Letter : Paper : Handwritten : Ink : Beige, brown, black. ; Ht: 9 cm x W: 18 cm
Other Title Information
Written on ruled paper. This was the first illegal letter Mr. Charles Kotkowsky received from the Bund Coordinating Committee in Warsaw, while being incarcerated in a forced labour camp in Piotrkow, Poland. It was delivered to him by a Polish guard in 1943. The signature, Henryk Wiktorksy, was a pseudonym used by the donor's teacher, Ignac Samsonowicz. It was created using the names the two pre-war leaders of the Bund labor organization of Poland, Henryk Erlich and Wiktor Alter. Narrative: Charles Kotkowsky was born in Piotrkow, Poland, in 1920. He was the son of a butcher, and had three siblings. He tried to immigrate to the USA as the Nazi persecution of Jews began, but he was unable to get the necessary documents in time. Meanwhile, he worked as a tailor in Lodz. The Germans entered Lodz on 1939/9/5 and had set up a ghetto by October. Charles worked in a glass factory, but eventually enlisted to avoid being used for forced labour. The Germans began rounding up Jews around Jewish holidays for labour or small transports for Auschwitz and Treblinka. At this time, he began receiving packages of letters and money from Ignac Samsonowicz, his old Yiddish teacher. The glass factory became a labour camp where Charles and his brother worked until they were sent to Czestochowa labour camp in November 1944. They made bullets in the factory there. The women in the glass factory were sent to Ravensbrück. Later Charles was sent to Buchenwald, where he and his friends were assigned easy jobs because their supervisor was a resistance sympathizer. Charles met Leon Blum before he was moved to Flossenburg. On their last transport train Charles and his brother jumped from the train along with many other Jews (some of which were shot in the attempt) and were sheltered in a Czechoslovakian town until the American army arrived. He moved to Italy where he worked as a translator, mostly in doctor's offices. He moved to Canada in 1951.He married Sally Blum, and they had two children, Pearl Levine and Rickie Cohen. Charles died from cancer on 2003/2/8 in Toronto, Canada.