Time of War and Plunder
In the second month of holidays in August 1939 there existed a common conviction in the Jewish society in Kielce that the war could break out any time, which was manifested in the registration of men who could be employed in war industry, appeals for keeping bicycles, motorbikes, carts and autos in good condition and repeating information about self-defense courses. The press printed in bold the following slogans: Let's be soldiers, Attention, the spy is sniffing! More provident residents began cleaning the attics, strengthening beams in the cellars, preparing fire-control and buying gas masks. They also gathered bigger than usually provisions of food. T. Muszyńska recollects: At the end of August 1939 a Jew who used to sell us food came to us and said straight away: ‘Mrs Muszyńska, people say that there will be a war, so I've brought you some food.’ Indeed, in the yard there was a cart loaded with various sacks. When I was explaining that I didn't have enough cash at home I heard the words he always used to say: ‘Am I asking for money? You'll pay when you have money’. We decided that I would pay in three installments. I put some sacks of flour, groats, beans and peas into the pantry. We didn't have to wait long to see that he had been right. The first winter under occupation was quite calm for us thanks to those unexpected provisions. At the end of August anti-aircraft trenches began to be dug in the park, on Marshal J. Piłdsudski's Square and in some backyards. On window panes people glued stripes of paper, which would protect them from broken glass falling during bombing. Although nobody panicked there was some anxiety. Henryk Opara, a worker of the foundry Ludwików writes: In the months preceding Hitler's attack on Poland we worked the way we always did but one could feel anxiety among the workers. Some families decided to leave the town and go to their relatives living either in big cities or in deep provinces. Many Kielce residents decided to move temporarily behind the Bug, mainly to Lvov, Vilnius and Stanisławów. At the same time to Kielce were coming Jewish families from: Łódź, Cracow, Warsaw and small towns from Ponidzie: Raków, Działoszyce, Wiślica, Pińczów. This is how A. Birnhak recollects August 1939 as she was coming back from her holidays on Podkarpacie: When we were coming back to Kielce at the end of August there was already panic. The roads were full of people returning homes to their families. It was also the end of our childhood and carefree youth 
Sara and Blima Preis looked for shelter in Lipsk, in Jedlnia Henryk Szarogreder, in Kunów Frajda and Lejzor Rajzman, in Milanówek Irena Nowak with her son Piotr. To Warsaw moved: Bajla Fryd, Stefan Nowak, Salomon Zelinger; behind the river Bug went: Aba Goldszajd, Igra Dwojra, Mendel Wittlin, Josek Lubochiński, Josek and Leon Zajączkowski, Berek Urbajtel, Jurek and Pola Pelc, Guta, Alicja and Henryk Strumw, Malina Kaminer, Icek, Mojżesz and Szarlota Kahan, Icek Dziura, Chaim Weisbrot, Icek Obarzański and Sara Zylbersztajn.
In their own car, towards Kowel, set out the Gringrases: Adolf, Hana, Lila, Maurycy, Lola, Henryk, Leopold, Maryla, Eliza, Ruth and Julian. In Kielce stayed the senior of the family Kopel Gringras with his wife Fajgla.
A part of the Kielce Jews who had a military grade were called up to their units. Jerzy Ehrlich, the manager of Kadzielnia got to the 1st Battalion of Light Tanks in the army Prusy as Second Lieutenant of armored weapons. To the 2nd Regiment of Legion Light Artillery, which belonged to the 2nd Division of Legion Infantry (Army Łódź), were mobilized: Lieutenant doctor S.Zylberszlak, Captain doctor J.Fleszler, Second Lieutenant doctor Jerzy Rotman and Hilel Nusynowicz. When the war broke out also H.Rotman, M.Pelc and Oskar Strumw received call-up papers.
The Kielce residents learnt about the outbreak of the war from radio announcements and on hearing the bombs that fell on the army barracks on Bukówka, the sports airport in Masłów and on waterworks in Białogon. On 3 September civil refugees and soldiers of the defeated near Janów 7. Infantry Division came through the city. It was a signal for many people to flee from Kielce. On 4 and 5 September Kielce was severely bombed. Many buildings were destroyed and devastated, including the railway station, power station and the municipal waterworks; in the city water and electricity were cut off. German airmen were shooting with machine-guns at the crowds waiting for trains in front of the railway station; the witnesses estimated the number of dead at about 80 people. Among the injured there was also Major doctor M.Pelc, who was trying to get to his unit.
Maria Chodnikiewicz described those events: The first days of September shocked the city. The bombs that fell on the railway station, the drone of German airplanes, withdrawing troops of our army and above all the waves of civilians streaming through out city, the refugees moving to the east ( ) all that caused growing panic 
During the bombings destroyed were: a part of the foundry Ludwików and the factory Granat, a tannery in Białogon that belonged to the Bekermans, Moszek Dębski's sawmill on Zagańska Street, and the houses of: the Rubinsztajns on Piotrkowska Street, the Szmulewiczes on Sienkiewicza Street, the Nissengarts on Focha Street and the Zysholzes on Bodzentyńska Street.
Facing the approach of German troops a group of 50 workers from the foundry Ludwików led by engineer Adam Sobol set out towards Lvov.
In response to the appeal to move to the east directed to all men able to carry guns the following residents left Kielce: Icek and Moszek Baum, Szloma Bońko, Józef Borensztajn, Szmul Brukier, Berek Cukier, Moszek Jakub Dębski, Mendel Dutkiewicz, Pinkus Ejzenberg, Szmul Eljasiewicz, Machel Finkielsztajn, Artur Frajtag, Majer Fuks, Lejbuś Gnat, Naftuli and Szymon Kaner, Moszek Rutkowski, Herszel and Moszek Sokołowski, Hersz Sonczow, Adam Żernicki and Mojżesz Zielonedrzewo as well as Gustaw Herling Grudziński.
On 2 September, on the order of the Prison Department, several dozen of criminal prisoners (Poles, Jews, and Ukrainians) were evacuated towards Sandomierz. In their cells remained a group of 11 communists (including 7 Jews) from the latest big, mass process, called Łaskawski's process and a few dozen of prisoners transported to Kielce from prisons in Greater Poland, sentenced for diversion and spying for the III Reich.
Since the morning of September 5, 1939 there had been lasting fights of the Polish troops with the attacking Kielce 2.Light Division of Wehrmacht, a part of XV Army Corps. In the evening, after the loss of 40 soldiers and with 60 injured ones the Poles withdrew from Kielce. During the fights for the city and after its seizure the Germans killed several civilians, among others Jew Krauzy. Several dozen Jews, who had hidden in the building of B.Borochow Kibbutz on Szeroka Street, were battered.
After seizing Kielce there were placards put up on walls with a declaration of the land forces commander, General Walter Brauchitsch that the civilians were safe. However, at the same time there were created courts-martial that could immediately sentence to death people attacking German soldiers. Curfew was introduced and people were ordered to hand over weapons. Customarily to Germans, hostages were kept so as to guarantee peace in the city. Apart form a large group of Poles they kept also Jewish hostages. They were taken in groups form 6 till 27 September 1939. By means of a special writing each person was called to turn up in the prison with clothes and a blanket. Among the hostages were personalities, well known and respected in the Jewish society, such as: Henryk Bruner and Josek Dębski (producers), Maks Ellencweig (a cinema's owner), Henryk Fuks (attorney), Oskar Strumw and Oskar Serwetnik (doctors), Szloma Rotman (barber surgeon), Todorys, Fiszel and Izrael Herszkowicz (owners of coal storehouses). *See: Annexe 2.
In order to frighten the residents, Polish captives were driven through the city towards improvised war prisoners' camps. Zdzisław Tchórz writes: columns of Polish captives are going along the streets of Kielce and the Germans are sitting on cars and throwing crust and fag ends at them and taking pictures.
As soon as the Nazis took control over the city they immediately introduced their troops to bigger factories and began plundering the Polish property. Henryk Kozłowski, a worker of Społem, recollects the first contacts with the occupier: Immediately they began taking away the stored products that hadn't been delivered to the customers. In similar situation were the foundry Ludwików and the factory Granat. On September 9, 1939 the municipal hospital was removed from the buildings on Kościuszki Street, where a high percentage of the patients were soldiers injured during the September battles: the ill, the injured and the hospital workers were thrown out from the Kielce hospital on the command well known from the time of occupation: raus! Everybody had to leave the hospital; they weren't allowed to take anything with them, even their personal belongings. 
It was the Wehrmacht that commanded to move the hospital in order to locate its injured there. Thanks to the friendliness of the Curia the hospital found shelter in the building of the Theological Seminary.
Following the front troops other police squads appeared in the city: the Order Police (Ordnungspolizei Orpo), the Security Police and the Security Service (Der Sicherheitspolizei and Sicherheitsdienste Sipo), the Municipal Police (Schutzpolizei Schupo), the Secret State Police (Geheime Staatspolizei Gestapo) and gendarmerie. On September 19, 1939 the chief of the Civil Administration, which acted within the operational zone of the 10.Wehrmacht's Army, appointed doctor Richard Wendler commissioner of Kielce (Stadtskommisar). The soldiers and the police occupied the buildings of the Teachers' Seminary and the School of Exercises on Leśna Street, the seat of the Revenue Office on Poniatowskiego Street, the buildings at the junctions of Focha and Solna Street and Wesoła and Mickiewicza Street, the Hotel Polski, the building of the PWiWF (Military Training and Physical Education) and the schools. The Germans behaved arrogantly and hostile especially to the Jews. Marian Anyst recollects: When we were going to the town with Bogdan along Kilińskiego (Mała) Street we got a hiding from a German soldier who took us for Jews 
When in mid September the occupier decided to cover up the traces of military operations in the city they decided to use brigades composed mainly of the Jewish residents. It was a huge wave of prosecutions. This is how Szaja Zalcberg recollects the first days of the Nazi occupation in Kielce:
They were plundering Jewish houses, forcing people to work. They were mocking at the Jews. They would throw them into the anti-aircraft pits; burry up to the neck and laugh at their fear ( ) They would tear hair of the heads and beards of Jews walking down the streets ( ) and bull them all the time. Once a German went out of the Hotel Polski, in a blood-stained butcher's apron, with a knife and caught Jews from the street. He dragged them one by one inside, where terrible screams were heard, as if he had been cutting their throats. The rest had to wait for their turn, sure that they would be killed. In such tension and horror we waited till the evening. It turned out that ( ) the German had dragged the Jews from the street to strip feathers of hens and geese which he was killing. Mojżesz Bahn recollects:
Since the first day of occupation the Jews had had to do the dirtiest jobs. They were ordered to clean toilets or cover up shelter pits. The Jews with beard suffered most. They were forced to clean toilets with their coats, etc. The Gendarmerie in the Hotel Polski wouldn't let a Jew out without hurting him. Ambulances had to be called ( ) because they were unable to stand on their legs. Some of those people died in hospital ( ) the repressions were carried out systematically in two directions: to rob our property and to convert us into slaves staggering under the burden of forced labor. There was a lot of work to do. They took 24 hostages, among them rabbi Rapoport, who was then 50 years old. He was forced to clean toilets and they set fire to his beautiful long beard.
During the government of military administration it was occasionally suggested that the Jews leave for the USSR. It can be proved by the relation of Jan Łaskawski, who was in prison on Zamkowa Street when the war started:
In the second decade of September there were 11 prisoners (4 Poles and 7 Jews), sentenced in 1937 to many years of prison for communist activity. One day the Germans informed us that we would be soon released. They were right. On giving up the documents our Jewish companions were advised to leave for the USSR.
In the released group were the following Poles: Jan Łaskawski, Wincenty Krawczyk, Jan Zasada, Władysław Rusiecki and Jews: Neoch Trajster, Izrael Majer Gotfryd, Mordka Lejba Goździński, Jankiel Jakubowicz, Icek Majer Kantor, Lejzor Meszberg and Majer Opatowski.
When we reached Lvov, we found out that there were many activists of the former KPP. Some of us decided to come back to Kielce and fetch their families. There were no greater difficulties on the way back home; we packed our property and set out again towards the Bug. After crossing the temporary border between Germany and the USSR we were stopped by a Soviet patrol. 
After the military operations had stopped some people decided to go back home. A. Birnhak recollects:
It was rumored in Lvov that in Kielce the situation ‘wasn't so bad’. My mother and aunt indulged in illusions that the Germans were gentlemen, so that women and children could feel safe with them. My aunt remembered the gallant and chivalrous Austrian officers she used to dance with at the balls in Żabiec during that beautiful First World War ( ) My mother and aunt decided to go back to Kielce to their husbands. The aunt worried about uncle Pelc, who had diabetes ( ). She decided to go back but in her opinion Jurek should stay in Lvov because as a young man he could become an object of prosecutions, for example forced labors. At that time, in an early phase of the war the borders weren't well guarded and it was easy to get to Kielce. I wanted to stay with Jurek in Lvov ( ) but my mother insisted that in such moments a child should be with its family and besides the war wouldn't last long ( ). In this way we went back to Kielce 
In the course of time it was becoming difficult to get to the General Gouvernment. H. Gringras writes: in winter we tried to get to Kielce through Rawa Ruska but we didn't manage to cross the border illegally and we came back to Lvov. Only I. Obarzański had enough luck.
At the end of September and at the beginning of October 1939 more and more people were coming back from the so called ‘reise’, for example doctors Gerszon Harkawi and Jerzy Rotman, medical student Szymon Fleszler and to his parents' house came Tadeusz Rotman, temporarily domiciled in Vilnius. The doctors immediately joined the local health care. Apart from treating injured soldiers they tried to protect seriously wounded ones and officers from deportation to Germany: In those actions various methods were applied, such as disguising the captives in civilian clothes or cassocks, giving them false documents, escaping or swapping the alive for the dead. The activity that was supported by numerous Kielce residents who provided civilian clothes or shelter to the fugitives, brought very good results 
M.Chodnikiewicz describes the situation in the municipal hospital as follows;
On the first and on the second floor there were injured soldiers and Polish officers. Dysentery was raging among them. German guards were on sentry inside the building on the first and on the second floor and in front of the building there were posted soldiers. Even though, the nurses managed to rescue many captives who escaped in disguise from the hospital.
The following Jewish doctors participated in the actions: M. Pelc, O.Strumw, G.Harkawi and J. and T. Rotman.
In the city there were many refugees from all sides of Poland. Some of them needed help. One of the fugitives from Warsaw, who received help from a Kielce bishop Czesław Kaczmarek, was a well known author of the monument of airmen in Warsaw a Jew by birth, Mieczysław Lubelski. The bishop helped him get a job in the Marbles of Kielce (Kieleckie Marmury). However, somebody denounced him. Then, with father Karol Szrant's help he found temporary shelter on Karczówka Hill. When the whole issue quieted down the priest chaplain Stanisław Wojas was ordered by the bishop to go to Karczówka and to help Lubelski get to the station on Słowik, where he would catch a train to Warsaw. In Warsaw he worked in conspiracy. During the Warsaw Uprising he produced weapons for the Home Army (AK).
People who were coming back to Kielce often gave misleading and unverified information. J.Ehrlich was said to have been killed in tank battle of Głowaczow, one rumor said that also S.Zylberszlak and J.Fleszled died. It turned out that Lieutenant J.Ehrlich had destroyed two German tanks and later on, safe and sound, withdrew to the east. After the capitulation he was taken prisoner by the Germans. After the September fights had stopped captain J.Fleszler tried to get to Romania. Unfortunately, caught by the Russians, he got to the camp in Kozielsk. Julian Ehrlich reached Great Britain and began the naval service.
The military operations in September 1939 brought about serious disturbances in the Kielce industry. Bigger factories ceased to work, among them the ones that belonged to Jews: Kadzielnia, Wietrznia, Henryków' and the photo-chemical factory Orion. Also the quarries of the region of Kielce, which belonged to the Lipszyces, the Jewish printing-houses and the shops suspended their work. Kazimierz Cichoń recollects: The shops where one could run up an account were now closed. The owners of the shops and bakeries didn't know what to do. Some stores and shops weren't opened for fear of plunders. It was remarkable that many Jews regarded the first days of occupation as less terrible than they had expected. It was easy to notice that the Nazi terror was aimed above all against the Poles. If there were any illusions they were disappearing in the course of time.
By Adolf Hitler's decree of October 12, 1939 the General Gouvernment for the occupied regions was created on 26 September, which comprised the former voivodships of: Cracow, Lublin, Kielce, Warsaw and a part of the voivodship of Łódź. The people living there were to be treated as slaves of the great German power. When the military operations stopped more and more clear means was undertaken to intimidate and starve the Jewish residents as well as to plunder their property. The Nazis attempted to isolate the Poles from the Jews, break the long-lasting economic, social and cultural links. It was a carefully planned German action, which can be proved by the occupier's orders, easy to verify as in October 1939 the Verordnungsblatt des Generalgouvernens für die besetzten polinischen Gebiete (Journal of General Governor's orders for the occupied Polish regions) began to be published and since November 20, 1939 Amtsblatt des Chiefs des Distrikts Radom in Generalgouvernment für die besetzten polnischen Gebiete (Official Journal of the Chief of the Radom District for the occupied Polish regions) had been appearing.
An analysis of all the orders issued by the occupier reveals the enormity of the crime committed on the Jewish population, even before the decision of its total extermination.
On October 26, 1939 appeared an ordinance concerning the introduction of forced labor for the Jews in the General Gouvernment. In the first paragraph it was declared: For the Jews domiciled in the General Gouvernment there is herewith introduced an obligation to work with immediate implementation. Therefore the Jews shall be called up to groups of forced laborers. The punishment for not meeting that obligation was prison or concentration camp.
On October 26 the ritual slaughter was banned under the penalty of severe imprisonment or concentration camp.
On November 20, 1939 an ordinance was issued which allowed the Jews to settle in the USSR. People leaving were allowed to take food, clothes and blankets. They could also hire carts for special coupons. They were to cross the border in Puławy and Dęblin. The opportunity to leave used for example the native of Kielce Seweryn Piasecki.
The second part of the ordinance concerned the Jews who decided to stay under the German occupation. According to the first point In every Jewish community a Council of Jewish Elders, comprising outstanding individuals and rabbis, was to be created. To each Council should belong up to 24 men (depending on the size of the community). The second point provided: The Council of Jewish Elders is fully responsible for proper and prompt fulfilling of all orders. Any case of sabotage of the issued orders will meet with most severe repressions.
Three days later, on November 23 appeared The ordinance of marking the Jews and Jewesses in the General Gouvernment. The first paragraph provided: All Jews and Jewesses in the General Gouvernment over the age of 10 are obliged to wear on the right sleeve of their outer clothes white arm-band at least 10cm wide with the Star of David. Paragraph 2.: The Jews and Jewesses should provide for such arm-bands by themselves. Infringing this law would be punished with death. On the same day marking of Jewish-owned shops was ordered: Jewish shops must display a visible from the street Star of David, German boards are prohibited.
On November 28 the second ordinance concerning Jewish Councils (Judenrats) appeared. It stated that in communes up to 10000 inhabitants they would comprise 12 members and in communes with over 10000 inhabitants 24. The Jewish Council shall choose from their circle the chairman and his deputy. The Jewish Council is obliged to receive orders of German authorities by the chairman or his deputy and is responsible for thorough fulfillment of the orders. The Jews and Jewesses must obey the instructions given by the Council in order to execute German orders. The Council elections should be held by December 31, 1939 at the very latest. The composition of the Judenrat had to be confirmed by the staroste or the municipal staroste.
On December 11 and 12 appeared two other executive provisions to the Ordinance to introduce forced labor of the Jewish population passed on October 26, 1939. In the first provision the right of the Jews to move in the General Gouvernment was restricted. In the first paragraph we can read: From January 1, 1940 on all Jews living in the General Gouvernment are forbidden ( ) without written permission of the appropriate local German administrative authorities to change their permanent residence or to cross the border of their commune. Paragraph 2.: All Jews immigrating to or living in the General Government must immediately after finding accommodation ( ) not later than in the span of 24 hours ( ) report to the mayor ( ). The Jewish Council is obliged to keep a register of reports in written form which shall be submitted on every Monday to the mayor with written acknowledgement. Paragraph 4:All Jews in the General Gouvernment are forbidden to leave their homes and use public roads, streets and squares from 9 p.m. till 5 a.m. without ( ) written permission of the appropriate local German administrative authorities. People contravening the rules would be summarily directed to rigorous, long-lasting labor.
The second executive provision regulated the question of the forced labor. The Jews of age between 14 and 60 were obliged to that kind of work, which lasted 2 years and could be prolonged: Jews ( ) called up to forced labor must appear at the assembly point punctually at the appointed time. They should have food for 2 days and 2 clean blankets with them. Craftsmen, especially owners of workshops are to give in all their tools. People who tried to avoid the work were threatened with severe imprisonment and the loss of their property. In similar way would be punished people helping Jews to avoid work! The verdicts in those cases were to be given by the German Special Court.
We must also turn our attention to other two ordinances issued in 1939, directed against Jews. The ordinance of December 9 deprived the Jews of the possibility to apply for subsistence allowance given to pensioners; the ordinance of December 20 deprived them of benefit that military pensioners were entitled to.
In order to explain who was to be treated as ‘sub men’ the occupier issued on July 24, 1940 The ordinance about definition of the word „Jew in the General Gouvernment.
In section 1 of the above mentioned ordinance it was stated;
If the legal and administrative regulations use the word Jew it should be understood as:
Section 2., point 1. A Jew is someone who is descended from three grandparents who were racially full Jews, in so far as he or she belonged to the Jewish religious community on September 1 or joined the community later.
Section 4 defined Jewish companies.
Point 1: A company is regarded as Jewish if the owner is a Jew according to section 1.; point 2: A company is regarded as Jewish if ( ) one or more ( ) partners are Jewish.; point 3: A company of a judicial person is regarded as Jewish: a) if one or more people empowered to legal representation or one or more members are Jews, b) if Jews have the decisive number of shares according to the capital or the right to vote.
On February 20, 1941 the Ordinance about the usage of public transport by the Jews in the General Gouvernment was issued. It allowed the Jews to use the public transport only on the base of an individual permission given by the poviat (municipal) staroste and only for strictly limited time.
The Kielce Jews were not only obliged to obey the ordinances passed on for the whole GG but also various orders issued by the chief of the Radom District and the municipal staroste in Kielce. And thus on January 10, 1940 an order of the chief of the Radom District appeared concerning Baking white bread, cake and similar bread, in which it was stated: All Jewish bakers or Jewish businessmen who have so far baked white bread, confectionery, cakes and similar bread aren't allowed to process flour for other purposes than only for baking rye bread. People infringing this law shall be fined up to 10000 zloty and/or imprisoned. Also the municipal staroste in Kielce adopted a particular policy towards the Jews. On September 30, 1940 a curfew was announced for Poles from 11 p.m. till 5 a.m. and for Jews from 8 p.m. till 5 a.m. When on October 10, 1941 Hans Frank came to Kielce the Jewish residents were forbidden to leave their homes or places of work from 10 a.m. till 4.30 p.m. From November 9, 1940 on every Jew caught in the street without the identity card could be ‘severely punished’. A part of the laws issued was to show that the Germans treated the Jews as ‘sub men’. On September 9, 1940 the Jews were banned from entering the Market Square, which had now the ‘proud’ name of Adolf Hitler Platz. A Jew caught there could be fined or imprisoned.
The laws were followed by a wave of terror. Therefore they were to be quickly put in force. All tailors' workshops started sewing the required arm-bands with the Star of David. They were sold for 10 zloty and given free to the poorest. Marking shops and storehouses was ably conducted. More provident merchants located a part of their goods at friendly Polish families' fearing, with reason, that the marking would be the first step of robberies and confiscations. And it was indeed. In the ‘front line’ were shops with radio and optical equipment. In October 1939 the occupier started throwing Jews from better houses on the main streets: Sienkiewicza, Złota, Wspólna, Równa, Żytnia and Focha. Those who were forced out of their homes had to leave the furniture and bedclothes. They could only take hand luggage.
Blocking bank accounts and a ban on having more cash than 2000 zloty made many shop owners close their shops after selling the goods and look for another job. No equivalent was paid for the 100- and 500- zloty notes that were taken from the inhabitants. In spite of the military operations the German authorities didn't forget to collect all taxes due for 1939, which made many people spend their private savings. At the same time the Jewish inhabitants of Kielce were laid under two contributions: the first one of 100000 and the other of 500000 zloty.
The fact of creating the Judenrat by the German authorities (the seat originally at 23 Leonarda Street and then at 4 Orla Street) evoked some hopes of the Jewish population. The Chairman of the Council was doctor M.Pelc, a major of the reserve of the Polish Army. It was a man who enjoyed significant respect, particularly among the Jewish intelligentsia. He had been awarded with the Iron Cross for heroism on the battlefield during the First World War. In the Austrian Army he was a corporal, accepted in the Polish Army. In 1926 he supported J.Piłsudski and was promoted to major. Even the Germans called him Der stolze Jude (the proud Jew). He spoke fluent German because he had finished his medical studies in Graz, where he obtained a doctor of medical sciences degree specializing in surgery. Since 1921 he had been living in Kielce and had proved to be an exquisite doctor and a great social worker. Since 1933 he had been a town councilor. For many years he presided over the Society of Aid to Poor Ill Jews and was a co creator of the Old People's House of the Foundation of the Zagajskis brothers. On the professional ground he maintained close contacts with the Polish society. It seemed an excellent solution that he should take up the post of t chairman of the Judenrat. His energy and ability to cooperate with the Poles became apparent already during the first epidemic of typhus at the beginning of 1940. He managed to get medicine and vaccines, to get to work all doctors, barber-surgeons and nurses, which in effect led to bringing the epidemic under control. In February 1940 the Germans ordered the Jews to leave the hospital building on Kościuszki Street and to move to two buildings at 18-20 Radomska Street. Within a month a very well working hospital was created. The move took place on March 26, 1940. Seriously ill patients were transported by ambulance Jutrzenka, which before the war had belonged to the Jewish Ambulance Service. M.Pelc personally supervised the transport of people and equipment with the help of barber-surgeon Dawid Proszkowski.
The hospital soon won respect among the Kielce Jews. In the Gazeta Żydowska appeared an article titled: Wzorowy szpital żydowski w Kielcach (A model Jewish hospital in Kielce), where it was written:
We go up wide, comfortable stairs to the first floor of the hospital building. On the first, second and third floor there are hospital rooms, the fourth floor is occupied by sewing work-room and on the ground floor there is the hospital office and the office of the head doctor. The hospital kitchen is in a building in the courtyard. The hospital has two tasks to perform: to take care of the patients and to prevent from new diseases. The second task is carried out by supervision of the cleanness of the houses and the inhabitants and the Jewish population of Kielce.( ) The Jewish hospital is financed by the Council of Jewish Elders and maintains contacts with the Department of the Social Welfare at the Judenrat. Besides, it is supported by the „Joint (American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee) and TOZ (Society of Health Care) ( ). The hospital staff consists of paid doctors as well as of those who work disinterestedly. Next to the building there is an isolate hospital with 70 beds, which in case of another outbreak of an epidemic would make possible a quarantine of patients' families.
It appears from the article that the poorest could have a bath and disinfect their clothes twice a week free of charge and on other days it was possible against a small fee. Doctors and nurses were organized into the Flying Sanitary Commissions, which inspected houses and examined random people. The Sanitary Department had at its disposal two carts where one could disinfect clothes, underwear and bedding. Thanks to devoted help of the doctors the following wards functioned in May: internist, gynecological-obstetric, surgery and special diseases. In June out-patients' department and a pharmacy were opened and in July a dentist's clinic. The poorest could purchase medicine at 50% discount. Doctor M.Pelc managed also to organize a few other nursing courses in consultation with the TOZ. The girls learnt a profession and obtained a certificate of permanent job, which was necessary especially after the ghetto had been created.
In doctor Zofia Mikołajczyk-Kurowska's memories we can read that Jewish children were treated also in Władysław Buszkowski children's hospital:
There were ( ) Polish, Jewish and German children in hospital. All were ill and unhappy; all needed equal care and treatment. It couldn't be different and it wasn't. However, thanks to the presence of German children doctor Kurowska could win from the occupiers some vitamin C, sulphonamide and calcium. She could also threat the Germans that otherwise contagious diseases would spread and in this way she was able to employ PCK sisters (Polish Red Cross) 
The danger of an epidemic struck terror among the doctors. Already during the first epidemic typhus spread even into houses of wealthy Jews. The daughter of doctor Oskar Strumw wrote: In the first year of occupation I fell down with typhus and nearly died ( ). Uncle Pelc saved me ( ) During my recovery ( ) dad was going to neighboring villages and visiting his former patients who helped him buy eggs, hens and vegetables so that my mom could cook tonic broths for me.
One of the problems that the Judenrat was facing was all kinds of displacing. They constituted an important instrument of the occupier to prostrate the Jewish population and they were usually connected with plundering property, physical exhaustion and moral torment. By the decree of October 30, 1939 the Nazis decided to displace to the General Gouvernment 300000 Poles and Jews from the so-called Warta Land. The first transportations got to the Radom District already in December 1939. Till March 12, 1940 three big transportations had already reached Kielce. A part of the people stayed in Kielce and the rest were transported to Suchedniów and Nowa Słupia.
According to what Michał Grynberg wrote, Kielce was a trans-shipping point, from where Jews were directed to Częstochowa, Janów, Żarki, Busko, Wiślica, Chmielnik, Bodzentyn, Nowa Słupia and Suchedniów. The Jews from the Warta Land were transported in severe winter without food, water in freight cars without any sanitary facilities. The majority of those who came from Łódź had previously been kept in transit camps, where there was hunger, coldness and no medical care. That number was increased by those who voluntarily moved to Kielce. According to estimations of the Municipality between September 1, 1939 and May 24, 1940 662 people, including 414 Jews and 208 Poles arrived in Kielce. In general, whereas in 1939 there were 20942 Jewish residents in Kielce, on March 10, 1940 that number increased to 25400. At the beginning of August 1940 the Kielce Judenrat agreed to receive a part of the displaced persons from Cracow. The Gazeta Żydowska wrote:
They report from Kielce that ( ) 3000 displaced persons arrived there. The Chairman of the Council of Jewish Elders has undertaken all necessary steps to come to their aid. The question if they all will stay in Kielce is still to be discussed. The commune in Kielce has agreed to admit a big part of the displaced, although due to a new organization of the city the number of rooms has significantly decreased. The new organization of the city meant the creation of a new German district comprising among others the following streets: Sienkiewicza, Focha, Wspólna, Złota, Równa and Żytnia. The Jews were brutally displaced from there, allowed to take only hand luggage. Because most displaced people from Cracow were stony-broke the Citizen Displaced Persons' Committee appealed to the Jews in the GG Jews! Open your pockets. Fulfill this duty for your sake. We know that we are appealing when your provisions have nearly run out but believe us that we are appealing at a turning point, at a moment we haven't experienced so far 
In that situation one of the most important problems of the Kielce Judenrat was how to provide for food. Around Kielce there were enough villages to feed the city in the interwar period. Till December 1939 many Kielce Jews had been occupied with food trade. Masses of people would go to villages and bring poultry, vegetables, meat and dairy products. It was necessary because Jewish shops were eliminated from the system of distributing food for coupons. Since January 1940 the Jews were forbidden to leave the town, which limited the possibility to trade with the inhabitants of the neighboring villages and led to rising prices of basic agricultural products.
It must be also remembered that from the very beginning of the war the Germans had been plundering the fruits of earth. Special agencies were created for this purpose. Some took animals' skins and fur, other s food: Trade with the villages, so far in the hands of Polish and Jewish merchants, has been taken over by a company established by the Trust Government in Poznań, Landwarenhandelsgesellschaft für den deutschen Osten m.b.H. The system of penalties for illegal food trade was sharpened, especially when it was suspected that the food was given to Jews. In 1941 the occupier created even the Department of Junk and Waste Material Managing, which controlled all Jewish institutions that traded with such material.
As early as at the beginning of 1940 welfare institutions and hospitals found themselves in a very difficult situation. Lack of food and medicine made every epidemic bring about death of many people. According to testimonies of the Jews who survived the war the following people of typhus died in Kielce: Abram Goldman, Bajla Gnat, Mojżesz Kiersz, Cypla Krawczyk, Mojżesz Kuperberg, Brandla and Mojżesz Laks, Rywka and Kałma Sandał, Motel Leśniewski, Fiszel Goldgrób, Róż Wygnańska, Mojżesz Tysan, Zelman Wodzisławski, Gitla, Rywka, Lejbuś Urbach, Ruchla Łaja Goldgrób, Herszel and Saul Gołębiowski, and others.
In order to avoid starvation many residents who owned gardens or bigger yards started growing vegetables, keeping goats, rabbits and pigeons in spring 1940. It gave them some meat, milk and fruit. This is what A Birnhak wrote about Pola Pelc, the wife of M. Pelc:
She cultivated a small garden, flowers and vegetables, which reminded us of better times and gave hope that normal life could return.
The introduced in mid October 1939 food coupons plainly discriminated Jews. Also the determined on September 1, 1940 food rations were a mere discrimination of the Jews. They could obtain only bread, ersatz coffee and sugar coupons. They didn't get rations of flour, meat, marmalade, eggs and grease. Whereas the Polish population received 4.200 kg of bread a month, the Jews could obtain only 2.800 kg; the Poles got 0.400 kg of sugar and the Jews 0.200kg, they only received an equal amount of ersatz coffee: 0.160 kg. The rations were far below the minimum necessary amount and forced the people to buy most of the food on the free market. The Germans were promising an improvement of food supplies through the introduction of special additional coupons, mainly for seasonal goods such as potatoes, pulses and fruit but the promises given to Jews weren't always kept. Within the scope of supply the Kielce Judenrat cooperated closely with the Poviat Caring Committee ŻSS (Jewish Mutual Aid Society), which supervised its branches in Suchedniów, Bodzentyn, Skarżysko Kamienna, Nowa Słupia, Bliżyn, Chęciny, Daleszyce, Białogon and Łopuszno. Thanks to that cooperation it was possible to get for the Kielce Jews additional transports of groats, marmalade, flour, margarine, sugar and artificial honey. Due to the above mentioned occupier's decisions, during one year of the war the prices of everything increased 10 times. It made itself felt especially in bigger agglomerations of cities. As far as the costs of living were concerned Kielce was the third most expensive city, after Piotrków Trybunalski and Częstochowa.
The Germans obliged the Jewish inhabitants between 14 and 60 years old to forced labor, which was supposed to have an educative character, whereas in fact it led to systematic extermination of the Jewish population by killing long hours of work the more that the laborers were fed only on a bowl of soup and a slice of bread. The German orders were to be executed by the Judenrats, which evoke hatred of the Jews towards that institution. In Kielce Jewish brigades were employed in metal and timber factories, quarries, gardening at unloading goods on railway stations Kielce and Kielce Herby as well as at building and repairing railways. Because in Kielce there was a branch of the issued in Cracow Gazeta Żydowska we have a lot of information about events occurring in the town. According to the records the Kielce Jews worked in the following quarries: Zagnańska, Sitkówki, Jaworznia, Rykoszyn and others. About 600 people were hired there. In his report Dzień pracy w kamieniołomach I.Staszewski describes the daily work of young Kielce Jews at mining and burning stone:
The city was still fast asleep. The night police were going their round in their soldier-like tramp and their steps echoed dully in the silence of the night. The clock of the old historical cathedral struck: one, two, three, and four. On the streets appeared shadows rushing towards the railway station. It was the Jewish youth of Kielce going to work in quarries ( ) From 400 to 600 Jews aged 18-35. Among the hasting people one could see even older ones. Those were volunteers, people who had left all bridges of the past burnt behind them ( ). In front of the railway station groups stand in Vordermann. Each one with its Gruppenkommandant. They are standing disciplined on a level. At the command of the Obergruppenkommandants they all move towards the platform and get on the train ( ) In the cars the boys are very calm. Some are continuing the interrupted sleep; others are humming an old, very old song. There are still others who are praying. At work. From the station you go to the place of work usually on foot, singing a song ( ) Seven o'clock. A long whistle of the factory's siren. The beaters put on special glasses and down in the mine ( ) the Jews beat the hard stone. They beat. Collect. Put into trolleys. Wheel to the cars ( ). In the quarry the pampered children of delicate parents look like strange creatures with those masks and glasses. ( ) Outside there's heat, in the quarry it's boiling hot like in hell and the boys wheel the still burning lime on barrows to the cars. ( ) It is dirty and hard work to unload the coal from the cars to the mine. Boys wearing bathing-drawers, covered with coal dust bathe in their own sweat in the sun. The sun, the damned sun! And the bloody black dust gets everywhere: into the nose, into the eyes and into the mouth, damn! But the niggers are going to get warm dinner from the factory kitchen.
Accompanied by shots. A warning signal in the mine and on the surface in the forest. In a minute there will be a shot tearing the rock with dynamite. Our novices move away in a slow pace. An experienced worker cries: boys, you must run away faster! Last week there was an accident ( ) Dinner. 2 o'clock. Whistle. Boys go to a quiet forest on the territory of the mine to eat their modest, cold dinner. Some limers and coalers give up the warm dinner in the factory kitchen; they need some shadow and peace. Oh, how quiet and cool ( ) After dinner. If before the noon the heat was supportable, now it's become unbearable. Water! Water! Only water! ( ) Hammers, forks and spades slip from perspiring hands. The work drags on. The head is spinning. The hands refuse to work ( ) and here is a sound of the siren. It's half past four. The end of work. The novices leave the tools in the mine; the old ones take them: the hammer on the belt at their side, the glasses on the cup soldiers of work! To the train ( ) in a soldier-like march. One, two, three, four. And again a song. With energy, with humor, in time with the music. And again the peasants are wondering: Jews are working in the quarry and singing? How strange is it! And you will also think: such youth won't die ( ) if they decide to live, they will!!!
And yet, not everybody would come back home. As M.Bahn said: Everyday 10-20 people fewer came back home because they couldn't endure the torture of the work.
Although the above quoted article had an optimistic character, it is obvious that it was a killing work. The people had to wake up at 4 a.m., go to the place of work which lasted from 7 till 17.30. Few groups got warm dinner. It corresponded with the views of H.Frank, who during his visit in Radom on November 25, 1939 said to German starosts, commissioners and mayors gathered there: We won't fuss about the Jews. What a joy! At last we can tan the hide of the Jewish race. The more of them die the better. Let them feel that we've come. We will harass the Jews wherever we can.
In spring 1940 the Germans started public works in order to partially reduce unemployment. They decided to introduce architectonic changes so as to make Kielce similar to cities of the Reich. A reconstruction of the Market Square and the Holy Mary Square began and it was decided to plaster the former bishops' palace, where the local NSDAP had its seat. Also the building of the PWiWF was adapted and changed into the Soldier's House. The Jews organized in columns of workers were used as bricklayers at the former bishop's palace. From the preserved photos it appears that they were supervised by German gendarmerie with dogs. Jews, mainly women, were taken to agricultural work on the farm in the Czarnów district. The farm in Czarnów had been used in the interwar period to school haculecs, who were going to Palestine and during the occupation it was subordinate to the Judenrat.
In the article Kwitnący ogród put in the Gazeta Żydowska we can read:
On the outskirts of our city there is a unique work center. The work belongs surely to the most pleasant and the easiest forced labor. It is ( ) a center of work for women and weak men. The work has already been going on for a few months and will probably last till the late fall. When I enter the garden my eyes are struck by a nice view. Over thoroughly dug beds were leaning girls in colorful scarves on their heads, here and there were also men ( ) Some of them were weeding vegetables beds, others were hoeing, cleaning paths, while still others were watering flowers, scything and raking grass on lawns. Almost a miniature of field works. ( ) How many people are working in the garden, I'm asking. Now about 50 people ( ) We also have professionals, Jews ( ) they supervise the work, instruct the workers and sometimes do themselves the work that requires an experienced and precise hand. Under their supervision the garden works are done. There are some instructors, all the time ready to give advice and inform ( ) One of the women says: I've been working here since early spring and I remember digging the hard earth, frozen by morning ground frosts. We had to remove dry stalks and stems, extract the deeply stuck roots of last year's withered plants. Because it was decided to use the whole ground for sowing, even the one that hadn't been cultivated for a long time, our spades got stuck in virgin earth, where nothing had been sown for several years ( ) It's almost 2 o'clock. The workers give up their tools and go home ( ) What am I thinking about? I can't help comparing the garden work with the field work and I'm wondering at its significance. I've just witnessed haszara a preparing course, training before the future emigration.
Did anyone in the society of the Kielce Jews believe in the possibility to emigrate? The Gazeta Żydowska would write at length about this subject and several times discussed the question of Jewish settlements in Shanghai, Brazil and Chile. In the correspondence from Piotrków it was reported that since December 1939 there had even existed an Emigration Commission there.
According to oral reports at the beginning of the occupation a dozen or so Jewish families who had passports of the countries of Latin America managed to leave Kielce but unfortunately there is no information if that action was continued. It was a common knowledge that many Jewish families in Kielce had Polish passports. To the fact that the possibility to leave was discussed and that there was hope testifies the following poem of Lusia Szmeterling from Kielce, published in November 1940 in the Weekly Page for Children of the already mentioned Gazeta Żydowska:
A morning dream
Fills my heart with inexpressible joy,
My greatest wish has come true
For Homeland left by ship
And saved was every Jew.
On April 25, 1940 in Kielce appeared an announcement informing that due to an agreement between the Reich and the USSR people wanting to go over the Bug were being registered. It applied to those who had lived in the eastern border lands before the war or had there families that would receive them. At the same time it was announced that the Jews who due to military operations found themselves behind the Bug could come back. People willing to return to the GG could go to repatriation points in Przmyśl, Brześć, Kowl, Włodzimierz Wołyński and Lvov.
The following Jews were willing to leave Kielce: to Augustów Berek Lejzor Baranowski and Szaja Gros, to Brześć Rywka Kapłan, Mordka Dubna, Cynia and Złata Grajsblat, to Lvov Frajda Tekele, Mania Liba Altschüler, to Nowogródek Asna, Chawa, Doba, Kajdla and Kałma Gnat, to Stołpiec Henoch Pinczewski vel Feldgajer, to Stryj Jetla Ala Zylberberg, to Stanisławów Pikus Abramowicz, to Włodzimierz Wołyński Baniamin and Sara Wajner, to Vilnius Izaak Goldfarb, Paja Tajc, to Żółkwia Bruno Vogelhut, to Kiev Jakub Pawłowski, to Minsk Sara Rywka Hachman, to Human Mendel, Ruchla, Ruda, Pesla, Mojżesz, Szyfra and Roman Bogomolny. Among them there were also families form Kielce: the Grajsblats, the Gnats and Hilda Hajman.
For M.Pelc as chairman of the Judenrat an important issue constituted the youth. At the beginning the occupier announced that it was possible to start Jewish education. Five teachers applied for permission to open private schools. Three of them obtained the permission: Mojzesz Manela, Laura Wittlin and Rozalia Zimnowodzina. It was, however stressed, that only children up to 13 years old could be taught because older children were obliged to work. In that situation the majority of children were taught at unofficial completes. At first it didn't cause greater difficulties, it was possible to move freely in the city and buy books and notebooks. In many houses of the Jewish intelligentsia there were well equipped libraries. A.Birnhak recollects: The first year of the war wasn't so bad, my friends used to come, there were books, and we could sit around at home without the danger of being selected. Later on it was worse because the Germans consistently forced the Jews, including the youth, to work.
From the first days of the occupation the Germans started removing Jews from the most important institutions in the industry, craftsmanship and trade. Great German concerns, such as Göring, Röchling, Hugo Schneider, IG Farbenm Preussag and many others took over the key industry branches and the sources of raw material. The plundered Jewish property was taken by the Head Trust Government East, created already on November 1, 1939, which had its branches Circuit Trust Governments (Treuhanstelle). They carried out confiscations and appointed commissioner managers. They handed over the plundered property and companies: usually to different newly created German societies, established mainly as limited liability companies. The shareholders of those private-capitalist companies were very often, beside bigger German capitalists, different Nazi officials from the administration of the police apparatus.
One of the bigger timber factories in Kielce, belonging to Jewish shareholders and employing 200-300 workers, specializing in the production of furniture, wheels, gun-carriages and canon trailers, was subordinated to the foundry Ludwików, which was taken over by commissionery government and was called Maschinen- und Waggonbau G.m.b.H. The Henryków was managed by treuhändler Kazimierz Śliwa, the quarries Kadzielnia and Wietrznia by commissioner Anton Klotz, the quarry Zagórze was sequestered. Similar factories in Ślichowice, Piekoszów, Górno, Nowiny and Szydłówek were given to Franz Kna. Rechsdeutsch Hary Kurt Bilski took over the Automatic Mill Kłos, the property of the Grauzes, Zylberings and Grünbergs; the factory of the Machtyngers producing barrels and wooden packages was given to Bolesław Petuch, of R.Rozenholc's brick-field and Fritz Zimmerman ‘took care' of the Urbajtels' marble factory. The photochemical factory Orion at 9 Focha Street, which belonged to I. Obarzański and L and M. Gringras, was given to Commissioner Egon Schulz. Into German hands got also the factory Posadzka of Seder Liebfeld as Kielceparkiett. Tree stamps were made into planks which were used to produce parquet-floors on orders of prominents. The Germans plundered also two significant factories processing feathers and fluff, which belonged to the Frieds and Urbachs. In 1940 those factories processed 290610 kg of feathers and fluff and the turnover reached 2393143 zloty. The Bekermans' tannery was taken over by Haim and Burkant. The action of plundering Jewish property was sometimes followed by the transportation of its owners to extermination camps:
Great owners were sent to Dachau, Buchenwald and Auschwitz. Soon afterwards came announcements about their death. The family of transported to Buchenwald tanner Jakub Tenenbaum received some ash in a tin. It was all that was left. They had to pay a certain amount for that tin ( ) In similar way were treated other owners 
In extermination camps died also owners of bookshops Gustaw Goldwasser and Feliks Grostal.
In the course of time when the Germans had several successes on the front more and more Jewish property went to German hands. The coal supply before the war had been excellent, mainly thanks to Todorys, Izrael and Fiszel Herszkowicz, who had enormous storehouses and controlled about a half of the total turnover. When the war broke out the amount of coal was so great that the first winter during the occupation was supportable in Kielce and a ton of coal cost 40 zloty, which was identical as before the war. In 1940 the Herszkowiczes' storehouses were seized by commissioner Wacław Racławski, the coal storehouses on Młynarska Street were taken over by Frantz Weiner and Stanisław Szuster, the timber storehouses on Składowa, Czarnowska and Wspólna Street by commissioner Kazimierz Śliwa, Robert Wolgan and Heinrych Golombek, the storehouses of iron at 16,25 Piotrowska Street and 5 Bodzentyńska Street, which belonged to the Eisenbergs, the Goldbergs, the Rewins and the Dajtelcwajgs were taken over by Czesław Waszlak, outfit shops at 3,10,11,13 Mała Street and at 16 and 22 Kolejowa (Sienkiewicza) Street, including the well known magazines of Etla and Gitla Moszkowicz received commissar Ulrich Graze. Kurt Markwitz became an owner of the Shopping Mall at 36 Kolejowa Street, which had been taken from the Wilners and Secerzes. The Jewish dye-house at 9 Piotrkowska Street was given to Gustaw Schör, M.Ellencwajg's cinema on Staszica Street to Wilhelm Vogt and was since then allowed only to Germans. The German Gendarmerie took over the Hotel Polski the property of the Zelingers.
M.Pelc, as chairman of the Judenrat, was more and more aware of the fact that the Germans were aiming at a total extermination of the Jews. His discussions with the German administration were generally unpleasant and involved a lot of humiliation. He had to beg the occupier for everything: for releasing the arrested, for food, provisions for welfare institutions and medicine for hospitals. When he got seriously ill in mid 1940 he decided to give up his function. In August 1940 new Judenrat elections were held and its structure was finally defined. The Gazeta Żydowska informed that the Jewish Council was comprised of the following departments:
The article also informs that the Jews were obliged, in spite of worsening financial situation, to pay several taxes, including personal, countervailing and hospital tax and contributions for the Jewish Council as well as for people working in labor camps. In the summer of 1940 the Judenrad was ordered by the Germans to start sending the youth to labor camps in the Lubelskie Voivodship, where they were used at building roads and drainage works. Those who were leaving received from the Judenrat money to buy additional rations of bread. It was excessive, ruthlessly rigorous work and they were given only subsistence food rations. Those who came back after a few months were ill, injured and battered. Fearing that they would bring contagious diseases to Kielce, staroste Hans Dreschel passed an ordinance providing that they should all be quarantined in an isolation house on Radomska Street. Ill, starved people had fewer opportunities to get a paid job therefore the number of people needing support was growing. At the end of 1940 3000 dinners and 500 food parcel a day were given to the Jewish population. The Judenrat hoped to manage to solve the problem of purveyance. In the Gazeta Żydowska, in correspondence form Kielce concerning the supply of goods distributed for coupons it was stated: The project includes also meat, which is to be distributed in great amounts. Unfortunately, those hopes didn't come true. In mid December 1940 the soup-kitchen suspended giving free meals: Due to a reorganization of the soup-kitchen for the poor inhabitants of Kielce the people receiving soup free of charge, deprived temporarily of hot meal, have to content themselves with raw products 
In 1940, according to Józef Bysiak, a system of barter developed between the Kielce Jews and the farmers from neighboring villages, such as: Białogon, Dąbrowa, Mąchocice, Masłów: We used to provide them with food and they gave us tans. Many Poles occupied themselves with illegal, but well-paid, tanning of animal skin. Tans and other necessary chemicals were taken from a stock hidden from the Germans.
In December 1940 doctor M.Pelc, despite insistent demands, resigned as the chairman of the Judenrat and took eventually the post of director of the hospital. In this situation the Germans appointed well known in Kielce Herman Lewi as the chairman. He was born in 1880. Since his youth he had been involved in timber industry. He served his apprenticeship in the saw mill of Henryk Nowak in Głęboczka and then for many years directed the work of the Steam Saw Mill Borków. During the First World War he built on the outskirts Głęboczka Fabryka Mebli Giętych (Factory of Bent-Wood Furniture) Henryków' together with H.Nowak, H.Bruner, W. Moszkowski and his wife Helena. Lewi was also the owner of a big plot of ground on Młynarska Street, which he rented to different people for stocks and storehouses. He himself lived in a tenement house at 3 Glowackiego Street. He was active in the religious municipal department, the Board of the Jewish Commune, presided over the Union of Timber Merchants and was a board member of the Free of Interest Credit Society Gemiłus Chesed, a board member of the Jewish Rescue Committee during the great crisis, he represented the Kielce producers in the Voivodship Advisory Committee of Trade and Industry and the Chamber of Trade and Industry in Sosnowiec, he presided over the Association of Jewish Real Estates Owners in Kielce, he was also an activist of the LOPP and the National Health Service. He stressed many times his loyalty to the Polish state. He was, however, different from Pelc. He lacked the comprehension of the fact that the Germans aimed at exterminating the Jews. He sometimes behaved like megalomaniac, which spread on other members of the Judenrat.
On December 13, 1940 members of the Judenrat approached the Jews standing in a queue for food and took children by force, which immediately caused panic. The children were brought to the Department of Social Care, where they received clothes. This is how the Gazeta Żydowska reported this event:
In stores of the Social Care in Kielce there are so called American gifts for the poor population ( ) comprising mainly children's clothes, warm dresses, coats, underwear, etc. The poorest and the most ragged children were taken from the queue and spontaneously given clothes. The kids, who at the beginning stood frightened in a flock, started stretching out their arms for the clothes. The cries of joy that accompanied giving out the gifts are beyond description. In this way on 13 December started an action of giving clothes to the poorest ( ) In spite of temporal satisfaction of the needs, the poor population still lacks clothes. Taking it into consideration, the Department of Social Care has started a collection of old clothes among the people. Now it depends only on generosity of the society if the poor in Kielce will be provided with clothes.
The moment H.Lewi took up the post of chairman of the Judenrat another reorganization of this institution was carried out. Considering the new social situation, an equal representation of all societies in the Council was stressed. The professions, clerks and merchants had 5 representatives each, the producers, craftsmen and workmen had 4 representatives each and 2 seats were reserved for the refugees. The Kielce Judenrat had 24 members. The idea of admitting refugees to the Council was quite significant because this group of Jews lives in the most difficult conditions, although it was attempted to provide them with everything they needed.
In the interwar period both the Kielce orphanage, which admitted children up to 14, and the old people's house, established by the Zagajskis, had their own buildings. In 1940 the Department of Social Care decided, due to an influx of displaced people, to move the orphanage and the old people's house to the building of closed by Germans Jewish Male High School on Poniatowskiego Street: Thus, under one roof are housed two institutions that continue their activity thanks to the initiative of the management and the generosity of the society. Both institutions were financed by the Judenrat, small amounts for the sake of the old people's house gave also the Joint and the Centos (Central Society of Care about Orphans and Abandoned Children) supported the orphanage. The Centos led also, in cooperation with the Red Cross, the action of searching for families, coming into touch with Geneva.
Apart from the Judenrat and the Jewish Mutual Aid Society charitable actions were led, also by the Poviat Union of Jewish Craftsmen. Due to German ordinances, all Jewish craftsmen running their own workshops had to belong to this union. A monthly fee was of 2 zloty and 50 grosz for every employee. Generally, Jewish workshops had to produce what the Germans demanded, more of them worked therefore for the army. However, before the creation of the ghetto a lot had been produced for the Polish and the Jewish population. The union tried to provide its members with additional supplies of food and organized canteens for the workers and their families. Although the occupier was using the Jewish craftsmanship the situation was difficult. The Germans plundered Polish and Jewish property, limited trade and craftsmanship and tried in the same time to break up economic links between the Poles and the Jews. They were using very subtle methods. In the article: Opieka nad rzemiosłem w okręgu radomskim it was written: a Polish tailor or a Polish shoemaker was constantly in danger of an invasion of Jewish invasion into the trade, although as indicates the comparison with western territories craftsmanship is foreign to the nature of this race of merchants.
In July 1940 the chief of the Radom District, doctor Karl Lasch, who participated in the opening of the Chamber of Trade and Industry in Radom, emphasized that the target he set himself was to create planned and strong economy because the epoch of unbounded economy ended. In a bulletin of the abovementioned chamber it was written that the aim in craftsmanship would be to: eliminate, if possible, the unwelcome Jewish element, giving the Polish craftsman constantly all kind of help. The House of Craftsmanship expects and demands loyal cooperation of the craftsmanship. Because the Information Bulletin of the Chamber of Trade and Industry for the Radom District could be purchased in Eicher's newsagent's at 14 Leśna Street and the one of Lewkowicz on Starowarszawskie Przedmieście Street, such articles when read by a Jew caused some animosity, which was probably what the Germans expected. Anti-Jewish accents can be found also in the article Instytucja Zarządu Powierniczego w Okręgu Radomskim, where it was written:
German administration met in the General Gouvernment economy almost completely dominated by the Jews with characteristic features for this kind of enterprise: lack of hygiene, disorder, negligence and decline. The pejoratively used term Polish economy means mainly rather Jewish economy. Within the frames of planned wartime economy the German administration faced the challenge to reanimate and to restore efficiency of Jewish companies which were additionally affected by military operations. In order to achieve this aim it was necessary to deprive the hitherto owners Jews of the right to manage the companies and give this right to reliable trust managers. It has to be to be admitted that the appointed trustees, mainly citizens of the Reich and people of German nationality, did their best to lead the companies to a significant increase of production ( ) To the Agency of Trust Administration at the Chief's of the Radom District, directed by doctor Lang., are submitted 350 trust managers, who administer about 750 companies ( ). Confiscated estates are administered by the board of the Department of Nutrition and Agriculture ( ), estates with forest-administration together with companies that process timber and woodwork are administered by the Department of Forestry ( ). Printing companies are under the General Manager, appointed by the Department of People's Education and Propaganda.
Plundering Jewish property had different forms. Houses of owners absent from the General Gouvernment were confiscated on the basis of a confiscation ordinance of January 24, 1940. The fate of the remaining houses depended on the commissioners' decisions. Confiscated were mainly the houses, the rent of which brought 500 zloty a month. In Kielce also the houses that brought an income of 200 zloty were considered attractive by the occupier. An example of another solution constitutes the case of the Factory of Industry and Timber Henryków which had been under the foundry Ludwków since the beginning of occupation. On September 3, 1940 the Germans from the Mortgage Office in Kielce ordered the following people to turn up before the notary Lucjan Jaxa Maleszewski: attorney Stanisław Styczeń, representing Maria Stefania Nowakowa, Henryk's widow and her son Stefan; a producer Henryk Bruner and Paul Steiner representing the company Ludwigshütte A.G. in Kielce as its manager appointed by the general governor on May 22, 1940. They met in order to sign a dictated by the Germans contract, due to which joint owners decided to rent real estates, machines, tools, offices and workshops of the Henryków to foundry Ludwików for 10 years dating from August 1, 1940. The rent was fixed at 250 zloty for every person monthly. P.Steiner reserved the right of pre-emption of the factory. Any disputed were to be solved by the German Public Court, excluding disputes between the owners. The agreement would be effective after its ratification by the Municipal Staroste in Kielce and the Trust Government in Radom. In this way a factory that could employ 600 people was rented for 750 zloty, which means for 250 zloty per person. It was a monthly salary of a qualified worker. The agreement had, however, an enormous psychological meaning. The Nowaks, the Bruners and the Lewis were convinced that Henryków continued to be their property, despite the disadvantageous agreement. Bearing this in mind H.Lewi, already as chairman of the Judenrat, would try to employ the best specialists because it was, after all, his factory, only temporarily rented. It also gave hopes that he would survive, because the agreement was to be valid for 10 years. However, they all forgot how perfidious the Germans were. Two years after signing the agreement the only surviving owner was Steiner.
Theoretically it was possible for the Jewish owners whose houses had been confiscated to receive 25% of the rent. Applications with documents certifying to their poverty were to be handed to the general trustee for Jewish and ownerless immobility doctor Neumann in Radom. However, it was difficult to get the due money. The justification was that: the real estates were in state of horrible negligence. The houses were completely neglected and constituted objects of exploitation which were kept in good conditions only in exceptional cases. The first profit, according to the Germans, was spent on renovation. The poverty made it impossible for many people to pay rent, therefore the houses brought about 50-60%of expected income. In the prevailing situation, as the bulletin informed:
Administration of houses in cooperation with the Accommodation Office or Lodging Office took energetic and decided measures against dilatory payers.
At the end of 1940 the occupation authorities and the Judenrat reminded the owners of shops and workshops about the necessity to purchase registration cards. It turned out that the number of commercial institutions owned by the Jews fell from 61,8% in 1939 to 32,3% in 1940. Many shops with food, fabrics, and leather clothes ceased to exist. The storehouses were seized by German commissioners. The cards for keeping craftsmen's companies were bought by only 450 Jews. It's remarkable that most cards were bought by Jews living on the streets that were later in the ghetto: Piotrkowska, Kozia, Orla, Starowarszawskie Przedmieście, Silniczna and Nowy Świat. From Plac Wolności (Liberty Square) only 14 people bought the cards, from Kilińskiego Street 18, from Sienkiewicza Street 17, Wesoła Street 15, Leonarda Street 7, Szeroka Street 6, Ewangelicka Street 3. When the people noticed that the Germans were aiming at destroying the Jewish economic potential they didn't want to lose their, often last, savings. The Jews were poorer and poorer. This is a description of distribution of soup in one of the points at 4 Szeroka Street.
In the street we are struck by a long line of waiting people. Everybody brings rags to keep the food warm. Then they rush home. Together with the soup they get 0,2 kg of bread for each person. The dinner costs 20 grosz. ‘Recently the soups have been tastier', says an old man, ‘They used to give soup with some potatoes and now they give also some fat.’
The hunger made many people present themselves voluntarily for even the hardest work. A journalist of the Gazeta Żydowska informs in his report about the activity of the Department of Work that mainly the youth wanted to get this work: A crowd of volunteers to work in quarries fills the room. These are mainly young people since they are the keenest to work.
According to the information concerning the creation of carpenter's workshops under the auspices of the Judenrat the men who were working there from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. earned 4 zloty a day and women 3 zloty: It is absolutely notable that our workers come from the intelligentsia and are the former white-collar workers. These people have found employment here and are really satisfied with their job. Therefore we are called carpenter's for the intelligentsia.
The situation of many craftsmen of the leather branch in Kielce was tragic:
The moment the war broke out about 600 leather-stitchers and several thousand of small shoemakers became unemployed and this number was even increased by people displaced from other towns. Therefore the Council of Jewish Elders showed a plan to the local authorities, the realization of which would create employment for masses of unemployed leather-stitchers and shoemakers. Thus, on the initiative of the Council of Jewish Elders, with the approval of the authorities, leather-stitcher's workshops have been opened, which have employed 600 specialists. The building specially given for this purpose is on Orla Street 
In this way it was managed to create place of work for only 10% of the unemployed. This is what one of the workers said about the organization of the workshops:
We do piece-work, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., including a lunch break from 1 to 2 p.m. and shorter breaks to have a rest and to eat something. The work is done according to a regulation made by the Council of Jewish Elders and we are doing our best to make the work as effective as possible. We are managed by a member of the Council of Jewish Elders, who is also a specialist leather-stitcher and an initiator of our workshop.
At the same time social stratification was becoming more and more apparent. While some people were starving the others were quite well-off, especially those who managed to get to the Judenrat and its branches. It's remarkable that in spite of quite a lot of information about the work of the Judenrat, which according to the report of the Gazeta Żydowska lasted from morning till evening, its members wouldn't give their names. Probably they were aware of the fact that the Jewish Council constituted to a lesser and lesser extent a representation of the Jewish society and was becoming a passive tool of the Germans.
The year 1941 brought other restrictions and impediments in the purchase of food:
Thanks to an intense action of gendarmerie stations numerous cases of illegal slaughter and exceeding the price limits have recently been discovered in the district of Radom. In all those cases the authorities responsible for controlling the prices in the Office of the Chief of the Radom District in consultation with the Department of Nutrition and Agriculture submitted an application to the public prosecutor's office that they should be punished, taking into consideration the fact that such illegal machinations constituted a serious obstacle in the governmental action of supply and management.
The secret slaughter saved hungering towns, including the Jewish population, from starvation. The justification for the action was that it protected people's health: They would very often kill only ill cattle in the secret slaughter. Therefore, as well as due to long and wrong storing of the meat, ( ) meat unfit for mass consumption is accepted to trade, which constitutes a danger of an epidemic.
The Germans would always intervene when they thought that their business was endangered or ordinances were infringed. When on the Jewish New Year's Day some of the Jews didn't come to work, the German police immediately reacted: Sz. Zelcberg wrote:
In Rosz-Haszana some of the Jews didn't go to work and at night the Gestapo burst into Jewish houses ( ). They were beating us till we lost consciousness and drove us onto a yard in front of the prison. There they checked the list and those who had been at work in Rosz-Haszana were sent back home, the guilty were severely kicked and put into prison, from where they were taken in the first transport to death.
A further attack on the remnants of the Jewish trade could be observed:
The trade in the General Gouvernment is still characterized by specific features of the former Polish State's trade. It concerns mainly the structure of a trading company in general, to the dominance of one-man companies ( ) and to strong participation ( ) of the Jews. Because the wholesale has already been to a great extent freed from Jewish influence it may be presumed that the Jewish element has withdrawn to smaller trading companies and secret trade or smuggling. The removal of the Jewry from the trade ruled by the Jews combined with closing smaller and the smallest trading companies run by the Jews ( ) would lead to liquidation of the hitherto existing excess.
The theoretical consideration was followed by practise. At the beginning of 1941 into the hands of the trustee Ulrich Graze in Kielce got the workshops and outfitter's shops that belonged to: Brandla Kaminer, Joel Kopel, Chaja Kaner, Samuel Kajzer, Nachemiasz Abrider, Hersz Glodfryd, Ruchla Świeczarczykowa, Dawid Sylberman, Chaskiel Szmulewicz, Gołda Strosberg, Lejba Szdłowski, Rafał Zylberberg, Regina Gertler, Szlama Gryszpan, Josek Morgensztern, Chaja Rotenberg, Szaja Lebensztajn, Fromjm Włodomer, Bencjan Sztern, Dawid Zylberberg, Hersz Szwaicar, Efroim Lewit, Majer Frajtag, Uszer Mordka, Dwojra Rapoport, Adela Goldberg, Aria Tokowicz, Szmul Gerat, Maria Albir, Moszek Tenenbaum, Jakub Baicki, Mojsze Elbaum, Jankiel Chmielnicki, Lejzor Tauman, Cyrla Balicka and Chaja Friedenson together 41 companies. Also the number of real estates confiscated by the Germans increased. In the Radom District they administered 1400 houses in the first quarter of 1941.
Meanwhile, another wave of refugees reached Kielce. Only from the area of Ciechanów came 7 huge transportations: On March 3 to Kielce came a transport of Jews who were located in neighboring towns on the command of Kreishauptman ( ). On March 6 and 12 two transports of Jews came: to Skarżysko Kamienna and to Kielce. It was already the third transport of Jews to Kielce. Because in Kielce there were no quarters the transports were directed to Nowa Słupia.
Each transport of Jews from the northern lands caused a shock in the Judenrat. The transported Jews were battered, hungry and ragged, without any money even for basic things. Only immediate help and the supply of food and clothes saved them from fast death of hunger and cold. To Kielce were coming also Jews from small towns of Ponidzie. In effect in 1941 the accommodating conditions deteriorated. In one room lived 5-6 people. Such density, combined with lack of running water and canalization, led to many diseases. Therefore the Judenrat ordered the sanitary service to see to regular baths of the people, giving clothes and bedding for delousing and vaccinations.
Till May 1941 the Municipality had been trying to keep, with a lot of difficulties, statistics concerning the Jewish population. According to the records 343 Jews died during 1940 and between April 1 and May 15 178 people. So the number of deaths was increasing. The funerals were organized by the Funeral Brotherhood, which cooperated with the Judenrat because at each funeral the route of the procession had to be approved by the Germans. It wasn't easy because the Jewish cemetery was in a remote quarter of Pakosz and the shortest way led thorough Focha Street, where there were many houses and institutions occupied by the Germans. The statistics of deaths didn't include Jews killed in the Kielce prison, forced labor camps and concentration camps.
Despite the cruelty of war the basis of the Jewish life constituted home and family. In 1940 in the society of the Kielce Jews 127 marriages were recorded 29 between April 1 and May 15. It was, though, more and more difficult to provide for family. German patrols would stop Jewish women in the streets and search their bags. It was considered a crime to have food not coming from the food coupons. There were also revisions of Jewish houses and street roundups. A Kielce native Jechiele Alpert recollects:
I was playing bridge at my friends' when we suddenly noticed tumult in the street. What's happening? They are catching Jwes. The Germans were coming from one house to another, all street corners were occupied ( ) They chose a few people and sent to concentration camps ( ) to Dachau or Buchenwald and the rest were kept for 48 hours and then let go. My father and my sister Hela were also caught and kept in the synagogue; my father escaped through the window and after several hours he came back home ( ). Another similar action took place before the creation of the ghetto ( ). The Germans asked the Judenrat to organize a group of workers that was to be sent to the East. The Judenrat wasn't able to find workers because people were hiding and escaping so they organized an action themselves and sent the caught Jews to a forced labor camp near Hrubieszów. The conditions were very hard there, I heard it from a friend of mine who was caught and paid a lot of money to get out of there ( ), each Jew had his own card and each profession its color 
There were different causes of arrests and putting into prison: secret trade, not obeying the curfew or appearing in the streets that the Jews weren't allowed to enter. In 1940 to prison on Zamkowa Street were put among others: Juda Wygańska, Icek, Jankiel and Blina Tarkieltaub, Mordka Zylberstein, Abram and Mojżesz Włoszczowski, Lejba Strawczyński, Chana and Saula Saubel, Bajla and Nuchyn Zylbersztajn, Mordka Tajtelbaum, Szmul Zylberberg, Bouch Cytryna and Estera Wohl. Some of them were released after an investigation whereas the others got to concentration camps. To Aushwitz were sent: M. Włoszczowski, B. Cytryna and E. Wohl. The former vice staroste of Radom and then a councillor of the Voivodship Gouvernment in Kielce, doctor of law at the Lvov University Izaak Schützer had a horrible death. After a short investigation in the Kielce prison he was sent to Skarżysko Kamienna, where he was battered to death with sticks in a school building on the so called Parcele.
The Jewish society had also to deal with different kinds of provocation. Since November 1939 Jewish barber surgeons and doctors hadn't been allowed to give advice to the Poles, not mentioning the Germans. H. Rotman-Kader remembers that many suspicious people used to ask his father, a well known in Kielce barber surgeon, for house visits. Fortunately, Kielce was small enough to know all the inhabitants, so it was easy to guess that they were people sent by German police. The ban on treating the Poles significantly limited the income of Jewish doctors. However, the ban was ignored by the Poles, especially before the creation of the ghetto.
As early as in spring 1940 the German authorities held talks with the Judenrat about the creation of the Jewish police. After several weeks, though, that idea was abandoned. Only at the end of the year was this matter discussed again: In December 1940 an announcement appeared in the Judenrat that the high school graduates or those who finished military colleges could apply for admission to the Jewish police. There were many candidates and even my close friends applied, not only applied but also used some protection to be admitted. But the Germans agreed to accept only a small group, so not everybody could be taken. ( ) In February 1941 there was another action, people were caught to quarries and the Germans ordered the candidates for Jewish policemen to participate in the action.
Officially, the Jewish police service was created by the Germans in March 1941. Bruno Schindler a Jew from Germany was appointed its commander. Initially, the police had 20 members and in May 1941 85, in 1942 this number increased to 127. The Jewish police was provided with uniforms and with wooden batons. The Jews had been reluctant to that formation from the very beginning because they were aware of the fact that it would be forced to fulfill all German orders and participate in the crimes of the occupier. And they were right.
The decisions of the Germans concerning the religious life were depressing for the Kielce Jews. As early as in October 1939 the ritual slaughter was prohibited and on January 26, 1940 - also public religious ceremonies. The Great Synagogue in Kielce was plundered and closed. It was used as temporary arrest during different anti-Jewish actions or as a storehouse of things stolen from the Jews. Prayer houses were closed, for example the greatest one on Słowackiego Street, which was also used as a storehouse. The Jews gathering in private houses for prayers were beaten and arrested, religious weddings were banned and people bathing in mikvehs were driven outside in winter. There were numerous reactions against such orders. To everyday prayers was added Caddish a prayer for the dead, the synagogue silver was hidden, there were attempts to keep prayer books and despite persecutions the Jews didn't want to give up regular public prayers. Later on the rabbis cancelled some kosher regulations.
According to German ordinances the rabbi should be automatically a member of the Judenrat. However, both the head rabbi of the Kielce religious municipal department A. Rapoport and other rabbis tried to keep away from this institution. Also the majority of the Jewish intelligentsia in Kielce avoided any cooperation with the Judenrat, in spite of deteriorating material situation.
JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of
the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.
Kielce, Poland Yizkor Book Project JewishGen Home Page
Copyright © 1999-2017 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 11 Apr 2012 by JH