In the Ghetto and in the Camps
by Andzja Tupolsky
When the Jews were concentrated in the ghetto in the year 1941, we were sure
that the time for our destruction by the murderous Nazis had arrived. But the
Germans decided that part of the Jews of the city would be employed in numerous
jobs such as in the nearby airport, agricultural jobs, etc. The first Jews that
were selected for these jobs were the family members of the Judenrat. Luckily,
thanks to the efforts of our mother, we were able to be included in the list of
the working families. I was then a 10 year old girl and in spite of my young
age, I was working in the airport for 8 to 10 hours a day like the adults. But
this condition didn't last for many days. The Nazis decided that Demblin must
become Judenrein. The Gestapo surrounded the ghetto and started to concentrate
all of the Jews in it, into a concentration site. Only the Jews who were
working in the numerous job sites were not bothered. My family and I, although
having our working license, happened to be at home the same day, and not at our
job at the airport. However, we could not get to the airport, since the guards
had already surrounded the entire ghetto, and did not let us pass. We were very
desperate and helpless not knowing what to do. The only choice left for us was
to join all the other miserable people. The Germans announced in the street
that every Jew who is caught will be shot on the spot. Screams and cries of the
mothers and fathers were sounds throughout the ghetto. "Shemah
Yisrael", cried many Jews with no salvation for their help. Mother, my
younger sister and I, started to walk on our way to our execution. We were
marching four in a line along Warshavsky Street and our Christian neighbors
stood along the sidewalk looking at us, satisfied, as if it was a ceremonial
[See PHOTO-C51 at the end of Section C]
We went towards our death very scared. Our eyes were dry from crying so much
and we al felt helpless and scared. We were all marching towards our
extinction. Innocent boys, girls, fathers and mothers were witnessing how they
and their children were marching towards their extinction without any help. We
were marching and the S. S. men were guarding us from all directions.
We were getting towards the edge of Warshavsky street and soon we would arrive
at the train station that would carry us to the concentration camp. Suddenly my
mother discovered me. She got close to me and whispered that I should try and
run away from the line. She said that I look like a typical Christian girl.
"Escape" she whispered to me again, "we still have a few more
houses to pass by so that you can escape into one of them. Hurry up, hurry up,
save yourself. We are getting closer to the train station and then it will be
But my conscience couldn't let me do so. I couldn't see my mother and my father
and my four year old sister continue on the march and I would run away from
them. I told Mom that she should try to escape first and I would escape and
follow her. And so she did. Mom was still holding my younger sister's hand and
escaped from the line and from the street where they were marching and jumped
into an adjacent house that belonged to a Christian neighbor that was familiar
to us. His wife permitted Mom to hide in the attic, and while Mother was
stepping upstairs, she started hearing the steps of another woman that also
escaped from the line and followed Mother. However, the Germans tracked that
woman and immediately followed her.
When Mother saw the Nazis, she escaped immediately and mingled again in the
line of people who were marching towards their end. Meanwhile, I was still
marching within the long lines. When I met Mother again in line, we immediately
exchanged our scarves, so that she would not be recognized by the murderers.
But Mother again tried to convince me to try my luck in escaping. And so I did.
At the end of Warshavsky street, by the grove in front of the train station, I
got out of the line and stood on the pavement by the Polish viewers, who looked
peacefully at the Jews marching towards their extinction. Very slowly, I
started to walk the Pulawy road. I walked and walked and I didn't know where my
feet were taking me. I finally arrived at a house of a Christian woman who was
familiar to me, but she locked the door in my face and didn't let me get in,
even for a few minutes. She kicked me away and warned me that she would carry
me back to the train station. I walked to the road again. It was dusk and
getting to be dark. I was walking through fields that I had never walked in
before, and I didn't know where my feet were going to carry me to. I was very
lonely, neglected and miserable. What would be my end? And if I was caught,
what would I say?
Suddenly I saw Mom holding my younger sister's hand. I started to yell and call
her, but she was running and couldn't hear my voice and disappeared from my
eyes. For a moment I thought I had just imagined my mother. Desperate, I
continued to walk on. On my way, I suddenly met a Christian woman named
Kovasova and I asked her if she saw my mother on the way. She replied that she
indeed saw my mother hiding in a free-standing toilet positioned in the nearby
field. I started to run toward the direction that the Christian woman mentioned
and as I got closer I heard my mother's voice, "Andza, come here, hurry
up". Upon my arrival, I recognized my mother, my younger sister, and
another unfamiliar woman, who was sitting beside them. My mother immediately
gave me a warm hug.
We were sitting there until the late hours of the night. From a distance we
could hear the shooting that put an end to the lives of the Jews. Sometime
after midnight, Mother, by herself, emerged from the hiding place, approached
the house of one of the Polish people nearby and for a handsome fee asked him
if he could go back to the city and see who from the Jews remained alive and
also if he could ask the Jewish policemen if it would be possible to go back to
the agricultural ranch where we were registered as working labor. The man
agreed to go back to the city, and after great difficulties we managed to
return to our work in the ranch, and join the working laborers in Demblin. At
the working camp, we found the rest of our family members, and we were working
there for the next four years until we were transported to Czenstechov camp. In
that camp, where the conditions were unbearable, we stayed for half a year. At
that time, one day, our father was sent away from us to Buchenwald camp, and we
never saw him alive again. We were also supposed to be transported to the same
camp, but the Germans were not able to execute the action because on the same
night, we could hear a faraway gunfire, in Czenstechov, where the Russian army
arrived and most of the Germans were running away. However, we were not very
happy, because, just a day before the liberation our father was sent to the
execution camp and we were not able to see him anymore. May his soul rest in
How we taught, gave Courage and saved
The Jewish Children of Demblin
by Aida Milgroim-Tzitrinboim, Ramat-Gan
(Reworked according to the testimony given in Yad-Vashem, 6/-178/2541, in Tel
Translated from Polish)
My parents, Yididah and Hindah Milgroim, were born in Demblin. My father was
for a long time a member of the orthodox community there. In the material sense
we lived well because my father, a businessman, had quite a few properties and
a lot of tenants. Before the War, I finished my teacher's studies in Warsaw. In
1933, my father died. As the older children in the family go married, I
remained with my mother at home.
With the outbreak of the War in 1939, both of us managed to live through
various round-ups and wanderings without any place to really feel secure. After
a lot of hard experiences, we made our way back to Demblin where draconian,
anti-Jewish laws were already enforced, as well as the forbidding of our
children to study in school. Nevertheless, I, with the cooperation of several
mothers, held at our house a private school for a group of children each day
for 2 hours. The students would change, and the school would last from 8 in the
morning to 5 or 6 in the evening. Later on, we were able to continue that
activity in the ghetto that had been created.
But the conducting of an illegal Jewish school like this, and for little kids
of 7 or 8 years old up to 14 or 15 years old, was an activity which was
extremely dangerous, especially since there were so many students and the
numbers got up to 70, 80 or even 100. I taught according to the school program,
not necessarily after a Jewish fashion. The lessons were conducted in Polish
and the students were examined during the term according to the Public Polish
school standards. The Pole, Mikulsky, (if I remember his name correctly) would
come and give the examinations. He even gave school certificates after the
ending of the semester. He did this secretly, but he had to be paid. I didn't
have anybody to help me. I had to deal with all these very difficult and risky
responsibilities all by myself.
When the Germans learned about all this, I had to hide out for awhile. Then I
started my lessons again, in private houses, each time in a different location.
In that epic we succeeded in bringing my sister and her child from the Warsaw
ghetto. There, in the ghetto, both of them had been going hungry. My younger
sister had already come back to Demblin and opened a school and I helped her.
of May, 1942, was the first deportation. Everybody was driven from their homes
and on the way beaten, tortured and shot. My mother was killed at that point. I
and my sister and her child saved ourselves. Our school work ended because both
of us had to go out every morning to forced labor at various work sites which
the German villains thought up for Jew to do. The child remained in the street
and so we decided that it was better to send him back to Warsaw where my
brother-in-law lived. A Polish tram operator took the child with him to the
capital, and when the tram crossed over into the ghetto, he left the little boy
there and the little boy himself knew how to find his father.
When my brother-in-law became sick with typhus, my sister went to him in Warsaw
and remained there in the ghetto.
of October, 1942 was the second round-up, and again I was able to escape the
massacre. While the victims of the first deportation, 2,000 Jews, were sent to
Sobibor, the transport of the second deportation went to Treblinka. On the
spot, gathering people up, they shot down 60 people who were trying to get out
of the place where they'd been enclosed.
In the Demblin ghetto, in that year, they brought in Jews from other places. I
remember a transport from Preshov, Czechoslovakia, how they arrived and took
the place of the deported Demblin Jews from the first deportation. In my
apartment, we took in the three person Friedman family from Preshov.
The Czeck Jews suffered the same sorrows, troubles and deprivation as we did
and had to work in the city and in the surrounding camps.
I was transformed into a worker at the camp by the rail lines along with
several thousand other men, women and children. The camp commander was a Jew
from Vienna, Venkart. Besides the wire fence was a barracks in which the chief
of the camp lived, a German, a non-commissioned officer, Kattinger. Children
were able to be put to work together with grown-ups, and the real little
children stayed behind in the camp itself. During an unexpected visit by the
Germans, the little children were stuffed under the cots.
This was our first experience in a camp, therefore, at that time, we still had
a little bit of money with us, and other precious things which enabled us to
buy from the Poles different things that we needed which they brought up to the
barbed wire fence. But only thanks to having bribed Kattinger was it possible
to carry on in this way in this camp, let things come into the camp, get what
we needed, use our money, as opposed to being total slaves.
For those who weren't there it seems unbelievable, this story of hiding
children. It remains however a fact, that even the three year old swallows knew
instinctively to hide themselves and lie quiet as mice when danger was close.
The camp commander Venkart knew that my profession was as a teacher, and he let
me off hard labor and ordered me to take care of the children. Instead of the
really hard field labor, I remained with my beloved pupils (boys and girls).
Most importantly, I busied myself with those children whose parents were away
at work, the women digging potatoes and the men carrying water, sorting old
iron and laying rail lines.
From the kitchen I was able to get a special diet for the children and to begin
to start teaching them. Of course, in conditions like those, this wasn't what
you'd call a normal school, but I was able to implant in them a little bit of
knowledge and help them to distinguish between good and bad, tell them various
stories from books and sing songs with them, among which were quite a few of my
own, about life in the camp.
In the whole camp there was one guard, perhaps also he had been bribed. The
real danger, as I said before, came from unexpected inspections. The several
songs I wrote about the camp were in Yiddish and here's an example:
Quiet, shhh, don't move,
The children were very attentive and disciplined. And they understood the
danger that lurked around them. Even the littlest ones knew that a lot of
things shouldn't be seen and shouldn't be heard. When they laid down, stuck
under the cots, everyone knew that they had to lie very, very still without
moving. And about that as well, we came up with a little song:
There's going to be another inspection in the camp.
Shhh, quiet, don't make any ruckus,
Because the inspection is going to be here very soon.
And when there is an inspection, there's hell to pay.
It's terrible, because they are not supposed to see any children in the camp.
Shhh, quiet, don't make any ruckus,
There's going to be an inspection here soon.
In the camp are miracles, everybody knows that.
There are a hundred children, but, during an inspection nobody sees one of them.
Miracles, miracles, miracles, miracles and wonders
Miracles, miracles, miracles, miracles and wonders
In the first day of Chanukah, there was a miracle,
We got little toys - everybody saw.
Miracles, miracles, miracles, miracles and wonders
Miracles, miracles, miracles, miracles and wonders
We talk now about cleanliness, from morning until night
Really, for two weeks, Walter made that very well.
Miracles, miracles, miracles, miracles and wonders
Miracles, miracles, miracles, miracles and wonders
With the help of these little dreamed up songs of ours, we were able to
formulate our own way of looking at and criticizing and protesting the
conditions that prevailed in the camp. If a bath wasn't provided quickly enough
for the children, or they didn't get meals that weren't good enough, it was an
opportunity to criticize with another song:
When they provide lunch, all the children eat.
It really was something that was quite extraordinary, that in the camps things
remained quiet, especially with so many children being hidden all over the
place. But this was really a result and thanks to the goods that we had with
us, the gold and the money, with which we were able to bribe the Germans.
If you find a potato, it's a big wonder.
Miracle, miracle, etc.
In the camp it's a holiday today, the first of October.
The women don't cook, because they're cleaning everything
up and making it absolutely spotless.
: Miracle, miracle, etc.
Herr Venkart, the barracks are being prepared for breakfast for the children.
If it's really true, that is the greatest miracle of all.
: Miracle, miracle, etc.
But there were also other very, very hard burdens placed on the children, like
when the smallest of them had to go to work at the hardest work, chopping wood,
carrying coals, digging in the fields. On this them the following song was born:
All the children who stand before you - all of them are equal,
There's not one who's rich or one who's poor.
And for us as well, life is not easy.
Torn away from home, many months now,
We work with adults, side by side.
At dawn, at dawn, the work begins at seven in the morning.
We wonder if it's good and beautiful, the camp is made clean.
We help, we don't wan anybody to be humiliated or insulted.
We sweep the streets, we dig in the garden,
We chop wood, we carry coal - and yet, we're proud.
You should know camp, you should know camp, you should know camp
- this camp is our home.
A good number of the children would often duck away from their work and prepare
food for their parents who would come home very, very tired and broken down
each night from their forced labor.
Marisha Lorberboim, from Ryki, helped me. Together we taught the children to
read, write, told them different stories, history and explained everything in
Polish. On Purim or Chanukah, we told the significance of the holidays and even
tried to prepare little special things to eat. In this way, for a few hours at
a time, the children forgot their very, very sorrowful condition.
We continued taking care of the children, devoting ourselves to them. We even
got together little performances. The little performers, danced, sang and
recited for the adults, when in the evenings they returned from their hard
work. In this way the days and nights drew out until July, 1944, when the
Russians approached our area. Only at that time, the Germans began to liquidate
In the beginning of July, they sent a number of our Jews to the camp at
Czenstechov, including 15 children. In a few days they sent everybody else, who
had remained, to Czenstechov as well. As soon as we arrived there we learned
that in the first transport from Demblin, they'd taken 15 children from their
parents and shot them.
We labored to take the older children with the adults, but later, 38 children
remained outside of the fence, separated from the mothers and fathers.
Ukrainian bandits, armed with revolvers and axes, guarded the children.
In Czenstechov we arrived in a gigantic camp surrounded by barbed wire. They
drove us into filthy barracks. In the camp they found thousands of slave
laborers who worked in the enormous German ammunition factory. They gave us
other work, but I asked to stay with the children, knowing the fate that
awaited them. I wanted to be able to comfort them and soothe them in their last
hours. But it seems that it was fated that they live a little bit longer,
because these children were not immediately executed like those in the first
group. When they brought them a little container of food to eat, not one of the
children made a move to the soup, although their hunger was great. They were
afraid that they would be poisoned. And so I was the first one to take
something from the big bowl of soup, and then the children took a little bit of
soup for themselves without fear.
The mothers and fathers saw from the side of the fence what was happening to
the children, and they strained to be able to see and be able to pick out their
own child. They went through unbelievable suffering, feeling sure that their
sons and daughters were just waiting to die. It went on that way for days. I
was the only adult among the children. From time to time, a Jewish camp
policeman would show up and seeing the agony of the parents, I was able to talk
two of the Jewish policemen into allowing the children, one by one, to say
good-bye to their parents. Although this was an activity that could have meant
death for all three of us, the policemen organized it so that each mother
separately, was able to come to the gate, and I sent her child there and they
fell into each other's arms, hugged and kissed, and then the child had to come
back immediately. Even the littlest one knew how to act. It was well known to
them what they had to do.
Ruling over our camp was the German with the vicious glance, Bartenschlagger.
With a lot of money and jewelry we were able to bribe him so that he allowed
the children to remain in the camp. Although each day there were inspections
and checks and people were brutalized, during the six months that we were
there, we were able to keep the children.
And that's the way it went until the 16th
of January, 1945. The Russians had by that time surrounded Czenstechov, and
the Germans wanted to take us deep into Germany. We decided that we weren't
going to move. When the murderers came to get us they were frightened by our
fastness and they cut out, knowing that the Russians were almost in the city.
The next morning, as a matter of fact, a Soviet tank made its way into the camp
and we were freed!
After leaving the camp, I encountered my brother-in-law in Czenstechov, the
husband of my sister Ruth. He said that my whole big family, everybody was
killed, my sister Ruth, with her little girl, Noisha, killed in Maidanek. My
sister Rachel, her husband, Yisrael Kevat and her daughter Hela (the parents in
Plaschow, and the daughter in Shtutof). My sister Andja and her husband
Blondovsky, with their daughters Ruzsia and Hela and also my brother Yankev,
his wife Marisia and her son Yurek. My brother, Mitshislov, his wife Esther and
his daughter Fanya.
In the camp in Czenstechov was our neighbor from Demblin, Henryk-Tzvi
Tzitrinboim. In 1945 we got married in Demblin, but it was impossible to remain
in the town because of the savagery of the Poles towards the Jews who had
survived. We escaped to Lodz and there we found the surviving daughter of my
sister. From Lodz we fled to Germany and in March 1949, with my daughter Aiyla,
we arrived in Israel.
Karyov - Modzjitz - Buchenwald
by Chaim Shtamfater
Until the Holocaust
There was a Jew by the name of Arye Korover, religious teacher in Modzjitz. He
came from the village of Karyov. Why did he come to Modzjitz? When Karyov was
burned, he rented a wagon, he piled on the little bit of his poverty. He came
He had three boys: Chaim-Yitzhak, Leizor and Shaya. He was a very, very poor
man. He didn't bring any possessions with him, really, to Modzjitz. They
stopped right in the middle of the market place. They didn't even have a place
to lay their heads down. They didn't even have a pot to cook something in. We
stood around the wagon in our ragged clothes and everybody who walked by just
kind of stopped and gaped at us. Who are these gypsies who speak Yiddish? One
person said that maybe they just lived among the Jews and picked up Yiddish.
My father went looking for a place to stay in. He didn't have any money. There
was a Jewish shoemaker by the name of Shmuel Vazitch. His wife was called Sara
Kolokof. He had a little shack and we put up there. That was just a little bit
What happened later? Since my father was a hard core Hasid, he went to the
Hasidim to ask what he should do next. You have to eat after all. Thy advised
him that he should become a religious teacher in town. So they actually were
able to drag together 8 little boys as students. The problem was, where was he
supposed to teach these kids? His landlord, Shmuel Vazitch said that he could
teach them in the house. He didn't get any money from the deal. He did it
because it was a mitzvah.
From teaching 8 little kids you can't really make any money either. There was a
baker's wife, Sara Liba, and she needed somebody to knead the bread and the
challah. My mother went to work and earned bread and challah for the whole week.
Still our poverty was great. Imagine that until I was 11 years old, I never
wore a new piece of clothes on my body. Everything was patched up and passed on
from old clothes.
There was an old shoemaker in town, Shmaiya Kalenovsky. He was 80 years old.
Every Passover, he made from old soldier's boots a little pair for children. Of
course we didn't always have something to eat at home. A whole week would go by
and we wouldn't see even a little piece of meat. If we managed to buy a calf's
head for the Sabbath there was a great deal of celebration at home.
My mother used to say to my father, "Just look at what he children look
And my father used to say, "Eh, it doesn't hurt, the real world has yet to
come. Who has something in this world is not going to have something in the
He promised her paradise. In the future of course. He wanted me to study. He
really pushed me. Since I was always really hungry it was very hard for me to
learn anything. He put me out to work as the assistant to a religious teacher.
I just had certain days that I could depend on a meal. I already understood at
the age of 13 that part of my life was making a living through being a hanger
I didn't want to say the blessing with the other children. But he made me. At
that point I went out and I learned a trade, wheelwright. I went to study with
the wheelwright, Meir-Yechail Stalmach. When my father found out that I was
learning a craft he went crazy, because I had shamed him. I was ruining the
family's name. There weren't any people who worked at crafts in my family. For
over a year we didn't speak to each other, until I started to bring home a
ruble. At that point my father and I made up.
My father's daily fare was quite pathetic. At 12 in the afternoon he had a
little bit of bread with a little onion. At 4 o'clock he had a little bit of
peas. The whole day he was teaching children. When I came home, he taught me.
The wheelwright had a sister-in-law who was the same age as I was. They started
to talk. They were gossiping around that she was going to be my bride. But my
mother said that because I picked her out myself, that wasn't appropriate at
all and I obeyed my mother. It was only when I started to earn 5 rubles a week
that I went back and tried to rearrange the match.
I started to earn very good money. I was able to get a really nice fur cloak
for my father and to get a nice dress for my mother. I was able to contribute 3
rubles a week to the household. The "stain of the family" was erased.
After that I did get married, everything was fine. I bought a house from
Liebkele Konyech. After that I made my little workshop. Everything was going
just the way it should have gone until the coming of the murderous Germans.
During the Occupation by the Germans
My wife was injured by shrapnel. The Germans took her to a hospital in Radom.
She stayed at the hospital for 4 months. After that, she remained at home for
another 4 months and she became healthy again. But afterwards they sent her to
Sobibor and there she was burned up together with the 5 children of her sister.
Everything that I owned the Poles plundered and robbed. I worked in a camp with
60 Jews. They picked me out with another guy to have responsibility over all
Once we had to work for an additional 2 hours. The Jews said that they weren't
going to work for an additional 2 hours, that they always made them do that,
and that they were just going to go home. The next day the supervisor came. He
called us both into the office and asked us, "Why didn't the Jews work
yesterday? What kind of sabotage is that? This is wartime. You can get shot for
stuff like that. You're the ones who are responsible for these Jews." We
began to cry. Something about the way we were acting moved him. "If it
ever happens again, you will pay for it with your lives."
After that they drove the Jews out of the work place. They sent all of us to
Czenstechov, and there put us to work in the iron works. There the supervisors
continually tormented and beat people. Afterwards they sent us to Buchenwald.
There things were very, very bitter. Every night they would take out 40
corpses. One laid down and never got up.
Traveling from Czenstechov to Buchenwald, they packed us into rail cars with
sealed doors and tiny little windows. There was room for 50 people but they
actually packed in 150 people. There wasn't enough room to breathe. We had to
take care of all or needs in the rail car. Whoever was able to survive it and a
lot of them didn't and died. By the time we got there, those that managed to
come out of that car were very few indeed. On the roofs the Germans were
standing with machine guns. The trip took 8 days.
When we arrived in Buchenwald, the German police greeted us, took us out with
big dogs. In front of the gate, they told everybody to take off all their
clothes. They shaved everybody's hair off, all over their bodies. They smeared
us with some kind of substance that burned like fire. After that they drove us
down into a cellar. There they poured cold water on us and then hot water.
After that they drove us into a well. There they smeared us with something else
which also burned like fire. The gave us camp clothes and took us to the
barracks where we found there already 2,600 people. Each day they dragged out
On one occasion I was lying down on a hard bunk with 2 Hungarians. We were
speaking among ourselves. A watchman with a stick came over and beat us on the
legs. He hit me in the knee which became very swollen. They gave me a little
tag to go into the hospital. I had to stay there for 14 days. I went in there
with a Frenchman. They told me to sit down. They were going to give me a bed.
They laid me down on a hard bench. Two of them grabbed me by the head and two
of them by the feet ands I got hit in the knees. I started to scream. The
screamed at me:
"You dirty Jew, your whole life you've been speculating, and now you're
screamingn? Shut your mouth or you're going to be dead in a mu=inute."
Then he wrapped my knees with a paper bandage, gave me a kick in the ass sand
threw me out of the hospital.
Aftee that, they took me into the hospital again with Mendle Viatraks's son. He
died that same night, but he lay with me dead for two days because the people
who were working as orderlies in the hospital were so desperate to get his
portion of food everyday.
We saw the Children no more
by Devorah Reznik
During the first round-up in May of 1942, my husband Yidel was working at the
airfield. I and my two children were at home. They drove us out into the
street. A lot of people were already standing there. I made a point of standing
as far back as I could. I saw that they were picking people to take away. I
tried to figure out what I should do and what I had to do in order to not be
deported, and suddenly a Christian appeared near me, somebody who had been one
of our customers. I figured the situation out quickly and I asked her to go to
the Ukrainian (the S.S. people were in front [the S.S. was composed of
Lithuanians and Ukrainians as well as Germans]) so that this person would say
to the Ukrainian that she had some shoes that she had to get from me and it was
a very important matter and he would also, the Ukrainian, get a wristwatch out
of the deal and the Christian woman would get my ring. The Ukrainian finally
disappeared. I decided to go to the old suburbs because there I had a Polish
acquaintance and the Ukrainian left.
I went to this gentile and he didn't want to let us in. We were very upset
because there were a lot of Polish children who were following us around.
I then went to my landlady. She let me in, I changed clothes. She took me to a
friend of hers' house. I was able to get away with all this because the
murderers were so involved with pushing the rest of the Jewish population (our
dear brothers and sisters) to the train where they were going to be deported.
The Jews who remained, they still had use for so they let us go home.
Later on, there was a second round-up an my husband was at work. I was supposed
to be at work too but I had paid somebody do go in my stead. I wanted to be
with my children and had I not I am sure the children would have been taken
At the end of 1942, we went into the Demblin camp, where we remained until July
of 1944. The director of the camp was Venkart. At that point, an S.S. man from
Czenstechov by the name of Bartenschlager came and the murderer Venkart sent us
with other families to Czenstechov. We begged him not to send us because we had
children. But he didn't listen, I don't remember if it was 12 or 14 children.
When we arrived in Czenstechov they took the children away from us. The Germans
fooled us. They said that they had to examine the children separately. And we
never saw the children again.
Cursed shall be Venkart, the Jewish murderer. As for the German murderers there
is no fit punishment bad enough.
We were liberated on the 16th
of January, 1945.
Memories of Hitler's Hell
by Rhoda Lindover
I'm not going to write down everything or describe everything that I saw or
that happened to me because of the state of my health. I don't dare put that
much stress on myself. I'll just outline the last epic.
The first round-up was in 1942 in the month of May. The whole family was still
together at that point. My husband, my parents, my sister-in-law with her
child. But already in the first round-up, the bandits sent them to Sobibor. The
of May is very well engraved in my memory because of the horrible events that
happened. Very early in the morning, my saintly husband went out into the
street to see what was happening but he couldn't get back because the town was
being surrounded with trucks and guarded by S. S. and police. People were
running around like crazy as if to say where are we going to run to, where are
we going to go?
My husband and my brother looked for a place to hide. They sent a messenger to
us to say that we shouldn't go to the market place, but to find a place to hide
with a gentile. Maybe somebody would let us in. My parents didn't want to hear
about hiding and they said to me I'm young and that I should save myself. But
they went to the square all by themselves and with them went my sister-in-law
with her child.
I went to a gentile neighbor's house and begged him to let me come in until the
murderers had left the city. And understand that I immediately gave him
everything I had on me. He did let me stay there as long as it took until the
Germans started going house to house to root out Jews and at that point he
threw me out and said that he was afraid that the Germans would find me.
I went out and passed the gendarmerie and kept running. Happily, the villains
didn't recognize me as a Jewess. The whole town of Jews had already been
gathered together in the square to be taken away. I ran to the station thinking
that maybe I could travel to some little town where there was still some Jews
left. On the way, a Sergeant from the fortress recognized me and he was a
customer in our business. He took me to his house, in an attic and hid me
there. In the same house lived Moshele Zvigenboin was a tailor.
In the attic there was a little window which looked out onto the street and
from there we could see everything. I heard a howling and crying in the square
and the shooting of the bandits. Later, around 6 p.m. in the evening, the whole
transport went through the street underneath where I was hidden. And I saw my
dear parents and sister-in-law. My mother carried the child in her arms. Just
as the tears flowed down from the people's eyes, the rain flowed from heaven at
that point. The people were beaten by the bandits with their rifle butts
because they couldn't go fast enough.
When I saw that I wanted to run down into the street and just go with them in
the transport, the gentile stopped me, he wouldn't let me go. He locked me in.
But with one blow I was able to open the door and went down, but he wouldn't
let me go into the street until it had become very dark. That's the first time
that I went into the street. I didn't find one Jew. Where was I supposed to go
now? Everybody was gone. I went home but to who? Coming home to the house, I
found my saintly husband and my brother who were striking their heads on the
wall in absolute desperation since everybody had been taken away. But, they
hadn't planned on seeing me. They hadn't realized that I'd been able to hide.
There was nothing in the house because the goyim had robbed everything. So we
went looking for Jews. We found a few Jews who had also been able to hide
themselves. That's the way we were in the town until the 12
of May. After that, we went into the Demblin camp. The other Jews remained in
the city until the second round-up.
Exactly when the second round-up happened I don't remember. My brother remained
in the city because he was very sick with typhus. He was hidden in another
house, in an attic with Esther Shapiro and her husband. Before the end of the
second round-up, I went out of the camp not caring whether I was allowed to or
not and I ran into the city. And the scenes of the dead laying in the street
are things that are etched into my memory. I went among the dead and turned
every corpse over to see if it was my brother, but them I found my brother
among the living. However, my joy did not last long with him.
The few Jews who did remain went into the camp after the second round-up. My
saintly brother went to a Christian to hide himself. At the end of 1944, the
Christian's neighbor went to the gendarmes and ratted that there was a Jew
hanging around and the gendarmes came right away with their dogs who tore my
brother to pieces. A bullet was too precious to them, they couldn't use a
bullet. I was told all of this after the liberation.
I and my saintly husband went into the Demblin camp. In the year 1943 the
S. S. came and took everything that we still had.
That's the way we spent our sorry days until 1944. When the Russians got close
to the Vistula, they wanted to take us all to Auschwitz, but we remained in the
middle of the road in Czenstechov. There, the Latvians and the Ukrainians took
us down to rail cars and we went to a camp called Hasag to work in the
ammunition factory. My husband was quickly broken by all of this, especially
when he saw a sign in the camp that said, "Don't laugh, because if you do,
you're going to be melted down to scrap." With each day, myself and my
dear husband felt that the end was coming. He was very, very desperate and
Two weeks after coming to the camp, the bandits made a deportation of women and
at the same time they shot quite a few children, among them many of those from
Demblin. A sister of my husband was sent away with her child, with her little
girl, to Germany. The second child stayed with me.
When the Russians came close, they took all the men and put them in rail cars
and sent them back to Germany. Three days later they drove the women out of the
barracks and ordered them to begin to march to Germany. We stayed out that way,
just standing around, for hours, in a bitter cold until the Russian airplanes
started to fly overhead. Our prayer was that they should blow us up with bombs
before the Germans would have a chance to murder us.
of January, 1945 we were liberated by the Russians. My husband didn't live to
see that. The men had been taken to Buchenwald and my husband was being led to
work one day, couldn't go fast enough, so they killed him.
Of my whole family, I survived with a sister, who is now in Australia. My
brother and his wife survived in Russia and they're also in Australia now.
On their last Journey
by Binyamin Shtamler, Ramat-Gan
When Hitler's boot soldiers invaded Poland, thus starting the Second World War,
I was a soldier in the Polish army. I was sent to the front, but did not fight
because the Polish army was retreating. After a month of difficult wandering I
came back, in December 1939 from imprisonment, to Demblin. The Germans, who had
occupied the town, were busy rebuilding Demblin's big airfield, which they had
completely obliterated. To my surprise, I found there hundreds of Demblin's
Jews who worked rebuilding the field for minimal wages. Under the regime of
Ridz-Smigli and the minister Beck, who were anti-Semites, no such work was
given to Jews.
Friends and acquaintances suggested that I get a job at the airfield. Even my
friend Mr. Leizor Teichman, who was chief of the Judenrat, advised me to do so.
I came to work as a certified electrician. With a Polish foreman, I received a
group of people to work with. We returned every evening to sleep at our homes
in the town.
The Jews who did not work at the airfield found other work. But we suffered
from confiscation's, poll tax and fines and many insults. I especially remember
the punishment we received for not filling up the quota of people for cleaning
the town's streets. In this case, the Germans collected the Judenrat in the
market and forced them to ride piggyback on each other, to amuse the Nazi
With the establishment of the Demblin ghetto in the end of 1941, and the
beginning of the offensive on Russia, who had joined the Allied Forces, the
Jews' situation worsened. The first victim that was murdered by the Nazis was
Akiva Rothschield's wife. The excuse was that she left the ghetto's area.
The quartermaster's chief, an infamous Nazi by the name of Geede, who was
stationed in Pulaw, used to come to Demblin every once in a while and
confiscate anything he wanted. This hurt the town's Jews. Once he came to
confiscate merchandise from Binyamin Itsik, and Mr. Leizor Teichman heard about
it. Teichman went immediately to the Demblin police, where he had some
influence, and reported to them that merchandise was being confiscated behind
their back, so maybe they would lose their share in the loot. The German police
consequently went to the site and sent Geede out of town.
A few days later Geede assemble the Judenrat staff from the area, the ones who
were under his jurisdiction, issued them some administrative orders and ordered
them back to their stations. All except for Teichman, who was forbidden to
return to Demblin. Teichman was transferred to another town, and was murdered
there publicly by Geede, apparently knowing that he had something to do with
his having to leave Demblin. The town's Jews were mournful. Especially missing
Teichman were those who needed welfare; Mr. Teichman had taken care of them
with devotion. He had a talent for public work, although he stayed away from
politics all those years. He managed the community as well as anyone could and
tried to better the residents' condition without discrimination.
The Dembliners lived their lives without knowing what the future had in store
for them. Then came the bitter day, May 5, 1942. It was a spring day. The
bright blue skies hid what was to become of the Demblin community. That day, at
dawn, there were frightening rumors that the S. S. had surrounded the
city. We did not know what was to happen in the town and were very worried
about our families there. After a short time, the camp's commissioner told us
that we should stand with the rest of the town's Jews at the market square,
next to the house of Reb Zalman the folk doctor.
We went there worried. When we arrived, we found most of Demblin's Jews
standing in lines, men separated away from women, surrounded by armed
S. S. troops. I took my place at the end of the line, by the road to the
Study House, so I could see my family and join them. All was in vein - I
could see none of them.
A tthat time I saw the shoemaker Lazor Zucker bending to fetch his hat, which
had fallen, holding a suitcase with his other hand. The murderer Geede noticed
him, whipped him and kicked him with his nailed boots. The suitcase fell to the
floor and burst open. It contained tallit, tfillin and a piece of bread. When
Zucker tried to lift the tallit and tfillin, Geede beat him to death.
So we stood awaiting an order. During all that time we heard curses, whipping
and other tortures. It seems that despite our not knowing, the labor camp
officials, who were interested in skilled workers, tried to keep us from being
transported. From this transport, several of us, including myself, were pulled
out of the lines and returned to work at the airfield. The rest of the town's
residents, including my father, mother, brothers and other relatives, were sent
to the train station without knowing their fate.
When I returned to the camp, I immediately went to the train station. I met a
few people on the way who told me about the atrocities that were dome there.
The way to the station was filled with soldiers and armed S. S. men. I
went to the cars trying to save someone from my family, but in vain. I heard
the screams and the crying of the poor ones; the Germans shouting and their
I returned heart broken to the camp, recounting the atrocities that I had
witnessed. I saw my brothers and father only from the distance, when they
walked with the rest of Demblin's Jews to their deaths. I did not see my mother
(Written by Yisrael Rozenwien)
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