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Zofia Posmysz, Who Wrote of Life in Concentration Camps, Dies at 98

Zofia Posmysz, who endured three years of imprisonment in focus camps for associating with the Polish resistance to Nazi occupation in World Warfare II, then gained popularity of her works on the Holocaust as a journalist, novelist, playwright and screenwriter, died on Aug. 8 in Oswiecim, Poland. She was 98.

Her dying, within the metropolis the place the remnants of the Auschwitz focus camp have been preserved as a reminder of people’ capability for unfathomable evil, was introduced by the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum.

Ms. Posmysz (pronounced POCE-mish) was born on Aug. 23, 1923, in Krakow, Poland, right into a Roman Catholic household. She was arrested by the Gestapo in Could 1942 for associating with fellow college students at an underground college who have been passing out anti-Nazi leaflets. She was taken to Auschwitz, the place some 1.1 million individuals, a overwhelming majority of them Jews, would perish.

She survived brutality at Auschwitz however was later assigned to work on the camp’s kitchen and stockroom. In mid-January 1945, she was transferred to the Ravensbrück focus camp and its offshoot Neustadt Glewe, from which she was liberated on Could 2.

With 20 different girls, she walked again to Krakow and lived for a few years in Warsaw, the place she had an older sister.

Her writing profession started when she was employed as a newspaper reporter and editor. She didn’t search a byline for her first article, an account of the conflict crimes trials in Nuremberg, Germany. As a substitute, she signed off along with her identification quantity at Auschwitz: 7566.

Ms. Posmysz started writing for Polish radio within the early Nineteen Fifties. Whereas on task in Paris in 1959, she walked within the Place de la Concorde amongst vacationers, a lot of them talking German.

“All of a sudden, somebody appeared behind me,” she recalled lengthy afterward on “Tales From the Japanese West,” a Polish podcast. “It was the voice of my overseer. All this time she’s been dwelling a peaceable life in Paris.” She shortly realized that the lady was not, the truth is, her former guard at Auschwitz, however that second “simply wouldn’t go away me alone,” she recalled.

It spawned her best-known work, “The Passenger in Cabin 45,” later titled “The Passenger.” It was launched as a radio play in 1959, a novel printed in 1962 that was translated into 15 languages, a movement image, during which she collaborated on the script with the director, Andrzej Munk, and an opera.

The opera was composed by the Polish-born Mieczyslaw Weinberg, who was Jewish and had misplaced his mother and father and a sister within the Holocaust, whereas the libretto was written by Alexander Medvedev, a Russian. It was conceived within the Soviet Union and accomplished in 1968; the Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich praised the opera, however it was banned by the Soviets.

The opera reverses the second in Paris when Ms. Posmysz thought she had encounter her former Auschwitz guard. It tells of Liese, a middle-aged German lady who’s aboard an ocean liner certain for Brazil within the early Nineteen Sixties, accompanying her husband, who’s about to take up a diplomatic publish there. Liese is surprised to see a fellow passenger who’s staying in Cabin 45. She thinks it is perhaps Marta, who was an inmate at Auschwitz when Liese was her guard.

It premiered at an Austrian music competition in 2010 and was carried out by the Houston Grand Opera on the Park Avenue Armory in Manhattan in 2014 as a part of the Lincoln Heart Pageant. Ms. Posmysz sat within the viewers and acquired a protracted ovation when she was launched.

“Weinberg’s music daringly shifts from depicting the lifetime of the well-heeled Germans aboard the ship to the horrors of the dying camp,” Anthony Tommasini wrote in his assessment for The New York Occasions. “The hero of the night and, really, of the opera, was Ms. Posmysz, whose novel was drawn from her personal experiences at Auschwitz.”

An inventory of Ms. Posmysz’s survivors was not instantly out there. She was married. Her father was shot and killed by Germans throughout the conflict, which her mom survived. She additionally had an older sister.

Ms. Posmysz was amongst former Auschwitz prisoners who welcomed the German-born Pope Benedict XVI throughout his go to there in 2006.

In January 2020, the survivors attended a ceremony on the former dying camp for the seventy fifth anniversary of its liberation. The occasion got here amid rising concern over a resurgence of antisemitism in america and Europe, in addition to rising acrimony between Russia and Poland over who bore a serious share of duty for Germany’s invasion of Poland, touching off World Warfare II.

Ms. Posmysz was unable to attend the ceremony, however she was conscious of assaults on Polish leaders by Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin.

“I concern that over time, it’ll turn out to be simpler to distort historical past,” she informed The Occasions then. “I can by no means say it’ll by no means occur once more, as a result of if you have a look at some leaders of at the moment, these harmful ambitions, satisfaction and sense of being higher than others are nonetheless in play. Who is aware of the place they’ll lead?”

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