Mr. Wisnia was 17 years old; she was 25. The first time he spoke to her in 1943 at the Auschwitz crematorium, David Wisnia realized that Helen Spitzer was not a regular prisoner. Zippi, as she was called, was handsome and always neat. She was wearing a nice coat and smelled nice. Mrs. Spitzer was one of the first Jewish women to arrive in Auschwitz in March 1942. She came from Slovakia where she went to a technical university and was the first woman in the region to complete her studies as a graphic artist.
However, Mrs. Spitzer was never a Nazi employee or a kapo, a prisoner assigned to supervise other prisoners. Instead, she used her position and privileges to help prisoners and allies. She used her design skills to manipulate paperwork and assign prisoners to various work assignments and barracks. Mr. Wisnia was first assigned to the “corpse unit” when he arrived at the camp. His task was to collect the bodies of prisoners who had flung themselves against the electric fence around the camp.
Her presence in the crematorium was unusual. And before Mr. Wisnia knew, they were alone, all the prisoners around them had disappeared. This was no coincidence, he realized later. They made a plan to meet again. On this date Mr. Wisnia came as planned to the agreed place between crematoria 4 and 5. He climbed an improvised ladder and ended up in a room that was just big enough for 2 people. Mrs. Spitzer had arranged this, a space surrounded by hundreds of piles of prisoner’s clothing. Curious how this continued? Then go to the next page!