ALL OF US ARE ALREADY GONE is the title of a photographic series,
published monthly during the past year (2013) on the international online
magazine Les Chroniques Purple. The series was initiated by editor Elein
Fleiss and realised by photographer Amit Berlowitz and myself. It unfolds
twelve contemporary individual stories of women who lived through the
Holocaust. The title is taken from the interview with Orna Birnbach (Blauner),
first portrait of the series.
PORTRAIT OF HADASSA KANTOR (HELLA WOLFOWICZ)
Les Chroniques Purple, 06 April 2013
The house I live in now is awaiting renovation. They have been talking about it
for 2 years, and I don’t think I have another 2 to wait. I’ve run out of patience. In
the meantime I paint.
My father died when I was 4. Before the war he owned a factory in a German
region that manufactured clothing for children. I remember that there was a
swing in the factory and I recall sitting in it, in a dress and knee-high socks, a
ribbon in my hair. At 8 I began writing a diary.
I was living with my beloved mother, grandmother, and brother in Sosnowiec,
Poland when the war broke out. Early in September 1939 the Germans captured
my mother’s brother Carol, and his wife Esther Lubelsky. That is when my
mother took in Palusha, their daughter aged 6. Both Palusha and my
grandmother were deported from the ghetto in the big Atika of June 1943.
I was 11 when the Germans entered Zaglembie, quickly building a complex of
labor camps where Jews were exploited as forced labor. I was held in the Środula
ghetto in Sosnowiec working at the Held tailoring shop under the Schmelt
organization. Later on I worked as a nurse at the ghetto’s Jewish hospital. In
Poland I was a member of a Zionist Youth Movement and during the war I
helped gather weapons and medical supplies. I was a prisoner in seven forced
labor camps in Germany. My German is so fluent people don’t believe I’m Polish.
During my time at Peterwaldau camp, which was part of Gross Rosen, a large
forced labor camp, I joined the Czech underground. We would sabotage the
bombs we were supposed to check at the Karl Diehl factory. The German officer
serving there broke my fingers with a hammer.
During the entire time, I continued writing my story and the stories of those
around me on any scrap of paper I could get my hands on. When the war ended I
gathered my notes into a book titled Who Will Open the Gates that was
published by Yad Vashem in 2007.
I never found my mother and brother. In 1945 I married my husband whom I’d
met in Bologna where he was serving with the Jewish Brigades.
I am happy to be asked about these tough times, so many years after the war. I
am a very angry person and was very disappointed with mankind. Nobody
wanted to help when the war was over, not so much as hand out a piece of bread.
I would like others to tell the truth too. I told my children and grandchildren —
they have heard me speaking.
— Photo by Amit Berlowitz / Interview by Hadas Yossifon