Stefan Jerzy Zweig and Adoption

c. 1912



Zweig was the son of a prosperous Polish Jewish lawyer. When he was only a toddler the Nazis sent him and his father to the Buchenwald concentration camp. There they were separated and his father disappeared. Stefan was now alone, barely three years old, in one of the worst concentration camps of the Third Reich.

He was "rescued" by Wille Bleicher (1907-81), who had been imprisoned for labor union and Communist activities; the camp authorities wanted to kill the boy, as a "useless consumer of food" - there was no place for anyone unable to work as a slave laborer. Bleicher, at first alone, and later with the connivance of other inmates, hid the boy, risking certain death to do so.

In the fall of 1944 Zweig was supposed to be deported with other children to Auschwitz, but it seems that Bleicher bribed the camp doctor to certify the child as infected with typhus, thus avoiding the transport train. After liberation Zweig emigrated to France, then to the German Democratic Republic where he studied film making, and then became a cameraman with ORF, the Austrian television network, before emigrating to Israel.

The story of his rescue is the subject of the novel Nackt unter Wölfen (1958) by Bruno Apitz (1900-79) who was an inmate of Buchenwald for five years), which was made into a film in East Germany with the same title in 1963.


"Verschiedene Arbeiten aus Meiner Schulzeit: Willi Bleicher: Sein Wirken als Widerstandstkämpfer." Available at: Green, John. Anonym Unterwegs: Ein Fernsehjournalist Berichtet. (Berlin: Dietz Verlag, 1991) "Club Passage: Programmkino." Available at: