[Page 98-99]

Mrs. Korb

Mrs. Korb was not mentally retarded or mentally sick. She was a beautiful woman, aged 27-28, in her prime. She originated from Jaslo and married to Korczyn. Her husband was Yossef Korb who originated from Jasznica but settled in Korczyn. Mrs. Korb with her two-year-old baby in her arms was led to the killing site. Why did the Judenrat surrender Mrs. Korb to the Gestapo. The Judenrat claimed that the Gestapo specifically asked for her. How did the Gestapo know about Mrs. Korb. We tried to unravel the mystery by pumping Mendel Halpern, the Judenrat Jewish policeman.

According to Halpern, The Gestapo insisted that Mrs. Korb be handed over to them. It seems that Mrs. Korb was in her youth a member of the communist party that resulted in a trial. From the records of this trial in Jaslo, the Gestapo supposedly established the present whereabouts of Mrs. Korb. Whether the claim is correct or not we do not know. Obviously, the Judenrat can not be accused in this instance of totally fabricating the story, for the Gestapo did come and demanded Jews for execution.



[Page 100-101]

The Gestapo returns to kill Jews

The event took place towards the end of July 1942, about two weeks before the total destruction of the Jewish community of Korczyn. Suddenly, about 6 PM, Jewish policeman from the Judenrat went from house to house and informed the people to stay at home after 7 PM, for the Gestapo was in town. The policeman also stated that any Jew found in the street after the curfew will be shot. The people were terrified, they had heard terrible stories about events that took place in nearby towns and did not know what to expect. The Jews were terror stricken and did exactly what they were told to do. But the fear of the unknown was on everybody's mind. Nobody slept that night, everybody tried to find a corner and concentrate with his inner thoughts. The Jews were all paralyzed with fear and resigned to the unknown.

The hours passed slowly, deadly silence at home and outside. The night seemed never ending. Suddenly at 2 AM, we heard heart-breaking sounds, the shrill voices affected us all. We were speechless and terrified by the terrifying sounds that penetrated the home. How we managed to overcome the fear is beyond my comprehension. But we overcame it. The cries and sobs continued. They became louder with time, it lasted for hours. At 5 AM, I peeked through a crack in the rear gate of our place. I heard Yiddish speakers and decided to open the gate. I saw below in the street, Yankel Schprung and Getzil Schiff, I approached them and asked them why is Eidel, the daughter of Moshe Willner, so hysterical. They replied that her husband and her brother Feibush Willner were shot. The house of Moshe Willner was the third house from us, the walls in the house were about a half a meter thick. Yet, the sobbing sounds penetrated all the walls and gave the impression that the crier was next door. To this day, I hear the sounds of the crying.

Eidel married about a year before the war. Her husband was from East Galicia and when the war started, he and his brother-in-law decided to go to his native place until things settled. They remained there since it became part of Russia. With the German occupation of the area, they returned to Korczyn. They were merely two weeks in Korczyn prior to their execution. Eidel's husband was a scholar and a handsome man. The Germans brutally murdered both of them. The Germans also killed Moshe Epstein who I will describe later. I was later told that the Gestapo demanded all the Jews that returned from the Russian occupied area as well as the rabbi of Korczyn.

On this terrible night, the Germans took Moshe Epstein, Moshe Willner's son-in-law, Feibush Willner, Leibish Ritter, Yehoshua and Avraham Ringelheim. The last three had work permits since they worked for the Germans. They remained standing with their hands in the air and facing the wall the entire night until 4 am when they were dismissed.



[Page 102-104]

The Saint Moshe Epstein

Moshe Epstein was the son of the Rabbi of Nemirow and the son-in-law of Avraham Raab in Korczyn. Moshe Epstein was an excellent Talmudic scholar. When the rabbi of Korczyn was out of town for a period of time, Moshe Epstein took his place and answered all religious inquiries without charging fees. He was an intelligent, easy going person and an excellent conversationalist. He was offered many rabbinical positions but he refused since he preferred his independence. This situation changed during the German occupation. The family, especially the children, were hungry. He therefore decided to appeal indirectly to the Judenrat for help since he was officiating as Rabbi of Korczyn without pay. The regular rabbi, as mentioned earlier, had left town. The Judenrat decided to provide him with a few zlotys each week. I don't know the exact amount nor do I know whether the amount was sufficient to provide bread for his children. We know that the pharmacist also provided him with 10 zlotys each week.

Moshe Epstein had small infants. He was not an ordained rabbi and did not want to become one. When the Gestapo asked for the rabbi, the Judenrat could have said that the hamlet had no rabbi since the Korczyner rabbi had left town in 1939. Any Jew in the street would have backed up the statement. Nobody considered Moshe Epstein the rabbi of Korczyn and most people did not know that he received support from the Judenrat. It is possible that the members of the Judenrat were so terrified that they lost all sense of leadership or that the Jewish policeman, Mendel the bulldog, went and brought him to the Judenrat. Nobody knows precisely what happened. Moshe Epstein was shot by the Germans but not killed. He fell to the ground and remained there. The Germans assumed that he was dead and left the area. Later that night, Moshe Epstein picked himself up and headed for Yantsche Infeld's place, the son-in-law of Sara Gutwein, and hid there. The next morning, the murders spotted that a body was missing. Meanwhile, the Gestapo had returned to Krosno. A Polish policeman, a real Jew hater, went to the Judenrat and told them that he received an order from the Gestapo to the effect that the missing body is to be produced within four hours at the police office or 40 Jews will be shot. The Judenrat again lost their heads. For the Polish policeman could not do a thing without German permission. The Judenrat could have waited and seen whether the Gestapo did issue such an order. At most, they could have offered a bribe for Moshe Epstein in Krosno and possibly saved him. It doesn't make sense that the Gestapo would rely on a lowly Polish policeman to carry out its orders. The Judenrat decided to surrender Moshe Epstein. They found him at 7 AM and surrendered him to the polish policeman. Could it be that other people would have also lost their reasoning abilities under such conditions. The Judenrat told Moshe Epstein that the Germans would kill 40 Jews if he did not surrender himself. He said that he was willing to be the sacrificial lamb for the Jewish community. He asked to be buried with a knife that way he will be able to extract revenge on the Germans. Moshe Epstein was buried at the Jewish cemetery in Korczyn. A knife was placed in his coffin. No tombstone was erected for him. May these lines be his eternal memorial.



[Page 105-106]

Frightful news entire Jewish communities destroyed

News reached us that in the big cities like Krakow, Tarnow, Reishe or Rzeszow and other big centers, terrible events were taking place. Thousands of Jews were shipped away from their place of residence and nobody knew where they were sent. The Germans registered Jews for work and during these registrations they shoot large numbers of Jews. Entire communities seem to be wiped out.

In July of 1942, the Germans chased the Jews from all the villages in the area and ordered them to Korczyn. Even the Jews from the village of Toraszowka which belonged administratively to Krosno were told to move to Korczyn. Some villages which belonged to Fristik, were also ordered to send their Jews to Korczyn. We also had several Jewish families from Krosno as well as Jewish families from Radom, Krakow and other cities that had previously arrived in Korczyn. The Germans concentrated all the Jews in one spot. Korczyn now had 800 Jewish refugees and about 800 local Jews. Thus the Jewish population consisted of about 1600 people. All Jewish refugees could not be accommodated in private homes, some were placed in abandoned stores and others in the study center. To look at these poor refugees was enough of an inducement to all the Jews to envy those that had died peacefully prior to the war.



[Page 106-107]

Edict, Jews must pay all their Polish state debts to the Germans, Jews forbidden to use electricity

In July of 1942, the Germans issued an edict to the effect that the Jews, not the Poles, must pay to the Germans all the taxes that they owed the Polish government. The same decree ordered the Jews to abstain from using electricity. A terrible hopelessness seized the Jewish community. People began to suspect a devilish German plan to extract all the money from them before they kill them. Some people tried to dismiss these evil thoughts and looked at the bright sight, maybe the Germans only want our money and not our souls. But then news items kept filtering into town about the disappearance of entire Jewish communities.

Entire Jewish transports from the big cities disappeared and nobody knew where they went. Was this the final solution, nobody wanted to believe. How could people believe that the Germans devised a plan to kill innocent women and children? The Jews self deluded themselves that here in Korczyn nothing will happen. Why is Korczyn an exception, nobody could answer that question. Everybody said that bad things are taking place in other areas but here nothing will happen. Our Germans are better than their Germans and besides the Germans need the Jewish workers. Therefore, they will not permit the destruction of the community. The Jews did not believe the Germans, but what was the alternative. The hope to rescue us was hopeless. Perhaps there is a chance, perhaps G-d will have mercy on us, and everybody wanted to believe.



[Page 107-108]

Young Jews register for work and old ones shave their beards and peyot to look younger

The Gestapo men in Krosno were leeches that sucked Jewish money. The Judenrat of this city had to give frequently very expensive gifts that were difficult to obtain at the time. Items such as fine material for suits and coats, leather for boots and shoes and other items such as coffee that could not be obtained on the local market because of the war. The Krosno Judenrat did manage to obtain these items at great expense and presented it to the Gestapo. Needless to add that they also provided large sums of money to the Germans. The Korczyner Judenrat also provided the Gestapo with a variety of items. The Gestapo assured the Krosno and Korczyner Judenrats that things would remain as they were in the past.

The area had many German factories that provided goods for the German army. Most of the workforce consisted of Jews. Therefore it was in the interest of the Germans to keep the area calm. The older people will provide the necessities for the younger ones who will continue to work in the German factories. Thus there is no fear that the Germans will upset their own work system. Youngsters aged twelve, registered for work. Some were sent to far away camps from home and others worked in Krosno. The Jews from Korczyn that worked in Krosno, about 70, assembled each day at 6 AM in the market place and walked with a supervisor to the city to start to work at 8 AM. At 7 PM in the evening they returned to their homes in Korczyn. About 40 Jewish girls worked on a farm in Kombornia that belonged to the German army.

The Judenrat registered older Jews for local work. A sanitation department was established, a burial crew was created, and the public kitchen needed cooks and helpers. Thus jobs were created to provide employment for the Jews and to keep them busy. Old Jews shaved their beards and peyot in order to look younger and get jobs. How painful this must have been to people that never shaved. Who can describe the feelings of people like Benyamin Rubin, Itsche Rosshendler, Moshe Willner, Nachman Leibish Reich, Yankel Schprung and others who had to shave their beards and sidecurls. Their eyes betrayed the feeling of hopelessness and abandonment. Their crazed look gave the feeling that they have ceased to exist.



[Page 109-111]

The Jewish communities of Krosno and Korczyn erased

Let us first tell you how the Jewish community of Krosno was erased. Sunday the 9th of August 1942, 27 days in the month of Av, Tashab, the Gestapo issued an order to the effect that all Jews must assemble the next day, Monday, August 10th at 9 AM at the Targowice, market place, near the railroad station for registration. The Jews of Korczyn that worked in Krosno were ordered to stay home that day. They were forbidden to leave the city. Still some curiosity seekers sneaked into Krosno and observed the scene from a distance. They returned in the evening and reported that the Krosner Jews were still standing in the assembly area and nobody knows what will happen to them.

The next day, Tuesday, the 11th of August, it was already obvious as to what happened to the Jews of Krosno. Those Jews that reported to Targowice, there were several hundred Jews that did not respond to the appeal, stood an entire day in the scorching sun without a drop of water. The Germans did not permit that water be brought to the Jews. The Jews were brutalized throughout the day and finally loaded aboard cattle cars. Each car contained sixty people. The cars were sealed and headed east. Nobody knew the exact destination, although it was assumed that the transport would reach the death camp of Belzec. The remaining Jews of Krosno paid a Pole to follow the train. He followed the train to the station of Iwonicz, a spa center. Here the train remained standing the entire day of Tuesday. People were screaming for water but no reply. Doctor Baumring yelled from one of the cars, barbarians. The Germans pulled him from the car and shot him. The Germans kept the able bodied Jews of Krosno in the city which were needed by the German factories. Each German factory sent a supervisor to the registration place to ensure that their workers were protected. These supervisors took their workers and led them out from the registration area to previously prepared barracks. Factories that had no barracks sent their workers to the newly established ghetto in Krosno. The ghetto was located in the so-called butter market area, the area where the farmers used to sell their milk and eggs on market days. The entire ghetto consisted of four buildings, three buildings of three stories and one ground floor building. These four buildings contained 800 Jews, men, women and children. Rooms of 5x5 meters contained 15-20 people. There were few families, most of the population were single survivors of the selection. They placed crates against the walls and between the crates they laid down planks. Thus beds were created for the inmates of the ghetto. Some people had to sleep on the floor for lack of sleeping space.

About 600 Jews, men women and children were hiding and did not report to the registration on Monday the 10th of August 1942. Those that had money bribed the Gestapo and received permits to go to work in the German factories. Others that lacked money or were incapable of working continued to hide in the attics of the ghetto or in other places. About three weeks later, the Gestapo came to the head of the Krosno Judenrat and told him that those Jews that did not report to the registration may now step forward and they will be issued work permits. All Jews can step forth to the Ghetto Square and they will be legally registered. They will not be harmed and issued personal warrantees as to their safety. The Jewish leaders in the ghetto believed these promises. Notices were posted urging the hidden Jews to step forth. Indeed about 200 Jews responded to these ads and showed up at the appointed date and place.

The Gestapo men received them pleasantly and acted very nice. When the stream of applicants stopped, the area was sealed. Trucks drove into the ghetto and the Jews were forced to board them. They drove the Jews to an unknown destination from where nobody returned. Only one person, Mendel Lindenberg, jumped from one of the trucks and it took him two days to return to the ghetto in Krosno. The ghetto in Krosno existed from the 10th of August 1942 to the 2nd of December 1942. On this date, the remaining Jews from the Krosner ghetto were transferred to the ghetto of Rzeszow or Reishe. Many Jews were killed during the transfer, notably the Krosner rabbi, Rabbi Samuel Fuhrer. The Germans knew that there were hidden Jews in the ghetto and searched everywhere. The Jews that they found were shot on the spot.



[Page 112-114]

The liquidation of Korczyn

Tuesday, the 11th of August 1942, 28 days in the month of Av, Tashab, Korczyn received an order to the effect that all Jewish workers must proceed to their usual positions on Wednesday. The Jews of Korczyn assumed that it was a safe day, since every place that the Germans decided to liquidate the Jewish population, they ordered the Jewish workers to stay at home. This was the case of Krosno where the Jewish workers were ordered to stay at home on Monday, the day that the selection took place. The Jews of Korczyn were now certain that they were safe for the day. They had no illusions that they will avoid the fate of Krosno. But the will to survive was so strong that even a day more of living gave the people some illusory hope that had no realistic possibility except to convince themselves that today it will not happen.

Wednesday at 7 AM, the Jewish workers lined up four abreast and marched out of town to Krosno to work The entire town was there, the manner in which parents said goodbye to their sons, wives to their husbands, brothers to sisters, neighbors to neighbors are very painful to describe. The premonition of something terrible was in the air and sunk deep into the crowd when the column left town. At eleven o'clock we were told to stop working and were escorted to a barrack near the slaughterhouse, just opposite the bridge on the Wislok River that led to Korczyn. Soon we saw our disaster, trucks loaded with girls, mothers and children passed us by. Today was our destruction. Today is the end of Korczyn. In the evening, about five or six o'clock, we saw the Jews of Korczyn driven by the Germans. The screams and beatings were beyond description. We were then ordered to join the column. The leaders of the column were told to slow the pace and the rear was forced to run full force in that manner they fell on top of each other.

Pessah Kratzer, Haim Halpern's son in law, was covered with blood that oozed from the beatings that he received from the Gestapo men. The later continued to beat him since he did not wipe his face. Supposedly he wanted to create a bad image for Germany. He has nothing to wipe his face with. For this observation, Naphtali, the son of Shabtai Raab, received such a kick in the stomach that he fell to the floor and lost conscience until a second kick revived him. Pessah Kratzer continued to beg G-d to take his soul. Finally we arrived to the Targowice market place in Krosno. There on the ground were already seated the Jews from Jedlice and other places. We were ordered to join them. Soon a messenger from the German district office appeared and demanded that he be granted 70 workers from Korczyn that worked on road construction. They selected 70 men and escorted them to a table where a Gestapo man recorded their names. Motel Rosshendler announced that he wanted to rejoin the group on the floor. The Gestapo men kicked him in the direction of the seated Jews. The same thing was done to Leizer Den who also chose to side with the condemned to death.

When a third person tried to rejoin the group, the Gestapo man shouted at him and informed him that Germany needed workers and any further request to leave the labor crew would be considered an act of sabotage and the party would be shot on the spot. The labor crew of 68 workers, spared temporarily, was led away by an Ukrainian SS man. He led them through the SS ranks that hit the Jews with rifle butts or clubs while hurling insulting remarks to the Jews. The 68 Jewish workers were taken to the Krosner beth hamidrash or study center where they found other selected Jews that were sent there from other places. We spent the night in the study center and in the morning. a Jewish supervisor came and led all the workers into the ghetto of Krosno. From the 68 workers of Korczyn, only two survived the war, one is in New York and the other one is in Stockholm, Sweden.



[Page 117]

Parchments of the torah used as insteps in shoes and Talmud pages used as wrapping paper

The Korczyner Jews that survived the liquidation of the community were in the Krosner ghetto. They were divided into two groups that worked on the roads. One group worked along the Krosno-Rymanow highway and the second group worked along the Krosno-Korczyn highway. The second group saw the spiritual desecration. They saw entire sections of the torah scattered in the trenches and Poles cut sections and inserted them in their shoes. They also saw in stores large numbers of Talmud, shulhan aruch and other religious books being used as wrapping paper. Pages were torn from these books and used to wrap the purchased items.



[Page 118]

The saints, Wolf Kirschner and his twelve year old son David Leib

On Wednesday, August 12th, 1942, 29 days in Av, tashab, when the Germans attacked the township and drove all the Jews to the market, Wolf Kirchner and his twelve year old son managed to escape through a rear entrance from their home and headed to the Jewish cemetery. They remained hidden the entire day and next day returned to their home to find that the entire Jewish community was gone. Not one single Jew remained in Korczyn. He saw no hope or possibility of survival and decided to commit suicide rather than to surrender to the German killers.

Wolf went to the attendant of the Jewish cemetery and paid him to dig a grave for him and his son next to his father's grave, Mechel Kirchner. He then instructed him to call the Polish police. When the latter arrived he found Wolf Kirschner and his son in the grave. The policeman shot both of them. May these lines serve as an eternal memorial.

On their grave stands a tombstone that was erected in Polish in 1946 by his sister in law. I think she lived in Canada. She sent money to the cemetery attendant to erect a tombstone. In 1950, Zishe Eichorn visited Korczyn and photographed the tombstone at the Jewish cemetery in Korczyn. I think that the date on the tombstone is incorrect, it should read August 14th, 1942. The inscription reads, here are buried the bodies Wolf Kirschner and his son David Leib. The German killers murdered them on August 15th, 1942 in Korczyna.



[Page 120-121]

The saints Avraham Bezenshtock, his wife and children and Yochewed Schiff

Avraham Bezenshtock, his wife and children Dawid and Miriam avoided the fate of the local Jewish population on Wednesday, 29 days in Av, Tashab. They were hidden with a local farmer. With them in hiding were also Mordechai, Pearl and Schiff's daughter Yochewed. Their oldest son Simha was amongst the 68 workers that remained alive and worked in the Krosno ghetto. From here he went to work daily along the road. A neighbor discovered that Jews were being hidden and blackmailed the farmer and the Jewish family for money. The appetite increased with time and he constantly threatened to expose them to the Germans.

Simha Bezenshtock worked along the road and had an opportunity to meet people and arrange a new hiding place for his family. He concluded a deal with a farmer by the name of Weida from Padziamatche according to which, Avraham Bezenshtock, his wife, daughter Miriam and Yochewed Schiff will hide with a neighbor of Weida and Simha Bezenshtock, his brother Dawid and Yehezkel Lewitman who also worked on the road will hide with Weida. The 22nd of November, 1942, Simha Bezenshtock and Yehezkel Lewitman did not return to the ghetto of Krosno but went to their hiding place.

Weida had a weakness, he liked to pinch stuff that belonged to other farmers. Nobody knew whether he stole a rooster or a lamb but the farmer complained and Weida was arrested in March of 1943, seven months after the liquidation of the Jewish community of Korczyn. Weida's wife demanded that Simha and Dawid Bezenshtock and Yehezkel Lewitman leave the house. The hidden Jews refused to leave whereupon she went to the Polish police and reported the event. The police soon arrived at the farm and found it ablaze. Simha Bezenshtock and Yehezkel Lewitman decided to torch the farm and themselves rather that fall into the hands of the polish police. They lit a match to the straw that surrounded them in the attic and within moments the place was on fire. The neighbor of Weida saw what happened and killed all the Jews that hid in his place. To this day nobody knows where he buried the bodies of Avraham Bezenshtock, his wife Ethel Bezenshtock, their daughter Miriam and Yochewed Schiff. May these few lines serve as an eternal memorial to them.



[Page 122-123]

The saint Israel Brener

Israel Brener lived in the village Domaradz situated about 16 kilometers from Korczyn. The village belonged administratively to the administration of Brzozow or Brezew in Yiddish. Simha Rubin the son of Mendel Rubin of Korczyn was the son in law of Israel Brener and lived in Domaradz. Israel Brenner was different from all the other Jewish farmers. He dressed like a hassid and was one in the full sense of the word. He wore a long coat, a velvet black hat, a long beard and long peyot. He studied torah, was very observant, gave charity and was very modest in his behavior. He owned a torah scroll that he kept in his house and the Jews from the area would come to his house on Saturday or holidays to pray. Shmuel Aron Rosshendler told the information you are about to read to us in the ghetto of Krosno after the destruction of the Jewish community of Korczyn. Shmuel Aron Rossenhedler was a member of the Judenrat of Krosno and in this capacity had contact with some of the Gestapo men. The Gestapo chief, Schmatzler in Krosno came to Shmuel Aron Rosshendler and told him the following event. Rosshendler, I am amazed, this is unbelievable. I went to liquidate the Jews of Dormatch. The order was that all Jews of Domaradz were to leave the village and head for Brzozow. I entered the house of the Jew Brener and told him that he had 2 hours to leave the village and he can take everything with him. When the Jew heard the announcement he went straight to the closet and took his torah scroll and left for Brzozow. Nothing else mattered. He took nothing from the house. The German repeated the words, such spiritual heroism. He took nothing except for the torah scroll. He was astonished by this spiritual heroism of the simple Jew. May these lines serve as an eternal memorial for him.



[Page 124]

The Krosner Rabbi, Moshele Twerski and his brother in law Naphtali Horowitz, Rabbi of Rozwadow

In the Krosner ghetto was the Krosner rabbi Moshe Twerski and his brother in law Naphtali Horowitz, rabbi of Rozwadow, as well as their wives. The Krosner rabbi was dressed sporty, his pants were tucked in the boots and he wore a kasket on his head. His face was clean shaven, no beard or peyot. The Rozwadower rabbi was dressed in similar fashion except that he had a big blond moustache which gave him the appearance of a country peasant. Each day they marched to their jobs with the rest of the workers. They worked in the laundry and cleaned German clothing. There are still today Jews that remember the Krosner and Rozwadoewr rabbis in their impressive appearance prior to the war. What a picture of contrast between than and now that they tried to pass themselves as two farmers going to work in the laundry. This event is rather small in comparison to the total Jewish picture of the time but it illustrates the situation of the Jewish plight when a rabbi has to hide his identity for fear of his life. We seem to forget the past rather easily. Yaacov Itzhak Fessel, today in Stockholm, Sweden, informs us that the rabbi of Krosno died of dysentery in the ghetto of Rzeszow.



[Page 125]

The Gestapo grabs Jewish children in the ghetto

The event took place in the middle of the month of September of 1942. The Gestapo surrounded the ghetto and grabbed Jewish children and threw them aboard trucks that left for an unknown destination, a place of no return.


Pisgah Kratzer arrested in the ghetto

Pessah Kratzer, Haim Halpern's son in law worked with the German construction firm Kirchof that worked along the road to Dukla. On a particular day in September of 1942, Pessah did not report to work. He remained in the ghetto. To his misfortune, a Gestapo man with the nickname of Von Daladier made his appearance in the ghetto. He was a beast, a killer, a murderer. He saw Pessah Kratzer and asked him what he was doing in the ghetto. Pessah answered that he worked outside chopping stones and was on his lunch break. The killer went outside and asked the foreman how many workers he has. The foreman told him that he had 17 workers. The Gestapo man counted the workers and saw he had 17 without Pessah Kratzer. He returned to the ghetto and found Pessah Kratzer and took him away and killed him. May this be his eternal tombstone.


Yanka, Yente Geller

Yanka Geller was an assistant in the pharmacy of Korczyn. She was a proud woman of 27 and stemmed from a Jewish traditional family in Stry. I think that Nathan Eck in Israel who works for Yad Vashem was her brother in law. When the Jews of Korczyn were rounded up, she managed to hide in the attic of the pharmacy. A week after the liquidation of Korczyn, Yanka reached the ghetto of Krosno. She mentioned that she had a possibility of reaching the city of Krakow with the help of a Christian woman, Mrs. Grabowiecz. The latter was to provide her with Aryan papers so that she could live as non-Jew. The next day she left the ghetto and to her misfortune was identified by the wife of a polish policeman from Korczyn, Mrs. Habrat. She denounced her to the Germans who arrested her and she disappeared.



[Page 127]

Why We Did Not Resist

All kinds of paper heroes are now asking all kinds of question as to why the Jews did not resist. They themselves sat in comfortable places and witnessed the killing of millions of people without a parallel in human history. They did nothing then but have now all sorts of questions such as why we did not resist. These so-called Jewish heroes instead of demanding explanations from the German killers are directing their questions to the victims. Why did they permit themselves to be led to the slaughter instead of dying a heroic death. This would have pleased many of the paper heroes. They of course did nothing when the news of the destruction of European Jewry reached them. Unlike Mordechai in the story of Purim, who went into the streets to alarm the Jews about the impending disaster. These people did nothing to protect their brethren who were being slaughtered by the millions. They slept and ate and enjoyed themselves. Such heroes could also be found amongst European Jews. There is no doubt that all Jews that fell under the German boot were to receive the same treatment regardless of place. Even American Jews had they been seized by the Germans would also been led to the slaughter just like the European Jews. With what means would they have opposed the German soldiers, a kitchen knife or a club against a loaded rifle. Maximum the soldier would receive a blow but in the process how many people would be killed. Who dared to take a step that would provide the Germans with an excuse to kill women, children and elderly people. Such decision could lead to the total destruction of the community. The German always used their psychological strategy, registration, selection etc. There was always a bit of hope and always some survivors.

All the Jewish communities in the area were liquidated within the same week thus eliminating any possibility of coordination. They did not even know the extent of the liquidation. Who was supposed to organize and where were the means of defense. The Jew in exile was never trained to die a hero's death; in their long history they acquired the training to die as martyrs. Furthermore, most of the Jewish youth was no longer in the communities but in German labor camps. The communities consisted primarily of Hassidic, religious elements, elderly people, women and children. The ability to shoot or stab with a knife they never acquired and the ability to produce weapons was beyond their dreams.



[Page 129]

Weissberger

In the oil fields of Wenglowka near Korczyn, was employed a manager, a Jew by the name of Karol Weissberger. He knew that he was a Jew but refused any contact with Jews and kept a distance from Jewish life. His only connection to Judaism was the fact that he was born to Jewish parents. During the liquidation of the Jewish community of Korczyn, the Germans did not bother with him. He was on friendly terms with some Gestapo men and even invited them for drinks to his home. They of course assured him that he should not be worried by the events in Korczyn since he has their protection.

In the winter of 1943, the Gestapo men came to Wenglowka to visit Weissberger. He invited them to eat and to drink. During the meal, one of the Gestapo men took Weissberger by the arm and led him to the next room as if to reveal a secret. There another Gestapo men shot him in the back. The wife and his two children were arrested.


Urbankowa, the convert

After the house of Dr. Pszislowski, a few steps further there was log cutting plant that belonged to a gentile by the name of Urbanek. The latter was a postal worker in Silesia or Poznan. There he met a Jewish woman who had a Jewish child from her previous marriage. Urbanek married her and they came to Korczyn about 1925. She had converted to his religion. In 1943, the Gestapo came and arrested Mrs. Urbanek and their son Zbiszek aged 15. They took them and they disappeared.



[Page 130]

The survivors of Korczyn after the liberation

With the end of the war, 15 men and one woman survived the German occupation and 11 men and 6 woman survived in Russia the war. These are all the survivors of the Jewish community of Korczyn. All our parents aged 50 and over were killed by the Germans on August 12, 1942 or 29 days in the month of Av, Tashab. The memorial day for our brothers and sisters is not known specifically but it can definitely be placed in the first ten days of the month of Elul, Tashab, 1942. They were forced to board the train that left the Krosno railway station on Friday, the 14th of August 1942, the first day of Elul, Tashab. The memorial day of those that perished in the concentrations camps is unknown.



[Page 131]

Yossele Reich He perished in the death camp of Plaszow

Yossef was the only son of Nachman Leibish Reich and the grandson of Shaul Reich and the great grandson of Mendel Shroit. He was my best and most devoted friend. He was an imposing young men dressed in the hassidic garb. On Saturday, a silk caftan and a velvet hat. He dedicated his youth to the study of the torah and knowledge. In spite of the fact that he managed a linen factory, he also managed to find time to continue his studies of the torah and general knowledge. He was a pedant and besides mastery of the Polish language and culture was also at home in the Hebrew literature. He wrote many articles in Yiddish and Hebrew and published then in various literary publications.

Yossele was a logical thinker, a calm person, a human heart, a fine character and had excellent mannerisms. Those that came in contact with him or conversed with him were impressed with his straightwordness, his refinements, his good nature, his wisdom and friendship. His loss is a pity.



[Page 132-133]

In the concentration camp Duchacka Wola

Written by Yosselle Reich, delivered by Avraham Horowitz of New York. The poem describes the suffering and martyrdom of the Jewish inmates. The poem was loosely translated into English by William Leibner.
Refrain
Under the control of the eastern railway
Exist thousands of slaves in the camp
Of Duchacka Wola

Whether they get a bone
Or a very hard stone
It doesn't matter in
The nazi regime

They were brought here
By German murderers and Gestapo men
They were given strange clothes
But never received a free moment

Bayonets drove them
Into closed railway cars
In the spirit of the time
They were exhausted and unable to breath
Oh mighty God
Trusted defender, dear Father
Extinguish the fire of Hell
Finish our troubles

From the cruel whip
Of the German murderer Mr. Keil (nazi supervisor)
Protect us, Oh Merciful
The persecuted children of Israel

Refrain
Under the control of the eastern railway
Exist thousands of slaves in the camp
of Duchacka Wola




[Page 134]
empty



[Page 135]

About the author of poem, this is how I feel

The publishers Israel Platner, the author of the poem, this how I feel, lived in Krosno and then emigrated. He is a known poet and wrote many interesting articles and poems on daily topics. His creations were frequently printed in the Jewish Journal of Toronto and other newspapers. He was highly praised by the famous writer, Haim Liberman. The author speaks about the Lublin Reservation and Boxes of Ashes in his poem. In comparison with the death camps of Auschwitz, Maydanek, and other hell holes where European Jewry was massacred, the Lublin Reservation and Boxes of Ashes are rather mild stuff and don't convey the true picture of the tragedy that befell the Jews of Europe.

We have to remember that the author wrote the poem in 1940 when the situation was grim for the Jews but not catastrophic. The German murderers did not yet build the death camps of Auschwitz and Maydanek and others.

At the request of the author, we publish the poem as it appeared in the newspapers in 1940.



[Page 136]

Statement from the author of the poem, this is how I feel

I composed the poem with a great deal of pain and tears. Within a matter of a few weeks, following the beginning of WWII, the poem was finished. It remained locked in the draw of the editor of the Toronto Jewish Journal until February 1940. Then the poem was published. It was then reprinted in other papers such as the Yiddishe Welt in Cleveland, Chicago Courier in Chicago and the Yiddishe Welt in Philadelphia. As to the question why I knew what was going on there while the other leaders did not know, this is my secret that picks at my brain and presses my heart.



[Page 137-139]

[Picture of Israel Platner in Toronto, Canada]

This is how I feel

If I had courage
I would do the following
Not withstanding the laughter of the cynics
That I would ignore
I would dress a black sack of coal
For the destruction of Polish Jewry
And walk in the streets and scream
That would attract the attention of the young and old
And even the infants would join
Everybody would ask what is going on
Then I would scream even louder
For I hear the dying pains
Those reach us here
From the valley of the death
Where the German murder and persecute
The children of Israel

Hear, Hear, the vulgar beastly laughter
That silences the innocent crying
Of the daughters of Jacob

Why doesn't mankind morn
Like a mourner in the thirty days of morning
Don't you see the Boxes of Ashes?
From the murdered saints

Wicked science
Rotten civilization
A big slaughterhouse you call
Lublin Reservation
Let my heart be torn to pieces
If I can't awaken the conscience of the world

Ha, Ha, Ha, cultural advancement
Why the need for encyclopedias
Who needs literature?
Let it all explode
With the full impact
Better scream at the murderer
Drop the axe

Close the laboratories
Who needs to split the atoms?
Children whose bellies are swollen from hunger
Try to keep them alive

If you men, rich or poor
Are able to sit in peace and do nothing
Listen to the radio at home
And their suffering you don't want to hear
Then, a flood may come and soon
To wipe out mankind
Let the animals remain in the forest
Let them stay alive for they are innocent
But the people, they are evil!

Loosely translated into English by William Leibner




[Page 140-141]

Holy tombstone in memory of the city of Korczyn
by Aron Atlas, grandson of Hirsh Halpern, lives in Jerusalem

Amongst the hundreds of small towns of Poland, Korczyn stood out by the large religious following and by the large number of religious students. The Jewish kehilla as many others, is no longer. The German murderer killed the Jews of Korczyn just as he did the other six million Jews. The wound is open and there is no cure. Tears keep rolling in spite of the fact that 25 years have elapsed.

The tears will not cease for the eyes see distances and they can see the township of Korczyn in the lowest degradation. The Jews that lived there are no longer. The eyes see the soil of Korczyn drenched in the blood of our parents, brothers, sisters and children. The Germans spilled their blood that run like water.

Just like their blood will never dry so will our tears continue to flow. The eternal eye will forever have a frozen tear as a reminder for the holy people that were killed by the Germans. We are not talking of plain blood but the blood of holy people who died as martyrs and extinguished the light of the Jewish community of Korczyn. It is our obligation not to forget the destruction and to keep it alive. To weep for our dear ones whose blood was spilled. But we don't know how to weep said the sages: when the temple was destroyed, God wept over the loss of his home, he asked, where are my children, where are my priests, where are my prophets, where are my followers. God said to the prophet Jeremiah, go and call Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses for they know how to weep.

Jeremiah went to the cave of the patriarchs and said to the fathers of the world. Arise. God is demanding your presence. They asked why? Jeremiah answered that he did not know and let them go at that. Jeremiah also invoked Ben Amram to appear before God. They all knew how to weep, how to express sorrow but we don't know how to weep.



[Page 142]

Our parents in Korczyn

The township of Korczyn had about 200 Jewish families. Korczyn was not a big or famous city, but it had a name as a place where there were religious scholars and learned men. We will mention Rabbi Shmuel Aron Rubin, the head of the judicial council and the author of the known book of halacha, the house of Aron, that deals with divorces. This rabbi was followed by Rabbi Shmuel Rubin, a grandson of the famous Rabbi of Rupszitz. He was also related to the famous hassidic rabbi of Shinive. The city contained many religious scholars and teachers. The Jews of Korczyn were tied to their religious traditions, they had mercy, they were good natured and they gave charity.

The Jews of Korczyn awakened the dawn by rushing to the synagogue with the talit and phylacteries in spite of the bitter cold that prevailed during the winter months. This one sat down next to a page of the talmud, the next one studied mishnayot, another one recited the psalms until they all joined in prayers. In the evening, the stores were closed and the Jews went to the beit hamidrash to pray the evening prayers and following the prayers, Jews again sat down to study religious texts.


Shabbath of our fathers in Korczyn

All days of the week we were looking forward to Saturday. On Friday we already felt the atmosphere of the Shabbath, especially in the area of the market since many women purchased their needs for Saturday. Friday was also the day when they barrowed money to cover the purchases for Saturday. They were not worried about the debts since it was for the Shabbath and they had full confidence that the almighty will provide. Even the rabbi's house was full of activities since the rabbi had to answer many questions regarding the kashrut of the chickens that were being slaughtered for Saturday.

Friday afternoon, the Shabbath sanctity descended on the township. Stores started closing and preparations were made for Saturday. With the lighting of the candles on Friday, the Shabbath atmosphere reigned in town. The woman that lit the candles felt the importance of their actions and prior to the actual lighting would set aside some charity reciting certain prayers. She would then light the candles and express her wish for health, income, respect from the children and some tears would descend her cheeks.

The eyes should have seen how the Jews of Korczyn leave their homes and head to the synagogue in their special attire. Not only the well to do dressed especially for the Shabbath but also the poorer Jew had special clothing for the Shabbath. Thus, rich and poor dressed alike for the Shabbath. The synagogue was lit with many candles and white tablecloths covered the tables. The cantor started the service by singing the first lines of the Friday night service.

Before the services were finished, people looked for guests for their Shabbat meal. Happy and gay did the Jews return from the service to their home, tall and erect they entered their residences. They looked forward to a day of rest and spiritual recharge from the weekdays. The feeling is beyond description. When he started to chant the Friday night songs at the table and the chants during the meals, he felt like a prince. The whole week, he was constantly rushed but on Friday night he sat and ate with regal dignity.

There was no Jewish home that did not have some singing during the meal. After the meal, some went back to the synagogue to study while others went to the house of the rabbi to listen to a torah sermon. Saturday, the service finished about noon. Again the family had a big meal and plenty of singing. Then the father examined the son as to what he studied during the week or sent the son to the heder to be tested. After the evening service, the congregants would eat in the synagogue and sing chants of praise to the merciful God. With the end of the Shabbath, the sexton would light a candle and the light would remind the congregants that the Shabbath has ended and another workweek is about to begin.



[Page 144-155]

The story about the destruction of my family and our township
by Zishe Eichorn, Jerusalem


[The writer's picture is on the page]


My father, Chaim was like the other Jews in town. He raised his children to love the Jewish people. I have to thank him for helping shape my character and personal traits. In all my activities as a child and as an adult in my wanderings, I always followed his example of honesty and integrity. I never managed to obtain a high education, secular or religious, since the family could not afford it.

I was one of ten children in the family. I survived while all the brothers and sisters were killed, I have no explanation. I was not better or smarter than any of my brothers or sisters.

The Germans killed six of my brothers and sisters with their families that lived in Poland, 52 people in all, and my wife and our 3 children. All the Jews that were under German rule shared the same fate. The survivors of course first see their own tragedies and those of their nearest kin before drawing general conclusions. I always see my parents, Chaim and Braindel, my wife with the three children, my brothers and sisters with their families. They always remain in front of my eyes and I can never forget them for a moment. I always ask why did they deserve this fate but there is no answer. Sometimes I even ask myself why I survived, for what purpose. I saw many times the angel of death and on occasion even met him face to face but I survived. Whether I am better off alive than my dead relatives, that is another question. Apparently, it was my destiny to survive and memorialize them to the best of my ability in the old Jewish tradition. I have no other explanation.

I already published many articles in various papers that dealt with my experiences and those of my family as well as items pertaining to Korczyn.

But the sadness remains, no amount of writing will remove the destruction of my family and the community. Before the last deluge, I lived in Germany where I married and three children. When Hitler became ruler of Germany, we, the foreign born Jews, were his first victims. He sent us all across the Polish border. My family and my mother in law reached Bieletz in Poland where we remained for a period of time. With the invasion of Poland in 1939, we headed to Korczyn. 19 years we lived happily together, first in Germany and then in Poland.

The children were raised in the Jewish spirit. They blossomed and we enjoyed watching their growth. The entire family was united. In addition to our arrival, the family also received two brothers with their families and three sisters with their families and a recently acquired sister in law, all in all 52 people. The first place they went upon arrival to Korczyn was to our mother's place. She took charge of the situation and made room for all the members of the family. Her small two-room apartment with a kitchen was the extent of the place, yet she found room for everybody. During the division of Poland between Russia and Poland and the ensuing chaos, my son Berish, aged 17, and myself were caught on the Russian side of the divide. We were no longer free agents and wound up deep in Russia, in Siberia. During our long trips through this big country, my son died. I buried him, and during the first three days of morning, I greyed beyond recognition. Now I was left alone, no relative or kin. Only the illusion that somewhere in Poland someone from the family managed to survive. This dream kept me going from day to day. Finally, after all the terrible experiences, I returned to Poland with the hope of finding someone from the family. My first objective was to reach Korczyn and when I reached it, all my illusions were shattered. I had already a premonition on entering Poland when I saw entire areas that once had large Jewish populations, totally devoid of them. The Jews lived and worked here for generations and each succeeding generation added another ring to the chain. Suddenly, the whole process stopped, the entire Jewish population was mercilessly slaughtered except for a few miraculous survivors, including myself.

The previous neighbors were astonished to see me, for they had already divided the inheritance and suddenly a claimant appeared on the scene. The neighbors wanted to forget the whole history and suddenly a reminder of the past appeared. Very uncomfortable were the Polish neighbors that took our possessions. But they did not show remorse or ask for forgiveness, this they probably had obtained from the parish priest. Besides, all sins could be placed on the Germans.

I wanted to visit two places in Korczyn, the first was the water well of Korczyn that still existed and was near our place of residence and the cemetery where the Jews were buried prior to the destruction of the community. I tasted the water and it was so fresh, this taste reminded me of my youth when I stopped frequently here to quench my thirst. The taste remained in my mouth throughout all my wanderings. To date I do not know what happened next to me but apparently I fell asleep or fainted from exhaustion. For my entire life, from childhood to the present, passed in review. My mother tended to me and gave me some of her tasty dishes to eat. I do not know how long I was daydreaming but when I awakened. I was angry with myself for letting my guard down. After all, my neighbors could have killed me.

My second visit was at the cemetery that belonged to the Jewish community. So far nobody claimed it and it remained as it was surrounded by high cement wall that was built by the late Chaim Wolf Koref. This was the only place where former Korczyner Jewish residents could feel at home. Some of the neighbors informed me that my mother passed away three days before the community was liquidated and is buried at the cemetery. The old caretaker showed me my mother's gravesite and I was able to pour out all my sorrows. I spoke to my mother and told her that her son Zishe survived the war and survived Hitler and will erect a tombstone for her. While talking to her, I must have passed out for the next thing I felt water running down my face that the caretaker must have spilled when he saw my condition.

I then went from grave to grave, I found my father's grave and prayed there, I located my grandfathers - Yossef and Nuta Leibush and my grandmothers. I informed them that one of the family survived the war. I decided to erect a tombstone for my mother and left for Bielsko Biala where I stayed since I came from Russia. Here I ordered the tombstone and had my mother's name inscribed on it as well as other members of the family whose whereabouts nobody knows. I shipped the stone to Krosno where I rented a cart, there were no haulers at the time, and hired a Pole to help push the tombstone to Korczyn. The trip lasted three hours and a downpour caught us halfway but we had no place to stay so we continued in the rain.



[Page 148]
[The cemetery of Korczyn, top picture]

The entrance and the wall surrounding the cemetery of Korczyn that Chaim Wolf Koref built. Bottom picture



[Page 150]
[The tombstone for the Eichorn family in Korczyn, picture II]

Three times I revisited Korczyn since I returned from Russia. I spent 5 nights in my old town and the only place I felt comfortable was at the morgue of the old Korczyner cemetery. It is strange, but I felt more at ease with the death people than the living neighbors. The fear that is instilled in us children about the cemetery disappeared. I was unable to sleep, so I commuted with all the souls that rested in this place. With the crack of dawn, I prayed at my father's grave and then visited the graves of my relatives, my mother and grand parents. I also recited some prayers at their graves.

[III]


In Korczyn, I suddenly felt an urge to gather information about the liquidation of the Jewish community in order to memorialize it. Two Poles from Korczyn- the caretaker of the Jewish cemetery and the caretaker of the general cemetery offered to guide me to the various burial grounds. Of course they were well paid and took me first to the general cemetery and showed me ditches surrounding the cemetery. These ditches contained the bodies of many people that the Germans killed. Then they led me to the mass grave of Jews along the road to Brezew. I would have liked to have brought all these bodies to Israel but this was beyond my ability. What happened to the other survivors of Korczyn, for the town had close to 1500 people prior to the destruction of the community. There is no answer to the question. Thus we have no alternative but to memorialize our victims amongst the 6 million saints in our own yizkor book. Even if we are unable to list all the people in Korczyn for lack of knowledge, at least they will be listed in spirit of Korczyn.

[IV]


It was a nice sunny Sunday, I was standing helpless, a stranger, a heavy heart, and watched the Poles rest on their holy day. Had it rained, it would have made me feel a bit happier. I approached the water fountain, I washed my hands and did not know what to wish for. Should Jewish life be resurrected here, no was my answer. I merely commuted with the Jewish generations that lived here and passed forever. They lived, suffered, and united passed on. May my tears join the tears of other Jews and expedite the arrival of the Messiah.

Now to the skimpy description of the community, of Korczyn.

[V]


The 15th Memorial Day 12/8/1956, 29 days in the month of Av, Tashtaz, was memorialized at Mount Zion in Jerusalem. Here the Korczyner and Krosner survivors erected a permanent tombstone in the Cave of the Holocaust for the Jews killed in both communities. We also added a plaque naming the two communities along the wall that contained hundreds of localities. There were many participants from both towns. Each year, we have less and less participants. In 1959, no Krosner survivor was there and I was the only survivor of Korczyn, indeed very sad.

[VI]


Each year, the 10th day in the month of Tevet, the survivors meet in a hall in Tel Aviv to memorialize the victims. We remember the saints and our hearts cry when the cantor from Krosno recites the prayers for the death. In the hall, the survivors of Korczyn and Krosno meet and exchange the latest news. The names of our departed are also listed with the names of other communities. May their memory be eternal.

[VII]


Our well-known hassidic Jewish township was well known for the production of fine linens. The Jews traded the merchandise throughout Poland and the world and established its fine reputation. Very few survivors were left to tell or record the story.

A distant place, seven kilometers from the nearest railway station. Yet it had its share of poor people as well as those that came to beg from other places. Nobody left the township without a donation. The rich gave more but the simple people also gave in order to fulfill the deed of giving charity.

We remember the well to do families in town: Mendel Shroit, Shaul Reich, Elieazar and Avraham Rab, Chaim Dym, Mendel Gleicher, Hersh Yaacov Rosshendler, Shulem Akselrad, Moshe Rothenberg and many others. Later, their descendants continued to give charity and help the needy. Following WWI, the financial situations of some families changed but the tradition of charity continued. Who can forget the charitable work of Bashe Welke Reich, Sarah Gutwein and other women who helped the poor and needy. Our neighbor, the butcher Moshe Kirschner and his wife Ita set an example. They were not rich people but helped the poor in town with meat for the Shabbath and holidays. The artisans were happy when they could invite a poor person to their Friday night table. The town population lived a quiet life until the Germans destroyed the entire community. This period is very painful to describe

[VIII]


29 days in the month of Av, Tashab, at 8 AM, the township was surrounded by Germans, Ukrainians and Polish collaborators. They drove the Jews from their flats and those that procrastinated were shot on the spot. The Jews with their hasty assembled packages were driven to the market place. There they kept the entire day. They were not permitted to approach the two fountains to drink water. In the afternoon, the chief of the Gestapo arrived and selected the old, sick and weak people. He tapped these people on the head with his cane, the party was immediately grabbed by the henchmen and tossed into a waiting truck. When the truck was full, it left in the direction of Brezew where there were ditches prepared for their execution and burial. Thus, the Jewish population decreased with each truckload.

The Germans did not reveal their intentions. They told everybody that they are resettling the population. Few believed their statements. But who dared to challenge the armed forces that carried out these operations. Amongst the victims were my sister Hanah Pessel and her husband Shmuel, my sister Bluma and her husband Ephraim, my aunt Percze nee Katz, Moshe Dawid Fessel, Moshe Kirschner and his wife and many others.

With the removal of the old people, the rest of the Jewish population was lined up 5 abreast and marched to the railway station of Kros where two days later they were shipped to the Belzec death camp. Shlomo Firsichbaum and his wife refused to follow the crowd, he wrapped himself and his wife in his talit and uttered the word, Shema Israel. The Germans shot him on the spot Their only daughter and her husband, my brother, and their 3 children witnessed the whole scene. In the transport were also my wife Esther and our two children: Rivka aged 18 and Hanah aged 16, my brother Jacob and his wife and their 3 children, my sister Rikel and her husband and 2 children. Many other members of the family were on the train but it is impossible to list them all. The Polish population that lived in close proximity with the Jewish population and traded with it for generations, appeared soon in town with sacs and carts to haul off the goods left by the Jews.

Before I left Poland in March of 1950, I visited Korczyn for the last time. I noticed a page of the Talmud that I took for burial to Israel. This page represented the spiritual inheritance of the destroyed Jewish community. Of all the books in Korczyn, this page had the luck to be taken to the Holy Land for burial. Thus, I left my birthplace, a broken down lonely person, a survivor of Korczyn.

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