“We miss them a lot, we want them to come back home” - Interview with Matty Dancyg
Matty Dancyg survived the Hamas terror attack on October 7, 2023, in the Nir Oz kibbutz in Israel. His father Alex Dancyg (75) and his uncle Itzik Elgerat (69) were kidnapped by Hamas terrorists during the attack. Born in Poland in 1948, educator and historian Alex Dancyg has dedicated decades of his life to the Polish-Jewish/Israeli dialogue.
The terror attack
Tell us about your family and about what happened on October 7?
I’m Matty Dancyg, and I used to live in Kibbutz Nir Oz. I’m a teacher in an anthroposophic high school in Be’er Sheva. I have a wife and three little daughters aged two, seven, and eight. We are one of the families that was lucky enough to survive the massacre in Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7.
Matty Dancyg survived the Hamas terror attack on October 7, 2023, in the Nir Oz kibbutz in Israel. In this interview he talks about his kidnapped family members.
My family and I were in one of the few houses – maybe three or four houses – that the terrorists didn’t get inside. We were very lucky. All this time I was holding onto the door handle of the shelter and looking at my three daughters and my wife. With every moment that passed, I thought they would eventually come to slaughter us and burn us, like they did in so many other houses.
I knew exactly what was going on in the Kibbutz. I knew all the horrors and everything that was going on because all the time people were writing messages: “Please help us, please, they are inside our house, they are burning us, we are dying.”
I knew all that, and I’m looking at my daughters. For hours and hours it went on like this. About eight hours I’m standing there shaking, all my body was shaking from fear because I knew… I love my daughters so much. It was just so terrifying and frightening to know that every moment they can come in and slaughter us and burn us. I’m thanking God every day that we are alive and that most of my family that was in the Kibbutz are alive.
My mother is a very brave 71-year-old woman – she was able to save two of her granddaughters, a child of my big brother and a child of my sister. My sister and her family also lived in the Kibbutz. She has four daughters, three of them were with her in the shelter. The terrorists came into my mother’s house and by some kind of miracle she told me she couldn’t close the shelter and an explosion closed the door for her. The shelter was closed and she was fighting at the other end of the shelter. No one expects things like that, so most of the shelters in the Kibbutz don’t have a lock on the inside. It was a struggle with the terrorists who tried to open the shelters in many places, and this was the case in my mother’s place as well.
They didn’t burn her house because they thought they could come in at some point, and they came again and again, trying to open the shelter and shooting at the door. Bullets are coming inside and she has a hole in the door. While this is happening, two of her grandchildren are under the bed, and I don’t know how she did it. It’s a miracle … She is a very brave woman.
My mother’s husband was also very brave – he tried to fight with the terrorists. He killed a few of them. He had only a pistol with him. Eventually, they started throwing hand grenades inside the house, and luckily he went to the shelter in time. They started burning the house, and smoke started coming in, and just at the last minute they went out, and at that moment the army just came, so we thank God they are alive.
Father and uncle kidnapped by Hamas
My uncle Itzik Elgerat, who is also a Danish citizen, was injured. We got messages from him at the time that he was injured. Unfortunately, the terrorists took him. He’s been kidnapped and is in Gaza. We know that from the signal from his phone.
My father, Alex Danzig, has also been kidnapped. The army came, and the house was empty. We also have a phone signal from him in Gaza. These are two members of my family that have been kidnapped.
We miss them a lot, we want them to come back home. We want all the hostages, all the people that have been brutally kidnapped, to come back home. The numbers in Nir Oz are just unbelievable. There are only 360 people in the kibbutz, including children, and the estimation is that more than 100 people have either been kidnapped or brutally murdered. I’m talking about little babies, babies who were less than one year old, little children, women, young women, old people, sick people. More than 70 people were kidnapped from Nir Oz.
We’re trying everything we can. We’re giving interviews, we’re doing all we can. My brother is now abroad, he’s been in Italy, in Poland, and he’s trying to help the best he can.
We are very disappointed and angry with the government and with the army. We feel like they left us alone to be slaughtered. The terrorists burned us, they slaughtered us as if we were nothing, and we feel deserted. I think it can’t happen a second time, we can’t be deserted again. The government needs to bring everybody back, not just the hostages from Nir Oz – more than 200 hostages are in Gaza. We’ve been in hell, and now they are in hell as well. They can’t desert us another time. They need to do everything to bring them back home to us.
It’s a very big failure of the government and of the army, of the intelligence forces. The only way to repair even a little bit of this failure is to bring all the hostages back as soon as possible. I mean now, not later, it will be too late.
»I love my daughters so much. It was just so terrifying and frightening to know that every moment they can come in and slaughter us and burn us.«Matty Dancyg, survivor of the Hamas terror attack on October 7, 2023
The life and work of Alex Dancyg
Your father Alex Dancyg is a Holocaust historian and scholar. Can you tell us more about his life?
My father is not a regular person. I know every person is as important as anyone else, but if I speak of my father, I can say that he is a very knowledgeable person. He knows a lot, and he is a great teacher. He has done exceptional work for many years on education in the fields of the Holocaust and the relationship between Jewish and Polish people. He is one of the biggest experts in this field.
Most of his family was murdered in the Holocaust. His parents were able to survive the Holocaust. He was born in 1948, the year Israel was founded. When he was nine years old, they moved to Israel. He had a very nice childhood in Poland. That’s the way he remembers it, and he knows Polish, he reads in Polish, he keeps in touch with the Polish people all the time. He has many Polish friends and is a well-known person in Poland. The government of Poland has declared that he’s a citizen of Poland, and we are thankful. We hope they will help us to bring him home.
He’s an exceptional man and an exceptional teacher. He had lots of students all over Israel and Poland who admire him and who are very worried about him. We all want him back. He doesn’t deserve to be where he is now. He lived on the border of Israel for more than 50 years. The state of Israel wanted him and us to live there on the border. Now they forgot to protect us.
I went to Kibbutz Nir Oz to collect some things just a few days ago. And this is the place where I grew up as a child until my 20s. To see this place burned down is very hard. To know what happened to many good friends and families and little babies that were slaughtered and burned alive… My mind is still not able to comprehend this horrible turn of events.
No help for hours
What do you want to say to the public in Germany?
I know the comparison between what has now happened and the Holocaust is not exactly accurate, but we feel to some extent that we’ve been in the Holocaust. For eight hours, we’ve been in the Holocaust because we were slaughtered, burned alive, and nobody was there to help us. The big difference is that we thought that someone was supposed to come and help us. In the Holocaust, they didn’t have this luxury, but we thought that someone would come and help us and that the Israeli army would come and help us – and they didn’t come. One hour was passing by, two hours were passing by, everybody was shouting for help, all the messages from the residents of the Kibbutz were saying: “Where is the army?” We were sure they would be there, like maybe within one or two hours. But it went on like this for eight hours. For eight hours, hundreds of terrorists with no trace of humanity in their hearts just slaughtered and burned us alive.
I see myself as the survivor of the massacre in Nir Oz, that’s the way I introduce myself now. The only thing that I’m fighting for these days is to bring the hostages back. So I ask the government of Germany to do everything they can to bring home these people who have been through Holocaust number two. I’m begging the government of Germany to help us bring them home, please.
Lack of trust in the government
I want this interview to be mostly about the hostages and my father and about bringing the hostages home, but I can’t avoid saying one thing about politics: The government of Israel and the one who is standing at the head of the government have been destroying this country of Israel for the last few years. In the last few months, it took on even greater dimensions. They deserted us, they destroyed the state of Israel socially, financially, and in many other ways. What has happened now is a continuation of this destruction. We don’t trust this government. We want them to resign. Netanyahu should resign immediately and bring back this authority to someone we can trust. We don’t trust him, and we don’t trust his closest friends in the government. Israel needs someone who is not corrupted and who is not a liar. We need someone we can trust, and it’s not him. Admit that you made a mistake. Admit your failure, resign, and let us build something good in this country.