My Name is Staszek Surdel
The Improbable Holocaust Survival of Nathan Poremba The Last Jews of Wieliczka
By Joel Poremba
18 January 2022
On Tuesday 18 January Yad Vashem UK hosted, via Zoom, a Book Club where author Joel Poremba gave a thought-provoking talk on his book – My Name is Staszek Surdel
To purchase a copy of this book CLICK HERE
This biography traces the Holocaust through the eyes of young Nathan Poremba and examines the difficult emotional and physical choices he had to make to survive. His father was murdered by the Nazis before his hometown went under deportation orders, so he made the heart-wrenching decision to flee his home in Southern Poland (Wieliczka) and leave his mother and sisters behind.
Nathan’s story is one of resistance. He refused to wear the mandated Star of David armband and blended into the local population in order to buy food for the family. He snuck in and out of three ghettos, witnessed Polish complicity in the round-up of Wielickza’s Jews, obtained false papers, and worked incognito on a farm delivering dairy products to German soldiers at a nearby WWI fortress. He refused to be a victim and resisted his tormentors.
But an altercation with a German soldier sent him to Bergen-Belsen. Nathan’s resolve was repeatedly tested until early 1945 when the Soviet Red Army and Nazis clashed at the farm he hid in.
Alone and without help for most of the Holocaust, Nathan Poremba’s six-year survival necessitated avoiding detection while maintaining an unflinching will to live despite the threats that enveloped his every move. His unmatched resilience is a testament to his will to live.