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[Page 154]

The Wretched Cry

by Genia Brandschaft

Translated by Renee Miller

Edited by Fay Bussgang

I will never forget that dark day of May 15, 1942, in our town Brzezin. On that day, when it was spring everywhere else in the entire world, a heavy cloud descended over our heads. Hitler's murderers had issued the evil decree that mothers who had children younger than ten years old must report to the marketplace. The well-known “curse” that meant “go to the slaughter” had begun . . .

But at the gathering place itself, it was the most horrible. The Nazi beasts began to tear away the mothers from their children and the children from their mothers. Even now, the wretched crying of the children resounds in my ears, the heartrending cries of fathers and mothers. And above all, I hear the cry of lament of my own child, my little daughter. . . . Those voices will continue to ring in my ears as long as I live.

I gathered up my courage, I ran up to a Nazi and tried to beg him to take me with my child. But instead of an answer, he began to beat me with his horse whip, all over my entire body, until I fell unconscious in a pool of blood. Until today, I have the wounds all over my body as a “reminder” of that day in our town Brzezin.

And after that we shared the tragic fate of our brothers and sisters in the destruction. The Lodz ghetto, hunger, humiliation, suffering. . . . And after that came the road to Auschwitz––undress yourself naked . . . shaved heads . . . the gas-chamber and the crematorium. Who can even describe those horror scenes? Who is able even to recount them? How can you write about the separation from your husband, from those near and dear?

But in my old days and nights, as for many of our people, one feeling and one desire was dominant––REVENGE! To take revenge for the murder of our fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, and REVENGE for the spilled blood of our children!!!

I do not know by what miracle or through what kind of merit I remained among those who lived. Perhaps only for the reason that I should actually live to see the longed-for revenge. I should see the end of Hitler and his band, and I should have the rare honor to live to see the birth of the Jewish medine [state] . . .and great was my feeling of revenge when I lived to see the punishment in the Jewish medine of the bestial murderer Adolf Eichmann [may his name be erased].


In the Tragic Years

by Rebecca Tajczer

Translated by Renee Miller

Edited by Fay Bussgang

In the worst times, when I struggled between life and death, the thought was always dominant–– the hour of revenge must come; we should be able to take revenge on the murderers for our pain and suffering, for our brothers and sisters who were so tragically and brutally murdered . . .

Yes, twenty years have sped by since that tragic era, but the wound has remained painful and fresh; the entire horror stands clearly before my eyes. A deep wound will remain engraved and seared in my memory, in my heart, that will follow me until the end of my days. I will never forget it, nor forgive it! . . .

When I was in Oswiecim [Auschwitz], in those terrible times, I thought that if it were to be my fate to survive the horrors of the war, I would take a vow never again to walk on the accursed Polish earth. And so it was. In 1946 we left Poland. We set out illegally with the aim of going to Israel.

In 1947 we were on the ship “Exodus.” Once again we lived through terrible, painful days and nights. My husband and I and my only child, who unknowingly was already a fighter, a soldier for Medines Isroel [Land of Israel]. Alas, to my great sorrow, my child could not survive the difficult journey and died prematurely en route during the perilous trip to Israel. My child was born on the fourth of September in the year 1947 and died the twentieth of September of the same year . . .An innocent victim of that tragic epoch . . .another wound in a mother's heart that will remain engraved in memory until the end of her days. . . .

 

brz154.jpg -   A memorial gathering of 'landslayt'
A memorial gathering of landslayt [fellow townsmen] in Israel,
held in the meeting hall, of Shikun Brzezin [Brzezin housing project]

 


[Page 155]

Matseyve (Gravestone) in Bergen-Belsen

by Rebecca Tajczer

Translated by Renee Miller

Edited by Fay Bussgang

To the memory of the victims of our town On the twenty-seventh of July, 1947 (Tishebov), the unveiling of a memorial as a remembrance of the Brzeziner martyrs took place in Bergen-Belsen, Camp One, at the site where the crematorium stood, where Jewish lives were brutally extinguished––among them our own dear ones from Brzezin.

Landslayt [fellow townsmen] from all over came to the memorial gathering. The landslayt in America, on this occasion of the fifth yortsayt [anniversary] of the liquidation of the Brzeziner ghetto, sent the following telegram:

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

On this anniversary day of our great annihilation, we are together with you, immersed in deep sorrow. Let us with combined strength help to rebuild the life of the survivors and give honor to our fallen heroes. Undertake this with courage, and may your hearts be strengthened to meet the tomorrow that will shine over our people and also our own land.

We are with you!

For the landslayt in America,

Jacob-David Berg, Jozef Diamond, and Fishel Maliniak


[Page 156]

The Brzeziner Jewish Community
During the Time of the Ghetto

by Rebecca Hendler-Gocial

Translated by Renee Miller

Edited by Fay Bussgang

The activity of the Jewish gmina [community] in the time of the ghetto years 1940–42 was, in general, different from the normal activity of the Jewish community before the war.

Because of the unusually difficult situation that Polish Jewry found itself in, also in the spiritual realm, all religious activities unfortunately ceased.

The gmina served only to carry out administrative functions. Under its supervision the following offices operated: 1) the finance department, 2) the housing office, 3) the provisions office, 4) the post office, 5) the clothing manufacturing committee, 6) the court, 7) social welfare––the hospital, the police, and other offices.

The chairman (Judenaltester), Fiszke Ikka, was not selected by the kehile [Jewish community] but picked by the Germans.

The work of the secretary, Abraham Szafman, z”l [may his memory be blessed], was very difficult. Very often he was forced to provide various statistical lists for the German authorities. Once it was a work list––to send people away to a camp, another time, a list of smugglers, and later, lists of small children and the elderly, and so forth. It was quite evident that the lists were not accurate, but they could not conceal everything.

The housing office, under the leadership of Icchok Dymant, z”l, began its activity with the establishment of the Jewish ghetto. After that, as a greater number of Jews were forced to leave their homes and locate within the ghetto area, the housing office saw to it that no one remained homeless.

The provisions office, in which Tobiasz Krawiecki, z”l, worked, was concerned with giving out the limited supply of products and clothing distributed in the cooperative under the leadership of Ezriel Eksztajn. Only bread rations were distributed by the bakers. No other businesses existed.

As a former member, I can accurately describe all that pertains to the manufacturing committee. Its operational work was carried out by Fiszel Dymant and Izrael Triber, z”l. The committee was concerned with all kinds of production that was connected with manufacturing work. It created tailor shops in which thirty to thirty-five workers were employed. They also calculated the prices for the masters, apprentices, and hand-stitchers, according to their work qualifications, and also set the rates for machine buttonholes and hand-made buttonholes.

Later, the manufacturing committee also created a shop to make netting, in which children aged nine to ten were employed, to protect them from being sent away.

In addition to that, the committee also resolved different conflicts that occurred between the workers and the masters and dealt with the appropriate distribution of work to buttonhole makers and women hand-buttonhole makers.

As is known, the town was saved by a miracle from liquidation, until May 1942, because of the manufacturing work for the German armies in which approximately ninety percent of the Jewish population was employed.

Among the statistics listing the wages earned through that very committee were included names of children, in order, in this way, to avoid paying the head tax, which was calculated in accordance with earnings, and at the same time to show a larger number of those employed.

In comparison to other ghettos, life in the Brzeziny ghetto was not the worst.

However, the situation became very bad several months before its liquidation in 1942. Little by little, production began to stop. Then the committee began to distribute funds to the unemployed. When a little work came in, they distributed fewer funds. During the last weeks, however, the work stopped altogether. Every week the committee distributed funds to the needy tailors, which were virtually their only income. However, this improved the situation very little, since, at the same time, the ghetto was more closely guarded, and it was not possible to smuggle in food; so hunger began to reign in the ghetto.

In the social welfare group, the wife of Doctor Warhaft worked as honorary chairperson, along with Ezriel Gotlib, z”l, and carried out her activity as best she could. She helped the sick, widows with small children, and so forth. She also established a people's kitchen, where the needy got soup daily without having to pay.

Because of the difficult housing situation, various conflicts also arose in the ghetto, and so once a week trials were held. The judge was Icek Dymant, z”l.

In order to make it easier for workers to receive their weekly wages, ten people were employed by the community to go around distributing the payments. Working in this capacity were Nechama Szajnberg, Jakob Maroko, Raszewski, Jozef Pas, z”l, and others whose names I cannot recall.

No cultural activities existed in the ghetto, since they were not permitted.

The Germans only needed the great production, and when the work stopped, their curses and murderous evil decrees began.

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