I was deeply affected by the story of Mala Zimetbaum and Edward Galinski in Auschwitz.

However, the telegram informing about the escape of Mala mentions her name as Malka Zimetbaum.

The telegram informing about their capture also refers to Edward as Eduard.

Which of the two names is more accurate? How can both be correct? What names should I remember them by?

  • 2
    Polish Wiki says Malka was her name while "Mala" was the affectionate/kindly/friendly form, so the first would be the better in a formal circumstance. Similarly, Eduard is the Germanized form of Edward; the affectionate form for Galinski was "Edek". I imagine in the above cases Edward is correct (as that's what Polish WP uses) while Eduard was the Germanized form of his name as used by the SS, while Malka was simply the formal form of her name used on documents.
    – gktscrk
    May 25, 2020 at 18:26
  • 1
    * affectionate form == nickname
    – gktscrk
    May 25, 2020 at 18:36
  • @gktscrk Thank you! I knew about Edek and that Edek called her Mally, but I didn't know that Mala was also a nickname. By the way, what is a "germanized form"? Could you please shed some more light on it? Also, please include it as an answer so that I can accept it :) May 25, 2020 at 18:46
  • 1
    Added an answer and a description on the Germanized form.
    – gktscrk
    May 25, 2020 at 18:49

1 Answer 1


Looks to me like a case of many compounding effects.

Firstly, Mala vs Malka. Polish WP entry (and the English one for that matter) both signify that her formal name was Malka Zimetbaum, but she was known as Mala. In this case, the SS used the formal name in a telegram about her while the article has chosen the more friendly method of referring to her.

Secondly, Edward vs Eduard. As both the Polish and English WP's use Edward Galiński (note the apostrophy on the 'n' in his last name), I believe that his first name (common name in many languages) was Germanized to "Eduard". Hence, both in Polish and English he is referred to as Edward Galiński while the SS Germanized his name into Eduard. His "known by" was Edek which is how Malka referred to him as illustrated by the citations both on the Polish and German WP entries (no citations on the English one).

The "Germanized" form means that the word was taken through the process of Germanization to make it suit the rules of the German language (Eindeutschung). In English, this happens to names as well (such as the Portuguese "Joao" known as "John" to most).

Hence, the 'correct' way to refer to them would be:

  • Malka Zimetbaum, or Mala;
  • Edward Galiński, or Edek.

If you were taken in by their story, you should perhaps prefer the latter forms which would have been the ones used by friends, lovers, etc...

  • Amazing, thank you! I knew about Edek and that Edek called her Mally, but I didn't know that Mala was also a nickname. Also, thank you for the additional info about them: that was the main reason for me asking this question on History SE. May 25, 2020 at 18:52
  • 1
    Apparently, there's a difference in "Germanization" between a nationalistic one and a linguistic one. I only considered the linguistic one when I originally wrote this and I've reflected this above in another edit, but it is possible that the SS were also thinking of the first. That's also why I've left in a similar example as it happens in English.
    – gktscrk
    May 25, 2020 at 18:54
  • Thank you, you are a perfectionist. People like you make this community so valuable and amazing! May 25, 2020 at 18:56

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.