The Rov and Rabbi of our Town
by Hershel Pistrong
Rabbi Shmuel Engel was a very learned scholar and one of the righteous ones of
his generation. He published a book "Questions and Answers". He
received applications from all over Europe concerning the permissive and
the unpermissive. When only 13 he knew the whole of the Shas and when he
talked with the judge the latter called him a "walking library".
He read sermon on Shabbat Tshuva and Shabbat Hagadol. He was a tall big man,
with such a big head that his hats were specially made for him in Vienna by
Hickel. He was a sickly man, suffered from hemorrhages. He was more often ill
than well. I particularly remember a certain Friday morning when he had a
hemorrhage, a cable was sent to Krakow for a Professor to come and attend him.
Small as well as big children stood at the windows, praying and saying psalms.
And it helped. He recovered and lived for many years.
He had a son, R' Haiml, who was also great scholar and married the daughter of
the Rabbi of Podgorze. The whole family was murdered by Hitler's Nazis.
The rabbi of Plancz was the son of Rabbi Moshe Horowitz. He lived in Radomysl
for a certain period. He had three sons and two daughters. One son was called
Dovidl and the other Eliezer. One daughter was called Margaltsche and she
married R' Joelish Teitelbaum the son of the Rabbi of Siget. He was 14 years
old when he married. I remember him coming to prayers, standing in the corner
and shaking back and forth. The Rabbi of Plancz greatly respected him for he
was a fine son in law.
One winter night, (it was Hanukah, time), the Rabbi sat and studied Torah.
Suddenly someone threw a stone through the Rabbi's window. The Rabbi said:
"may he become crooked and lame".
Yankel Bader was called (he was the glazier). He put in new panes and the
incident was forgotten.
One fine day, the eldest son of the non-Jewish family Wilensky (he was a big,
strong chap and all the Jews were afraid of him as he was a noted anti-Semite)
became sick. The doctors could not diagnose the illness. He ate and drank as
usual but he steadily shrank. Instead of being long and lean he grew a hump,
the hump grew constantly and every day he became smaller and smaller. And then
he told his parents that he felt this was his punishment for having thrown a
stone through the Rabbi's window.
Then the parents came to the Rabbi and asked that their son be healed. They
told the Rabbi that their son had, confessed to throwing the stone and they
cried and pleaded for the Rabbi to heal him. They promised a lot of money. But
the Rabbi told them that it was a lost case.
The boy lived for a many years and was ashamed to go out into the street. The
young children made fun of him and the non-Jewish girls were afraid to accost
the Jewish boys, they were warned that the Rabbi would punish them and they
The Three Betei Midrash
The tradesman prayed in the synagogue and Rabbi Hersch Mechlovitz was the
handsomest Baal-Bait of the synagogue. He sat at the eastern wall. He had
strong husky sons. Whenever a goy drank too much and started trouble, he taught
him a lesson not to hurt Jews again. The Beit Hamidrash was next to the
synagogue. Here the Dembicer Hassidim, Mielicer Hassidim and Planczer Hassidim
prayed, learned Gemorrah and read the psalms.
The Gabbai was Leizer Koch. The second was Yehiel Buxbaum. The reader was
Mechel Fish. There were a number of young people who prayed well, such as
Anschel Tenenbaum and others. The shamash was Pinchas Lipshitz. He was tall and
dour, all the children were afraid of him. At Hanukah we played Dreidlech and
Kwitlech after studying.
by David Pelz
If there were any righteous Jews in Radomysl, then Meirl who was called
"Kutsch" was surely a Lamed Vavnik (one of the 36 righteous ones).
May all the enemies of Zion live the life that he lived. He had nothing. We
gave him little food, some clothing, but he had no pleasure from life.
He played a rare role in the town, every Friday afternoon he would call
through the streets of the town "come to the baths". And later before
candles were lit, he would call out 'to the Synagogues'.
The Jews in Radomysl were so used to this call that they thought that after
his death when there would be no one to call them they would not know when to
go to the bathes and when to go to the synagogues.
And that is how Meirl performed his good deed in the town of Radomysl.
Blessed be his memory.
Memories of Radomysl in Argentine
by Moniek Reindel, Buenos Aires
I think that the Heder takes the most important place in our memories. The
first thing that I remember and which has remained engraved in my memory is the
day I began attending Heder. All the children of my age who began attending
Heder were taught by Itzele Fogelfang.
When I began attending the Heder he was already an old man with a long gray
beard. All the children were scared of him, but the townsfolk were of the
opinion that he was the best possible "melamed" (teacher) for young
children beginning to attend the Heder.
Apart from being the teacher he also owned a textile shop. The shop was looked
after by his wife Hannah and his son Berl. He himself had little to do with the
business. His wife and son would take their stock to the Radomysl market and to
the surrounding markets. Every time they returned from the market he would
mobilize all the children and they would take a piece of material off the wagon
and put it on its place on the shelves.
The Rabbi of Plancz megaresh Hadibbuk
by Izik Reichman-Bizgayer
Rabbi Avraham Haim Horowitz great-grandson of R' Napthali of Ropczyce
was known to all as an honest man who devoted his life. to the Torah. It
was said of him that he spent nights on end sleeplessly in pursuit of his
studies. He was a great scholar and despite the fact that he was a Rabbi taught
only his grandchildren and one or two pupils. And these he taught at midnight.
At the Holydays hundreds of his Hassidim (followers) would come to him from all
comers of Poland and especially from Congress Poland.
I well remember the Sederim he used to hold on the eve of Pesach. These would
last until dawn, and it was impossible to forget them. A similar event was the
lightning of the Hanukah candles. The Planczer Rabbi was the only one to
celebrate the Hanukah Shabbat in full, there was great rejoicing and even the
family of Jacov Goldman was present, one of whose sons used to accompany the
rejoicing on his violin.
The Rav of Plancz was considered to be a great Zadik as the following story
In a near by town, Pilzno, near Tarnow, lived a woman who imagined that the
"Dybbuk" had entered her body. The reason being that the local
butcher had been selling unkosher meat to the Jewish population. She wished to
atone for his sins and ensure that he would be allowed to enter Paradise. It
was therefore necessary to drive out the Dybbuk from the woman's body, and who
could possibly do this? Only a great and exemplary Rabbi could help to drive
out the Dybbuk.
It was therefore decided to send the woman to Plancz. I myself, then only 7 –
8 years old, witnessed the whole procedure, and with me half of the townlet's
The Rabbi invited the woman to the synagogue, in order to hear the whole story
from her. The Rabbi sat some way off, and the woman began telling the story in
a man's voice, accompanied by peculiar grimaces and movements. The
"Dybbuk" recounted the fact that the butcher had consistently sold
nonkosher meat to the Jews of the town. And that now he had become a wanderer
and was not allowed to enter Paradise. The Dybbuk asked the Rabbi for
atonement, he requested permission to leave the woman's body and enter Paradise
on the strength of the other good deeds he had performed in his lifetime. The
Rabbi set conditions that the Dybbuk leave the woman's body through her
little finger and that, having left, must not enter the body of anybody else
present. There was a long discussion during which the Rabbi and the woman
became very tired and the Rabbi decided to continue the discussion the next
day, to the great joy of the children who would thereby have another
lesson-free day. The discussions continued the following day until a day was
set on which the Dybbuk would leave the woman. On the third day, the day on
which the Dybbuk had agreed to leave he again became obstinate and set new
conditions. Until, finally, the Rabbi decided to excommunicate the woman until
the Dybuk agreed to leave. Of course the Dybbuk did not leave.
The woman was excommunicated and a fast proclaimed in the whole town. A Baal
Tkiya was invited and candles fit in the synagogue. When the ram's horn was
blown the woman began to scream, shiver and cry in her 'man's voice" that
'he' wished to leave her body, but still he did not leave. The ram's horn was
blown again and the woman began to shout and threw herself on the ground and
asked that they cease the excommunication.
She then said that she had a more serious sin to confess than the selling and
eating of nonkosher meat, but that this sin she wished to tell only to the
Rabbi and not in public. Eventually it was decided that the Gabbai R' Yossele
would also be present at the confession. The woman, a married woman, told of
having had relations with another man. The Rabbi shocked to hear this, said
that he would consider the matter and give his reply the next day. During the
night the woman left the town.
Who can forget weddings held at the Rabbi's house, rejoicing continued for the
full seven days accompanied by feasting, singing and dancing.
The Rabbi especially liked to celebrate the Milaveh Malka meal on Saturday
night. There was great rejoicing, music and dancing, the Mavdil with Hassid
Goldman and his sons who accompanied the rejoicing on their violins it
seemed as if only the prophet Eliahu was missing from this festivity.
Builders and Defenders
Shmuel Ganani (Gärtner)
The Chronicles ("Davar") 30-8.1929, under the headline "further
onslaughts on the Georgian neighborhood" we read among others
tourist from England Wiener and Chaver Menachem Savloni were killed and Chaver
Shmuel Ganni seriously wounded, he died of his wounds on Thursday. The tourist
and the workers had left their work and come down in the bus, the driver drove
them straight into the mob near Neblus Gate and there they were murdered. The
aged English tourist Wiener was an in and out friend of the Arabs and supported
several Arab students from Erez Israel at the American College in
In the book "The people of Israel will remember the victims of Av 1929 by
A. Z. Barazin, Jerusalem, Av 1930 there is also a report on Shmuel Ganani
and which we bring forth here;
"Shmuel Ganani was born in 1902 in the town of Radomysl Wielki in
Galicia, to very religious parents. He studied in the Chaderim and Yishivot
until he was 16. He then underwent a change
He saw the lives of the Jews
among whom he lived and decided that he would not follow in their footsteps. He
longed for a life of work for himself and desired to participate in the
fulfillment of renaissance of his people. At the age of 17 he left Galicia for
Germany. Upon his arrival in Köln on the Rhine he immediately approached
the Chairman of the Zionist Youth Club and asked to participate in the Zionist
work and offered his services every evening. Shmuel proved to be a devoted
worker, and later united his work with that of the Halutz Organization in
Germany. As a member of the Central Committee of the Hehalutz Organization he
visited many towns on propaganda work. He organized branches for the
organization. From the day he arrived in Germany he lived from his work as a
manual laborer and later as a miner in Aachen. A little later he began his
training for work in Eretz Israel and entered the Leipzig School of builders.
In Memory of Aharon Salomon (Shlomy)
Taken from a collection written by his Chaverim in kibbutz Mizra on the first
anniversary of his death by M. Ish-Shalom
Aharon was one of the veterans, one of the few who were left from the
"Hapoel Hakovesh" group, which came to the country at the beginning
of the Third Aliya. He came from Radomysl, a small town in Western Galicia. His
parents were fairly well off and religious. He was not spoiled at home. The
family consisted of four brothers and four sisters. He lived his whole life as
a worker, he hated the idle life so characteristic of the small townlets of
that times. He helped his parents in the wholesale grocery store and did any
work that was to be found. He knew how to command others and was sometimes
obstinate, sometimes cruel, but was always ready to draw the conclusions of his
acts and prove by deeds the right of the way he had chosen.
I accompanied Aharon a long stretch of the way. From Köln until the day
he fell. Practically thirty years. At the end of the First World War I returned
to Köln and joined again the "Hashahar" a Zionist Youth group,
which was founded by me as an organization for youth from Eastern Europe. From
time to time young emigrants came to Köln and amongst them many Zionists.
A number of times I tried unsuccessfully to set up a halutz body. Eventually a
group of youngsters from Radomysl came and rescued us. They brought with them a
spirit of Zionism founded in Jewish roots. But not many of the group came to
Israel. Amongst the few who did was Aharon. He immediately became prominent as
a man of action and initiative, intelligence and unlimited loyalty.
by Menachem Bader
I take leave of you in my name and in that of Ish-Shalom.
After the death of Aharon Shlomy only three out of 16 members of the
group which we set up at the end of the First World War and came to Israel in
1920 And now with your death only two of us remain.
It is with great sadness that we take leave of you dear Menachem Wolf. Until
our last day we shall remember our partnership for over 50 years, partners in
dream of self-fulfillment which has become a reality with the help of all those
standing here. The dream of building Eretz Israel and an independent Israel and
the upbuilding of a free life in a kibbutz. And in the existence of this house
we shall find our consolation and may Nonia, her children and her grandchildren
and the whole family be consoled together with all the mourners of Zion and
The Neighborhood Borowa
by Shalom Yam
In the mosaic of little townlets in Galicia our little town of Borowa had a
special place; it was part of the Mielec regional administration and in matters
of the Rabbinate. It also belonged to the farther off town of Radomysl district
in connection with community matters as civil weddings (a system used mainly in
One could well have been married by the local Rabbi, but, when a son was born
the Brith Mila had to be performed and one had to be married again by the
official Rabbi of Radomysl. If this was not conformed to, then the child bore
mothers surname and in most cases the wife herself bore her mother's name.
And, when someone, heaven forbid, died, he was buried in Mielec. Community tax
was paid in Radomysl, once a year the community came to Borawa and let us be
quite frank about it "one came to terms".
Even though B' was small it had its own religious appurtenances: its own
ritual Mikveh (bath), its own Shochet (slaughterer) who served the area. It
also owned two Synagogues, with the Baalei Tfilot. It went so far that we had
our own Rabbi, even though his permanent residence was Mielec. But he was
called B' Rabbi!
Czernin was a village in Mielec Poviat region whose community belonged to that
of Radomysl Wielki. Not far from the village was a German colony inhabited by
Shwabians who had been brought to Galicia by the Austrian Kaiser Joseph H.
As far as I can remember from the tales that were told, one the Jewish
community in Czernin was a young one. Among the first families who inhabited
the village was my great great-grandfather David Zelig who arrived there in the
1830's. He was of the richest Jews in the village. When the community began to
grow and Jews from nearby Mielec came to join the village he built a Beit
Hamidrash, where the Jews prayed every day. Next to the Beit Hamidrash was a
ritual bath, a Mikveh.
Shortly before the war there were about 20 families in Czernin (about 80 – 90
souls). Their economic situation was not a bad one. Their livelihood was
derived from trading, craftsmanship and agricultural labor. In the village
there were: two Jewish tailors, a nurse, a baker, 4 textile shops, an
inn-keeper (whose inn at the time of the Poles was taken over by a non-Jew).
The Townlet Zassow
by Jaacov Issler
The townlet of Zassow lies about 7 km. from Radomysl. It actually belonged to
the municipality of Pilzno and both in the district of Krakow. Zassow was
divided into two parts, half rural and half urban, both parts were governed by
a Muchtar. (Chief).
There were a 100 farming families in Zassow. The farms bordered on the houses
lined on both sides of the road right to the borders of the neighboring
villages. Apart from the farmers, the urban part of the town was populated by
the Catholic priests, teachers of the elementary school, the clerks of the
At the end of the townlet, on the cross roads which led to the railway station
of Czarna on one side and Radomysl Wielki on the other, was a big square
surrounded by houses, the church and the gate to the Graf's family estate. In
addition there was an inn, which in those days formed the hub of activities for
the non-Jewish population. A market was held in the square every Tuesday, which
drew people, and many peddlers from the surrounding villages. The market was a
meeting place for all the local people and the townsfolk and was looked forward
to by all.
It is difficult to ascertain just when the Jews began to live there, but it is
thought that they did so around the 15th – 16th centuries when the Jews of
Poland began to live in the towns.
At the beginning of the 20th century there were about 50 Jews in the townlet
and the number dwindled over the years. The Jews either emigrated to America or
moved to the towns. Most of them lived and carried on their respective
businesses. In the rural part there were fewer Jews and they worked their small
plots of land, small cow sheds, and poultry house . Some of them had little
workshops or shops.
The Jews of the townlet were either traders or tradesmen, and except for the
Eisler family they did not have farms.
My Townlet Przeclaw
by Ben Moshe
No matter how small the townlet, it had all the necessary religious
institutions: A Rabbi Dayan, Shochet, Shamash (the synagogue caretaker) a
Mikveh and a Chevra Kaddisha (a Burial Society) there were also
The community lived like one great big family, everyone participated the joys
of the others as well as their sorrows. There were among the ordinary Jews,
those called "Tehilim-Yiddn", pious and devoted Jews and one of them
was my late lamented father, Moshe Bienenstock. He spent many a night helping
at the bedside of a chronically sick person, and it was with enthusiasm that
psalms verses were said for the salvation of the sick. At the bedside of a very
sick person the psalms were repeated twice, and if this and the medicines did
not help, then the same psalm-sayers became members of the Hevra Kaddisha
(burial society) and carried out the necessary duties to the hilt.
When there was a celebration in the townlet all the Jews participated.
The well-to-do families did not forget the plight of the poor and every Friday
they sent Halot (loaves of white bread) and fish to the needy families so that
they too could enjoy a plentiful Sabbath.
The Old Market of Przeclaw
by Naphtali Gastwirth, Barcelona (Spain)
How far and how near are my memories of you. My childhood memories still live
in my mind.
The Jewish streets in Przeclaw were Jewish and seldom was there heard another
language save that of Yiddish. The Sabbath day was holy and dear to the Jewish
youth of Przeclaw.
In truth, I was only 13 years old when I left my hometown. The more the years
pass and the longer I live my present life the fresher become my memories of
the old homely Sabbath. What chills ran through the childish blood when on a
Sabbath afternoon, I with my friends walked to the Wisloka. It looked as if God
himself had clothed the district in honor of the Sabbath in that wonderful
Przeclaw at twilight the young folk sat in the market and sang
That joyful life remained fresh in my memory.
The Townlet Przeclaw
by Avraham Spielman, Holon
Future generations should not forget that there existed a small Jewish
"yishuv which was cut down by the Nazis.
In the eighteenth century there were about 120 Jewish souls in the townlet.
During the first World War there were 300 Jewish souls there. This community
had its own Rabbi R' Dovdl Horovich, a son of the Planczer Rabbi. Some years
before this there was a Dayan, R' Yankel Eisland, a member of the Eisland
family of Radomysl, a Shohet, a Beit Hamidrasch and also a group of
intellectual Jews and scholars. Later Przeclaw belonged to Radomysl though it
was 12-15 kilometers away from the later.
I wish to mention R' Yohanan Schraub known by the name of R' Yohanan Baal
Megiya; A righteous man and a great scholar. His sons were R' Itza Lerer in
Radomysl, Hirsh Schraub in Tel-Aviv and Israel Schraub in America, who were
active in public life there. The children followed in the path of their father.
The two people, the Jews and the Christians lived together peacefully. For
many years it even had a Jewish vice-mayor, R' Israel Bienenstock, and a few
councilors such as R' Yosef Bauer, R. Haim Spielman, R' Yudl Schraub, R' Yosef
Gastwirth, R' Leibish Dershowitz, R' Moshe Bienenstock and R' Sander Weiss.
Jews in the Village
by Hannah Wasserstrum
The village in which my family lived was called Dulcza Wielka and it was three
kilometers from Radomysl Wielki. We were just as tied to that town as the
others who lived there. But, after all, ours was a village and we, villagers.
And that is how the people of the townlet looked upon us. It was a great event
for us when we could go into the town and meet company there.
There were 8 or 10 Jewish families in Dulcza, that is to say, that there was
hardly a "minyan" on Sabbath. I have been told that earlier, 60 or 80
years ago, there were more Jews there, but these had left in the course of time
to settle in the surrounding towns: Dombrowa, Radomysl, Szczucin and even as
far as Tarnow.
Out of the few families who lived in the village hardly any of them earned the
livelihood by working the land (though practically everyone of them had a small
farm and a piece of land), apart from one (Avraham Greenzweig) who had a larger
plot of land, about 30 – 50 hectares.
Holocaust and Destruction
The Holy Congregation who sacrificed their lives
for the holiness of Gods name
May our God remember them for good
with the rest of the righteous of the world
and avenge them with vengeance
for the blood of his servants that was spilled.
Introduction to the History
The Bulletin of Warsaw's Jewish Historical Institute (no - 30, April
June, 1959) presents us with an excellent account of the tragedy of the Jewish
people in the Krakow District. The essay, written in Polish, by E.
Podhoritzer-Sandel gives us some detailed information about our community. It
"The District of Krakow was one of four and later one of five districts
of the so-called 'General-Government', subdivided into 10 regions called
'Kreizen'. Groups of Jews were to be found in the following regions: Dembica,
2200, Mielel 3500, Radomysl Wielki 1300."
In the same article under the headline: "The Biological
Extermination" we read:
"The raids against the leftish elements of Jewish population in the
Krakow area, as in the other places, during the period April 28th30th,
were parts of the massive operations that were called "Actions" by
the Germans. According to a ready-made list hundreds of victims were taken out
of their homes and sent to their death. Thus one can understand the background
of Jechezkel Eisland's execution, whereas he was a member of the
Hashomer-Hazair, which was a leftish organization."
On page ninety-five of the same publication we read:
"The last days of July 1942 were the days of the final liquidation of the
Dembica region. Rozwadow, Dzikow, Pilzno, Radomysl Wielki, Ropczyce and
Wielopole, only 12,000 were left. These were in the ghettos of Dembica and
Sendziszow. During raids and selections that took place from July 21st25
the large numbers were still left in the ghetto Dembica and in several
It had started with as few as 250 prisoners, 80 from Mielec and the rest of
Wielopole. The numbers kept growing and got to as many as 1,000 people during
the deportation activity in March in the Mielec area. In this group were
included the people of Dzikow and Komarowa Huta. Daily, ten to fifteen of the
ill or wounded were shot to death. The Mielec camp was closed down on August
1944 and the 13,000 Jews were sent to Wieliczka where an airplane factory was
being erected. With the advance of the Russian front they were moved to
Flossenbürg. In the Dembica region there were two other camps; one in
Postkow and one in Plawne near Rozwadow. The latter was known as the Rozwadow
Camp. The camp in Postkow was located at the S. S. training area. It was
opened in April 1942. It had been formerly a prison for criminals and was in
existence since 1940. In 1942, however, it became a camp for the Jews of
Mielec, Ropczyce and Sendziszow. The conditions in the Jewish labor camps in
Postkow were extremely harsh. The prisoners worked at the "Allgemeine
Elektrische Kabelwerke" (General Electricity Installation) as well as
uprooting in the neighboring forests. Units of the so-called "Abteilung
Strafkommando" were brought into the Camp and the prisoners had to dig
canals for the German company Krause. In the Postkow camp the Jews of Mielec
were settled (400), of Ropczyce, Sendziszow and others. In August 1942, 1,222
prisoners were transferred to Hamburg, Germany, and a year later (August 1943)
the camp was liquidated. At that time it had 1,500 prisoners) 280 of those were
deported to Auschwitz, Brzerzynki. In the Fall the remainder was sent to
Silesia to work as slave laborers in the coal-mines of the area.
"One of the first to be organized was the Jewish camp-camp in Mielec. The
camp was under the command of the S.S. troops and was located at the
"Heinkel" aircraft factory."
The First Days with the Germans
by Haja Garen-Rozenblat (now Levi)
As Hitler's first units entered the town they found the market-place deserted;
the streets empty. A fearful silence had fallen upon all and nobody was there
to greet them.
Behind locked doors and curtained windows eyes were watching anxiously asking:
"And now what?!"
Just before our "guests"' arrival, people had been saying that one
should have treats, cakes and liquor, ready for them and one should make them
eat as soon as they come in. Having helped themselves, they might be nice and
spare their hosts. So we set the table with all the best food we had and
waited. The family gathered in the inner room of the house; father thought it
safer in case of some possible shooting.
Single shots could still be heard from the direction of Wilki, a suburb of
Radomysl, as the Polish Army made some unsuccessful attempts to stop the
Germans. The area was burnt down and when the shots ceased finally, in came
Hitler's army into our town.
Four o'clock in the afternoon. German patrols were tearing through the dormant
streets of Radomysl. The town was very quiet. They came humming noisily filing
the market completely.
Doors and windows were shut down. Suddenly a heavy pounding was heard; someone
tried to break into our store that was in the heart of the market-square. A mad
savage voice shouted from outside: "Open up immediately or we shall use an
axe!" Afraid to budge we stood there, scared to walk over and open. Our
faces turned a shade paler. Another heavy push and the door gave in. "I
shall let them in!" I said and made my father lie down and cover his
beard. Then I walked towards the store.
I made a tremendous effort to put on a gay amiable smile. Smiling pleasantly I
opened the door and exclaimed: "Welcome!" The murderous expressions
changed all of sudden and they demanded to know whether there was any Polish
soldiers in the house or any hidden weapons. I said there weren't any. They did
not take it for an answer and pushed into the house searching thoroughly. They
looked into every corner, opened closets, turned over mattresses causing an
upheaval. Whenever they got hold of something they liked, they piled it up
neatly in the corner. Every room was treated the same. They pretended to look
for arms but were actually looting. I tried to draw their attention to the food
but they refused politely telling me they were in a hurry. Then they did not
feel like taking anything but instead felt like making love to me and my
sisters. Luckily my sisters managed to get them out of the house and get rid of
them somehow. We feared they might come back later at night, and drunk too, but
still we felt relieved having gotten them out. The feeling of relief did not
last long, as another patrol entered our house shouting at the top of their
voices: "All men out to register!
I trembled at the thought that they might discover father and our
brother-in-law, who wasn't young either. Again I spoke sweetly: "How about
a little drink or a piece of cake?" Not waiting for another invitation,
they sat down and started stuffing themselves gorging on the food. They invited
the others to join in. Father, my sisters and another little boy, sat down
trying to make conversation. Meanwhile another patrol came in and joined the
celebration. That was how we passed the time till eight o'clock at night. We
weren't conscious of the rioting that went on in our town that day.
The Germans herded all the males, Jews and Gentiles alike, and placed them in
a church. Beaten cruelly they were kept without food or water for three days
and nights. Wives and children, sisters and brothers stood outside the church
bundles of food and jars of water in their hands, but nothing was allowed in.
The town was in a state of terror.
As the church was packed with men, and the doors and windows shut, the air
inside became unbearable. Whenever someone fainted he was immediately shot and
left among the living.
It occurred to us women to bribe the officer in charge. Since ninety percent
of the men held in the church were Jews, a large amount of money was raised in
minutes. With the money in hand we tried to persuade the officer. It wasn't
very hard; he took the money and promised to talk to his superior officer.
Permission was granted water and food were allowed in, though we had to
hand it over to the guards. Thus, only a small portion of the parcels reached
the prisoners; most of it simply disappeared. Another result: the corpses, that
lay prostrate beside the semi-dead prisoners, were removed. There was no
possible way to set them free. We searched for other means. We presented
doctors' health-certificates thus managing a few releases. Six days later, some
were set free others were taken to an unknown destination. Much later,
those too returned to Radomysl.
Meanwhile, all sorts of German regiments passed through our town. They stuck
their noses everywhere, stole, looted, beat people up and shore old men's
beards. They shot those who looked suspicious. To save our father's beard I
gave away a hundred meters of fabric; a deed for which I gained the reputation
of the town's heroine. My father was one of the few in town who still had his
beard, but not for long.
Within a couple of days new trouble was in sight; the "Hitlerjugend"
units were about to pass through our town. We were told that the soldiers we
had met already were 'angels' in comparison. People wondered and asked what
could be done. It was certain that death awaited those unable to hide
themselves. Walls, floors, ceilings, were tested as potential hiding places.
Echoes of hammering could be heard as people spent days in attics building
secret hiding places that would be difficult to trace. In most cases, holes
were dug under the floor; first small ones, enough for one or two persons, then
roomier ones for ten people. The reason for enlarging a hiding place was due to
the neighbors' intervention. They claimed that the bigger the place the safer
and easier for everybody. What were those places like? Generally they were
cellars dug under the floor; deep, broad, and almost half-a-room in size. There
was no furniture. A well-hidden entrance led into the cellar. The ceiling above
was carpeted. Obviously such a hole was stifling, so a small opening was dug in
the foundation of the house. After a certain period of time one could easily
suffocate for lack of air.
Almost every house in Radomysl had a hiding place for the men in case the
glorious "Hitlerjugend" units were to pass through our town. They
were expected on Friday. Heaven was merciful they didn't arrive that
The regular soldiers of the "German Wehrmacht" stationed in the town
had grown accustomed to the Jews; thanks to the Yiddish language they could
communicate more easily with Jews than with others. Among the so-called
there were, of course, some scoundrels who under the
influence of some slanderous "goyim" would break into Jewish stores
and empty the goods straight into the lusty hands of the gathered peasants. At
the beginning it happened quite rarely, then more and more frequently, Men and
women from neighboring villages crowded the market with their wagon. The
appetite for Jewish property grew bigger and Jewish stores grew emptier.
Smart store-keepers hid some goods in the attics; most were scared to do
likewise as rumors circulated about that the peasants had already informed the
Germans and threatened to show them the attics. An atmosphere of doom lay on
Us women as the most important element in town felt that
something should be done to stop the looting. We chose two pretty
German-speaking girls and sent them to talk to the authorities. The officer in
charge mean as Hitler himself refused to see the girls. They were given
an explanation: "He does not talk to Jews!"
Life was bitter. The situation quite hopeless: "God's will cannot be
challenged," said the orthodox. How should one exist under such
circumstances? Some said: 'Nothing matters either way: slow starvation is worse
On the Sunday morning of following week, I heard a knocking on our neighbor's
door. I sat up in my bed quickly and looked though the window. I saw men in
black uniforms. My heart pounded. I remembered being told that the
"Hitlerjugend" wore black outfits, so I ran into my parents' room to
wake my father. He was asleep. I helped him into his clothes and hid him in the
hiding place under the floor, piling all kinds of things on the place where it
was hollow underneath lest someone walked there. Confused, half-dressed, I ran
to warn my sisters and urge my brother-in-law to hide quickly. They knew
already; my younger sister, the one married to Mendel Eisland, had already had
the honor of "entertaining" the rascals. Not having found any men in
the house, they had become furious and while having spilled a barrel full of
water right at the doorstep. They had slammed the door as loudly as they could
exclaiming: "Where have the men disappeared to?!"
I hastened on; friends, relatives had to be warned. I looked like a mad
person. I ran scared to look back for fear of being stopped. Suddenly, I heard
a female voice screaming. It was Ziphora, Michal Fish's wife. She wailed:
"oi! vay! They are going to shoot my boy. What shall I do? What shall I
do?" While trying to comfort her, I saw two S.S. men leading a large group
of Jewish youths. They were taken straight out of their beds, half naked, with
only their pants on. Closing the procession many S.S. followed urging the
prisoners to run hitting them with rifle-butts and rubber-clubs. "Oi! How
awful!", I said to myself. "What will happen to these Jews? Will they
shoot them or send them away to labor-camps?"
Meanwhile others were brought into the market-square, carrying brooms and
shovels. Elderly men, some sixty or seventy years old, followed the young ones.
Sick people were dragged out of their beds. A young SS, about seventeen years
of age, made them run back and forth, half-naked, barefooted, their beards
fashion. Running to and from, they were being clubbed by the wicked SS. The
cries of the bleeding, beaten
victims, mixed with the shouting of their persecutors, pierced the heavens.
Suddenly an order was issued to sweep the square. Having swept once, they were
made to do it again. Finally, after the garbage was neatly piled up in one
place, they were ordered to scatter it and start anew. All that time they were
screamed at and beaten cruelly. Blood was running out of their noses and
mouths; their heads bruised and badly wounded. The sun burned overhead; the
Fire of Hell.
We burst out crying as we watched our fathers and brothers being dragged so.
We begged the murderers to let us finish the sweeping. I summoned up courage
and approached the SS men. I played on their conscience and so did the other
women. Finally I managed to save my brother-in-law's father, the sixty-year old
Mendel Honig. When I brought him home he fainted. We nursed him for quire a
while until he regained consciousness. Similar incidents took place in every
The operation ("action") continued till ten o'clock at night. The
victims, when left alone, were afraid to return to their homes. Nobody knew
what the next day would have in store. "Will Heaven have mercy upon
them?" The men spent the night in hiding.
Later, such "actions" occurred more frequently, but people became
used to it. They feared worse was still to come.
Rumors spread that in other places Jewish councils were established. The
councils were named 'Judenrat" and acted as the representative body of the
local Jewish population. One of their responsibilities was to supply young
manpower for such odd jobs as sweeping the streets, shoveling snow, and towing
the road. In addition to that they had to collect automobiles that had been
struck in the middle of taxes enforced by the Nazis. Heavy responsibilities lay
on the shoulders of the councilmen. Disobedience could cost one his head.
In many places there were Jews of despicable character who hastened to carry
out the Germans' demands. They did not see, or refused to see that by doing so
they would be forced to betray their own people.
The Judenrat in Radomysl was founded four months later than in other places.
The exact date was Sunday, the 25th of January 1940. The head of the Gestapo in
Mielec, the central town of our district, arrived in a winter-sleigh. Along
with him came the representatives of the Jewish council there and two members
of the council. They picked the members of the committee that was to act as a
Judenrat; a body supervised by the Gestapo in Radomysl. The Mielec council had
twelve members; Dr. Fink (deceased), a known lawyer, acted as chairman. One of
the tasks was to form Judenrats in the district and undertake the
responsibilities for their actions. Those Judenrats were in charge of the Jews
living in neighboring villages.
Knowing how hard, dangerous and contemptible such jobs could be, the people of
Radomysl tried to avoid them, but after being forced to accept they gave in.
Thus, some very good and noble men found themselves appointed members of the
Jewish council of Radomysl. They tried to do as much as they could for the
benefit and protection of the town. Jeremiah Leibovitz, the son of Shmuel
Leibovitz, was appointed chairman, Berish Eisland treasurer, Anshel
Tanenbaum first vice-chairman, Melech Amsterdam second vice-chairman and
Melech Gross, the son of Reuven Gross, secretary. A few young people
were included. It was rumored that members of the Jewish council were to be
dismissed from forced camps; compulsory for all males from twelve to sixty
years of age. Young people who wanted to escape the agony of forced-labor,
applied for council-membership. They were stationed as policemen, messengers,
etc. Next, an order was issued to the council to furnish a list of all Jewish
males in Radomysl and the neighborhood. The purpose to recruit manpower
for local errands and labor-camps.
Since there weren't jobs in Radomysl, it was obvious that fathers,
sole-supporters of families, as well as many sons, would have to be sent away
to work in factories, earning as much as a pack of cigarettes' worth.
Meanwhile, their families would have to put on sale all their possessions in
order to survive.
Yet, that wasn't all. Besides regular labor-camps, where people slaved in
factories earning next to nothing, there were punitory-camps. One such camp was
located in our region. It was the camp in Postkow, near Dembica. People were
horror-stricken at the mere mention of its name.
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Radomysl Wielki, Poland
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