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Chapter Six

“Kazimierz” The Jewish Quarter

As the Nazis tightened their grip on the Jewish community, word spread that the Schindler works were a good place to be. Three new employees were taken on the direct recommendation of Stern: Magister Leib Salpeter (69282), Samuel Wulkan (69267), and Stern's brother, Natan Stern (69275). These three were all old ranking members of the Polish Zionist movement. Unknown to Schindler, but organized and arranged by Stern and Abraham Bankier, two other employees were taken on: an engineer named Pawlik, who was an officer in the Polish underground movement, and a man named Hildegeist. Both were non-Jews and were connected to outside underground agencies. Hildegeist had known Schindler before the war. Because of his political views Hildegeist was sent to Buchenwald concentration camp, where he served three years. It was Schindler who personally had him released and brought to Krakow. Although Schindler remained aloof from this intake of dubious employees, he kept himself fully informed of their activities.

The German Mayor announced, on May 18, 1940, that the Jews could leave the city “of their own free will” and “those who would leave willingly” would be allowed to take baggage of 50 kg. per person. The last day for leaving was set for August 15, 1940[1]. Rumors had already spread that the Germans planned to put the Jews in an enclosed area-- Judischer Wohnbezirk, or Jewish Quarter[2].

Governor Dr. Hans Frank had decided on a little evacuation program of his own. His resettlements were to take place within the Generalgovernment. Dr. Frank wanted to remove the Jewish population entirely from Krakow. Addressing his main divisional chiefs on April 12, 1940, Dr. Frank described conditions in the city as scandalous. German generals were forced to live in apartments occupied by Jews. Frank wanted Krakow free of Jews by November 1, 1940. Only skilled Jews would remain. The Krakow expulsions were divided into two phases: voluntary and involuntary. Up to 15 August 15, 1940, the Jews could move freely but after this date the Jews would be forced out. However, no sooner had Frank expelled the Jews from the city than the city began filling up again with Jews from incorporated territories. In the first two weeks of August, a third of the Jews of Krakow had been expelled to Warsaw, Radom, Lublin, Czestochova, and other Polish towns. Some Jews made it over to the Russian Zone. Expelling Jews in this way enabled the Nazis to make room in the city for the new intake of immigrants that would Germanize the area.

On March 3, 1941, Governor Wächter published an order for a Jewish Residence Zone, named Gen. Gub 44/91, which was published in Karakul Zeitung, posted on walls, and announced through loudspeakers from mobile vans. The Jews had to move into this residence zone of Kazimierz by March 21, 1941. Kazimierz, a district of Krakow, was historically associated with the Jews of Krakow for over a thousand years.

Thousands of Jews left the city in order not to be enclosed. The Ghetto was set up in the suburb of Podgorze, tucked into the elbow of the Vistula, the east end by the railway line to Lvov, the south side by the hills beyond Rekawka, and the west by Podgorze Place. The face of Kazimierz had changed over night. Its character, built up through the centuries, rapidly disappeared. There was no longer the sight of Jews dressed in long black capotes and felt hats, skull caps, and fur hats, beards and long sideburns; gone were the discussions on the street corners with characteristic gesticulations. This was the beginning of the end for one of the finest cultural centers of Eastern Europe.

 

Gate of the Krakow Ghetto drawn by Josef Bau (69084) for the author Israel 1994
Gate of the Krakow Ghetto drawn by Josef Bau (69084) for the author Israel 1994

 

Gate of the Krakow Ghetto 1942
Gate of the Krakow Ghetto 1942

 

Gate of the Krakow Ghetto 1942
Map of the Krakow Ghetto

 

Using Jewish labor the Germans erected a wall surrounding the Ghetto, set bars in windows of apartments looking out onto the Aryan quarter, installed security posts, and constructed gates. Three gates gave access to the Ghetto. The main gate was at Podgorze Square and above the gate was a large six-pointed Star of David with the inscription in Hebrew: “Jewish Quarter.” Located at the main gate were the central post of the German police and the seat of the Judenrat. During the first few weeks of the Ghetto's existence, one could gain access here with relative ease, usually when it was necessary to reclaim cash from the Jews. On both sides of the gate were dark blue lamps. Through this gate a trolley ran, through the Ghetto along the streets of Limanowska and Lwowska, and connected with the Aryan quarter of the city. It sometimes served as an intermittent link between Poles and Jews; many packages were delivered without the knowledge of the ghetto police[3]. The second gate was at the end of Limanowska Street, and the third was in Plac Zgod,y opening onto a bridge spanning the Vistula. All three gates were guarded by the Polish blue uniformed police and by the Jewish Police, the OD (Ordnungsdient)[4].

About 15,000 Jews were transferred from the city into the Ghetto, and an additional 2,500 remained outside, living either in the orphanage, a residential home for the elderly, or huts at the Optima factory[5]. Once a chocolate factory but now used for producing German military uniforms, Optima was the target of frequent attacks by the Jewish fighting organizations, that seized large quantities of warm clothing and distributed it to Jewish fighting units around Lublin and Biala-Podlaska.

From early morning until late at night on the March 21, the scene was one of pitiful dejection. Families with their possessions were in utter confusion, criss-crossing the streets with their bundles and carts laden with furniture and other worldly possessions, in their haste to beat the deadline. The scramble for the best accommodation was frantic. At the end of the day several families found themselves sharing one apartment, there being no place else to go.

 

The Krakow Chemist: Tadeusz Pankiewicz
The Krakow Chemist: Tadeusz Pankiewicz

 

No Aryan was permitted to live in the Ghetto; only the staff and guard of the court and jail were allowed to remain within with one exception--the pharmacist Tadeusz Pankiewicz, who lived in the pharmacy accommodation at Plac Zgody, the heart and pulse of the Podgorze Ghetto[6]. From the moment of the creation of the Jewish Quarter, Pankiewicz had been the owner of the pharmacy Under the Eagle on Plac Zgody (Peace Square). This was the only one of the four pharmacies in Podgorze that was located in the Ghetto. He was the only Pole who without interruption (two and a half years) lived and worked there until its ultimate liquidation. From the vantage point of a window in the pharmacy he could look out onto Plac Zgody. He saw the most horrendous crimes committed against the Jewish population by the Occupier.

In March 1941, Schindler returned to Svitavy to see his father, who was now in bad health. Oskar intended to patch up past differences between them. To some degree he was successful, and when he left after hey had mutually agreed to bury the past and look to the future.

Schindler returned to Krakow went via Moravska Ostrava to see his wife, who was still occupying their Abwehr apartment. According to the Ball-Kaduri documents, Schindler gave Emilie an update on his business activities, but made no mention of his relationships with his secretary, Klonowska, or his German mistress. Mrs Schindler had long accepted that her husband could not hold to their marriage vows. When interviewed on this point by the film Director Jon Blair, she replied:

“....He was a man who loved life. He liked all women. You can fight against one, but not against ten or a hundred. So you'd better swim with the current...isn't that true? But it didn't bother me at all; you can't change a man who is like that. He loved women, he loved parties. That was Oskar, and I knew I would never change him - I didn't want to change him.”[7]

In Krakow, Schindler was visited by representatives of the Armaments Inspectorate. Emalia was to take on necessary armaments work. Another blow to Schindler was that all wages to his Jewish workers would now be terminated and alternative payments pro-rata would now be paid directly to the SS. The dues he would pay to the police chiefs were the standard SS Main Administrative and Economic Office fees: seven and a half Reichsmarks per day for a skilled worker, five Reichsmarks for unskilled men and women. These changes took effect immediately and affected all the Aryan factory owners in the Generalgovernment. This was a crucial turning point in Schindler's relations with his Jewish workers. They were literally dependent on him for life and subsistence. Schindler bought food for them on the black market at very high prices. He got the money for the food by selling on the black market, for equally outrageous prices, large quantities of the enamelware his Jewish workers produced. There is an irony in this, for it means that Schindler paid his workers with the profits of their own labor[8].

On the western side of the ghetto, a kilometer from Emalia, were the two clothing factories of an Austrian member of the Nazi party: Julius Madritsch, and his manager, Raimund Titsch. On the Ghetto gate at Podgorze Square was another member of the Nazi party: the Austrian Police Sergeant, Oswald Bousco. Including Schindler, these four members of the Nazi Party were to be at the center of events in the plight and later rescue of the Krakow Jews.

 

Footnotes
  1. See Hilberg Vol. 208/10.
  2. Return
  3. Dr. Arieh L. Bauminger, The Fighters of the Krakow Ghetto, Yad Vashem, 1990, 23
  4. Return
  5. Tadeusz Pankiewicz, The Krakow Ghetto Pharmacy (2nd ed, 151), Israel, 1987. 1-10. This edition translated from Polish into English by Henry Tilles. This is an excellent book, by far the most descriptive account from a person on the spot and who saw everything.
  6. Return
  7. Bauminger, 26.
  8. Return
  9. Ibid.
  10. Return
  11. Pankiewicz, vii.
  12. Return
  13. Jon Blair, Film interview with Mrs Emily Schindler, 1982. B.A.
  14. Return
  15. See Wundheiler,4, also Ball-Kaduri-Documentation.
  16. Return

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