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[Page 63]

Appendix

The history of the Jews of Szczuczyn
and the surrounding area during the war:

On 7 September 1939, the Germans entered our city for the first time. As stated, at that time my father, I, and other men from the city were taken to camps in Germany. A few days later, on Tuesday, 12 September 1939, the Germans burnt all the synagogues and the Torah scrolls inside them and ridiculed the Jews: “Where is your God?”

On 23 September 1939, the Germans withdrew from the area according to the agreement between them and the Soviet Union (based on the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact from August 1939), and the Russians entered to the place. Szczuczyn was annexed to the Soviet Union and the Jews' life continued, more or less, as usual apart from for the large void that was left due to the absence of the men taken by the Germans.

On 19 June 1941, three days before the outbreak of the war between Germany and Russia, the Russians expelled several wealthy families to Russia and thanks to that, a large number of them survived.

On 22 June 1941, Szczuczyn was bombed on the same day that the Germans attacked the Soviet Union, and a whole street, the street where my family lived, went up in flames. The Germans invaded Szczuczyn on the same day. Later, the Germans continued on their way eastward and Szczuczyn was left without a real regime. On 25 June 1941, the local Poles received permission from the Germans to do as they pleased with the Jews for three days. There were many anti-Semites in the region and they started to settle accounts with the Jews, claiming that they helped the Russians. They organized in groups and each group turned to another location to kill Jews with axes and knives. All together, they killed about 300 Jews, men, women and children. Jewish women turned to the aid of Polish public officials and German officers who came to Szczuczyn. Only the German patrols managed to stop the riots in the city. On 24 July, about 100 Jews were murdered by Polish policemen in the city's Jewish cemetery.[13]

On 8 August 1941, Gestapo men arrived to Szczuczyn. The Jews were ordered to concentrate in the marketplace and were divided into groups. Meanwhile, Krzywa Street was fenced off by barbed wire and was set to be the Jewish ghetto. On the same day, 8 August 1941, the groups that were not taken to the ghetto - the elderly, young women and a few young men - were murdered in the Jewish cemetery. Among them was the community's rabbi, Rabbi Ephron. Also the Jewish patients, who were at the municipal hospital, were taken on that day to the Jewish cemetery and murdered there.

The rest of the city's Jews were ordered to enter the ghetto. The Germans appointed 15 members of a Judenrat and also 4 Jewish policemen. Those who lived in the overcrowded ghetto suffered from hunger and deprivation. Many became sick and died

Szczuczyn Ghetto was liquidated on 2 November, 1942. All the Jews who were still there and in ghettos in other cities in the region - Grajewo, Radziłów, Raigrod, W¹sosz, Trzcianne and Augustow - about 7,000 Jews, were transferred to

[Page 64]

transit camp of Bogusza, a distance of 4km from Grajewo. Not long before that the Germans murdered 11,070 Soviet prisoners there, and a huge mass grave was in all the fields.

On 15 December 1942, 5,000 Jews were taken by foot from Bogusza camp to the train station in Prostki under the pretext that they were being sent to work in Silesia. Two hundred people died on the way and the rest were transferred from Prostki to the crematoriums of Treblinka. None of them survived

On 2 January 1943, the rest of the Jews were taken from Bogusza camp to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Death Camp.

As stated, I don't know the details of the fate of my family.

[Page 65]

The story was written and brought to print by Sagit Blumrosen

February 1997

The picture on the cover was designed by Orna Wertman De-Wolf, Yitzchak's daughter


Footnote

  1. Pogroms against the Jews also occurred in various cities in the area: about 2,000 Jews lived in the city of Radziłów, a distance of about 16km from Szczuczyn. On 7 July 1941, the Poles collected 1,700 Jews in a large warehouse and burnt it. The local Polish residents stood around and laughed. Those, were tried to escape, were murdered on the spot. On 29 July 1941, the Poles carried out a pogrom in Grajewo and brutally killed dozens of Jews. return

 

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