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December 5, 2012

Yanina Cywinska gets a standing ovation after she tells how she survived the gas chamber at Auschwitz

Filed under: Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 8:18 am

As everyone knows, the lethal gas that was used in the gas chambers of Auschwitz was Zyklon-B, the same gas that was used to disinfect the clothing of the prisoners. But according to Holocaust survivor, Yanina Cywinski, carbon monoxide was originally used at Auschwitz.  Yanina Cywinska was inside the Auschwitz gas chamber, where she watched her father die, before she passed out, but was secretly resuscitated by another prisoner.

If someone survived the gas chamber, it was the policy of the Nazis to allow them to live, never sending them to the gas chamber again.  Thanks to this policy, Yanina is still alive today; she recently gave a talk to students on the Pleasant Valley High School campus in Chico, CA.

Yanina Cywinska, a non-Jew, was sent to Auschwitz, after her family was arrested as Polish Resistance fighters early in World War II.

According to the talk that Yanina gave to students at Pleasant Valley High in November, she was put to work, at the age of 10, dragging bodies out of the gas chamber at Auschwitz. One day, she realized, to her horror, that she was pulling her mother’s body out of the gas chamber.  The Sonderkommandos who dragged the bodies out of the gas chambers were all men, except for Yanina and Greta, another female Sonderkommando who yelled at Yanina to stop whining, which prompted her to continue her grim duties, after the horror of finding her mother’s dead body.

The Sonderkommandos, who worked in the gas chambers, were killed every three months, and replaced by new prisoners.  Strangely, Yanina was not killed along with the others.

This quote is from an article in the online Chico News and Review, which you can read in full here:

Cywinska’s 20-minute speech was the most powerful of the performances. She recounted two harrowing escapes from Nazi execution. Her Polish, non-Jewish family was captured by the Nazis for stockpiling weapons and literally going underground, living in sewers as part of the Polish resistance. Cywinska was separated from her family and forced with other prisoners over five days without food or water to dig an enormous ditch that was to serve as their own mass grave.

She recalled that, while lined up along the ditch, she stepped behind a mother and baby to support them as they stumbled. Her maneuver shielded her from the firing squad’s bullets, allowing her to fall unharmed into the grave. She escaped only to be recaptured and sent to Auschwitz with her family. In the gas chamber she held her father’s hand as he died with the others. She passed out but somehow survived the gas—it was carbon monoxide, not the Zyklon B ordinarily used—and was secretly resuscitated by an inmate.

Her spirit, she said, triumphed after the war, when she went on to fulfill her dreams of becoming an actress and ballerina.

Cywinska’s talk elicited several standing ovations. “I’ve been crying for about an hour now,” exclaimed one woman.

I previously blogged about Yanina Cywinska here.

April 19, 2011

Yanina Cywinska: “Eat your heart out Hitler, I made it”

The title of my blog post today is a line spoken by Yanina Cywinska in a video which was shown recently on a TV program.

Yanina Cywinska is an 82-year-old woman, now living in Concord, CA, whose Holocaust survivor story is in a book called The Sugar Plum Fairy Nut. In the book, we learn that she survived the gas chamber at Auschwitz. She lived in the Auschwitz camp for four more years before being sent on a death march to Dachau where she was liberated by Japanese soldiers in the 552nd Field Artillery Battalion.  You can read about the 552nd on my web site here.

Yanina Cywinska was just 11 years old when she arrived at Auschwitz, where children under the age of 15 were sent immediately to the gas chamber. She was actually inside the gas chamber and the people around her were dying, but she survived because the gas was carbon monoxide. According to her story, the Nazis had not yet started using Zyklon-B at Auschwitz.  A woman prisoner pulled her out of the pile of bodies and sneaked her into a work group.  In the video, she mentions that a Nazi was standing in the corner of the gas chamber, watching the people die.

The title of Yanina Cywinska’s book is a reference to the name that the other prisoners at Auschwitz called her: “the Sugar Plum Nut.”  The women at Auschwitz thought that Yanina was a “nut” because she dreamed of becoming a ballet dancer and dancing as the Sugar Plum Fairy ballerina in the Nutcracker.  As it turned out, she made it, so eat your heart out, Hitler.

Yanina had already had three years of ballet training before she was sent to Auschwitz in 1941, and as luck would have it, her ballet teacher was living in Paris after the war.  Yanina was just 15 when she was liberated from Dachau.  She made her way to Paris, where she moved in with her ballet teacher and resumed her training.

In the video, Yanina says that the Nazis were trying to kill as many people as possible to eliminate witnesses, and just before soldiers arrived to free the inmates at Dachau, the prisoners “were lined up to be shot.”  But before the Nazis could shoot all the prisoners, the Japanese soldiers in the 552nd Field Artillery arrived in the nick of time.

Here is a quote from the web site of Mike Carroll, where you can read the story of Yanina and watch the video:

She had been born in Poland and raised in Warsaw. Her father was a doctor. After Germany invaded and they were living in occupation, her father was summoned to treat a high-ranking German officer inside the Warsaw Ghetto, where 500,000 Jews were barricaded in an area of only several city blocks. He was so appalled by the living conditions that he began smuggling food into the starving inhabitants. He was caught and he and his wife and children were loaded into railroad boxcars, along with the Jews from the Ghetto, and sent into the countryside.

When the train stopped and the people were herded out they were in a barbed wire prison. They were sent to get showered so they could begin to work. The doors to the shower chamber were closed, then the gas began to come out of the vents. When Yanina awoke she was lying among a pile of corpses, among them her family. Amazingly, she was still alive. A Jewish woman worker shook her to her feet and pressed her to work in one of the working gangs.

You can read about the Warsaw Ghetto on my web site here.  You can read here about the Jews being sent from the Warsaw Ghetto to be gassed with carbon monoxide.  The video about Yanina shows a photo of the Auschwitz gas chamber; you can see photos of the Auschwitz gas chamber on my web site here.

P.S. Yanina’s book is available on Amazon.com.  I buy lots of books on Amazon and I always get suggestions for other books that I might like.  The suggested books are listed as books purchased by other customers who have bought this book.  I have some suggestions for people who buy Yanina’s book:  Dennis Avey’s book and Irene Zisblatt’s book.  BTW Yanina’s book has the “Search Inside” feature on Amazon.

I used the “Search Inside” feature on the Amazon web site and read a few pages of Yanina Cywinska’s book.  I discovered that the book was first published on January 7, 2008.  It was not written in the first person, so the real author is apparently a ghost writer.

I have hope that some day there will be a law against Holocaust lying, and Yanina will be carried into a courtroom on a stretcher to be prosecuted for her lies.  I am assuming that the ghost writer just wrote down the lies, as told to her by Yanina.  But the ghost writer should also be prosecuted as an accessory to the crime of Holocaust lying.  Just reading a few pages of this book made me extremely angry and upset.  I wish I had not turned on my computer today.