University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies


Philip Biel

Holocaust Survivor Philip Biel passed away in early February, 2004:
Biel Phillip, age 92, of Sunfish Lake. Preceded in death by wife, Esther; brothers, Emil, Morris & Isaac; and sister, Miriam. Survived by sons and daughters-in-law, Larry, Stanley (Leila), & Merrill (Leslie); grandchildren, Elie, Reuben, Aaron, Ariel, Jacob, Esther, Eliana, Rena, & Yoni; and other relatives. Phillip was a Holocaust survivor. He immigrated to Rockford, IL in 1951 where he raised his family. He moved to Sunfish Lake, MN in 1989 where he built his own home. He authored a book of his Holocaust experience titled "The Last Jew from Wegrow: The Memoirs of a Survivor of the Step-by-Step Genocide in Poland" by Shraga Feivel Bielawski and Louis W. Liebovich. Phillip was a loving husband, father and grandfather who always encouraged his children and grandchildren to excel at their endeavors. Funeral service and burial will be in Rockford, IL. Memorials preferred to The Phillip Biel Rosh Hodesh Fund c/o Beth Jacob Congregation. Arrangements: Hodroff & Sons 612-871-1234

With permission of the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Published 2/15/2004.


The photograph of me from my falsified passport, which indentified me as a Christian. I never got to use the passport.


A photo taken of me just after the Red Army liberated Wegrow. I had been hiding in the loft of Bujalski's barn for more than a year and had been slowly starving.


Woodcarving of Bujalski's barn, where we hid in 1943 and 1944. It is one of several scenes that I carved while we hid at the barn. The Hebrews inscription on the edge of the carving reads: "In this place we sat while Hitler murdered the Jews."

model of attic

A scale model of the attic above our store and house. I built the door in the central brick wall (the door is shown open). When the door was closed, the inside area (the smaller area in the lower part of this picture) could not be detected. This is where we hid for seven weeks after the SS rounded up Wegrow's Jews for shipment to Treblinka.

biel's mother

The picture of my mother that was taken in 1943 for her falsified passport.

biel's father

My father, Meier Wolf Bielawski, circa 1930.

family portrait

From left to right, my mother, Sarah Freida Bielawski, me, and my sister-in-law Paula in front of our clothing store, circa 1940. We are all wearing Star of David arm bands.

family portrait

The Bielawski brothers. From left to right: Yitzchak, me(Shraga), Yerachmiel, and Moshe, all wearing Star of David arm bands, as ordered by the Nazis in 1940.

family portrait

My brother Yitzchak's family, in a photograph taken in Wegrow in 1945, just after the end of the war. From left to right: a young friend: Yitzchak: a friend; little Eddie, Yitzchak and Paula's son: Paula: and Renia, Yitzchak and Paula's daughter. Yitzchak is only thirty-nine years old in this picture, notice how he has aged.

family portrait

My brother-in-law Morris Abarbanel, me, my sister Menucha, and Meyer, Morris and Menucha's first son, in Germany in 1948. Menucha is only twenty-nine or thirty in this photo, but notice how much older she looks as a result of her experience in Poland.

family portrait

Left to right: Rivka Kreda, the wife of the launderer Yecheil Kreda; my sister, Menucha; and the tailor Leibel Mazur's sister (whose name I do not remember). All the Kredas and Mazurs were shot, but my sister escaped by pretending to be dead.

Hirsch  and Miriam Recant

Hirsch and Miriam Recant. Miriam was my half-sister, Hirsch, who was a printer, was bitterly disappointed that none of his non-Jewish friends would help him. Hirsch, Miriam, and their three daughters died at Treblinka.

Rachel Mandelbaum

My girlfriend Rachel Mandelbaum(center) and two of her friends, circa 1939.

wedding day in 1949 in Bergen-Belsen

Ester and me on our wedding day in 1949 in Bergen-Belsen, near the site of the infamous concentration camp.

road workers

A Jewish road work crew near the village of Sokolow in 1939. Jews were forced into labor gangs where the Nazis invaded. I am standing in the middle leaning on a shovel(arrow).

wedding guests

Guests at a wedding in Wegrow before the war. Noah Kochman, the Jewish chief of police who tried to arrest me, is second from the left, wearing a hat.

Chaim Worim and wife

Chaim Worim and his wife. After they were taken to Treblinka, their two-year-old daughter, who had been left behind, was killed by an SS Officer who picked her up by her legs and smashed her head against a wall.

Hinde Chudzik and daughter

Hinde Chudzik, the five-year-old daughter of Fishel Chudzik, who owned the restaurant next to my family's store, and me, standing in front of my home. All the Chudziks were rounded up and shot.

sanitation workers

Sanitation workers standing in front of the mikva (ritual bath) just after the invasion of Poland in September 1939

hospital staff

Members of the Jewish hospital staff assembled just after the outbreak of war. In the second row at the center is the staff director. Dr. Melchior

Moshe Mandelbaum

Moshe Mandelbaum, leader of the Poale Zion, a Zionist organization that was active in Wegrow and elsewhere. He was not related to my girlfriend, Rachel Mandelbaum.

Nathan Weintraub

The Jewish medic Nathan Weintraub, who treated me for typhus and saved my life.

Jacob Mendel Morgenstern

Rabbi Jacob Mendel Morgenstern, rabbi of the Great Synagogue in Wegrow. He was the son of the rabbi of Sokolow. When the Nazis first entered Wegrow, they took him to the town square, make him clean the streets, and then bayoneted him to death.

Synagoue in Wegrow
The front of the Great Synagoue in Wegrow. The Hebrew inscription at the upper right identifies the synagogue by name.


The building that housed the drugstore on the square in Wegrow. The building is more than 700 years old.


The marketplace in Wegrow, circa 1937. The huge Roman Catholic Church at the front of the square is at the upper right in this photo.

Munich documents for Philip and Eda Gold Biel:  Part I (PDF), Part II (PDF)

German manuscript given to Philip Biel. The manuscript was found by an American GI (no identification) at the end of the war in Germany and deals with the Warsaw Ghetto.