On the fourth day of July, 1946, the fifth of Tamuz, 5706, armed Polish rioters, among them also communists, attacked the Jewish committee house on Planty Boulevard where most of the small Jewish community gathered, and began injuring and killing without mercy. No one came to the aid of the Jews. And they could not even defend themselves since the day before the police had taken the few revolvers that were in their possession.
The police of course, came much later, after the rioters had already scattered after committing the murders.
The results of this pogrom were terrible: forty-two murdered and many injured. All of those who were then in the Jewish committee house were either killed or injured.
And this was the epilogue of the hatred of Jews in Kielce. The last sacrifice of a group of Jews, remnants of a community that had numbered twenty five thousand souls, proved again why Hitler had chosen Poland as the place for destroying the Jews of Europe. He knew that in this country he would find loyal assistants to carry out his satanic plans.
This pogrom, which came as a slap upon the tiny group of Jews who had escaped the hands of Hitler, may his name be erased, cast fear upon the remnants of Polish Jewry who began to flee back east to the camps.
And thus Kielce was emptied entirely of its Jewish inhabitants. The Kielce anti-Semites had their wish they murdered and also inherited!
Although the Polish government sent a committee of inquiry to the place immediately, among whose members was also Adolf Berman, the government advisor. The committee took evidence from the injured, the policemen and others. As a result of the activities of the committee nine murderers were condemned to death and several dozen to various terms of imprisonment. The laborers who were incited by the anti-Semitic manipulator who stood at the head of the police were sentenced and punished for their carelessness; but the instigators of the riots not only were they not punished, but they were promoted.
Let us mention here the thug and murderer, the officer Subcinski, he who
organized the Kielce riots, and was later promoted by the Polish authorities to
manager of the office of foreign passports.
The Jews who crowded the foreign passport office suffered greatly from this outstanding anti-Semite. After causing the pogrom against the Jews, he cruelly did not allow them to leave the country that was saturated with Jewish blood.
In 1955, nine years after the pogrom in Kielce, Jan Rozanski, who had been the secretary of the Polish security police, was sentenced by a special court to five years imprisonment for abusing his authority (among other things, for refraining at the time from indicting those responsible for the riots in Kielce).
Rozanski, the son of one of the editors of the Haint of Warsaw, stood, at the time at the head of the investigation the authorities conducted after the pogrom.
We also bring here a description of the ceremony of the unveiling of the monument upon the grave of the victims of this pogrom in the Kielce cemetery. It is translated into Hebrew from the letter of one of the inhabitants of Kielce, Lajzer Fiszman:
There is no longer a sign of the Jewish blood that sprayed upon the walls of the house on Planty Boulevard. Whitewash has covered the disgrace of Polish Kielce, but the sorrow and the rage of the Jewish people will not be forgotten.
In the streets of Kielce young Christian men and women stroll gaily during the morning hours.
In a side alley next to the main street at the same time, at 20 Marechale Foche Street leaning against the wall a few dozen men and women. Black bitterness is on their faces, the are like mourners but they are Jews, who have come from Warsaw, Lodz, Czestochowa and Radom to visit the graves of the martyrs of Kielce, to honor their memory on the first anniversary of their murder.
There is no longer a Jewish home in Kielce to receive the guests, they stand, therefore, in the street and wait for a passenger vehicle to take them to the cemetery.
At one o'clock in the afternoon we reach the cemetery, a field open in every direction, without a fence.
A row of graves meets our eyes, covered with a black scarf. Our knees grow week, our eyes are misty, the sorrow of the nation hovers over this place.
Thou shalt not murder, sounds the voice of the sad master of ceremonies, the voice of Magister Ajzenberg. Thou shalt not murder! This edict was received by the Christian's as well; but in the name of Christianity, the murderers cut into these victims the accuser cries out
Yitkadal veYitkadash a young pale voice is heard, the brother of the murdered Albert. It is difficult to hear the words, for massive tears choke his throat.
The district governor of Kielce approaches the grave, Major Wiszlic. As the
first citizen of the district he has been given the honor of revealing the
monument. And here, the covering is removed from the monument, and to the eyes
of those gathered a stone is revealed: Forty two martyrs who were murdered on
the 5th day of Tammuz, 5706, in Kielce, may God avenge their blood.
And after this inscription come thirty-two names of those murdered (the names of the remaining martyrs could not be identified).
Major Wiszlic says: I reveal not only this stone, but also the disgrace of Polish Kielce, as well as the great sorrow of the Jews of Poland.
A representative of the central committee of the Jews of Poland, the engineer Rozenman, demands a trial against the instigators of the pogrom in the name of the Jews of Poland.
At the cemetery, the representatives of the Polish democracy in Kielce express their participation in the sorrow of the Jews of Poland.
A representative of the Polish worker's party, P.P.R., gives a speech. He recalls that his party always fought hand in hand with the Jewish workers for the freedom of man. This murder was aimed not just against the Jews, but against the Polish worker battling for liberty and equality.
The representative of P.P.S. repeats the words of the Polish minister
Katczrowski, who said last year upon the martyr's grave: the pogrom was not
only a stab in the back for the Jews but for the entire Polish people.
The representative of the farmer's party declares in the name of his party that the Polish farmer condemns the Kielce pogrom.
The representative of the democratic party turns to the Jews gathered there and says: Let us try to forget what happened in the past; to the extend that forgetting comes more quickly, it will be easier for us to build democratic Poland with our shared strengths.
In the name of the Polish army, a young officer declares: Today, the 4th of July is a difficult day for a Polish soldier who was a witness to the riots in Kielce. The Polish soldier, who fought for a free and democratic Poland will continue to fight in this country against reactionism. Today, the 4th of July remains a day of mourning for the Polish soldier.
The words of the representative of HaShomer HaTza'ir in Poland, Poznanski, were moving. He requested from the Polish children who were in the cemetery at the time they bring flowers and lay them on this grave, and also upon the grave of the young children who were murdered in their tenderness.
The ceremony is over and the Christian visitors leave, but for us the Jews it is difficult to part from the cemetery, as lonely and neglected as we are. A thought persists in our minds: will this monument be the last memorial to the cruelty of those who hate Israel? Will the Polish children cast flowers upon this slab or stones?
With this I conclude my words about the holy community of Kielce. This community, like the rest of the communities of Israel which were destroyed and extinguished its name will not be erased. The members of the community perished sanctifying God and their people and their memory will echo forever.
In a small way this book will also serve to honor the memory the martyrs of Kielce, serve as a sort of monument of paper to their ashes, which are scattered over the face of the fields of Poland.
My strongest wish was to help in erecting a memorial for Kielce among the other communities of the Diaspora, which were erased from the face of the earth. It was as if the characters stood before me and demanded their presentation.
And therefore I went about the task and wrote down only things that were clear to me, in which I actively participated or to which I was an eye-witness. In describing personalities I tried to be as objective as possible, and if I have erred in any places please, may the reader forgive me.
I had no grudge, God forbid, against anyone of the Jewish inhabitants of Kielce. I was fond of everyone, each one with his virtues and faults, with his positive attributes and his weaknesses was as a part of my, as flesh of my flesh, we were all like members of one family.
But on the other hand, I didn't want to present them as perfect angels. I brought them in this memorial book as they actually were, without additions of glitter and rouge. A true description, I believe, of people, public activists, does more to praise and honor them than exaggeration and apostrophe would.
With a heart full of affection to those who were and who are no more, to those who were granted to move to the land of Israel and who work to build it, I went about this task. I will admit, that this labor has given me great emotional satisfaction. On the one side I found revealed to me anew a long life story, in which I too was a participant to some degree, and this was a tremendous experience for me. It was as if my life was happening again, and all of the events and incidents were being experienced once more. This work took me, in imagination, from the world of the present to the world of the past, from the Holocaust and horror that took place in our times to days of gaiety and light. I could distract myself for a moment from the terrible catastrophe which happened to the Israelite nation and to me in its midst.. Besides my friends and relatives who were chopped down in the Shoah, lost to me were my dear sons, whose souls were tied up in my soul.
In this work I have found a small portion of comfort from the deep sorrow that
afflicts my soul. Would that we all find comfort in the redemption of the
entire land of the people and the land!
Up to the middle of 1945 a significant number of Jews gathered in the Kielce area, but due to the hostile attitude of the Poles they left the places they were living and moved to Kielce. One day the Poles in Kielce threw a hand grenade and injured 3 Jews. One of them was Eliahu Knobel. We appealed to the political police and they gave us a guard. When I appealed to the district governor asking what to do, we were advised to speak to Bishop Kreczmark. We appealed to the Bishop and after being put off several times he received us. The conversation lasted about an hour, but he said that the priesthood now had no influence over the masses, especially since many Jews were taking positions as clerks and treating the Polish population disdainfully.
On Thursday, 4.7.46 when morning arrived we were informed that the police had arrested a Jew accused of kidnapping a Polish child and holding him for two days in a cellar. When I heard this I went to Dr. Kahana, chairman of the community committee, demanding that he go to the police and have them release the Jew. Dr. Kahana returned and said that the police promised to release the imprisoned Jew, who was half-crazy. In the meantime, many Poles had gathered next to the offices of the community committee at 7 Planty Street and when I went to the window I saw that the police had arrived. I was informed that it was their intention to conduct a search in the community offices, in order to find the Christian children who had vanished recently and about whom it was suspected that they had been killed by Jews. I immediately telephoned the security police, since I saw that the police were explaining something to the Polish crowd and I suspected them of inciting them about this conspiracy. A Jewish army captain came immediately, Mr. Mora, and I saw that he was demanding identification from one of the policemen, one of those who was among the inciters. The policeman refused to show him his identification. I went to Captain Mora and he told me that the child who came to complain that he had been kidnapped and held in a cellar had pointed to a building that had no cellar. This captain told me that it was all falsehood and lies, and promised me that it would all be worked out, in spite of the fact that thousands of Poles had now congregated and the officers of the security police had totally vanished.
At 11:00 a.m., while I stood in the community office, I heard shots, and was
told that the army had arrived to scatter the mob that had gathered. We were
sure that the army was shooting in the air, so that people would disperse,
however suddenly a bullet penetrated my room in the community office, and then
I understood that they were not shooting to disperse the crowd, but at our
office. Dr. Kahana turned to the window and saw an army captain K.B.
(Korpus Bezficzenstawa) and asked him what was going on here. But
the captain did not want to reply to his question. I left the office and went
out to the stairwell. There was a Christian girl standing there who was
yelling: You have it good! You killed Jesus and now we will repay you.
You have drunk our blood enough! When I insisted that she leave the
office a soldier came over to me and said: Leave her alone, otherwise we
will take care of you!
In the same building there was a kibbutz of Ha'Ichud HaZioni [The Zionist Union]. At 11:30 a female member of the kibbutz, Ewa, burst into our offices shouting: They are killing in the kibbutz! I ran to the second floor with Dr. Kahana and there saw soldiers armed with Stens. They insisted that I go down to the yard outside of the house. I refused, even though I did not yet understand that the army, who had come as if for our security were actually the ones who began the pogrom. After several minutes, an injured fellow from the kibbutz called Wisznicki was brought from the kibbutz. Around the same time our friend Herszke Wajnryb was murdered in the kibbutz. Of all the O.B. officers meanwhile only one officer remained with us, a Jew called Albert.
At about 13:00 there was a lull. During the entire time we were in telephone
contact with all sorts of people from N.K.W.D. and we asked them to come to our
aid. They refused claiming that they didn't have people in the Polish army
uniform, and on the other hand, they couldn't send forces in the Russian
uniform so that the Poles wouldn't say that the Russians were killing Polish
workers. Meanwhile a Polish army officer appeared who demanded that we hand
over our arms. After he took my pistol from me, he demanded all of the bullets.
I went up to my room, and then I found that my room was already totally
destroyed, and everything that had been in it was stolen and wrecked, there was
no longer anyone in the kibbutz that was across the way, and everything was
destroyed. There were two rooms there and a corridor. The soldiers entered
shooting via the corridor, and afterward to the first room, and from there to
the second room shooting. And thus they killed and injured the young people who
were there. When I went back down from my room I heard shots and screams, we
went into the room and sat on the floor, since we feared shots through the
windows. We heard the telephone ring. Dr. Kahana, who had been waiting the
whole time for a call from the district governor, entered the room that had the
telephone in it, which was already partially destroyed, so that the telephone
itself sat on the floor. Dr. Kahana was forced to stretch out on the floor and
he began the conversation. Suddenly, soldiers burst into the room, shot at him
and killed him instantly. In the same incident Pinchas Ajzenberg was injured.
When those of us in the room next door heard the soldiers bursting into Dr.
Kahana's room we closed the door to our room and moved a closet in front of it
to prevent the soldiers reaching us. However, we immediately heard their
shouts: Open the door, otherwise we will shoot through it! We were
therefore forced to open the door. Soldiers entered immediately shouting:
Hands up! Go out! We left the room between two
rows of soldiers who were posted on the two sides of the corridors, guns in
hands, and searching us, incidentally, they took everyone's money from them.
When I went down the steps a Polish citizen assaulted me yelling: He
wanted to kill me! and then gave me a blow to the head. Down in the yard
Polish soldiers were standing, who grabbed every Jew who came down and threw
him to the mob. When I saw that I stopped and sneaked back upstairs. Upstairs I
met several young men who had also returned and after a consultation we decided
to go down after all, since upstairs there was a greater danger of falling into
the hands of the murderers. I went down first and looked around carefully to
make sure some soldier wasn't waiting for us in ambush.
Then a Polish officer came over to my wife, who had been with me, together, the entire time, and reassured her: You see that nothing happened to your husband. She meanwhile saw 2 soldiers wearing my shirts. And when she mentioned this to the officer he laughed and denied it. I went down to the yard with my wife, where a lieutenant colonel stood speaking Polish with a Russian accent. He told us that all of the Jews had been taken to jail. When we asked what would become of us, he responded that when the cars returned, they would take us as well. Since the jail was very close to where we were it was clear to me that there would be no need of the cars, I therefore suspected that they had executed the Jews. In the presence of the aforementioned officer a Polish soldier came over to me and said: Is today enough for you for the Polish blood, or do you want more? While I was waiting in the yard, the O.B. captain came over to me and wanted to take me in an open jeep, but the aforementioned lieutenant colonel would not agree, the mob that roared all around numbered, to my estimate, approximately 20,000 people. In the meantime a truck arrived which took us to Foche Street, t the home of the O.B. officer. The rest of the Jews were transferred to various places, some of them to the stadium, some to O.B. and some to other places.
According to the news we later received, at 13:00 they already knew in Warsaw what was happening in Kielce. The next day, on Friday at 11:00, Mr. Albert, the Jewish officer of O.B. came to me at the home of the O.B. officer and told me that a delegation of American journalists was about to go to the hospital, and requested that I meet with the delegation and that I not tell them that the pogrom was conducted by the army and the police, in order not to damage the good name of the Polish government. In addition to this I would have to identify the bodies of those killed. I agreed, on the condition that I was given an excellent guard. When I arrived at the hospital on Aleksandra Street, I went into the morgue, which was filled with corpses. To my sorrow, I was not able to identify many of them, since the faces of those killed were altered until they were unrecognizable. Among those I identified were Dr. Kahana, the brother-in-law of Jechiel Zagajski, Fajnkochen, Izrael-Mosze Ajlbirt and others. The members of the delegation spoke among themselves in English. From the expression on their faces I understood that they were very moved (one of them did not even hide his tears). They attempted to calm us. I gave the journalist who was so moved the details I knew. By the way: among those killed was a young girl, not from Kielce. This girl had been in Bosk a day earlier. During the course of the riots we called on the telephone and told her not return to Kielce. To our sorrow, she returned and was killed. Her friend who was delayed in Bosk was saved from death.
I later visited the hospital, where I found 80 wounded and about 40 killed. The
officer I was living with told me that the commander of the O.B. Sobczinski,
who was supposed to bring the cadets from the O.B. officer's school in Slowik,
near Kielce, to control the mob, had kept them for an hour and a half lecturing
them. In the opinion of that officer, this was done intentionally. The same day
Antek Cukerman arrived in Kielce who visited the hospital together with me and
returned to Warsaw immediately. In the evening the Central Committee of the
Jews of Poland arrived by airplane, together with the director of the Joint,
Mr. A. Bejn and Messrs. Adolf Berman, Zelicki and others.
We began to discuss what to do about the survivors still remaining in Kielce. We decided to transfer the seriously wounded to a hospital in Lodz, and the lightly wounded to leave in place so that they could give testimony in the police investigation. On Sunday Mr. Mordechai Gertler came to me and told me that the wounded in the hospital had declared a hunger strike, demanding to be removed from the municipal hospital, fearing that the Polish nurses would poison them; they were also unable to calmly bear the military guard. The injured demanded that a Jewish doctor be brought to care for them. I went to the O.B. requesting that they give me a car with an armed guard in order to drive to Czestochowa, a place where there was a Jewish doctor at the time. In spite of all of my efforts, I could not find a Jewish doctor who was willing to travel to Kielce. I then turned to a Jewish nurse, Helena Majtles, who agreed to come with me immediately. When I returned to Kielce, I barely made the funeral of the holy martyrs, in which the chief army rabbi, Dr. Kahana, the Polish defense minister, Rackiewicz and others participated. The memorial service was conducted by the cantor M. Koussevitsky.
The next day we transferred the wounded to the O.B. Polyklinika and Nurse Majtles took responsibility for their care.
On Tuesday the first military trial took place against 10 civilian rioters, among them one who was a police sergeant. Among other things they were accused of the fact that on that day, Thursday, 4.7.46, searching for Jews in all sorts of other places in the city and killing them, among the victims was also Icak Prajs and also Mrs. Fisz with a three week old baby. The aforementioned sergeant, together with a driver and another civilian who helped them, took Mrs. Fisz out of the city and shot her and the child to death. During the trial the judge asked him if he himself shot them or if he had given his rifle to someone else for the killing. The policeman answered: How could I hand over my weapon to a strange civilian? The policeman declared that he sniped and shot at the woman from a distance of several hundred meters, the judge asked him: Why did you also kill the baby? to which the accused answered: I couldn't leave the baby alive since his mother had been killed. The court sentenced 9 defendants to death, and one woman to 10 years of hard labor. The sentence was carried out the next day.
The same Thursday, 4.7.46, the rioters also attacked the Chestochowa-Kielce train; the engine driver slowed the train's progress intentionally, all of the Jews were forcibly removed and killed. When I later appealed to the district governor to give me the number of those killed he responded that the number was not known to him.
I remained an additional several weeks thereafter in Kielce and finally went to the police demanding a guard, and I transferred the Kielce survivors to Lodz. Only a few people remained there.
During all of the weeks that we still remained in Kielce, additional
investigations of the police and of the investigating judge took place. The
results of the rest of the trials are not known to me, for we were not allowed
to be present at those trials. It is worth mentioning that after the riots the
police arrested many of the Polish public servants. In is interesting by the
way, that the funeral and hospitalization expenses of the wounded were covered
by the Central Committee of the Jews of Poland.
The Jews of Ostrowicz were lucky: on Thursday, 4.7.46, when they heard of the riots in Kielce, they quickly notified the Zionist Organization Center in Warsaw, from which a vehicle was sent immediately with an armed escort, which transferred all of the Jews who were in Ostrowicz at the time to Warsaw.
On the first anniversary we erected a monument upon the graves of the victims. The District Governor, Major Wiszlic, representatives of the Zionist Organization and the Central Committee of the Jews of Poland were present.
Not even a full year after the destruction of the evil empire the rule of the Nazis in the country of Poland when it seemed that the land was quiet and at rest, and that now the few survivors who remained could return to their dwelling places and live there without fear, to rest and renew their strength after the years of suffering and wandering. And suddenly the fury of the Polish Black Hundred. Every single day horrifying news arrived in Warsaw at the seat of the Polish community committee at 6 Twarda Street about murders and assaults upon individual Jews, on entire families in cities, in villages and towns who had dared to return to their homes and demand their property back from their neighbors their Polish inheritors.
The entire nation, and especially the nationalists among them, who couldn't
stand the new regime, had decided to vent their fury upon the surviving remnant
and to execute and complete Hitler's labor, may the name of evil ones rot.
But the utmost pinnacle of hatred towards the eternal people was reached by the Catholic inhabitants of the infamous city.
On the Thursday, the fourth of July, 1946, it happened.
During the morning hours an 8 year old boy called Henryk Blaszczak passed through the city's streets with his father and told all the passersby that the Jews had held him captive and tortured him for two days in a certain cellar at 7 Planty Street, meaning to kill him and suck his blood. He described how he was miraculously saved and how he was able to escape the claws of the murdering Jews. The rumor took wing and for several hours went through the entire city from end to end.
At ten o'clock in the morning an enormous crowd gathered which first numbered several hundred people and by the afternoon hours reached the thousands, on Planty Street next to building number 7.
About 250 Jews in the city of Kielce lived at the time, some of them survivors of the Shoah and also some who had returned from Russia. Most of them lived on Planty Street in building number 7, the building of the Jewish committee and the community, the building of the Ichud kibbutz.
The organizers went through the crowd, inciting them to storm the building and kill the Jews calling out slogans Death to the Jews! Death to the murderers of our children! Let's finish Hitler's job!
The Jews shut themselves up in the building, blocked all the entrances and the windows and prepared to defend their lives with the few weapons they had. At about 12 a group of armed policemen (militiamen) arrived headed by police sergeant Wladislaw Blachot, who was sent by the police headquarters to disperse the mob and calm spirits. Blachot called to the Jews to open the gate and allow him and his aides enter. The besieged Jews sighed with relief, they thought their savior and redemption had arrived. But to their astonishment and bitter disappointment, Blachot commanded them to hand over their arms and to go down to the yard below.
As the investigation revealed, Blachot was the only policeman who was truly sent from the police, his aides were simple murderers who had dressed up in military uniforms. When the Jews refused to go down, Blachot began to beat their heads with the gun in his hand saying: The Germans did not have time to exterminate you, but we will exterminate you. Once the signal had been given by Blachot the mob stormed the building, broke open the doors, the window shutters, came in and began beating, killing and wiping out everyone they reached, whether with a pistol, by hand by wood splinters and stones or iron spikes which had been prepared and brought by the organizers in their advance planning, back during the early morning hours.
At the same time the mob spread through the city streets, removed Jews from
their homes and killed them on the spot. A great mob swarmed over the train
station, the rioters organized into platoons and checked all of the trains that
arrived in Kielce, people whose faces looked Jewish were removed from the cars
and killed in a horrifying manner in front of the entire throng.
Only towards the evening did military forces that had arrived especially from Lodz, succeed in gaining control over the rioters. That same night nearly 80 people were arrested.
The following day, on Friday morning, Minister Radkiewicz, in charge of the internal security of the country, arrived in Kielce accompanied by the chief prosecutor Domb. He held several consultations, gave urgent instructions regarding a special military court to try the first defendants accused of murder. The same day, the police commander of Kielce, Zagorski, was arrested, as well as the commander of the security forces in the district, Major Sobczinski, the district commander Lieutenant Colonel Kuzminski. They were all responsible for the blood bath.
After the Sabbath, Saturday night, I flew to Kielce accompanied by several members of the Committee of the communities in Poland in order to evaluate the riots from up close and take down evidence from the survivors.
The funeral was held on Monday, the 9th of Tammuz, 5706, on July 8th, 1946. Masses of people participated nearly the entire city. I looked at their faces and tried to read in the expressions of the participants, of those standing crowded on both sides of the street through which the funeral passed, it was hard to say that these faces showed regret or sorrow. On the contrary, a hidden a sly smile would peep out at me from the crowd, and that is what accompanied me until the cemetery.
The Jewish cemetery in Kielce stood in its full and horrifying destruction that afternoon. Among the remnants of broken tombstones that lay around everywhere, among the half-opened graves, a giant mass grave had been dug which contained forty-one coffins. The coffins were lowered into the grave and the eulogies began.
The series of eulogies was begun by Dr. Adolf Berman, who spoke as the representative of the Central Committee of the Jews of Poland, after him Minister Kaczorowski spoke for the government, Professor Gorcki spoke for the League Fighting Racism and they both expressed their deep sorrow. They both spoke about the terrible shame that the Catholic inhabitants of Kielce had brought upon their people and country.
The grave was covered. Cantor Moshe Koussevitsky prayed the El Maleh Rachamim. The terrible tragedy of the ruined Jewry of Poland was expressed in the pure sounds. The mourners said Kaddish, and the last of the speakers was the writer of these lines, who spoke in the name of the committee of the holy congregations in Poland.
33 bodies of men women and children were identified, some by witnesses and relatives, and some by documents which were found in their clothing. Besides these there were another eight coffins of shattered bodies, which were not identified and who were buried as anonymous victims. Among them, one body with a number of the Auschwitz concentration camp on its arm 2969B. Six died of their wounds in the Kielce Hospital a week after the funeral. A total of 47 victims.
On July 11th the first group of rioters was tried before a special military
court. The instruments and tools of destruction used by the rioters as they
conducted their task, pipes and iron bars, hoes, stones, poles,
three bloodstained shirts and two pistols, were exhibited on a special table
before the court.
I sat in the courtroom, watching the faces of the accused. They all sat with their heads down, not daring to lift their heads and to look into the faces of the judges and the audience members. And here are several images of the accused:
Antonina Biskopska, a young woman of 26, mother of a child aged 4. On the bitter Thursday she left the house, passed in front of the mob and called death to the Jews! and incited the mob to kill the rzids. Together with others she threw stones into the building at 7 Planty Street. With a trembling voice she described that indeed this was what happened, but that she is a weak woman with weak nerves. She heard that the Jews murdered a Christian Polish boy and could not contain herself. Something pushed her to go out and join the mob. Biskopska received ten years in prison.
Eduard Jorkowski, forty years old, educated and a member of the symphony orchestra in Kielce, marched at the head of the mob like someone conducting an orchestra and yelled: Men, forward, death to the murderers of our children! Jorkowski tried to prove that he had been drunk that day, but the judges proved the reverse.
Julian Poksziwinski, 43 years old his bloodstained shirt was found on the table of exhibits. He stepped with his feet upon the stomach of an injured woman who was lying on the road in a puddle of blood. Poksziwinski did not even try to justify himself.
Dorarz a blond fellow of 18, he split the skull of a Jew at Planty Street with the stone in his hand. Dorarz admitted the accusation, expressed remorse and wished to ease his sentence. He received life imprisonment.
Here is a group of four all of them from the middle class: policeman Stefan Mazor, owner of the Kazimierz Nowakowski bakery, the cobbler Jozef Sliwa and the shopkeeper Antoni Proszkowski. On that Thursday they took the woman Regina Fisz and her baby from the building, dragged them to the forest, robbed her of all her possessions 17 dollars and 3 gold rings. After the robbery they killed her and the baby with the iron bars in their hands. The entire group was sentenced to death.
11 death sentences were carried out by the special military court on the same day.
All of the Polish newspapers (there was free press in Poland at the time) came out with headline articles with energetic and sincere protest against the rioters. Everyone blamed and condemned the Polish reactionaries, and especially the leaders of the church who could have protested and didn't all protest except for the well known periodical of Mikolaiczik, Gazeta Lyudowa.
On July 9th the newspaper Gazeta Lyudowa published an announcement
in Mikolaiczik's name, that he was indeed horrified by the murder in Kielce,
but in his opinion, the entire matter needed serious investigation. And what
particularly bothered him the reasons that led the people to such a
thing. In his opinion it would be possible to discuss the matter and draw
conclusions only after an in depth investigation and inquest.
The announcement of the head of the Catholic church in Poland, Cardinal Halond, was without shame and full of barbed remarks against the Jewish people. After pressure from foreign journalists, the Cardinal published an opinion, which stated: The Catholic Church opposes all murder and condemns it without consideration of its causes and source. With regard to the murder of the Jews in Kielce, the Cardinal believes that the reason for it was not the hatred of the Polish people towards the Jews, there was no room here for anti-Semitism at all. At the end of the vague announcement it said that the Cardinal opposes the role of the Jewish people in Polish social life. There are too many Jews in key government positions, too many high-ranking officials, too many officers in the army. And here the Cardinal revealed his true face and true position. Pretending to justify the rioters, they acted in accordance with the position promulgated by the Catholic Church, let the Jews not intervene in the internal lives of the Christians .
At this hour, when the eyes of the entire world are turned towards Poland in which at this very moment a dramatic uprising is taking place in Poznan against the communist oppressors, the calendar has uncovered the anniversary day of sorrow and deep pain, which recalls to our memories a chilling chapter in the long bloody accounting that, to our sorrow, has not yet ended, between the Jewish people and the Poles. On the 4th of July, 1946 42 Jewish souls were cruelly slaughtered in the Polish city of Kielce, men women and children, and dozens of others were seriously wounded. This date has been set in the post-war history of the Jews of Europe not only because of the frighteningly large number of victims in the Kielce riots, but much more because of the special circumstances of that cruel drama, which brought about results of a truly historical nature. It is worth spending some time on them and looking back at them from the perspective of ten years.
And when we renew the events of the fatal riots themselves in our memories, we recall, first and foremost, that it began with a provocation, that criminal hands prepared and executed according to the best examples from the darkness of the Middle Ages.
On the 1st of July, 1946 the 8-year-old child, Antony Blaszczik [sic] disappeared in Kielce, and all of the Polish inhabitants searched for him. After three days, the child was suddenly found, and told everyone that the Jews had grabbed him, held him in a dark cellar, stabbed him with nails and wanted to slaughter him.
Around the tortured boy a large mob congregated immediately that
was coincidentally armed with iron bars, pitchforks and stones. The
mob besieged the new Jewish committee building that worked for the benefit of
the few Jews of the remnants who had gathered in Kielce and the area who had
returned from the camps, from hiding places, from villages and also from
the Soviet Union.
The Jews who were inside the building closed themselves in with the shutters and telephoned unceasingly to the police headquarters to send aid. After several hours, chief of police Sobczinski arrived accompanied by several sergeants. They entered the building and took the few rifles and pistols the defenders had from the members of the Jewish committee. The policemen explained that they were doing this so that the arms the Jews had would not provoke the rage of the mob even more; and as to protecting their lives The police of democratic Poland already know how to safeguard you
And indeed it did know how to safeguard: when the policemen had just left the building with the arms they had taken from the Jews in their hands, the pogrom began. The wild mob burst inside, assaulted the defenseless Jews and murdered them all, and threw the bodies of the members of the committee out of the window to the street where the mob fell upon them and tore them to pieces.
At the same hour the fire of the pogrom took hold of the entire city: gangs armed with iron bars and axes broke into apartments of Jews, robbed, set on fire, and murdered every Jew who fell into their hands. The pogrom went on until late in the night. The rioters even put a guard at the train station checked the trains that stopped at the station on their journey, removed a number of Jewish passengers from them and murdered them.
While Jewish blood was flowing in Kielce, I was in Warsaw, and those hours of horrified expectation of the news that the authorities had finally taken control of the situation were etched very deeply in my memory. For in Warsaw the matter had become known early: a few hours after the pogrom began General Wictor Grosz, head of the Foreign Ministry's information service for foreign journalists had called a meeting of the newspaper journalists and told them about the terrible events, and added that up until know we know of ten Jewish fatalities. He promised, that the authorities would do everything to restore order, but that this wasn't easy since thousands of people were participating in the assaults and that there is provocation taking part in the riots, which is conducting all of the incitement and determination against the new popular Poland.
And order in Kielce and the area was reestablished only the following morning. The army took over the city. Several dozen Poles, who were caught in the very act of killing, were arrested and jailed. Three days later an urgent trial took place for 12 thugs who were found to be the major culprits. When they were brought to the courthouse their clothes were stained with the spilt blood.
The trial was conducted swiftly. Most of the accuse confessed that they were part of the mob that wanted to take revenge upon the Jews for the torture of a Christian child. One of the rioters used the following typical words: I thought there were no more Jews in Poland that the Germans liquidated them forever but they started to come back, I don't know from where and they even began repeating their old crimes and therefore we got angry, me and the other Poles
The young Polish prosecutor concluded his accusatory speech with a few
sentences: The accused are all Poles. I am also a Pole and the elevated court
is also made up of Poles. They are Catholics, and I am Catholic, and I am
ashamed to be Polish and Catholic like them
I feel upon me the terrible
shame, which lies upon all of Poland and all of the Catholic world
are no extenuating circumstances for their horrible actions
Nine murderers were condemned to death and hanged the next day.
All of these details I took from an article I sent at the time from Warsaw and which was printed in HaBoker on the 29th of July, 1946.
I did not travel to Kielce and I did not see the faces of the murderers with my own eyes. The director of the information of the Foreign Ministry invited me to fly to Kielce on the special airplane with the rest of the reporters, but I remained in Warsaw as I wrote in that same article. I admit that I didn't travel to Kielce, even though it was my journalistic obligation.
But especially as a man who was born and educated in Poland, I couldn't go. As a man who had finished Gymnasium in Warsaw as well as higher education, for whom Mieckiewicz and Slowcki were impressed deeply upon his heart and for whom Rzromski and Orzszkowa shone their glory upon the days of his youth I could not make myself stand face to face with human beings (these are also called human beings) who had torn my brothers and sisters into pieces. These were not professional criminals from the underworld; not bandits, robbers, thieves who had a record of other crimes. No, in Kielce the Jews were murdered by average Poles. From all circles and classes. Barber and musician, baker and construction worker, militia sergeant and merchant. That is, Poles of the same sort that I met every day, every step and every yard on the tram and the bus.
From the time I had returned to Poland, together with thousands of Jews returning from Russia, I had been subjected to a fierce debate and propaganda, which tried to convince us that only the Fascist Poles aided the Nazis in the destruction of the Jews of Poland. They, Anders' Men, who opposed democratic Poland, also opposed the rehabilitation of Jewish settlement in Poland. In contrast, the average Pole, the man of his people, was honest, straightforward and good. One must just gain his support for the new democratic regime and he would be the best we would have
This is what not only the Polish leaders of the new regime claimed, but also and perhaps mainly the Jewish leaders of a certain position. Leaders who didn't cease to speak and persuade, that here was a new Jewish settlement flowering and flourishing with new life, for which we must found and build cooperatives, factories, children's homes and clubhouses
Therefore, the readers will please excuse me for not traveling to Kielce myself and not looking at the faces of the Polish murderers, who were not members of the underworld, but from those same good Poles among who we were now being called to live and with them to build a new Poland, better than its predecessor.
Today, is there anything much to add to these lines, which were written ten years ago under the fresh impression of the pogrom in Kielce?
When you look back from the perspective of ten years, it is necessary, first and foremost, to express satisfaction that in the dramatic argument whether to remain in Poland or not, the healthy popular sense of the Jews won out. After the Kielce riots over 100 thousand Jews left Poland, and the vast majority of them live healthy and normal lives in Israel. Seeing the renewed wave of anti-Semitism on the rampage in Poland once again, we must regret that so many Jews were misled by false leaders, who persuaded them to resettle upon the soil of Poland, saturated with the blood and tears of the Jews. And the serious question: why has the fury of the Jewish people not yet reached the false preachers: those who supported those who misled?!
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