by Yehuda Szperling
Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund
When they began to say in the Klobuck ghetto that the Germans would send out all of the Jews and liquidate the ghetto, I sent those closest to me my wife, daughter and mother-in-law to Czenstochow. The lived in the ghetto with my brother, Yitzhak Leib. My father and my youngest brother, Pinkhas Menakhem, were hiding with a Christian in a village. Two brothers and a sister were in Germany in labor camps.
After the liquidation of the Klobuck ghetto, which took place in June 1942, I remained in the former ghetto as a useful Jew, a tailor. I was employed cleaning the emptied Jewish houses.
I learned one day that the last Jews were also being sent out of Klobuck. The shtetl [town] would be Judenrein [free of Jews]. I did not wait until they sent me out and I went to a Polish acquaintance. He took me over the border to Czenstochow for an appropriate reward. I met my wife and daughter and received employment in the ammunition factory, HASAG [Hugo Schneider AG German arms manufacturer]. The deportations of the Czenstochow Jews took place four months later after Yom-Kippur. Our entire family, 30 people, went out at six in the morning and appeared at the gathering point. There we were counted. I remained alone. Everyone was sent to Treblinka. Before sending away the people at the gathering point, the director of the HASAG factory where I worked arrived and he chose his Jews amounting to 500 people. He wanted to take us to work, but the Gestapo office, which was in charge of the deportation, answered him that he could not take anyone for work during the deportation this was the highest wish of the Fuehrer.
The director did not yield. He telephoned the highest authority in Radom and asked that his Jews, who he had to have to work in the factory, be freed. The highest authority yielded to his plea and we were removed from the deportation. We were placed in barracks in the factory. We ate there, we slept there on the hard floor and we worked.
A small ghetto of approximately 4,000 Jews remained in Czenstochow. When a deportation again took place, a comrade from Hashomer Hatzair [The Youth Guard a socialist-Zionist organization] wanted to shoot the leader of the Gestapo. But the revolver jammed. The Gestapo then chose 28 men and two girls, the healthiest and the best looking, and shot them in the presence of all the Jews who stood in the square.
There were still small children in the ghetto. The Gestapo leader, [Paul] Degenhardt, ordered the Jewish leaders to arrange a kindergarten where the children could spend time. Degenhardt made sure that the children received milk. This lasted for several weeks. Suddenly, when all of the children were in the educational home, Degenhardt and the Gestapo surrounded the house and they began to lead the children out. The crying and shouting reached toward the heavens. Armed Gestapo members led the children away to their deaths.
Later the Jewish leaders received an order to register the Jews who had relatives in Eretz-Yisroel. It was mainly doctors and their families who registered and almost the entire Judenrat and the chairman. One day the Germans ordered all of the candidates for travel
to Eretz-Yisroel to appear at the gathering spot with baggage up to 10 kilos and they would be sent to Eretz-Yisroel to their relatives.
Cars were waiting for them at the gathering point. The group was seated in them and they began to go. In the middle of the trip, the Jews noticed that they were being driven to the cemetery. There was turmoil. The Jewish leaders took poison. Two people were successful in escaping. The remainder, approximately 200 Jews, men, women and children were taken to the cemetery. Graves had already been prepared there. The Germans shot the children first, then the women and finally the men.
In the Czenstochow ghetto, Degenhardt chose the leader of the Jewish police as the leader of the community. All of this happened in the winter of 1943. The shooting of the candidates for travel to Eretz-Yisroel took place on the Fast of Ester of that year [18 February 1943].
After the shooting, I received a letter from my sister who was in the Zagórze labor camp, near Klobuck. She wrote to me that I should come to the camp. Although such a trip was full of deadly danger because I would have to go through the border between the General Government and Wartenau, we my cousin, four other people and I decided to turn to a Pole to take us across the border. We bribed the German who took us to work, as well as the Pole. The border smuggler was well paid and we arrived in the Zagórze camp peacefully.
My sister hid us in the attic. We lay there for three days until my sister persuaded the camp leader to register me. Things again were good and I worked there until July 1943.
The Zagórze camp was surrounded on a Friday night and we were led out to German camps.
We were forced by the Germans from camp to camp between death and extermination. I saw how old people and children were sent to Oświęcim [Auschwitz]. The Jewish kapos [prisoner functionaries who supervised the forced labor and performed administrative work] tortured us more than the Germans. One kapo named Akiva Rozencwajg hanged himself after the liberation.
The last camp in which I was until the liberation was called Sportschule [sport school] near Faulbrueck [Lower Silesia]. The women's camp where my sister was located was not far from there.
I was liberated on the 8th of May 1945. A roll call still occurred in the morning of the thousand camp arrestees. The members of the Gestapo told us to sing Hatikvah [The Hope now the national anthem of Israel], which we sang with tears in our eyes. The German guards disappeared around noon. A white flag appeared and later a red flag.
I left the camp and ran to the women's camp. There I met my sister and a cousin. We cried for the entire time. Later the Russians came and permitted us to go to wherever we wished. I, my sister, my cousin and other acquaintances from Klobuck left for Reichenbach.
In 1946 I went to Klobuck. I mourned those closest to me who were tortured to death by the Germans, and began a new life. I married Chana Benszkowski. We left for Germany and from there, in 1948 to Israel.
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