7. Wladyslaw Gugla:
About 20 miles north, in the city of Plonsk, Wladyslaw Gugla, the Jewish schoolteacher who hid in my aunt and grandmother's home during the war is buried in a forgotten grave. "I remembered him walking through our strawberry fields, when it was safe," Grandma Henia Szczepanska told me. "When the Germans were gone, sometimes he would wander for hours... Had the Germans known about him, they would have killed us all," she said, holding a beautiful strawberry between her fingers. Her memories are still vivid of the balding teacher who hid in their home and risked his life teaching children during the war.
Wladyslaw was also on the run as a teacher. According to Nazi racial theories, the Slavs did not need, nor deserve, education. Limited elementary-level education was in place in some areas, where children were taught in non-Polish languages like German and Russian. (Hans Frank, the Nazi governor general of occupied Poland, worded it best: "the Polish lands are to be converted into an intellectual desert.") And so Wladyslaw was never even remotely safe from capture, practicing a profession the Nazis honored by sending teachers to the ghetto in the nearby village, deporting them to concentration camps, or immediate execution. "It didn't matter whether he was a Jew or a Pole. If the Germans found out he was teaching, he would be killed," said Edward [Edward Maciaga, a villager whose family also hid Wladyslaw Gugla].
8. Sam Pivnik (£):
[He endured] five months in Auschwitz itself before obtaining a transfer to nearby Fürstengrube, where coal was mined for the war effort and conditions were marginally better.
Respect for life, though, was equally scant in both. On his first day, he saw a man beaten to a pulp after he soiled himself. Another suffered the same fate because he had not fixed the camp boiler; a third was pushed into a tank of ice-cold water for daring to walk too close to the Kommandant and then shot "like a fish in a barrel" for fun. And then there was the occasion when four men were strung up for attempting escape, and Pivnik was ordered to kick the chair away from underneath one of them.
(For an index to the whole series, see here)