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[Page 541]
Last letter from Bedzin [1]

(17.7.1943)

Translated by Lance Ackerfeld



To Wania, Mendel, Ze'ev and all our friends, wherever they may be.[2]

Dear Friends,

After a lengthy wait, the messenger arrived today with your letter. Unfortunately, he has been slightly overdue in coming. For years we have dreamed of an opportunity to tell of our life and our war.

During the past year and a half of the war, we established a training program and, apart from this, youth movements that were stronger and better than in normal times.

Following the organization of the ghettoes, a systematic plan of extermination began. It began in Wartago,[3] in the districts of Lodz and Pozan. About 80,000 Jews were poisoned by gas – officially it was known as Oysidlung [in German: Aussiedlung = evacuation]. In Lodz there was a small, closed, and sealed community that numbered some 40,000 who were undoubtedly dying from hunger and tuberculosis. At the moment, we don't have any information from there. This place of destruction is called Chelmno.[4]

After this, came the extermination of the Lithuanian Jews who were shot to death in Ponar.[5] Altogether, about 20,000 Jews remained in Vilna, Kovno and Shavl. For several months now, we have had no word from there either, and it appears that they have been made "Judenrein." We prepared our defenses, but unfortunately they've been unsuccessful. In the area known as "Government,"[6] Warsaw, Lublin, Czestochowa, Krakow and the surroundings, there are no Jews at all. The extermination was carried out by gas in Treblinka,[7] near

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Modrzejow near Sosnowiec, 1942.
The last journey…

Jews being taken to the railway carriages to be exiled
to Auschwitz.


Malkinia. This is an infamous place of destruction, not only for the Jews of Poland, but also for the Jews of Holland, Belgium, and so forth.

Our finest chapter was in Warsaw. Tzvia (Lubotkin][8] organized the defense and Yosef (Kaplan],[9] the children (the reference is to the various Zionist youth movements, M. H.) Terrible battles took place in the ghetto. Sadly, only several hundred of the enemy were killed – some 800. The result was that all the Jews were killed; the ghetto was destroyed and not a trace of it remained.

In the "Government" region there is no longer a Jewish settlement, apart from three labor camps, Trevnik, Poniatov and Prokochim,[10] numbering up to 30,000 people. In a few weeks time there will be nobody left.

In Warsaw a few thousand people survived among the gentiles in an illicit manner, on the Aryan side, among them being Tzvia (Lubotkin), Yitzhak (Zukerman),[11] and Galer (Eliezer).[12] From the Ya'ari family (the reference is to Meir Ya'ari from the leaders of the Kibbutz Artzi movement, affiliated with Hashomer Hatzair), nobody survived. Tosia (Altman),[13] Chentzia (Plotnicka),[14] Leah Perlstein,[15] Yosef Kaplan,[16] Mordechai Anilewicz,[17] and thousands of our people are no longer alive. From the Reiss family, Enszel[18] ("Poalei Zion"); only one Sack (Yosef)[19] survived; Grajak (Shalom)[20] and Levin (Lejser).[21] From the Samak (Kaplan)[22] family only Bloch (Eliezer Lippa),[23] who was in the labor camp, survived, and Kirszenbaum (Menachem);[24] and from the Alter family (Victor),[25] only a few survived.


[Page 542]


The Ukraine and Polesia are "Judenrein."

In Bialystock about 20,000 Jews survived in slightly better conditions. Those from the Lublin district were completely exterminated in Belzec[26] and Sobibor.[27]

The last Jewish settlement, which had existed under relatively better conditions, was Upper Eastern Silesia. Some three weeks ago 7,000 Jews were exiled. They are being killed in Auschwitz. They are being shot and incinerated. In the coming weeks, our district will be without Jews. When you receive this letter, none of us will be alive. Based on the information we received through Switzerland, only a few people were arrested (sent to the detention camp for foreign citizens, M. H.) None of us were among them. These days, the authorities are making it difficult and are no longer placing people in detention camps. To date, we have not received any word from any of those who were sent in the last dispatch. On the contrary, today we know for certain that they were sent to Auschwitz. Immediate intervention by the patron government is of the strictest urgency. We are not sending you the requested material, since you will be able to receive the pictures and the facts from Natan (Szwalbe) and from Zilev (Dr. Abraham Zilbersztajn).[28]

I personally visited all the districts I have written about and witnessed all the acts of extermination. Herszl (Szpringer)[29] is still with us; however, do not write to this address, since he is at odds with "Shiltonovitz" (the authorities). For myself, I am also not living with him ["Shiltonovitz"] in complete tranquility. We are looking for a way to reach Hungary and request your help with this, in any way possible.

Do whatever you can. I doubt if you can help us in time, since we are nearing our final days. All the youth movements together number no more than a few hundred people, including our kibbutz members and the children's' kibbutz, unofficial kibbutzim.

Our hope of reaching the homeland (Eretz Yisrael) has not been realized, to our deepest regret. Warmest regards to the Letben family (Yitzhak Tebenkin), Eliezer (Gravitski), Benderski (P. Benduri), Ya'ari (Meir), Kolodeni (Kol Moshe), Goldstein (Yitzhak), Pinkas (Lubianiker-Lavon), and all the relatives.

We are writing this letter in great haste, since the messenger's time is very pressed. We haven't the strength or the patience to write everything to you, what was most important and what we wanted most.

We send heartfelt greetings.

        Frumke (Plotnicka)[30]
        Herszl (Szpringer)[31]
        Tzvi (Brandes)[32]
        Kozhuch (Israel)[33]
        Szlomo L. (Lerner)[34]

Bedzin, 17 July 1943.





[Page 542]

Notes regarding the “Last letter from Bedzin”

  1. See the article by Nachman Blumenthal ("Der lester Brief fun Bedzin")regarding this letter. The names and remarks in brackets and quotes are not part of the original letter. Inaccuracies in some of the information regarding the events in other places can be explained by the situation at the time. <Return>
  2. Wania, Mendel, Ze'ev – messengers of the Hechalutz and Histadrut Haovdim organizations, which operated in Koshta (Turkey) during the Second World War for Jews trapped and tortured in countries conquered by the Germans. <Return>
  3. Wartago (or Wartaland, the land of Warta) – the western provinces of Poland. Poznañ and areas around Lodz and Pomerania that were annexed to the Reich at Hitler's order on the 8th of October 1939. Of the 460,000 Jews in Wartago, only about 10,000 survived. <Return>
  4. Chelmno – an extermination camp in the village of Chelmno, 14 km from the district capital of Kolo, in the Wartago region. The victims were poisoned in cars by poison gas and buried in the nearby forest. In 1942 they began burning the bodies in two incinerators, whose capacity was 20 bodies that would be incinerated within 20 minutes. On an average, about 1,000 people were murdered each day. The number of victims stands at 370,000, most of them Wartago Jews (about 340,000) and minorities (about 25,000) from other countries. <Return>
  5. Ponar – extermination camp, about 8 km from Vilna, near the Vilna-Grodno-Warsaw railway, the valley of death for the Jews of Vilna and vicinity. The victims were shot and their bodies incinerated in a pyre. The approximate number of victims is 60,000. <Return>
  6. "Government" ("General Government") – an administrativeunit covering the central regions of occupied Poland, whose population was close to 15 million people. At the head of the General Government was Dr. Hans Frank (General Governor). The capital was Krakow. The Zaglembian cities were not counted as General Government, but rather were annexed to the German Reich. <Return>
  7. Treblinka – an extermination camp. The victims were gassed and incinerated on pyres. Most of the Jews of Warsaw and eastern Poland met their deaths in this camp. They arrived here by transports from Germany, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Bulgaria and so on. The camp operated from the middle of 1942 until the 2nd of August 1943, when there was a rebellion of Jews working in the place and it was burned down. Many of the rebels were killed and few survived. The number of victims reached 750,000 souls. <Return>
  8. Tzvia Lubotkin, was a student of the Freiheit movement, a member of the Dror movement, and one of the organizers of the underground pioneering group in occupied Poland. She was among the founders of the Irgun Yehudi Lochem [Jewish Fighters' Organization] and one of its commanders. She was the Hechalutz movement representative in the Jewish national committee and in the coordinating committee. During the April rebellion, she fought in the central ghetto [Warsaw]. On the 10th of May 1943 she was among those who escaped through the sewers to the Aryan side. Today, she is a member of Kibbutz Lochmei Haghettaot and a member of the Central Zionist Workers committee. She has published articles and books on the Warsaw Ghetto, regarding the uprising and so on. Her works have been translated into several European languages. <Return>
  9. Yosef Kaplan – one of the founders of the Jewish Fighters' Organization in the Warsaw Ghetto, the first of its commanders, and a member of the main leadership of the Hashomer Hatzair movement in Poland. Initially, the movement was started in Warsaw together with Tosia Altman (who was also a member of the Hashomer Hatzair movement and who was caught by the Gestapo and died under torture) and the underground movement throughout the "General Government." He was a lecturer in underground seminars. He established the agricultural farm in Zarki and the urban kibbutzim of the Hashomer Hatzair movement. During the large Aktzia, he was among those who organized the burning down of houses evacuated by the Jews. He transferred members to the partisan camp in the vicinity of Mezerich. He was arrested by the Gestapo and incarcerated in Puviak and executed. <Return>

[543]


  1. Trevnik, Poniatov and Prokochim – these were extermination concentration camps. <Return>
  2. Yitzhak Zukerman, known as Antek, a member of the pioneering youth movement. One of the organizers of the Underground and a founder of the Jewish Fighters' Organization and a member of its command. He fought in the Warsaw Ghetto during the April uprising. He survived and today is a member of Kibbutz Lochmei Haghettaot. He published articles and books about the Warsaw Ghetto, about the destruction of Polish Jewry. He edited the book Sefer Milchamot Haghettaot [The Book of the Ghetto Wars] together with Moshe Basok. <Return>
  3. Eliezer Galer was a soldier in the Polish Army and fought against the Germans at the beginning of the war. After his release from a POW camp, he was among the founders of the Gordonia movement throughout the "Government," one of the founders of the kibbutz at 23 Nalavaki Street, and the organizer of this movement's seminary. During the period that the [Warsaw] Ghetto was being destroyed, he set out for Zaglembia. At the end of 1942 he returned to Warsaw. He was one of the commanders and fighters in the Warsaw uprising. He was among those who survived by crossing to the Aryan side through the sewers. In the summer of 1943, he was taken as a South American citizen to the detainee camp in Bergen-Belsen, and later to Auschwitz where he was killed. <Return>
  4. Tosia Altman – one of the leaders of the underground Hashomer Hatzair movement. She operated throughout the "Government" and in Polish cities that had been annexed to the Reich. She survived with a group of fighters by escaping through the sewers during the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, and worked in the celluloid factory in Prag-Warsaw. She was badly burned in the fire that took place in the factory (24 May 1943). She was caught and tortured to death. <Return>
  5. Chentzia Plotnicka – a student of Freiheit and an activist in the Dror movement in occupied Poland. She worked to renew her movement's centers in various places. At the beginning of 1942 she was dispatched to Bedzin and worked there for some time. She was killed in Warsaw during the confrontations with the Germans. <Return>
  6. Leah Perlstein – a teacher, one of the organizers of the underground Hechalutz movement. She visited Zaglembia in the spring of 1940 and organized an aliya via Slovakia. During the period that the Warsaw Ghetto was being destroyed, she was a delegate member of the Irgun Yehudi Lochem on the Aryan side to purchase arms and negotiate with the Polish Underground to receive assistance. She was killed by the Germans during the uprising of January 1943. <Return>
  7. See note 9. <Return>
  8. Mordechai Anilewicz – commander of the Jewish Fighters' Organization in Warsaw and one of the leaders of the underground Hashomer Hatzair movement in the "Government." When the war broke out he was living in Vilna, and in the spring of 1940 he returned to Warsaw as a delegate of his movement. He was a lecturer in clandestine seminars and one of the editors of the movement's papers. He visited the cities of Zaglembia in the summer of 1942 in order to organize a defense. During the January uprising in Warsaw, he fought at the front of his company and was its only survivor. In the April uprising he was located in the central bunker (18 Mila Street) and it was here that he was killed together with a hundred fighters, besieged by the enemy. <Return>
  9. Enszel Reiss – a leader of the Poalei Zion movement in Poland. Today he lives in Israel and is among the main activists in the Federation of Polish Émigrés. <Return>
  10. Yosef Sack – a public activist in the Warsaw Ghetto, one of the leaders of the Poalei Zion movement in Poland, one of the founders and directors of the underground Dror gymnasia, and a member of the workers' committee that encouraged self-defense. He provided help from the Aryan side on behalf of the national committee. He was among those who survived and live in Israel. <Return>
  11. Shalom (Stephan) Grajak - a member of the Poalei Zion movement and one of the founders of the underground party in the Warsaw Ghetto, was one of the activists in the National Jewish Committee and the Jewish Fighters' Organization. During the April uprising he was one of the organizers of the transfer of fighters to Tebens-Shultz on the Aryan side. <Return>
  12. Lejser Levin – an activist in the Poalei Zion movement in Poland and an organizer of the underground party. He was among those who survived and live in Israel. <Return>
  13. Samek (Shmuel) Kaplan – an activist in the Noar Zioni [Zionist Youth] in the Warsaw Ghetto. He was a member of the pioneering coordination committee for a period. He was exiled to Treblinka during the large Aktzia. <Return>
  14. Lippa Bloch – born in the Ukraine, one of the heads of the General Zionists (Al Hamishmar) in Poland. He was the chief director of the Keren Kayemet Leyisrael fund in Poland of the past, a lecturer in the underground pioneering movement, and a member of the civil committee working with the Jewish coordinating committee. During the period of the April uprising he was exiled to the labor camp in Kreshnik, where he founded a clandestine committee that communicated with the National Jewish Committee in Warsaw. In July 1944 he was exiled to Pleshov and from there to Mauthausen. Details of his death are not known. <Return>
  15. Menachem Kirszenbaum – one of the leaders of the General Zionists and an important public activist in the Warsaw Ghetto. He was an organizer of the mutual aid organization, Yiddishe Sotsiale Alleinhilf, which was founded during the Warsaw siege, a member of the public committee organized by the "Joint," and one of the initiators of Tekuma (an organization for the cultivation of Jewish culture in the Warsaw Ghetto). He fled to the Aryan side during the April uprising. He planned to travel to Wital as a South American citizen, but he was arrested by the Gestapo through an informant. He was sent to Paviak and was murdered there. <Return>
  16. Victor Alter – one of the most important activists in the Bund movement in Poland. During the war he fled to Soviet Russia where he was executed by the authorities. <Return>
  17. Belzec – an extermination camp in the Lublin district. The victims were executed in gas chambers. There was no incinerator in the camp. The bodies were burned on pyres. It is estimated that 600,000 Jews were killed here. <Return>
  18. Sobibor – an extermination camp in the Lublin district. The victims were gassed and their bodies incinerated. The number of victims: hundreds of thousands. <Return>
  19. Natan Szwalbe - a member of Kibbutz Hulda, and Dr. Avraham Zilbersztajn were activists in the Zionist Labor party, Hitachdut, in Galicia and members of the Polish Sejm (parliament); they operated in Switzerland during the Second World War on behalf of the Rescue Committee of the Jewish Agency and the Workers Union in Eretz Yisrael. <Return>
  20. Hershl Shpringer – born in Wolborm, a student of Freiheit, and a member of the Dror movement. He was one of the leading personalities in the Jewish Underground in Zaglembia. He fought tirelessly against the Judenrat. He was one of the founders of the Jewish Fighters' Organization in Bedzin and one of its commanders. A leader of the Dror kibbutz in Bedzin. After the destruction of the orphanage in Bedzin, he saved the abandoned children and built a movement house for them. On the 7th of April 1943 he was exiled to Auschwitz. <Return>
  21. Plotnicka Frumke – she formulated and wrote this letter and was the first to sign it. She was one of the leaders of the underground Pioneering Movement in occupied Poland, a student of Freiheit, and a member of the Dror movement. She visited settlements in the "Government" and reorganized the destroyed movement branches. In the spring of 1940 she left for Zaglembia and requested a way of making aliya. She was active in the Hechalutz center. During the period that the Warsaw Ghetto was destroyed (the summer of 1942), she was a member of the delegation of the Organization of Jewish Fighters on the Aryan side of Warsaw. She brought the first weapon into the ghetto. In September 1942 she went to Zaglembia to organize self-defense. She died on the 3rd of August 1943 with a group of friends, while defending the bunker in Bedzin. <Return>
  22. Hershel Springer – see note 29. <Return>
  23. Tzvi Brandes – an activist in the underground Hashomer Hatzair movement. He was one of the founders of the agricultural farm in his city, Zarki, and after its destruction he left for Bedzin. He was one of the organizers of the self-defense in Zaglembia and a commander of the Jewish Fighters' Organization in Bedzin. He tried to break out of the ghetto during the period that the city was being destroyed, but he was caught and murdered by the Germans. <Return>
  24. Yisrael (Yuzak) Kozhuch – a leader of the Zionist Youth movement in Sosnowiec, an organizer of the underground Pioneering Movement in Zaglembia, and a founder of the Jewish Fighters' Organization. For a while, he was in charge of youth affairs in the Judenrat. While opposing the schemes of Moniek Merin against the underground pioneering movement, he was not deterred from his fight to save the movement and resigned. He fell on the 3rd of August 1943, while on patrol in the ghetto evaluating the possibility of attacking the Gestapo in Bedzin. <Return>
  25. Shlomo Lerner – born in Bedzin, a member of Gordonia, one of the founders of the underground Pioneering Movement in Zaglembia, and a commander in the Jewish Fighters' Organization. He fell on the 1st of August 1943 with a group of friends, because of a Polish informant who wasa Gestapo agent. <Return>

Mordechai Hampel




[Page 544]

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Remnants of the Bedzin cemetery in Czeladz

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A scene from the mass funeral of the ashes


[Page 545]

The universe closed in on me [*]

Baruch Gaptak

(Hebrew translation: Moshe Basok)

Translated by Lance Ackerfeld

The universe closed in on me,
The siege on myself is completed.
There is no leaving and no coming,
And over all – a vigilant eye.

Clouds as dark as night
Raining destruction and tears.
The end all life has come,
And the universe will be destroyed.

And the universe is imprisoned,
And the prison – one immense;
The universe – dictator and slave,
And suffocating descends into Hell.

The smoke will gray the skies,
The blood will crimson the earth.
Where is mankind and where is freedom?
There is no justice in the world...
*   Survivors from Bedzin relate that this song was written in Yiddish by Baruch Gaptak, the commander of the Jewish fighters in Bedzin (he fell on the 3rd of August 1943 defending a bunker with Frumke Plotnitzka), and was sung by the Bedzin fighters. Return


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Mordechai Hampel eulogizes the martyrs of Bedzin,
near the coffins of ashes


[Page 546]

“And you raised my bones from there”

(Genesis – 50, 25)

Yehiel Stern (Tel Aviv)

Translated by Lance Ackerfeld

It was during the height of World War II, on a bitter and terrible day, the 20th of Sivan 5703 (1943), a day of catastrophe and calamity, that the afflicted Nazi authorities, decreed that the last Jews of my home town Strzemieszyce, who still remained in the ghetto, should report together to the assembly point, in order to be sent to the valley of death in Auschwitz. The order declared that if anyone did not heed this decree, he would be responsible for his own death. There were, indeed, several Jews who hid out here and there, thinking naively, that the anger of these beasts of prey would pass, or perhaps a miracle would occur, that they would evade the oppressors and would escape with their lives, however their hope was in vain.

The SS men went house from house looking for the people hiding out and those that were caught were shot on sight. Amongst those killed was my brother-in-law and my sister's son, may the Lord avenge their deaths. After killing them the murderers ordered several Jews to carry out a final “rights” to the martyrs: to collect the dead, load them on a wagon and bury them. The bodies were transported along the main road to a hill near the quarry. There a large pit was dug that wasn't particularly deep and twenty bodies were thrown into it, our village dignitaries, eminent and wealthy, and lime was poured over them and this mass grave covered in soil.

Some two years later, after the war (1945) a few of the Strzemieszyce remnants who had survived, returned there. Amongst the survivors were sons and daughters of those murdered, who came to commune with the memory of their loved ones, erected a wooden memorial over the mass grave and fenced it in temporarily. Several days later young local hooligans destroyed everything.

The survivors of the Nazi inferno, having been shown that they could not rebuild their homes over the ruins of the Jewish village, made “aliya” to Israel and in the homeland began their life again.

Annually, on the day of that murder, we traditionally held a memorial for the souls of our martyrs. Our hearts were distressed, when we remembered that the bones of these same dead, had not been given a proper Jewish burial, but rather had been thrown into a pit as carcasses. Other than that: the burial site had been overgrown with weeds, used for pasture, and the bones had been uncovered because of the pit had been exposed to rains over twenty-five years.

We, the former townspeople from Strzemieszyce in Israel, did not rest and did not keep silent over the desecration of the bones of our loved ones and a decision nurtured in our hearts to bring the bones to Israel.

It was in 1964, during the annual memorial that I announced, that I was willing and able – come what may – to take upon myself the mission of rescuing the bones and bring them back for burial in the land of Israel. My fellow townsmen were astonished and literally opened their eyes on hearing my words, knowing that this was definitely not a straightforward task and this endeavor would involve the greatest difficulties and would require numerous courses of action and immeasurable and varied obstacles along the way: monetary difficulties, receiving permission from the Israeli government and certainly from the Polish authorities, and a great deal more. My friends encouraged me and promised to help as much as they were able.

I set out to carry out my promise, full of faith in my mission, although the question that kept returning to me, was if I would stand up to this, but I would not let myself rest. I called the department in the Polish Ministry of the Interior dealing with the supervision of the graves of foreign citizens – and received a positive reply. After some efforts, I received permission from the relevant authorities in Israel.

It took three years, till finally with the assistance of Jewish man in Tel Aviv, who wishes to remain anonymous, I traveled to Warsaw in April 1967. I joined a tour group of Israeli Jews, by the name of “Kever Avot” [forefather's graves] in Auschwitz. I requested from the tour organizers (“Polish Émigrés in Israel”) that I go away on my own for a couple of days without telling them the reason for this.

When I arrived in Warsaw, I successfully completed the formalities in the Ministry of the Interior. I contacted a taxi driver, who had been recommended to me before traveling to Poland, and we set out at night for my town, Strzemieszyce, in order to reach there first thing in the morning, where the authorized persons would be waiting. I arrived in Bedzin at 9:00 in the morning and immediately made contact with the district governor's office and I settled matters there without difficulty. The government committee was called, to oversee the uncovering of the bones. Apart from the committee was the Zaglembian district doctor, the manager of the tax office in Katowice, a representative of the “International Red Cross”, a representative of the sanitation committee of Strzemieszyce, the town director and a police officer. We traveled together in two cars to our destination, with five laborers equipped with work tools, spades and hoes.

I will never forget those moments on that same morning of the 13th April 1967, when I climbed the hill, where the bodies were buried. I was very moved and full of awe and reverence, since I felt that I was fulfilling a holy mission to the scorched bones of my kinsmen and others of my people that had been given an improper burial. As I stood on the ground, under which lay those slain of our martyrs, that were my flesh and bones, I felt shuddering and dizziness running through my whole body. My excitement would not be appeased and I was thoroughly despondent, my innermost soul wept. I intoned “kaddish”, although I was the only Jew amongst this “minyan” of gentiles.


[Page 547]

The work began. I requested that the laborers carry out their work with care, without damaging the bones and they would be rewarded well if they did. In fact, they were careful and on reaching a depth of 20 – 30 centimeters, the skeletons were revealed, naturally, in a state of decay. The bones were slowly withdrawn, even the smallest of them. I placed them in plastic bags, and when they were full we put them in a large crate, that I'd equipped myself with earlier – and this process was repeated again and again.

Amongst the bones I found a number of personal items belonging to the deceased – a silver watch, that was identified by one of the sons of those murdered, by the name engraved on its cover. One skull had two gold plated teeth that the workers wanted to extract for their own gain, but I strongly opposed to this. Thanks to the intervention of the district doctor, the skull was transferred as it was, with the two gold teeth.

The crate was sealed hermetically with a wax seal and with straps every twenty centimeters, in accordance with established international guidelines. I returned to Warsaw pleased that I had this precious crate in my possession, this priceless item, and that it would be flown to its rightful place – to Israel, where it would receive a proper Jewish burial.

In truth, I am obliged to point out that the Polish authorities and their appointees treated me with the utmost understanding when transporting the crate, and showed me goodwill and support at every stage.

After I completed my mission, I still visited the Auschwitz extermination camp and I followed in the traces of the crematoriums, that had now been destroyed, but its foundations remained as a “reminder” and were clearly visible. I searched in the ground and I was able to gather up fists of ashes and bone fragments of Jews who had been sacrificed in the furnaces. I collected them in a bag and brought them to Israel to be buried with the crate in the Kiryat Shaul cemetery.

The funeral took place on the Holocaust Remembrance Day, 27th of Nissan 5727 – 1967 (mere days before the Six Day War began), in which a large congregation of Strzemieszyce survivors and former Zaglembian residents participated. Tremendous grief, gloom and spiritual distress surrounded this gloomy event. Rabbi Lau of Tel Aviv, may he live long and happily, who himself is a survivor, eulogized the Strzemieszyce martyrs, against the heart rendering crying of those accompanying the service, over their community that had been slaughtered.

I also attempted to speak, but in the middle of my speech, tears choked my voice and I couldn't utter another word.

A tall memorial was erected over the grave, inspiring awe and reverence. The names of the eighteen murder victims were engraved on it, may G-d revenge their blood.

“Yitgadal veyitkadesh shme raba!” [Yizkor prayer]

May the souls of our martyrs be locked in eternity!


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The memorial to the
Strzemieszyce martyrs in Kiryat Shaul






[Page 548]

These bones are all the Jewish homes…

Translated by Lance Ackerfeld



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Uncovering the bones of the
Strzemieszyce martyrs.

(Bending over next to the sack – Yehiel Stern)




Thus said the Lord our G-d:
I herby open your graves
And raise you up from your graves, my people,
And bring you to the Land of Israel.


(Yechezkel, 47, 11-12)



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