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The Holocaust and Resistance

 

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Budzyń

by Daniel Freiberg

Translated by Jerrold Landau

For us, the crossing from Rachów to Budzyń was not only a change of place or a change of living conditions that assured us the possibility of continued existence to living conditions that were rumored to include hunger, poverty, torture and murder. Here, we had already settled into our situation with Germans who were appointed over us, and we got by reasonably well. Aside from the fact that they put us to work, they did not harm us during the almost two years that we worked for them. Furthermore, even the fact that we were leaving the lion's den of Lazarczyk did not comfort us, for we heard rumors of terrible atrocities that were orders of magnitude larger, perpetrated by our new commander Feiks. Worse than all was the feeling that we were leaving the place where we were born and raised, the natural and human landscape where we had grown up and developed; and perhaps no less, the place where we suffered and were tortured. We vacillated between despair and hope for 2 ½ years. It was hard to leave the place because of the fact that when we were there, we were able to look out from the hills of sand and stone at our workplace in the mines of Nowa Wieś toward the town, its environs, and the cemetery that was opposite to it in which our dear ones were buried – from long ago and from yesterday.

The following adage frequented our mouths: “A stone in its place also grows”. Indeed, during the six months that passed since we left our homes and our families, each of us remained as forlorn as a stone in the field; it was as if we were covered in a new landscape since we were now in that place. People who had “deposits” with the Poles lived off of them, as did people such as I who did business with them. Whomever had nothing nevertheless managed because they were among others who concerned themselves for them as well. All of this ended, and now we were taken into the “unknown”, that was known for its cruelty and danger.

Such thoughts and feelings never left us and accompanied us throughout the journey. They took hold of us and actualized for us what was awaiting us in the new place. With such thoughts and the mood that they create, we entered the gates of the Budzyń camp.

As we descended from the cars in Budzyń we immediately felt the hellish atmosphere of the camp, in which we were to live for many months. We were surrounded by Ukrainians, the Jewish camp police, and other officials of various types. We were prodded along in getting of the cars. A brief roll call took place, and we then brought out meager belongings into a large wooden building, one of five or six such buildings set up in a straight line. When we entered the bunk, we realized that we were in the midst of a large clothing warehouse. There were long shelves along the walls, stacked up to the ceiling. These shelves were laden with bundles of clothing of all types: coats, jackets, pants, undergarments, blankets, etc. We were ordered to leave all of our suitcases, and we were not permitted to take anything from the belongings which we had brought. Something strange then took place with us, which can only be explained by the fact that we were also hungry when we entered the hunger-filled atmosphere of the camp. We all grabbed the bread from our suitcases and began to eat ravenously, as if we had not eaten for many days.

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The people standing over us felt sorry for us, and they gave us all appropriate sized portions of their own bread. We finished the portions right there.

After we were left with the clothes on our backs, we were taken to the showers. When we entered, the men there (later we found out that these were members of the ordnungsdienst) and the shower attendants turned to us with the following announcement: “Know for yourselves that holding money and property is forbidden in Budzyń. If any sum of money or property is found on you, severe punishments will ensue. Therefore, it is better that you give over now everything that you have. In any case, a search will be done through your clothes, and everything will be taken from you. Strip.”

We stripped and turned over our clothes to the director of the division. He took our clothes to the englausung, that is to the delousing station. A thorough search was conducted as the clothes were hung on hooks attached to a wagon, despite the fact that a large number of us gave over money and property as was demanded. I did not give over anything because I did not have anything. My clothes were not searched, for their appearance testified that it was not worth the bother.

We entered the shower room. This was a small chamber with several nozzles. We were all happy at the possibility of washing under running water, for we had not done such for many months. To our dismay it became clear that here too the opportunity was restricted, for 5-6 people had to crowd under one nozzle, and the stream of water was very thin. After washing for a few minutes without soap or any other cleansing material, we went out to the dressing room and waited until they would bring in our clothes from the delousing. After each of us identified our clothes, we got dressed and went out to “a new life”.

Indeed, a new life began for us – if it can at all be called a “life” – a life of hunger, tribulations from every perspective, fear, degradation, torture and oppression. A life of an extended anticipation of certain death. That which I saw during my first months in the Budzyń Camp I did not see before or after, not even in Auschwitz. In Budzyń people lost their human form and turned into human-animals due to the circumstances of the camp. There I was a witness of a father acting as a stranger to his son, and a brother not recognizing his brother. Man was like an animal.

On the first day of our arrival, we were still fortunate to be numbered among those who received supper. Supper consisted of a portion of soup that was nicknamed “nettle soup”, for its content was water with leaves similar to nettles. We did not succeed in verifying the name or actual content of this soup. In order to obtain our portion we had to line up in long lines in front of the distribution windows of the kitchen bunker. Since everyone was hungry and wanted to arrive at the window first, everyone pushed and shoved their way forward. Chaos often pervaded, and at time disputes and arguments broke out accompanied by curses, profanity and even fistfights. Then the kitchen workers who were the keepers of order appeared and began to disperse the line with the clubs in their hands, as if to keep order. We had to line up again. During the second lineup, the strong people reached the window first, without any difficulty.

{Photo page 234: A bunk in the Budzyń Camp. Behind it are the pits in which the Jews were taken out to be murdered.}

The daily portion of bread was also distributed in the evening. It consisted of 200 grams per person; however a loaf of bread which was designated for ten portions was much smaller than 2 kilograms. The importance that we attached to each gram of bread can be seen from the distribution protocols that we established. The portions of bread were distributed to the heads of the groups by seniority. Each group head presented himself for distribution and received the appropriate number of portions in accordance with the list that was in the hands of the distributor. Within the group, a loaf was given to each ten people, who then divided it up amongst themselves. Since it was impossible to divide up a loaf into ten exactly equal portions, we established an order of distribution by lots, as follows: One person cut up the loaf into ten pieces. A second person would place the portions behind one of the members of the group, in such a way that nobody could see the portions. He took a portion in his hand and asked, “Who gets this portion?” Someone would call out their name, and the portion would be given to him. Then he asked again, “Who gets this portion?” This would repeat itself. I do not recall if we established this protocol ourselves or if we got the idea from others. However there is no doubt that by utilizing it we prevented disputes and arguments during the distribution of the bread. We were billeted in bunk number 2. We did not require blankets since it was summertime, and each bunk housed approximately 600-700 people on wooden planks that were stacked four high and were arranged in 2-4 rows. The heat was unbearably stifling.

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The next day, we received “coffee” without anything else for breakfast. This was a black liquid, the identity of which and the taste of which was hard to define. After we emptied the vat of the liquid, people fell like a pack of hungry wolves upon the thick liquid that remained at the bottom and grabbed up the remnants with whatever utensils they had: cups, dishes, spoons, as well as directly from hand to month. On the first day I shied away from this terrifying sight, but as time went on, I participated in the struggle along with the others. Not only did my disgust diminish, but I also found a reason for this situation – for it enabled us to eat something in the morning, so as not to go out to the backbreaking work on an empty stomach.

We arranged ourselves in separate groups for the morning roll call. From behind us appeared the camp commandant, a tall, thin 40-year-old man, wearing fatigues similar to those of the Polish army, but made of a different fabric. The coat was made of a brown fabric, the pants were light grey, and there were boots. The fatigues were clean and ironed, and the boots were polished. He wore a Polish army belt. I did not know at that time that this man, whose appearance was official and dry, was someone I would get to know and appreciate more than any other person that I had met in official camp positions. His name was Leib (Noach) Sztukman. Commandant Sztukman was accompanied by his assistant Zoberman, who was the complete opposite of the commandant. He was short, broad, and spoke fast. Tzvi Bruk the director of the camp division also wore Polish army fatigues. He was a bespectacled young man who had the appearance of a professional book afficiado.

Commandant Sztukman turned to us and said, “You have arrived in the Budzyń Camp. Life for you here will not be easy. Everybody works here. The guards are very particular and stringent, as in the army. The work divisions also take the form of army work groups. The camp is divided into work groups called “kompania”, with a commander at the head of each group. Each group is divided into smaller divisions. You belong to Group Four, and your commander is Mr. Dombrower. You must call your commander by his official title. You must behave with utmost seriousness, without any lightheadedness.”

The commander of the group was a “yekke” (German Jew) more than 50 years old, but solid and healthy. He brought us in to his group, and when the group went out to work with everyone, we remained in the camp. Mr. Dombrower began to explain the order of work to us. We arranged ourselves into a line, we went through roll call, and then we had to arrange ourselves in five equal rows, and straighten out the rows. Then this repeated itself over again: lining up in one line, going through roll call, etc. Once we passed the first level of training, we moved to the next: learning how to march, etc. It was explained to us that this was necessary since every group goes out to work and marches to this step all the way to work and back.

After a few hours of practice, we were given over to the hands of the vorarbeiter who supervised the work group. He was also a “yekke” named Schwartz. Unlike the commandant of the group who was dressed in military style, the vorarbeiter wore civilian clothes and attracted attention by wearing a long winter coat which he never took off despite the heat of May. Our first work assignment was close to the camp. After we walked a few paces outside the camp, we turned left, where several dozen men were working at digging pits literally next to the fence of the camp. We joined them. We were given digging equipment and began our work.

Four or five pits were dug. The length of each one was several dozen meters, and the width was approximately 6-7 meters. We had to excavate and deepen the pit to a height of two humans. The walls had to be straight. This was hard, backbreaking work for the men whose only daily food was 200 grams of bread. Even we, who had lived in relatively good conditions until yesterday and were expert in digging, found it difficult to work with spades and were susceptible to the burning sun despite the fact that our strength had not yet been exhausted like the others who preceded us in the Budzyń Camp. It is no wonder that the work was performed lackadaisically and progressed slowly. Schwartz, who was responsible, ran from pit to pit, shouting and urging us on by shouting until he was hoarse, “Arbeitn, Arbeitn!” (Work, Work!) It was impossible to force the human skeletons to strengthen themselves and work. I got the impression that Schwartz' shouts were intended to be heard in the camp and the nearby guard tower, more so than urging us to work. In any case we worked only a little bit as Schwartz approached. When he went away, we would lie on our backs on the ground of the pit or rest on the walls, and the work ceased completely.

Noontime came. We, who were literally at the edge of the camp, entered in order to receive our portion of lunchtime soup. It was the same soup of the previous evening, similar in content and taste: a mixture of water with tasteless leaves. If someone was lucky, a piece of turnip or cooked radish would fall into his dish. The food was meant more to instill false hope than to satiate. We ate at long wooden tables set up in rows next to the kitchen. Since there were those who did not eat the soup or who only ate the solid portion, ten or more hands fell on any such dish in order to grab it. For the most part

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the contents would be spilled due to the battle over it. However, anyone who succeeded in obtaining an additional portion did not benefit much from it. We were warned from the first day of our arrival not to follow our urges to obtain extra portions, so as not to put too much liquid into our systems and thereby hasten the bloating of hunger. Many people walked around the tables after the dishes were removed to search for a leaf or grain of grit that remained in a dish.

Thus did my brother Avrahamka and I live along with many others from our group and several hundred other Jews, in the manner as I described in our first day in Budzyń. This was a relatively brief period of heavy hunger. Our situation later improved quickly. However during this brief period, many of the weak members of our group died before our situation improved. Among the dead were Fenster from Krakow, Yitzchak Szlagman (the son of Nechemale who was also in Budzyń) and others.

 

Budzyń – History on the Edge of a Fork

It is impossible to tell about Budzyń in the summer of 1943 without first telling about it “history”. I will attempt to describe briefly what I know and what I heard from the survivors of Budzyń who were in the camp in its early days.

Budzyń is located next to the road that leads from Krasnik to Urzedow. It was a village like all the other villages in the region, without any importance and without even any pretensions to enter into history. During the 1932, when the government of Poland prepared to actualize its C.O.P plan (central manufacturing district), whose purpose was the industrialization of the regions in the center of the country, this area was also chosen for industrialization. Indeed, the region was in need of some industry, for it was completely agricultural and the small bit of industry in the region was directed to the production of agricultural products. There were flourmills, sugar factories, liquor distilleries, sawmills, and the like. There was no other industry within a radius of tens of kilometers.

Approximately 5-6 kilometers from Krasnik, at the side of the road in a continuous, dense forest, they began to set up the factory. Approximately 3 kilometers from Urzedow they began to set up homes for the future workers. In order to differentiate these houses from the old houses of the villages, this neighborhood was called Budzyń “kolonia”.

It is not clear what was manufactured in this factory until the outbreak of the war. The Jews of Krasnik and the area had only one certainty: the definitive ban imposed by the Polish authorities upon the Jews prohibiting them from entering the construction area and a specified area surrounding it. The Jews were allowed to, and indeed did, provide various construction materials, but were forbidden from bringing them themselves. They had to use Polish drivers and wagoneers. On the other hand, various tasks in the factory were given over to various companies whose owners were Germans from Poznan and other places. These people and their workers had no restrictions on their movement in the area of the factory. In order to bring in the required materials, a railway line ran from the Krasnik station to the factory and the neighborhood. Metal bars were brought into almost every pavilion of the factory.

As I realized through my work, the factory was engaged in military manufacturing. It consisted of dozens of large buildings and manufacturing pavilions, each one of which being located on an area of hundreds of square meters. All of them were built with bricks and planks, with steel pillars holding up the roofs. The underground pavilions located beneath the central area of the factory were particularly impressive. They gave the impression of a large market square in some town. The pavilions were very large, with service facilities in each pavilion. After some time, when I went to work in the factory, I would tour these pavilions. Each time, I would be astonished anew at the extent of the place.

The residential neighborhood was also built with the best in construction technology. There were modern buildings with all conveniences and services in each building: starting from water, electricity and modern sanitary facilities in each dwelling, and ending with cellars for fruits, vegetables, firewood and coal under the building. A large open area was left for gardens and lawns around each building.

In the summer of 1942 they brought the first Jews of Krasnik and its region to work in the factory. These people were of various professions. They worked and lived in the precincts of the factory. Larger groups from the towns of the region, as well as a group of Jewish prisoners of war from the Lipowa Camp in Lublin were brought in towards the autumn. These people prepared the camp for its intended purpose – the absorption of hundreds and thousands of Jews for forced labor. The camp was a short distance from the settlement, which was now called by its German name – Siedlung.

The large concentration into that camp began in the autumn of that year, when large groups of people were brought in. At that time, a large group of nearly 400 Jewish prisoners of war from the camp of Końską Wolą. They found close to 500 men and women in the camp. Seven prisoners of war from Lipowa in Lublin were the heads of the camp at that time, and five from that group worked in the factory. In the factory, people were working for the “Heinkelvorke” Roshtop, an factory for the manufacture of airplanes.

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At that time, in the autumn of 1942, the camp commandant was a volksdeutsche named Anton. After several hundred Jews were brought in from the towns of the region, Anton tried to arrange “order” in the camp one day. One day, before the people went out to work, he oversaw a general roll call and began a selection, in the best of traditions of selections and liquidation: some to the right and some to the left. Thus, all of the weak, sick, elderly people and children were put on one side. That group of approximately 100 people was murdered that day. The echoes of the shots were heard in the factory where a group of Jews were working who had not entered in the camp since they slept regularly at the workplace. When those people heard the shots, they were certain that the entire camp was being liquidated. This caused a panic among that group. Five people, including three prisoners of war, escaped from the factory. They were immediately pursued, and three of them were caught and brought to the camp. The two others succeeded in their escape, apparently due to their familiarity with the region. Anton ordered that the three captured people be hanged with their legs in the air and their heads down. Two of them did not survive this torture very long, and died after a short time. One of them, Lulek Schecter of Lwow, a tall, strong and healthy youth, lived for a long time, and the rope tore several times due to the strength of his body. After he was hung for the third time and the rope tore once again, he pleaded with the Ukrainian hangman to shoot him and put an end to his torture. The answer of the cruel hangman was: “You will become a carcass this way as well, rope over bullet”. He hung him for a fourth time. He hung on the rope for several hours, and he only died toward evening, after everyone had returned from their work in the factory.

The mass selection and the murder of hundreds of people caused a general panic in the camp. From the experience that these people had obtained in the towns of their origin, they regarded this aktion as the beginning of the liquidation, which would lead to a complete liquidation some time later. The Jewish camp foremen, who were the aforementioned seven prisoners of war from Lipowa Camp in Lublin, were especially afraid. They regarded themselves as having special privileges, for they were among the first people of the camp, its organizers and directors, and were responsible for it. Perhaps they regarded themselves as having special rights due to their status as prisoners of war, whose rights had been violated by the murder of their comrades. They began to hatch plans to escape to the forest with weapons.

Bunim Mandelkorn the former head of our Judenrat was among the group of foremen. According to information that we obtained, he crossed the Wisla along with his family with the help of Polish friends on the day of the expulsion of the residents of the city, and joined his wife's family in Zawichost, eight kilometers from our town, above the Wisla on the other side of the river. They only remained there for a few days, for the edict of expulsion also reached Kielce. Then he once again crossed the Wisla in the direction of Krasnik. In Krasnik he separated from, or was separated from, his wife and two children, and he arrived in Budzyń. Since he had been a warrant officer already at the time of the establishment of the country, and had an honorable appearance that won hearts with his power of speech and organizational prowess, he quickly joined the ranks of the camp leadership and took upon himself one of the responsible positions. Of course he was brought into confidence regarding the plan of escape, and he agreed to join that group. The living spirit and guide of the future escapees was Werman, who was also a freed soldier. His added benefit was that he had lived for many years in the nearby town of Urzedow and knew the region, its roads and paths. A distance of 6-8 kilometers separated Urzedow from Budzyń. The area was completely forested, and the group planned to escape there.

The planning and organization took time, as did the provision of weapons. In the meantime, the commandant Anton was exchanged for a different person, but this was not before he succeeded in murdering one block elder named Rozenzweig from Lodz.

One night, the residents of the camp sensed that something was transpiring with the group of foremen. The young women who were close with the foremen especially sensed this. They remained in the women's block until late in the night, and during their conversation, they hinted that this might be their final meeting. Everyone felt that something was unusual, and the entire behavior hinted that something was about to transpire. They left the camp immediately after midnight, and since they met no obstacles as they left due to the fact that they were recognized officials. Nobody ever saw them again. A short time later, we found out that they had all been murdered.

We found out about the escape of the group immediately after it happened while we were in Gościeradów. Later that winter, we also found out about the murder of them all, along with B. Mandelkorn. To this day, nobody knows the circumstances of their murder.

I wept bitterly over the death of my former friend Bunim who rose up from his level of an abandoned orphan in the town, hungry and in need of everything, to the rank of an official in the Polish army, with only his Jewishness preventing him from ascending further up the military ladder. In his day, someone referred to him, his external appearance and his power of expression by the verse: “He stands before kings”. All of the personal and communal accounts were erased, and I was greatly grieved about this Jew who, out of his desire for life, abandoned his wife and children whom he loved and went to live the life of a camp, taking up weapon and going out into the forest in his belief that he would thereby remain alive. With his weapons in his hands, he fell at the hands of the impure Nazi murderers or the

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treacherous Poles, who, out of blind hatred for the Jews, assisted our common enemy in murdering us. May his soul be bound in the bonds of eternal life.

The new commandant of Budzyń, Feiks, was a Sudeten German and a barber by profession. The day after the escape of the group of officials he called Sztokman, one of the group of prisoners who came from Końską Wolą, and appointed him as the camp commander, who had to choose his own assistants. Those close to Sztokman said that he tried to refuse to accept the job, but the order of Feiks was too strong for him and he was forced to accept the job. He began to choose his staff of assistants. Almost all of them were from the group of prisoners of war. He quickly succeeded in endearing himself to all of his acquaintances due to his activities as the leader or the head of the Budzyń, Camp. He held this position until the end of the war.

Feiks' first action was to demand money from the Jews so that he could purchase a riding horse for himself. The poor people had no choice other than to collect their meager coins, which by law were illegal to possess in any case, and give the required sum over to Feiks. After a few days he appeared riding on a white, pure-bred horse. He was inseparable from it until he left the Budzyń, Camp.

From the time that he entered his position, Feiks proved that he was worthy of his first name Adolf, and that his bloodthirsty desire for murder, torture, and sadism he was no less than that of “the great Adolf”. Almost no day passed without victims. He presided over a regime of torment, cruel torture, terror and threats. For his entire tenure at the camp it seemed that there were no bounds to his designs and tortures, and that his desire for murder was never satisfied. It was said that he suffered from white fever, was immediately overtaken by delirium as he entered the camp riding on his horse, and that his attack only would pass at the sight of spilled blood. In any case, he carried out all his deeds with a constant smile on his pink face, which never blushed with anger or wrath. The dimples on his cheeks gave him the aura of laughter and satisfaction even during acts of murder.

The early people of Budzyń did not tell about the murder of individuals, for they were not able to count them because these were mundane daily occurrences on account of the rich murderous expertise of Feiks. On the other hand, they tell over and over again about the instances of mass murder. I will describe two or three examples here.

News of the “ausholtzung” (tree cutting) and the cruel deeds which accompanied it, reached us in Gościeradów. We trembled at the barbaric torture, even without knowing the details. We only found out later about the details of the deed, and I am only capable of telling part of the story.

The Jews of the camp received two days of vacation from work at the Heinkel Factory on the occasion of Christmas, 1942. Feiks decided to utilize the two days for the ausholzung aktion. There was a continuous forest surrounding the Budzyń Camp, and Feiks decided to uproot the trees of this forest for a distance of ten meters surrounding the fence in order to improve the field of view and to foil all attempts of escape from the camp. He took out all of the people of the camp to engage in this task. He, all of his men, the S.S. men and the Ukrainians stood around to guard and supervise. It was cold outside, and the ground was frozen and covered with snow. The Jews were not given any implements, and were commanded to uproot the trees using only their hands. The Torah portion of the week was Vayechi, but the scholars among the Jews recalled only the verse from the portion of Shemot: “Straw is not given to your slaves, yet you tell us to make bricks…” [1]. Suffering blows from the hands and lashes from whips, the Jews gathered all of their strength to uproot the trees, but the ground was frozen as solid as a rock, and did not give in to the efforts of the empty, weak hands. Feiks ran on his horse among the workers, whipping right and left with his whip, acting like an unrestrained, wild animal. His assistants saw and followed suit. They whipped the Jews on their backs, heads, hands and other body parts with the branches of the uprooted trees and even with the small trees themselves. They urged them to work harder in the cold and ice. They worked not only with their hands, but also grabbed the branches of the trees with their teeth to uproot them, out of fear of the blows of the murderers. One solitary saw was brought to cut down the strongest of the trees.

This scene repeated itself with greater ferocity on the second day. Since some of the people weakened from the work on the first day, and many were in a condition where they could not even go out to work, the tortures of the wild murderers were even greater than on the previous day. Many people caught severe colds as a result of these two days, and some of them did not recover. Many even died from the tortures and the wounds that they suffered. Tens of them paid with their lives, and the health of many others declined as a result of these two days of Christmas, the holiday of “peace and brotherhood”.

A week later, on New Year's Day of 1943, when the Jews were once again free from work in the factory, Feiks took them out to finish what they had not completed on Christmas. The scenes of the previous week were repeated. This time Feiks shot two men and commanded four people to bring them to the burial pit, where he shot those four as well.

The memory of these three days of “holiday and vacation” remain etched in the memories of the survivors of Budzyń who were witness to these atrocities, as days of terror the likes of which were unmatched in cruelty and sadism during the era of Feiks.

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These days were the epitome of the murderous activities of “Budzyń-Feiks”, in which this wild, bloodthirsty beast in human form reached his pinnacle.

Just as Feiks was never satisfied in his thirst for blood, he was not satisfied in his pillage of money. A great deal of blood was spilled when money was found among the Jews. This served two aims: the murder of Jews and the instilling of fear among the others who may also have a few coins. Holding money was absolutely forbidden. Anyone entering Budzyń was searched and everything was taken from him. Apparently we were saved from this search because of the assurance of Lazarczyk that we had no money. When money was found with one Jew, Feiks decreed death upon ten: five civilians and five prisoners of war. (This took place before we arrived in Budzyń.) This was in the spring of 1943. At that time, Feiks received a new machine gun or automatic rifle. He gave this new “toy” to one of his assistants, Klorvin, a Latvian. He shot the five citizens and returned the gun, refusing to shoot the five prisoners of war. Feiks shot them himself. The slaughter took place in the yard of the camp. When the German civilians of Siedlung heard the machine guns, they went out to see what was happening (their houses were close to the camp). When they saw the slaughter, they shouted out in protest and cursed Feiks and his assistance. Feiks turned his gun toward them and shot a volley of shots in order to silence the protest. It is possible that we must be thankful for this volley that redeemed us from this monster a few months later. However during those few months, he succeeded greatly in his murderous deeds.

At the beginning of May, about 800 people arrived in Budzyń from the Warsaw Ghetto. They arrived here from Lublin, where they had remained for a few days. As in all previous cases, the Jews were ordered to give over their silver, gold and valuables. Dr. Pupko, a famous doctor in Warsaw and Poland prior to the war and now an elderly Jew, shook his pockets, apparently to remove the few coins that he had. Feiks shot him on the spot. There was no shortage of beatings and torture of the other Jews. According to the words of eyewitnesses, Feiks gathered several suitcases full of money and valuables.

A few days after the arrival of this group, Feiks and a gang of his assistants traveled to liquidate the camp in Bełżyce, a town between Opole and Lublin. Opole was the last town in the region in which the Jews still lived, and one of the last, if not the last, in the entire Generalgouvernment. We all heard and read about the terrible atrocities on par with the liquidation of this camp, and the command for people dig burial pits. Nevertheless, there was one story about the deeds of Feiks in Bełżyce that I could not believe. I asked many eyewitnesses, and I discovered that this hair-raising story was indeed true. Trembling overtakes me as I recall this story, and my hands quiver as I write it down; however I am forced to record it to the eternal shame of the nation of murderers in general, and of Feiks and his henchmen in particular.

Among the members of Feiks' gang there was one called Otto the Small, who earned the nickname “The Small Monster” on account of his cruelty and murderousness. There was something grotesque about his external appearance. He was short and thin, and his face was filled with pock marks. There was something frightening about his small eyes. According to rumors, he was a Volga German; bud despite this he was not among those who wore the S.S. fatigues. He rather wore the black fatigues of the Ukrainians. He excelled in his wild cruelty, and was prepared to execute any murderous deed that was imposed upon him. We had the honor of getting to know this “Small Monster” already while we are route from Rachów to Budzyń. As one of the guards who were accompanying us, he “excelled” in administering beatings and torture among us for the extortion of money.

This Otto was one of Feiks' henchmen who went to carry out the aktion in Bełżyce. As I have stated, every aktion was noted for its macabre character, which I cannot describe at length. Feiks plied Otto with liquor in order to “strengthen his resolve”. He erected a large, strong, wooden pole in the middle of the square, and placed an axe into Otto's hands. All of the babies and young children of the local Jews were brought to Otto, who grabbed them in turn by the legs and chopped off their heads. Within the span of a brief hour, he murdered several dozen young Jewish children in this manner before the eyes of their parents, relatives and the local population. May this cruel non-Jew be accursed forever!

After Feiks carried out his murderous deed, cruelly murdering all of the elderly, sick and children, several hundred healthy men remained as well as a few young women. He brought them to the Budzyń. At the roll call that took place after this contingent of unfortunate people arrived in Budzyń, it became clear that there were 17 people above the set quota. He ordered these extra people to leave the service contingent and stand in a separate place. This was carried out before the entire camp. One women veteran of the camp recognized a family member in this group. Knowing what their fate was to be, her mercies went out to her relative and she began to run after these condemned people, apparently with the hope of attempting to save her. Feiks shot her at that moment and murdered her on the spot. Then he took out the 17 people to the communal grave where they were murdered.

The epilogue of this deed testifies to the apocalyptic character of this era. The husband of the woman who was shot as she attempted to reach

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her relative, Shayale Klochendler of Krasnik, volunteered the next day to bury Feiks' new victims. He did this “voluntary deed” in order to salvage a sum of money hidden in his murdered wife' stockings. Since in Budzyń the dead were not covered with earth, but were rather stacked in layers with plaster dust spread over them, the distraught husband searched among the rows of bodies until he found his wife's corpse, and was able to remove the “treasure” from the stocking.

These latter events took place only a few days before our arrival in Budzyń. As we were told, Feiks and his gang obtained no small sum of money, gold, jewelry and valuables as a “reward” for the slaughter of the Jews of Bełżyce. I repeat my assertion that if we were spared the search for money, and all of the “pleasure” associated with such, it was only because Lazarczyk did not wish to demonstrate before his friend the executioner of Budzyń that he was a worse Nazi than him, so he promised him that “his Jews” have no money, and therefore he instructed us to say that we had money in Rachów.

This was the situation of Budzyń when we arrived there, and such was its commandant and his henchmen. I will tell in brief about the conditions of the place and the situation and mood of the Jews. More will be told in the following chapters.

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