Gedächtnisallee 5
D-92696 Flossenbürg

+49 9603-90390-0

Julek Kissil

Ivan Mytrofanovych Kysil

born November 18, 1924

  • Julek Kissil, 1946 (private collection)

Survival among the Dead

Ivan Mytrofanovych Kysil grew up in Lebedivka near Kiev. In 1942, he was arrested in the Ukraine. Kysil was assigned to forced labor in the German Reich. He attempted to escape, but was captured by the SS and deported to Nuremberg. The Gestapo then transferred him to the Flossenbürg concentration camp.

Upon his arrival, the seventeen-year-old indicated that he knew how to repair shoes. He had learned the craft from one of his uncles. Kysil was assigned to the post of prisoner shoemaker and thus escaped the quarry. “That saved my life,” he later explained. He remained in Flossenbürg for three years. At that point, the SS began to force the prisoners onto the death marches. Kysil fled with his friend Karl Schottner to the recovery block, which was part of the sick bay. In order to avoid discovery, they hid among the dead. He survived to witness the arrival of the US army in the camp on April 23.

  • Julek Kissil, 1948 (private collection)

  • Julek Kissil, 1951 (private collection)

The Ukrainian did not return to the Soviet Union. He followed Karl Schottner back to his hometown of Nuremberg and made his livelihood as a cattle dealer. Ivan Kysil changed his name to Julek Kissil. For Kissil, the name change signified the start of a new life. Julek Kissil did not reveal his imprisonment in the concentration camp: “I told no one that I had been a concentration camp prisoner.”