Chess Archaeology HomeChess is a scientific game and its literature ought to be placed on the basis of the strictest truthfulness, which is the foundation of all scientific research.W. Steinitz

LETTER FROM THE LODZ GHETTO:
A Tribute to Dawid Daniuszewski
by Tomasz Lissowski

    Though little known, Dawid Daniuszewski’s biography and chess achievements are deserving of remembrance.  Daniuszewski (1885?-1944?), who spent most of his life in Lodz (located in central Poland), was a practical player weaker than both Rubinstein and Tartakower.  He was, to be perfectly frank, weaker than a number of forgotten Polish players such as Przepiorka, Regedzinski, Paulin Frydman, and Makarczyk, whose best years were in the first decades of the twentieth century.  I believe it important to recall that Daniuszewski had the best score against Alekhine among Polish players (1½-½).  He participated in the first individual Chess Olympiad in Paris 1925, and played in a number of Polish team, and individual, championships.
    It would be interesting to research the part of his life spent in the Soviet Union (1915-1921), where he played in what was the first de facto Soviet Chess Championship held in Moscow in 1920.  A tournament won by Alekhine with a score of 12 out of 15, with Romanowski finishing second, a point behind.  Daniuszewski finished ninth, scoring 7-8.
    Daniuszewski also compiled two chess books.  The first, a great rarity nowadays, was entitled The First Almanac of the Lodz Society of Chess Playing Amateurs (Lodz 1907, in Russian, co-author: A. Mund).  Over thirty years later, Daniuszewski’s second and final book appeared, The Jubilee Book of the Lodz Society of Chess Playing Amateurs (Lodz 1938).  He edited a chess column in a Lodz newspaper and contributed to Polish and Russian chess magazines, the latter until 1915.
    Originally I had hoped to locate people who in their youth were familiar with Daniuszewski, ones who had met him at the chessboard.  That hope proved impossible as Makarczyk, Wroblewski, and Gadalinski, to name just a few, had already passed away.  They were too modest or perhaps too introverted (a feature very popular among chess players, and the bane of their biographers) to write down their memoirs, detailing names, events, facts and impressions.  And they were not lucky enough to meet an inquisitive chronicler, one capable of asking the right questions to help preserve such eyewitness accounts of chess history.
    Recently, by chance, an unusual item came into my hands. During a phone conversation with Zygmunt Lokuciewski, an older Lodz chess player who was born in Vilnius during the twenties, I happened to mention Daniuszewski’s name.  Lokuciewski said: “Well, personally I can say little about him, but I think there is something in my book collection.  I will write you.”
    I soon received a letter, in which my correspondent wrote as follows:
    Please find enclosed a copy of one page. You will find on it a game D. Daniuszewski - Dr. S. Szapiro, played in the Lodz ghetto on February 9, 1944.  The page had been inserted on the last, blank page of a chess annual, seemingly from 1937.  My discovering it was purely by accident.  I have no more evidence concerning D. Daniuszewski.
With regards,____________
Z. Lokuciewski
    Here is the page sent to me by Zygmunt Lokuciewski:
Link for I.E. 4.0 users with buggy browser
    At the top appear descriptions to several positions.  The first, according to Kasparian (Domination in 2545 Endgame Studies, Moscow 1974, page 13) is a study by E. Post from 1939.

White wins: 1.Nc7 Bh1 2.Kg1! B~ 3.f6+ K~ 4.e6 and wins.
Manuscript 
(Courtesy of Zygmunt Lokuciewski)

Daniuszewski,D — Gelenstern,J [?]
 
(Position)
1941.09.14
POL Litzmannstadt (Ghetto)
1...f4? 2.Re6! fxg3? 3.Rg6+ Kh8 4.Rh6+ Kg7 5.Rh7# 1-0.
Manuscript 
(Courtesy of Zygmunt Lokuciewski)

    The next position was taken from Richter’s column in the German contemporary, the Neue Illustrierte Zeitung.
Lundin — Richter,K
 
(Position)
1941
Europa - Turnier
Black to move.
Manuscript
(Courtesy of Zygmunt Lokuciewski)

Leepin — Mross
 
(Position)
1...Nxe3!
Manuscript 
(Courtesy of Zygmunt Lokuciewski)

    The gamescore, with annotations written in Polish, is at the bottom.
Daniuszewski,D — Szapiro,S
 
C17/06
French: Advance Winawer (Bogolubov)
1944.02.09
POL Litzmannstadt (Ghetto)
Annotations by Dawid Daniuszewski
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.Bd2 cxd4 6.Nb5 Bc5 7.Nf3 Qb6 8.b4 Be7 9.a3 Nc6 10.Bf4 a5 11.bxa5 Rxa5?
** 11...Qxa5.
12.Rb1 Qd8 13.Rb3 Bc5 14.Bd3 Nge7 15.0-0 h6
** 15...0-0? 16.Bxh7!
16.Nd6+ Bxd6 17.exd6 Ng8?
** 17...Ng6.
18.Bb5 Bd7 19.Nxd4 Nf6 20.Rg3
** Winning the queen by 20.Bxc6 bxc6 21.Nxc6 Bxc6 22.Rb8 is too costly.
20...Kf8 21.Bxc6 bxc6 22.Be5 Ra4 23.Qa1 Ne8?
** Even without this mistake Black’s position remains difficult.
24.Bxg7+ Nxg7 25.Nxe6+!
** Weak is 25.Rxg7? for then 25...Qf6! but not 25...Kxg7? because of 26.Nxe6+!
25...Bxe6 26.Qxg7+ Ke8 27.Qxh8+ Kd7 28.Qxh6 Kxd6 29.Rb1 Qa5 30.Qf8+ 1-0.
**
Manuscript 
(Courtesy of Zygmunt Lokuciewski)

    After playing over Dawid Daniuszewski’s last games I started to wonder if I should publish them.  The Second World War was finished more than half a century ago.  Perhaps enough of martyrdom?  Perhaps it would be better to leave such matters in silence?  I posed such questions to one of my friends, and received a reply which I direct to the reader’s attention, as it helped me form my opinion:
    My own view is that such historical matters in chess are invaluable. [...]
    I think the games and the story surrounding them are a very important matter.  The struggle to preserve culture, to continue with the matters of the mind that make us truly human, and not mere animals, in the face of the Nazi beast strikes me as true courage.  Just the act of writing down the scores suggests an effort to preserve something valuable in the face of such utter horror and destruction that is ennobling, in itself.  I, for one, would be proud to play over the game scores, if you care to share them.  I think they would make a valuable human interest story. [...]
    You may be holding in your hands one of the last cultural artifacts ever to emerge from among that suffering group of humanity.  The recording of those games was an act of affirmation of life, of what makes life good and beautiful, in my estimation.  Sure, the games themselves might not be great chess, but that is not the point.  They are candles lighting the darkness, if only for a moment, if only in a small way - and as such, I believe, entitled to more consideration than merely the merits of the play itself.
    I could hardly express it more profoundly.  Let us preserve in our memory Dawid Daniuszewski, who, as a man and chess player, was formed in Lodz, on the borderline of Polish, Jewish, Russian and German culture, and whose life was tragically cut short during the extermination of those in the Lodz ghetto.
Footnote
Lodz: A city in central Poland, and a large center of commerce and textile industry, referred to in the nineteenth century as the “Polish Manchester”.  Before 1939 Lodz had less than one million inhabitants, with a large share (approximately 30% each) of Germanic and Jewish people.  In 1940 Lodz (later renamed Litzmannstadt) and Poznan, along with the surrounding area, were joined directly to the German Reich as “Wartheland”.  Numerous Polish inhabitants were deported to the so-called General Government in Warsaw, Cracow, Lublin, etc.  Jewish inhabitants were enclosed in a selected part of each city (ghetto) where a huge forced labor camp was organized in which only one in a thousand survived.  The details and precise date of Dawid Daniuszewski’s death, as well as thousands of others, remains unknown.
© Tomasz Lissowski 1999
Errata (Added 1999.05.10)
Mr. Lokuciewski’s surname is ZYGMUNT, not Zbigniew.   I wrote in a hurry.   Could you correct it? Sorry and thanks. T. L. [No Problem - N. P.]

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