Youra Georges Livchitz (1917 – 1944)

“..Transports from Berlin arrive ..Kovno (Kaunas) ..doubtful ..anybody ..alive. No ..Minsk ..Riga. Many ..shot. ..intention exterminate ..Jews entirely.” Bishop Berning.

On Tuesday June 9th. 1942 a mobile Gassing Van that had been used to Murder Serbian Jews at Zemun was sent to Riga to then Exterminate the Jews of Latvia. Amongst these also were the 16,000’s of Reich Jews, many from Theresienstadt, that had been transported here during December 1941 and January 1942 for Extermination in the Rumbuli Forest.

Youra Georges Livchitz was born on September 30th. 1917 in the City of Kiev, the Capitol of the Ukraine where we are made aware of a very tenacious individual. Trained for medicine, Youra would not sit back and watch as his own Jewish Community in Belgium was being torn apart. It is a long held fallacy that the Jewish People did not resist Hitler’s competing aim for all of them. Here, in the midst of The Final Solution of the Jewish Question however, the levels of Resistance took many forms, some less volatile than others. Of course, there were many Jewish Resistance organisations, and they acted throughout the entirety of The Holocaust period. Camps, both Labour and Death Camps saw Jewish Resistance visited upon them, these exploits known to all who seriously search out the missing Jews of The Holocaust.

There were many Jewish groups who acted with cohesion, but only amongst themselves as they were largely confronted by resentment and even hatred for their effort to fight a common enemy, and this from non-Jewish society. Equally, there were many Jewish individuals, stalwarts of all resistance, whether Jewish or not, who resisted Hitler’s efforts on their own terms.

“..brakes made a hellish noise ..I was petrified. ..I gave myself a jolt ..if you ..started something you should go through with it. I held my torch in my left hand and with my right ..I had to busy myself with the pliers. I was very excited and it took far too long until I had cut through ..wire that secured ..bolts of ..sliding door. I shone my torch into ..carriage and pale and frightened faces stared back at me. I shouted ..quick ..quick ..get out of here.” Robert Maistriau.

One of these was Youra Georges Livchitz who, as a young Jewish Doctor, was also an involved member of the Belgian Resistance. On April 19th. 1943, with 2 of his Friends Jean Franklemon and Robert Maistriau they armed themselves with a Pistol, a mocked up red lantern so as to stop a train. But this was no ordinary train, it was the 20th. Malines Camp Resettlement Transport of Belgian Jews, heading toward Auschwitz with some 1,633 Jews aboard. Though they managed to free some 233 Jewish People, who succeeded in escaping from the train, 89 of these were eventually recaptured and put on later convoys.

A total of 26 of these Jews were either killed in the fall or were shot as they ran for cover. Some 118 of these resettlement Jews actually managed to elude their captors while 1,400 Jews arrived for gassing at Birkenau. Of these, 631 Jewish Women, 507 Jewish Men, 141 Jewish Girls and 121 Jewish Boys faced their executioners with 276 Jewish Men and 245 Jewish Women reprieved temporarily. All 879 of these other Belgian Jews were immediately gassed in Birkenau.

“..My parents had made a mistake ..only one ..but a serious one ..which was have been born Jewish ..a crime that ..time ..could only be punished by death.” Simon Gronowski.

Both Simon Gronowski, 11 years of age and Regine Krochmal, an 18 years old Nurse and Resistance Fighter managed to escape from the transport and survived the intention Hitler had for them. Youra himself was betrayed and the Gestapo arrested him and later executed him on February 17th. 1944, a week after his brother Choura Livchitz, also a Resistance fighter had been killed. Both Jean and Robert were arrested, Jean soon after who was detained in the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. Jean was freed in May 1945 and passed from us in 1977.

Robert was arrested in March 1944 and was liberated from the Belsen Concentration Camp in 1945 and and passed from us in 2008. Both of these Youra’s Friends were not Jews. The fate of Youra had been confirmed by his birth as a Jew and from his prison cell Youra, fully aware of that fate which had singled him out and a further 6,000,000 of his fellow Jews took to writing this last letter to his Mother.

“..Dear Mother,

Although the words are powerless to express all that I feel, I leave this cell to go to the other side of life with calm a calm that is also resignation in the face of the inevitable. To tell you that I regret all that has happened would serve no purpose. I very much regret not being there to help to support you in the first trial that which you have already suffered: Choura. I wanted to be there so that the two of us could struggle with the world as it is.

Dear Mother, do not cry too much thinking about your little one. My life has been full first and foremost of errors. I think of all our friends who are in prison and ask their forgiveness. Remember me without sorrow. I have had the best, most excellent companions until the end and even now I do not feel alone. My best wishes to all.

Dear Mother, I have to say goodbye, time passes. Once again, it is not the last moments that have been the hardest. Have confidence and courage in life, time erases many things. Think of us as dead on the front, think of all the families, all the mothers affected by the war, the war that we had all believed would finish earlier.

Your loving Son,

Youra.” Youra Georges Livchitz.