Across Europe, there were many non-Jews who did not directly take part in the murders but still assisted the Nazis. Zuzanna Ginczanka, a young Jewish poet in the Polish city of Lwów, was betrayed to the Nazis in August 1942 by Zofia Chocim, the caretaker of the building she was hiding in. Zuzanna was able to escape and wrote this poem in response to her experience. ‘Non omnis moriar’ means ‘not all of me shall die’.
‘Non omnis moriar’
Non omnis moriar — my proud estate,
Table linen fields, staunch wardrobe fortresses,
Acres of sheets, precious linens
And dresses, bright dresses will survive me.
As I leave no heir,
Let your hands rummage through Jewish things
Chomin, woman of Lwów, brave wife of a spy,
Swift informant, Volksdeutscher’s mother.
May they be useful to you and yours, not some strangers.
“My dear ones” — it’s no song, nor empty name.
I remember you as you, when the Schupo came,
Remembered me. Reminded them of me.
So let my friends sit with goblets raised
To celebrate my memory and their own wealth,
Rugs and tapestries, candlesticks, bowls –
Let them drink all night, and at dawn,
Let them begin to search for gemstones and gold
In sofas, mattresses, quilts and rugs.
Oh, how they’ll make quick work of it,
lumps of horsehair and sea grass stuffing,
Clouds of torn pillows and eiderdown quilts
Will coat their hands and turn their arms to wings;
My blood will tie these fibres with fresh down,
And transform these winged ones to angels.
As the poem suggested, greed was often a powerful factor in causing people to denounce Jews. Zuzanna Ginczanka fled to Kraków where she was caught by the police and shot in 1944.
Photo: Zuzanna Ginczanka, 1938; Muzeum Literatury/East News
Poem: Michał M. Borwicz (ed.), Pieśń ujdzie cało... Antologia wierszy o Żydach pod okupacją niemiecką (Centralna Żydowska Komisja, 1947)