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[Page 208]

XXXVIII

“Aryans” and “Muslims”

The Jews who still remained after all of the past aktsias took into account the constant danger that hung over them. They realized that they would not escape the evil fate and that the Germans would let them live only for as long as they could make them of use. Therefore, the thought arose among many that only those who could make themselves into “Aryans” would survive. In addition, however, one had to have an “Aryan” appearance and “Aryan papers.”

In order to appear as an “Aryan,” women with black hair dyed their hair blonde and men allowed thick whiskers to grow and they also dyed them blonde along with their hair.

As for “Aryan papers,” they could be gotten through the recommendation of acquaintances, from particularly influential people who took large sums for this.

Poles would come to the artisans' house who took photographs and money from the Jews and after several days they brought ready made “Aryan papers” with birth certificates that showed that the person in question was an “Aryan” for endless generations.

But for the “Aryan appearance” and “Aryan papers,”

[Unnumbered page]

 

A pile of ash remaining from the Czenstochow Ghetto

 

The destroyed synagogue named for the Czenstochow Rabbi, Nukhem Asz

 

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they still had to possess a great deal of money in order to remain in a strange city because they were afraid that in their own city, acquaintances and strangers would recognize the person and give him away.

The majority of the Jews with “Aryan papers” went to the larger cities or to spas where it was easier to settle down. However, multitudes of blackmailers arose – Poles who specialized in finding “Aryan” Jews. Such people would boldly and cockily approach someone in the street and say to him: “You are a Jew!” If the face of the Jew changed and he was startled, the blackmailer saw that he had guessed correctly and he demanded 10,000 zlotes or even more. If the Jew was able to pay, the matter was taken care of – at least for the present with this blackmailer. If, however, the Jew did not have any money, the blackmailer gave him to the Gestapo or police and the Jew was doomed.

The “Aryan” Jews who were caught were forced through torture to reveal their place of residence and the Gestapo would often at such opportunities discover the tracks of other false “Aryans” and of the manufacturers of “Aryan” papers. In many cases, the Poles who had rented residences to the “Aryan” Jews were also shot together with the Jews.

Polish policemen also blackmailed and extorted money from Jews. If a Jew tried to insist that he was an “Aryan” he was taken to the Gestapo where it was verified if he was circumcised. Women were questioned as to whether they knew Catholic prayers and knew various religious customs.

Often a real Catholic with a Semitic appearance would be stopped. But they only received a bit of molestation on the part of the gendarmes and were freed.

Even though “Aryan papers” were an inadequate remedy, almost every Jew wanted to have them. They wanted to

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fool themselves because during a close inspection they were immediately seen to be a forgery. However, the fixers carried on a good business and they also found new ones. Thus they “invented” the creation of papers as Muslims who were also circumcised. Such papers were more expensive than the usual “Aryan” ones because it was thought that they were more secure. However, in reality the “Muslim” papers did not have the least worth because the German or Polish police immediately realized that they were dealing with an illegitimate “Muslim.”

But, the desperation of the Jews was so great that they grabbed at everything as a thirsty person to a straw.


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XXXIX

Third Ghetto

The chief issued a new decree that the men should be separated from the women in the “labor camp.” He said that the men should live in Nadrzeczna Alley, the women in Kozia Street and married men and women in Garncarska Alley.

In this way the “labor camp” was divided anew into three ghettos.

The Judenrat again received a new task: carrying out the changes in residence of several thousand people.

These changes had to be carried out in the course of one week and then only at night when the workers came back from their work.

It had just become chilly and the people who came back from work hungry and frozen were forced to pull their poor little bits of furniture in the frost through slippery, small alleys –

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the beds and little cabinets – from one wet, cold room to a still worse apartment somewhere on Third Street, in a corner of a room with five or six other people.

However, during this entirely horrible situation several Judenrat members were found who also had in mind the arrangement of better residences for women with whom they had “adulterous love affairs.”

It is worthwhile to mention the fact that Judenrat members as a result of the general characteristics of the ghetto and of the “Jewish leaders” there – even some older family men with grown children – used the generally sad conditions and their “power” in order to find lovers among the lonely, unfortunate women who had lost their husbands or their parents. This “love” was won for the price of obtaining easier work in the “labor camp” and a better place to live.

It was not only “Jewish leaders,” but also the chief himself who had a Jewish lover in the ghetto. During an aktsia her family was deported and she left the chief.

The Germans would call her “the beautiful Helenka.” The chief had fixed up a beautiful residence for her in the ghetto. Every morning she went to the chief in the residence where she managed the house and in the evening she came back to the ghetto. Only she had the privilege of going to the entire city. The gendarmes and the policemen knew her.

On the morning when the “beautiful Helenka” celebrated her birthday, the chief sent her flowers with his servant-gendarme. The gendarme grumbled and said: What had love done to the chief – sending flowers to a Jewish girl!


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XL

The End of the Artisans' House

In the afternoon on one of the last days of the month of February 1943, the Gestapo suddenly entered the artisans' house. They went up to Zigelman, the furrier. After amusing themselves there for half an hour they arrested the furrier and his wife and a sister-in-law who had lost her husband during an aktsia and since then had lived with the Zigelmans.

The furrier's residence was searched and his nine-year old son remained alone in the courtyard without his parents and without a home.

Several days later it was learned that the three people had been shot at the cemetery.

The Gestapo came to the residence on several nights and took things from there until everything had been stolen. No one knew why the Zigelmans had been murdered.

The event made a heavy impression on the artisans. And several days later, when we learned that a house-search was being prepared for all of the artisans, the panic grew still greater.

Chief Degenhardt knew about the mood of panic among the artisans and he ordered the tailors Gryn and Kac to come to him. He visited a house with them at the old market which belonged to the “Aryan side” and he told them that he had decided to move the artisans from the house at Allee number 4 to this house. He further assured them that the new artisans' house would be spared exactly as during the previous aktsias and the house would not be part of the “labor camp” so that German clients would be able to visit it.

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The chief and the two tailors immediately selected a residence with a workshop for each artisan.

When the tailors returned, they informed the artisans that the residences in the new house were not really as comfortable as the present ones, but the situation would not change in any other way.

With this news, the mood in the artisans' house became calmer and everyone devoted himself to his work as before.

* *
*

At six o'clock in the morning heavy military steps were heard in the courtyard of the artisans' house. Several minutes later there was a knocking on the doors of all of the Jewish residents and two gendarmes entered each residence, ordering the owners of the workshops to get dressed and to go down to the courtyard.

The gendarmes did not leave the residences, but carried out searches.

When the master craftsmen left their residences in order to go down to the courtyard, they met gendarmes and Ukrainians with weapons in their hands on the steps, corridors and in front of the house.

Chief Degenhardt stood in the middle of the courtyard with the sergeant major and gendarmes. When all of the Jewish master craftsmen were standing before him, he turned to them with this speech:

– From today on, the 9th of March 1943, the golden times for you, Jewish artisans from the house at Allee number 4 have ended. All of you will immediately move to the “labor camp” where you will live together with all of the Jews. I give you 20 minutes to gather your private clothing and to come down to the courtyard
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with your families. Goods, raw material, half and entirely completed work should be left in the residences. The keys should remain in the locks of the doors and cabinets.
The chief no longer recognized Gryn, the tailor, whom he had made a policeman, nor the other tailor, who had visited him with the tailor Gryn, nor all of the other artisans for whom he had ostensibly designated the new house at the old market. “All Jews are equal!”

He left the house immediately, giving his people the proper instructions about how to carry out the aktsia.

The gendarmes waited 20 minutes. They made sure that no one from the artisans' house would take with him any goods, only private things. The artisans and their family members loaded themselves with packs over their shoulders and valises in their hands and went down to the courtyard. Approximately 200 people with their little bits of things stood in the courtyard and then began to march through the streets to the “labor camp.” We were driven, guarded on all sides by the gendarmes and the Ukrainians, through Garibaldi Street where the large warehouses with the stolen Jewish things were located.

The greater number of those forced out could not carry their packs for long because the gendarmes and the Ukrainians made them go faster and faster. Therefore those who became more and more tired kept throwing away the goods that became heavier in the street and the gendarmes picked them up and brought them into the warehouses.

We were forced from Garibaldi Street through Warszawer Street where we did not see any civilians. There they still were cleaning out the businesses of the deported Jews. Only Polish policemen stood guard and laughed in our faces at how we were being pushed and chased and carrying our loads.

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A young man, sick with tuberculosis, lived in the artisans' house. He did not carry a pack and could not keep up with the fast pace. He remained behind; his wife dragged the packs on her weak shoulders and from time to time looked around at her very sick husband. He had a yellow complexion and he constantly held a hand at his heart. The murderers stepped on his feet and drove over them with their bicycles. However, he could not go faster. He could not even utter one word. One of the gendarmes took out his revolver and wanted to shot the young man. However, the wife stopped and started to beg for him, that he was sick and could not walk. The gendarme deliberated and relented.

From Warszawer Street we entered the small market and from there, the “labor camp.” There we found the alleys completely empty, without people. We were forced into a large hall on the first floor of the liquidated Jewish workshops. Everyone took off their packs and, tired, lowered themselves to the ground.

The artisans looked at each other as if surprised and confused. It was hard to understand that it was not long ago that we had lost our established home. We first dedicated ourselves to understanding that all of the assurances from our German clients and from Mrs. Moszewicz were deceptions in order to blind our eyes, just as the visit by the chief and the two tailors to the ostensibly new artisans' house was calculated so that no one would anticipate what would happen and take something out of the residence in time.

Meanwhile, several hours passed and we sat in a guarded house, not knowing what more would happen to us.

Finally, the chief arrived accompanied by a person from the Gestapo and called out that Kac, the tailor, and Szidlowski, the shoemaker, should go down to the ground floor with their families and to take

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their things with them. Understandably, the order was immediately carried out.

Kac's small daughter came back up after several minutes and explained that downstairs the things were being searched and everyone had to completely undress for a search.

Everyone in the hall immediately took out their things of value and looked for some way in which to be rid of them because Jews were not supposed to have any large sums of money or valuables.

Seeking an alternative to help ourselves, we noticed a small window in the hall that looked onto a small courtyard. The courtyard bordered a second courtyard where we saw Jewish policemen and night workers who were looking up at us. We made signs to them with our hands and communicated to them the conditions in which we found ourselves. Many wrapped their money and valuables in a handkerchief, wrote their names on a piece of paper and threw it out of the small window. The others picked up the packets and immediately left.

But not everyone decided to do this with their money and valuables.

Meanwhile, we noticed through a second small window that the Kac and Szidlowski families were placed with their faces to a wall and after a while they were led away under heavy guard by the Ukrainians and gendarmes.

Then everyone on the first floor was called for a search. One by one they were led into a room where the chief and five gendarmes were found. The chief ordered everyone to turn over everything they owned and we were searched by the gendarmes only after this was done to see if, God forbid, we had hidden something.

After the search, we were let out with our things onto

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the street and each of us had to persuade an acquaintance somewhere that we be permitted to lay down our things.

In this manner, the chief received 200 new people in the “labor camp” without money and without a roof over their heads. However, he left with a valise of money and valuables; as was later learned, he had taken 100,000 zlotes, in addition to the various items of value.

When the sick young man was searched and money was found on him, he received an order from the chief that he report to a doctor in the hospital.

The young man was taken into the hospital as a very sick person.

On another day, the chief went to the hospital and saw the young man laying on a bed and nearby in a small bed, another very ill man. The chief ordered the doctor to poison both of them.

A day later, when the chief spoke by telephone with his representatives about various matters, he did not forget to ask if the two sick men were already dead. When he received an answer that they were still alive, he issued an order that the Jewish police should bring the two sick men to be put under guard.

When two Jewish policemen arrived at the hospital for the sick men, everyone realized that they were being taken to be put under guard.

It was very bizarre in the hospital and no one wanted to tell the sick men and their wives the news. The policemen ordered the two unfortunate ones to get dressed and come with them. The wives could not be torn away from their sick husbands and the sick men themselves understood what was happening and they did not want to get dressed. With great effort, the nurses stood them on their feet. One wife gave her sick husband

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sleeping pills. The goodbyes among the two couples was heartrending; the policemen had to use their strength to tear apart the people and the two very sick men left for their march to the Angel of Death.

There was beautiful spring weather when they left the hospital courtyard for the street; the sun warmed and the two sick men felt better in the freer air and they did not want to meet with death. They sat on the ground near the gutters and murmured: “We will not go there to be shot.”

The policemen and the hospital personnel tried to convince them that they were being taken to be enrolled in a summer colony for the sick. But the two sick men would not be fooled; they lay down near a gate and would not be moved from the spot. No one could understand from where they suddenly had gotten so much strength.

Jewish policemen, people from night work and from the artisans' house stood in the distance and with tears in their eyes watched the dreadful scene. The policemen could not convince the two sick men; one of them suddenly began to shout loudly. This sick man had not been able to say any words for months:

– I can still live! – He roared with a weird voice – Tell the chief that I can work!
The terrible shouting echoed through the alley of the “labor camp” and enveloped everyone with horror. At the same moment, shouts could be heard from the distance”
– How long will I wait for the two worthless men?
Everyone watched and saw the guard standing in front of the door,

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the gendarme sergeant-major and two Ukrainians who watched the spectacle and laughed out loud.

The sick men were overcome with terror. One immediately took out the sleeping pills from his pocket and swallowed them one after the other. He roared: “Fall asleep, fall asleep faster!”

The two policemen lifted them off the ground and they went with lowered heads quietly and slowly to the sentries.

They were taken into a courtyard and we waited with beating hearts for the shooting, which we heard in a few minutes.

After a time the Jewish policemen came out alone. They related how the sick men had to get completely undressed. Ukrainians chased them with twisted belts. Each received a shot in the head from behind and toppled over to the side, falling as chopped down trees.

Several hours later the dead bodies were taken to the Jewish cemetery.

 

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