Confiscation of Furs
On the 15th of December 1941, the Germans published the familiar order according to which Jews were ordered to surrender all of their furs by the 25th of December of that year, under the threat that anyone found with furs after that period would be shot. The furs were collected in the Judenrat building and were taken away in autos.
The winter of 1941-1942 was one of the hardest and most savage. The terrible cold, frost and blizzards increased the mortality rate among the starving and exhausted Jews.
At the beginning of January, the Germans carried out endless searches in Jewish homes because they suspected that Jews had hidden furs, which according to the December 15, 1941 order, had to be turned over to the German regime. Among others, such a search was carried out in the apartment of the Rozenblum family of Wielgomlyny at Limanowski Street 20 in Berl Oleinik's house. The search was carried out by Folks-Deutsch and the criminal Szmalc. During the search, he found walled-in in the oven two women's furs. He immediately arrested Yitzhak Rozenblum with his wife and children, his parents and his close relatives, the Sizzles and their wives. No pleas on their behalf were of any help. After some days, all of the arrested were led out to the cemetery and they were shot. It was later learned that the family was the victim of a denunciation. The tragic case made a shocking impression on the ghetto dwellers and the ghetto could not shake it off for a long time.
In January 1942, a plan, which had been considered since 1941, was made real. A group of businesswomen headed by Dora Rozenboim decided to establish an orphanage. The number of orphans in the ghetto grew considerably and establishing a home for them was a burning necessity, The preparations took time and, in January 1942, the solemn opening of the orphanage took place.
The orphanage was located in the house that the generous man of Radomsk, Reb Mended Lakhman, had built as a 'Shabbos shelter for poor wanderers.' The Jewish workers renovated the house without asking for a reward and later it was furnished with dedication and sincerity.
The opening left a deep impression on the assembled and especially on the artistic who prepared for several weeks through the amateur-circle. This amateur-circle staged, with an admission fee, presentations from time to time and the net income was presented to the orphans' house with complete devotion.
The members of the amateur-circle, which made itself very popular and loved in the ghetto, were: Akrent, Chaim Aronowicz, Moishe Kahn, Dovid-Meir Kornberg, Jadszia Oberman, Hanya Eizen-Biltszak, Ber and Izrael Hampel, Alek Markowicz, Issachar Witenberg and Irena Kleiner. The directors of the presentations were Kahn, Akrent and Kornberg. The decorations were prepared by Markowicz and Eizen. The master of ceremonies was Chaim M. Aronowicz.
The first public performance of the amateur-circle was presented with moral and material success. The second program consisted of Yiddish folk songs, pictures of ghetto life and pictures of Jewish life in Eretz-Yisroel. This presentation brought temporary encouragement to the sad ghetto life.
Sixty orphans, aged 3 to 6, made their home in the orphanage and everything was done so that they would feel good and forget the sorrowful realities. The administrator of the home was Mrs. Dora Rozenboim and she was assisted by a women's committee, which strived to obtain everything the children needed. The teachers Fanska, Tenenboim and Mrs. Witenberg taught the children Yiddish, Polish and arithmetic.
A Messenger from the Warsaw Ghetto
In July 1942, a young man of thirty came into the premises of the Judenrat and identified himself as a messenger from the Warsaw Jewish Underground organization. He related that in Warsaw the Germans had forced together tens of thousands of Jews, ordered them to take necessities with them and said they were being sent to work in the occupied Russian territories. A hundred men were forced into sealed cars and banished. This was the first annihilation aktsia against Warsaw Jewry (the aktsia of the 22nd July 1942).
Poles and Jews with an 'Aryan' appearance followed the trains and returned to report the alarming news, that the Warsaw Jews were driven away to Treblinka, to the sorrowfully famous extermination camp with its gas chambers. The messenger added that, for the present, the enemies were leaving alone those working in the workshops, the so-called shops where work was done for the German regime. He called upon those with whom he came in contact to establish workers' workshops and to prepare experts in technical courses and immediately to organize a resistance in case of an extermination aktsia.
It is easy to imagine the mood and the great shock that this news caused. [The shock] did not last long, and several courses were opened in which hundreds of men and women were qualified for work. The panic caused by the news brought by the messenger from Warsaw intensified even more. The city commandant published an order that the Jewish men and women must be employed in the factories, in different enterprises or in agriculture, and each of them must have a work-card. Immediately, rumors spread that those who did not have such a card would be sent out of the city.
|1. Moishele||4. Good Morning, Pivke Yose|
|2. A Night in Paris||5. In the Garden Stands a Well|
|3. Take Her||6. On the Way to Eretz-Yisroel|
The actress is Hanya Biltszak. The male roles were performed by:
Y. Gliksman and Issachar Witenberg.
A number of Jews found work in different factories in the city. Still others began looking for work in agriculture, in other words with landowners and rich peasants.
At the beginning of August 1942, the Germans created a labor-camp in Gidziel (Gidle). It was the first Jewish labor-camp in the Radomsk area. Eight hundred Jews were located in the camp, four hundred from Czenstochow and four hundred from Radomsk. They worked for the German water enterprise, which had built a canal from Gidziel to Czenstochow in order to irrigate the whole region.
The camp was located four kilometers from Gidziel. Four wooden barracks were put up surrounded by barbed wire. The regimen was similar to the regimen in the camps, which were administered by the 'Nazi animals with human faces.' The workers were chased out of the barracks at five o'clock in the morning and, under a hail of murderous beatings, lined up for morning roll call, which lasted until the arrival of the water engineer and SS man. After the roll call, the workers received a piece of bread and a little sugar water. Then they were divided into small groups and led to work under the supervision of Polish trade workers. The work was very difficult. Standing in water up to the knee, they had to dig deep canals; they were not allowed to move and were savagely beaten for the least thing. The midday meal, which took place while working, consisted of a liter of watery soup and piece of dark bread. Six in the evening they were led home and again given a piece of muddy bread and a little water. The night gave no kind of rest to the exhausted workers, because the crowding, dirt and dampness in the barracks interfered with sleep. Leaving the boundaries of the camp was punished with the death penalty. After work, sick workers could report to the camp doctors. Until the end of August (?), it was the Czenstochower doctor. After his summons, the workers reported to the Radomsker doctor Simkha Hampel and the dentist Yakob Markowicz, who were there until the dissolution of the camp, the day before the liquidation of the ghetto.
 (Translator's note: The question mark in parentheses appears in the original text.)
At the end of September, the Germans began to bring into the ghetto the poor Jews from the small shtetlech and villages, such as Amstow, Plawno, Gidziel, Kamiensk, Kodran, Mojslawice, Strzalkow, Klomnice, etc. The arrival of the Jews from the poor shtetlech strengthened the unconfirmed rumors that Radomsk would soon experience a ruthless aktsia, too. It was known that it would occur on the 9th of October. The news caused enormous turmoil in the ghetto and a number of Jews lost their head running around like crazy people, not knowing what to do with themselves. A number began building bunkers under the earth, making hiding places in the attics, cellars, and the like. Others again tried to save themselves with Polish acquaintances, giving to them all of the money and jewelry they possessed. Others still, particularly juveniles, began to order 'Aryan' documents at great expense, and prepared to go over to the so-called 'Aryan side.' An effort was made, as much as possible, to change one's outer appearance, the clothing, the movements and the language, in order to change one's self into a happy 'Aryan type.' Several of the young decided to set up a resistance against the enemy. Alas, this was impossible to bring about because of the shortage of weapons. The last Days of Awe took a dramatic course in the ghetto. The lamenting cries and prayers went up to heaven and the only wish, which came from everyone's lips was: We should only remain alive!
The Day Before the Aktsia – The Liquidation of the Gidzieler Camp
On Tuesday, the 6th of October, the Czenstochower Jews were expelled from the Gidziel labor camp and led on foot to Czenstochow to the aktsia. On Wednesday, the 7th of October in the morning, the building engineer who managed the labor camp announced that tomorrow, Thursday, the Radomskers would return to their ghetto, where they would go through a selection and then return to work. They were not permitted to bring anything with them. That Wednesday, the Jews were again taken to work. On Thursday, the 8th of October, everyone was dragged out of the barracks; they were lined up in fours and forced to go on foot to Radomsk, escorted by German gendarmes. At eleven o'clock, the four hundred Jewish workers arrived on the Fi Platz near 'Sports Wadni.' There they waited until five o'clock in the evening, until the chief of the gendarmerie Kempenik arrived, and then they were all forced into the ghetto.
On Thursday, the 8th of October, it was already clear, even to those who had convinced themselves for the entire time that the terrible news was exaggerated, that the ruthless mass killing that the Germans called aktsia, was approaching with quick steps. The ghetto was already hermetically sealed, with gendarmes, Ukrainians, Lithuanians and the Polish police standing guard on all sides. At literally the last minute, hundreds of Jews successfully sneaked out of the ghetto on payment of large sums of money and sought the protection of Poles. Hundreds of Radomsker Jews arrived in Przedborz hoping to wait there until after the 'aktsia' in Radomsk. The ghetto was illuminated with floodlights so that the Germans could see what was happening there. The last night in the ghetto was transformed into a night vigil, where those sentenced to death sought consolation and advice from each other. The refined Tuvyah-Buki, meeting Dr. Hampel at night, reminded him how he had cured him during the typhus epidemic. He asked, 'Would it not have been more sensible if you would have let me die then? At least I would have been entitled to burial in a Jewish cemetery.' People said goodbye, cried and kissed and the heartbreaking screams carried far over the boundaries of the guarded ghetto. Every apartment with its calamity, every house with its shocking scenes, every street a sea of misery – today, still a sea of tears, tomorrow, a sea of blood.
On Friday, at five o'clock in the morning, the Judenrat received an order by telephone to be prepared. The aktsia would start at six o'clock.
On Friday, the 9th of October, at 6 o'clock in the morning, the German gendarmes drove into the ghetto in autos and began to shoot in the air. After them, divisions of Ukrainian and Polish police arrived, ringed the ghetto and did not allow anyone to enter. The German assistant-police received an order to expel all Jews from the apartments by force and to take them to the square near the Kehile on Mickiewicza Street. The Jews were permitted to take money, jewelry, a little food and clothing with them.
When the expulsion of the Jews took too long, the gendarmes themselves began dragging the Jews out of the apartments. Shooting was heard in the ghetto without end. Those who did not want to leave, or those who were sick and weak or those who simply resisted were shot. The gendarmes went into the Jewish Epidemic Hospital and drove out the sick. Those who were incapable of getting up from their beds were shot on the spot. They murdered children with their hands, threw them through the windows and trampled them with their nailed boots. The desperate mothers who wanted to rescue their children were shot on the spot. Hundreds of bloodied Jews fell in the ghetto. Thousands of Jews were forced in the direction of the Umschlatzplatz. Almost no house or courtyard was left without dozens of shot Jews.
At nine o'clock in the morning, all of the Jews had been forced together on the square. They dragged with them packages, satchels and sacks on their shoulders. The children cried from hunger, thirst and cold. In the confusion children lost their parents and ran around crying wildly. Many of them, at that point, already had no fathers or mothers. At ten o'clock several SS officers arrived and ordered Gutsztat to send out ten Jewish policemen to the Jewish cemetery to dig a large mass-grave for the shot Jews. Meanwhile, every few minutes the Germans brought bloodied Jews, who had been found in various bunkers and hiding places. A large number of them were shot on the spot.
At twelve o'clock the Germans ordered the Jews to line up in hundreds
of rows, five people wide. The officers went through the rows of those
lined up and responded with mockery to the 'march by' of the weak, tortured
and helpless Jews sentenced to death. After this an order was given that
the workers groups should line up on the right, the craftsworkers on the
left and the members of the Judenrat and their families in the front. At
that moment, in front of the eyes of those forced onto Mickiewicza Street,
hundreds of peasants passed through from the direction of Przedborz. It
was later learned that they had traveled to Przedborz for the liquidation
of the ghetto located there. At one o'clock, it suddenly started to rain
hard. The Sport Platz was quickly transformed into a large pool. Now, after
The Selection on the Sports Platz
At two o'clock, the chief of the gendarmes Kempenik arrived and gave the commandant of the Jewish police Chaim Markowicz a list of three hundred and fifty Jews who had permission to remain in the city. In dead silence, Markowicz read the list of three hundred and fifty names in alphabetical order. He called out each name and waited until the person came and lined up at the side. Among the three hundred and fifty were the members of the Judenrat: Viktor Gutsztat, Natan Winer, Moishe Wainrajch, Yehuda Hersz Tiger, Henrik Fanski, Yosef Fanski, Alek Rozenboim, Yakob Szpira and Szmul Szpira, the doctors: Drs. Zaks, Furtszpigl, Rozewicz and Hampel, the dentists: Yakob Markowicz and Kurkhin-Berkensztat, the medics: Wolf Ofman, Akrent, Aronowicz and Taychner, the forty Jewish policemen with their wives, and qualified workers in various trades.
The remaining Jews were isolated from the rest of the Jews and those who tried to go over to them were savagely beaten and forced back. At three o'clock in the afternoon, the gendarmes forced the three hundred and fifty Jews into the house of the Kehile and into Buchman's house and locked it. All went up to the first floor and looked down to the nearby square, saying goodbye with their eyes to their relatives and friends who were going to their death.
Standing at the windows, the Jews saw how groups of five hundred were led away to the railway yard. Each group was surrounded by gendarmes armed with machine
guns. At the same time, some hundred railroad cars arrived from Przedborz bringing the Przedborz Jews whose Kehile had been liquidated in the course of several hours, and among them Radomsker Jews. They were taken directly to the railway yard.
A wagon traveled behind still another group of five hundred and anyone who resisted or tried to run away was shot on the spot and their body thrown into one of the wagons. The Polish population stood massed in the street and their happiness as the Germans made the city free of Jews is impossible to put into writing. The Jews were taken through Aleja Kosciuszka, Reymonta Street, up to the freight station. The savagely beaten Przedborz Jews, who were brought here, were beaten anew at the station and turned over to the railroad cars. Dozens of murdered fell and the station became red and moist from the flowing Jewish blood.
The freight train first arrived at the ramp at ten o'clock at night.
Just a portion of the Jews were sent with the first transport of the 9th of October. The several thousand remaining were forced into the Shul and Bote-Midro'shim and were closely guarded by gendarmes. After a long discussion, permission was given to bring in food and drink for them.
At night, the Jewish Police succeeded in rescuing twenty Jews, thanks to having changed them into police uniforms, or having bribed the guards with money or jewelry. The situation of those rounded up in the Shul and Bote-Midro'shim was heartbreaking. They lay one on top of the other, taking care of their human needs on the spot and finding themselves in these conditions from the 9th until Monday until the 12th of October when the train returned from Treblinka -- the place of the mass annihilation of Polish Jewry.
The Second Transport -- 12 October 1942
When the train arrived, the Jews were forced from the Shul and Bote-Midro'shim and taken directly to the train. The same scene as on Friday was repeated, and that is how the Germans packed the Jews in the railroad cars.
At the same time, when the thousand Jews were taken to the train, the Germans made a selection among the three hundred and fifty Jews that they themselves had left over on Friday. They brought all three hundred and fifty to the square and from them chose twenty-nine men, who they immediately forced to the train: Moishele Takarsz, Kasztan, Alezer Buchman, Wainrajch, Mendl Gliksman, Pela Wigodska carrying a child, Mrs. Dumbrower (the dark Balcia), Mrs. Wilhelm (née Krojze), Yitzhak Szpira with his wife (the parents of Szmul Szpira) and others.
The child whom Pela Wigodska carried was a three year old girl, the daughter of Dovid Bugajski, the grain merchant on Strzalkowska Street. Sometime earlier, a Pole had brought her and turned her over to a gendarme and the gendarme had thrown her to Pela.
On the 13th of October the gendarmerie brought a Jew whom the Poles had caught and turned over to the Germans. His name was Federman. He was savagely beaten and then shot. His body lay for two days in front of the Kehile building, as a warning to others.
Life in the Small Ghetto
The remaining three hundred and twenty-one Jews, on the order of the Germans, were packed into the houses on Mickiewicza Street 3, 5, 7, 9, which was enclosed with wire. No one could go out. The Germans immediately declared that if more than three hundred and twenty-one were found among these people, they would be shot. Fifty Jews were successfully smuggled into the ghetto and put in bunkers. Almost every morning, the houses were invaded and the Jews led out and counted. During such a control, in the presence of the assassin who carried out the annihilation of the Jews in the Radomer district, a bunker was discovered and all those found were shot on the spot. At the same time, the bunker was discovered in which the pastry baker from Reymonta Street and his son Dovid Meir Kornberg, relatives of Yankel Ofman were hiding. They were denounced by a Pole, who had gotten drunk. The caught were forced to the Jewish cemetery, where they had to dig their own graves and then they were all shot on the spot.
At the end of October everyone was again forced onto the square; this time the Germans succeeded in discovering a number of bunkers and those caught were lined up on the side and were driven away in a truck in the direction of Czenstochow. Among those taken away was Chaim Rapoport's grandson. The unfortunate's grandfather threw himself on the gendarmerie and wanted to save his child. But he was savagely beaten and fainted. It was later learned that everyone in the truck had been shot. A few days later, the rest of those caught were driven to Czenstochow and of the three hundred and twenty-one, one hundred and seventy-five were separated, loaded onto trucks and taken to Skarsziska-Kamienne for hard labor in the ammunition factory.
The Small Ghetto
At the end of October, the remaining Jews received an order to move to the new small ghetto which was located on Limanowski Street and consisted of the houses numbered 10, 12, 14, 16, 18 and 20. (From Kantor's house to Berl Oleinik's house) Some messages from those Jews deported to Treblinka made their way to the ghetto. These were letters that were thrown out of the barred little windows of the railway cars and brought to the ghetto by the Poles who found them.
We print here the contents of a letter that was written by Bela Yoistman, the daughter-in-law of Reb Mendl Yoistman of Kamiensk, to her husband Dovid:
'My dear Dovid! It is before dawn and I am traveling in a crowded cattle car in the direction of Treblinka; I travel to a certain death. You, Dovid, see that you save yourself, while I am already in the enemies' hands. I am already lost. Forget me and love again with happiness! Fate wanted it this way. Stay healthy dear husband and give my sincere regards to your sister and brother-in-law.'
The one remembered in the letter, Dovid Yoistman, did not receive the letter. He had been sent to Treblinka in the first aktsia.
Hunger predominated on the first day in the small ghetto. The German regime did not permit any food to be brought into the Jews. After a long discussion, the Jews, under guard by the German gendarmes, were permitted to search the deserted dwellings of the deported Jews and gather the leftover food and heating materials. The wood that was found was given over to the communal kitchen, where food was cooked for the remaining Jews. The Jews had to carry out the furniture and contents of the Jewish dwellings for the German murderers. During this heavy labor, the Germans carried out savage beatings. Meir Gerszonowicz, who picked up a shirt that had fallen, was shot on the spot by Kempenik himself.
The Tragedy of the Bunkers
After the liquidation of Radomsker Jewry, there were a number of Jews in hiding places and in bunkers in addition to the remaining Jews in the small ghetto on Limanowski Street. A number of those in the bunker in the knife factory 'Unitas' (Limanowski Street 46) were discovered on the first day and all forty of them were taken to Piotrkow Trybunalski, where an aktsia was then taking place. At Limanowski 42, two Jews Aitsze Fiszman and Zilberszatz were discovered by the Folks-Deutsch Kunitsky. They were given to the German regime and they were shot at the Jewish cemetery on the same day.
Every day, new bunkers and hiding places were uncovered and new victims fell. It was suspected that this was the work of a member of the Judenrat and of the commandant of the Jewish police, who knew exactly where the Jews were hiding. Hundreds of Jews from the bunkers were shot on the spot or sent away
The Seduction of the Jews
In November, the Germans announced that four gathering places would be organized for Jews. Among them was Radomsk. The Germans well knew that hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of Jews could be found in the woods, in bunkers, with Poles or 'on' Aryan papers and the like. In order to seduce the Jews back into their hands, the Germans legalized four areas for the Jews, and there began a mass migration of the hiding Jews with their wives and children back into the ghetto. A large number of them knew that this was a devilish plan to seduce the Jews and to gather them in one place. However, they found themselves in such condition that they had no choice but to return to the ghetto.
Jews arrived from the Lodz area, hundreds of Jews from Zhurek (Zharki), from the Czenstochow area, so that the number of Jews in the small ghetto reached four thousand five hundred souls. Life in the ghetto began to become more normal, one should understand, to the extent that the Germans had an interest in it doing so.
Horrible events occurred in the bunkers, when Poles murdered Jews who no longer had any money to buy themselves from Polish hands. The Witenberg girl (Herszl Witenberg's youngest sister) and Zhukhowski from Belchatow were murdered with a shoemaker's hammer. Dina and Issachar Witenberg, the children of the Zionist leader Yakob Witenberg, were denounced into German hands together with Meilech Faktor's two children and Yehieil Freiman's son. All were taken to the Jewish cemetery and shot there. Miss Ruszke Bugajski, the daughter of Eidl Bugajski, was murdered by gendarme Fuhrleh.
Among those turned over to German hands was also Szmul Leib Waksman (now in Israel with his whole family). His wife, who had converted to Judaism before the war, endeavored in all ways to rescue her husband with her son (although, officially she had to divorce him). The place where Waksman was hidden was uncovered by Poles and he was handed over to the Germans, who threw him in prison. There the mass murderer Szmalc, a pre-war watchman in Jewish houses who had on his conscience
hundred of Jews, took to him. He beat him every day, set a bulldog on him that ripped pieces of flesh from his body. One night, the prison was invaded by Poles from the 'Armja Krajowa' (A.K.-National Army), which freed all of its members and Szmul Leib Waksman and Keselman (who ran back into the bunker) left with them. The freed were placed in wagons that quickly left the city. The A.K. members investigated Waksman, and seeing that he was a Jew, beat him and threw him out of the wagon.
The condition in which Waksman survived was tragic. Starved and full of wounds, he finally found a hiding place. Long, long after the war, he had to heal his wounds from the past.
Here the horrible murderous history of the Markzin family of Kamiensk should be told. After spending a long time with different peasants in the woods, they decided to build a bunker in the stone mines between Kamiensk and Kucierzowy. A Polish acquaintance of theirs, Marion Setsemski of Kamiensk, received all of their possessions and promised to bring them food. He kept his word until April 1943 and later stopped coming. After a ten-day break, he suddenly came with a second Pole, Juzef Galanski, brought a little food and later bricked up the only opening in the bunker, which carried in air. The people began to suffocate and, of the twelve bunker inmates, ten died. Yakob and Golde Markzin successfully removed stones with bloodied hands and emerged from the bricked up bunker after several days. They decided to turn themselves over into the hands of the Germans. They told the entire story at an interrogation. The murderer Setsemski successfully fled. The second murderer was shot together with his wife. The two Markzins were brought to Radomsk and shot at the Jewish cemetery.
In June 1943, the house in which the last forty Jews lived was surrounded by the Germans. The Jews were loaded onto a military truck and taken to the Pianker lager, not far from Radom.
Radomsk was Judenrein (free of Jews). Several of the forty Jews survived
the war and they are in Israel.
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