T. Brustin-Bernsztein, Warsaw
Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund
Krasnik belonged to the county of Janow-Lubelski during the Hitlerist occupation. This county belonged to the Lublin district, one of the four districts of the General Government. Krasnik had a Jewish population of more than 5,000 (in 800 families) before the Second World War* out of a general population of 15,000. The Jews were also a third of the entire population in the district. In 1940, 16,000 Jews lived in the county of Janow-Lubelski, of them more than 5,000, that is a third, in Krasnik. Krasnik was the largest Jewish community in the entire county. Fewer than 2,000 lived in other localities, such as Zaklikow, Anapol, Modliborzyce; in Ulanow more than 1,000, in Zakrzowek up to 800, in Radomysl, Chrzanow, Uszendow from 400 to 500 Jews. The county city, Janow-Lubelski, where 900 Jews lived before the war, was almost completely burned during the events of the war in September 1939. Those affected by the fires left for nearby cities, a certain number moved to Krasnik. At the beginning of the occupation, only about 260 Jews were in Janow of about 900 before the war.
Because of the flow of refugees and the displaced in the first months of the occupation, the Jewish population in Krasnik grew from 5,000 to about 6,300. As a result of decrees from the government, a portion of the Krasnik Jewish population was deported to other cities in the same county during the first months of 1941. Less than 5,000 Jews remained in Krasnik; before the first deportation to the death camps, their number was estimated at about 4,700 people. In the period from April to December 1942, the Hitlerist genocide murdered over 4,000 Jewish residents of Krasnik. A small number of Jews up to 350 men were left in two locked labor camps in Krasnik. There were Jews there not only from Krasnik, but also from other cities in the county (for example, Janow-Lubelski) as well as from Lodz and Warsaw. Only 250 Jews remained in these camps, which existed until July 1944, until the evacuation to the west. Many of them perished during the evacuation of the camp. Barely a small percent of the 5,000 Jewish residents of Krasnik were successful in sustaining themselves and saving their lives.
After the liberation, in the summer of 1944, a committee of Polish Jews in Krasnik registered up to 300 Jews there were also survivors from various cities in Poland among them, in addition to Krasnik residents.
2. The Anti-Jewish Decrees of the Hitlerist Regime
In the course of six weeks, during the first period of occupation, the army had executive power in occupied Poland. The Hitlerist military forces entered Krasnik on the 15th of September 1939. This occurred on the second day of Rosh Hashanah [the Jewish new year], when the Jews were in the synagogues. As usual, the march of the Hitlerist military into the city was accompanied by terrorist actions. The purpose was to suppress even the smallest expression of resistance to the military and the occupation regime. The police and administrative apparatus abandoned its management of the military,
* The explanation of the footnotes at the end of the article, p. 314.
immediately making possible the entire mechanism of violence and terror in regard to the Jewish population. In Krasnik, the Hitlerist regime first of all issued an order that the entire Jewish population had to leave their houses. Those driven out were held outside in tense expectation of their future fate for several hours. This was a tested method of the Hitlerists to paralyze and to make weak-willed the population, which became the object of constant provocations and persecutions.
Several hours later, the population was forced back into the houses. The Hitlerists simultaneously ordered the Jews to open their shops, although it was yom-tov [a religious holiday]. Chaotic looting began immediately in which uniformed Germans took part. They also showed an eagerness to rob the local common people.
On the first night, a series of prominent residents of Krasnik were arrested. Among them, in addition to the rabbi and priest, were a group of Jews: Josef Szapiro, the dentist, Dovid Zojonc, Shlomo Kohn, owner of the largest manufacturing business and also several Poles, such as the photographer Stanislav Laszkewicz, Stepan Ribko and so on. Those arrested were advised that they were hostages and were answerable for the calm in the city. They were threatened that if anything took place against the Germans at night, they would be shot. The night passed quietly and the hostages were released in the morning.
The Hilterist military administration existed in Poland until 26 September 1939. During that period a series of decrees appeared, directed against the Jewish population. The Jewish shopkeepers were told to hang a special sign with a Mogen-Dovid [Star of David] in their stores. It is clear that this made it easier to recognize those shops for looting. The Jewish apartments were also an object of prey. Under the pretext of looking for weapons, searches were carried out and in this way the more valuable things were taken.
The Jewish population had to pay a large monetary contribution. The Jews were also told to present objects made of bronze, copper and brass.
The Hitlerists inflicted special persecution on Jews with beards. Those victims caught had their beards cut, torn out or even burned.
The Jews endured unheard of humiliations and suffering at forced labor. They were often grabbed right from the street; other times they were dragged from their homes. These people were taken to carry out various work for the Hitlerist military, political and administrative regimes. The Jews were tortured in sophisticated ways, their human worth humiliated, beaten and treated with deadly coercion while working. The work that the Jews had to do often consisted of the most elementary duties of a soldier, such as washing the military autos, cleaning the military railroad cars. They also helped with unpaid Jewish work at cleaning the ruins of the city, cleaning the streets, cleaning the premises into which the German offices were moved, or the military barracks, as well as various services in the private apartments of the Hitlerist dignitaries. The Jewish population was also harnessed in hard labor, in loading, in carrying heavy loads and in carrying out the dirty work, such as cleaning the toilets.
On the night of the 25th into the 26th of October, the military administration handed over the civilian administration to the regime headed by the Governor-General, Dr. Hans Frank. On the 26th of October, on the first day of his service as the Governor-General, Frank issued two anti-Jewish decrees. These were: a decree about forced labor for Jews and a decree forbidding ritual slaughter. Carrying out the law about forced labor for Jews belonged to the S.S. and the police until the second half of 1940. The highest leader of the S.S. and the police in the
General Province, Obergruppenführer [highest rank in the S.S. Senior Group Leader] Friedrich Krieger, then issued executive regulations to Frank's decrees in December 1939. The regulations laid upon the Jews the requirement of forced labor from age 14 to 60, outlined the manner in which people would be taken for forced labor and defined the punishments for not obeying the regulations. The executive regulations also forbid the Jewish population from changing their places of residence, beginning on 1.1.1940, they put in place police hours for Jews, that is, a ban against going out of the house between nine o'clock at night until five in the morning. The S.S. and police leaders evaluated the uses that could be made of the Jewish artisans with a mastery of the trades and ordered the use of Jewish worker groups where there was a need of manpower.
During the beginning of the occupation, Jews carried out forced labor in their place of residence in various German locations. In Krasnik, for example, a group of Jews worked in the office of the commandant of the regime. This work group was organized by the Judenrat.
In the spring and summer of 1940, the young Jews began to be sent out far from their residences to work on drainage, roads and fortifications. Enclosed forced labor camps were organized for the Jews. The living conditions in the camps were extremely difficult. The food supply was bad, the majority slept in open stables or in abandoned, half destroyed buildings. They just lay on the ground or on boards covered with a little straw. They couldn't get undressed; there was nothing with which to cover themselves. People lay crowded, crushed together, one next to the other. These beds quickly became clusters of parasites The hygienic conditions were a mockery of the most elementary principles; there was no possibility for washing oneself or to wash one's clothes. The drainage work was often carried out in water coming over the knees, without any professional attire.
In order to maximize the isolation of the Jewish population and to limit their freedom of movement, the Governor-General Frank issued another series of decrees. On the 23rd of November 1939, Jews had to put white bands with a Mogen-Dovid [Shield of David or Jewish Star] on their arms. This applied to all Jews from age 10 on. As indicated by this decree, there was the threat of jail according to the verdict of a special court for not wearing the band.
A decree was issued by Governor-General Frank on the 26th of January 1940 that forbade Jews to travel by train. Another decree from Frank of the 13 September 1940 restricting the areas of residence and ways of earning a living became the basis for the creation of ghettos and made it impossible to leave a designated neighborhood or town. On 15 February 1941, relying upon this decree, the governor of the Lublin district, Ernst Zörner, issued a decree) that forbade the Jews in the Lublin district even provisionally to leave their place of residence. For disobeying, there was a threat of the penalty of arrest for up to three months and fines of up to 1,000 zlotys. This penalty was increased at the end of 1941. Instead of arrest and fines, there was the death penalty for leaving a place of residence, according to the verdict of a special court (later, even without a verdict).
The Hitlerist regime issued its decrees to be carried out by its Eltste Ratn [Jewish council] or Judenrat [Jewish council]. The military regime nominated the so-called Eltste Ratn that consisted of a majority of former councilmen from the Jewish religious kehile. For example, they had to collect the designated contributions, provide various items, equip the premises of the Hitlerist regime, and the like. The General Governor Frank issued a special decree on 28 November 1939 about the creation of the Jewish councils. The number of members was required to be from 12 to 24, according to the size of the Jewish communities. In the smaller communities, up to 10,000 Jews, the Judenrat needed to consist of 12 members, in
the largest of 24. According to Frank's decree, the structure of the Judenrat had to be presented to the Hitlerist regime for approval by the 13th of December 1939.
The Judenrat in Krasnik consisted of 12 members. At the beginning of 1940, the chairman of the council was Dr. Josef Szapiro and members Finsze Ferleger, Avraham Dawidson, Shmuel Flug and Z. Beatus, among others.
In order to facilitate the later looting of Jewish possessions, the General Governor Frank began to issue decrees that Jews were obliged to inform the regime about all of their possessions on special forms. The undeclared possessions would be confiscated.
The draconian decrees of the Hitlerist regime made it impossible for the vast majority of the Jewish population to earn anything. The craftsmen lost many of their clients because lacking raw materials they often were unable to work. All trade with the villages in which many Jews were involved ceased and no food could be bought from the peasants. The number of Jewish shops, craftsmen's workshops and factories continuously grew smaller. Those that still existed found their turnover sluggish.
However, the number of Jewish shops was still too large for the district captain, [Hans] Lenk, who took office in the autumn of 1941 in Janow Lubelski. He sent out a special message on this matter on the 3rd of October 1941 to the Department of Internal Affairs in the governor's office of the Lublin District: I have determined, he wrote, that the influence of the Jews in communal life in the Janow Lubelski district is still too significant. The number of Jewish shops is extraordinarily large. I consequently intend that all of the businesses of the kind cited be closed, the owners of those businesses should report to the labor office to be drawn into work. Lenk received an agreement from the higher regime to liquidate Jewish businesses and factories. The chief of the economic division in the Lublin governor's office, [Kurt] Becher, ordered that after closing the Jewish shops the goods must be given over to the Poles and the German shops that earned trust. He also advised using the business experience of the former Jewish owners and employing them for a certain time in those shops that had taken over their goods. Here it was important to assure their success with the assistance of the Jewish tradesmen.
In December 1941 during the offensive by the Hitlerist army on the Eastern Front, the Reichsfuhrer [special SS rank] of the SS, Himmler, issued an order to confiscate all furs and pelts from the Jews. A number of these were to serve the Hitlerist army during the frosty winter on territory of the Soviet Union. The action of confiscating the pelts was carried out at an accelerated pace in order to end it by the first days of January 1942. The ordenung [order] police and the security police were involved with this. There was the threat of death for possessing a fur after the declared period.  The Jewish population had to give their furs, pelts, fur skins, fur trimmings and collars without payment during a difficult winter. One could be shot for keeping even the smallest fur collar.
During the first year of the occupation, the Jewish population was robbed of a huge amount of movable possessions. The unmovable Jewish possessions had been under forced management since 1941. The owners of houses often had to pay rent themselves for the apartments which they occupied.
The decrees from the German regime transformed the life of the Jewish population into one of enormous suffering, constant anxiety and pain.
3. Refugees, Temporary Residents and Transferees
During the military operations on Polish territory in September 1939, many cities and shtetlekh were bombed by German aviation. Explosions and incendiary bombs transformed many cities and towns into ruins. In many cities that stretched the length of the main Lublin highway, only a forest of naked chimneys remained. One hundred percent of the Jewish houses were destroyed in Janow Lubelski. Krasnik suffered from proportionally fewer bombardments, but there, too, 60 Jewish families remained without a roof over their heads. In September 1939, immediately after the completion of the military operations, people who had lost everything in fires began to arrive in Krasnik from various cities, particularly from Janow Lubelski. The Jewish apartments in Krasnik were not large. Eighty percent of them consisted of only one room. The crowding in the apartments became worse with the arrival of the refugees. The situation worsened a few months later in December 1939 when the Germans moved 1,000 Jews from Lodz to Krasnik.
Lodz, as a large part of western and northern Poland, was joined to Germany during the Hitlerist occupation and the Jewish population began to be taken from there, little by little, as well as the Poles, to the General Government. The transferees were taken in closed railroad cars and although the distance from Lodz, for example, was not very great, such transports were often en route for several days. Then they were sent to the Lublin region, where the Hitlerists at that time planned to create a so-called refuge for Jews. The transferees were not permitted to take any large baggage with them and only a small sum of money in cash. They had to leave all of their possessions untouched and after leaving their apartments, give the keys to the administrators of the houses. The trip in the unheated, closed cattle railroad cars in the December frost was very difficult. They were also not allowed out for
food or water. The transferees would arrive in a new residence, the majority without any means to live, without any choice as to whether there was the possibility of earning anything.
The Lodz Jews who were settled in Krasnik suffered from hunger and need. There was already enough poverty in Krasnik itself. People lost their previous sources of income and were directed to communal aid.
The Krasnik Judenrat had to settle the new arrivals in the already severely overcrowded Jewish apartments. The Krasnik gmiles khesed kase [interest free loan office] distributed its remaining pre-war resources as first aid for the transferees. These monetary resources would only last for a short time and it was difficult to find new resources.
At that time 25 percent of the population there had to come for help and received a little monetary support or portions of bread. The situation of the transferees was often desperate. A number of Jews from Krakow, who at the order of the Hitlerist regime had to leave their city, settled in Krasnik.
At the beginning of 1941 a decree was issued in Krasnik that a portion of the Jewish residents had to leave the city. At that time, in connection with the preparation for the Hitlerist aggression against the Soviet Union, a very large number of the Hitlerist military was flung across the General Gubernia [province] and a large number of them were moved by military order to the Lublin region. Some of the Hitlerist soldiers in Krasnik were quartered in the premises of the city managing committee. They demanded still more buildings for the military as well as apartments for the functionaries and officials of the police and post office.
[Hans Adolf] Asbach, then the district captain, decided to solve the problem in the easiest manner: expulsion of a number of Jews from Krasnik. This was in compliance with instructions received from the governor of the Lubliner District, Ernst
Zörner, at the conference in Lublin on the 17th of January 1941. The district captains received complete power for a greater localization of the Jews and to concentrate them in certain neighborhoods. Zörner had shown that in such a manner the Jews could successfully be expelled from trade and they would not be able to be involved in the smuggling of goods. Asbach intended to expel 1,000 Jews at once from Krasnik. On the 1st of February, 1941, on Shabbas, 200 Jews had to leave Krasnik. They were taken to Radomysl. These were first of all transferees from Lodz and Krakow, as well as a number of the poorest of the local population, old men, children, the sick, the very poor.
Radomysl was a small shtetl where approximately 550 Jews lived, among them many poor people and transferees from other cities. In October 1939 a number of Jews transferred from Tarnobrzeg, Rozwadów and Germany were already settled there. The percent of transferees and refugees there was very large 139 people of the total number (25 percent). At the end of 1939, 600 Poles were also settled in the shtetl from the Polish realm, that was annexed to the Reich (Pomorze, Świecie District). Radomysl became terribly overcrowded.
Of the first group of Jews sent from Krasnik, 168 settled there. A number looked for a place somewhere else. During February, 700 Jews came to Radomysl from Krasnik. Their situation was tragic; there was nowhere for them to go. Usually, the transferees were settled for a given time in the synagogue, but the synagogue in Radomysl had been taken and it was being used as a storehouse for wheat. The mayor of Radomysl, having no alternative, permitted the transferees from Krasnik to be quartered in the synagogue, but the synagogue could not hold everyone. A number of transferees were settled in a temporary barracks, others in private apartments.
The question of transferees in Radomysl was tragic in every respect. They lived in the unheated synagogue; they could not hope for any help on the part of the old residents of Radomysl. They could not think about ways in which to earn a livelihood. The Krasnik Judenrat, which had freed itself of this very inconvenient element, sent some aid for those transferred from Krasnik to Radomysl a few times. Twice, they received a little monetary support of 5 zlotes per person, a little bread, kasha [buckwheat groats], cod liver oil and saccharine.
In order to save themselves from starvation, other transferees, ignoring the ban by the regime against leaving their place of residence even temporarily, returned to Krasnik. But the Judenrat was not supposed to register them there. And there was a threat of death for living unregistered. The situation again became unbearable and often ended tragically.
Asbach, the kreishauptmann [district captain], intended to concentrate a number of Jews in Czidenik and Kosyn. However, this could not be carried out in full measure. In May 1941, 400 Jews in two groups were transferred from Krasnik to Zaksziwek; in the beginning of June 1941, 200 Jews were sent to Czindnik. After the attack by Hitler's Germany on the Soviet Union (in June 1941) no transfers occurred within the boundaries of Janow Lubelski.
4. Social Assistance
The problem of social assistance in the most difficult conditions under the Hitlerist occupation became a question of prime importance. Special divisions or committees were created at the Judenrat that were involved with social assistance. In March 1940, a committee of 10 men was created for refugees and the poor. Seven
of them were residents of Krasnik, two from Lodz and one from Janow Lubelski. In addition to Dr. Szapiro then chairman of the Judenrat M. Kurczik, Avraham Davidson and Moshe Zajdnfeld of Lodz governed. In March 1940 the committee, thanks to the material help of the Joint [Joint Distribution Committee] opened a kitchen for refugees. The kitchen provided 1,200 lunches a day for the low price of 40 groshn a lunch. This kitchen functioned for only a few months because of a lack of funds. The aid from the Joint was minute; the Joint did not have enough resources to cope with the need that became greater everywhere. The gifts from the Joint amounted to only a small fraction of the aid needed by the great masses of victims of fire, refugees and the poor. For Passover 1940, Krasnik received 1,200 kilos of matzoh from the Joint, which the Joint asked to be distributed for free among the refugees and the poorest population. A further gift from the Joint arrived in Krasnik in August 1940. This was a small amount of food products that were distributed among the poorest and the families whose members had already been in the forced labor camps for several months.
The Hitlerist regime did not want to permit the Joint to carry on further direct aid activities. At the end of May 1940, the government of the General Government created a special institution for matters of self help, the so-called Jewish Social Self Help (YISA). The headquarters of this institution was located in Krakow; it consisted of a seven-person presidium with Dr. Mikhal Wejkhert at the head. The headquarters created Jewish aid committees (YIHK) in the counties and cities that were the seat of the captain of the county or city. Branches of Jewish Social Self Help arose in the smaller locations. 
In the second half of 1940, a county committee for Jewish self help was created in Janow Lubelski, as in the other country seats. The committee consisted of five members three from Janow and one from Krasnik and one from Modliborzyce. Maks Kaminer, Simkha Frajberg and Leib Fabrikant joined from Janow. From Krasnik Simkha Kohan and from Modliborzyce Haim Kirszenfeld.
In January 1941, the presidium of the Jewish Social Self Help in Krakow proceeded to organize a branch of the YISA in Krasnik. In connection with this, the presidium turned to Dr. Josef Szapiro with letters, asking that he send statistical information about the usual number of Jewish residents in Krasnik, the number of Jews who arrived during the war, as well as information about how many of the Krasnik Jews needed social assistance. Because of the plan to create a YISA branch in Krasnik, it was proposed that Dr. Szapiro recommend five candidates who in his opinion were appropriate to work with the Jewish Social Self Help and he should provide their occupations, what positions they occupy and where they had worked for the community before the war.
The letter also said that the presidium turned to Dr. Szapiro because his family was provided for by his co-workers at YISA in the Lublin District. A letter with an answer signed by Dr. Szapiro and M. Zajdenfeld was sent from Krasnik on the 27th of January 1941 with the requested information.
The letter provided information that of the general number of 5,500 regular residents of Krasnik, 800 were in need of assistance. Of the general number, again numbering 800 refugees and those burned out of their homes, the majority from Janow and transferees from Lodz, 600 were in need of assistance. Five candidates were recommended in the letter for the bureau of YISA coming to Krasnik, namely: Dr. Szapiro as the war chairman of the gmiles khesed kase in Krasnik, Ber Wajsberg
pharmacist, Avraham Dawidson merchant, as well as a member of the Judenrat and chairman of the Bank of Credit Cooperative, before the war; Shmuel Flug, an official by trade, and later a member of the Judenrat, was named as a further candidate for the war managing committee member of the gmiles khesed kase and of the Zionist organization, Mizrakhi [religious Zionists]. The mentioned four candidates were regular residents of Krasnik. The Lodz refugee, Moshe Zajdenfeld, a man who sold things on commission and was active in communal life in Lodz before the war in Linat haKholim [organization to aid the sick and poor] and Noten Lekham [provider of bread to the poor], was the fifth one proposed.
On the 4th of March 1941, the presidium of YISA approved the list suggested by the bureau and nominated Dr. Josef Szapiro as chairman of the bureau and Ber Wajsberg as his deputy.
The presidium of YISA in Krasnik had three employees: a secretary, collector and a servant. These were Yisroel Moshe Szoor, Sholom Leib Gorfen and Szia Halpern.
At the beginning of 1941, the Joint, which had given direct aid of money or gifts-in-kind to the Jewish population since the first year of the occupation, began to present the funds and non-monetary gifts to the presidium of Jewish Social Help. The committee and the branches of YISA supported their activities in relation to the needy not only with a little assistance on the part of the Central office, but in large part organized self help, collecting various taxes among the Jewish population.
The general fund that the branch of YISA in Krasnik had in its possession for the Passover holiday in April 1941 amounted to 3,000 zl. Of that sum, the subsidy from the Central YISA organization and from the district committee in Lublin reached 1,500 zl. The sum of 3,600 zl. was divided among 293 people. Of the amount, 177 received from five to 10 zl., 100 from 15 to 20 zl., 14 men received from 25 to 50 zl. and five received from two to four zl. Even the highest sum of 50 zlotyes meant very little because of the high prices for food products, and in fact only one person received that amount of help.
A new source of income for the branch was the supplementary payments that were taken from the Jews for postal services and for the food supply cards. The first such payments were made in the spring of 1941, when the Hitlerist regime in the Janow Lubelski district asked the Jews to come to the general post office. The Judenrat in Janow, Modliboczic and Krasnik then created general post offices that received the right, with the agreement of the district chief, to take supplementary payments for postal services. The district committee of YISA in Janow Lubelski worked out a tariff of supplementary payments that were confirmed by the central office of the Deutsche Post Osten [German Post in the East]. From then on the supplemental payments, which were collected through the postal divisions by the Judenrat, were referred to the committee of YISA.
As well as the supplemental payments, the branch of YISA in Krasnik also received payments from the food cards that were given out by the City Managing Committee, as well as from the consignment articles that were sold in the stores The YISA branch also drew income from four sources:
1) The supplementary payments for the postal service, as well as for the food cards and items of food; 2) subsidy from the presidium of YISA; 3) subsidy from the Judenrat and 4) payments collected among the population. The amount of this income during the four months of 1941) (See p. 301 [of this article]).
At that time the needy received help in all forms of monetary support or products, because there was no people's kitchen in Krasnik. Certain sums were also given out to the sick, as well as medical help, particularly during the time of the intense epidemics that occurred in Krasnik in September and October, 1941.
|June||Around 3,700 zl.||1,000 zl.||700 zl.||85 zl.|
|July||Around 3,800 zl.||1,200 zl.||____||1,799 zl.|
|September||Around 4,300 zl.||1,000 zl.||400 zl.||3,104 zl.|
|October||Around 3,200 zl.||800 zl.||200 zl.||4,609 zl.|
Contagious diseases, particularly typhus, were the result of the hunger and crowding in the apartments. A bath and a disinfection room were operating in Krasnik; a hospital with 60 beds was also opened. Using the framework of mutual aid, they tried to feed those in the hospital sick from hunger. Lunches were collected from among 100 Krasnik businessmen every day to be divided among the sick in the hospital.
The typhus epidemic in the Janow district intensified in the autumn of 1941. The hospital in Krasnik could not accept the old who were suffering from typhus. Therefore, such sick people were taken to the district hospital in Kwiatkowice. But there were no medicines and no injections.
The normal functioning of the institutions of YISA in the Janow Lubleski district was disrupted in August 1941 because Asbach, the district chief at that time had sent a letter to the Judenrat on the 23rd of July 1941 ordering the reduction of the number of Judenrat members from 12 to three by the 31st of July 1941. The new Judenrat, consisting of three members, had to simultaneously take care of the business of Jewish Social Self-Help. This consisted of the liquidation of the committees and branches of YISA. According to the new instructions, the members of the Judenrat all had to be over 50 years of age and those employed by them not under 60 years of age. All identification papers and documents issued by YISA for members of the Judenrat and the committees of YISA had to be returned with communications about matters involving the population and its care (Bewolkerungswissen und Forsorge) to the district chief's office by the end of July. These were documents that permitted going out after the police curfew, or allowing the use of wagons.
Issuing his decrees, Asbach intended to limit the number of persons who were occupied with communal work and freed from forced labor. Because of this, he ordered that older people, who were less suitable for various physical labor, should be occupied with work in the Judenrat. However, this time Asbach's initiative did not find acceptance on the part of the central regime of the General Government [area of Poland under German occupation]. For various reasons, the existence of a separate Jewish institution for social aid was necessary. In September 1941 according to a decree from Krakow, its jurisdiction was restored to its prior status.
However, earlier, at the end of July 1941, in agreement with Asbach, an order in Krasnik dissolved the Judenrat and the branch of YISA. Dr. Josef Szapiro (chairman), Shimkha Kohen and Shmuel Flug entered the new three-person Judenrat. None of them was yet 50. There probably was a lack of acceptable candidates among the older people. Moshe Zajdenfeld of Lodz, a former member of the YISA branch, was occupied with the business of social help and attempted to organize a committee of supplemental food supplies for children. The Judenrat in its three-person composition was active for approximately six weeks.
In the middle of September 1941, the district committee of YISA in Janow Lubelski received an order from Chief Asbach to restore the bureau of YISA in the Janow district. Dr. Szapiro, the chairman at that time of the Judenrat in Krasnik, decided to resign from his office in the Judenrat and to work only in the
bureau. Maks Kaminer, the chairman of the Jewish District Committee in Janow Lubelski, decided on his own to not consider including the candidacy of Dr. Szapiro on the list for the bureau that was proposed to the district chief. He also did not mention any one of the former members of the bureau. Kaminer placed as candidates: the new chairman of the Judenrat in Krasnik, Shlomo Kohen (as chairman of the bureau), Shimon Rafal Waserman and Yitzhak Rozenbusz. He received the confirmation from the city chief. In the middle of September 1941 this version of the YISA bureau began its aid activity.
That Dr. Szapiro, whose merits were highly valued, was not employed by the city chief was a surprise to the YISA presidium in Krakow. In order to clear up the matter, two letters were sent in October 1941 one, to Dr. Szapiro in Krasnik, the second, to Maks Kaminer in Janow. The presidium asked that Dr. Szapiro return to active work in the bureau. Simultaneously, the deputy of the representatives of YISA in Lublin District sent a letter on 22 October 1941 to Maks Kaminer, in which he indicated that the presidium of YISA was completely satisfied with the work of the first bureau, but Kohen, the chairman newly nominated by the Jewish Aid Committee, could not work due to illness. There was a request for a change in the present composition of the bureau to what it had been earlier and to suggest to the district chief people experienced in aid work, who had attained a good name among the Jewish population. It was also communicated that several days earlier a letter from Krasnik arrived in Lublin with 48 signatures, with a request that Moshe Zajdenfeld, who in particular enjoyed trust among the transferees, should be given proper functions in the bureau. It was also shown that if his name was not submitted as a nominee as a member of the bureau, it would be necessary to make use of his cooperation because he was prepared to work without wages.
The presidium of YISA in Krakow quickly received the proper clarification about Dr. Szapiro and Kaminer. Dr. Szapiro clarified that Maks Kaminer, as chairman of the Jewish Aid Committee in Janow, had made use of his, Szapiro's, resignation in order to also remove him from the bureau. Kaminer again showed that Dr. Szapiro, as the only doctor in Krasnik and director of the hospital, was overloaded with the work of his profession. Therefore, he did not consider his candidacy as well as the candidacy of the former bureau member, Dawidson, one of the richest men in the shtetl, because he did not materially support Jewish Self Help. The third member of the bureau, Ber Wajsberg, Kaminer wrote, himself refused to take part in the work of the bureau.
It appears that Kaminer's clarifications did not convince the presidium of YISA because on the 10th of November 1941 a letter was sent to Dr. Szapiro that he should take over the leadership of the bureau in Krasnik and screen the candidates for coworkers. Learning of this, Kaminer reacted very firmly. Namely, he gave notice in a letter of 23rd of November 1941 to the presidium of YISA that if the composition of the bureau in Krasnik was changed, he would not be responsible for the work. The matter thus reached a dead end.
Yitzhak Rozenbusz, one of its newly nominated members, continued to lead the bureau because the chairman, Shlomo Kohen, was ill. In his correspondence with the presidium of YISA in Krakow, Rozenbusz asked for the purchase of wooden shoes for the poorest residents of the city who literally are going barefoot despite the cold. He complained that the presidium did not subsidize Krasnik. From
that time come several letters from the Krasnik bureau, signed Sh. Garen. He asked the presidium on the 5th of November 1941 to send procedures for reports.
In January 1942, the YISA committee in Lublin awarded Krasnik a large number of food products. Therefore, it was decided to open a public kitchen in February 1942. On the 11th of February, Garen informed the presidium of YISA of the opening date of the kitchen. In February, the public kitchen distributed an average of 500 lunches a day, 700 a day at the beginning of March. The food products sent from Lublin did not last for long, because meanwhile, the number of people who wanted to receive soup rose to 1,000 men. It appears that Dr. Szapiro, who was then actively working in the bureau, alerted the presidium of YISA in Krakow on the 10th of March that there was no money and food products with which to continue with the kitchen. However, the matter of social aid quickly was rendered null and void because the deportations of the Jewish population to the death camp Belzec began and they were finally able to meet the requirements of those needing social assistance. After the deportation of the 12th of April 1942, they served lunches not to 1,000 people in Krasnik, but 250, because a large percent of the poorest members of the population were sent to the gas chamber at Belzec before everyone else.
The presidium of YISA then had minimal funds under its jurisdiction. But giving consideration to the fact that they could save Jews from deportation by employing them for transporting necessary goods, the presidium advised their agents to organize work collectives. Tradesmen from various specialties had to carry out product orders from the Hitlerist regime and German enterprises. But it quickly became apparent that the death sentence of genocide for the Jewish population could not be altered.
The bureau of YISA corresponded with the presidium of YISA until the 9th of August 1942. The last three letters were about providing reports for the Red Cross and sending reports of the accounts and were signed by Sholem Garen.
5. The Biological Extermination of the Jewish Population in Krasnik
The Hilterists began the mass extermination of the Jewish population in the death camps at the end of 1941. They built the first death camp in the part of Poland included in the Reich in Chelmno on the Ner. The Hilterists built the second and third death camps in Belzec and Sobibor in the Lubliner region. In the middle of March 1942 the mass murder of Jews began in the Belzec death camp. From the middle of March to the middle of April 1942 90 percent of the Jews of Lublin perished in this camp, as well as thousands of Jews from the following places in the Lublin region: Izbice, Krasnistow, Krasznycyn, Lubartow, Piaski, Opole, Wanwolnic, Zamoszcz, Krasnik. Almost all of these places were near the train line. After removing a number of local Jews, the trains arrived here with Jews from abroad: from Czechia [as the Czech Republic was then known], Slovakia, Germany. These Jews settled in the apartments of the deported Jews for a time. Later, they were also taken out to the death camps.  The organizers of the genocide murders applied this tactic so that the Jews who remained abroad would think deportation to the east only meant resettlement in the ghettos of Poland. Evidence of this was given in the letters that were sent out from these ghettos by Czech, Slovak and German Jews. This made it easier for those carrying out the genocide to form further Jewish transports from abroad, in order to send them for annihilation.
In the Janow Lubelski district, which was far away from the main communication line to Belzec, no Jews from abroad were settled. Also, until September 1942
no members of the Jewish population were deported from there to death camps. Krasnik was the only exception, from which, in April 1942, the first group of Jews was sent out for annihilation. Perhaps the reason for such an early deportation of Krasnik Jews was this, that the Hitlerist administration, planning to move the office of the district chief from Janow to Krasnik, wanted to be rid of a number of Jews in order to free up apartments.
At the beginning of April 1941, the German work office ordered that the Jews employed in workplaces and the members and employees of the Judenrat give in their work cards to be stamped. These cards were provided with the stamp: The work is in the German interest. The work cards with the stamp were supposed to protect their owners from deportation during the aktsia that was being prepared.
The deportation of nearly 2,000 Jews from Krasnik to the death camps took place on the 12th of April 1942, Pesakh [Passover]. A special command of the S.S. and the police headed by Oberscharführer [Senior Squad Leader] Handke, a professional at Jewish deportations, came to Krasnik that day. Erich Augustin, the chief of the security police in Krasnik, led the entire aktsia. The city was surrounded by the German gendarmes and Polish police. Augustin ordered the Judenrat to gather all of the Jews at the marketplace. Carrying out the decree, the Jewish police went through Jewish houses and drove everyone out onto the marketplace, threatening death for those who remained in their house. About 4,700 people were driven out onto the marketplace. They had to line up in fives. The Hitlerists told all of those possessing stamped work cards to leave the rows, taking their families with them. Those left over (among whom were many old men, the sick and children) were immediately chased in the direction of the train station about four kilometers from the city. On the road, the escorts beat and shot those who could not keep up with the march. The road to the train station was sown with the dead bodies of those people who were shot. Among the Jews who perished at that time from the Hitlerist bullets were: Benyamin Grynfel, Avraham Graf, Zelik Goldner, Eliyahu Lederfajn, Wolf and Yente Rajndel, Gele Wajsbrot. Chief quartermaster Krener and quartermasters Georgi and Mutersbach shot at the people.
Freight cars in which cattle were usually transported were already standing on the train tracks. They were strewn with inadequate quick lime. The high windows were covered with barbed wire. The people were pushed in the wagons without consideration for how many could fit in. The people stood terribly pressed together, without any ability to move. The trip itself was a true hell. At that time, on no account would the deportees admit that they were being taken to their death. Everyone was convinced that they were only being taken to another place. Such a manner of taking people was needed to weaken and exhaust them, so that they remained without any strength to resist.
Totally unaware of their fate, the people arrived this way in Belzec where members of the S.S. camp garrison took over their supervision. A train siding was located in the death camp itself where the train wagons were jammed in. The camp guards, opening the wagons, drove out the unfortunate people with wild curses and beatings. Immediately an officer of the S.S. arrived and told those who had arrived that they would be traveling east to work, but first they had to bathe and turn over their things to be disinfected. With screams, beatings and gunfire, the people were hounded to undress more quickly. The women and small children were separated from the men, lined up in the front and driven naked to the building with the sign Bath. This was the death chamber. After closing the door of the chamber, a motor was started
and gas was let in. In a few minutes, all of the voices became quiet. After 10 minutes at the most the people were dead. Giant mass graves had been dug near the death chamber, to which the strong Jewish men, who earlier had been chosen from each transport, had to carry out the corpses from the gas chamber.
Over 2,000 Jews who were taken out of Krasnik in April 1942 perished through such a death in Belzec.) About 2,700 Jews remained in Krasnik after the first deportation. These were people who had communal work cards (they remained together with their families), as well as the Jews who, instead of appearing at the collection point, had been well hidden. Augustin, the chief of the Gestapo, explained to the remaining Jews in Krasnik that it was necessary to remove a number of the residents from the city because of the crowded conditions in the apartments. He solemnly assured them that more Jews would not be deported from Krasnik. No danger would threaten them, but they would work conscientiously at their work places.
After the first deportation, the Jews were assigned to live in a limited, small area on Buczniszne, Aleine, Szkolne and Gensze Streets. This area, which also encompassed the synagogue, amounted to three or four thousand square meters. Therefore, it is no wonder that there was terrible crowding there. Ten or more people suffocated in a small room. All of the attics and small rooms were used as apartments. All of the men and the majority of women were taken to forced labor. The majority of tradesmen worked in the previous or new German workplaces. The untrained workforce was employed in various public works in the city and on the roads. No wages, no food was received for this work. 
In May 1942 the Hitlerists started a second death camp in Sobibor where the majority of the Jewish population from Pulower and Chelemer counties was murdered.
The death camp in Belzec did not function for a time during the summer of 1942. Most of the internal equipment in Belzec, which was located on the borders of three districts, was changed and enlarged. Then Jews were brought from the Krakow District and from the Galicia District for annihilation.
In Autumn 1942 the Hilterists began to murder the Jewish population in the Janow Lubelski district. At that time rumors spread in Krasnik that work in the newly created camp in Budzyn could save one from deportation.
(Photo, caption: The house of the camp leadership in Budzyn where the camp chief, the murderer Feiks, officiated.)
The camp in Budzyn was organized by the oberscharfuhrer [senior squad leader] Handke, known in Krasnik from the aktsia in April 1942. The German airplane building firm, Heinkel, opened its factory in the Krasnik camp. Many Krasnik men, and even women with children, tried to obtain employment there in order to avoid deportation. But on the day of the aktsia in Krasnik, the S.S. in Budzyn separated the women and children from the men and deported them with the other Krasnik men to the death camp in Belzec.
At the beginning of October 1942, Shemini Atzeret [holiday at the conclusion of Sukkous the Feast of Tabernacles during which prayers are recited for rain and the mention of dew in the daily prayer is changed to the mention of rain], the then district chief, Hans Lenk, called
together in Krasnik the chairmen of the Judenrats in all locations in his district. He announced to them that Jews would be permitted to live in two areas of the district - in Krasnik and in Zaklikow - and all Jews from other places in the district must move to these two shtetlekh. As a result of this order, Jews from Orzendow [Urzedow], Anapol, Dzierzkowice and Zakrzowek began to arrive in Krasnik.
In addition to the men employed by the Germans in Krasnik, some of their families remained. In order to facilitate the deportation of the family, the Hitlerists used a trick. They announced that in order to receive food they must go to the bathhouse and receive an injection against typhus. Everything was thought of in advance. When the undressed people were at the bath, Ukrainian police arrived. The policemen barged into the bath and beating, shooting in all directions, they began to chase the people from the bathhouse into the courtyard. Peasant wagons stood in front of the bathhouse onto which the women and children who had been driven out of the bathhouse were loaded. Many had not had time to get dressed. All were taken away to Zaklikow and there they were chased into railroad cars and sent to Belzec.
In the morning it was announced in Krasnik that Jews who were not employed somewhere should themselves move to Zaklikow. The Krasnik residents, who did leave their city quickly, were forced to do so by the Jewish police. The policemen loaded the older people into the wagons by force, among others, the Turobiner Rebbe and his entire family. In order to avoid deportation, many Krasnik Jews hid in well made hiding places, prepared a long time before. Others, not having a place to hide, committed suicide. Avraham Szenkler, for example, put on a kitl and talis [white robe worn on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and by the groom at his wedding and a prayer shawl] and hung himself in his apartment in Krasnik.
The German police and the local firemen were busy searching for hidden Jews. The firemen, armed with their tools, sadly made themselves famous ripping up floors, chopping walls, searching through cellars and attics, searching for the hidden Jews.
Those found were imprisoned and later they were taken out to the Jewish cemetery and shot. In November 1942, three groups of Jews (totaling 395 people) were shot at the Jewish cemetery. Among others, Zelik Beatus (bookkeeper), Josef Bek, Frajde Dawidson, Chana and Avraham Erlikh with their two-year old daughter, Ite, Eidl Gutfrajnd (baker), Dowid Hirszboim, Sarne Kesel, Toyve and Hodes Rozenbusz and four-year old Chana, Meir and Wale Wajnberg, Bajla Zajonc (dentist) perished here. The execution was carried out by Eloiz Greger, the representative of the camp personnel from the Krasnik camp. During one execution, he himself machined gunned about 80 Jews. A group of Jewish arrestees from the Krasnik camp was sent to the cemetery for every execution to dig a mass grave there. After the executions, the arrestees had to cover the graves. They often found their closest relatives in the grave. During the execution at the Jewish cemetery on the 5th of December 1942, 50 more people perished, among them Rayzl Mandelboim and her two children. Her husband was still in one of the camps in Krasnik.
It also happened that people caught in the hiding places were not taken to the cemetery, but shot on the spot. Then the Jewish arrestees from the camps had to carry the dead bodies from the hiding places to the cemetery. That is how it came about that the body of Leib Nakhberg, found in the attic (Narutowicz Street 15), who was shot in the evening of the 18th of November, 1942, had to be carried down. The 18-year old Mendl Bek, who worked in the Krasnik gendarmerie as a driver, also perished from a Hitlerist bullet. This was on
Passover, the 27th of April, 1943, when Mendl Bek was found on his way to the gendarmerie at 9 o'clock in the evening. Ruchl Klochendler perished on the 8th of May, 1943, in a group of 71 Jews from Belzec, who were shot near the Budzin camp. Many residents of Krasnik perished in the Budzin camp, among others, Ahron Fajngold (housepainter), Moshe Yakov Nudelman, Idek (Aizik, Yitzhak?) Szwarcbord, Khatskel Met.
6. The Labor Camp in Krasnik
The first labor camp in Krasnik was established in May 1942. That is, not long after the first deportation of part of the Krasnik Jews to the Belzec death camp. Chiefly the construction workers, 180 Jewish artisans, began to be settled in this camp organized by the district chief, Hans Lenk. The camp was then called the hantwerks lager [artisans' camp]. The artisans worked at constructing the building for the office of the district chief who needed to move to Krasnik quickly. Then a furniture workshop was created where Jewish carpenters made furniture for the office of the district chief.
After the creation of the labor camp in Krasnik, the branch of Jewish Social Self-Help that was still functioning then made a small effort to help those people locked in the camp partly by providing food, medicine and medical help. At that time the branch had very meager means. However, it covered the cost of supporting the kitchen that, thanks to the efforts of the branch, was organized in the camp by the German construction company Schmidt and Jung, which was in charge of the work of constructing the buildings for the district chief.
The intensive work of constructing these buildings and most of the internal equipment lasted the entire summer of 1942. The district
(Photo, caption: Forced labor in the cabinetmaking shop in the women's section of the Krasnik synagogue.)
chief wanted the work to be finished before the arrival of autumn and at the end of summer threatened to shoot the Jewish artisans if they did not complete the work in two weeks. Therefore, the Jews worked without days off, on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and finished the work at the designated time.
The second deportation of the Krasnik Jews to the death camp at Belzec took place before the end of the work. The Jewish artisans were taken to the Krasnik gymnazie [secondary school] building. After the aktsia they were taken to the area of the ghetto. Their plank cots for sleeping were placed in the building of the synagogue.
During the months of October and November 1942 all Jewish settlements and camps in the Janow Lubelski district were liquidated. According to the order of a high leader of the S.S. and policeman Krieger, on 28 October 1942, only one closed ghetto would remain in the district after December 1942, in Zakilkow. But the ghetto was also liquidated in November 1942. The labor camp was left in Krasnik because the leader of the S.S. and police in the Lublin district, S.S. Gruppenfurer and Lieutenant-General of the police, Odilo Globocnik, decided to use the workforce of Jewish prisoners in the production workshops of the camp. It was officially announced that the local carpentry workshop must produce furniture for the German schools that needed to be created in Lublin district. The network of these schools needed to grow quickly because at the end of November 1942 the evictions of the Polish peasants from the Zamosc region had begun and they needed to give their households over to the German colonists. Immediately after the deportations of the Jewish population to the death camps, the Hitlerists proceeded to Germanize the General Government, beginning with the Zamosc region.
Starting on the 23rd of November 1942, the camp in Krasnik carried the name S.S. Labor Camp. Not only a carpentry workshop functioned in the camp; there were also tailors, locksmiths, tinsmiths, tanners, saddle makers, furriers, bookbinders, knitters, a watchmaker and a jeweler. The orders came in from a larger group of the headquarter members of the S.S. and police in the Lublin district. The payments for the production of the workshops or services that fell in the cashbox were very small, not proportional to the real price. The financial bases of the workshops were the sums of money that were confiscated from the Jews. All of the expenses for supporting the camp, particularly for the feeding of the prisoners, were covered by the small sums that flowed into the treasury for the completed orders. From November 1942 to September 1943 up to 93,000 zlotes flowed in for the completed orders and over 83,000 zlotes were given out for all of the needs of the camp (along with supporting the camp guards). Therefore, up to 10,000 zlotes were put aside despite the very low prices that were taken for the production and the condition of the camp workshops.
After the take-over of the camp by the S.S. and police in November 1942, the S.S. Hauptsturmführer Ulbrich became the camp leader; chief of production, Unterscharführer [Junior Squad Leader] Alois Gröger and chief of trade, Unterscharführer Klein. On the 22nd of September 1943, the official leader of the headquarters of the S.S. and police in Lublin (chief of the personnel division), S.S. Untersturmführer Offermann took over the Krasnik camp from camp leader Ulbrich. From that moment on, the functions of camp leader were carried out by Alois Gröger as Ulbrich's representative. Offermann sent the various decrees and production orders to the Krasnik camp from his government seat in Lublin. In the middle of September 1943, the camp numbered 232 men and 19 women, 251 Jews in total.
There arose in Krasnik at the end of 1942 a
second Jewish camp a little farther from the city, near the bend in the road to the train line. The prisoners from this camp were employed by the German firm, WIFO [Wirtschaftsforschungsgesellschaft]*, in several construction jobs. A number were in the camp with their families. This camp, which was usually referred to as Benzynówka, figured in the Hitlerist documents under the name Abfüllstation [storage depot] WIFO . Alois Gröger had the supervision over the camp and from time to time he drove here for an inspection. Kiplow, a Latvian, represented him on the spot.
*[Translator's note:Wirtschaftsforschungsgesellschaft Economic Research Company was a company owned by the Germans involved in the construction of liquid fuel storage depots. The firm name abbreviation is given incorrectly as WIPO throughout the article, but it has been transliterated as WIFO, its correct abbreviation.]
Gröger excelled with particular savagery in relation to the prisoners. On the 20th of May 1943 he and Kiplow carried out an execution of over 34 prisoners in the WIFO camp. Among those shot were nine children aged from eight to 12. During the summer of 1943, Gröger shot the Jewish prisoners, Moshe Graf and Moshe Szif, the first as he washed himself near the well, the second when he returned under guard from the camp in Budzyn.
Between the 3rd and 7th of November 1943, the Hitlerist genocide liquidated several of the largest labor camps of Jews from the Lublin region. There were then murdered almost 42,000 arrestees from the following camps: in Trawnik [Trawniki], in Poniatowe, in Lublin (on Lipowa Street, at the air field and on the Sportplatz [sports field]) and in Majdanek. After this, only two S.S. labor camps remained in the Lublin district for Jews: in Krasnik and in Budzyn. Small groups of Jewish arrestees worked at the aerodrome for the wehrmacht: in Demblyn, in Biale Padliaske and Samoszcz.
After the liquidation of the camp in Trawnik, a number of machines and instruments were shipped to the camp in Krasnik. They were transferred in November 1943 by the camp leader in Trawnik, Franz Bartetzko. In addition to the equipment from the workshops for tailoring, shoemaking and saddlemaking and the leather supply that came from the Warsaw ghetto, Bartetzko also transferred the camp treasury in the sum of 116,000 zlotes in Trawnik to the camp in Krasnik, as well as the typewriters, crockery and the like.The Unterscherferer Meizen from Trawnik was assigned to Krasnik on the 23rd of November 1943, He had to assist Gröger in the production division.
In the last quarter from 1943 and in 1944, the production workshops in the Krasnik camp filled orders for the following high functionaries from the S.S. headquarters and the police in the Lublin district: Group Leader Jakob Sporrenberg, leader of the S.S. and police in the Lublin district, S.S. Sturmbannfurher [Assault Unit Leader] Streichel*, commandant of the security police and security service, S.S. Hauptsturmfuhrer Hanelt, Ulbich, Laufs, Pronenberg, Rau, the Untersturmfuhrer Chief, Offermann, the Hauptsturmfuhrer Chief of the Gestapo in Krasnik, Erich Augustin, Schlesinger, Naumann. The Jewish prisoners had very many orders for the holiday of Weinnachten [Christmas] 1943, when they had to finish a large number of gifts for the higher officers of the S.S. who traveled to their families.
*[Translator's note: Although this S.S. leader's name is written here and elsewhere in the text as Streichel, his name was actually (Karl) Streibel.]
The Jewish prisoners in the carpentry workshops of the camp finished furniture for the German school in Lublin, for the German schools in Janow, Krasnistow, Budzyn, as well as for the school council in Krasnik and for the aviation factory, Heinkel, in Budzyn.
The Jewish prisoners from both Krasnik camps tried, as far as possible, to maintain a connection with the Jews in other camps in the Lublin region. They also sought to make contact with the fighting Polish underground, particularly with the partisan divisions, using the opportunity when one of the prisoners was sent out of the camp in a convoy. They tried to recruit several guards and convoy escorts. There were varied and very conspiratorial conditions. It is a fact,
however, that the prisoners succeeded in making contact and working out a plan of mutual cooperation. In this work, in addition to several planned cases of escape, there were serious failures and the resulting execution of a number of prisoners who were active in the underground movement.
The official Hitlerist documents created at that time unveil attempts to establish contacts. They also contain certain information about attempts to escape that did not occur, as well as about several successful attempts. We provide here the facts about several attempts to make contact as well as cases of escape about which information remains in the German documents:
On the 28th of October 1943, the arrestee Wiszner, from the WIFO camp in Krasnik, under the escort of the guard, Jozef Lewkowicz, was sent to Lublin in order to buy certain necessary accessories for the production of women's shoes, ordered through Krieger, the local person responsible for construction. In Lublin, Wiszner went to the Sportplatz where Jewish prisoners worked. He had seven letters for them and a little money from the prisoners in the Krasnik camp. However, before he had time to give them the letters and the money, at the moment when he began a conversation with one of them, he was noticed by a guard of the local Jews, an S.S man from the training camp in Trawnik. The guard stopped Wiszner and his envelope; he searched Wiszner and took the envelope and the 2,000 zlotes. Receiving a report, the leader of the training camp in Trawnik, Schupomeister [police chief] Bazener, reported about this to the camp leader, Offermann. Offermann again informed Gröger that in the future he should not send any Jewish arrestees to Lublin to make purchases. He hereby threatened that for not following the order the camp leader would be held accountable by the S.S. and police leader.
The liquidation of the labor camp in the Lublin region in November 1943 evoked a strong unease among the Jewish prisoners in the Krasnik camp. They also knew that the camp in Budzyn, six kilometers from Krasnik, had been transformed into a concentration camp. In January 1944, it became a branch of the concentration camp in Majdanek. The arrestees decided to energetically prepare to escape, still more, because for a time they had succeeded in establishing contact with a partisan division of the People's Army in Czeszice. A number of prisoners had succeeded in providing themselves with Aryan documents.
However, the Krasnik Gestapo stood guard. With the help of agents from among the prisoners themselves, the Gestapo learned about preparations for escape. Eight Jews were arrested in the camp on the 13th of February 1944 according to the instructions of the agents. During the investigation at
(Photo, caption: Report from the German Security Police in Krasnik about the 12 forged identity cards that were found among Jews in the camp.)
the Krasnik Gestapo, the information from the agents was confirmed. Information about false identification cards found in the camp was also received. During the search of the premises of the prisoners, 12 identity cards and more than 20,000 zlotes in cash was found. The photographs on the identity cards revealed that the cards were designated for the camp leaders, Pesakh Kawa and his family, for several Jewish policemen (stewards), work foremen, for Dr. Josef Szapiro and the camp medic.
The investigation, carried out by the Gestapo, did not give a definite explanation of how the Jewish prisoners had received these identity cards. Everyone said that after the liquidation of the labor camp in Poniatowa, an unknown Jew had come from Warsaw to Krasnik who sold the identity cards for 5,000 zlotes a piece.
On the 19th of February 1944, the chief of the Gestapo in Krasnik sent over a report about the results of the investigation, enclosing the 12 false identity cards for the commandant of WIFO* and S.S. Streichel in Lublin. Letting him know that the search would continue for the intermediary and the one who had created the false documents, Streichel asked that the police staff in Lublin control and compare the stamps and signatures on the identity cards created by the regime.
*[Translator's note: the text misstates the name as ZIPO.]
In the matter of the identity cards and the preparations to escape, the Gestapo implicated 40 prisoners from the S.S. camp in Krasnik and Camp WIFO. All were shot between the 14th and 18th of February 1944. During the time of the investigation, two Jews in Camp WIFO successfully escaped; the 24-year old Yankl Erlikh escaped on the 14th of February and the 33-year old Yeheil Rolnik escaped on the 18th of February.
Among the 40 who were shot were 36 from the camp in Krasnik: Pesakh Kawa and his son Ber, Bayle Kawa, née Hofert, Fryde Futerman, née Kawa, Shie Futerman, Moshe and Yisroel Hofert, Dr. Josef Szapiro, Sama Grynfeld, Chana Herszson, Josef and Leib Szmukler, Shmay-Leib Zisberg, Yankl, Chana and Mendl Wajsbrat, Ahron Perlzon, Shaul Erlich, Ziskind Rozenbusz, Yitzhak, Chaya and Ahron Bek, Hersh Berman, Lazer Szajngot, Avraham-Shimkha and Khatskl Kohen, Shie Nordman, Yankl Erlichzon.
The executions not only did not prevent escapes, but made the prisoners rush to escape. On the 17th of February 1944, 18 Jews escaped from the camp of the WIFO firm. Gröger, who was immediately informed of this, left for the camp at once, chose 18 prisoners, relatives of the escapees, and ordered that they be shot. In a short time, four of the escapees were caught one by one. Each time, Gröger issued a special roll call for the prisoners. They had to be present during the execution of the escapees by hanging, carried out by Gröger's own hands. In such a manner the escapees were hung:
(Photo, caption: German report about deposits from the Krasnik labor camp.)
Leml Kichczik, Leib Hecht, Herc Powrucznik, Shlomo Caduk, Himlbloj. The Hitlerists were not successful in catching the remaining escapees from the WIFO camp. This was: Shmuel Leizer and Leib Brener, Daniel Hersh and Shie Datum, Adam Diament, Yisroel Moshe Szor, Moshe Sztolhamer, Yisroel Yankl Sukman, Yankl Szwarcbard, Gabrial Rajnsztajn, Asher Bruchirer, Daniel Feder, Leib Hecht.
In connection with the escape of the 18 arrestees the guard at theWIFO camp was strengthened; 15 officers from the Schupo [Schutzpolizei uniformed police] were sent, delivered to Gröger by Zugwachmeister [Staff Sergeant] Mentzel. On the 23rd of February, Offermann also came to Krasnik at the command of the leader of the S.S. and police, Sporrenberg, that he had to make order. Following these events, Franz Bartetzko became the camp leader in Krasnik. Offermann, who spent two days in Krasnik, also spoke with Captain Schmidt, commander of the military division that was stationed in Krasnik and received the assurance that if needed, the military would help with guarding the camp in Krasnik. Offermann also took an interest in the ghetto and the valuable items that were found among the prisoners who were shot. There was over 21,000 zlotes, 25 dollars in banknotes and 80 in gold, as well as various pieces of jewelry. The foreign currency and worthwhile objects were delivered to the headquarters of the S.S. and police leader in Lublin, into the hands of S.S. Obersturmfuhrer [paramilitary rank] Krama. The coins of Polish zlotes were placed in the camp account of the Krasnik camp's considerable till.
Despite the repressions, the underground movement in the camp did not cease. Contact with the partisans continued. It seems that Litzi, a Jewish woman from Germany, who served Bartetzko, the camp leader, stole weapons and grenades while cleaning his apartment and they were sent into the forest with Kasjan, the guard, who had worked with the prisoners and had connected them with the partisans. In the workshops, the prisoners stole parts of uniforms, hats, shirts and also sent these to the partisans.
A certain occurrence of the 6th of March 1944 shows the vigorous activity of the partisans. That day, Bartetzko sent out a wagon to the county cooperative for straw; the wagon driver was the Jewish prisoner, Shmuel Hartbrot. The members of the convoy representatives of patrol leader Jeger and the S.S. guard Stanislaw Saltaniok. Both escorts were well armed, had Finish machine pistols and a rifle. When they drove through Kolonia Owczarnia and went to the peasants for chickens and eggs, a group of about 30 partisans emerged from the nearest forest, partly dressed in German uniforms. The partisans disarmed the convoy members and with the wagon driver they took them away in the direction of Rzeczyca Księża. Bartetzko first learned of this occurrence late in the evening and sent a telegram about it to Offermann. Then the event was reported to Sporrenberg. This greatly enraged him. He thought of it as a wild frivolity he noted on the report to send such a weak company in the region and he asked that the camp leader be given a warning. It can be concluded from the note that Sporrenberg regretted the lost weapons more than the members of the convoy. For the weapons it is a shame, for the chaps not he wrote on the report.
After giving Bartetzko a warning, Offermann asked him to again strengthen the guard in both camps but, to make it very discreet so that the prisoners would not notice. He said that prisoners should be killed immediately for every attempt to escape. Offermann clarified that the current situation did not permit the liquidation or the limitation of the production in the camp. This meant that despite the terrible situation, the unfavorable situation on the Eastern Front, the S.S. and the police could not decide to eliminate
the production of the prisoners in the Krasnik camps.
During the second half of March 1944, two more escapes from the camps under two totally different circumstances occurred. On the 27th of March, Held, the leader of the work in WIFO, sent two arrestees to Krasnik to buy certain materials. They were escorted by the S.S. guard, Josef Scharan. The arrestees and the escort entered the apartment of Jan Kozak at Grodzke 13, ostensibly to buy food. When they were refused, one arrestee suddenly left the residence. It appeared that he was going to search for something to buy at another door and he did not return. The second arrestee made use of the commotion and he, too, escaped. Bartetzko arrested the escort, Josef Scharan, and sent him to his military division for punishment. After this occurrence, the firm, WIFO, again received a message to not send any Jews to buy things in the city.
On the 30th of March 1944 a group of 16 Jews escaped from the Krasnik camp. The escape was completely successful because it was brilliantly thought through and carried out. Planning the escape, it was noticed that a key for the lock in the entrance gate could be copied because the key was not a complicated one and it could easily be duplicated. It was decided to escape during the evening time (8 o'clock) because it would be easier to exit the camp in the darkness. It was also noticed that the guard paid less attention to the entrance gate. The escape succeeded. The guard who stood at the post did not notice the opened gate and first caused a tumult after some time had passed. Security guards, schupo [policemen], gendarmes and the Polich police took part in the chase, but without results. The prisoners employed in the locksmith workshop were suspected of copying the key; they were arrested immediately. But they were freed in a few days
(Photo, caption: Report about the escape of 16 Jews from the Krasnik camp.)
because they showed that to copy the key to the gate one did not need to be a tradesman because filing such a key was a very simple thing. The Krasnik Gestapo, which carried out the investigation, did not give up on reprisals. Among the prisoners, 28 men were arrested (relatives of the escapees). They were taken out in autos to the forest near the benzene station where graves had already been dug. Among others shot during the executions that took place on the 1st of April 1944 were Shimeon Waserman of Krasnik. The foreign currency and valuable objects that were found among the murdered were given to the headquarters of the S.S. and police in Lublin. There was 110 dollars in banknotes, 40 dollars in gold, 70 rubles in gold, watches and jewelry.
There were no cases of escape from the camp during the last three months before the liberation.
At the beginning of June in both camps in the city and on the bend [in the road to the train line] there were almost 3,000 Jewish arrestees. In the Krasnik camp there were 237 people 192 men, 33 women and 12 young people. There were 58 prisoners in the WIFO camp.
The work in all of the workshops continued without a pause; only the kind of orders changed. There were larger orders for crates and trunks for packing things that were sent out to the Reich. Both Krasnik camps were evacuated only when Lublin was liberated. On the 22nd of July at 10 in the evening, in a downpour, the prisoners were led out onto the road to Anapol in order to force them into the Plaszower camp (near Krakow). Several prisoners had weapons and grenades and decided to make use of them in order to escape. When they went through the forest, shooting began; a tumult began. During the shooting many prisoners escaped. A number were met by bullets. However, others succeeded in escaping into the forest to meet up with the partisans and join them. Of those prisoners who were taken out of the camp, a number went to the Plaszower camp, a number to the Mauthausen camp.
*[Translator's note: This is the abbreviation of the title used in many of the following footnotes.] Return
*[Translator's note: This is the abbreviation of the title used in many of the following footnotes.] Return
*[Translator's note: the date is given as 71st March, an obvious typographical error.] Return
|The Hitlerist murderers annihilated our city and the entire Jewish community on the 23rd Day of the month of Khesvan [3 November] 5703 (1942).
We honor your sacred memory, martyrs of Krasnik. You will always remain in our memory.
Paris, December 1971
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