Remembering Stanislas Tomkiewicz


Stanislas Tomkiewicz (Warsaw 1925, Paris 2003), was a pediatrician and child and adolescent psychiatrist of great professional and personal prestige. A survivor of the Warsaw ghetto and the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, he arrived in France as a political refugee and seriously ill. His existence and his professional life constitute an archetype of resilience and sublimation of pain. This article is a synthesis of the most relevant existential, political and professional events in his life.

Pediatrics, psychiatry, holocaust.

[Automatic translation from Spanish]:

Stanislas Tomkiewicz was born in 1925 in Warsaw into a cultivated Jewish family and integrated into Polish society. His life was lavish until the beginning of Second World War when Nazi Germany invaded Poland and a year later in October 1940 the German occupier ordered the construction of the Warsaw Ghetto in which they would crowd all Jewish citizens of the city. Tomkiewicz and his entire family were held in the ghetto. The existence in it became increasingly unbearable and as a result he had two suicide attempts in 1942. He refers about them as one small and the other very grave.

In the first one, I made a few small cuts in my veins with a razor (I still have the scars). My parents came right away, some screams, some bandages and suicide was over. The cause of this first attempt was an unbearable feeling of guilt. I was in love with a friend named Nelly. One day, on 15 August 1942, that is in the middle of hell with the mass extermination of the Warsaw Ghetto, I went out with Danouta, his great friend. We were both on the street and an action began, euphemism to designate the preliminary phase of mass murders. I took Danouta out of hand and ran away together until at one point I lost his hand and stopped seeing her.
I had to tell Nelly that I had not been able to defend her and that I had let her best friend die. It was too much for me. I couldn’t confess my cowardice, so the solution was to kill me. Eventually it was my parents who spoke to Nelly. She doesn’t […]

Antonio Pombo Sánchez
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