of resistance: Underground activity
Davidson (Justina) was born in Krakow, Poland in 1917. She was one of the
founders of the underground in the Krakow
Ghetto in 1942. She was arrested by the Gestapo and wrote her diary in prison,
in which she documents the activities of the underground. Davidson escaped from
prison but was caught again, and since then her whereabouts are unknown. The
following is her story.
activities in Krakow
the Germans occupied Krakow, Gusta and her
husband Shimshon Drenger were arrested. After a month in prison during which
they were tortured, the two were released in exchange for ransom. Upon their
release they returned to their activities in the Akiva movement in the Krakow
Ghetto. Davidson taught the geography of Eretz Yisrael in an agricultural farm
in Kopiliani. In April 1942 the pioneers on the farm began to organize an
underground, and when the farm was liquidated in August 1942, the underground
movement “Hehalutz Halohem” (The Fighting Pioneer) was formed. Davidson was one
of the leaders of the movement from the day of its
underground began smuggling members to the ranks of the partisans, but after
several failures it abandoned this type of activity in favor of sabotage
operations. At the same time they dealt with the forging of documents and
certificates for its members. Shimshon Drenger was responsible for this
operation. After the second Aktion in Krakow in
November 1942, the United Underground was formed from the union of Hehalutz
Halohem and the Iskra (the Jewish underground of Hashomer Hatzair and the
Communists, which operated in the ghetto).
of the close surveillance of the Germans, Davidson and Drenger left the ghetto
and continued their activities in the surrounding villages. In January 1943
Shimshon Drenger was arrested by the Gestapo. When Davidson learned of this, she
hurried to give herself up. Drenger was imprisoned in the Montlopich prison and
Davidson in the neighboring Haltzlov prison.
Writing a diary in
the Haltzlov prison
prison Davidson met her companions from the underground. She organized them into
a group, and together they passed the time in discussions, study and singing.
Despite the recurring interrogations and tortures, the group kept up its morale.
Davidson’s noble behavior and her upright bearing earned her the admiration of
the non-Jewish prisoners as well.
her stay in prison, with the help of her friends, she wrote her diary, in which
she describes the story of the underground in a poetic manner. The diary was
written on toilet paper which was smuggled into the cell by Jews who worked in
the prison. The pages of the diary were hidden in niches in the walls of the
cell. Davidson dictated the material to her friends who sang so that the guards
would not notice what was going on.
April 28, 1943 the names were called of those prisoners who were to be sent to
Plashov for execution. The names of Davidson and her friends appeared on the
list, and they decided to try to escape. The following day a group of prisoners
was taken out of the prison. They had to march some tens of meters to the
transport trucks. A horse-drawn wagon broke out of a nearby street and blocked
the passage. The prisoners took advantage of the opportunity and fled. Davidson
and three other prisoners managed to escape, and seven other prisoners were shot
and killed by the Germans. The escapees managed to reach Buchnia and join the
underground members there. They sheltered in a bunker in the Vishnitz forest. In
the forest, Davidson was reunited with her husband, who also had escaped from
prison with 15 other comrades.
The attempt to cross
the bunker the couple joined the underground activities of the Vishnitz forests
and helped with the publication of the Hehalutz Halohem newspaper. Alongside the
concern for the requirements of the fighters and revenge actions against
informers, the underground members began to look for ways to cross the
contacted a Jew with Hungarian citizenship who lived in Vilitzka, of whom she
had heard from his wife, who was in prison together with her. Davidson and
Drenger decided that the time had come to cross the border to
Hungary. On November 8, 1943 Drenger
went to the home of the Hungarian Jew in order to receive forged documents. Upon
his arrival he was arrested by the Gestapo and identified himself with his real
name. On November 9th Davidson came with her nephew, Vitosh, to the
designated meeting-place with Drenger. When she heard that he had been arrested
she intended to give herself up, but the Gestapo soldiers came first to arrest
her. This was on November 11, 1943.
It can be assumed that they were executed.
all the Jewish prisoners of Haltzlov had been murdered, Davidson’s cell was
renovated to turn it into an officer’s club. Yehuda Friedman, a relative of hers
who was in the prison, bribed one of the builders to bring him anything which he
found in the cell. Thus he received a tin box in which was a collection of
papers – the diary which Davidson had written in prison. After the war a copy of
the diary was given to Yehuda Wasserman (Maimon, known as Poldak) and to Shimon
Lustgarten, friends of Davidson in the underground. The material is preserved in
the Ghetto Fighters’ House Archive.