[Pages 384-386]

In the Ghetto and in the Camps

by Andzja Tupolsky


When the Jews were concentrated in the ghetto in the year 1941, we were sure that the time for our destruction by the murderous Nazis had arrived. But the Germans decided that part of the Jews of the city would be employed in numerous jobs such as in the nearby airport, agricultural jobs, etc. The first Jews that were selected for these jobs were the family members of the Judenrat. Luckily, thanks to the efforts of our mother, we were able to be included in the list of the working families. I was then a 10 year old girl and in spite of my young age, I was working in the airport for 8 to 10 hours a day like the adults. But this condition didn't last for many days. The Nazis decided that Demblin must become Judenrein. The Gestapo surrounded the ghetto and started to concentrate all of the Jews in it, into a concentration site. Only the Jews who were working in the numerous job sites were not bothered. My family and I, although having our working license, happened to be at home the same day, and not at our job at the airport. However, we could not get to the airport, since the guards had already surrounded the entire ghetto, and did not let us pass. We were very desperate and helpless not knowing what to do. The only choice left for us was to join all the other miserable people. The Germans announced in the street that every Jew who is caught will be shot on the spot. Screams and cries of the mothers and fathers were sounds throughout the ghetto. "Shemah Yisrael", cried many Jews with no salvation for their help. Mother, my younger sister and I, started to walk on our way to our execution. We were marching four in a line along Warshavsky Street and our Christian neighbors stood along the sidewalk looking at us, satisfied, as if it was a ceremonial march.

[See PHOTO-C51 at the end of Section C]

We went towards our death very scared. Our eyes were dry from crying so much and we al felt helpless and scared. We were all marching towards our extinction. Innocent boys, girls, fathers and mothers were witnessing how they and their children were marching towards their extinction without any help. We were marching and the S. S. men were guarding us from all directions.

We were getting towards the edge of Warshavsky street and soon we would arrive at the train station that would carry us to the concentration camp. Suddenly my mother discovered me. She got close to me and whispered that I should try and run away from the line. She said that I look like a typical Christian girl. "Escape" she whispered to me again, "we still have a few more houses to pass by so that you can escape into one of them. Hurry up, hurry up, save yourself. We are getting closer to the train station and then it will be too late."

But my conscience couldn't let me do so. I couldn't see my mother and my father and my four year old sister continue on the march and I would run away from them. I told Mom that she should try to escape first and I would escape and follow her. And so she did. Mom was still holding my younger sister's hand and escaped from the line and from the street where they were marching and jumped into an adjacent house that belonged to a Christian neighbor that was familiar to us. His wife permitted Mom to hide in the attic, and while Mother was stepping upstairs, she started hearing the steps of another woman that also escaped from the line and followed Mother. However, the Germans tracked that woman and immediately followed her.

When Mother saw the Nazis, she escaped immediately and mingled again in the line of people who were marching towards their end. Meanwhile, I was still marching within the long lines. When I met Mother again in line, we immediately exchanged our scarves, so that she would not be recognized by the murderers. But Mother again tried to convince me to try my luck in escaping. And so I did. At the end of Warshavsky street, by the grove in front of the train station, I got out of the line and stood on the pavement by the Polish viewers, who looked peacefully at the Jews marching towards their extinction. Very slowly, I started to walk the Pulawy road. I walked and walked and I didn't know where my feet were taking me. I finally arrived at a house of a Christian woman who was familiar to me, but she locked the door in my face and didn't let me get in, even for a few minutes. She kicked me away and warned me that she would carry me back to the train station. I walked to the road again. It was dusk and getting to be dark. I was walking through fields that I had never walked in before, and I didn't know where my feet were going to carry me to. I was very lonely, neglected and miserable. What would be my end? And if I was caught, what would I say?

Suddenly I saw Mom holding my younger sister's hand. I started to yell and call her, but she was running and couldn't hear my voice and disappeared from my eyes. For a moment I thought I had just imagined my mother. Desperate, I continued to walk on. On my way, I suddenly met a Christian woman named Kovasova and I asked her if she saw my mother on the way. She replied that she indeed saw my mother hiding in a free-standing toilet positioned in the nearby field. I started to run toward the direction that the Christian woman mentioned and as I got closer I heard my mother's voice, "Andza, come here, hurry up". Upon my arrival, I recognized my mother, my younger sister, and another unfamiliar woman, who was sitting beside them. My mother immediately gave me a warm hug.

We were sitting there until the late hours of the night. From a distance we could hear the shooting that put an end to the lives of the Jews. Sometime after midnight, Mother, by herself, emerged from the hiding place, approached the house of one of the Polish people nearby and for a handsome fee asked him if he could go back to the city and see who from the Jews remained alive and also if he could ask the Jewish policemen if it would be possible to go back to the agricultural ranch where we were registered as working labor. The man agreed to go back to the city, and after great difficulties we managed to return to our work in the ranch, and join the working laborers in Demblin. At the working camp, we found the rest of our family members, and we were working there for the next four years until we were transported to Czenstechov camp. In that camp, where the conditions were unbearable, we stayed for half a year. At that time, one day, our father was sent away from us to Buchenwald camp, and we never saw him alive again. We were also supposed to be transported to the same camp, but the Germans were not able to execute the action because on the same night, we could hear a faraway gunfire, in Czenstechov, where the Russian army arrived and most of the Germans were running away. However, we were not very happy, because, just a day before the liberation our father was sent to the execution camp and we were not able to see him anymore. May his soul rest in peace.



[Pages 387-393]

How we taught, gave Courage and saved
The Jewish Children of Demblin

by Aida Milgroim-Tzitrinboim, Ramat-Gan


(Reworked according to the testimony given in Yad-Vashem, 6/-178/2541, in Tel Aviv.
Translated from Polish)


My parents, Yididah and Hindah Milgroim, were born in Demblin. My father was for a long time a member of the orthodox community there. In the material sense we lived well because my father, a businessman, had quite a few properties and a lot of tenants. Before the War, I finished my teacher's studies in Warsaw. In 1933, my father died. As the older children in the family go married, I remained with my mother at home.



A

With the outbreak of the War in 1939, both of us managed to live through various round-ups and wanderings without any place to really feel secure. After a lot of hard experiences, we made our way back to Demblin where draconian, anti-Jewish laws were already enforced, as well as the forbidding of our children to study in school. Nevertheless, I, with the cooperation of several mothers, held at our house a private school for a group of children each day for 2 hours. The students would change, and the school would last from 8 in the morning to 5 or 6 in the evening. Later on, we were able to continue that activity in the ghetto that had been created.

But the conducting of an illegal Jewish school like this, and for little kids of 7 or 8 years old up to 14 or 15 years old, was an activity which was extremely dangerous, especially since there were so many students and the numbers got up to 70, 80 or even 100. I taught according to the school program, not necessarily after a Jewish fashion. The lessons were conducted in Polish and the students were examined during the term according to the Public Polish school standards. The Pole, Mikulsky, (if I remember his name correctly) would come and give the examinations. He even gave school certificates after the ending of the semester. He did this secretly, but he had to be paid. I didn't have anybody to help me. I had to deal with all these very difficult and risky responsibilities all by myself.

When the Germans learned about all this, I had to hide out for awhile. Then I started my lessons again, in private houses, each time in a different location.

In that epic we succeeded in bringing my sister and her child from the Warsaw ghetto. There, in the ghetto, both of them had been going hungry. My younger sister had already come back to Demblin and opened a school and I helped her.



B

The 6 th of May, 1942, was the first deportation. Everybody was driven from their homes and on the way beaten, tortured and shot. My mother was killed at that point. I and my sister and her child saved ourselves. Our school work ended because both of us had to go out every morning to forced labor at various work sites which the German villains thought up for Jew to do. The child remained in the street and so we decided that it was better to send him back to Warsaw where my brother-in-law lived. A Polish tram operator took the child with him to the capital, and when the tram crossed over into the ghetto, he left the little boy there and the little boy himself knew how to find his father.

When my brother-in-law became sick with typhus, my sister went to him in Warsaw and remained there in the ghetto.

The 15 th of October, 1942 was the second round-up, and again I was able to escape the massacre. While the victims of the first deportation, 2,000 Jews, were sent to Sobibor, the transport of the second deportation went to Treblinka. On the spot, gathering people up, they shot down 60 people who were trying to get out of the place where they'd been enclosed.

In the Demblin ghetto, in that year, they brought in Jews from other places. I remember a transport from Preshov, Czechoslovakia, how they arrived and took the place of the deported Demblin Jews from the first deportation. In my apartment, we took in the three person Friedman family from Preshov.

The Czeck Jews suffered the same sorrows, troubles and deprivation as we did and had to work in the city and in the surrounding camps.

I was transformed into a worker at the camp by the rail lines along with several thousand other men, women and children. The camp commander was a Jew from Vienna, Venkart. Besides the wire fence was a barracks in which the chief of the camp lived, a German, a non-commissioned officer, Kattinger. Children were able to be put to work together with grown-ups, and the real little children stayed behind in the camp itself. During an unexpected visit by the Germans, the little children were stuffed under the cots.



C

This was our first experience in a camp, therefore, at that time, we still had a little bit of money with us, and other precious things which enabled us to buy from the Poles different things that we needed which they brought up to the barbed wire fence. But only thanks to having bribed Kattinger was it possible to carry on in this way in this camp, let things come into the camp, get what we needed, use our money, as opposed to being total slaves.

For those who weren't there it seems unbelievable, this story of hiding children. It remains however a fact, that even the three year old swallows knew instinctively to hide themselves and lie quiet as mice when danger was close. The camp commander Venkart knew that my profession was as a teacher, and he let me off hard labor and ordered me to take care of the children. Instead of the really hard field labor, I remained with my beloved pupils (boys and girls). Most importantly, I busied myself with those children whose parents were away at work, the women digging potatoes and the men carrying water, sorting old iron and laying rail lines.

From the kitchen I was able to get a special diet for the children and to begin to start teaching them. Of course, in conditions like those, this wasn't what you'd call a normal school, but I was able to implant in them a little bit of knowledge and help them to distinguish between good and bad, tell them various stories from books and sing songs with them, among which were quite a few of my own, about life in the camp.

In the whole camp there was one guard, perhaps also he had been bribed. The real danger, as I said before, came from unexpected inspections. The several songs I wrote about the camp were in Yiddish and here's an example:
Quiet, shhh, don't move,
There's going to be another inspection in the camp.
Shhh, quiet, don't make any ruckus,
Because the inspection is going to be here very soon.
And when there is an inspection, there's hell to pay.
It's terrible, because they are not supposed to see any children in the camp.
Shhh, quiet, don't make any ruckus,
There's going to be an inspection here soon.
The children were very attentive and disciplined. And they understood the danger that lurked around them. Even the littlest ones knew that a lot of things shouldn't be seen and shouldn't be heard. When they laid down, stuck under the cots, everyone knew that they had to lie very, very still without moving. And about that as well, we came up with a little song:

In the camp are miracles, everybody knows that.

There are a hundred children, but, during an inspection nobody sees one of them.

Refrain :
Miracles, miracles, miracles, miracles and wonders
Miracles, miracles, miracles, miracles and wonders


In the first day of Chanukah, there was a miracle,
We got little toys - everybody saw.

Refrain :
Miracles, miracles, miracles, miracles and wonders
Miracles, miracles, miracles, miracles and wonders

We talk now about cleanliness, from morning until night
Really, for two weeks, Walter made that very well.

Refrain :
Miracles, miracles, miracles, miracles and wonders
Miracles, miracles, miracles, miracles and wonders


D

With the help of these little dreamed up songs of ours, we were able to formulate our own way of looking at and criticizing and protesting the conditions that prevailed in the camp. If a bath wasn't provided quickly enough for the children, or they didn't get meals that weren't good enough, it was an opportunity to criticize with another song:
When they provide lunch, all the children eat.
If you find a potato, it's a big wonder.

Refrain :
Miracle, miracle, etc.

In the camp it's a holiday today, the first of October.
The women don't cook, because they're cleaning everything
up and making it absolutely spotless.

Refrain : Miracle, miracle, etc.

Herr Venkart, the barracks are being prepared for breakfast for the children.
If it's really true, that is the greatest miracle of all.

Refrain : Miracle, miracle, etc.
It really was something that was quite extraordinary, that in the camps things remained quiet, especially with so many children being hidden all over the place. But this was really a result and thanks to the goods that we had with us, the gold and the money, with which we were able to bribe the Germans.

But there were also other very, very hard burdens placed on the children, like when the smallest of them had to go to work at the hardest work, chopping wood, carrying coals, digging in the fields. On this them the following song was born:
All the children who stand before you - all of them are equal,
There's not one who's rich or one who's poor.
And for us as well, life is not easy.
Torn away from home, many months now,
We work with adults, side by side.
At dawn, at dawn, the work begins at seven in the morning.

We wonder if it's good and beautiful, the camp is made clean.
We help, we don't wan anybody to be humiliated or insulted.
We sweep the streets, we dig in the garden,
We chop wood, we carry coal - and yet, we're proud.
You should know camp, you should know camp, you should know camp
- this camp is our home.

A good number of the children would often duck away from their work and prepare food for their parents who would come home very, very tired and broken down each night from their forced labor.



E

Marisha Lorberboim, from Ryki, helped me. Together we taught the children to read, write, told them different stories, history and explained everything in Polish. On Purim or Chanukah, we told the significance of the holidays and even tried to prepare little special things to eat. In this way, for a few hours at a time, the children forgot their very, very sorrowful condition.

We continued taking care of the children, devoting ourselves to them. We even got together little performances. The little performers, danced, sang and recited for the adults, when in the evenings they returned from their hard work. In this way the days and nights drew out until July, 1944, when the Russians approached our area. Only at that time, the Germans began to liquidate the camps.



F

In the beginning of July, they sent a number of our Jews to the camp at Czenstechov, including 15 children. In a few days they sent everybody else, who had remained, to Czenstechov as well. As soon as we arrived there we learned that in the first transport from Demblin, they'd taken 15 children from their parents and shot them.

We labored to take the older children with the adults, but later, 38 children remained outside of the fence, separated from the mothers and fathers. Ukrainian bandits, armed with revolvers and axes, guarded the children.

In Czenstechov we arrived in a gigantic camp surrounded by barbed wire. They drove us into filthy barracks. In the camp they found thousands of slave laborers who worked in the enormous German ammunition factory. They gave us other work, but I asked to stay with the children, knowing the fate that awaited them. I wanted to be able to comfort them and soothe them in their last hours. But it seems that it was fated that they live a little bit longer, because these children were not immediately executed like those in the first group. When they brought them a little container of food to eat, not one of the children made a move to the soup, although their hunger was great. They were afraid that they would be poisoned. And so I was the first one to take something from the big bowl of soup, and then the children took a little bit of soup for themselves without fear.

The mothers and fathers saw from the side of the fence what was happening to the children, and they strained to be able to see and be able to pick out their own child. They went through unbelievable suffering, feeling sure that their sons and daughters were just waiting to die. It went on that way for days. I was the only adult among the children. From time to time, a Jewish camp policeman would show up and seeing the agony of the parents, I was able to talk two of the Jewish policemen into allowing the children, one by one, to say good-bye to their parents. Although this was an activity that could have meant death for all three of us, the policemen organized it so that each mother separately, was able to come to the gate, and I sent her child there and they fell into each other's arms, hugged and kissed, and then the child had to come back immediately. Even the littlest one knew how to act. It was well known to them what they had to do.



G

Ruling over our camp was the German with the vicious glance, Bartenschlagger. With a lot of money and jewelry we were able to bribe him so that he allowed the children to remain in the camp. Although each day there were inspections and checks and people were brutalized, during the six months that we were there, we were able to keep the children.

And that's the way it went until the 16th of January, 1945. The Russians had by that time surrounded Czenstechov, and the Germans wanted to take us deep into Germany. We decided that we weren't going to move. When the murderers came to get us they were frightened by our fastness and they cut out, knowing that the Russians were almost in the city. The next morning, as a matter of fact, a Soviet tank made its way into the camp and we were freed!

After leaving the camp, I encountered my brother-in-law in Czenstechov, the husband of my sister Ruth. He said that my whole big family, everybody was killed, my sister Ruth, with her little girl, Noisha, killed in Maidanek. My sister Rachel, her husband, Yisrael Kevat and her daughter Hela (the parents in Plaschow, and the daughter in Shtutof). My sister Andja and her husband Blondovsky, with their daughters Ruzsia and Hela and also my brother Yankev, his wife Marisia and her son Yurek. My brother, Mitshislov, his wife Esther and his daughter Fanya.

In the camp in Czenstechov was our neighbor from Demblin, Henryk-Tzvi Tzitrinboim. In 1945 we got married in Demblin, but it was impossible to remain in the town because of the savagery of the Poles towards the Jews who had survived. We escaped to Lodz and there we found the surviving daughter of my sister. From Lodz we fled to Germany and in March 1949, with my daughter Aiyla, we arrived in Israel.



[Pages 394-397]

Karyov - Modzjitz - Buchenwald

by Chaim Shtamfater


Until the Holocaust

There was a Jew by the name of Arye Korover, religious teacher in Modzjitz. He came from the village of Karyov. Why did he come to Modzjitz? When Karyov was burned, he rented a wagon, he piled on the little bit of his poverty. He came to Modzjitz.

He had three boys: Chaim-Yitzhak, Leizor and Shaya. He was a very, very poor man. He didn't bring any possessions with him, really, to Modzjitz. They stopped right in the middle of the market place. They didn't even have a place to lay their heads down. They didn't even have a pot to cook something in. We stood around the wagon in our ragged clothes and everybody who walked by just kind of stopped and gaped at us. Who are these gypsies who speak Yiddish? One person said that maybe they just lived among the Jews and picked up Yiddish.

My father went looking for a place to stay in. He didn't have any money. There was a Jewish shoemaker by the name of Shmuel Vazitch. His wife was called Sara Kolokof. He had a little shack and we put up there. That was just a little bit after Passover.

What happened later? Since my father was a hard core Hasid, he went to the Hasidim to ask what he should do next. You have to eat after all. Thy advised him that he should become a religious teacher in town. So they actually were able to drag together 8 little boys as students. The problem was, where was he supposed to teach these kids? His landlord, Shmuel Vazitch said that he could teach them in the house. He didn't get any money from the deal. He did it because it was a mitzvah.

From teaching 8 little kids you can't really make any money either. There was a baker's wife, Sara Liba, and she needed somebody to knead the bread and the challah. My mother went to work and earned bread and challah for the whole week.

Still our poverty was great. Imagine that until I was 11 years old, I never wore a new piece of clothes on my body. Everything was patched up and passed on from old clothes.

There was an old shoemaker in town, Shmaiya Kalenovsky. He was 80 years old. Every Passover, he made from old soldier's boots a little pair for children. Of course we didn't always have something to eat at home. A whole week would go by and we wouldn't see even a little piece of meat. If we managed to buy a calf's head for the Sabbath there was a great deal of celebration at home.

My mother used to say to my father, "Just look at what he children look like."

And my father used to say, "Eh, it doesn't hurt, the real world has yet to come. Who has something in this world is not going to have something in the next world."

He promised her paradise. In the future of course. He wanted me to study. He really pushed me. Since I was always really hungry it was very hard for me to learn anything. He put me out to work as the assistant to a religious teacher. I just had certain days that I could depend on a meal. I already understood at the age of 13 that part of my life was making a living through being a hanger on.

I didn't want to say the blessing with the other children. But he made me. At that point I went out and I learned a trade, wheelwright. I went to study with the wheelwright, Meir-Yechail Stalmach. When my father found out that I was learning a craft he went crazy, because I had shamed him. I was ruining the family's name. There weren't any people who worked at crafts in my family. For over a year we didn't speak to each other, until I started to bring home a ruble. At that point my father and I made up.

My father's daily fare was quite pathetic. At 12 in the afternoon he had a little bit of bread with a little onion. At 4 o'clock he had a little bit of peas. The whole day he was teaching children. When I came home, he taught me.

The wheelwright had a sister-in-law who was the same age as I was. They started to talk. They were gossiping around that she was going to be my bride. But my mother said that because I picked her out myself, that wasn't appropriate at all and I obeyed my mother. It was only when I started to earn 5 rubles a week that I went back and tried to rearrange the match.

I started to earn very good money. I was able to get a really nice fur cloak for my father and to get a nice dress for my mother. I was able to contribute 3 rubles a week to the household. The "stain of the family" was erased.

After that I did get married, everything was fine. I bought a house from Liebkele Konyech. After that I made my little workshop. Everything was going just the way it should have gone until the coming of the murderous Germans.



During the Occupation by the Germans

My wife was injured by shrapnel. The Germans took her to a hospital in Radom. She stayed at the hospital for 4 months. After that, she remained at home for another 4 months and she became healthy again. But afterwards they sent her to Sobibor and there she was burned up together with the 5 children of her sister.

Everything that I owned the Poles plundered and robbed. I worked in a camp with 60 Jews. They picked me out with another guy to have responsibility over all the Jews.

Once we had to work for an additional 2 hours. The Jews said that they weren't going to work for an additional 2 hours, that they always made them do that, and that they were just going to go home. The next day the supervisor came. He called us both into the office and asked us, "Why didn't the Jews work yesterday? What kind of sabotage is that? This is wartime. You can get shot for stuff like that. You're the ones who are responsible for these Jews." We began to cry. Something about the way we were acting moved him. "If it ever happens again, you will pay for it with your lives."

After that they drove the Jews out of the work place. They sent all of us to Czenstechov, and there put us to work in the iron works. There the supervisors continually tormented and beat people. Afterwards they sent us to Buchenwald. There things were very, very bitter. Every night they would take out 40 corpses. One laid down and never got up.

Traveling from Czenstechov to Buchenwald, they packed us into rail cars with sealed doors and tiny little windows. There was room for 50 people but they actually packed in 150 people. There wasn't enough room to breathe. We had to take care of all or needs in the rail car. Whoever was able to survive it and a lot of them didn't and died. By the time we got there, those that managed to come out of that car were very few indeed. On the roofs the Germans were standing with machine guns. The trip took 8 days.

When we arrived in Buchenwald, the German police greeted us, took us out with big dogs. In front of the gate, they told everybody to take off all their clothes. They shaved everybody's hair off, all over their bodies. They smeared us with some kind of substance that burned like fire. After that they drove us down into a cellar. There they poured cold water on us and then hot water. After that they drove us into a well. There they smeared us with something else which also burned like fire. The gave us camp clothes and took us to the barracks where we found there already 2,600 people. Each day they dragged out 40 corpses.

On one occasion I was lying down on a hard bunk with 2 Hungarians. We were speaking among ourselves. A watchman with a stick came over and beat us on the legs. He hit me in the knee which became very swollen. They gave me a little tag to go into the hospital. I had to stay there for 14 days. I went in there with a Frenchman. They told me to sit down. They were going to give me a bed. They laid me down on a hard bench. Two of them grabbed me by the head and two of them by the feet ands I got hit in the knees. I started to scream. The screamed at me:

"You dirty Jew, your whole life you've been speculating, and now you're screamingn? Shut your mouth or you're going to be dead in a mu=inute." Then he wrapped my knees with a paper bandage, gave me a kick in the ass sand threw me out of the hospital.

Aftee that, they took me into the hospital again with Mendle Viatraks's son. He died that same night, but he lay with me dead for two days because the people who were working as orderlies in the hospital were so desperate to get his portion of food everyday.



[Page 398]

We saw the Children no more

by Devorah Reznik


During the first round-up in May of 1942, my husband Yidel was working at the airfield. I and my two children were at home. They drove us out into the street. A lot of people were already standing there. I made a point of standing as far back as I could. I saw that they were picking people to take away. I tried to figure out what I should do and what I had to do in order to not be deported, and suddenly a Christian appeared near me, somebody who had been one of our customers. I figured the situation out quickly and I asked her to go to the Ukrainian (the S.S. people were in front [the S.S. was composed of Lithuanians and Ukrainians as well as Germans]) so that this person would say to the Ukrainian that she had some shoes that she had to get from me and it was a very important matter and he would also, the Ukrainian, get a wristwatch out of the deal and the Christian woman would get my ring. The Ukrainian finally disappeared. I decided to go to the old suburbs because there I had a Polish acquaintance and the Ukrainian left.

I went to this gentile and he didn't want to let us in. We were very upset because there were a lot of Polish children who were following us around.

I then went to my landlady. She let me in, I changed clothes. She took me to a friend of hers' house. I was able to get away with all this because the murderers were so involved with pushing the rest of the Jewish population (our dear brothers and sisters) to the train where they were going to be deported. The Jews who remained, they still had use for so they let us go home.

Later on, there was a second round-up an my husband was at work. I was supposed to be at work too but I had paid somebody do go in my stead. I wanted to be with my children and had I not I am sure the children would have been taken away.

At the end of 1942, we went into the Demblin camp, where we remained until July of 1944. The director of the camp was Venkart. At that point, an S.S. man from Czenstechov by the name of Bartenschlager came and the murderer Venkart sent us with other families to Czenstechov. We begged him not to send us because we had children. But he didn't listen, I don't remember if it was 12 or 14 children. When we arrived in Czenstechov they took the children away from us. The Germans fooled us. They said that they had to examine the children separately. And we never saw the children again.

Cursed shall be Venkart, the Jewish murderer. As for the German murderers there is no fit punishment bad enough.

We were liberated on the 16th of January, 1945.





[Pages 399-401]

Memories of Hitler's Hell

by Rhoda Lindover


I'm not going to write down everything or describe everything that I saw or that happened to me because of the state of my health. I don't dare put that much stress on myself. I'll just outline the last epic.

The first round-up was in 1942 in the month of May. The whole family was still together at that point. My husband, my parents, my sister-in-law with her child. But already in the first round-up, the bandits sent them to Sobibor. The 6th of May is very well engraved in my memory because of the horrible events that happened. Very early in the morning, my saintly husband went out into the street to see what was happening but he couldn't get back because the town was being surrounded with trucks and guarded by S. S. and police. People were running around like crazy as if to say where are we going to run to, where are we going to go?

My husband and my brother looked for a place to hide. They sent a messenger to us to say that we shouldn't go to the market place, but to find a place to hide with a gentile. Maybe somebody would let us in. My parents didn't want to hear about hiding and they said to me I'm young and that I should save myself. But they went to the square all by themselves and with them went my sister-in-law with her child.

I went to a gentile neighbor's house and begged him to let me come in until the murderers had left the city. And understand that I immediately gave him everything I had on me. He did let me stay there as long as it took until the Germans started going house to house to root out Jews and at that point he threw me out and said that he was afraid that the Germans would find me.

I went out and passed the gendarmerie and kept running. Happily, the villains didn't recognize me as a Jewess. The whole town of Jews had already been gathered together in the square to be taken away. I ran to the station thinking that maybe I could travel to some little town where there was still some Jews left. On the way, a Sergeant from the fortress recognized me and he was a customer in our business. He took me to his house, in an attic and hid me there. In the same house lived Moshele Zvigenboin was a tailor.

In the attic there was a little window which looked out onto the street and from there we could see everything. I heard a howling and crying in the square and the shooting of the bandits. Later, around 6 p.m. in the evening, the whole transport went through the street underneath where I was hidden. And I saw my dear parents and sister-in-law. My mother carried the child in her arms. Just as the tears flowed down from the people's eyes, the rain flowed from heaven at that point. The people were beaten by the bandits with their rifle butts because they couldn't go fast enough.

When I saw that I wanted to run down into the street and just go with them in the transport, the gentile stopped me, he wouldn't let me go. He locked me in. But with one blow I was able to open the door and went down, but he wouldn't let me go into the street until it had become very dark. That's the first time that I went into the street. I didn't find one Jew. Where was I supposed to go now? Everybody was gone. I went home but to who? Coming home to the house, I found my saintly husband and my brother who were striking their heads on the wall in absolute desperation since everybody had been taken away. But, they hadn't planned on seeing me. They hadn't realized that I'd been able to hide.

There was nothing in the house because the goyim had robbed everything. So we went looking for Jews. We found a few Jews who had also been able to hide themselves. That's the way we were in the town until the 12 th of May. After that, we went into the Demblin camp. The other Jews remained in the city until the second round-up.

Exactly when the second round-up happened I don't remember. My brother remained in the city because he was very sick with typhus. He was hidden in another house, in an attic with Esther Shapiro and her husband. Before the end of the second round-up, I went out of the camp not caring whether I was allowed to or not and I ran into the city. And the scenes of the dead laying in the street are things that are etched into my memory. I went among the dead and turned every corpse over to see if it was my brother, but them I found my brother among the living. However, my joy did not last long with him.

The few Jews who did remain went into the camp after the second round-up. My saintly brother went to a Christian to hide himself. At the end of 1944, the Christian's neighbor went to the gendarmes and ratted that there was a Jew hanging around and the gendarmes came right away with their dogs who tore my brother to pieces. A bullet was too precious to them, they couldn't use a bullet. I was told all of this after the liberation.

I and my saintly husband went into the Demblin camp. In the year 1943 the S. S. came and took everything that we still had.

That's the way we spent our sorry days until 1944. When the Russians got close to the Vistula, they wanted to take us all to Auschwitz, but we remained in the middle of the road in Czenstechov. There, the Latvians and the Ukrainians took us down to rail cars and we went to a camp called Hasag to work in the ammunition factory. My husband was quickly broken by all of this, especially when he saw a sign in the camp that said, "Don't laugh, because if you do, you're going to be melted down to scrap." With each day, myself and my dear husband felt that the end was coming. He was very, very desperate and resigned.

Two weeks after coming to the camp, the bandits made a deportation of women and at the same time they shot quite a few children, among them many of those from Demblin. A sister of my husband was sent away with her child, with her little girl, to Germany. The second child stayed with me.

When the Russians came close, they took all the men and put them in rail cars and sent them back to Germany. Three days later they drove the women out of the barracks and ordered them to begin to march to Germany. We stayed out that way, just standing around, for hours, in a bitter cold until the Russian airplanes started to fly overhead. Our prayer was that they should blow us up with bombs before the Germans would have a chance to murder us.

The 16th of January, 1945 we were liberated by the Russians. My husband didn't live to see that. The men had been taken to Buchenwald and my husband was being led to work one day, couldn't go fast enough, so they killed him.

Of my whole family, I survived with a sister, who is now in Australia. My brother and his wife survived in Russia and they're also in Australia now.



[Pages 402-403]

On their last Journey

by Binyamin Shtamler, Ramat-Gan


When Hitler's boot soldiers invaded Poland, thus starting the Second World War, I was a soldier in the Polish army. I was sent to the front, but did not fight because the Polish army was retreating. After a month of difficult wandering I came back, in December 1939 from imprisonment, to Demblin. The Germans, who had occupied the town, were busy rebuilding Demblin's big airfield, which they had completely obliterated. To my surprise, I found there hundreds of Demblin's Jews who worked rebuilding the field for minimal wages. Under the regime of Ridz-Smigli and the minister Beck, who were anti-Semites, no such work was given to Jews.

Friends and acquaintances suggested that I get a job at the airfield. Even my friend Mr. Leizor Teichman, who was chief of the Judenrat, advised me to do so. I came to work as a certified electrician. With a Polish foreman, I received a group of people to work with. We returned every evening to sleep at our homes in the town.

The Jews who did not work at the airfield found other work. But we suffered from confiscation's, poll tax and fines and many insults. I especially remember the punishment we received for not filling up the quota of people for cleaning the town's streets. In this case, the Germans collected the Judenrat in the market and forced them to ride piggyback on each other, to amuse the Nazi sadists.

With the establishment of the Demblin ghetto in the end of 1941, and the beginning of the offensive on Russia, who had joined the Allied Forces, the Jews' situation worsened. The first victim that was murdered by the Nazis was Akiva Rothschield's wife. The excuse was that she left the ghetto's area.

The quartermaster's chief, an infamous Nazi by the name of Geede, who was stationed in Pulaw, used to come to Demblin every once in a while and confiscate anything he wanted. This hurt the town's Jews. Once he came to confiscate merchandise from Binyamin Itsik, and Mr. Leizor Teichman heard about it. Teichman went immediately to the Demblin police, where he had some influence, and reported to them that merchandise was being confiscated behind their back, so maybe they would lose their share in the loot. The German police consequently went to the site and sent Geede out of town.

A few days later Geede assemble the Judenrat staff from the area, the ones who were under his jurisdiction, issued them some administrative orders and ordered them back to their stations. All except for Teichman, who was forbidden to return to Demblin. Teichman was transferred to another town, and was murdered there publicly by Geede, apparently knowing that he had something to do with his having to leave Demblin. The town's Jews were mournful. Especially missing Teichman were those who needed welfare; Mr. Teichman had taken care of them with devotion. He had a talent for public work, although he stayed away from politics all those years. He managed the community as well as anyone could and tried to better the residents' condition without discrimination.

The Dembliners lived their lives without knowing what the future had in store for them. Then came the bitter day, May 5, 1942. It was a spring day. The bright blue skies hid what was to become of the Demblin community. That day, at dawn, there were frightening rumors that the S. S. had surrounded the city. We did not know what was to happen in the town and were very worried about our families there. After a short time, the camp's commissioner told us that we should stand with the rest of the town's Jews at the market square, next to the house of Reb Zalman the folk doctor.

We went there worried. When we arrived, we found most of Demblin's Jews standing in lines, men separated away from women, surrounded by armed S. S. troops. I took my place at the end of the line, by the road to the Study House, so I could see my family and join them. All was in vein - I could see none of them.

A tthat time I saw the shoemaker Lazor Zucker bending to fetch his hat, which had fallen, holding a suitcase with his other hand. The murderer Geede noticed him, whipped him and kicked him with his nailed boots. The suitcase fell to the floor and burst open. It contained tallit, tfillin and a piece of bread. When Zucker tried to lift the tallit and tfillin, Geede beat him to death.

So we stood awaiting an order. During all that time we heard curses, whipping and other tortures. It seems that despite our not knowing, the labor camp officials, who were interested in skilled workers, tried to keep us from being transported. From this transport, several of us, including myself, were pulled out of the lines and returned to work at the airfield. The rest of the town's residents, including my father, mother, brothers and other relatives, were sent to the train station without knowing their fate.

When I returned to the camp, I immediately went to the train station. I met a few people on the way who told me about the atrocities that were dome there. The way to the station was filled with soldiers and armed S. S. men. I went to the cars trying to save someone from my family, but in vain. I heard the screams and the crying of the poor ones; the Germans shouting and their dogs barking.

I returned heart broken to the camp, recounting the atrocities that I had witnessed. I saw my brothers and father only from the distance, when they walked with the rest of Demblin's Jews to their deaths. I did not see my mother and sisters.

(Written by Yisrael Rozenwien)


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