Labor camps for Jewish population
After the so called great displacement in Kielce there were about 1500-2000 Jews. Unfortunately, these are not exact numbers because nobody kept records then and besides, to Kielce were constantly coming people transported by the Germans from the towns of Ponidzie. The people left in Kielce were kept by the Germans in barracks on Targowa Street, in the synagogue and neighboring houses. A part, organized in brigades, was cleaning the ghetto. In the first place were cleaned the houses on Piotrkowska, Jasna and Stolarska Street. That area was to belong to be the seat of ‘chosen’ Jewish workers. We were moved to the new district eight days after the liquidation of the ghetto had begun.
Officially, on August 30, 1942 in 50 houses on the above mentioned streets the Nazis opened Arbeitslager, which means a labor camp, unjustly named small ghetto. It was a camp with a clear aim to use the Jews to work for the needs of the occupier.
M.Bahn: I was among those 1500 Jews. A small ghetto was created on Jasna Street. Our forst task was to rob the dead bodies, taking off their golden teeth and rings or cutting off the fingers with rings. I was myself employed at such jobs. Nobody knew where those people were transported, nobody suspected that they were transported to death, the more nobody suspected that they were burned. From among the Judenrat members president Lewi stayed with his family, doctors of the hospital with their families, policemen and some servants of the hospital. The small ghetto became a camp where the Nazis stored the things belonging to the dead. Even after such great national tragedy the Jewish police and Lewi tried to confiscate the prettiest flats, robbed from the dead and take their parcels from the workers. The surviving people were broken down but the highnesses were drinking and partying more than before ( ). From among the 1500 people that were left only 300 were women ( ) everybody understood that a full liquidation of the rest could start any time. All started looking for Arian documents, even the president and the Jewish police.
A. Birnhak: They left skilled mechanics and different technicians who worked in important for the German war industry factories. Doctors and the Jewish police were left too. Why did the Germans need so many doctors for so few people who stayed? Two days before the transport the Nazis told them to liquidate all the patients. If they had refused- they would have been shot. The prize: they could stay in the ghetto ( ) The doctors survived. For the time being.
Sz.Zalcberg: The ghetto had now only three streets and a lager was created. But before that we were driven to a barrack where we spent three days on the ground without any food. There was cry and lament in the barrack. I wished I had been displaced with my family. I was ordered to ( ) tidy the ghetto. We were searched after each day of work. Once a young woman was taken to death for taking a dress and the Gestapo chief preached that for ‘similar’ offences all of us would be punished in the same way. We didn't have any food or clothes so we tried to get some food. We got into the storehouse of the chairman of the Judenrat, Lewi. There was a lot of fusty flour, rotten potatoes sugar and fat whereas before the displacement there had been a dozen or so new dead bodies every day because of hunger.
J.Alpert: We were ordered to go to clean Stolarska Street; they had warned us not to take anything because they would shoot us on the spot if they found something. We went there ( ) they gave us a post-Jewish street. Then we came back later and one man, a soap producer, was late – maybe he wanted to find a flat for himself – he came a few minutes after us. Then Lieutenant Wohlschulûger asked him: ‘where have you been? Why didn't you come on time? You must have been stealing.’ And shot him in our presence ( ) Then they counted us and registered ( ) there were very few of us.. Herman Lewi was still there. They didn't send him ( ) they Judenrat didn't work ( ) Gottlieb, Treiger and Cytryn had already died. Hirszman survived ( ) Mostly those stayed who had worked in different institutions and came back to their places. We got very little food ( ) But the majority of those who stayed had money and if not, they tried to get it. It wasn't difficult. I must say something unflattering – many people tried to get the job at cleaning the ghetto and ordering things. They could always get something, steal some clothes or other things and then sell to the Poles, which was what they lived on. I worked in a saw mill ( ) After the first day I came back with bleeding hands ( ) And then I met a Polish girl whose fiancé was an engineer in the hall where I was working and she probably told him about me because he took me from that work and hired to make different calculations.
A. Birnhak: A late as six months after the transports we were still in the ‘small ghetto’; the workers of the holzwerk – Henryków and Ludwigshûtte – Ludwików, a few mechanics and other specialists who the Germans needed ( ) In the course of time the number of the ghetto inhabitants was decreasing. In the first place chronically ill people were taken to the Jewish cemetery and shot there. Then pregnant women went the same way. Some of them were sent to other camps. R.Blumenfield remembers that it was that camp from which he got to Pionki.
The OKBZpNP in Kielce has ascertained that in the labor camp on Jasna and Stolarska Street an average number of Jews was 1360. The camp was surrounded with barbed wire and a fence. The Poles weren't allowed to go there. In the camp were Jews born in Kielce, Jews from other Polish cities as well as some Jews from Austria, Bohemia and Germany. The area was watched by the Gestapo. The Jews were employed in quarries, factories and storehouses on Zagórska Street, the Waterworks Company, garages at 1-3 Mickiewicza Street and craftsmen, mainly tailors, shoe top and shoemakers' workshops. Several dozen people were selecting not only the things taken from the Kielce ghetto but also great transports of clothes from Treblinka sent to Kielce by railway. After sorting them, a part of the things was sent to Radom on the Gestapo order, where there was a collective storehouse located in the tannery Korona. There they were selected once again and the most precious things were transported to Lublin to storehouses created the moment the Aktion Reinhard started. The Gestapo from Skarżysko Kamienna called many times for the post-Jewish property.
There are some reports concerning the life of Jews in the above mentioned camp. Edward Szcześniak, who worked with the Jews in the Kielce waterworks testified that the Jews: complained sometimes about bad food they were receiving and that they had to get food by themselves ( ). all workers were helping them. After several weeks a common kitchen was organized in one of the houses, which improved the possibilities to feed the people. An outpatients' clinic was opened. There was no problem with finding a doctor. There were 15 of them in Kielce; it was more difficult to get medicine. Some people were taken by force on the Gestapo order to labor camps in Skarżysko Kamiennna, Ostrowiec świętkorzyski and Pionki. The Gestapo reactivated for their own needs the remnants of the Jewish police. The head of the dozen or so policemen was a German Jew Gustaw Szpiegel.
The camp was a site of German murders, the way the ghetto used to be. A few people were shot for an attempt to sell stolen weapon. Natalia Balicka testified: If the Germans took someone red-handed they shot him on the spot. I remember the execution of a young Jewess who took some clothes.
Accordng to the report of Stefan Głowacki in September 1942 H.Gayer and two other German gendarmes shot a Polish boy and two Jews near the embankment of the railway. Otto Voss was passing by on his motorbike when he shot a Polish woman bringing bread to the camp. In summer 1943 a Jewish child going along the fence was shot. At the same time O.Voss shot a boy who was standing on the so called Arian side and pouring potatoes into a sack hanging on a rope from a window on the Jewish side.
The Germans invigilated also the houses near the camp that were inhabited by Poles. In December 1942 Róża Skrzyniarz, the wife of Zygmunt Skrzyniarz was arrested. After long lasting tortures in the Kielce prison she was shot on the Jewish cemetery. Her husband was sent to Auschwitz for helping Jews.
After ordering the ghetto and giving some of the houses to the Poles there was another reorganization of the employment. The Jewish teams were directed to saw mills and the factories: Ludwików, Henryków, Granat and quarries in Kielce, Chęciny and Słowik. Some women were hired at farm work in Czarnów. For 10-12 hours of work a day the Jews were getting 250 gram of bread a spoonful of marmalade and once a week 100 gram of sugar.
Simultaneously with liquidating the Jews the Jewish real estates were confiscated: houses, factories and different bank deposits. They were confiscated under the justification that they were ownerless! In this way were confiscated: the shares of Maurycy and Leopold Gringras in the company Orion, the tannery of Judka and Kalma Bekerman in Białogon, saw mill of Kochen and Weinstadt in district Herby, glue factory of Nusyn Tenenbaum in Bialogon, fabrics shop of Dwojra Rapoport on Wesoła Street, stocks of wood belonging to Josek, Chaim and Icek Dębski, the sawmill of Herman Lewi, Majer Machtynger and Stefan Nowak on Młynarska Street, the goods yard of Ita Rotenberg on the same street, yards of Feliks Zuch, Izrael Rozenberg and Bernard Bugajer on Zagnańska Street, parquet factory of Lejzor and Leja Reisman on Okrzei Street, sawmill of Josek Chaim Gołębiowski on Zagnańska Street, real estates of the natives of Kielce Mordka and Estera Bekerman in Daleszyce, factory of barrels of Mordka and Szmarla Machtynger on Młynarska Street, sawmill of Szmalka Laks and factory of plywood of Jankiel Maliniak, Alter Wolf, Mendel Szilberg and Dawid Esenberg in Białogon, the quarry Wietrznia belonging to Chaim, Mieczysław, Henryk, Eliasz Zagajski, Sara Ehrlich, Cyryl Winler and Abram Tauman. Confiscated was the property of the Cooperative Loan Bank and the money deposed in the Commissionary Board of the Department of Forestry belonging to the following Jews: Chaim Preis, Szymon Zylbering, Ruchla Grinberg, Gitla and Izrael Albirt, Stefan Maliniak and Kazimierz Ornuch. All that property was confiscated by SS company Osti working in the Radom District.
A few months after the creation of the labor camp on Stolarska and Jasna Street the Nazis decided to create three separate camps located at the biggest industrial plants in Kielce working mainly for the Wehrmacht. In relation to that the Germans started decreasing the number of Jews in Kielce. In order to carry out that plan three big actions took place: the so called action Palestine, an action against doctors and against Jewish children.
In November 1942 the occupation authorities announced that the people who had Polish passports and an appropriate amount of money could go to Palestine by a special transport through Bulgaria and Turkey. The news caused great commotion and evoked many hopes. People willing to leave were registered on special lists. It soon turned out that there were more candidates than it was expected: people bought bright clothes, packed their things and were in good mood. At the same time they were preparing their Polish passports. The Gestapo and the gendarmerie came and took them all to the cemetery and shot.
It caused another shock among the Kielce Jews. Many of them tried to get Arian documents faster but the effect was tragic, too. N.Balicka testified: One group that already had Arian documents was about to leave the camp when due to a denunciation by a clerk who was acquainted with the matter the Gestapo caught them all – they shot about 30 people then. Among the shot Jews was H.Lewi with his wife Helena and their two sons.
Sz.Zalcberg: One day the chief of the Gestapo burst into the camp. They found Arian documents on a few Jewish policemen and on the son of the chairman of the Judenrat. The guilty were taken to cemetery, striped naked and shot. The intelligence service of the Home Army informed:
In January 1943 in one of the presumably last executions the last chairman of the Judenrat Herman Lewi with his family were murdered on the cemetery. He died like a hero, crying before the death Poland has always existed and will go on The information about his patriotic behavior got to the central conspiratorial authorities of the London government in Warsaw.
In the Jewish society some people questioned that version of his death saying that he begged the Germans to save his life.
On April 23 the Nazis ordered undertaker Jankiel Bakalarski to dig another hole in the Jewish cemetery. The next day all surviving doctors were murdered. At the beginning people had wondered why the Germans had kept them alive for so long.
J.Alpert said: All the doctors with their families were left in the ghetto. I had a friend, doctor Goldstein, who I used to meet almost every day and we often wondered why the Germans did so. I think that there were 15 doctors for 1000 people in the ghetto. And I remember Goldstein say that when he had been in a camp during the war against the Bolsheviks there was only one doctor for 15000 war prisoners. We were wondering what it was caused by and we reached no conclusion 
It was remarkable that the Germans were aware of those fears and were reassuring the doctors' milieu maintaining that as specialists, they would be necessary either in Kielce or somewhere else. On April 24 at noon all the doctors were ordered to get ready for a long trip. It was announced they would be taken to Germany, where the camps had not enough doctors.
N.Balicka testified: Schupo policemen came to the camp and announced that all the doctors with their families would be taken to labor camps in Germany, where there were not enough doctors. They told them to take necessary tools and clothes.
The people took then their best clothes, food and money. When T.Rotman's wife was a little late and he didn't want to go without her the Nazis said calmly that they would wait. The doctors and their luggage were packed on two trucks. The cars set off along Szeroka Street and near the junction with żytnia Street they were joined by a car with Schupo policemen. When they entered district Pakosz the doctors realized that they had been deceived. It was, however, too late to escape. On the Jewish cemetery they were undressed and shot. After throwing the dead and sometimes only injured people into the holes the Nazis threw grenades at them: On the cemetery doctor Fitel broke off a part of a tomb stone during the action and jumped at Gayer. In that action died: barber surgeon S.Rotman, doctors J. and T.Rotman (with their wives), their sister Wanda with her 5-year- old son Romek, J.Lewinson, Jakub Goldstein, Elizer Polak, Uszer Tuch, Mojżesz Fitel, Jakub Szatz, Uda Ajzenberg, Henryk Stabholz, Abram Eizenberg, Straus, Kleinberger, Herclik, Kuperminc. Only doctor L.Reitter survived.
The Germans didn't try to cover up their crimes any more. The next day they brought to the camp some things that belonged to the doctors; stethoscopes, dressings, medicine. It was a clear sign that the victims had been murdered: The Poles living near the cemetery talked later about incredible screams and shots 
On May 23, 1943 it came to the most terrible murder in the Kielce labor camp. The Germans decided to murder all living children, about 50, as useless in the creation of factory camps. They ordered to gather them on a square near Jasna Street, which caused great fear. Sara Kerbel, the mother of murdered 15-month-old Giza remembers that day: On May 23, 1943 Jewish policemen came at dusk, knocked on my window and cried: All to the assembly point'. We understood what it meant.
M. Bahn testified; The policemen's children were killed. Mothers brought their children and were saved themselves. The children were crying: ‘Murders, you aren't our parents!’ Doctor Reitter himself brought his only daughter, stroke her head and left to the murders. Out of 40 mothers only 4 didn't give their children. These were: Lado, Ajzenberg, Elkint and another one. The 4 women were taken with their children into one house and the door was boarded over ( ) all day were the mothers and they children dancing their final dance of death ( ) in the afternoon they were shot with their children. One 11-year-old boy, Zabłocki, hid during the action and when all finished he came back to the camp ( ) where his parents were. He told them: ‘I don't regard you as my parents’ and he kept his word. He wasn't with them all the time.
The action of murdering children was directed by Mathias Rumpel. Altogether 45 children from 18 months to 13 years old were murdered. Here are the names of the victims of that terrible murder: Gizela Kerbel, Karol Waldiferent, Frymusz Zobeerman, Aron, Goldblum, Luisa Elkes, Felicja Wajnberg, Mieczysław Cherszon, Zulia Goldberg, Izrael Chmielnicki, Zygmunt Gurewicz, Herszel Szfir, Rachela Chmielnicka, Zewusz Grynberg, Sara Lederman, Nina Zylbesztajn, Ewa Mendelbojm, Sara Graubart, Dawid Klajberg, Gedzia Bugajer, Sara Laks, Janusz Rozencwajg, Irena Proszkowska, lila Minc, Menes Berkowicz, Zofia Reitter, Józef Grynberg, Bronisław Gyfrys, Józio Goldblum, Anna Hofman, Ryszrda Kasrilewicz, Mindla Lander, Chana Jarzwicka, Pola Grosberg, Chana Borensztajn, Estera Jarzwicka, Gizela Rozencwajg, Icek Frydman, Lolek Ajzenberg, Becelel Fajnmeser, Maria Kaner and two children whose names are unknown. The majority of the children were aware of what was going to happen. A girl brought to death tried to convince a German: Ich kann doch arbeiten! Warum wollen Sie mich erschiessen?
In spring 1943 the situation in the camp was exceptionally tense.
Sz. Zalcberg writes: The life in the camp was a constant horror. There were executions all the time. They shot people for nothing: if someone was caught trading with Poles or if someone was late for a call. They were murdering also outside the camp. When the Germans discovered by accident that Sas was a Polish Jew married to a German Jewess and weren't Germans, as they had maintained, all their family living at 1 Mickiewicza Street was shot. After the execution their house was completely plundered by the Gestapo.
N.Balicka adds: there were many cases of shooting for different and also without any reasons. They shot someone for having 2000 zloty, another for one day absence from work ( ) the camp inmates seeing that the Germans were systematically liquidating them tried to get weapons and become partisans. About 15-20 people managed to get out of the camp ( ) Any resistance inside the camp was out of question because of the number of the inmates. On May 31, 1943 the Germans finally liquidated the camp. About 600 people were transported to Skarżysko and Pionki and the rest put in barracks near bigger factories.
Several dozen Jews used chaos caused by the creation of the camps and escaped to find shelter in neighboring villages. Emanuel Złoto got as far as to Warsaw.
The Germans were aware of the fact that some Jews managed to escape from ghettos and camps. They decided to find them using another ruse. They announced that there were separated towns where wandering about Jews could find accommodation and employment. In the Radom District these were: Sandomierz, Radomsko and Ujazd. Those who believed the Germans once again got to gas chambers in Treblinka, among them was Mojżesz Gutman from Kielce.
An escape from a ghetto or a camp didn't guarantee survival. Necessary was not only Arian appearance, quite a lot of money, fluent Polish, one had to have a stroke of luck. Rozalia Goździńska, who escaped from Kielce and found shelter in Byczew, was shot with her 6-year-old son by gendarmes from Chrobierz. The same gendarmes murdered Jew Naftulewicz from Piekoszów. In Zagnańsk the Germans shot hiding there teachers: Anna Jodłowska and Feliks Gliksman. Bajla Fryd found death during the uprising in the Warsaw ghetto. In unknown circumstances were murdered: Chana Flint, Herman Ostrowicz, Ojzer Hoffman, Józef and Hudesa Fajkopf.
After the liquidation of the camps on Stolarska and Jasna Street the Germans created three labor camps at the Kielce factories: Hasag Werke in Kielce, Ludwigshûtte and Henryków.
The first labor camp at Hasag, i.e. Granat was organized on the territory of the industrial plant. A piece of soil was allocated for five wooden barracks. Three of them were occupied by men and two by women. According to the recollection of Daniel Fiszgarten in the barracks there were: bunk beds, straw mattresses and no blankets ( ) They slept in pairs in order to have something to cover themselves with The Jews, in number from 300 to 400, were working in two shifts at the production of ammunition, unloading and cleaning works. Everyday at 4:30 was an appeal and the inmates were counted. The work lasted from 6 a.m. till 6 p.m. with a 1,5-hour lunch break. At 6 p.m. the other shift was coming. Daily rations consisted of 200 gram of bread and a bowl of soup. The Jews weren't allowed to leave the camp. If somebody did any work outside the factory, it was always done with the participation of a German convoy, which made any escape impossible and impeded contacts with Poles. The latter ones weren't allowed to enter the barracks occupied by the Jews. In the camp worked Jews from: Kielce, Busko, Chmielnik, Chęciny, there were also a few Jews from Charków. The camp was managed by Chim Rozencwajg, who tried to provide for equal conditions for everybody. This is a description of life in the camp by D.Fiszgarten:
In the factory was Wachfûhrer SS-man Milke – he tortured people without mercy ( ). On the night shift a few people were brought to his office on his order, men and women. He told them to strip and kiss ( ) Another game that he liked was to order people to lie down on a barrel covered with tar and hit them with an iron baton or an iron rubber (with wires). He would hit twice, three times and take the next one and then begin again so that everybody got their due 10-20 blows. They all had black bodies from those blows ( ) German masters hit people at work so that people were coming with broken heads. In the camp watchmen and volksdeutsches would burst into the barracks, order revisions, seize things and beat :. The Pole Zygfryd Lamcha, during the war a manager of the technical office of the factory, confirms that the Jews were beaten: The Germans beat the Poles and the Jews. They used for that purpose whips and other things. Schliecht had a wolf-hound, which he often set on the workers. Henryk Cymer, who worked in the tool-house, recollects: The head manager was a Gestapo policeman Schliecht. Technical directors were: Mansferd and Steleck. Mansferd spoke very good Polish. Jews who were passing by our window every day to work in the factory said that Schilecht personally seized different valuable things from them, which they had sewn in their clothes or in ladies' underware ( ) Another torturer was helping him, the commander of the werkschutzes – Berger 
The camp was a site of constant crimes. In spring 1944 the Gestapo came to the camp so as to organize a transport of the Jews to labor in Skarżysko-Kamienna. Nobody wanted to go there, people started hiding in different places of the factory. Furious Germans began a chase to catch them:
A German went up to the attic to look for Jews there. He was wearing a werkschutz's uniform and I think he had a machine gun. He had hardly got there when we heard shots ( ) After shooting several Jews, probably three, he threw them from the attic onto the floor of the factory hall. On Berger's order we had to carry the murdered Jews onto a square behind the hall. There were already lying several shot Jews – men and women. From the attic in our department was thrown also a young, 18-year-old Jewess. She worked there with her father. The German shot her in her leg. Limping she was asking the Nazi not to shoot her. However, the German took her to the square where the murdered Jews were lying. He seized her arm, twisted it and shot her in the back of her head. She died on the spot ( ) The Germans shot then 8 Jews. Their bodies were loaded on a horse cart by other Jews and taken outside the factory.
Altogether 25 people were murdered in that factory. In the camp there were the following Jews from Kielce: Boruch Płótno, Nachman Diament, Szlama, Leon and Gienia Kirsz, and others.
In summer 1944, because a Russian offensive was expected, the Germans started dismantling the machines in the factory halls. It was carried out in the atmosphere of fear and nervousness. German masters were beating and torturing Jewish workers: The people tried to escape, about 6-7 managed it. One of them was caught by an SS-man and shot. Their clothes were painted then. On August 20, 1944 a column of prisoners of about 400 people was taken to the platform on Młynarska Streeet and transported from Kielce. A part of the Jews got to war industrial plants in Częstochowa and some were transported to Buchenwald. On the way they also took Jews working in the quarries in Słowik and Bialogon: ‘They were transporting them for 16 days.’ Every day 4-5 people suffocated in the cars, on the way 200 Jews out of 500 died of hunger and suffocation 
Another labor camp for the Jews was created at 125 Młynarska Street on the ground belonging to the foundry Ludwików. In that camp were Jews from Kielce and other Polish, Bohemian, Austrian and German cities. They worked at the production of iron petrol barrels, one-horse carts, such as Pleskau and Fuhrman and at car repairing. The number of Jewish inmates in that camp reached 300, 1/3 of who constituted specialists of the iron branch: turners, fraisers (frezer) and mechanics. Jewish barracks were fenced with barbed wire although the whole area was surrounded with a fence. The Jews weren't allowed to leave the camp, the Poles were forbidden to enter the area occupied by the Jews. In a report of the Aid to Jews Council – żegota, which was interested in the Kielce labor camps for the Jews, the situation in the camp at the foundry was characterized as follows:
'Ludwików employs about 40 Jewish qualified workers and 200 normal workers, porters and train car unloaders. We have contact with them through an engineer and Polish workers. The working conditions are very hard, any trade and selling clothes impossible. The foundry is situated on the outskirts of Kielce. The Jews live there ( ) From the train we can see Jewish workers and their policemen at work in the open.
A many years' worker of the foundry Stanisław Batorski estimates that the Germans were keeping there on average 300 Jews: They were quartered in special barracks on the factory premises ( ) They had their board. In the Ludwików the senior of the camp was Jew Białystok ( ) The food they received was very modest, they lived in appalling conditions  Later on a small kitchen was opened. In 1943 near the Jewish camp the Nazis hanged 10 Poles transported from prison by the Gestapo. All workers of the foundry had to be present at the hanging. A Jew from Kielce, a cab driver Lejba Sławecki was forced to carry out the execution. At the end of July 1944 the Germans started dismantling and transporting parts of the machines. They also started an evacuation of the Jews. Therefore some decided to escape. Józef Wenus, working as a molder, testified:
In summer 1944 the Germans were transporting Jews to a concentration camp in Auschwitz. Four Jews wanted to avoid the transportation and hid in an empty stove in the enamel room. They were hiding in an empty chimney channel for six weeks. The Poles who knew that were bringing them food. Among the hiding Jews were two brothers and a son of a doctor, a gynecologist from Kielce. His name was Szatz. He came across a werkschutz when he went out to bring some water from the department where they were hiding. I saw 3 Gestapo policemen and 3 or 4 local werkschutzes, among whom was Mach, taking the Jews to shot them.
Also Edward Kluzek witnessed that murder: The Nazis ( ) bound their hands and took through the back gate of the factory and shot next to an old brick-field. They were buried over there ( ) Three Gestapo policemen shot the Jews. One of the victims begged before the execution to save him but a Nazi shot him directly in his face. In the same camp Gucia Borensztajn from Kielce was shot during a revision.
The worst conditions were in a camp set up at the factory Henryków, where specialized timber workers and a large group of people transported the wood from railway platforms to different sections of the factory The work lasted from 6 a.m. till 5 p.m. with an hour-long lunch break. The work was done mainly on the railway under the supervision of a Jewish policeman and a worker of the saw mill of Jewish nationality (a civilian). The living conditions were as difficult as in other camps: On a small area they put several barracks where they cramped the prisoners sleeping on bunk beds without bedding. Lack of sanitary facilities and poor food rations made the prisoners ill all the time. On average there were from 300 to 400 people in that camp. That camp also constituted a site of murder. According to Wiktor Tomiczek the Nazis murdered there, among other people, a Jewish store-keeper because: during disinfection of the camp he wasn't careful enough and caused fire which burnt the store with the products of the factory. In relation to that fire, which took place in March 1944 and which was treated by the Germans as sabotage, a Jew Jankiel Graber was hanged. They didn't allow anybody, in order to frighten people, to take the body off the provisional gallows for three days. Karl Essig, who was also responsible for murdering Jankiel Zylberberg, personally directed the execution. A Jewess was also shot when the Nazis found out that she was pregnant. The manager of the Henryków was reichsdeutsch Fuss, exceptionally aggressive towards the Jews; he could beat people and shot them with his pistol. He calmed down a little only after he was battered by a group from the Polish underground. Just like from other camps the Nazis took from this camp, if necessary, people to Skarżysko Kamienna, Pionki, Częstochowa and Ostrowiec. To that place were transported also the Mendlewiczes from Kielce: Mojżesz, Chana, Władysław and Chaim. They often took a few of about a dozen Jews for cleaning works in German institutions, including to the Gestapo building on Szeroka Street, where they were ordering furniture and equipment confiscated from the Polish population.
It results from the correspondence with doctor Bernard Zelinger, domiciled in the United States, that the youth formed a group in the camp that aimed at escaping from the camp to the forest surrounding Kielce. They assessed that the Russians would get to the region of Kielce in mid1944. The leading members of the group wee: B.Zelinger, Zelik Wasser and nurse Natalia Kopel. The group had three pistols and maintained contacts with a cell of the Polish underground in villages Sieje and Dąbrowa. B.Zelinger wrote about their organized escape: Because the barrack was surrounded with barbed wire fence I decided to escape when I would be taken to the night shift. I was convinced that the Russians would start an attack on June 22 because historic dates were important for them ( ) I escaped through the latrine because it was situated near outer wires quite far from the Ukrainian guards. On May 12 altogether 48 people escaped: B.Zelinger, Z.Wasser, Aron Joskowicz with his wife, Izaak Feldman, Samuel Gerszonowicz, Eli Rubensztajn, Abram Szpiro, Bluma, Henryk and Jakub Joskowicz, Mojżesz żyto, Izaak Garnfinkiel, Szloma Starczyński, Wolf Bojgen and others. The Germans managed to stop N.Kopel, who after a few months in prison got to Auschwitz. The fugitives found help that is shelter and food at Jan and Aniela Kozubek's as well as at Franciszek Czerwiec's. Zofia Kozubek and her son Marian helped the Jews a lot. Another group, consisting of 10 people, who tried to escape in the first decade of June, was less lucky: 6 people were shot, including two brothers Zajączkowski and Stefan Szwarcbard was hanged. Franciszek Wiatrak witnessed another execution – the hanging of three Jews who tried to escape, among whom was śpiewak from Kielce.
In July 1944 the Germans started transporting machines to the Reich. On August 1 the Jewish camp at the Henryków was liquidated. Most of the inmates got to Auschwitz and some to Częstochowa.
The camps at factories existed for only one year. During that time the Germans murdered there about 200 Jews, several dozen died of hunger, exhaustion and diseases. Their bodies were buried on the slope of the Silnica. Very few, 40-60 people, managed to escape in the final phase of the liquidation of the camps and found shelter in neighboring villages. Some of them survived and some didn't live to see the end of the war.
We should turn our attention to another important moment in the history of the Kielce Jews. In the memories of A.Birnhak there is a following extract: Jewish policemen and president Lewi were also German spies in the ghetto ( ) The Jews in the ghetto were left without any leader and that is why they didn't manage to organize resistance. If doctor Pelc had stayed in the ghetto it would have surely lead to an active resistance, like in Warsaw. Unfortunately, A.Birnhak can't often remain objective in judging both the Poles and her compatriots. Undoubtedly, H.Lewi yielded to her uncle M.Pelc in many respects, especially when it was necessary to express opposition to the Germans. It was clear that he wanted to survive and that he wasn't always honest to other Jews but the suspicion that he was a spy is exaggerated. Wasn't the resignation of M.Pelc from the function of chairman of the Judenrat a form of escape from problems and the sorrows of life under occupation? It's controversial. As far as military struggle is concerned, it was actually impossible in Kielce, contrary to what A.Birnhak suggests. The city and the Polish partisan units were too small, they lacked weapons, there were no military trainings and above all the western front was in the Pyrenees and the eastern – near Stalingrad. The situation was worsened by political divisions and the attitude of orthodox Jews thinking that fulfilling all orders of the occupier would give them a chance to survive. The only possible thing was a small military demonstration, which could be liquidated by the Germans very quickly.
At the end of 1944, according to a łódź newspaper Dos Naje Lebn, in Kielce appeared a special group of Germans which started exhumation of Jewish bodies buried in accidental places. They were taken outside the city and burnt. At the same time they started searching different offices, like for example the Municipal Government in Kielce so as to find documents concerning the liquidation of the Jews.
When talking about the extermination of the Kielce Jews it had to be underlined that they were dying also on the territories occupied by the USSR in 1939. In the graves of Katyń were found bodies of Jews from Kielce, doctor Captain of the Polish Army Jerzy vel Juda Fleszler, lieutenant Alter Fûrstenberg and Lieutenant Antoni Eiger.
In the protocol made after the first exhumation it was written: Fleszler Jerzy, doctor domiciled in Kielce at 73 Sienkiewicza Street, identity card of a reserve officer, visiting-card, identity card of a civil officer, foreign passport, identity card and badges of the 3rd regiment of light artillery of the Legions, 2 letters, post card and wooden cigarette holder.
Civil officer Artur Alland from the Revenue Office, arrested in łuck, found death in the basement of NKWD in Kiev. A group of 11 communists (4 Poles and 7 Jews) got under the accusation of spying to the camp in Kołyń, where they were building railway. When they were there the Sikorski-Majski agreement was signed. Released, they tried to get to the army of General Władysław Anders, they weren't, however, accepted because of their communist past. They returned with General Zygmunt Berling.
To labor camps got also those Jews from Kielce who, according to Szarlota Kahane and Henryk Gringras, didn't want to receive Russian citizenship. This is what H.Gringras wrote:
My parents refused the Soviet citizenship ( ) In June 1949 we were transported from Russia (from Lvov – K.U.). For seven weeks we were carried by a crowded cattle car to the Far East. But all lagres were full so we were brought back to the European part to a site of exile Nowaja strojka, which wasn't ready yet, 41 km from Joszkar Oła (now probably Carjewo Kokszańsk), in the middle of nowhere. We were kept in that penal colony until general Sikorski signed an agreement with Stalin concerning the release of imprisoned Poles after the Nazi invasion on Russia. After the release we went at random to Barnauł ( ) We got there completely exhausted. Fortunately, a lady from Leningrad, the wife of a former car's dignitary found us in front of the railway station and took care of us because she had good memories from her stay in the Kingdom of Poland. She found a closet or a wood-shed where we put our unconscious father [Maurycy Gringras – K.U.], suffering from pneumonia. We had luck because a Polish barber surgeon, a former exile, saved his life. We were advised to go to Samarkanda. They said that it was warmer, there was fruit and it was rumored that a Polish army was being created there. We got to Samarkanda swollen of hunger and with hepatitis ( ) At that time the majority of Polish inhabitants had already died of hunger and diseases. Only few were shot. First were dying men and children. My father consistently refused to accept soviet citizenship; he was in prison, waging his private war with the regime.
Due to hunger, adversity and diseases many Kielce citizens never returned home. In Russia died: Josek Urbajtel, Idel Rotenberg, J.Lubochiński, J.Zajączkowski, and others. Jerzy Pelc, died of exhaustion in Ałma-Ata struggling through the steppes of Asia. His body was found by the Gringrases near the railway:
The body of Jerzy Pelc – wrote H.Gringras – found my father together with another native of Kielce Seweryn Piasecki, near the railway in Ałma-Ata in Kazachstan. Our cattle car stopped and their went out to find some water. Next to the corpse they found the body of another man from Kielc, Idel Rotenberg, I guess, Mojżesz' bother. He was in agony and my mother saved him (not only him). Unfortunately, he died after two years, like the majority of the Polish exiles.
S.Piasecki, who lives in the United States, says: the soviet occupiers on the Polish territory behind the river Bug sent up-country not only the Kielce Jews but also all Polish refugees, irrespectively of their confession: both Catholics and the Jews. There was no discrimination in that respect. In Lvov, where I got in December 1939, after an unpleasant confrontation with the Gestapo, there were only few Poles from Kielce, who I had no contact with, excluding my cousin Adam Piasecki, who lived there permanently and two Gringras families (of Maurycy and Leopold). I was transported from Lvov together with the family of Maurycy Gringras (his wife Lola and son Henryk) and we were kept together in a confined forced labor camp in Central Russia guarded by the NKWD, till September 1941.
Those who survived came back to Poland in 1945-1946. Many of them omitted Kielce and went to the Western lands, where it was easier to find a flat and a job. Some people stayed in the lagers for many years after the war. Abram Biedny was from a numerous shoemaker's family. Since 1929 he had belonged to KPP. Accused of communism he spent 6 years in prison in Kielce, Sieradz and Wronki. In 1938 due to an administrative decision he was transported from Kielce to Bereza. In 1939 he fled to Soviet Russia. His fascination with the new system didn't last long. Already in 1941, accused of criticizing the USSR. he was sentenced to 10 years of forced labor. In 1951 he received a decision about 10 years of forced settlement in Boguszczany in Krasnojarski Kraj. In 1956 he received permission to apply for the right to come back to Poland. According to a letter of Dawid Szczekociński he returned to Poland in 1957.
On writing about the history of the Kielce Jews the attitude of the Poles towards the Jews living there should be mentioned. Some were afraid of entering the ghetto although it wasn't prohibited for the Poles, while others were risking their lives to help the Jews. A.Birnhak, who in her memories criticizes many times the Polish anti-Semitism, admits that she was saved thanks to a Pole, Tadeusz Wroński, who sold things left by the Strumws at the Poles' and gave large amounts of money to the author of the memories. Before the Jews were forbidden to leave Kielce doctor O.Strumw had very often gone to neighboring villages to buy from his former patients food for his family and friends. Judge W.Stein was keeping during the occupation things left by wealthy Jewish families and gave them back to the survivors after the war. Cz. Król , a worker of the foundry Ludwików during the occupation said: Jews were asking me to contact them with their debtors to give them back their due, which partially succeeded. M.Pelc was receiving medicine from the Poles and Jewish children were hidden and treated in W.Bruszkowski hospital. Prison doctor Wojciech Ruszkowki saved the life of Natan Bałanowski. Polish railway men were smuggling to the ghetto coal in sacks, driving the trains along the western wall of the ghetto, which was parallel to the railway Kielce-Skarżysko. Farmers from neighboring villages very often sold flour and bread to the Jews on transporting goods to storehouses in the school on Radomska Street. Polish workers of waterworks and factories tried to help the Jews, mainly bringing them food: almost all workers from storehouses and workshops helped to get food in the waterworks – testified E.Szczęśniak. D.Fiszgarten, employed in the Hasag confirms that the Poles: Were bringing food products that we could buy from them, thanks to which our people didn't starve. S.Polut adds: The Jews had a kitchen but were badly nourished and lived in great misery. The Poles very often brought them food from their homes, although they were hungering themselves. Z.Lamcha: Polish workers ( ) although they were hungered themselves, they very often gave food to the Jews. Jan Muszyński states: One form of help was employing Jewish craftsmen to do some work, such as sewing clothes, mending shoes, etc. They received food for such services. As long as it was possible we used to have our clothes sewn at tailor Sokołowski's or the Gerbers' In the same way the Kozubeks from Dąbrowa supported the Machtyngers living on Radomska Street. J.Henl: Poor little Szlomek ( ) he came several times to eat a plate of soup. We used with my mother to pack into his bundle potatoes, pork fat, groats and all that was at home. Antoni Kundera organized Arian papers for a Jew who had to sew uniforms for German aviators stationed in Masłów.
At the end of the occupation even some German supervisors and overseers turned blind eye to the trade between the Poles and the Jews, for example in industrial plants managed by Sliwa or in the waterworks. N.Balicka, who used to work for śliwa, writes: I wanted to take food bought form the guard of the factory but he told me not to go to the camp because they were transporting the Jews. E.Szczęśniak. who worked in municipal waterworks, mentions: the director of the waterworks, German Bischof was gentle to Jewish workers 
Many Jews who in summer 1944 escaped from factory camps found shelter in villages surrounding Kielce. In Białogon stayed: Mojżesz and Judel Bahn, Mojżesz Różycki, Dawid and Judka Bekerman and Mojżesz Kochen. M.Bahn recollects: I escaped from the camp to farmer Zawadzki from Białogon ( ) I hid in his cellar. Then I went with M.Różycki, who also escaped from the camp to Sobkowice [actually Sobków – K.U.] to farmer Wolczyński, who had used to work in our factory. He received us kindly and said; ‘What happens to you will also happen to me.’ B.Zelinger admits that he survived only thanks to Polish families from Dąbrowa and Sieje – the Kozubeks and Czerwiecs: We had a brotherly attitude to Kozubek and Czerwiec, they helped us 
To the fact that the Jews were receiving help testifies the information related to the medals granted by the Institute of National Remembrance Yad Washem in Israel – The Righteous among the Nations. In edited by Michał Grynberg Księga Sprawiedliwych (Book of the Righteous) we can find examples from Kielce. It is not a complete record. Anna Bogdanowicz, nee Wrońska, domiciled in Kielce before the war, moved to Jasło during military operations. In 1942 she hid Jewess Sara in a forester's lodge using the help of her friends in Kielce. Thanks to her help Sara survived the war. A. Bogdanowicz died in Auschwitz for helping the Jews. Bolsław Idzikowski, a citizen of Kielce, was at the beginning helping Jews bringing them food to the ghetto. When the ghetto was liquidated he took to the Arian side Estera Jurkowska and her two brothers (one was Izaak), Lapa with his wife and 4-year-old daughter, couple Ksawerowie and Maciej Rusinek (he used this name during the occupation) with his wife and 6-year-old daughter. Kazimierz Opel from Białogon, at the request of Józef Rymarz from Warsaw, hid 6-member-family of Górski: Marian and Mosze Górski with 3-year-old daughter, Leon Górski and Henryk Cynamon. When it became loud because of some too curious neighbors he helped some of them to escape to the forest and the rest – to get to Warsaw. Bolesław and Leonia śliwiński from Kielce hid Dawid Frydman in their home. In 1943 he was transported to Niwki Daleszyckie by narrow-gauged railway. They also got for him a certificate on Zygmunt śliwiński. Also Władysław Sikora from Pakosz helped Jews bringing them food. He also helped a Jewess who had escaped from the Kielce ghetto and got to the forest on Stadion. , Helena Fiszer, the daughter of a dentist from Busko Zdrój, who was saved by Leontyna Tarabuła from Mirów near Wiślica spent some days in Kielce, before she got to an orphanage in Częstochowa. After the war the Poles who had helped the Jews in other regions of the country moved to Kielce. Stanisława and Paweł Charmuszko saved Jews in Warsaw and Edward Fajks – in the vicinity of Chełm Lubelski. On June 29, 1994 the ambassador of Israel in Poland gave other two medals to the inhabitants of Kielce – to Teofil Nowak and Helena Senderska.
An escape from the ghetto or the camp didn't guarantee surviving. In 1944 due to mass supplies of weapons and the concentration of AK troops suspiciousness against people hiding in forests intensified. Such atmosphere led to some deaths. B.Zelinger informs that the partisans killed: Andrzej Joskowicz, Izaak Garnfinkiel and Szlama Strawczyński: only I managed to escape when they were taking us to death. I know the name of the patrol commander; I know that he is alive in Gdynia. Some didn't live to see the end of the war. Izaak Feldman was shot by the Germans after escaping from the Henryków. Eli Rubinsztein and Adam Szapiro had frostbitten legs and died of gangrene.
On August 13, 1993 journalist Jadwiga Karolczak published in the Magazyn Słowa Ludu article Duchy i upiory, where she described the greatest tragedy of the Kielce Jews in the village of Zagórze in February 1944. Salomon Zelinger, an active member of the ZAZ and then an AK soldier in Warsaw managed to put a part of his family and some acquaintances escaped from the ghetto in Zagórze in a house suggested by a Court clerk Stefan Sawa. Sawa also supplied food for the Jews hiding there. Under the pressure of the AK intelligence from Daleszyce suspecting Sawa of collaboration with the Kripo the Special Martial Court of Underground Poland passed a verdict ordering liquidation of all residents of that house. The verdict was carried out by the AK soldiers of the Wybraniecki troops. First Sawa and some other Jews, including 12-year-old Danuta Zelinger were killed, then all valuable things were taken from the house and shared among the troop and finally they set fire to the house. The Jews who were hiding in the attic were burnt. According to H.Zelinger at that time died: Mojżesz Rotenberg, Halina Cukierman, Danuta and Zofia Zelinger, Lidia Sadowska, Icek Proszkowski and 6-year-old Frynusia Frydman. It's remarkable that that drastic article didn't cause any significant reaction. None of the former soldiers who had executed those people answered the question who were the judges and why they acted according to the rule of collective responsibility, why they sentenced those people to death although according to the law informers could be punished in many different ways. On H.Zelinger's motion Sawa was awarded posthumously with the medal The Righteous among the nations.
It could seem that during the war people with life experience stood better chances of surviving than for example women and children. However, in the enormous machine of German genocides nobody could be sure. It can be proved by the history of the Voluntary Fire-Department in Kielce, where there was a strong link between its members. Among its 28 members who died in 1939-1945 there were also Jews: Herszel Ickowicz, Dawid Lerer, Kiwa Mydlarz, Aron Usszerowicz, Ottokar Utschik, Majer Zajdner, Motek Zajderman and Natan Lederman.
In January 1945 those who survived could at last come to light. According to the łódź newspaper Dos Naje Lebn in February 1945 there were 201 Jews in Kielce, including 120 women and 16 children. Those were, however, mainly Jews not from Kielce, who had temporarily hidden there. Because the front line was moving, some of them returned to their towns and villages; in May 1945 there were 79 Jews in Kielce. In July 1945 the first group of 40 people directed by Józef Halpirn left for Palestine. The way led through Czechoslovakia and Romania. The leaving people were constantly replaced by new comers. At the beginning of February 1946 the number of Jews in Kielce increased to 306 people.
Not until 1946 was it possible to estimate how many people lost their lives. It turned out that out of 20942 Jews inhabiting Kielce the moment the war started, 25400 registered there in 1940 and 27000 herded in the ghetto – not more than 500 survived, including natives of Kielce.
The Great Synagogue on Radomska Street was devastated. It was changed into a storehouse and burnt in the last phase of military operations. Jewish prayer houses and schools, including the High School on Poniatowskiego Street, as well as the old people's house and the orphanage were destroyed. Jewish bookshops, libraries and printing houses ceased to exist. Enormous was also the devastation of real estates. The Germans confiscated household goods and things of personal use, as well as goods, raw material, machines and tools necessary for craftsmanship works or running a company. Also the money deposited in credit institutions – banks, banking houses, cooperatives and loan-societies, jewelry, valuables and collections.
A part of the Kielce Jews returned to the city after 1945 and some decided to go to Western Lands, where it was easier to get a job and a flat. The Municipal Government allocated two big tenement houses for those who returned, wanted to stay and waited for their own houses. The first tenement house was at 18-20 Focha Street and the other at 7-9 Planty Street. A hotel, a kosher kitchen, kibbutz Ichud and the Voivodship and Municipal Committee of Jews in Poland were located in the latter house.
JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of
the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.
Kielce, Poland Yizkor Book Project JewishGen Home Page
Copyright ©1999-2014 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 22 Apr 2012 by JH