“Julius Madritsch, Righteous Among the Nations”, with Piotr Szalsza
This week’s trivia question: How many Jews signed a letter to Yad Vashem stating that Julius Madritsch had saved their lives?
Vienna-born Julius Madritsch was an expert in textiles. During the occupation of Poland, he served as a trustee of the German authorities, managing two textile factories close to the Krakow ghetto, which the Germans had confiscated from their original owners. He used his position to help the Jewish laborers who were forced to work in these factories. Together with his factory manager Raimund Titsch, he made sure to employ as many Jewish laborers as possible, many of whom were not professional workers. Madritsch and Titsch made sure the working conditions were humane, gave their workers large amounts of bread so they could sell part of it in the ghetto, and allowed Jewish laborers to make contact with the Poles outside the factory. They even arranged for a kosher kitchen in the factory. Madritsch also opened a branch of the factory next to the Tarnow ghetto. As in Krakow, the workers in Tarnow worked under humane conditions and received larger-then-usual food rations. He also helped a number of his workers in Krakow and Tarnow escape from the ghettos. In 1964 both Madritsch and Titsch were honoured as “Righteous Among the Nations” by Yad Vashem. Madritsch came to be known as “Tarnow’s Schindler”, and students of Janusz Korczak High School No. 5 in that city have developed a project called “Threads of life”, to make his accomplishments known to the general public.
Piotr Szalsza is a director, producer, musician, writer, and organizer of musical and theatrical projects. Originally from Poland, he has lived in Vienna for more than three decades. His projects include a fictionalized documentary about Bronislaw Huberman, a Polish-Jewish violinist who, aside from being one of the greatist virtuosos of the 20th century, was a social activist and philanthropist, and founded what is now the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Szalsza also directed an acclaimed film about Mordechai Gebirtig, the renowned Yiddish poet and songwriter.
His latest film, Julius Madritsch, Righteous Among the Nations, includes interviews with people Madritsch saved and participants in the Threads of Life Project, as well as previously unpublished documents and photographs. We would like to thank Ernest Kowalczyk of the Polish Cultural Institute in Madrid for his help in translating parts of this interview.
If you would like to see Julius Madritsch, Righteous Among the Nations, please contact Piotr Szalsza directly at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org