Jewish cemetery in Krakow, Poland
Jewish cemetery in Krakow, PolandYossi Zeliger/Flash90

The Kraków City Council is announced that one of the city streets will be named after Rabbi David Alter Kurzmann, the well-known caretaker of the Kraków ghetto orphanage. During the liquidation of the orphanage by the Nazis, Kurzmann was offered the choice to abandon the children and live, or join them in their deaths. Seventy-seven years after Kurzmann chose the latter, Walkative! tour guides collected hundreds of signatures to support their cause of honoring Kurzmann for his dedication, and the lives of the 300 orphans that were murdered. The street naming ceremony will take place on June 25, 2019.

Rabbi David Alter Kurzmann was born on May 25, 1865 in Rzeszów, Poland and was murdered at Bełżec death camp on October 29, 1942. In 1887, Kurzmann was the owner of a successful business and donated a large part of his income to charitable causes. He was well known for his support of the local Jewish orphanage and eventually began managing its finances in 1918. When World War II broke out, Kurzmann invested much of his time in saving the orphanage and its children, even after it was moved to the ghetto in 1941. He also ensured that the children were given the values of religion via the Torah and basic education.

On October 28, 1942, the orphanage was brutally liquidated and the orphans were ordered to be transported to the Bełżec death camp. Kurzmann was given the option to abandon the children and live, or stay with them and perish. After joining the hundreds of children in cattle cars, Kurzmann, along with the other teachers who refused to leave them, was murdered at Bełżec death camp.

Kraków tour guides affiliated with Walkative! began their efforts to honor David Kurzmann in 2017.

“Back then, we were celebrating our 10th anniversary and we wanted to thank Kraków for being both our workplace and our passion. We decided to do so by commemorating the orphanage in the ghetto by placing a plaque in its last location, 41 Józefińska Street,” Walkative board member Małgorzata Fus says.

It was decided that the next step would be to honor Kurzmann by naming one of Kraków’s streets after him. Walkative! guides collected hundreds of signatures to support their cause. The initiative was supported by the Jewish Community of Kraków, Galicia Jewish Museum, and Jewish Community Center (JCC) Kraków. The street location was selected with assistance from the Kraków Town Hall. It was then approved by the District VIII Council of Dębniki, where the street is located. The decision was given final approval by the Kraków City Council.

“David Kurzmann was a Krakówian, a Jew, a successful businessman, a teacher, a caretaker. History demanded him to make unimaginable choices. Choices in the face of which it didn’t matter anymore whether he was a Krakówian, a Jew or a businessman. Today we commemorate a man who reacted to those choices exactly the way a good human being should,” said Małgorzata Fus in her statement before the Kraków City Council.