What the Jews did for a Living

by Jechezkel Eisland

When the Regular Army withdrew and the Black Shirts had accomplished their murderous work on the "notorious" black Sunday, new faces in different uniforms appeared in town. Those were the German Field Police. They were to replace both the Regular Army and the Black Shirts. The latter left.

The new troops were received with relief and the hope that life under a civilian administration would become more normal and order would be restored. That was exactly what happened. When the Field Police got established and acquainted with the city, an office called Ortskommandatur (Local Headquarters) was opened. Posters appeared on the walls in Polish and German calling for discipline and order. Shops had to be opened and craftsmen were called to return to work. Instructions were also given that market-days be kept as before.

A special poster was posted dealing with the Jews: They were not to hire any Christian workers nor could they keep non-Jewish maids in their houses. Jews were not allowed in the streets before 6 A. M. and after 9 P. M. The most important order concerned Jewish shops: They should have a visible big blue Mogen David in the window and a sign in both Polish and German: "Jewish Store".

The Jews were not too willing to reopen their stores for two reasons: one, because they were afraid of being robbed by the Gentiles, especially by the peasants, two, they still remembered how quickly prices rose during World War I. Why should they open their stores when there was no chance to replace the sold goods? No one was really interested in giving away merchandise.

The local German administration simply forced the shopkeepers to reopen. Everything was to be for sale and hiding merchandise was prohibited. The only shops that did not have to reopen were the fabric stores: Their goods were to be rationed. The free sale of fabrics was against the law. The fabric stores had to be closed until further notice, and their owners had to report the quantity of the stock on hand to the authorities. Not having any choice the Jewish stores were opened, although with bare shelves. Brandises, Laufbahns and others of our neighbors as well as fabric dealers, reported only a small part of their stock. The rest was hidden in well-built hiding places. Prices soon started rising rapidly and kept on going up.

Flour, sugar, meat, coffee and other articles were soon as scarce as fabrics. Their sale was officially restricted by the Ortskommandatur. They would now be rationed according to the number of people in each family. The grocery stores were to be opened and their owners had to report to the authorities how much they had of the rationed articles. Cereals, and coffee – made of burnt barley – beans and some other things were free. The obvious outcome was a flourishing black-market. From the very first day many Jews took advantage of the new situation.

The supply of kerosene was scarce: The store owned by Shimelle Eisland and Shielle Brand had never had large amounts of kerosene. In spite of the fact that people had tried to store up before the outbreak of the war, within three weeks the reserves were exhausted. People bought the last drops that Shimelle and Shielle Brand had to offer. I still remember that the first request addressed to the Ortskommandatur was to allow some kerosene into town. Since the last pre-war mayor was asked to resume his duties and run the administration, he made the request for kerosene. Permission was granted at once. Carts were sent to Gorlice and brought some kerosene of which every family received one liter.

Selling meat was prohibited, and the butcher shops were to stay closed for the time being. Also, slaughtering was illegal from the first day of the occupation. The black-market developed at a tremendous rate. The peasants helped to alleviate the problem by selling turkeys and other kinds of meat to the Jewish population. Some peddlers made their way back and forth to the countryside bringing in all kinds of foods.

The hardware stores could trade freely without any limitations. A few stores opened in Radomysl, but many articles disappeared into attics and other hiding places. No one knew how the stock would be renewed. As soon as the peasants found out the Jewish stores were open, they raided them looking for bargains, buying anything they could lay their hands on.

Years before the War, a prominent hardware dealer in Tarnaw announced bankruptcy. My father had bought his stock containing both good and bad articles. The good ones were gone soon but the bad ones could not be sold. Having a full warehouse of bad merchandise, my father considered giving them to the smelter. During the first weeks of the War all his supply was sold. People simply bought anything they were shown.

As soon as the semi-civilian administration took over, bakers began baking bread. Josl Hand Jochtche and Trompeter stored up some flour and at the beginning were ordered by the Army to distribute bread freely. As soon as they ran out of flour, they asked the mayor to request of the Ortskommandatur to have flour brought from Tarnow. Permission was granted, and soon carts with the flour arrived from the mills of Tarnow. Later bread was rationed and sold by cards only.

After a while, Jews risked traveling to Tarnow to obtain merchandise. I remember being one of the first Jews to go. In order to travel one needed a permit-permit. As the Ortskommandatur was still in the process of being organized, the Army issued permits at that stage. Permits were issued only to refugees who could prove that they had got stuck during their flight. The Germans were interested in getting the refugees out of town. By doing so they could control the community more efficiently. Hundreds of people were stopped in Radomysl as the German Army advanced. When the Army moved forward many refugees tried to get back home on their own, but were sent back as permit without permits was practically impossible. As soon as the mayor's office and the Ortskommandatur were opened, a massive exodus of refugees began. Early each morning several carts left town; first the Poles then the Jews, since the Germans did not interfere.

A refugee from Krakow stayed in our house. He was an invalid, unable to walk. After a three-week's stay he asked permission from the Kommandatur to return to Krakow. I asked the refugee to get me a permit as a chaperon as far as Tarnow; from there he could take a train or a bus. Since the railroad to Krakow was out of order, the man was allowed to go in a horse-drawn wagon or by a truck. (There were no buses). He got the permits and so the two of us departed on the following morning. We went to the marketplace to find a carriage to take us to Tarnow. A carriage was hard to be found since only two carriages were in use; they were called "fiakers". One of the carriages belonged to Gruszczynski the "goy" who cherished his covered "fiaker" as if it was an automobile. We were his steady customers in the old days, so we managed to hire him on the spot. Usually, with a pair of strong horses like Gruszczynski's, one could get to Tarnow in two hours; on the particular occasion it took us about five hours. The road had been ruined by the tanks, and every few kilometers there was a German post that checked our permits. My first wartime journey from Radomysl to Tarnow wasn't too bad; there were no policemen on the road – only soldiers. The Germans looked for Polish ex-soldiers only. Those who carried permit permits were allowed to go on – the rest were taken to headquarters for investigation. After five hours we finally arrived in Tarnow.

Jewish shopkeepers awaited the arrival of their "provincial" customers. I managed to get hold of some hardware articles for our store and returned home. Since it was possible to replace the sold merchandise, we sold some of our old stock. We resumed business. Both legal and black-market trading got underway within a few weeks. Tarnow, the big town was hungry; hungry for meat, potatoes and other foods. The small town, thus, had to take care of the "big sister" Tarnow. It was right after the harvest and the peasants had their granaries full of grain. Someone, perhaps intentionally, spread rumors that the German would rob the peasants of their crops, so they sold willingly. Professional Jewish peddlers would go to Zdziarzec or Zgorsko and buy loads of grain. They brought it to Tarnow in hired carts. Due to inflation prices rose rapidly, especially of foods and fabrics. One thing caused another; the peasants realized that as long as everyone wanted to buy the grain they could charge higher prices. On the other hand they could not get much for their money; a woolen suit would cost hundreds and later thousands of zloty. The old method of trading was put in use; sugar, coffee and other products that had disappeared from the free market were being traded for other goods. Peddlers were able to get hold of grain, hens and chickens. All in all the trade under German rule thrived. Some Jews in Radomysl had never had a better income; especially when the roads weren't under strong surveillance.

The clothing problem was more difficult to solve. One night we walked 50 – 60 km. in order to visit a German settler (the ranch belonged to Jews before). We demanded that he donate money, weapons, radio etc, to the Polish underground. The things we got that way were exchanged for other necessary articles obtainable in stores only: sugar, salt, flashlights, cigarettes, etc.

The spoils were divided according to individual needs. That was how we helped ourselves to goods that had been stolen from Jewish stores. At one place we discovered a big crate full of Talits, suits, furs and shoes of all sorts. We carried away only 15 kg. since we had a 25-km.-walk ahead of us Our people were never suspected since they dressed well and looked very clean. We even had soap to wash our clothes with; water was plentiful. A few farmers around the forest provided us with food and also gave out information.

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Wandering in the Woods

by Sara Gold (Feit)

We keep on the run. It is now three years that we are running from one hiding place to another. We were left without our mother – I twelve years old and my sister nine. We want our mother!

Father decided to join the Jews who organized in the forest. The leaders of our group were Romek Amsterdam, Shyek Zinger and others. We lived in tunnels dug underground. In the daytime one had to sit quietly so as not to be discovered by the German patrols passing by every once in a while. We would get food at night at deadly risk. We lived like beasts chased by the hunter, with the exception that beasts possess a protective mechanism when sensing danger – we did not.

I will never forger the night Haikeh Garn had her baby. The parents decided their child was going to live. They wrapped him in clothes, went to the village nearby and left him on someone's windowsill. The baby's parents were captured by the Germans during one attack (After the war we received the information that Haikeh and her husband survived and also managed to recover their baby).

It went on like this till the fall of 1944; not a day of rest, chased from place to place, hungry and without warm clothing to cover our bodies. Every once in a while, we were attacked by the Germans. Some died. We were named the "forest people".

Our living area become narrower. The Russians were advancing towards Berlin – in our direction the Germans were taking defense measures, and we were in the middle; in the forest.

Some people thought we should go to the Russians others – that we should wait here. It was finally decided that we wait; no reason to endanger lives and pass through mined battle grounds. The Russians will soon come…

But things went wrong. The Germans fortified themselves in the forest where we lived, the Russians at the other end. We found ourselves between the hammer and the anvil. To reach the Russians was impossible just as it was impossible to escape the Germans. It became increasingly difficult to manage, no one could get hold of food, the situation was becoming worse.

After a long period of waiting we decided to try getting through the border, fully aware of the danger it put us in. To stay where we were was sure death. There was no way back and ahead were mine fields. One was either destined to die or to live…

With rigid hearts the decision was made. There were victims, but most succeeded in reaching the Russian border. Among them were my father, Naftali Fait, my sister Rosia and I.

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Life in Camp

by Pinchas Reichman

In those dark days, many youngsters from the town turned to Zionism and Eretz Israel. I did so myself. Although it wasn't clear yet what the Germans were up to, we felt instinctively that serious trouble was ahead. We began studying the Hebrew language and literature, tutored by Jacob Gold. At that time a messenger arrived in town; Dolek Libeskind of the "Akiva Movement". Later, we found out that he was one of the leaders of the underground in the Krakow ghetto. A group of young people met him at the outskirts of the town.

By stressing the seriousness of the situation, he tried to talk them into joining the ranks of the underground. But the Germans acted according to a prearranged plan; Soon an order was issued saying that families willing to volunteer men to labor camps, will be allowed to stay in their homes. Thus the town was soon drained of its best youthful elements. They volunteered to labor camps thinking that their families were secure; Dolek Libeskind's plan was never taken into consideration.

I shall never forget how we met at Mielec street near the Judenrat, and when seated in the trucks sang Hebrew Zionist songs.

Zalman Storch became a big shot and an excellent smuggler. He had been a coachman before the War and during the early period of the German occupation went on carrying passengers in his covered coach to Tarnow. I remember two such vehicles; one belonged to Gruszczynski the Gentile – the other to Zalman the Jew. (Zalman was in partnership with Chaim Wolf Eisenberg who had fled to Russia when war broke out, so Zalman became the sole owner of the coach). He found out soon that carrying people was no business. One day Jechiel Brand, the son of Shielle Brand, asked Zalman why he wasn't carrying grain to Tarnow; Jechiel himself did not have permission to do so. Zalman agreed to carry the grain but named his price. He was as familiar with the route to Tarnow as with the contents of his own pockets. He knew exactly how to avoid the check-posts situated along the road. It worked perfectly and business flourished. But soon Zalman was fed up with sitting behind the horses, so Brand had to make him his partner. On the other hand Zalman was perfectly aware of Brand's capacity as a businessman so the partnership was a big success and both men got rich in a short period of time.

Later, Zalman did not have to avoid the posts; both the Poles and the Germans were bribed and co-operated Others who tried to do the same thing were lucky once or twice and then were caught red-handed. Their goods were confiscated and they had to run for their lives; often beaten cruelly. (After awhile they would not beat a Jew; instead they would shoot him or send him to a camp-camp). Nevertheless Jews kept on smuggling food to Tarnow because it paid well. The city of Tarnow consumed tons of flour, meat and eggs and Radomysl was one of the towns to provide those necessities. Since most provisions were sent to Tarnow, the prices of food in Radomysl went up. I had already mentioned that food was rationed there were ration-cards. Bread and sugar rations were hardly enough for one meal. The rest had to be obtained on the black market for a lot of money. Only those who were in business could afford black-market prices.

The German commander in Tarnow was the first in the "General-Government" to issue an order that Jews should wear an identification sign in the shape of an arm-band with a Mogen David on it. The band had to be worn on the left arm. Our authorities followed suit on a certain day in January 1940 one could see everybody wearing a white band with a Mogen David on top. Everywhere posters were posted warning the Jews that the crime of not wearing an arm-band would be severely punished; the lawbreaker would be sent to a concentration camp (It was the first time it was ever mentioned, No one knew what it was like).

Jewish women were given a new job: to make arm-bands and to keep them clean as they soiled easily. Handy businessman in Tarnow found a new way to earn money by making factory-made armbands in place of those that were sewn and embroidered at home. It was a different kind of band; the Mogen David would fade with every wash.

Jewish brains went to work again; there were new bands made of nylon. Nylon-bands needed no washing; they could be wiped with a damp cloth. There were all kinds of arm-bands; some were smaller other bigger. They differed in color and size so as to be less noticeable. Then the Germans got smart and announced officially that the arm-bands should be white in color and that they were to encircle the arm so as to be more noticeable. It was very uncomfortable for peddlers and merchants who went to Tarnow on business. Jewish travelers wearing arm-bands were searched more thoroughly than non- Jews. Sometimes, young men or grown-ups, who did not grow beards would risk going to Tarnow or to the country without an arm-band. When permit permits were no longer necessary, I would hire a cart or two for transporting the hardware goods, while I would be driving along on a bicycle. I would remove the arm-band as soon as I'd leave town. It was a dangerous game either way; if you were recognized without an arm-band on, it was very bad, if you wore one, it was worse. The Polish Police was more bothersome than the Germans.

During the first winter under German occupation, a new difficulty had to be faced; the shortage in coal. Coal was used for heating. Saul Betheil had too small a stock, and to have it brought from the outside was an impossibility since the Germans considered coal as war-product thereby causing its disappearance from the market. The purchase of lumber was forbidden because the Germans needed it. It was difficult to store up wood and let it dry out during the summer. Only the rich were able to obtain some wood, the poor stayed without. So it happened that the great majority of the people was left entirely without fuel.

One day, Josel came out with a new product; a stove fueled with sawdust. I wasn't sure whether the ironsmiths of Radomysl were the original inventors, nor did I care. What mattered was that it functioned well and gave off a lot of heat.

There was a sawmill near Radomysl that supplied the whole neighborhood with timber. Huge piles of unused sawdust were piled there. As sawdust stoves came into use, those piles of sawdust finally became useful. The stove was a round apparatus. It consisted of two tin containers; one enclosing the other. The inner container had a hole in the middle where sawdust was inserted The outer container was hermetically closed from all sides except where an outlet was made reaching into the chimney to let out the smoke. When one wanted to light the stove, one would pack the hole with sawdust (a stick was used for that purpose), then light a fire underneath. The fuel burned slowly but efficiently for many hours. One filling was enough for a whole day and radiated pleasant warmth into the late hours of the night.

The stove production was a success and ironsmiths made a good living. My late father supplied the tin from our hardware store. Later when tin was no longer available, old tin barrels were remolded, especially those that had contained carbon. Carbon was a wartime product in Radomysl. When kerosene was scarce a new type of lamps was produced; the lamps were fueled with carbon. Kerosene lamps had glass shades; carbon lamps did not. Mountaineers used carbon lamps; they gave off good light. But sometimes something went wrong and the lamp would smoke, stink and cause headaches. Once, my father brought a new lamp from Tarnow; it was hermetically closed and didn't smoke at all. The new lamps were sold quickly.

Those two wartime products; the carbon lamp and the sawdust-stove furnished the Jewish population with two important needs; light and heat.

The Germans took away the kerosene but brought enough carbon. Every home had a sawdust-stove. At first the mill-owners were glad to get rid of the sawdust that lay valueless in great heaps. Later on, when it was forbidden to fell trees, the amount of sawdust lessened and people had to pay more and more in order to obtain it. Even when the Germans ordered lumber from mills, prices stayed high. One would hire a large hay-wagon, gather the whole family and come to the mills. There he'd pack the wagon with sawdust while the other family members would press the sawdust so as to get even more packed in.

Often I would go to Ruda, the village where the mills were located, and purchase the stuff for the whole family. During the second and third year of the War, we had sawdust ready in stacks for the oncoming winter. After the evacuation of Radomysl large quantities of sawdust were left behind.

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Mutual Help

by Izik Leibowitz

A community kitchen where cheap meals were available for the needy was founded in Radomysl. It was opened seven days a week; and on holidays. (For Sabbath one had to buy coupons beforehand) With the arrival of the refugees, houses became overcrowded. Houses in Radomysl lacked running water installation and other sanitary facilities. The German authorities did not attempt to change the situation and so an epidemic of typhus broke out. Many people died. The plague took a deadly toll; whole families were wiped out; like the Fish family. Our townsmen did not give up; together they founded an organization by the name of T. O. Z. to combat the plague. It was headed by a female doctor, a refugee from Krakow, and Dr. Gawenda, an ex-Jew whom the Nazis refused to recognize as a Christian according to the Nuremberg Laws. Dr. Gawenda had been living in Mielec before and during the War came to live in Radomysl. Youths were organized for action.

A hospital was erected in the house that formerly belonged to Moshe Kriezer. It was located in a Christian uninhabited neighborhood. The Christians refuted to have typhus-stricken Jews in their neighborhood. The doctors, accompanied by the elderly "healer" Jacov Pelz, (deceased) visited the homes of the sick selecting those who needed hospitalization. It should be pointed out that Jacov Peltz was neither young nor healthy; disregarding his own condition, he extended a helping hand to stop the plague. The sick were taken out of their homes and transferred to the hospital. Thus they were isolated in order to prevent the disease from spreading.

A disinfecting-machine was purchased and houses of diseased persons were thoroughly disinfected. The patients received good medical care. They were fed nourishing meals cooked in private homes. The epidemic was stopped although there were no facilities nor institutional funds. The dedication of the people had won. Patients recovered and returned to their homes. We did not know then how fortunate were the dead. Though typhus ridden, they had died a natural death.

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Life in the German Hell

by Jehuda Laufbahn

Ever since the German takeover in 1939, it was like living on a volcano. It became more unbearable as time passed on. The first blow was launched on the exit of Yom-Kippur; SS bands raided the town hunting for Jewish males to be sent away to the concentration camp in Postkow. Those who found a hiding place were spared.

The second blow was launched on the anniversary of Grinshpan's assassination of the German attaché in Paris. The villains considered the occasion as a suitable time to take revenge. That was the day of martyrdom – Kidush Hashem – for Avigdor Keler and the Jewish "melamed" (religious instructor) Pinczevsky. He was killed while wearing the Tefilin.

The Judenrat made our lives even more "enjoyable"; we had to deliver all the fabrics we had in our possession. My mother was beaten mercilessly; I almost fainted watching it.

Then a selection began; The young and able were sent to a concentration camp for slave camp, the unfit along with the old and sick were taken to the Jewish Cemetery, ordered to dig a grave and shot. Thus the town of Radomysl met its "final solution". Camp life was beyond description, prisoners miserable without food, beaten constantly, suffered both physically and mentally.

Many were ready to be informers for the Gestapo hoping to save their own skins. The Judenrat served the Germans furnishing them with money, gold, furniture and slave camp.

Once a messenger of the "Akiva" Zionist movement came to Radomysl. It was Dolek Libeskind. His visit enlivened our hearts amidst misery and frustration. Unfortunately, he too had not been spared the Nazi butchers.

We kept asking ourselves over and over again: "Where s the world's conscience? Where is the influential American Jewry?" Alas, no help ever came.

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The Killings

by Jacob Blas

It was a Tuesday – the market day in our town – when suddenly I noticed frightened Jews scurrying away trying to hide themselves. I had no idea what was happening; a few Polish youngsters, headed by Leon Jaszcz, hid me among them and thus brought me near Joseph Hand's bakery. There I saw Avigdor Keler, the son of Reuben Keler, tied up to a tree his arms spread cross-like resembling Jesus-Christ when crucified by the Romans. A Gestapo aimed his rifle and shot him while two S.S. men held his mother forcing her head up so she could see her son being executed.

Pintche Gross was shot while standing in prayer by the window wrapped in his Talit; another victim was Avigdor Pinczewski.

And again another time, on a Tuesday, I was walking in the street, Suddenly there was panic, people were fleeing. I looked on; Jecheskel Eisland was running pursued by Germans. They shot him near Shmuel Leibowitz's fence. I found out who had informed the Germans, but I was told not to take revenge. I witnessed another killing; It was that of Berl Lifshitz, who had been staying in the Blumenkrantz house on Dolce street near the school. Once, meat, of a slaughtered cow, was discovered in a well that belonged to Israel Salomon. The Germans beat him trying to find out who were the owners of the meat. When he was about to die, they left. A few minutes later, another troop of German Police came by. They demanded to know who beat him up. Israel was scared to tell them so they gave him another beating. Passing near the Judenrat, located in the house of Edek Wolinski, I heard someone screaming: The Gestapo had entered the house and was beating the secretary, Rosenzweig.

During the week preceding the evacuation of all Jews, we were visited by the mayor Kalita. The mayor told my father that he had been given an order to prepare a few hundred carts for the removal of the Jews.

We contacted at once our uncle in Polaniec and a coach was sent for; we sent away mother, our aunt and her son and daughter. On Saturday morning people began fleeing to Tarnow, but they were stopped and sent back by German patrols. I left Radomysl in the evening through the forest to the village Dombia, where I had sent my wife's family on Friday night. I went along with a couple of Polish youngsters from the underground that worked in the neighborhood.

On Sunday the Poles had already told us that the Jews were removed; some were slaughtered, others were taken to the camp of Dembica.

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The Beginning of the End

by Rafael Alony (Eisig)

A regular morning in the town. Children carry "Chaloth" to the bakery; Jews return from the "Shacharit" prayer at the Beit-Hakneset. Everything goes on as usual.

Though, there is some tension in the air. An incessant droning is heard but none realizes that these are German squadrons streaking the peaceful skies of Poland to spread death and destruction.

The radio announces that the German army has penetrated Poland but this is being received calmly and without the acknowledgment of a nearing end.

In the afternoon Jews gather in the streets discussing war developments. Yet, Shabbat is being greeted in the usual manner; the dipping in the Mikveh, the smell of traditional cooking. No one is aware of the growing dangers. In short intervals the Polish radio broadcasts patriotic slogans, telling about heroic battles of the cavalierly regiments. But at the same time the German army modernly equipped, penetrates into the depth of the Polish hinterland through Silesia. The first towns surrender one by one and the exodus of Jews begins. Thousands of penniless Jewish refugees leave behind the property they have worked so hard to earn.

Strange as it is, on the first day of the war Jews of Radomysl sleep restfully.

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The German Take-over

On a Friday, September 8th, 1939 remnants of the Polish army left Radomysl hastily and disorderly; the way a beaten army retreats. Here and there some shots tore the air. The Jewish population was shut up behind bolted doors, the stores all closed up. The town was like a graveyard. A quiet Polish (Jewish) sergeant drove out people still in the streets telling them that the Nazi enemy will enter town any minute.

I shall never forget the moment when the first German patrol appeared riding on motorcycles. It was quiet like before a storm. I was a boy 13 years old but still I understood or rather felt that at that moment something changed drastically. A period of time was gone never to return again. But who could imagine that the coming days would be so bitter to the point of total extermination.

One picture taken from the take-over Friday is imprinted in my memory. Our big family was gathered in my late grandfather's house. I was sent out to have a look what was going on in the street and there was Szymon Leib Strum, a neighbor of ours, standing coatless, with his hands up and his Talit Katan showing, while two soldiers pointed their rifles at him. The sight of a lonely helpless Jew at the mercy of two soldiers on the background of a dead deserted town has not left me ever since. That introduced me at once into a new reality; just hours ago free men and now death your steady companion.

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The Liquidation of Radomysl

by Moshe Reiner

I was among the very few to witness the liquidation of Radomysl. It was Sabbath, the fourth of Av. As there was an unusual amount of traffic of S.S. men and other police units, one could guess that something was about to happen. Interceders were sent to the Gestapo, but the latter tried to erase suspicion. No one was fooled; it was too obvious. At sundown, the Gestapo proposed that a contribution of half a million Zloty be paid for settling matters. Many people refused to believe that a settlement could be reached and hastened to report to the camp-camp in Mielec, the factories of the C. O. P.

The night passed without disturbance. On Sunday morning Polish policemen accompanied by SS men began to circulate about ordering everybody to go out to the marketplace. Those who would disobey would be shot. Cars prepared for use in the "action" began arriving from the countryside. Old and young poured into the market square which was surrounded by carts. In half an hour the place was packed with people. SS men and policemen moved through the crowds robbing people of their belongings and suitcases. Scattered shots were heard from the direction of the houses then screams and shouts of human beings.

We remained standing in the market square until 1.30 P. M. when suddenly they fell upon us with their rifle butts. While being beaten we were ordered to let go of the suitcases. Nothing could be taken along. The selection began…

First the elderly people (some of them not so old), about 700 of them, were pushed into the carts. They were taken through Szkolna Str. in the direction of the Jewish cemetery. The others were put on the remaining carts and went through Tarnowska Str. The Gentiles, known Jew-haters, stood applauding joyously as we passed. The "action" had lasted 1 and 1/2 hours.

We were brought to Dembica where we found thousands of Jews from Sendziszow, Ropczyce, Mielec and other places. We were ordered to sit down in an open field. It was night of the fifth of the month of Av. One could guess what had befallen those that were taken to Beth-Olam (Jewish Cemetery), but no precise information was available.

On Sunday night, SS men and all kinds of murderers were moving about beating everybody cruelly. At dawn most of us were barely alive.

On Monday morning there was a new game to be played through; they gathered the whole lot of us for another selection. Some were directed to one side, others to the opposite side, some remained seated. By sheer accident I was in the last group that stayed behind. And again the cruel beating was repeated; some people were carted away to the Beth-Olam, others were packed into a train and were held there for a whole day. Some tried to bribe themselves out, some proposed a contribution, but nothing worked; they were carried away.

Those who stayed behind, I among them, were exposed again to blackmail; The Germans demanded money and jewelry. They simply went around with bags; which we saw gradually filling with money.

We were very interested in obtaining information about the people that had left by train and those who were left in Dembica. A paid messenger followed the Jews that were on the train and returned with the necessary information; it was disheartening; they were taken to Belzetz the well-known extermination camp. I stayed in Dembica for another couple of months. Every few weeks there was another selection in which people were chosen and sent on their last trip to Belzetz.

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After the Liquidation

by Israel Hauser

The Tuesday following the "big action", my family and I arrived in Radomysl. We were brought to the police station and the policeman Gorecki said to me: "Where were you on Sunday? All your comrades have gone up to Heaven. You'll be told later what we'll do with you".

I was put behind bars in the local prison. The guard that opened the gates hit me with a batch of keys on my back.

On Thursday, we were taken out and split into groups; the elderly people were taken aside. With us were Laizer Koch and Shimon Gross; both were taken aside. Gross, the butcher, carried along a few Torah books wrapped in a cloth. A German officer approached him inquiring about the bundle he carried, "We use it for our prayers", said Gross. The officer's answer was: "If you like it so much, you can take it along with you!" Then they were put on carts and taken to the Beth-Olam.

We were eighty people, among us women and children. They sent us to Sendziszow with two Polish policemen: Strzempka. and Gorecki. While on our way, I managed to escape and turned back to the village Wilow. There I stayed for several weeks. Another Jew arrived in the village, from Mielec camp. He lodged with Petruszka the caretaker. It was Mendel Honig's brother in-law. Since night had fallen, Petruszka fed him and told him to sleep in the barn. The Jew had a golden watch and chain, so the "Goy" said: "This, you leave for me!" Later he went to the head of the village and reported the Jew to him. He told him that a "Zyd" was hiding in his house and should be transferred to police headquarters.

On the morning of the following day, the Jew was taken away to Przeclaw and the watch remained with the Goy.

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We hide with friendly Peasants

by Wolf Einspruch

It was already midnight when we got there. I knocked on the window and the door swung open; my brother-in-law remained outside.

The peasant unrolled the story about the day our town Radomysl was liquidated; how the police had driven the people out of their homes to the market square, how after the selection the elderly and the infants were carted into carts and taken to Dembica. There they were kept behind barbed wire for three days with their scant belongings: 2 kg. of bread, no more, one pillow and one towel.

After my old acquaintance, Kiljan the peasant, concluded the story about the bitter end of Radomysl Wielki, he asked: "Would you like to have something to eat?" Yes", I said, "but my brother-in-law is outside'' He invited him in. When we finished eating, Kiljan turned to me: "You could stay with me", he said. "What can I do with my brother-in-law?" I inquired. "Him, send to the farmers he knows".

I refused to part from my brother-in-law and at last Kiljan agreed: "You may stay with us, but my wife should not know about him!" (pointing to my bother-in-law). He led us into the barn where we burrowed a hole in the straw 2 meters deep. There we spent about three months; during the day we would hide in a little wood nearby, at dusk we would return, eat and sleep in the barn.

During Sukkoth (Feast of Tabernacles), my brother-in-law refused to eat outside the traditional Sukka, so we built one in the forest and ate there. While sitting in the Sukka, we were discovered by two young Christians whom I happened to know. I did not like the way they looked at us. They wanted cigarettes, but we did not have any so they said good-bye and departed. I told my brother-in-law that we should leave the place and move further away

On the following morning at nine o'clock, policemen visited our Sukka. Not finding us there, they continued to search the forest. I suggested that we, my brother-in-law and I, lie down on the ground and recite Psalms; the psalms King David said when in great peril. They passed five or six meters from us, a big hound was running in front of them. We saw their boots as one of them fired his revolver in the air to scare us. My brother-in. law wanted to run but I stopped him.

Surely it was God's hand that had blindfolded them all. For the following fourteen days We stayed away from the forest in the farmer's barn.

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In the Woods

by Israel Klein

I found refuge in the forest of the Little Dulcza where I stayed hidden for two days without seeing a living soul I fed on forest fruit and whatever else I managed to find. After two days, when darkness fell, I left the forest in search of food. I visited farmers who were old acquaintances of ours. They had known me well, and from them I learned about the violence and the killings that had taken place in Radomysl; how the elderly were slaughtered in the Jewish Cemetery. The peasants threw me out of their homes and threatened me with the Gestapo if I dared come back. So I went to the forest hungry and desperate wishing I were dead. Going back to my family was out of question.

Life enforced the need to survive, so at night I used to creep into peasants' houses and steal food. There were peasants who were kind enough to show me the way, but some evil-hearted ones had caught me and almost stripped me naked. Thus I reached the Vistula and had to face the problem of crossing without getting caught by the German patrols who were guarding the banks. Luck was kind to me once more; at night I approached one of the houses by the river. I begged the peasant to help me with the crossing. Seeing the shabbiness of my appearance, the hungry almost desperate look on my face, he asked me how much I could pay him. I told him that I was penniless and begged him to save my life. The peasant had taken pity on me; he fed me and on the same night I was transferred to the other side. He gave me instructions.

Finally I reached Polaniec where I found several old inhabitants of Radomysl, my hometown, who offered me some help. For the following three months I lived in a state of semi starvation. Having developed the ability to smell danger, I felt the approaching end of the town, so I decided to return to the forest of the Little Dulcza. It was very difficult to do so. Luckily I overheard two people from Radomysl planning to go there, so I joined them against their wish. They were afraid that I may become burdensome. We walked for a few days, this time it was easier since they had money. We reached the forest and remained there for a few days. One night they suggested that I wait for them while they look for food in a near-by village. I refused to remain behind and so I followed their tracks to the village of Yamvs. They entered one of the houses and I stood outside waiting till dawn. When they didn't show up I understood that I had to go back by myself. Fortunately it was the end of summer and there were plenty of vegetables and fruit in the fields. At night I'd go to the fields and relieve my hunger.

My conditions worsened as winter approached. I suffered from the cold since my clothes were in a very poor shape, what's more the Germans were hunting down Jewish fugitives in the forests. Later I happened to find out that there were 150 Jews in the forest. Almost all of them were captured and some were shot and buried by the peasants.

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Life in the Forests

by Jochanan Amsterdam

On our farm work went as usual. We would deliver a certain quota of wheat, rye, fruit, meat, etc. Yes, sometimes we had to buy wheat on the black market to fill the quota. We were, of course, at the top of the quota-list. Thus we kept the farm going and stayed in our home.

In the year 1941, the Germans began confiscating Jewish farms and sent the people into the ghettos. We lived in constant fear. Trouble began in the Mielec region while our farm was in the Dombrowa region that hadn't been touched yet. The farm I was in charge of in the Mielec region, the one that had belonged to my grandfather Eliezer Amsterdam, had long since been taken over by a Ukrainian.

In July 1941, an order was issued to the Jews in the Mielec region: every Jew should leave the village immediately and report to the Gestapo in Radomysl. One week later, when harvesting had just began, a carriage driven by two horses appeared and in the carriage were Yarosh, the head of the Dulcze region, accompanied by two Germans. As usual, the parents hid themselves at once while the rest continued with their regular chores. The first order was for all to assemble, we did. The next to pack and leave within 24 hours. We were allowed to take all we owned except the livestock.

After seeing the fruit-garden, Yarosh promised that we would get a horse if the fruit remained untouched till the following morning. We returned to the house and offered the search party all the gold, the silver and the family jewelry. The two Germans were very demanding. My late mother handed over all our "treasures" packed in a bundle They grabbed it and left promptly.

Then panic broke out. The "goyim" gathered around; some to help, others to steal. We hitched the horses to the wagon and piled our belongings. Within 24 hours the confusion seemed to grow since we didn't know where to go. Finally we decided to go to Radwan where my married brother, Abraham, lived on a ranch owned by Strouse, seven kilometers away. Brother Nisan, my sister Mindel and myself, rented a room in a peasant house in the village Malec.

In May 1942, our landlord informed us about being summoned to the head of the village and told to get rid of the Jews or the Germans would "take care of him". At night we left the place and went to Radwan. I reported to work in one of Dobrovolski's ranches. After having worked there for a month, among other Jews, I felt the work was purposeless, so I returned to Malec and made contact with Izik who suggested that I go to the forest. He promised to acquire weapons and other necessary help. "Just don't let yourself be taken like sheep to the slaughter", he said. For two weeks I'd hide in peasants farms without their knowledge, leaving only under cover of darkness. I'd prepare food and carry it to Radwan. Often I'd meet Izik and on one occasion was given a rifle with 200 bullets. Being armed gave me a feeling of strength and security. Some people in that area must have seen us together. They gave us away to the Germans.

The campfire when approached could be seen from quite a distance. I approached it quietly and caught those seated around the fire by surprise. There was a second fire not far away. Immediately people sprung to their feet, Shye Zinger in the lead. As usual, everybody was anxious to know how many were with me, who were they and our whereabouts. I tried my best as information and warning goes, but I did not give away my hiding place. A few minutes later I asked Shye to step aside so we could talk, but first I advised him to split the group into smaller units since it was dangerous for so many people to assemble in one place. We left the group at some distance and sat down to discuss matters. Being an ex-soldier of the Polish Army, he knew how to handle weapons, but he didn't have the slightest idea how to lead the group of men, women and children that weren't acquainted with the ways of the forest. For instance, a well-trodden path led from the forest's edge to their camp that could easily give them away, or the sound of broken twigs when gathered for the fire. I told him: "Look, Shye, you won't survive for long this way. First of all, you must learn and teach the ten commandments of life in the forest.
  1. You must immediately penetrate into the depth of the forest and have your people take turns in guarding the camp.
  2. Fuel for fires should be prepared in the bunker in order to avoid being audible.
  3. Dig pits for sanitary purposes lest the odors give you away.
  4. Do not wander in the forest during the daytime, nor in the villages.
  5. Warn the people not to steal from the peasants' fields, since they will be the first to give you away.
  6. Dig small well-camouflaged bunkers for use in case of danger.
  7. Do rot reveal the location of your hiding place to any at your friends outside the forest.
  8. Never use weapon to threaten, only in self defense.
  9. Exercise harsh discipline on your people; talk to them and explain the seriousness of the situation.
  10. Keep your people clean, soap is as important as bread. Fortunately you have plenty of water. Health is most important and should be given special consideration.
Shye took my advice rather seriously, but he had doubts as to the possibility of imposing immediate discipline on his men. Although I proved to him how dangerously exposed his group was, he was not ready to put my advice into practice. Thus, we parted.

I went back to my group and told them about the meeting; told them about the Zinger people. They were surprised – scared too.

At the beginning, each group lived on its own provisions from back home. Each group had its own "goy" who provided bread and other foods. As time went on, there was nothing left. Some people began suffering hunger, especially those who were strangers in the neighborhood and did not have any contacts. Clothes and shoes were most important since people exchanged them for food. They'd give away their shirts for a loaf of bread, and so they were left with very little to wear. I noticed the lack of spirit in some groups and so decided to act. I called for a meeting of those in charge of each group. It was decided that people should not leave the forest individually in search of food, but instead a group would be assigned for that purpose. When one of my people wrecked a potato-patch, I went over at once that very night and paid the damages and more, just so the owner would keep quiet. I promised that it will never happen again.

In order to get food, I organized the youngsters. We'd go through the potato fields of a ranch, 8 – 10 km. away, and carry back about 20 kg. each. Everyone was given an equal share. The same rule applied to meat, salt, fat and even dry wood for cooking. Dry wood was difficult to get during the winter. With time, everybody grew accustomed to communal fife and discipline.

In Mielec all of us reported as trained craftsmen and were put to work at the aircraft plant, previously erected by the Poles under the name C. O. P. (Central Industrial Region).

At first conditions in the camp were bearable. We could correspond with our homes and get food parcels.

The fifth of Av (July) 1942, marked the day of doom for Radomysl's Jewish community. Hundreds of Jews that could bribe their way out of the Inferno, arrived at our camp. From them we learned the bitter truth; the horrible fate that had begotten our poor families. On that very day, Jewish Radomysl stopped to exist.

After that, life in camp took on a new course; new, tougher methods were put into use by the Germans. Besides the regular working hours in the factories, they forced us to do all sorts of hard labor jobs. They knew that we had no place to flee to, as we had lost our parents and relatives. Besides, we did not get any food parcels from outside.

The Jewish Militia, together with our own leadership, have lost all resemblance to mankind. They have served their master's murderous purposes "honestly" indeed!

Summer 1944. With the advancing of the Russian front, one could see signs of German defeat. But for us, Jews in labor camps, that was a dangerous time; What we had gone through was nothing in comparison with the humiliation and suffering that was still ahead. They dragged us to Plaszow, and from there to a huge concentration camp located in Lower Silesia – "Gross Rosen".

On our arrival, they made us undress, and totally naked we were driven to and fro during the whole night. Later, I found out that the Germans did not know what to do with us; either send us straight to the gas chambers, or wait. The whole camp breathed of brutality, cruelty and crimatoria. Luckily, after eight days, I was transferred to the labor camp in Reichenbach, so-called "sport school".

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Better without a Bunker

by Hana Wasserstrum

During the Passover of 1943, we remained hidden in the woods. While sitting in our bunker, a strange noise was heard, then shooting. I left the bunker with my children and began to flee. We ran into a German soldier who aimed his rifle and shot my eldest daughter in the leg. She ran into the thick parts in order to bandage her wound, but the Germans followed behind, their hounds tearing at her body.

Her body was torn into shreds. Another bullet hit my second daughter killing her on the spot. My third one escaped and found cover under a tree; later she went to the Parkashes.

After the massacre we headed back to the bunker. It was burnt down. Pinchas Feit and his daughter were taken out and executed.

The same evening a peasant brought the news that our daughter, Gralitzer and wife, also Naftali and his wife, have escaped death and were with the Parkashes.

Digging a new bunker was useless as there was no place in the whole forest to shield us. It was summer and a bunker wasn't so essential. Being in the open area enabled us to familiarize ourselves with our surroundings, but it was very difficult to find food. We had some hidden provisions, but the peasants refused to give it back, so we had to manage with one meal a day. There were signs of undernourishment; the grown-ups suffered from an illness called "dog blindness'; they couldn't see at night.

The forest wasn't safe anymore. It was dangerous to be seen in broad daylight.

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We escape from the Camp

by Avrum Hirsh

In 1940 we were driven from the countryside to Radomysl. Our possessions were left behind and given to a gentile from Czermin from Mielec.

In Radomysl we were to occupy one room with Moshe Sofer in which seven people had to dwell.

Soon afterwards they began with their nightly "manhunt". One evening, at about seven o'clock, some local gendarmes entered our room and took me with them. Along were taken many Jewish males. They locked us in a little shack near the Greens on Mielecka street.

Next morning they drove us to Mielec labor camp constructed around the aircraft-plant. I joined a unit that was to build airplanes.

With the deportation of the town Radomysl, many arrived in our camp. The rest of the deported were put to death. My mother, about seventy years old, fled to the Tarnow ghetto; two brothers of mine, David and Baruch, found refuge in the forests of Pszetybor. My sister, her husband and their children, were sent to Dombrowa, never to be heard from since.

Soon after, I fell ill. Food was insufficient and the work was hard. I had to get up at 5 o'clock in the morning with a swollen cheek caused by an infected tooth and fever Of 390 degrees C. I could hardly stand on my feet, so I went to Pelerovsky our superintendent and asked to be allowed to stay away from work. He took me to a faucet, ordered me to undress (It was wintertime), and splashed icy water at me. While splashing he inquired whether I was still running a fever.

Two months later, Leibish Wadler, Eli Koni from Kindzielki and I, decided to escape. We didn't care whether we were caught in the act since we did not believe that there was a possibility of survival. But we were unable to stand the present conditions any longer.

Once, at night, while on a night shift, all three of us met. We leaped over the wall, 2 1/2 meters high and made our escape.

It was around 9 o'clock when we set out, walking wherever our feet carried us. We weren't acquainted with the road, so we arrived at the Wisloka river. Fortunately the water was low and easy to cross. Eli Koni went to his own neighborhood. Wadler Leibish and I went to Zdziarzec.

In the morning we met a peasant, Wialenge, who fed us and hid us in the attic. From morning till night, we weren't able to satisfy our hunger. At night, he told us to go away. We hid in the forest. There I met my two brothers, David and Baruch, who lodged with a poor gentile woman. A few days later, my mother arrived from the Tarnow ghetto and Wadler's mother arrived from the Dombrowa ghetto. Altogether there were six people living in the attic. At night David and I went to look for food. My mother refused to stay in the attic. When Sabbath arrived she said: "Children, we shouldn't stay here, we cannot light the Sabbath candles and there is no Sabbath atmosphere." In the ghetto we could keep the Sabbath and were free to do whatever we wanted.

We heard that the town of Polaniec was not evacuated. We hired a peasant and paid him well. He hitched his horse to a wagon and smuggled us to the Vistula. There we sat shivering in the swamps from morning till night. Then we were brought to Polaniec.

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Plashow, Bergen-Belsen, Sweden

by Haja Garen Rozenblat (now Levi)

After three weeks in Tarnow we were shipped to the Montelupich prison in Krakow. We stayed there only six days. There were many Jews in the prison, quite a few of them had gentile certificates. We were all held in the same large room.
A week later we were moved to Plashow, between Krakow and Tarnow.

There was a concentration camp in Plashow at the time.We were told that we would now be taken to work. A "welcoming committee" was waiting for us at the camp; they lined us all up – more than sixty Jewish men, women and infants. Then we found out that we were not to be kept alive or taken to work: only a dozen youths or so were pulled out of the line. The rest were taken to the mountain near the camp; the notorious mountain where thousands had already lost their lives. About two o'clock we saw a huge fire blazing – it went on burning hours. Later we heard shots. After more short while the bodies of the people they had murdered, slaughtered were burnt down.

That same day on the mountain were shot: Hershel Green, the son of Yankel Green, and his seven-year-old son, the daughter-in-law of Idel Amsterdamer from Mielec and her grandchild, my cousin from Krakow, the daughter of Jacob Salomon and with her daughter and grandson, the wife of Gralitzer and her brother (their family name Spatz); They were all from Dulcza and the surrounding area; later they had lived in Radomysl.

From among the people of Radomysl chosen to live were: the wife of the butcher, the daughter of Moshe Shenker – a girl of 23 – and I. We were looked upon as very lucky girls, all the Jews that were captured and brought to Plashow were taken to the mountain. It happened in the last days of December, 1944 – six months after my husband was killed and I remained alive against my will.

The time I spent in Plaszow was most torturous: The work was hard, the food scarce and foul-tasting. I was constantly starved – and sick, waiting for the moment when I would be picked for execution or that death would come in some other way. But we were guarded day and night, it was even impossible to commit suicide.

But our period of suffering was short-lived only three weeks. By the end of January, 1945, the Russians were drawing nearer. They would enter Krakow either today or tomorrow. The Germans evacuated us as quickly as possible. At 5 P.M., January 18th, we were told to gather our belongings and immediately afterwards were marched out of the camp. They could not transport us by train, since the line to Germany had been disconnected. We were led through Oswiecim, Bielsko and Bytom in Silesia, to Bergen-Belsen; a most notorious place. We walked all the 600 kilometers between Plaszow and Bergen-Belsen.

We were forced to march 50 kilometers a day, beaten and pressed onwards for fourteen days. We were allowed to rest a few hours at night. Hundreds of youths fell or fainted and were immediately shot. Those who lagged behind received the same treatment.

After fourteen days of marching, we arrived at Bergen-Belsen – only 40% of the people who had originally begun to march. It would be more proper to tell of this march in greater detail, but I am afraid I haven't the talent, nor do I have the strength to describe the long row of starving people, freezing in the cold, dragging their swollen legs in a last effort on that terrible road.

When I recall now that march, I cannot grasp how we were able to withstand so much. Even more unbelievable is the fact that all of us who remained alive were sick soul and body; completely broken and no longer sensitive to our surroundings.

When we finally arrived at Bergen-Belsen, we were shocked, astounded! We saw – everyone of us – walking skeletons, human beings with the only smallest glimmer of life still left on their faces. Our group was led immediately to the washrooms; there we were left standing in line for 24 hours. Only the next day we got a little food – a loaf of bread weighing 1 1/2 kilograms for seven mouths. If that one loaf of bread fell into the hands of an honest person – all seven got their equal share. But it often happened that the person the bread was given to ran away with it. There was no one we could turn to. No law existed. There were times when the prisoners were forced to quarrel with some Russians over a little beet soup. I had no talent for that. We slept on a dirty bug infested floor, and even then we had to fight over sleeping space.

Eight hundred persons were crowded into a cabin that should have held fifty. You can just imagine what went on.

The British arrived on May. When they entered the camp, I was very sick, struggling with death. During the first days of the British stay, hundreds of people kept on dying. I was slowly recovering my strength. Most of the sick were transported to the hospital in Belsen. My life was saved there.

When the sick began to recuperate, they were taken to Sweden. I was also brought among them. Only then did I fully recover.

During my last days in Bergen-Belsen I did not taste any bread. Once a day we were given some cold soup and quite often not even that. No wonder I got typhoid and diarrhea and had a temperature of 40 degrees C. Actually, I quite don't know how I remained alive at all. Maybe I was lucky – I really don't know.

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