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[Page 253]

C.
The Holocaust

 

[Page 257]

The War and the Destruction of the Jewish Population in the Radom Region

by A. Rotkowski, Warsaw

Translated by Jerrold Landau

The Expulsion of the Jews of Przytyk

In 1941, Przytyk had a Jewish population of approximately 2,700 (625 families, including approximately 300 refugees) out of a general population of 3,500. The occupation government issued an edict that the entire population living in Przytyk and the 160 villages in the region must leave their present places of residence by March 5, 1941, without exception. This expulsion was connected to the decision of the German army to create a military training field in this area on the left bank of the Wisla as a preparation for the attack on the Soviet Union. The expulsion of the entire Jewish population was carried out by the Przytyk Judenrat along with the provincial division of the Radom Judenrat, which received the authority for this from the Hitlerist government authorities.

The wealthy Jews left Przytyk on their own accord, moving to relatives of acquaintances in other towns. The poor people literally had nowhere to go. Only on April 2, did the Judenrat grant “certificates” to the poor people, in accordance with an edict of the Hitlerists, who were eager to accelerate the expulsion. Thus, the expulsion of Przytyk was completed almost one month after the date planned by the Germans.

The Jewish population of Przytyk was deported to the following places: Bialobrzeg (53 families), Przysucha (101), Skaryszew (46), Wysmierzyce (40), Wierzbica (28), Wolanow (26), Zwolen (24), Kazanow (26), Jedlinsk (30), as well as Lesromiec and Gniewoszow [1].

[Page 258]

The Germans Take Interest in the Jewish Defense in Przytyk of 1936

The fighting tradition of the Jewish masses in the Radom region, especially their vigorous stand during the time of the fascist anti-Semitic pogroms that were organized by the Sanacza rulers during the 1930s, was known to the German conquerors and was a source of discomfort to them. In particular, the Hitlerist authorities were concerned about the Jewish self-defense in Przytyk during the well-known pogrom of 1936. It was no coincidence that in the latter half of January, 1942, that is to say immediately following the famous Wanassee Conference that took place in Berlin, the ruling authorities of the Generalgouvernement in Krakow began to take interest in the events of Przytyk. The information in our hands strengthens our belief that the occupier, before commencing widespread activities for the annihilation of the Jews, decided to research the sources, the causative factors, the action itself, and the conditions and the reasons for the formation of the self-defense in Przytyk, in order to ensure that all possibilities of organized Jewish self-defense would be thwarted while there was still time, not only in the Radom district, but also throughout the Generalgouvernement. Support for this comes from the fact that in that time frame, that is at the end of January 1942, any other explanation for the interest of the occupiers in the history of the Jewish settlement in Przytyk makes no sense, for at that time there were not even any Jews in that town. As we had said, the last of them were expelled from their town in March 1941.

From the fragments of information it seems that the Hitlerist rulers asked Jozef Diamant, an adviser to the ruler of the Radom District, to find the information on Przytyk that interested them, through the means of the leaders of the Jewish self-help in Przytyk. The telephone conversations between the leaders of the Z.S.S. In Krakow (Magister Stern) and the representatives of Radom (Magister Wiener) did not produce any results, for in Radom they did not understand at all what was of interest to the Germans, for Przytyk had no Jews already for some time. It seemed that the conquerors wanted to obtain the information that interested them as quickly as possible, for already on February 2, 1942, the Z.S.S. of Krakow informed J. Diamant what was interesting the Hitlerists. We bring down the letter in its exact words to demonstrate the characteristic form of this letter:

“As a result of our telephone conversation, we are pleased to inform you that the assessor Heinrich of the Department of Population and Social Assistance in the Generalgouvernement requested that we find for him all the material related to the Jews of Przytyk for scientific work (?...) In this instance, this is not only referring to the actual material up to the time of the expulsion of the Jews from there last year, but also to historical data about the beginning of Jewish settlement in Przytyk. It would be beneficial if this material also includes data on the Jewish economic situation in Przytyk, life, general awareness, etc. In short -- data from all areas related to the Jews of Przytyk.

[Page 259]

We note that we gave over the information relating to the expulsion of the Jews of Przytyk immediately after we were asked.”

It seems to us that the “scientific” interest of the Assessor Heinrich of the Generalgouvernement was undoubtedly related to the widespread tradition of degradation toward the Jewish population. This confirms the well-known assumption that all of the crimes against humanity of the Hitlerists were at first researched and studied in a “scientific” manner in special institutions and offices. It is clear that we do not see any possibility that the Hitlerist “scientists” used any historical material from any other Jewish centers at that time in their research into the sources and powers of resistance of the Jewish masses in Poland. In any case, the disturbances in Przytyk that the conqueror dug up from the annals of history in 1943 take on a different connotation and testify to the fear, and literal panic, of the Hitlerists of the possibility of resistance from the Jewish masses...


[Page 321]

Jews of Przytyk Escaped to Wierzbica

by Chaya-Sheva Malcmacher of New York

Translated by Jerrold Landau

I, the daughter of Yosef Heberman, wish to share a few of the events of the horrible days of the Second World War.

When they drove us out of Przytyk, we were sent to the village of Wierzbica not far from Radom, where

[Page 322]

there lived only 18 Jewish families, and as many Poles. There were other Jewish families from Przytyk in Wierzbica.

My younger brother Reuven was a gaiter-stitcher. Since there we no gaiter-stitchers in Wierzbica, we had a livelihood. My mother Chava-Leah stood for entire days cooking for the poor people from Przytyk. They would bring their pots every day for supper, and I would bring the pots back to their homes. For the most part, we took care of Mendel Moshele's daughter Tzirel and her children, for her husband Itcha Bondi was not with them and her father and sister with their family were in a different village. She was very sick, and my mother devoted herself to her as she would have to her own child, cooking special food for her. She died at the beginning of 1942.

Before Tzirel died, we sent a letter when an opportunity arose, because we were not permitted to move freely. Mendel came and stayed with us for a few days. Later, after Tzirel's death, we took care of the children. The family with whom she had lived also took care of her children.

Przytykers would stay with us for entire weeks, or even months, and we would ensure that they were satisfied. My brother Shaul went through the streets to ensure that the passersby knew where to go to eat.

My parents and sister with their families were deported to Szyd³owiec on Yom Kippur, 1942. I and my two brothers remained working. Later, my brother Shaul was captured, and the German shot him in the cemetery in Wierzbica. This took place on May 15th, 1943. My brother Reuven and I remained alive. How we were moved back into the Radom Ghetto – I do not know.

I was together with my brother Reuven until 1944. I saw him for the last time in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp.


[Page 335]

The “Supermen” Turned People Into Sheep[1]

by Malka Honig

Translated by Jerrold Landau

It was very dark, faces could hardly be distinguished. The light of the candle was dim. Then flames went higher, the fires rose majestically. We stood dumb, not a word was heard. The fire shed a great light in that dark and gloomy room. It was the memorial candle for the six million Jews

In the flame I saw the burning towns and houses, the great fires which consumed people's bodies. The fires did not reject the Jews, even while they called out: ”Help us, our God, God of Abraham! Save us, O God!” But the flames went on consuming them

Those men were like animals and not like human beings; they were beyond love or hatred, they were completely oppressed

The Jews were led to the camps, to death at the hands of the “supermen”. They wanted to annihilate the whole Jewish nation. The Jews were led to death like sheep. It was a dark and pitiful period. The world stood still and did not stir

Now the world wants everybody to know what happened during those years (1939–45). The world allowed those monsters to kill the Jews, to exterminate more than a third of a nation. That world wants us to forgive its silence. However, we, the sons of the Jewish nation, can never forget the Holocaust

It was, and still is, a deep wound in our hearts! We realized then that our home is Israel, and nowhere else in the world. Hatred and enmity are spread everywhere, the yellow star of David is not worn any more, but modern forms of anti-Semitism take its place and are developing by great steps. So the words “Don't forget us!” are still ringing in my ears. “We shall never forget” is our oath – “Never, never!”

(“Jerusalem Post”, 30.4.65.)


Translator's Footnotes

  1. Transcribed from the English by Melvyn Maltz. Return

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