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Monday, 10 November 2008
Page: 10401

Mr DANBY (6:54 PM) —I want to mourn the passing of Henia Ptasznik, mother of a dear constituent of mine, Dr Ronnie Ptasznik. She was the eldest of five children of an observant family in Poland. She left school in Proshevitz at 15 and was employed sewing shirts in Krakow. On Jewish New Year in 1942 she, along with her parents, was ordered by the occupying Nazis to assemble in the town square in Proshevitz. She was in charge of her 10-year-old brother, Reuven. Fortunately for her, a Polish policeman took pity on her and enabled her to save herself by jumping off a wagon; he said that he would return her brother later. The policeman returned later without the boy. Mrs Ptasznik suffered lifelong anguish for having unwittingly left her little brother alone with the policeman, because all of those assembled were taken to Belzec death camp.

She smuggled herself back into Plashov work camp to be with her sisters and she witnessed incredible cruelties there. When Plashov was liquidated in 1944, she was sent to Auschwitz. From Auschwitz she and her sisters managed to get themselves to what they thought was a work camp near Koeningsberg. Four thousand people were sent on a death march, 3,000 of them women. In January 1945 at midnight in freezing temperatures, 4,000 of them were machine-gunned in a shooting that lasted for hours. Henia Ptasznik was one of only two survivors. Her survival, life and children are adornments to Australia. (Time expired)

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. AR Bevis)—Order! It being approximately 6.55 pm, in accordance with standing order 192A the time for members’ statements has concluded.