The Precious Medicine

By Zalman Rudman

Published in ChaBaD’sSichat Ha-Shavua” (#1043, 29.12.06)

Abridged translation from Hebrew by Sh. Gurevich


The childhood and youth of R. Daniel Horowitz were spent in an agricultural atmosphere – between fields, orchards and animals. He was born in 1913 in the Hungarian town of Bartzika. Daniel was the sixth generation of R. Shmuel Shmelke Ha-Levi Horowitz of Nikolsburg.

When Daniel was a child, his family moved to the village Brente, there they lived in peace and prosperity. His father R. Nathan Zvi rented lands for agriculture and employed many workers. Additionally, he had a big herd of cows and supplied milk to the Jews of Mishkoltz. Within the family, the work on earth was always accompanied with a dream of coming to Eretz Israel and cultivating its soil. Daniel studied in a yeshiva in Pressburg, and later joined his father to help him in his agricultural activities. After his marriage, Daniel was occupied in cattle trading.

The family’s peaceful life was abruptly cut by the outbreak of the World War Two. Daniel was conscripted into one of the Hungarian working squads which acted in full cooperation with the Germans. He was sent firstly to Ukraine to cut trees in the forests for three years, and after that to the German town of Ninenberg, for construction of underground bunkers. These were the years of hard work for many hours, in terrible conditions of hunger, cold and disease.  It was not surprising that the death rate in the working squads was very high.

One day death looked in the face of Daniel. These days he weighed only 35 kg. It was after he was sent from Ninenberg to Dachau concentration camp. On his way to Dachau he was infected with Typhus. The disease utterly weakened Daniel and he could not continue to work. He just thought he was doomed to death – but suddenly the redemption came from where it by no means was expected to appear.  He was sent for a check at the camp’s German doctor. The doctor measured his temperature – it was 40 degrees Centigrade. “What is your name?” - asked the doctor in German. “Dezso (Daniel) Horowitz”- replied Daniel. The doctor looked at him with examining glance. He neared his lips to Daniel’s ear and whispered: “If so – you are a Levi!”. The heat and weakness did not blur Daniel’s consciousness. “Yes”, he said, stunned, “Yes, I am Levi”. “This means that you belong to my family!”- added the doctor. He went to the corner of the room, opened the door of the cabinet of medicines and took out a hypodermic needle and a small bottle of penicillin, and injected it into Daniel’s body. It was written on the bottle in big letters: “Only for SS officers and German soldiers!”

The penicillin injection saved Daniel’s life. In a couple of days he recovered and went to look for the doctor to thank him but, unfortunately, he did not succeed in finding him. The doctor disappeared and all trace of him was lost.

The Germans were defeated, and victorious Americans entered Dachau to liberate its prisoners. After the war Daniel returned to Hungary. There he was struck by terrible news about his family. His wife and the little daughter had been sent to Auschwitz and never came back. He was also told that his brother had been shot by a German sniper, and his two sisters perished in Auschwitz as well.

Daniel started to restore his life from ruins and reconstruct it anew. He married Miriam Zeizler and together with the rest of his brothers planned to move to Eretz Israel. One night they sailed together on the board of a rickety boat “Knesset Israel” specially chartered to bring illegal immigrants to Eretz Israel.  But, when they neared the cost, they were detected by the British and sent to the Cyprus detention camp.

Only in 1947 the family succeeded in arriving safely to the coast of Eretz Israel. Daniel established his home in Pardes Channa. There he continued the family’s tradition and realized his old dream of agricultural work in the Holy Land. R. Daniel passed away peacefully on 7th Tevet 5766 (7.1.2006). His daughter Dina Levin from Bnei Brak sent this story to “Sichat Ha-Shavua”.