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Erich Moses

(1917 - )

Erich Moses is a Jewish Polish Holocuast survivor who joined the IDF and became an artist later in life.

He was born on July 28, 1917, in Wadowice, a small town in Southern Poland, at that time part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Wadowice was also the birthplace of Karol Józef Wojtyła, better known as Pope John Paul II, with whom Moses was friends. In their early years, the two played soccer together, Moses in the field and Wojtyła as the goal keeper.

Erich Moses' father, Artur, was a graphist and calligrapher who was offered a job in Berlin, where the family relocated and where Moses spent a significant part of his childhood. Moses would often visit Wadowice and had his Bar-Mitzvah there in its central synagogue.

In 1932, when the Nazi party become stronger and just before it was elected to power, his parents decided to leave Germany and move back to Poland. They settled down in the city of Bielsko-Biała, where a large branch of the family was living. Moses attended the Deutsche Gimnasium, the German speaking high-school.

In 1939, Moses was enliseted into the Polish Army and witnessed its defeat to Nazi Germany. He spent some time in a German military base, hiding his Jewish identity from a German officer who wanted him to paint for him, not suspecting that the blond haired, blue eyed aryan looking young man who spoke fluentl German was a Jew. Moses managed to escape and go East where he joined the exiled Anders Polish armed forces, which under British command travelled through Uzbekistan, Iran, Iraq and Mandatory Palestine. Like many other Jewish soldiers, Moses left his regiment in Palestine and established himself in Tel-Aviv.

In 1944, he met another Jewish Polish survivor in Tel-Aviv who had just arrived to Mandatory Palestine after a long journey in the USSR and various countries in the Middle East. Irena Weiss-Sekel soon married Moses and later gave birth to two children, Bruria - a pianist and Yoram - a surgeon.

In 1948, Moses joined the newly established IDF, which was struggling to ensure the survival of the new state of Israel. Because of Moses' already developed skills as a graphist and a painter, he became one of the first IDF members of the Intelligence unit in charge of creating maps.

After the War of Independance, Moses was able to reunite with close members of his family who also managed to survived the Holocaust. He established his own graphic studio in Tel-Aviv and would soon become one of Israel's important graphic artists.

During his art career, Moses prepared decor painting works for the Israeli Opera and the Matate, Li-La-Lo and Cameri theaters, as well as for some of Israel's first leading industries like Supergas.

One March 23, 2000, Moses joined the Wadowice Jewish survivors delegation who met with Karol Józef Wojtyła, who was then Pope John Paul II, in Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

Sources: Nachbarn - Juden in Friedrichshain by Regina Girod, Rener Lidschun & Otto Pfeiffer, Berlin 2000.