NORBERT “ISRAEL” GŁUSZECKI was a notary public born on November 27th, 1886 in Podwołoczyska, near Tarnopol, to Ludwig and Sabina Głuszecki. Israel is not actually Norbert’s middle name. Under the Nuremberg Laws, antisemitic and racial laws in Nazi Germany, the government required all Jews to identify themselves in ways that would permanently separate them from the rest of the German population. Jewish men and women with first names of “non-Jewish” origin had to add “Israel” and “Sara,” to their given names.
On April 17th, 1942 the Sipo und SD from Cracow ordered the transportation of 58 Poles to Auschwitz, including Norbert and his sons. Eight of these prisoners were registered as Jews and all of them perished in the camp. Upon arrival, Norbert was given his new identity, number 29801.
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All German Jews were required to carry identity cards that indicated their heritage, and, beginning in 1938, all Jewish passports were stamped with an identifying red letter “J”. As Nazi leaders quickened their war preparations, antisemitic legislation in Germany and Austria prepared the path for the radical persecutions of Jews.
While Norbert was born Jewish, he chose to convert to Catholicism. According to documents that survived, his son Rudolf also converted. It is likely that that was also the case of the entire family. Unfortunately, this did not protect Norbert or his family from the wrath of the Nazi ideology. We also do not know when such a change was made.
Faced with the reality of persecution, some Jews converted to Christianity or Catholicism before and during the Holocaust. While in 1941 the Romanian authorities enforced a law banning conversions, conversion to Roman Catholicism was treated differently. The Romanian papal nuncio, Monsignor Andrea Cassulo, as well as some of the Roman Catholic churches were willing to convert Jews as a way of helping them escape victimization under Nazi-occupied Europe. However, Germans still viewed Jews who converted to Catholicism as Jewish. The Nazis believed that being Jewish was not an issue of religion or self-identity but an issue of race, and if a person was a Jew according to their definition this person could not truly change their fate.
Norbert’s death certificate has his cause of death listed as ileus, a painful obstruction of the ileum or part of the intestine. While this would seem to be a legitimate reason for one to pass away, the Nazis often falsified records if they didn’t, in fact, destroy them all together. Prisoners were assigned to work in the camp hospitals, ordered to keep all documentation to help the Nazis supervise the hospitals, while also disguising the truth of the reality of the concentration camps. It was a regular occurrence for false causes of death to be entered into documentation that was prepared after the death of prisoners. When larger groups were put to death, the dates were also falsified, so that they would be distributed over a period of two or three weeks, hiding the reality of how many people were actually being murdered at a frightening speed. On top of falsifying the records, many times they never added any information at all and this paired with the destruction of records towards the end of the war explains why so little is known about so many victims. The Nazis erased them completely from society.
Author: Alexandra Cummings
Editor: Marina Amaral
Sponsored by: Michael Frank Family Charitable Fund