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Daughter of Defiance

Esther Teichtal

Two blessings. One at the dawn of her life, the other as night settled upon European Jewry. Those blessing conferred strength on Bronka Marcus, and with the courage and inner fortitude borne of ironclad emunah, she risked her life for her People again and again.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Bronka Marcus possessed all the features to successfully blend into the underground resistance against the Germans: young, blonde, Aryan-looking, Bronka had studied in a Polish gymnasium and spoke a polished German. And yet her courage was borne of something deeper. Twice in her life, Bronka Marcus was blessed. The first time was when she was a mere infant, the fifth girl born to Ruchel and her husband Reb Yehuda. There were no boys and the parents’ joy was tinged with disappointment. Soon after the birth, Reb Yehuda visited the Tchortkover Rebbe and begged him for both a blessing and an eitzah. “Name her Brachah,” was the tzaddik’s reply, “and you will have a son next.” Brachah became an affectionate Bronka, yet Brachah proved to be a prescient name in more ways than one. The second blessing again marked the threshold of new life. A year after Bronka was born, the Marcus family saw the fulfillment of the Tchortkover Rebbe’s brachah with the birth of Aaron. Bronka’s brother was named after Rabbi Aaron Marcus z”l, his paternal grandfather — a well-known rabbi, philosopher, and linguist. When the Germans invaded Poland, young Aaron was a studious bochur who learned in yeshivah while also pursuing a law degree. Highly articulate in both Polish and German (the Marcus offspring had inherited their grandfather’s proclivity for languages), he also helped out the Krakow kehillah when necessary. Coming into Krakow, the Nazis zeroed in on prominent townspeople — a strategic ploy designed to instill terror in the hearts of the Jews.Aaron, an only son — pride and joy of theMarcus family — was summoned to Gestapo headquarters without delay. His parents and sisters begged him to ignore the summons and opt for a quick getaway instead.Aaron countered that if he didn’t comply, the Nazis would soon come for the entire family. In an act of selfless courage,Aaron turned himself in to the Gestapo. A few weeks later, an urn arrived with his ashes.

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