Jews of Demblin tell about the Holocaust
We are now going to give you in shortened form these testimonies by various
surviving Jews of Demblin. People who are grown up, people who are young and
people who are children, in the years 1946 and 1947, told about their memories
to the people who were working for the historical commission at the central
committee of the liberated Jews in the American section of Germany. Although
these testimonies, which are answers to a list of questions, are full of
contradictions and the details are not often right, and they contradict the
real historical facts and events, since these testimonials were included in Yad
Vashem in Jerusalem, we decided to publish them in our book, although in a
condensed and edited form.
1. The Story of Fela Gemvitska
Demblin was an old community with hundreds of years of history. Until the
outbreak of the War, 6,000 Jews lived there. The main forms of making a living
were in business and through craftwork. In the town there was one synagogue, 1
study house, a cemetery, a drama circle, a business bank, and various political
organizations. During the German occupation, the synagogue and the study house
were destroyed. The bricks and other building materials from the destroyed
buildings were used by the Germans for other kinds of building projects.
These were some of the most important events in the city from the beginning of
the War, the 1st
of September, 1939:
A few days after the outbreak of the War, the Germans came into the town. Their
first anti-Jewish orders were that everybody wear white arm bands with a blue
Star of David on them. They started taking people to forced labor, unloading
coal, taking the synagogue and the study house apart, cleaning the streets and
working at the airfield. Women worked with men.
In the city they started a punishment camp and there they beat them. There was
one occasion when a Jewish youth was punished with 80 lashes on his bare body
and with the last blow he died.
Somebody who came late, or didn't show up to work, the Germans would call out
of where they lived and if they didn't come, they got somebody else in his
stead and tortured him until the guilty one showed up. Then they'd let the
other person go.
The Germans would loot and plunder Jewish businesses and dwellings. They drove
up with an automobile, took whatever they liked, like bedding and sheets and
blankets and furniture, goods from stores, garments of all kinds, and they
demanded tributes of 80,000 zlotys.
In the beginning of 1941, the Germans carried out a confiscation of all Jewish
property, but even earlier, after occupying the city, they had taken the best
Jewish apartments and dwellings which were prepared for them before hand. At
work, they cut off Jews' beards. Sometimes they just grabbed their beards out
with their hands and beat them murderously.
At the end of 1940, the Jews of Pulaw were deported to Demblin in rail cars,
and because of the terrible cold, a lot of the children and the old people
froze to death on the way.
In the beginning of 1941, they established a Jewish quarter in Demblin. The 3rd
of May, 1942, was the big deportation. Over a thousand Jews were sent off to
Sobibor. After that action, they brought a transport of Jews from
Czechoslovakia. They sent a Czech family into each house. Three months later,
the second deportation, to Poniatov, took place. In that action, they deported
almost all the Jews that remained. The people who they left were workers in
agriculture, at the airport, the Jewish police and Judenrat.
In November, 1942, Demblin was Judenrein [Jewish free]. Only the workers at the
airport were allowed in the camp in town which was a kind of a section of
Maidanek. In the airfield the Jews worked together with Polish workers who
would help them a little bit every now and then. But the Polish supervisors had
a very, very bad attitude towards the Jews.
A few days before the liberation of Demblin in 1944, they deported all of the
Jews in the city to the Czenstechov camp, Warta. A lot of men went to the camp
of Rakov. Two transports from Demblin went to Czenstechov. In the first
transport, they were able with gold and money, to bribe the S. S.
overseers, and the children remained, but hidden under the floorboards. After
arriving in Czenstechov, they sent everybody to the baths and in that way were
easily able to rob everything that people were able to bring with them.
At the camp at Warta, everybody worked at the ammunition factory under the
supervision of Jewish and Ukrainian supervisors who didn't conduct themselves
any better than the Germans. The Jews were from Krakow. The commandant,
Imerglik, his assistant Frenkel, the watchman Frekle and Shlavinsky,
distinguished themselves for their ability to beat up their brother Jews during
work or at the roll calls when everybody had to stand straight.
A lot of Dembliner Jews died from hunger in the camp or just disappeared
without a trace, after they were taken away for some supposed infraction. There
was one instance when they hung someone just because he stole a little bit of
something to eat.
In Warta we worked for six months, and before the liberation from Warta and
Rakov, they got together a thousand men and drove them into Germany. On the
way, perhaps half of them died. The other people from Warta were liberated by
the Soviet Army on the 18th
of January, 1945. They had the good luck to remain in Czenstechov because the
Germans just didn't have time to evacuate them.
The gentile population of Demblin had a very bad attitude toward the Jews and
helped the Germans in their anti-Jewish actions. There was not an organized
Jewish uprising. The number of Jews who remained alive, I estimate at 800. The
camps went through 500. There were a few people who were able to just save
themselves on their own, one way or another.
Ansbach - Mittelfranken, May 10, 1947 - Interviewer: Hermann Aftergut
2. The Story of Moshe Melaver
The Jewish community of Demblin, in Garvoliner district, was begun in 1862. Six
thousand Jews lived there, who were involved in trade and business and craft
work. In the town, there were 20 little houses of prayer, 1 synagogue, a study
house, a cemetery, 3 Jewish banks, a loan agency, and a free medical clinic.
There was also a library, a school, a drama circle, an association of
craftsmen, a professional association and political parties.
A few weeks after the Germans marched into town, they burned the synagogue.
When that happened a lot of holy books were burned as well. The next morning,
the German commandant called the president of the Juderat and asked him, who
burned the synagogue?
The gravestones of the cemetery, which was located 3 kilometers behind the town
of Bobrowniki, were torn out and were used as pavement with the lettering up.
The Germans came into Demblin the 20th
of September, 1939 and immediately set about robbing Jewish stores, threw the
merchandise out, some of it they took for themselves, some of it they let the
Polish population divide up. Then, a number of Jews returned to the city. Those
Jews who had hidden themselves at the outbreak of the War, the Germans picked
up on the street and sent away to Radom. Of that number, only three of them
returned. The other ones were murdered there.
They began to pick up Jews for forced labor and beat them and tortured them and
cut their beards. On a certain day, they ordered all the Jews to gather in the
market place and the chief of the gendarmes gave them a little lecture about
how Jews should conduct themselves. The first thing they should do was to
surrender all their radios, and if they failed to do that, they would get shot.
When this last remark was made, the Polish onlookers applauded. Afterwards,
they began to confiscate Jewish property.
At the end of 1939 they ordered Jews to wear white arm bands with blue Stars of
David. Almost every day they came up with new strictures in Jewish homes. They
managed to get all of the things of value. A commission of Poles participated
in the confiscation of Jewish houses and businesses. At the end of 1940, the
gold and fur action took place and they threatened Jews with death if they did
not surrender their gold and their furs on their own.
In the beginning of 1941, in the winter, they created a ghetto, one that was
not locked. They brought Jews from Pulaw to this ghetto. The Jews were employed
at the airfield, at the train station, in agriculture outside the town, and
unloading coal and in the firm Schultz.
of May, 1942, was the first deportation. They left the workers at the
airfield, at the train station and at the firm Schultz. After the deportation,
they created a camp at the airfield, where they sent the remaining workers. The
regime in the camp was a very strict one. After that they created two more
camps for workers, at the train station, and at Schultzes.
of May, 1942, after the deportation, they brought 2,000 Jews from Preschov in
Czechoslovakia into town and put them up in the ghetto that had been cleared
out in the deportation. Some of the Slovakian Jews were employed at the hardest
work in the camps, while some of the others lived in the ghetto in the most
difficult conditions. On the 15th
of October, 1942 was the second deportation, which was carried out by a small
number of police with the help of the garrison of the Wermacht at the airfield.
The deported Jews were sent off to Treblinka (Editor's note: In the previous
testimony, that person identifies the destination as Sobibor and not as
Treblinka. We allow this contradiction to remain, just as it was found in the
From the previous Demblin ghetto, there only remained the Jewish police and the
Judenrat. Their task was to gather up the dead bodies and conduct the Germans
through the empty Jewish homes to show them what were the supposedly hidden
things of value. In the locale of the former Jewish bank, they gathered
together all the Jewish possessions that had lasted until the second
After a few days, they put the Jewish police and Judenrat in three camps. After
a little while, they liquidated two camps. The only one that remained at that
point was the one at the airfield. There, they had a thousand Jews until the 22nd
of July, 1944. With the approach of the Red Army, they led the camp workers
out and sent them to Czenstechov, to the ammunition factory, Warta. There they
worked in very strenuous, difficult conditions, until December of 1944. After
that, they took some of the Jews to Buchenwald. The 5th
of January, 1945, they took out another group of Jews and sent them to
Germany. A small group of the Demblin Jews, about 300 or 400, who worked in the
camps Warta and Rakov, remained in Czenstechov, because the Germans didn't have
time to evacuate them. The Jews were liberated by the Soviet Army.
The Christian population had a terrible attitude towards the Jews during the
years of the occupation. They also had a terrible attitude after the liberation.
There wasn't any organized Jewish uprising. The majority of the Jews from
Demblin perished in the concentration camps. About 600 Jews survived. Of that,
a small number returned from Russia where they had fled in 1939.
Of the outstanding personalities in the city, I was acquainted with the first
resident of the Judenrat in 1939, Leizor Teichman. He was 44 years old at that
time, someone who had done a lot in the community even before the War. He
always tried to serve the Jewish people of Demblin, with the help of his
secretary, the lawyer, Kannaryenfogel, who was 40 years old. They did the best
that they could to help. That did not please the Germans, and in 1940, they
took them to the town of Vonvolnitz, near Pulaw, and murdered them there.
Dr. Konshtern was known in the city as the philanthropist and someone who was
involved in doing social work. In the beginning of the War in 1939, he went to
Russia and lived in the Ukraine, but when the Germans invaded Russia in 1941,
he was able to return to Demblin. But the Poles squealed on him to the German
Dr. Yarmeyohu Vanapol was also known as someone who did a lot for the
community. The Poles accused him of espionage and sent him to the concentration
camp at Kartuz-Bereza. When the Germans entered Kartuz-Bereza they killed him
and his wife, who was with him, as one of their first acts.
Ansbach City, Interviewer: L. Henig, November 22, 1947 - Chairman of the
historical Commission: A. Kostetzky
3. The Story of Wolf Rozenson
The Jewish community in Demblin existed for many hundreds of years. Until the
War there were 6,000 families living there and most of them lived from
business. The religious community didn't have its own building but conducted
its affairs in the house of a Jew. There was a study house, a yeshiva, a
cemetery, a free clinic, a bank, free loan service, professional association
and craftsmen association. There were also various Zionist groups, revisionists
and the other Zionists.
Almost all of the Jews at the outbreak of the War remained in the town. As the
second biggest airport in Poland was found in Demblin, the city was heavily and
of September, 1939 the Germans came into town, into Demblin. Their first
action was to grab Jews and make them go to forced labor at the airfield, at
the fortress, to fix the highway and clean the streets. On Yom Kippur, they
gathered the Jewish men, women and children at the airfield, and ordered them
to dance and work. In the evening, they sent everybody home.
The Germans demanded repeated monetary and property tributes from the Jewish
population. In the year 1940 (or 1941) they confiscated 2 big Jewish iron
businesses. In the beginning of 1941, the ghetto was founded, 3 narrow streets
at the end of town. They made people go there and allowed them only to carry
hand baggage. Afterwards, the Judenrat was given the responsibility to provide
the Germans with the most beautiful and the best furniture from the Jewish
houses. While the Jews didn't dare to leave the ghetto, the Christians were
allowed to go in and go out.
German soldiers would cut off half of a Jew's beard and then display him in a
car through town. Afterwards, the Jew cut off the other half of the beard by
themselves. At the end of 1940 they made Jews wear blue Stars of David on white
arm bands. Forced labor began for the Jewish population as soon as the Germans
came into town. In the camp of Plaschov, near Krakow, in October of 1941, they
sent 12 Jews from Demblin. They were supported somewhat by the Judenrat.
The Jews of Demblin were deported to a second place because they brought in
other Jews from Bobrownik into our town. There weren't any pogroms, executions,
or any great acts of plunder. Then on the 6th
of May, 1942 the first deportation occurred. Those who didn't get out of their
houses quickly enough were shot on the spot, the others were taken out into the
forest and shot there.
On the 14th
of May, 1942, a transport of 1,500 to 2,000 Jews from Preschov,
Czechoslovakia, came into Demblin carrying a lot of packages. They looked
pretty well off because until they were sent to Poland their conditions weren't
really that bad, they were relatively tolerable. They were forthwith sent to
forced labor and at night they came back into the ghetto.
In October of 1942, the ghetto was liquidated. The Jews of Slovakia met the
same fate that was also dealt out to the Jews who were brought into the Demblin
ghetto after the first deportation. Those who were late and those who had tried
to hide from the second deportation were taken out to a side street and were
all shot there. And if the Germans didn't reach their quota of Jews who were
supposed to be killed, they would even kill some Jews who had work cards and
who were employed in fairly important projects. The quota had to be filled. The
only Jews who were left over were those who worked at the airport, in the
fortress, at the train station and those who worked on the Vistula.
The deported Jews were ordered to leave all of their hand baggage at the place
that they were gathered together and were promised that as soon as they arrived
at their destination they'd get everything back. Of course, that never
happened. The unfortunate ones were packed 120 to each cattle car. My wife,
myself and our 6 children succeeded in avoiding being deported because we had
our work cards. In that action they were able to deport 2,000 people.
We remained at our work place until July of 1944, especially at the airport.
After that, they sent some of the people to Maidanek and others to Czenstechov,
at the ammunition factory. In that transport of 200 Jews, my own family was
included. We traveled 50 people to a car, without eating and without water and
upon arriving in Czenstechov they immediately shot 15 children up to the age of
13, and among them, my three children. They'd already prepared the graves
After about 3 days, another transport arrived from Demblin. The sent us all to
forced labor in the ammunition factory. Those who were able to work to capacity
weren't treated so badly, but those who could not do exactly what was expected
of them, were beaten murderously. This was done by two S. S. men. When
they got tired of beating people up, they had replacements.
We slept on wooden planks on the floor, covered with just a sack. The lice and
fleas bit horribly, but there was nothing we could do about it.
With the approach of the Red Army towards Czenstechov, they evacuated us to
Buchenwald, on the 12th
of January, 1945. Afterwards, we were liberated by the Red Army.
As to the attitudes and behavior of the gentiles towards the Jewish population,
it was very bad. In the camps, the Poles continually ratted on Jews. There
wasn't any uprising or resistance among the Dembliner Jews.
Those who survived were about 100 people.
Among the outstanding people in our town I want to remember are Moshe
Lichtenschtein, 53 years old. He was a pious Jew, a Torah scholar, very learned
and he was killed during the first deportation to Sobibir, the 5th
of May, 1942.
Ansbach-Mittelfranken, May 10, 1947 - Interviewer: Hermann Aftergut
4. The Story of Shloma Velt
He was born in 1903 in Kuzmeire. His profession was a tailor. He lives in Niv
Olim, Ludendorf. He gave the following testimony about his surviving the
ghetto. Demblin, Zjelichov, Czenstechov.
Before Rosh Hashanah, 1939, the Germans tore into Zjelechov. I, my wife, and my
two children had found ourselves all of a sudden in Zjelechov because of the
terrible German bombardment of Demblin which was our place that we lived. The
first day, the Germans gathered all the men together who they found in the city
in the square. They surrounded us with machine guns, and we stood there for a
long time. Afterwards the German officer ordered that whoever had a weapon
should give it up and if not they would be shot. We sat on the square with our
eyes looking with great terror at the machine guns, which were right up against
us, and wondering when we were going to be shot. When the Germans convinced
themselves that there weren't any weapons around, they finally let us get home.
On the second day, which was the first day of Rosh Hashanah, the same events
were repeated, but on this occasion they communicated that all of those people
who were from Demblin, had to go home. So they lined us up in rows of four and
began to drive us in the direction of Demblin. You had to run the whole way and
whoever stopped for whatever reason, was shot on the spot. As you can imagine,
in that situation, many people were killed. Finally we arrived at Demblin. The
Germans had ordered the creation of a Judenrat. Afterwards, the Germans
demanded various tributes. The whole pattern of forced labor began. The Germans
carried out furniture and other valuable objects from Jewish homes, which they
took away in their cars. Thus began a chain of suffering and pain until the
Autumn of 1940.
At that time, the Germans ordered that all Jews had to come together in one
area which they designated. They also brought Jews there from Ryki, Zvolein and
other places. As a result of this in gathering, the conditions became extremely
overcrowded. We lived several families to a room. The same problem was felt as
far as what we had to eat. Someone who had a craft, a skilled workman, could
earn a little bit and could sell a little bit on the black market, but
everybody else was condemned to hunger. I used to work at several different
jobs, and of course, in the process I had to put up with all sorts of sorrow
and beatings. People would often die in all kinds of circumstances. For
whatever reason, if somebody wasn't able to show up at his job, they simply
shot him. Others went to work to what were lakes. There, at these places, Jews
had to put up with incredible amounts of abuse and torture. If in the slightest
way a German's order wasn't carried out to the last detail, people would just
be shot immediately. People use to be killed often at the railroad. There, the
Germans would catch Jews who were riding on a train illegally and they had
already prepared a special little three-walled iron cubby hole. The Jews that
they took off the train were taken right to that place and that was the place
that they shot more. Those kinds of things happened everyday. So it went until
of May, 1942.
On the night of the 5th
of May, 1942, we saw that it was light in the rooms of the Judenrat office and
that the people that were working there were very occupied and very busy
writing lists. We understood that something was going to happen and happen very
soon. But we didn't know exactly what. Something momentous. The whole night the
ghetto was extremely restless and fearful. In the morning, the 6th
of May, they ordered everyone out into the street. The Germans, the
Ukrainians, and the Jewish police drove everybody together, ran around, beat
people, and got them out of their houses. In the streets they lined up the Jews
in rows. I could see from the distance how the people who were working who were
members of the Judenrat would select out to one side their own wives, children
and friends. I was able to turn to an acquaintance who was a Jewish policeman
to persuade him to get my wife and children into that group that had been put
to the side. He did what I asked him to do and led them into that group. I
myself went to the group which was the biggest group of people who were being
gathered together. Standing there, a Polish acquaintance came to me and said
that I should hide, myself because there were going to be a number of Jews who
were going to remain. At that point I tried to get over to the second group
where those would be allowed to stay, and I was able to do that. The whole
group was kept from 9 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon. At that point
they began to drive the big central group of people to the trains. On the way
the Ukrainian murderers spared no blows. During that process, 500 people were
The Poles were standing by and seemed to be in a very happy mood, celebrating
the whole thing.
When the transport left they ordered all those that had remained to go home. On
the second day, the 6th
of May, a deportation arrived from Ryki. They drove those people through
Demblin. When the Jews from Ryki were driven through town, 62 people fell. They
ordered that 20 men from the ghetto should bury corpses in the cemetery at
Bobrownik. Afterwards, the young men who were on the detail said that many of
the Jews were still alive and the Poles had ripped the clothes off their bodies.
When they led the Jews out of our ghetto, the ones that remained wanted very
badly to know what they were going to do with us. In order to be more sure, we
tried to ask what was happening. We asked various Poles. We didn't just ask one
person, because you're never sure what that person's attitude was going to be.
Also, one of the Poles returned and reported about the Jews who were sent to
Sobibor. He said that there he stood around and saw how the Jews were led in to
the camp where there were only very few barracks to house them. Because he was
interested in what was going to become of so many people with so few barracks
he went up to a Pole there who was working not far from the camp and he asked
him what was going on. He was told that when they brought the Jews in they said
to them that they were going to go take a bath first of all. Everybody was
handed a little washcloth and a little bit of soap and they led them into the
bathing chamber, and shut the door. After that he heard horrible screams.
Afterwards everything became still. Then the same thing would be repeated with
another group. A second Pole came back and said that they were just taking all
those Jews to the Ukraine to work. We believed the second person because we
thought that what the first person said was just because he was an anti-Semite
and he felt like telling lies that were ugly lies. Of course, to our great
sorrow, we learned that it was the first person who was telling the truth. All
the Jews from our neighborhood who were taken from our district went to Sobibor.
Those who survived in the ghetto were ordered to go to work. Twelve days later,
they brought a transport of Jews from Slovakia, about 2,000 people. The Germans
didn't spare any kind of sadistic behaviors. The German S. S. people used
to come into the ghetto and simply as a past time for their enjoyment, beat up
Jews. We used to often get money together so we could bribe the S. S.
people not to torture Jews. The money used to be passed on through the
intervention of the president of the Judenrat, Drabfish, who took all the money
for himself. He also used to distinguish himself with the various tortures that
he would inflict upon the Jews.
That's how our sorrowful days were taken up. We were employed at various tasks
in the camp, which was created at that time, or in German agricultural work
which was directed by an S. S. man, Engineer Ringel. In the camp at
Demblin, there was a punishment chamber for the Jews which was the domain of
the Pole Ivaskavitch who with his very own hands, killed hundreds of Jews.
of October, 1942, the second deportation from the ghetto took place. On that
day, the commandant of the criminal police, a Pole, with machine guns, shot
Jews. Several hundreds people died in that way. On the same day, the Engineer
Ringel sent a Christian woman from the work place that he was operating. He
directed her to get a hold of me and my family and some other acquaintances. He
said there was going to be a deportation, and that we should come to him (I
already knew him because I had often sewed clothes for him). We immediately
went to him at the agriculture field that he was operating. Other Jews came as
well. The Engineer Ringel accommodated everybody. Its because of that, thanks
to him, many Jews were saved. At night I was able to get a hold of a
folksdeutche and with him, went into the ghetto to see what had happened.
The first thing that I did when I went into the ghetto was to take a look at
the offices of the Judenrat because it was still light in there. I came upon
something that was very strange. In every corner, there were drunken policemen
and members of the Judenrat. I asked them, "What's going on here? They're
killing hundreds of Jews and you're drinking?" They answered me,
"Tomorrow they're going to shoot us too, so let's get drunk." From
there I went to my dwelling. As I approached I saw spread out on the threshold,
a woman and her child, the brains shot out and the walls sprinkled with blood.
8. The Great Miracle of the little Fegala Feinkind
related by Tz. Tzimravitch
It was the time of the big round-ups in 1942 when the German villains brutally
murdered and tortured Polish Jewry. On a beautiful fall afternoon, the 29th
of October, 1942, when the remaining surviving Dembliner Jews, those who had
survived the two previous round-ups, were pushed together by the S. S. and
the police into rail cars. A murderous Polish hand helped in the extermination.
A gentile woman gave a small Jewish girl, about 2 years old, whose name was
Fela Feinkind (the little daughter of Moshe Feinkind and Chava, whose maiden
name was Tzimravitch), who had been hidden for a great price. The Christian
woman was being paid to hide the child, but gave her up to the police, and
explained that this was a Jewish child and one should dispose of her the way
one did with all the rest of the Jews.
Luckily, a good angel, in the person of a second polish woman, happened to show
up at that moment and she was the director of the Polish orphanage in Demblin
"Kapitanove" Tomkievitch. She sized up what was happening immediately
and she intervened with the chief of police, whose name was Lieutenant Rudolf,
and said that one really couldn't be sure that in fact that was a Jewish child,
and she suggested that the best way to handle the situation was to temporarily
give this child to the priest and give him three weeks, during which time maybe
he could get in touch with the parents or the relatives of the child because
the child looked Polish, it didn't look Jewish. Meanwhile, she took the child
in herself to the orphanage with the consent of the chief of the police and
there the child stayed the whole three weeks.
However, this episode came to the attention of a second policeman, a
folksdeutche, whose name was Edek, who was famous in the whole area for being a
terrible sadist and brute. He had hundreds of victims on his conscience. He
rubbed his hands in sadistic glee with the thought he would soon shoot the
blond, Jewish child. But his devilish plan didn't work out. He, with great
impatience, demanded that the truth of this matter be established. He decided
to research the matter directly with the child. After the three weeks were up,
he went to the priest and found out that nobody had come forth to claim the
child. He took the child outside of the orphanage, at that point, since they
couldn't find this child's parents, in order to shoot her. But first, just to
make sure, he spoke to her first in German, then in Polish, and then in
Yiddish, to see if he could get some clue as to her origins. But the child,
sensing the tremendous danger, didn't say a word to him and didn't betray
herself in any way. This just made him crazy with rage, and he whipped out his
revolver and shot. But, to his great astonishment, the gun didn't go off. At
this point, the employees and the director of the orphanage were standing
around and watched as the second time he pulled the trigger, nothing happened.
Then the devil himself began to realize, and said with great bitterness that if
the revolver wouldn't work for the third time it had to be a sign that his
child was destined to live. The third time he shot and the revolver wouldn't
work. That was it, he left.
In that manner, the little Fela Feinkind was saved from his murderous hands and
remained in the Dembliner orphanage, known as Krisha Irenska, until the
The day of the liberation arrived. The few Dembliner Jews who through some
miracle or another were able to survive returned to their old homes with the
hope of finding somebody who was close to them. The relatives of little Fegala
still had some hope that she hadn't been lost. After long and difficult
research and looking around, they succeeded in locating her at Kapitanove
Tomkievitch, this woman who ran the orphanage. She said, "If you wont tell
me what happened to the child's mother, I'm not going to tell you
The head of the orphanage was very surprised to learn that a few days before,
during the same great action in Sobolev, a little town near Warsaw, the mother
of the child was hiding with her two children in an attic. Through an accident
she was able to give her two other children to a Christian acquaintance who
sent them away. This woman had been sent by her brother Tzadek Tzimravitch to
save the children and bring them back to Demblin. But, the woman herself [the
mother] couldn't be saved in this situation and she had to remain there in this
attic. Being utterly hopeless, just totally broken and terrified, she went
crazy and remained there in that attic until the villains discovered that she
was there and ordered her to come down. She wouldn't obey. They set the house
on fire. They told her to jump out of the attic. As she jumped into the flames,
they shot her.
After hearing this, the director of the orphanage said, "Now I understand
what happened on a certain summer evening. I was taking a walk with the
children from the orphanage, in a field. The sun was going down and it was
extremely red. Suddenly, little Krisha stopped in her tracks, looking very
intensely at the redness of the sun. She couldn't take her eyes off the sun, as
it was burning red and she screamed, "Look! There, there, a house is
burning, and my mother is jumping from the attic into the fire. Now they shot
her, my mother isn't alive anymore!" And she wouldn't leave the field
until the sun had set completely and the redness had completely disappeared
from the horizon."
That's how our children, not having any developed intellect, all felt together
and saw their little fantasy. With such events there were many people who died
and very few had the happiness to remain alive.
Among the few children who survived Hitler's hell was little Fela Feinkind,
thanks to the intervention of the Jewish orphanage in Lodz who saved her from
Christian hands and who lives today among Jewish children. She's now 6 years
old, but no longer is she Krisha Iranska, but once again she's Faigela
Feinkind. As she herself explained, she is ready to travel to Israel with a lot
of other children.
Witness: Tzepporah Mandelboim - Received by the Historical Commission on
June 20, 1947 in Geiselhoring.
Yad Vashem file no. 1372/1432.
The first Passover in the Camp of Demblin
by S. Perelmuter
A month before Passover, 1943, a group of religious Jews approached Mr. Venkart
(the director of the Jewish camp in Demblin) with a request to allow the
Orthodox Jews to eat kosher food in the coming Passover. Mr. Venkart promised
to look into it.
A few days later, Venkart gave the delegation this answer to the proposal: to
eat kosher food during the eight days of the holiday (one liter for every
portion a day). But he conditioned, that every Jew that wants to enjoy these
portions must sign up and pay 120 zlotys. This list with the money needed to be
delivered two weeks before the holiday.
A committee was established. It was headed by Avraham Fledfabel, Moshe Rozen
and Yosef Shildekroit, may God avenge his blood. They took it upon themselves
the responsibility to collect the money and to make sure of that, God forbid,
there will not be even one religious Jew that will stay without kosher food
because of financial problems. But as luck would have it, some Jews overpaid
and thanks to them, it was possible to get the kosher food for all on Passover.
About two weeks before the holiday the list with the 80 names and the money was
presented to Mr. Venkart and he promised to arrange a kosher kitchen and to
prepare potatoes, onion and margarine.
A week before the holiday, I and my very best friend, Yosef Shildkroit, may God
avenge his blood, were called to Mr. Venkart. He told us that all the
necessities were already in his hands and the kitchen was fixed and arranged.
Because it was decided to make us responsible for the kitchen, the food
preparation and its distribution to the assigned people, he would release us
for 10 days (2 days before the holiday and the eight days of the holiday) from
work in the airport but he asked us to prepare the kitchen, after our work day,
for the kitchen to be ready for Passover.
He walked with us to the end of the cabin of the guards (comendiatora), there
stood a structure by the size of 9x9 square feet that in its north corner was
the cooking oven by the size of 140x1, but because there was no room for
storage, we were promised that every evening after handing out the food we
would get the supply for the next day. They ordered for us a new pot that could
accommodate eighty portions and also a pan and red beets to cook soup for the
Two days before the holiday we were baking matzos on the oven for the Jews,
that succeeded to get 2 ½ kilos of flour, but we also succeeded to arrange
that every assigned Jew got at least three matzos.
In the morning of the eve of the holiday we prepared the beet soup, but the
main dish was cooked in the afternoon. We were very anxious for the taste of
the festive food.
In the evening after the evening prayer, the crowd gathered in a special cabin
to have the "seder". At the head of the table sat Layrish Bigelman,
Moshe Rozen and Ahron Meir Edelman of blessed memory (the last one was a
distinguished scholar from the Kotzak Hasids that came from Pulaw to our camp.
On Passover, 1945, while staying in Buchenwald, he lived on one potato a day,
and when he was told that eating chametz isn't like being killed and not to
transgress he answered that anyway his verdict was to die in the camp on
Passover, therefore it was better to appear pure before God. And he really died
the last day of Passover in Buchenwald.)
Around the table sat all the assigned ones to eat the kosher food and following
them sat the rest of the public. Rabbi Layrish Bigelman made the blessing on a
cup of beet soup and the director of the camp, Mr. Venkart, was honored to sing
the four questions, and after that the whole crowd shouted "We were
slaves!" and burst into a bitter cry. When the time came to say
, Rabbi Ahron Meir read with a strong emphasis: "For more than once have
they risen against us to destroy us, in every generation they rise against us
and seek our destruction, but he Holy One, blessed be He, saves us from their
The people felt some of a relief as they were promised a promise that certainly
would be fulfilled.
Late at night, this very special seder was over and the kitchen functioned
during all eight days of the holiday.
Every morning for the eight days of the holiday, just before being called to
work, they handed out the food portions and in the evening after work the hot
kosher soup was distributed.
The Destruction of my Hometown
by Chaya Shildkroit
When war broke out, the first bombs fell on the airfield. We had to run away to
Ryki. The German airplanes spent several days, they used to fly down very low,
and shoot the population and half of Ryki was burned to the ground.
We made our way to the edge of the city and hid there behind the wall of the
mill, near a little village, and there we remained, covered with our coats. We
didn't have anything else. We weren't able to move out of there, because on the
other side of the town everything was burned down. We made our last confessions
because we really believed that we'd never get out of there alive.
Then, in the early evening, we left and went to another village, 12 kilometers
away, and we spent 10 days there. Afterwards, we went back to Demblin, where
the Germans were already in control.
We were in the ghetto until the first deportation. And understand that we
weren't eating honey there. Before the round-up, we had been going to labor
everyday. During the first round-up, I came with my family to the market place.
We stood there, four in a row, and the gendarmes and the Judenrat picked out
people they thought were capable of working and also for the other kinds of
jobs that they had. Thanks to them, I was allowed to remain. But everybody else
was sent away.
At the second round-up, myself and my dear husband were sent to work at the
rail station. And understand, that this was done with the help of the Judenrat.
A couple days later, the word started to go around that there was going to be
another round-up, and we were called once again to the market place. I went
with my two daughters, the middle one and the youngest one. My oldest daughter
was employed in agricultural work. My husband and son were working at the train
From the market place on the Warshavsky highway, I told my children that they
had to run away. They were very young - one was 9 years old and the second
was not quite 5. I wanted my 9 year old to run out of the line, but she didn't
want to go by herself. But it wasn't possible for me to run away with two
little kids. Afterwards she did agree, that I with the little one, would run
away first, and that she would follow. And that's what I did finally.
I ran to a Christian acquaintance with my child, and he told me to go up to the
attic. Meanwhile, a Jewish woman followed me, she ran after me. They ran after
her with a gun. I thought they were running after me. And I went back to the
highway and back into the line and got my 9 year old daughter. I found her, and
we covered our heads with scarves, so that we wouldn't be recognized and I
begged her, I told her, I asked her, that as soon as we begin to run, she
should start to run immediately because I couldn't do that right away and I
gave her my word that as soon as I got the chance, I would run after her.
Finally, she obeyed me, and ran. But to whatever gentile she went, she was
driven away. "Get out of here, you dirty little Jew!" That's what
they told her everywhere. She went to a field, found a hole, and hid herself
When I ran away again with my five year old child, a Jewish woman followed me
again. We were three lost souls. I found a Christian and asked him to hide us
until night. He refused. I offered to pay him very well and he said to go into
the field, where there was a little wooden shack and that's where we all hid.
We went in there, and sitting there, I saw, between a crack in the wall, that
my other daughter, Andzya, was out there in the field. I called her a few
times, and then she finally came closer, and finally all four of us were
The gentile told us, he promised, that when it got dark, he would take us into
the town, because we'd heard there were 200 Jews remaining there and we wanted
to be with them.
Meanwhile, while we were sitting there in the shack, we heard a lot of
shooting. And that night, the gentile came and suggested that if we paid him
enough, he would lead us into town. At first, the other woman would go with
Andzya, my daughter. He said, myself and my little daughter should remain in a
ditch and cover ourselves with boards. He said that he would come back and at a
signal we would go with him.
He took us behind the city, near the sawmill. Afterwards, we went through the
back streets and came to Barryl Sherman's. I knew that he worked for the
gendarmerie and there would be some of the 200 Jews remaining there. And that
was the case. When I arrived, my daughter, Andzya, and the woman, were already
there, and also, Barryl, with his wife and child. There was a little candle
burning. It was like we were sitting
, waiting, for the night to end.
When dawn broke, I left my two children and I went to the place where they were
doing the agricultural work, where my third daughter, Rashke, who was 11 years
On the way there, a couple of wagons went by, and they were full of dead Jews,
and they had been thrown in like herring, with the heads hanging down, and they
were taking them out of the ghetto.
Not far from the work place there, I encountered Rashke. She ran out of the
gate to me. The person who was the watchman made an exception for her, because
he'd been a customer in my business. She was so happy to see me and she told me
everything. And she said that she stood there by the gate, the whole night
long, and begged to be let out, she didn't want to live at all if her parents
were already dead, but the gentile watchman wouldn't let her go. And it's
thanks to him, that she remained where she was supposed to there, because
otherwise, she wouldn't be alive.
And after all of this sorrow and grief that we endured, a couple of days later,
the word got around, they were going to make the city "judenrein". So
what were we supposed to do now? A couple days, before, with great, great
effort, I sent my husband and son, Avrom, 7 years old, away and so now I was
confronted with the great question, what was I supposed to do now?
When we came to the gate of the work place, I begged the watchman to hide us
until we could get into the camp. Three days we stayed in the watchman's
cellar. Until the people at the work place were able to let me in and get me
some kind of written paper to make me legal so that we could remain in the camp.
There were 950 people in the Demblin camp. There were Jews from Budapest and
from Austria, but the majority of them were Polish Jews. We worked there two
years. After that, they sent us to Czenstechov. They took my little daughter
away to shoot her with 30 other children. They were away for two days. Then, by
some miracle, they returned them to us.
We worked there in the ammunition factory for a half a year. One day, before my
liberation, they took my husband and son away, to Buchenwald. They were there
for five months, without eating practically anything, and working. When my son
went among the sick people, to find something from there that they had to eat,
to nourish himself, they led out his father, Yechael, and his father's brother
Yosef. My son remained in Buchenwald where the American army liberated him.
From Demblin to Bergen-Belsen
by Ahron Katshka, Kibbutz Netzar Sirney
In September of 1939 the Germans came into my town of Demblin. The murderers
began to drag people off to forced labor. They got me as well. They took me to
the train station and ordered me to pick up little pieces of paper along the
rail. In the process I got beaten plenty with a whip until I bled. Afterwards a
train came from Warsaw. I said to my friend who worked with me we should run
away but he didn't want to. It didn't take me very long to think about it and I
ran. I ran in among the stocks of wheat or whatever was growing in the field.
It seemed to me they were running after me, they were going to catch me any
I arrived home out of breath. I couldn't even get a word out of my mouth.
Afterwards I told my parents about how they had beaten and tortured me.
Everyday they dragged us off to forced labor and in that process lots of Jews
got shot. After they ordered all the Jews to go into the ghetto and all of
their possessions were plundered by the Poles.
of May, 1942, the deportation of the ghetto happened. Early in the morning we
heard shots from all sides. A crying arose, the crying of children. They
knocked on our doors with their rifle butts. Some S. S. men came into the
house with an order, we all had to show up at the market place. Imagine our
terror. Our hearts were beating. My mother still wanted to give the children
something to eat. But who could eat? My father said to the children that when
they call you, tell you to do something, you have to go! I grew cold with
fright. We held each other by the hand and went quickly to the market place.
Everything in the house remained wide open for anybody.
The murderers screamed, "Hurry up, hurry up, run!"
I held my younger sister in my arms and very soon we were separated from our
parents. I feel a blow on my head with a piece of iron. I fall unconscious on
When I come to, I looked around me and see absolutely no one of my family. I
was 16 years old then. The S. S. started to beat me again and scream,
"You young dog, you can still work."
From the distance I saw people being driven to the rail cars. My heart was
bitter. Our family consisted of seven souls. Now I was the only one remaining
with my only brother. I watched how the older people with their packs were
pushed into the cars. A hard rain began to fall then. We stood in the market
place until it got dark. Afterwards the murderers gave an order that we should
At the door of our house, I saw my brother. I was so happy to see him that I
fainted. My brother calmed me down and comforted me and said that our parents
would come back. Later though, they never did come back. Often then did I want
to kill myself, but my dear brother always was there to comfort me.
And in this way some months passed. Life got worse. Suddenly we heard that
there was going to be another deportation. My brother then was at work. I
quickly ran out of my room and ran to the sawmill of Samson Rozenman, where I
worked. There was a German foreman there by the name of Ulrich.
I went to the gate and an S. S. man screamed at me, "Stop!"
The foreman came out and told me to go inside. I remained there working but
separated once again from my brother. I remained in the sawmill until they'd
driven out the last Jew from the ghetto.
Afterwards they sent us to work again at the airfield where I found my brother.
We had a very hard life in the camp at the airfield. There was lots and lots of
hardships and sorrow, and I could never stop thinking about my parents.
In 1944 they sent again a transport of a couple of hundred Jews to Czenstechov,
and I was among them. I kissed my brother good-bye and said, "Who knows if
we'll ever see each other again."
My brother answered. "Keep hope alive!"
I was horribly, horribly broken by that experience. With tears in my eyes I had
to part from my brother again. Very soon thereafter they drove us into the cars.
My arrival in the camp at Czenstechov was very sorrowful. The camp was
surrounded by a wall. There was a weapons factory there. I went to work in the
carpenter's shop. Life there was very harsh.
After a little while they brought another transport of Dembliner Jews into the
camp. Among them was my brother. We were very happy to see each other. He said
to me, "Well, you see? You have to have hope. A human being can overcome
anything, but you can never lose hope, even in the worse time."
Again we were together for a year.
A little bit later, the word went around they were going to send people away on
a transport to Germany. On a dark night we suddenly heard the barking of dogs.
The S. S. men opened the door and ordered, "Get up!"
They read from a list of people who had to go. They called my name as well. I
said good-bye to my brother yet another time and said to him, "Now
everything is lost, this is the end."
He said to me, "Remember your parents, you're going to survive."
They drove us into cold rail cars which were covered with thick snow. There
wasn't anything to eat. We stuck our hands out through the windows to grab a
little bit of snow but the watchman began to shoot at the windows.
In that condition we were traveling for several days to Buchenwald. There we
remained a short time. Afterwards they sent us to Dachau. There were 80
thousand men there. One worked under a mountain. There was a bomb factory
there. Everyday lots of people died. They would hang you for just a trifle. I
am not capable of expressing what people had to suffer in that environment.
In the beginning of 1945, English planes began to fly overhead and bombard the
military targets not far from the camp. We often would ask or pray, Oh boy,
wouldn't it be great if a few of those bombs fell on us.
The front got closer to the camp. So they moved the inhabitants of the camp to
Bergen-Belsen. They guarded us very closely in the rail cars. After a week's
time we came out of the wagons of the rail cars. Many, many had died along the
way. We were so weak when we were led into the camp. Whoever couldn't walk got
shot right away. That was the beginning of April, 1945.
At night we heard fierce artillery bombardment. We said to each other that help
was close by. In the meantime there wasn't anything to eat. We had a few old
rotten ribs [from a cow] and divided them up and shared them with each other.
The whole time I thought about my brother who remained in Czenstechov. Would I
be able to see him again?
I was very, very weak. Lying on the ground, I wasn't even able to move. A
friend gave me a little bit of a rib and he just put it right in my mouth. He
said that tomorrow in the morning, everybody would get a whole loaf of bread.
We were lucky because a doctor didn't permit us to eat the bread because it had
A little bit later an English tank entered the camp. My friend who had saved me
with a little bit of rib ran to me and screamed, "We're free".
He dragged me out of the barracks, but I wasn't even able to walk. Later on
with a couple of other friends, they were able to take me out and I saw
everything. We were starving. From the English men we received only very little
to eat. In that way we lived after the liberation for about a year.
I started to think all the time about finding my brother. Once a friend said to
me that he's going to travel to Poland and that he would look for my brother
there, maybe he would find him. That's exactly what happened, he found my
brother in Poland. After a few weeks my brother came to me and we traveled
together to Israel.
Now I live in Kibbutz Netzar with my wife and children, and my brother with his
children in Tel Aviv.
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