[Pages 292-293]

Binyamin Tene

Childhood

(from the book Songs and Poems)


Childhood was a rectangle of bright light,
A column of golden dust spinning in the air,
And a flower of frost blooming in the windows,
And a long cry of leaking rain.
The clock's ticking at night
And many fears of dark corners.

Childhood was a mother's soft neck,
Shelter from fear and thundering storms,
Childhood was her songs without words,
Played somewhere in her heart without sound.
Mercy to the naked bird that froze,
Which we buried in the winter garden.

And weep on Joseph in the Midianite caravan,
And Zahal [IDF] he will do it again!
And laughter on Bil'am who wanted to curse:
But from his mouth he uttered a blessing!
Childhood was also want and hunger,
Father's prayer on long nights.

Cries on the Shechina wandering in the Diaspora
On empty houses humming with poverty,
On disaster and ruins from old days,
And the rage on the face of the coming day,
His voice went on in dirge and song –
Childhood that knows agony and longing.

Set in childhood as a rising sun,
Was the great hand of the mighty God.
Spoke to him Father face to face
Whenever sons were lacking of health.
Pleaded, flattered – his brow in clouds
Then slowly shown, for he knew he won.

Childhood was heart in song,
Laughter and tears forever along.
I shall see it now, first day of spring,
Kiss her memory on the side of my path.
So distant, oh mine, where is your light?
Your child of then how poor has become!

Joseph in captivity he will not succeed,
In shame he is now, bloody and streaked.
And Bil'am will curse and swear and damn,
His words are burning Israelite tents.
Not a bird froze there with fallen wings –
For my sisters they are who are slaughtered.

And no more Father who shall face to face
Tear uyp the verdict against his sons,
And no God is there to listen and forgive –
Where are you now, oh mother's soft neck?
Just this song is left me to tick in the nights,
With fear and the horrors so many and dark.

[See PHOTO-C47 at the end of Section C]


[Pages 294-296]

We Establish You as a Living Monument

by Moshe Wasserman


My dear little town, Demblin, how can I forget you, even for a moment. You are baked into my heart as into the hearts of all those Jews who survived, who were born and who grew up on your earth, and from her, drew nourishing juices.

Who hasn't heard of Demblin-Modzjitz, the town of Torah wisdom and song? The Modzjiter dynasty was famous in all of Poland and beyond her borders. The sweet song of the Modzjitzer Hasidim brought joy to thousands of hearts until the dark Hitler night settled over the land of Poland where a thousand year history of Jewish life had been. With fire and sword Hitler's vandals fell upon Poland. The first and the greatest victim was the Jewish community there, which was wiped from the face of the earth. Together with all of the towns and villages, our dear town of Demblin was also destroyed. The Jewish quarter burned, the Jews murdered, our holy virtuous sisters, daughters and wives were murdered, raped and tortured as were our innocent children.

Hitler's murderers dragged sick Jews from their beds to the market place and shot them down. Dark indeed was the bright May day in 1942 when 480 Jews were shot down on the spot and the others with blows and rifle butts and sticks were driven down to the trains by savage, brutal screams and barking dogs and locked in the lye covered cars without bread, without a drop of water, without any air. In these horribly overcrowded conditions, the victims were taken away to their last road, to Sobibor, from which none of them came back. The German murderers were death to the last cries of human beings who begged, “Have mercy! Just give is a drop of water! We're dying. Have some mercy, at least for the little children!” Instead of water, the human garbage shot into the windows of the cars as soon as they saw a face appear there.

When at the camps they opened the doors of the cars, they took more dead Jews than living ones out. Nobody even knows where to find their bones.

Today we ask, we the Jewish survivors of Demblin-Modzjitz, where can we find the graves of our fathers and mothers and sisters and brothers and wives and children and grandfathers and grandmothers, those who were gassed and burned and shot? Where can we find a grave, the ash of our dear victims who were murdered and dishonored and tortured by the German brutes?

If only just a little hill of earth would remain, we would come to it and weep and scream out our sorrow and rage, “Why? Why? Why did you take and kill these innocent and blameless souls, kill them and burn them alive? Why did they come to such a death? Why?”

The German mass murderers didn't want to leave any graves behind. They didn't want to leave a trace of their ghastly crimes. They erased every trace in order to deny their bloody deeds. And for that reason, we, those who have remained alive, can not come to the graves of our dear and beloved ones in order to scream out our pain and our woe. They wanted that we, those who remained alive, would just as quickly forget the horrible crime. But, no! We will never forget the heaven ripping injustice and the fearful crimes which the brutes perpetrated against our people.

We will not forget even a moment the blood of the innocent which was spilled, the screams and the weeping of innocent victims.

The horrible picture of those who had been shot in the Demblin market place will accompany us to our last breath.

With great reverence will the future generations to come remember your pain, your bitter struggle, and that you had to carry out against the Nazi criminals for the honor of your people.

You will always be our heritage and pride. Your last words will always be for us a holy vow that we will never forget the frightful crimes, never forget and never forgive!

We establish a living monument, a Yizkor book, which will mirror your full life, your creation, your heroism and your tragic end.


[Page 296]

Yizkor

by Arye Buckspan, Tel Aviv


Remember!

Remember the congregation of the Demblin-Modzjitz Jews! Poor and rich, religious and secular, Hasidim and mitnagdim, progressive and conservatives, old people, youth, women and children, who upon the destruction of the town by the German wild beasts, were concentrated in the ghetto by the murderers, and there were tortured to death in starvation and disease and transported to be annihilated.

Remember!

Remember the burned, the slaughtered, the tortured in all kinds of strange deaths that were transported to their destruction while their lips uttered Shma Yisrael and Am Yisrael Chai, having no weapons to protect their children and their souls.

Remember!

Remember the dead in the fields and forests who with their weapons defended the honor of the People and of Man.

Remember!

Remember the town's first victims who were felled by the Nazi murderers who conquered the town and with their deaths signaled the murder of Demblin-Modzjitz's Jewry.

Remember!

Remember the poor Jewish mothers, the brave and heroic, who risked their lives defending their babies so they would not fall to the hands of the Nazis, who were thirsty for the blood of innocent babies and children.

Remember!

Remember the old Jewish families of Demblin-Modzjitz, the very well respected as well as the simple ones.

Yizkor for my sisters Frandle and Rachel who fell with their families and other families in the horrible Holocaust of our people.

For the memories we shall lower our heads and swear!

Remember and never forget our People's murderers!


[Page 297]

Do not forget!

by David Shulman, Tel Aviv


Shaking and trembling we open the scroll on the destruction of Demblin's Jewish community. The congregants walked their last march on the way to destruction and annihilation. The miracle did not occur and the defiled hand was not severed. The souls of the martyrs left their bodies as they were praying Shma Yisrael, believing in the coming of the Messiah. All they had they gave to their survivors, who are continuing to live and to remember their will: “Forget thou not what Amalek has done to you!”

We shall never forget our townspeople, the simple ones, wood cutters, water drawers, tradesmen, landlords, merchants and wagon drivers. We shall remember the Modzjitz Hasidim, of Guerr and Redzhin. We shall erect eternal tombstones for the poor mothers and babies who were cruelly taken to their last journey. With their deaths they gave us life and granted us the desired homeland.

May we have the strength to go on this mission and complete it successfully. We shall continue to tell, generation to generation, the story of the horrible annihilation that was the fate of Demblin's Jews. We shall say aloud that they walked to their deaths with their heads up, that they kept their Jewish image to their last moment of life and that they valiantly fought the Nazis as partisans. Men, women, elderly and children were taken indiscriminately on the way to death, which for many was the path to their liberation from pain and suffering. They walked into the Gate of the Righteous.

We shall remember and never forget!


[Pages 298-309]

The Destruction of Demblin

by Yaacov Ekheizer

(Translated originally from the Polish at Yad Vashem)


ABOUT MYSELF AND MY FAMILY
I was born in 1905. My parents had a farm in the area near Demblin, in Garvolin province. They were not peasants. I grew up in idyllic surroundings: among forests, fields and lakes. We spent the winters though, in a neighboring town.

With the outbreak of World War I (1914), the Germans occupied the area. They burned down the buildings and the mill at the farm. We spent several years in the neighboring town of Ryki while that was going on. After the War we were able to move back in and rebuild everything. We lived there until the outbreak of World War II (1939).

I and my older brother went to high school. I graduated in 1926. Also I went to a University in Warsaw. Then I came back. I first taught in a Hebrew school in Demblin. I had taken a course in Hebrew teaching in Warsaw, after college. My whole family had by that time settled in Demblin. I had a post as a religious teacher in a school. I continued to take evening courses in mathematics and history. Finally, I also opened an accounting office.

[See PHOTO-C48 at the end of Section C]



First Days of the War

When the Germans attacked in September of 1939, I personally was on the farm. We remained there for three weeks. Then we found a way to get back to Demblin where everyone was living in great terror. Practically on the first day of the War, the Germans started to bombard the air base. They kept that up, very furious. Over half the people in town fled to Ryki. The military bombardments didn't stop, they just kept going on. At one point, the refugees from Demblin decided to return there from Ryki and they were on the road. On that occasion 400 of them were killed by German bombing on the highway.

The Germans came in and set up an administration under the Wermacht and the military commandant. In the beginning of 1940, in the winter, an order came that the Officers of the Jewish community should come to Garvolin. They asked themselves should we go or shouldn't we go, what is going to happen if we go? There, the Germans gave them an order that they should begin to resume their activity but they would be under strict supervision from the Germans. In about a month, people started to get waylaid in the street and out of their houses for work gangs. They had become slave labor. They would come home late at night, exhausted and worn out. Other people who came back from that work would return with a little bit of bread and told stories of being treated relatively well.

The first outright victims in the town were a man and a woman who had gone to a nearby town to a market to find something to buy and they were shot down by the Germans. They weren't where they were supposed to be.

Until the War, Demblin had been part of Garvoliner district. But, the Germans divided it into the Pulawer district. That's where the tragedy began.

The Judenrat [Jewish council] was created. It was headed by Leizor Teichman who was the owner of an electrical supply store. There were eight Jews that belonged to the Judenrat. In order to avoid being waylaid, the Judenrat suggested to the Germans to give them a list beforehand of how many workers they needed to send on a given day/project, and they'd do it for them. The demands or lists of the Germans began to appear, they wanted 20 men here, 50 there, etc. The work at hand, one of the big projects, was to rebuild the airbase which they had spent so much time destroying. They needed a lot of people to work on that project. A Jew who actually had a work card had a little bit of security. There was a little office, a two room building, a work office in town. It was run by Luxemburg who was the president of the pre-War Jewish community.

In the first winter months of 1940, about 400 Jews were working to repair this sorely damaged air base. They weren't paid very much, just pennies. From what they were paid, they were barely able to sustain one person. But the most important advantage of that work was that at least people were able to get out of town. That situation continued for most of 1940. They got up early to go to work. They had to pass through a special gate with a German watchman. And in the evening they came back. The Germans never spared blows. They freely pushed people around, physically. I remember once that a German ordered a Jew to take his hat off. As the Jew was raising his hand to comply with that order, he started to beat him up with a stick. Then I remember a second instance where a Jew had taken his hat off before he was commanded to do so and got beaten up for that. I also remember a time when a German threw a little Jewish boy in a barrel of water in the dead of winter at a time of extreme cold. But, while you were actually on the job itself, people weren't physically brutalized.

Of course, don't forget, the Poles were receiving four times as much pay for the exact same work. When I began to do this kind of job for the Germans I had to liquidate my own business. At that point, a Jew would never dare to conduct a business like that which had any importance or dignity. The Germans took my typewriters.



The Ghetto and the Selection (Round-Up)

In the Winter of 1940, the Jews were pushed into certain streets. Among them were: Warshavsky, a part of Okulna, and Potshtove. And with Jews from surrounding communities, they were pushed into Staruvke. The Poles who already lived in Staruvke were displaced and were able to take over the apartments of the Jews that had been driven out of other areas of the town. Within two weeks all of the Jews had to find some place in the radius selected for them. However, it was possible, on occasion, if you had the resources, to make some kind of exchange between Jews and gentiles so that the Jews were able to at least get a hold of a tiny little apartment with a kitchen in exchange for the place that they had lived in, which often was much more sumptuous and had more rooms. That's the way they squeezed all the Jews into one place. On Okulna street and Staruvke.

The economic situation in the ghetto got worse by the day. The Poles were able to travel in and out and they started their own black market so that if you had the means, you were able to improve your own material situation. But they were selling things for exorbitant prices because they had a captive market. The Judenrat started a ration system. With the German's supervision, they were able to distribute rationed amounts of flour, marmalade, potatoes, margarine, soap and sugar. At the only Jewish bakery there were long lines waiting for bread. More people started to get sick under these conditions.

When the Russian front opened up, between the Germans and the Russians, things started to get worse for Jews in Demblin. The Germans initially had been drunk with their easy early victories and one result of that was that the happier they got the more they liked to torture the Jews they had in their possession. The initial administrative apparatus of the German army was never pleasant, it was more just the German army as opposed to the terror units. But, as the Russian front opened, that drew a lot of the men that were stationed there away. Those who remained were a German civilian operation and the Gestapo. The Judenrat remained in place. There were constant demands coming from the Germans being placed on the Judenrat. This created bad feelings within the Jewish community itself. For example, why does one person get paid 100 zlotys and the next person get paid 20 zlotys. People were always feeling edged out and competitive and discriminated against in the way work assignments were made. All normal Jewish commerce/activities came to a standstill because people were totally restricted in their activities. If they worked, they had to work for the Germans. They weren't allowed to engage in any activity of their own. The only work available was working for the Germans which wasn't very pleasant. And you could imagine that working in a population where everybody is subject to these orders, people have different kinds of predilections, health conditions and everything else. So, one of the things that started to happen was that they developed a system where people could buy their way out of working or sending someone else in place of them (and this was apparently while the Judenrat could mediate). But no one was eager to go and work for the Germans. And sometimes, when the Jewish council couldn't provide the required number of people, the Germans would just resort to grabbing people off the street. So nobody had any security at all.

Until the first major deportation (round-up), there wasn't a formal ghetto, in the sense it was surrounded by barbed wire or guards, it was kind of a de facto Ghetto. It was like you knew that at the end of a certain street was as far as you could go safely. The situation continued to get worse when the administration was taken over by the gendarmerie, the S.S. and the Gestapo.

On one occasion 50 Jewish young people were taken away suddenly, and everybody thought they would never see them again. The Judenrat was very devoted and conscientious and was able to maintain contact with them. They found where they were and with the help of a little bit of money they were able to make sure they did indeed come home. But when they did get home they were totally spent and weakened. Belzshetz was where they had been.

There were various rumors about the coming liquidation and round-up. As a result of that, many people tried to escape among other places, to the forest. That was a difficult proposition, not only because it was a very difficult place to live in those kind of conditions, but because they had other problems to deal with, among them was the anti-Semitism of the Poles. That included to an extent the Polish partisan armies, who had been responsible for tormenting and murdering Jews in the forest.

On May 6, 1942 the first round-up took place. The Jewish quarter was cordoned off. In their blood thirsty way, the Germans kept shouting “Rous, Rous [out, out]. They drove people out of their homes. Everybody had to assemble in the big plaza in the center of the city.

On that day, I was with a group of 150 Jews who were working at the air base and there was telephone news that reached there about what was going on and everybody was extremely upset. The Germans already knew about it. Our overseer, who was Folksdeutche [ethnic German], tried to calm us down. He said everybody should get in line and march home, that nothing would happen to us.

When I returned to Demblin, it was a terrible scene. First, the members of the Judenrat had already taken out of the assembled body of Jews a few individuals. They were able to say that this person is my wife, this person is my cousin, this person is my brother. In another part of the plaza they had gathered people who were sick or crippled or invalids or children, in one place. Trucks/wagons came along and they loaded them up and took them off to the train station with half of the whole Jewish population. All of this happened to the accompaniment of blows, shouts and beatings with clubs and rifle butts by the bloodthirsty Germans. They also shot people on the spot. We realized afterwards that the first transport was sent to Sobibor. Of my family, everybody just about survived that deportation and were not sent away because most of the people were working at the air base.

At about 4 in the afternoon, everything was quiet. Half of the houses were standing empty. There was also a great emptiness in the hearts of the people who remained. The Judenrat sat down and tried to figure out what the possibilities were for putting things in order through the Polish work center. They thought that would be a way to save a few people if they got them involved in the Polish work center. They were always trying to establish some security before the next round-up took place.

In the place of those that had been deported, they began to send in new transports of Jews from Preshburg (in Slovakia) and Vienna. They were sent to replace those deported because they needed slave labor. This last group of people was housed at the barracks at the air base. The ones from Vienna were put up at the air base. The ones from Preshburg had to be taken in by the residents of the ghetto who were already overcrowded in the extreme. That created even more hardship and sorrow and lack of privacy. And people of course were very upset, why did theses people get sent to me and not to somebody else? But everything eventually fell into place.

At this time there was a typhus epidemic that broke out in the ghetto and everyday there were more victims of the frightening disease which also effected a few Germans. They forbid the workers in the air base to return into the ghetto at night. The isolation that they imposed was very hard to bear. Near the railway line they emptied out a Pole's house and set up a hospital there for the sick people. As I remember the medical person was somebody named Zaltzvaser who is today a doctor. And also there was a hospital set up in Staruvke. That hospital in Staruvke was run by the Judenrat. At both of those hospitals a Dr. Kava worked, he had family in Demblin before the War. There was also a doctor from Lublin. They had extremely difficult working conditions, they didn't have the required tools or medicines. Both hospitals were overflowing and one shouldn't forget that there were Jews who had been sent to Demblin from Preshburg and Vienna but from many other surrounding communities.

Dr. Kava got typhus himself but he was able to pull himself out of it. Later though, he perished in the second deportation in the camp behind Radom where he was sent.

In October, 1942, during the High Holy days, the second deportation occurred. That day I was working with a group of Jews from Preshburg, in the fortress. A German officer, the leader from the working group, advised us not to go into the ghetto. There were horse stalls which were built during the Czarist time and he told us to stay there over night. He allowed us to stay there over night on planks. He gave us some black coffee.

We waited there until the next day when I quickly went into town and ran around in the Staruvke and there wasn't any living Jew to be found there. There were some dead bodies lying by the synagogue which had been burned down previously in 1939. Everywhere, men, women, and children had been shot. I went into his house and there wasn't anybody there. I went back into the fortress, to the work place, with a clenched heart and deeply worried and asked myself what had happened to my family.



In the Camp

The camp in the Fortress was being run by a Viennese Jew named Venkart. By the gate, there was a Jewish watchman who I knew. We went around the camp. I found two others who escaped the round-up, Ignatz Bubis and another Jew who was unfamiliar. I found my sisters and brothers (Esther and her child Getl, Naftali, Tzvi, Moshe, Yosef-Nach).

On the second day, the villains came into the camp and took away 200 victims. Later, we realized that was the toll of people that had been shipped away.

In Ulenzh was a small German airfield where I, my brother Moshe and the Rosenberg boy were sent to work. Returning home in an automobile, we saw hundreds of Jews with children in their arms, loaded down with packs and luggage who were being driven along the road. We came closer and recognized immediately that these were Jews from Ryki who were being led away on their last march. The villains ordered them to go four in a row and sing. Behind there were wagons where they threw the dead people, those who had just simply fallen along the way or those that had been shot. And the sick and the weak were also thrown up on the wagons along with the dead people. I saw from the automobile which was taking them to Demblin to the camp. Suddenly I noticed among all the many people my brother David. We persuaded our chauffeur, a Corporal, to slow down with a little bit of money. By so doing, I tried to alert my brother to get in the car, but my brother was completely disoriented and upset (my brother was a Jew in his 50's) and just continued along to die with everybody else.

We began to function as a work camp for the German air force at the airfield in Demblin. The conditions were bearable. It's true there was a very strenuous routine and hard work, but without the starvation, tortures and humiliations which was the plight of Jews who found themselves in the death camps.

Early in the morning we got up and got some coffee to drink. And after the roll call we went to the work office there on site at the airfield. There they divided us up into various groups of 50, 20 or 10 people. The camp was surrounded by barbed wire. By the gate there was a Jewish watchman, but there was also just beyond the gate a German who had the responsibility for vigilance, who had real control over the gate.

The women worked in the fields and in the garden of what had been an old time Polish agriculture school. The men had to work on the landing strips, doing airplane repairs, in the buildings and unload coal and other building materials. And there were also craftsmen, people who had skills, who were employed there, like electricians, shoemakers and tailors. They worked in the German stores right on site there. In the evenings everybody was led back to their barracks, one on top of the other. We ate in our own kitchen. We divided up products from the German military garrison right on the spot there. In general, when the camp wasn't run by the S.S., the conditions were more or less tolerable.

We even had our own bath and once a week we were obliged to go there and bathe. In the winter days we even got coal to heat the cold barracks. All of these little amenities were made possible thanks to the good relations and bribery which Venkart was able to lay on the Germans.

We even had a hospital in the camp which run by the doctor from Ryki, Dr. Kestenbaum and Dr. Rozenblitt [the yellow one]. Under their permission, one could stay for a day or two in bed and not go out and work. In that epic we had medicines too. Some of those were supplied from the Jewish aid society in Krakow.

In August, 1943 when the Russians began to near the front of the Vistula river, rumors started to spread that they were going to deport us. The conditions for the Germans started to get worse. The food supply was not quite so plentiful anymore. The women who worked in the fields used to hide and steal potatoes and brought them into the camp. For a shirt you could obtain a little bit of meat or soap. Some of the Jews had hidden away a little bit of jewelry and money and so they were able to live a little bit better.

At the end of 1943, the S. S. took over the camp and immediately the conditions worsened because their regime was much tougher. They had a death dealing ideology, to starve people to death. In the camp, there was underground activity. Mainly a group of interned Poles. In this activity I played a specific role.



Resistance

In that time, I worked almost exclusively as an electrician with another Jew named Fishfeld. Our job was to repair radio apparatus. On a certain day when the Germans were out eating lunch, Fishfeld was able to set up a receiver so he could hear the news from London about what was happening at the front. Later when I went back to fix something in an area where there was only Poles working, I had a terrible fight. A Polish officer who I knew from before the war, named Kizlobsky, had been told about the War news. The Poles in camp started to produce and illegal flyer. In the morning, everybody found out what was happening at he front, as a result of my information. When this kind of little flyer came into German hands, they went wild with rage. They started to tear everything up to find out how people came upon this information because they were sure there was some kind of secret radio transmitter around.

When the German army began to retreat to the airport in Demblin, they installed an electronic alarm system and detection system. At that point they only employed Jewish workers, no Poles. They didn't want to have Poles working for them, they just wanted to have Jews working for them. I was employed at different kinds of tasks. On the walls there was a big map with little pennants stuck in it which showed the situation at different parts of the front. I told a Pole who was an acquaintance of mine about these pennants on the map which indicated that there was movement of the Germans towards the West. He made it known through his underground connections. The Germans found out and went crazy. Under the pretense of looking for money they called a roll call and couldn't find any radio apparatus. But those Jews who had been able to secret a little money and or jewelry realized they had to get rid of it before the roll call otherwise they'd be shot, so people threw their stuff away before the Germans had an opportunity to find it.

On a certain day in the airport, a barracks went up in smoke with a lot of building materials. It's possible it was an accidental fire and it's possible it was an act of sabotage. The S.S. drove together all the workers, the Jews and the Poles. We were sure that was the end, they were going to do away with us. From each of the groups they gathered together, they pulled out individuals, sometimes one, sometimes two, and they shot them. In the morning they took out another 9 Jews and shot them behind the city. A collective punishment according to the Germans, for burning down the barracks.

The Pole mentioned earlier confided in me on the airport grounds, some Polish officers had in Sept. 1939 hidden a trunk full of weapons and ammunition and it could be found near the barracks. I dug up the trunk and later on a second Pole took it from me. I think that these people that were part of the Polish resistance were part of the Army Krayova (A.K) which was connected with the exiled Polish regime in London. There was a number of our own youth in the camp who didn't want to remain at the mercy of the Germans, 14 young men and women, just up and disappeared one day from working in the forest and they never came back into the camp and they showed up again and were able to get some bullets and machine guns from an airplane hanger.

At that time in the forest, one could find Jewish partisans. A partisan from Ryki who wanted to take revenge on a Pole, because the Pole had betrayed his sister to Germans, led a group to the peasant's house and shot him along with his family. The A.K. found out and also that the Jews helped themselves to food and sustenance when they came to a peasants house and when they could they surrounded them and murdered them.



The Liberation

In August 1944, they loaded up about half the people in the camp (400) into wagons. We wondered, “Where are they taking us now?” It was hard to be optimistic. It was especially hard to be optimistic because on the spot they shot 30 children.

We were traveling on open wagons at night. It rained. It seemed that the heavens opened up for two whole days and it just kept raining. But before the camp had been evacuated many had fled from the camp. The watch wasn't quite as strict as it had been before. And now people started to jump off the wagons and run whenever they got the chance. We arrived in Czenstechov. There we talked and found out the evacuation was thanks to Venkart. He understood that if we'd remained in Demblin the Germans would have murdered all of us and if they didn't do it, then the A.K. would have taken care of the job. After the War, I learned that a day after our evacuation, 20 to 30 young people escaped from the camp. A certain one named Feigenboim hid in the field for two days. The Russians liberated him and he now lives in Ramat Gan. One young man from Kozjenitz and another one from Warsaw, after the liberation, returned to the camp because they'd buried something there but the A.K. got them.

Our arrival in Czenstechov camp found the real hell. When people got off the wagons, the German police and Jewish overseers beat people up. They took everything that the people had. Sometimes they even took their coats off them, their boots, anything they could take. They stuffed them into filthy barracks that were very crowded and just unbearable. Instead of giving us anything to eat they did meaningless work and blows and constant roll calls. And that's the way it was until January 16, 1945, when the Russians arrived in Czenstechov and we were liberated.

I have a very clear memory of the first moment of the liberation: Around 5 p.m. in the afternoon, the electrical station in Czenstechov was bombarded and the city went dark. One of the assistants of the camp commanders came into the barracks with a revolver and started shouting “Raus! Raus!” Everybody was in a state of terror and left the barracks. In one barrack where there were women, among them my sister, when this person came in with the same routine, one of the women and my sister jumped him with a knife. He shot his revolver aimlessly and got out fast and never came back.

We saw that the watchmen guards were hiding on the roofs and at around 9 p.m. in the evening, a Jewish committee formed in the camp and I belonged to it. We went into the German storerooms after weapons and took whatever we wanted there, and armed, we went to the guard tower, the highest tower in the camp. There wasn't a living sole around. One group remained by the gate. A second ran around throughout the camp shouting “Mir Zenen Fray!” [We're free]. In the quarters of the commandant of the camp we found some booze. With torches we torched his quarters and then we danced and sang with joy and then we ate and we drank.

In the morning, the Poles cam to the camp with wagons, sacks and valises in order to take whatever they could get. The storerooms were full. The Poles didn't bother us in any way. It was very important, freedom.

I, my two sisters, a sister-in-law with a child and a sister's daughter went away behind the city and we arrived in a little village and wanted to go into a peasant's house. But we came upon two members of the A.K. and they ordered us to go to Solteez and there get our papers and legitimize ourselves. We understood though that they just wanted to kill us. The peasant's wife also understood that and started screaming “Get out of here!” That was our luck, because in that little village, the A.K. did indeed murder Jews. We went off to Radom and from there to Demblin. Our dwelling had been taken over by Poles and the same thing with the farm that we owned in Garbovitz. We went to Lodz.

The 7th of February, 1950, I arrived in Modeynet, Israel.

 

 

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