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April 11, 2013 - Image 67

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2013-04-11

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A Shoah Survivor's Courageous Deceit


nna Oliwek, 89, of Franklin,
died March 20, 2013.
Her story has been written
about in a variety of articles, including
the Washington Post; she was the subject
of Steve Luxenberg's Annie's Ghosts and
references may be found in excerpts of
the writings of Luxenberg and William
"In October 1942, Anna was just 18
years old when she fled the western
Ukrainian town of Radziwillow with only
the vaguest idea of where she was going;
just 18 when she walked into a Nazi
occupation headquarters with little more
than an improbable tale and a facility for
language; just 18 when she deceived the
Nazis into believing her masquerade as
the daughter of a German mother and
Ukrainian father.
"Within a month of escaping certain
death in Radziwillow at the hands of
a Nazi-led local killing squad, she had
secured herself a job as a translator
for the Wehrmacht's military police, a
sensitive position, a position of trust, a
position reserved for a member of the
German Volk, the German people.
"The major, whose last name was

Konitzer, was a small, stocky man. He
listened to Anna's fabricated account and
said she reminded him of his daughter
back in Germany. He asked her how she
had learned to speak so many languages
at such a young age, and she told him: 'I
have a gift, I guess; it comes easily to me:
"She could have told him she spoke a
fifth and sixth
language, but
then was not
the time to
brag about
Hebrew and
Yiddish. Her
identity gave
her a new life,
but it also took
Anna Oliwek
its toll, requir-
c. 1930
ing her to nur-
ture the deceit,
to learn the art of lying — not merely how
to tell a lie, but how to live a lie because
lying was the route to survival.
"But, always, she lived with the fear of
being discovered. She was a Jew hiding
in plain sight; and to make her disguise

BETTY J. DRILICH, 85, of West
Bloomfield, died April 6, 2013.
She is survived by her daughters, Ilene
Drilich of Bloomfield Hills, Claudia
(Margo Rosenthal) Drilich of West
Bloomfield; son and daughter-in-law,
Terry (Lesley) Drilich of Walled Lake;
grandchildren, Adam (Kim) Pomeranz,
Justin (Katie) Drilich; great-grandson,
Maxwell Pomeranz. She is also survived
by many other loving family members and
Mrs. Drilich was the beloved wife of the
late Herbert Drilich; the sister of the late
Bernard Bercuson.

Contributions may be made to the
Alzheimer's Association or to a charity of
one's choice. Arrangements by Dorfman

Arthritis Foundation or to a charity of
one's choice. Interment took place at
Clover Hill Park Cemetery in Birmingham.
Arrangements by Dorfman Chapel.

ALLAN ELLIS, 83, of Livonia, died April
2, 2013.
He is survived by his son, Martin Ellis of
Livonia; sister, Barbara Denton of Fraser;
many other loving family members and
Mr. Ellis was the beloved husband of the
late Pearl Ellis; the brother-in-law of the
late Les Denton.
Contributions may be made to the

97, of Southfield, died
March 31, 2013.
She is survived by her
daughter, Lenore Diskin
of West Bloomfield; son
and daughter-in-law,
Robert and Adrienne
Feldstein of West
Bloomfield; grandchildren, Mark Diskin,

Monument Center Inc

"Same Location Over 80 Years"
Monuments and Markers
Bronze Markers
Memorial Duplicating
Cemetery Lettering & Cleaning

believable, she had to believe her own
deception; she had to make herself appear
comfortable among the very enemy that
had killed her family. She had to turn her-
self into a secret.
"Another time, a German officer hauled
in a Jewish woman he had found hiding
in the nearby forest, calling her a 'dirty
Jew: The terrified
woman saw Anna, who
had been summoned to
translate, and asked in
Polish, Are you Jewish?'
Anna, acting quickly,
told the woman to be
UST quiet, that she would
riroR handle it. She went
directly to the major's
office and informed
him that the officer was
mistaken. 'If she's a Jew, then I'm a Jew:
she says she told the major. 'The major
said, Traulein Anna; — that's what he
called me — 'If you say she's not a Jew,
then she's not a Jew. Tell the officer to let
her go:
"She spent the rest of the war in
Memmingen, primarily working as a
translator for a construction company

Jon and Margie Diskin, Jeffrey and Stacey
Diskin, Jamie Diskin, Tony Feldstein and
Leslie Flagel; great-grandchildren, Mearyl
Diskin, Harrison Diskin, Brittany Diskin,
Alyssa Diskin, Megan Diskin and Adam
Mrs. Feldstein was the beloved wife for
76 years of the late Ben Feldstein. She is
the last of eight children of the late Jacob
and the late Sarah Feldstein.
Interment was at Adat Shalom Memorial
Park. Contributions may be made to a
charity of one's choice. Arrangements by
Ira Kaufman Chapel.

Obituaries on page 68



Call 248-542-8266


661 E. 8 Mile Road Ferndale

11/2 blocks East o Woodward

that was using Allied POWs from a near-
by stalag as forced labor. Within three
weeks of Germany's formal surrender on
May 7, 1945, she went to the local office
set up by the Allies and emerged with a
new ID card and her old identity:'
Mrs. Oliwek is survived by her children,
Bella Oliwek of Bloomfield Hills, David
Oliwek of Franklin, Doris Oliwek of Novi;
grandchildren, Andrea and Dan Augustine,
Jeremy and Becki Water, Zachary Water;
great-grandchildren, Maggie, Sophia,
Avery; loving friend Sidney Zatz; other
dear friends and relatives.
Mrs. Oliwek was the beloved wife for
46 years of the late Steve Oliwek; dear
sister of the late Mendel Shlain, the late
Esther Shlain.
Contributions may be made to Jewish
Hospice and Chaplaincy Network, 6555
W. Maple Road, West Bloomfield, MI
48322; Children of Holocaust Survivors
Association in Michigan, do Holocaust
Memorial Center, 28123 Orchard Lake
Road, Farmington Hills, MI 48334; or Yad
Ezra, 2850 W 11 Mile Road, Berkley, MI
48072. Interment was held at Clover Hill
Park in Birmingham. Arrangements by
Hebrew Memorial Chapel.


Kosher Michigan teamed up with
Michigan State to provide 300
Kosher for Passover lunches
and dinners on MSU's campus.






April 11 • 2013


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