All photographs copyright © Alan Jacobs.

Edek and Mala

One famous story in Auschwitz lore involves two people who fell in love in the camp. Edward Galinski, camp number 531, and Mala Zimetbaum camp number 19880. Both were popular among their fellow prisoners. Edek, as he was known, was Polish, and Mala, a Polish Jew who had been deported from Belgium. Edek's low number meant he was in the first transport of prisoners to arrive in Auschwitz (from Tarnow), June 14, 1940. As she spoke fluent German, Mala was a prisoner-translator for the SS, and thereby given special treatment. Nevertheless at great risk she smuggled food, messages, and other items to her fellow prisoners.

This close-up shows an inscription carved presumably by Edward Galinski.

In June 1944, four years after Edek's deportation to Auschwitz, they escaped and two weeks later were caught by a border patrol. After brutal interrogation they were sentenced to death. Edek inscribed their names in several cells, including this one. He was hanged and Mala, about to be hanged, slashed her wrists on the gallows in a final act of defiance.

See also this [link].