Natan Gross (1919-2005)

Born on 16th November 1919 in Krakow, Natan Gross, son of Jakub, was a director, screenwriter, film producer and film critic, poet, writer, editor and a publisher in both Polish and Hebrew. A Krakow’s Hebrew Gymnasium graduate who took his maturity exams in 1938 and who studied at the Faculty of Law at the Jagiellonian University as well as at the Academy of Fine Arts. War, however, ceased his education. Right after WWII broke out, he tried to get to Lviv but when he was just about to enter the city, he learned that Lviv had been occupied by the Soviets and decided to return to Krakow where he stayed until the beginning of 1941. Since that moment, his family’s ordeal began. In the search for shelter, they moved to the outskirts of Krakow – Czyżyny, Grębałów and Wieliczka, only to end up in the ghetto in Krakow. In December 1942, owing to their Polish friends, they left the ghetto and found a shelter in Krakow thanks to ”Aryan papers”. During the occupation, Natan Gross was called Franciszek Grymek. The Gross family owe the most to Stanisława Gawron, the Sroka family and the Turek family. Until the end of March 1943, they stayed in 14 (!) different places. At the beginning of 1943, Natan and his brother went to Warsaw where they stayed at their friends’ at Ciasna street followed by Asnyka street. While living in Warsaw, they oftentimes bumped into so-called shmaltsovniks, however thanks to their innate intelligence and huge luck, they managed to avoid the worst. Right before the Uprising broke out, Natan left occupied Warsaw and moved to Otwock. His next location was Krakow where he started working at the Central Jewish Historical Committee right after the liberation. After WWII, he finished the faculty of directing at the National Film Institute in Krakow and left to Łódź where he directed films in Yiddish. His works include ”Mir lejbn geblibene” oraz ”Unzere Kinder”. Due to the political situation in the country, he left to Israel on 11th January1950. After arriving there, he engaged into making films, journalism and writing. His work includes approx. 100 documentaries. In 1964, he made his only full-length film entitled Piwnica (The Basement). He was a member of the committee granting the Righteous Among the Nations title. His book written in Hebrew and published in 1986, describing the war period, also came out in Polish in 1991 (”Kim pan jest, panie Grymek?” – Who are you, Mr Grymek?) thanks to the Wydawnictwo Literackie publishing house.
Natan Gross died in Tel-Aviv on 5th October 2005 at the age of 85.
Read more: To była hebrajska szkoła w Krakowie. Gimnazjum Hebrajskie 1918-1939, The Historical Museum of Krakow, 2011.
Picture courtesy of Gazeta Wyborcza.