect any peanut butter on their sandwich. This was during the Depression when people didn’t expect much.

The following quote is also from the news article:

Begin quote

The day that still haunts Simon Gronowski  is April 19, 1943. Train 801 left the Dossin barracks  at 10 p.m. with 1,631 Jews — ranging in age from  six weeks old to ninety — bound for Auschwitz. Gronowksi awoke in his mother’s arms and saw men prying open the carriage. When the train slowed, his mother lowered him to the running board. Gronowski, who had practiced jumping, leaped off the moving train, landing on the gravel without falling.

End quote

His mother lowered him to “the running board”? What kind of a train has a “running board”?

To me, the term “running board” means a step that is outside the door of a car or a truck. In the old days, people used to thumb a ride, alongside a road. They would hop onto the “running board” which was a step just below the car door.

The photo below shows a little girl standing on the running board of a car. She is probably wearing her First Communion white dress.

running board.jpg