by Yakov Szperling
Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund
My uncle, Borukh Szperling, was an artisan, a tinsmith by trade. He lived in Czenstochow, where he occupied two rooms for his entire life. In one room was the tinsmith shop and the other one served as a reception room, a salon, an eating room.
Reb Borukh always was seen going with a pail packed with tools, blackened with soot, his hands scorched. He added gutters to the roofs or smeared them with pitch. My uncle Borukh was never embittered by his labor. He greeted everyone with a bright sholem aleykhem [Yiddish expression peace to you used as a greeting], asking about everything, about the entire family. For his entire life he did not stop banging with his hammer. He loved his trade. He did not mix in kehile [organized Jewish community] matters but he and his three sons, who were able to study as a result of his toil, were well known in Czenstochow.
The oldest son, Yantshke (Jan), graduated as a lawyer and after several years became a judge in the Czenstochow appeals court until antiSemitism grew sharper in Poland (193637). During the course of antiSemitism, it was proposed that he convert; then he would be able to continue in his office, as a Jew, [he could] not. Jan resigned from his post, opened his own office and prospered.
The second son, Groinem, graduated as an engineer and, the third son, Yitzhak a doctorsurgeon. It should be understood that the simple Jew, the artisan had great satisfaction from his three sons and daughter. The educated sons with academic professions were bound to their parents, to their father, the tinsmith and to their mother who wore a sheytl [wig worn by pious women]. The oldest son often was seen with his parents in the synagogue. This was Borukh's delight and pride. He prided himself that with his banging with his hammer in his tinsmith shop he had given his sons the opportunity to study and to graduate from three different university divisions.
None of the sons survived. Two were murdered by the Germans. The doctor, Ignac [Yitzhak] Szperling, was
the chief doctor in the HASAGfactory [Hugo Schneider AG a German metal goods manufacturer that ran a forced labor ammunitions factory] in Czenstochow during the German occupation and survived the war. After the liberation, he and his wife were murdered by Polish Fascist bands.
by Yakov Szperling
Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund
When I start to write, or more correctly said to say Kaddish [prayer recited for the deceased] for my father, mother, brother and sisters and their families, the images of my large, manybranched family who were mercilessly tortured, float before me eyes. Here I see them all: my father and my mother, my brother Mordekhai and my sisterinlaw Hinda and their four children; my sister Chana and her husband Berl Szmulewicz and their only daughter Tsesha; my sister Rywka and her husband Shlomo Unglik and their two sons Moshele and Itshele; my sister Tseril and her husband Yerakhmial Markowicz and their child, whose name I have forgotten. It was born at the outbreak of the war. And, finally, my youngest sister Manya, who was barely 14 years old when the war began.
My father, the sixth of his brothers, was the liveliest child, the most ingenious in his family. He had an example, an aphorism for everything. He always boiled over with humor even at the saddest moments that often happen in a family. He found the necessary sayings that brought out happiness and cheering up.
It seems that all of his undertakings succeeded because of his constant optimism. There was no lack of income. Before the First World War my father tore down a small house and built a large house in which he occupied four rooms.
We moved into the house in 1914, shortly before the outbreak of the First World War. When the war broke out, we left everything and ran because the first confrontation between the Germans and the Russians was in our shtetl [town].
Several days later, the Jews began to return to their
apartments and their houses. Most of the windowpanes were knocked out, the goods in the stores looted. However, life again calmed down. There were other ways of earning a living. Reb Hershl Szperling again did not lose courage. He adjusted to the new situation and continued to live.
One son lives in Israel
Except for him, all were tortured by the Germans
In independent Poland, my father resumed his earlier line of business [making] cheap clothing and remained with it until the end. He went to fairs where he sold his goods. He never made out any promissory notes and if it rained or snowed, he left the fair. The promissory notes would lead to not being paid, he would say.
After the new year, when the season ended and there was little work, that was the time for communal matters. Reb Hershl
was the treasurer of the Artisans Bank, Eliayhu Wajchman chairman, Yitzhak Zajbel vice chairman, Avraham Asher Szmulewicz secretary.
Deliberations took place in our house, both about hiring a KhazanShoykhet [cantorritual slaughterer] and about designating a chairman of the kehile [organized Jewish community]. When it was necessary to unseat the mayor of the city managing committee and to choose another one the decision was made in our house.
My father was the gabbai [sexton] at the large house of prayer, where the common people prayed through all the years. The money from the contributions was combined to make Kiddush [prayer recited over wine before a Sabbath or holiday meal] on Shimkhas Torah [autumn holiday celebrating the completion of the annual cycle of Torah readings and the start of the next cycle]. This continued year in and year out. It is worth describing a characteristic shidikh [matchmaking] story in our family that illustrates the relationship of the artisan parents to their children.
My father and Reb Moshe Szmulewicz arranged a marriage. My sister Chana was to be the bride of Berl Szmulewicz, who was captivated by the communist ideology. When it came time to discuss the terms of the wedding, Reb Szmulewicz requested a dowry of 10,000 zlotes for his son. Then a conversation between my father and his soninlaw's father took place:
Perhaps it is better that your son should wait for his inheritance. It is not nice that a communist is involved with commerce.
My son is not even an artisan; he must have money to open a small shop.
My father laughed hard at this. At Reb Moshe Szmulewicz's question as to why he was laughing, my father answered:
I am laughing at this, that you have raised strange communists that have not even learned a trade. But you want them to do business and I, who have worked all my life, am a bourgeois…
All of this was said in good humor. Reb Hershl Szperling did not permit the marriage to be broken off because of a dowry. He gave the appropriate dowry and, with luck, the time of the wedding was decided.
On the 1st of May, when all of the communists in Klobuck were arrested, my brotherinlaw also was not treated with respect. [His father] came to us
with a complaint, How could it be that they can let them sit [in prison]. We need to free him. For money, he can be freed. My father answered: It is your son, so you give money. Nothing helped. Moshe Szmulewicz gave ransom money and his son was freed.
My BrotherinLaw, the Communist, Travels to Birobidzhan and I Emigrate to EretzYisroel
Once Berl said that he had received a post in Katowice. He barely said goodbye before leaving. And two weeks later, we learned that the soninlaw Berl had traveled to Birobidzhan.
My father sent for my sister, Chana, and asked her: What does this mean? Berl has traveled to Birobidzhan; did you find it necessary to be quiet so that strangers had to tell me?
My sister disagreed and assured [my father] that he [Berl] had received a post. It seems that she had received a strong message to keep the matter a secret so that the regime would not learn of it.
Several weeks later, when I was waiting at the main train station, I was surprised to notice my brotherinlaw Berl. It turned out that he actually did travel to Birobidzhan, but the Soviets sent him back. He asked me to keep this matter secret because he easily could be arrested.
When I already was on the way to EretzYisroel, the Polish police arrested him for crossing the Soviet border illegally. Later, he was freed.
I emigrated to EretzYisroel on the 28th of August 1934. Accompanying me to my departure were my parents, my sisters, my wife's family, all of my comrades from the party, my brothersinlaw and sistersinlaw.
It was not easy to leave the house. A strange distress enveloped me when I looked around the four walls among which I grew up and was raised. Every item in the house, the bed, the closet, the pictures on the walls, the brass candlesticks, over which my mother blessed the candles every Shabbos [Sabbath], everything, everything was beloved and dear to me! Today, a chill goes through my entire body when I remember the moment of parting from my home.
We already were at the Polish cemetery. The chairman of the HaHistadrut [labor Zionists] organization gave a farewell speech that moved [me] to tears. Everyone began to say goodbye to me. Everyone wished me the best. It was very difficult for me to approach the separation from my sisters and brother and from my father. He was never so moved by an experience in his life, so sentimental as to shed tears. I do not remember ever before seeing my father cry. When I heartily said goodbye to him and both our lips began to move, he simultaneously broke out in a moaning cry. I also cried.
With tears in his eyes, my father said as follows: I already am old and broken, already in the 70s. I can no longer work. Everyone has gone. Your mother and I remain in our old age and who will help? We remain alone! In the end, he added: Who knows if I will have the good fortune to see you again…
I do not remember what I answered to this. I only know that I cried intensely.
The parting with my mother was a little easier. She cried loudly because a mother always cries at every opportunity, particularly when separating from a child and she does not know if she will
see him again. With tears in her eyes, my mother asked me to write at once, not to just think about it…
Thus, I parted with my family and with the shtetl, Klobuck.
A new chapter began for me and for all of those closest to me. My leaving for EretzYizroel with still other travelers stirred the world at that time. We wandered for weeks and months on a Greek freighter on the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. All ports were closed to us. We had left lightly dressed, in the summer. We continued to wander aimlessly on the water during the months of January and February. We suffered from hunger, cold and various illnesses. Three Jews [fell into the water] trying to disembark; one died. Our leaders were the comrades from Mapai [acronym for Mifleget Poalei Eretz Yisroel Worker's Party of the Land of Israel] Swerdlow and Tsbik. Our hardships and suffering were terrible. We had our first opportunity to write home from a city in Greece.
The Yiddish newspapers in Poland had reported about the disappearance of the ship Vallos that was carrying 400 pioneers, and all signs indicated that it had sunk. One report ran counter to another. My mother did everything she could; she could not sleep entire nights. Later, she wrote to me that they did not want to tell her the truth. My mother was relieved when my first letter arrived.
I received many letters from my comrades: Asher Wajchman, Shmuel Glikman, Ayzyk Leib Birnbaum all consoled me and expressed sympathy for my suffering. My sister and brother wrote to me that I should hold up because I have a great purpose in my life to arrive in the land of the Patriarchs.
My father had complaints in his letters to me! Why does it happen to him that his children have to endure immense problems? Berl went to Birobidzhan and returned; Shlomo returned from Sosnowiec drained, but the worst would
be if you have to return. What will the gentiles say? I wish for you that you will quickly arrive on the shores of EretzYisroel and our hearts, which are broken by your troubles and have bled so much, will rejoice and the true redemption will come.
We returned from Greece to Poland, to Zaleszczyki [Zalischyky, Ukraine] through Constanza [Romania]. We waited there for two to three months for the legal emigration.
I endured and did not return to Klobuck. My father had advised me that I not come home. It is not fitting he wrote to me to say goodbye twice, to break our hearts twice. He did everything so that my wife could come to me.
He wrote to me in 1938 that black clouds were drawing near the skies of Poland and the scapegoat would be the Jews. He expressed the idea that he would sell everything and come here.
In 1939, when trenches already had been dug in Klobuck, he wrote that the Jews already had missed the train. The end of Polish Jewry draws near. And I received the last letter in 1940, sent through America. All of my sisters wrote; my father added, in short, about all of the cruelty of the Germans and that now everything is lost. We received no further information. The end had come.
When the Judenrat [Jewish council created by and beholden to the Germans] began to be administered by the Klobuck kehile, they started to persecute the former, honest communal workers. So I was told by eyewitnesses, who felt the affects of the Judenrat on their own skins. Borukh Szperling, the prewar chairman of the kehile, was persecuted by the Judenrat. My brother, Mordekhai, who was a dozor [member of the synagogue council], had to hide with gentiles in the villages, in Lobodno, Kolaczkowice and Wilkowiecko. My father was thrown out of his house, everything was broken and with my mother, he was chased far away to the factories. There they lived in a broken up, wet cell. That is how the members of the Judenrat treated the
honest, communal workers who did not want to serve the Germans and help in the extermination of the Jews in Klobuck.
None of my closest relatives survived, only I who has lived in EretzYisroel since 1934.
by Dora Wajs
Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund
My uncle, Moshe Szperling, lived in Klobuck for all his years and was an esteemed businessman in the shtetl. He was elected as a dozor during the German occupation in the First World War. Later, the kehile elected him as chairman of the Jewish gmina [municipality]. When Reb Dovid Hersh the shoykhet [ritual slaughterer] died and the majority of Klobuck Jews asked that his son, Reb Shlomo, succeed him, Reb Henekh Goldberg and all of the Gerer Hasidim were against this because Reb Shlomo was an Aleksander Hasid. A bitter clash flared in the kehile that lasted for months. It even came to blows and to trials. Until Reb Moshe Szperling, who had a decided influence as chairman, stood up on the side of the common people and Reb Shlomo was appointed as shoykhet.
After being shoykhet in Klobuck for several years, Reb Shlomo the shoykhet could not overcome the difficult struggle that the Gerer Hasidim had carried out against him and he left the shtetl.
In 1934, when I already was on the way to EretzYisroel, they wrote to me that my uncle Moshe had become ill. He was taken to the Jewish Hospital in Czenstochow. On the second day, he asked to be taken home. He thought that he would die. He wanted to die in his own bed. He breathed out his soul on the way home.
At the funeral, the entire shtetl cried over the death of Reb Moshe Szperling, who had been chairman for about 30 years of the Jewish kehile in Klobuck, which he had served greatly.
Six sons survived Reb Moshe Szperling: Ayzyk, Elihu, Yosef,
Berl, Yakov, Wolf and one daughter, Basya. All perished with their mother Hena. They ended their painful lives some in German camps and some at Treblinka. No trace of their children remains. Only a son of Ayzyk Szperling remains. He is in Glasgow (Scotland).
|Reb Shmuel Dawidowicz, the Rozprza Rabbi
the son of Dovid Hersh the shoykhet
|On the right, Khulka Wajsfelner and his wife; on the left, Chaim Mendl Mas and his wife. Perished in Treblinka|
|Yehuda and Miriam Cyncynates|
|Berish Rypsztajn and wife Yakhet
with grandchildren perished
|Hershl Ratchart with his wife and family|
|Yakov Dawidowicz in Paris|
|The headstone of Rayzl Laya Dawidowicz.
Standing next to it is her son, Chaim Dawidowicz,
who with his family, was tortured by the Germans.
by Dora Wajs
Translated from Yiddish to English by Asher Szmulewicz
My uncle, Reb Moshe Szperling, was the president of the community of Klobuck for many years. Before his passing away he left a will, in which he requested that his brother's son, my father, Baruch Szperling would become the president of the community, when he, Moshe Szperling, went to the world of truth (pass away).
Reb Moshe Szperling passed away, and the community accepted his will and elected my father as the community president. This happened in year 1934. I was then 9 years old.
My family was very happy with the election results, because being the president of the community was a family heritage. In my home I was always told that my grandfather, Reb Shmuel Szperling, was the president of the community and that he had a respectful relationship, until his passing away, with the Rabbi of Klobuck, Reb Henech Goldberg.
When my father, Reb Baruch Szperling, took his office as the president of the community, he implemented improvements in all of the institutions of the community. In the synagogue, which was one of the historical worship places in Poland, he introduced crystal chandeliers and electric lighting. The walls were recovered with mahogany veneer, according to the pattern of the synagogue in Czestochowa.
The interior painting of the synagogue was restored. The (scheme) was a remnant of my uncle, Moshe Szperling, who brought the best artist painters to paint the ceiling like the sky, with stars, and the walls with the zodiac signs and the emblems of the (Hebrew) tribes.
Despite all of the economic difficulties, Reb Baruch Szperling provided that a tin cover (was installed) on the roof of the synagogue. The work was shared by all of the tinsmiths of Klobuck, so as to not offend anybody. The Jews of Klobuck understood how to appreciate (the costs of the improvements), and they did not complain about at all of the taxes they had to pay the Polish Government. Each one contributed from his savings to the community's
needs. Therefore, each Jew took great satisfaction when sitting in the Klobuck holy place. During the later elections of the community leaders, my father was re-elected as the president of the community with a larger majority of votes.
In addition to being the president of the Klobuck community, Reb Baruch Szperling was also the president of the TOZ institution, which played a great role in providing health care to the Jewish population. TOZ used to send children with lung disease to Otwock for treatment. The Jewish women of Klobuck also participated in the TOZ institution. I remember the following names of TOZ women activists: Mrs. Lapides, Tova Unglick (who lives in Israel), Mrs. Mass, Paula Lubiczki, Bela Kurland Zigelbaum (who lives in Israel) and my mother, Sarah. The TOZ institution provided medical help to poor people, and created camps for children. One of these camps was in Klobuck, and was managed by Helka Weinreich, a teacher, who installed various games and entertainments for the children.
As president of the Jewish community, Reb Baruch Szperling took full responsibility for the life and welfare of the Jewish Klobuck population. He did not pay attention to personal threats when he had to help and protect the community from a danger.
The Thirties were a difficult period (for Jews), because the Endenkes-Fascists started Anti-Semitic actions, in the form of pogroms, including in Klobuck. My father did not spare any effort, and risked his life to protect the life and welfare of the Jewish population in Klobuck. (In other chapters of the Yiskor book there is muchwritten about the Anti-Semitism in Klobuck during the Thirties).
Thus, Reb Szperling led the community until the murderous Germans came.
At the outbreak of the war, when the desperate flight from the Germans started, we also, together with our father, fled through side country paths. The Germans met
the fleeing refugees and arrested all of the men, and let the women and children go. Large groups of men were dragged by foot in the direction of Wolczszawe.
My father successfully escaped from the Germans. He came back home. When he returned home, he found our apartment empty. Everything had been looted, partly by the Germans and partly by the Poles.
Two weeks after returning home, the Germans arrested my father, together with the other representatives of the community, including the Rabbi, Reb Henech Goldberg. They were locked in the synagogue, and the Germans demanded a large sum of money, as ransom, to release the prisoners. If the German conditions were not met, the prisoners would be shot.
My mother did everything she could (to raise the funds), running to everyone she knew, but did not receive any money. My father stayed calm during this danger, and he came up with the idea to ask the Germans to free him, so he could raise the requested ransom. The Germans agreed, and let him go.
As soon as he was liberated Baruch Szperling started to gather money. Everybody understood the danger confronting the community representatives if the demands were not to be met. There were people who were ready to give their last penny to free a Jew. These were people that were not asked to give money. These people brought their jewelry because they did not have any money left. I will cite the Jews who in such a troubled period fulfilled the duty of freeing the prisoners: the widow, Perel Israelowicz from the market, brought a gold chain, an heirloom from her late husband. Reb Yechielke Israelowicz, and the orphans of Marek Rosenthal gave their last little means and gold. The daughter of Reb Shlomo Weiss, Pesele, gave gold belongings of great value. Thus, the demanded sum of money was raised, and all of the prisoners were freed.
A short time after their liberation, the Gestapo came from
Czestochowa, and looked for the president of the Jewish community. They were told to go to Reb Baruch Szperling. The Gestapo people came to him and demanded that he hand over a list of the Jews of Klobuck, by a deadline. The list had to be given to the commandant of the Gestapo in Czestochowa before the deadline. If not, he, the president of the Jewish community, would be shot.
Walking in the streets at that time exposed people to great dangers. Reb Baruch Szperling had to go from house to house to register the inhabitants. A military unit arrested him in the street and brought him to the Kommandantur (Headquarters). There he was sadistically tortured. They hanged him from his feet and gave him murderous blows. When our family was informed of his arrest, all of his close relatives went to the Kommandantur shouting and crying until the Germans opened the door and threw my father out, beaten, covered in blood and unconscious.
He was taken home. There was no doctor available to give him first aid. Someone ran by foot to Czestochowa, and no doctor there wanted to risk his life to come to Klobuck.
At that time I was very young and I was in Czestochowa. When I learned about the situation I immediately took a carriage and went to Klobuck, and brought my father to Czestochowa to my uncle, Itzek Leib Szperling's, house.
There was no functioning hospital. My cousin, Dr. Szperling, took charge of caring for my father. The convalescing took six weeks. When he returned the German military no longer was present. They were replaced by the German police, who did not have any hatred of Jews; they just required loyalty (to the German power). The police established three Jewish shops, which were supplied with food for Jews. One shop was managed by my aunt Feigel. The second one by the daughter of Mantshe Unglick, whose husband was
shot by the Germans. The third one was managed by Aizik Weissfelner, the son in law of Meir Spiegler. At that time the situation for the Jews was not that bad. They handled and earned money and could travel.
This good time lasted until the arrival of the good Jews from the Sosnowiec Judenrat: Jasne, Wiener and Merin. They wanted to impress the Germans by sending the largest possible number of Jews to work camps in Germany, and levy for the Germans monthly payment from the Jews. My father opposed sending Jews to work, and also was against constantly extracting money. He told them that he did not have anybody to send (to the camps), and that the Jews were poor (and had no money to give).
The commissioners from the Sosnowiec Judenrat understood that they could not get my father to collaborate, so they found other people who were ready to advance their private interests to collaborate with the Sosnowiec Judenrat.
Soon the Police staff was changed. A new police force came in. The Sosnowiec members of the Judenrat immediately took the opportunity to report that the president of the community, Baruch Szperling, was a wealthy Jew, a crook and that he sabotaged the German decrees.
The police arrested my father and confiscated all his belongings. It took three days to take everything out of our house. The Germans planned to burn the house and send my father to a camp.
The Libidzer Lord (estate owner) was then the mayor of Klobuck. He did a lot for the Jews. Although he was of German origin and was a brother- in- law of the sadly famous Governor Franck, he was, the estate owner and a Polish patriot. The landowner was sent to an extermination camp, because he would not sign the German Folks list (list of people of German origin). In the beginning when he was mayor of Klobuck, he intervened with the Germans on behalf of my father, and after great efforts and the payment of a large ransom, he succeeded in gaining my father's freedom.
After his liberation, Reb Baruch Szperling no longer was the president
of the community. The community had other leaders, who were nominated by the Sosnowiec Judenrat. My father no longer was involved in the community matters. Therefore, he was sent to hard work outside of Klobuck. The Polish supervisors took good care of him and sent him back home. They did the same for my brother, Aaron David Szperling, who was sixteen years old. Usually only people above eighteen years old were sent to work. But this was an act of retaliation against my father and his family.
When the Germans started to requisition the Jewish houses, ours was among the first that was requisitioned. The whole family was sent to Krzepice. My father was able to return to Klobuck after difficult endeavors, and lived in his mother's home close to the market.
In the first months of 1942 , the Jews in the Klobuck ghetto already lived in fear. People waited for the final liquidation. In June 1942, people knew for sure that it was the end of the ghetto. We communicated with relatives and close friends and we left Klobuck through the fields and the forest that stretched in lengths like stripes. My father, with Groynem Weinfelner, knew a Goy (non-Jew) who lived on the border between the Reich and the General Government.
In exchange for a very large amount of money the peasant smuggled a group of about 30 Jews through the border, which was a crime punishable by the death penalty. Everybody arrived safely in Czestochowa. After 3 months, during Yom Kippur, 1942 the general deportation of the Czestochowa Jews to Treblinka started.
My parents were sent, together with the Jews of Czestochowa and the surroundings, to a death camp. I remained alone without any family or friends. My brother was sent somewhere to a work camp, and I did not receive any news from (or about) him.
About three months later, a Jew who escaped from Treblinka,
brought me greetings from my father, that he lived and was employed in a worker commando in the death camp.
After the war, Yeshayahu Lachman from Dzaloszyn, one of the seven Jews who survived Treblinka, told me that my father lived together with him and participated in the Treblinka uprising against the camp tormentors. The large majority of the rebels died during the uneven battle and among them was the last president of the Klobuck community: my father, Reb Baruch Szperling, of blessed memory.
by Fishl Fajga
Translated from Yiddish to English by Asher Szmulewicz
In Klobuck we had three Jewish doctors: Yitzhak Djalowski, Aaron Maas and Rodel Mantshe. Each of these doctors had a special role.
Yitzhak Djalowski was a specialist for the mild diseases: a cold, a flu, a sore throat or if someone had fever, then people called Yitzhak Djalowski. If the sick person did not feel better, God forbid, people then called Aaron Mass.
Aaron Mass used to walk slowly leaning on his cane. He knew his importance. The cane was a sign for the entire household of the sick person of his diagnosis. If the doctor left and forgot to take his cane, people knew that the sick person was in a critical state.
Rodel Mantshe was a woman pediatrician. When a child was ill, people ran to Rodel. She was always ready to make any call. Her mere presence brought calmness in the house of the sick child. Just with her greetings to the people in the house she already brought healing.
Mothers used to complain to the doctor wringing their hands: Oy my child is moribund. Rodel used to stretch the child's feet and hands and smacked her lips to the child. The child started to laugh, the mother was happy and said to the doctor: You came at a fortunate hour.
Rodel explained that it was not serious. The child had a cold, or a sore throat, (and instructed), take some warm sand, put it in a small bag and place it on his throat.
The doctor left the apartment and the mother of the sick child gave her hearty greetings.
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