|Born||December 11, 1922|
|Other names||Ephraim Blaichman, Frank Bleichman|
|Known for||Jewish partisan, memoir author|
Frank Blaichman (1922-) (also Ephraim Blaichman, occasionally spelled Frank Bleichman, and in Polish Franek or Franciszek Blajchman) was a Polish-Jewish member of an armed organization during World War II. Near the end of the war and immediately afterward he worked for the communist Ministry of Public Security. Afterward he emigrated to the USA. His 2009 memoir has caused a controversy in Poland.
Frank Blaichman was born in Kamionka, Poland on December 11, 1922. His grandmother owned a grocery story and his father was a grain merchant. He was 16 years old at the time of the German invasion of Poland in September 1939.
Although German officials issued decrees that limited Jewish travel outside of Kamionka and required Jews to identify themselves by wearing armbands, Blaichman took a number of risks in order to help his parents and six brothers and sisters. He rode his bicycle from the neighboring farms and villages to Lubartów (six miles east) and Lublin (12 miles south) where he bought and sold goods such as honey, chickens, butters, grains, meat, tobacco, yarns, and sugar. Blaichman was able to travel among the population without being recognized as a Jew (he refused to wear the Star of David armband and traveled without the necessary permits). He was assigned to work two days a week on a nearby estate with crops, but instead he paid someone to fill his place and continued to engage in underground trading.
In October 1942, the Kamionka Jewish council (Judenrat) informed the Jewish residents that they would be resettled in the Lubartów Ghetto. Blaichman slipped out of Kamionka and went to a gentile farmer in the village of Kierzkówka who offered him assistance (the family of Aleksander and Stanisława Głos, which would later be listed among the Polish Righteous Among the Nations). He later learned that the Jews of Kamionka had not been relocated to the Lubartów Ghetto but rather were deported on trains to an unknown destination. Blaichman heard that a group of Jews were hiding in the forest, so after two days with the farmer, he made his way to the forest and found more than one hundred Jews living in an encampment of small bunkers in the forest. He realized that the group was in constant danger. Blaichman encouraged the group to form a defense unit to guard the camp even though they had no firearms. In December 1942 the group managed to acquire firearms from a local Polish farmer. (However, according to another biography, it was only in summer of 1943 that Blaichman left the Głos family and joined the resistance).
Over time, Blaichman's unit increased in size. They were joined by refugees from Markuszow and expanded to sixty fighters. In the spring of 1943, Blaichman encountered Samuel Gruber. Gruber's group consisted of men who had fought in the Polish Army and knew how to use explosives and mines. The two groups joined together and became a more effective fighting force. By September 1943, the Polish People's Army realized that the Blaichman and Gruber groups could be a dependable ally in the fight against the Germans and provided them with supplies that had been parachuted in by the Soviet air force. Now equipped with hand grenades, explosives, land mines, machine guns, and ammunition, the group could be even more successful in fighting the Germans.
In 1944, Blaichman's group received an order from the People's Army to move east and join forces with another Jewish partisan unit in the Parczew area commanded by Yechiel Grynszpan. Gruber was appointed deputy commander and Blaichman, at the age of 21, became the unit's youngest platoon commander. In July 1944, the Soviet Red Army advanced from the east and entered the Parczew forest. Also that month, Lublin was taken from the Germans by the Soviets, and Blaichman's partisan group entered the city.
Near the end of the war and immediately afterward (April to 19 July 1945) he has worked for the Polish communist secret police (Office of Public Security), as the temporary head of the Department of Prisons and Camps (Wydział Więzień i Obozów) in the Kielce's Voivode Office of Public Security (Wewódzki Urząd Bezpieczeństwa Państwowego, WUBP).
Blaichman published a memoir in November 2009, Rather Die Fighting: A Memoir of World War II. In August 2010, a Polish translation, Wolę zginąć walcząc. Wspomnienia z II wojny światowej, was released in Poland.
The same month the book was published in Poland the Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita publicized information "Franciszek Blajchman" was the temporary head of the Department of Prisons and Camps of the Office of Public Security in Kielce. His image was also at the exhibition "Faces of the Kielce's Communist Security Agencies", organized by the IPN. This information was widely reported in Polish mass media.
The book has been criticized in Poland for controversial, revisionist claims, such as the accusation of widespread antisemitism in Armia Krajowa (AK, or Home Army). Stanisław Aronson, a former Polish-Jewish officer of the AK, called the charges made in the book against the Home Army "absurd", as did Polish historians such as Jan Żaryn and Waldemar Paruch (see also Armia Krajowa and the Jews). Blaichman portrayal of his activities in Jewish resistance has been questioned, and it has been alleged that he was a member of a criminal gang (associated with communist Gwardia Ludowa resistance) which focused on forcefully obtaining provisions from the local populace and clashed with the Polish resistance. Blaichman also mentions that at one point he shot dead two AK soldiers, which has led to demands for this case to be investigated by the authorities. The spokesman for the Polish Institute of National Remembrance has declared that Blaichman's book will be investigated to determine whether he is guilty of what Polish legal system describes as "communist crimes".
- This article incorporates text from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and has been released under the GFDL.
- "Frank Bleichman". United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/article.php?lang=en&ModuleId=10007223. Retrieved 2011-04-04.
- Israel Gutman; Lucien Lazare; Sara Bender (2004). The Encyclopedia of the Righteous Among the Nations: Poland. Yad Vashem. p. 238. Retrieved 4 April 2011.
- (Polish) Franciszek Blajchman at the "Twarze kieleckiej bezpieki" exhibition. The short bio note, accompanied by a photo, reads: "Franciszek Blajchman, son of Chaim, born 11 December 1922, temporary head of the Department of Prisons and Camps (WUBP) in Kielce - from c. April to 19 July 1945"
- Blaichman, Frank (2011). Rather Die Fighting: A Memoir of World War II. Gilbert, Sir Martin. Skyhorse Publishing Company. ISBN 978-1-61145-015-6.
- Gmyz, Cezary; Zychowicz, Piotr; Wybranowski, Wojciech (6 September 2010). "Ubek wspomina mordowanie". Rzeczpospolita. Retrieved 2011-04-04.
- "Żołnierze AK chcą śledztwa". Rzeczpospolita. 8 September 2010. Retrieved 2011-04-04.
- "IPN zbada książkę ubeka". Rzeczpospolita. 9 September 2010. Retrieved 2011-04-04.
- "Kontrowersyjna książka. Ubek wspomina mordowanie?". Newsweek Poland. 7 September 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-04.
- "Ubek wspomina w książce mordowanie żołnierzy AK". Polish Radio. 7 September 2010. Retrieved 2011-04-04.
- "Były ubek o "drapieżczo antysemickiej" Armii Krajowej". TVN24. 7 September 2010. Retrieved 2011-04-04.
- "Frank Blaichman". United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
- "Institute of National Remembrance - Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation (IPN)". (in English)