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[Page 289]

Shabbes in Bilgoraj

by Yoineh Chaim Kronenberg

Translated by Moses Milstein

It was not only your beautiful scenery, Bilgoraj, that charmed me,
Nor your level fields, mountains and valleys that affected me,
And also not your shaded forests, meadows, waterfalls and rivers.

I loved you mostly for your Jews:
Merchants, storekeepers, and tradesmen.
Ach, how kind and sensitive they were, your Jews!

Friday evening, absolute quiet reigns in the city,
Shabbes candles shine from every window.
And in the houses, a solemn stillness.
The neighborhoods are quiet everywhere.
Like a king in his kingdom, the Jew hosts the Sabbath,
How heartily he sings the “Shalom Aleichem,”
With which he greets the Shabbes angels.
And how lovely is his singing of the “Eyshes Chayel.”
Everyone's face is lit with holy joy.

All the riches of the world cannot satisfy the money hungry,
There is no limit to people's striving and dreams,
And yet there are moments,
When a quiet corner, a plain white tablecloth,
A dry piece of bread from one's own efforts,
A warm glance from a loving family
And that is enough.

Shabbes evening.
Women sit on benches in the side streets and gossip.
The older ones–noses saddled with glasses read the “Tzeneh Rehneh[1].”

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The main street which cuts through the city like a spine,
Is full of people strolling,

The whole city is walking.
Couples are strolling
Young men with their wives.
Young mothers with small children.
A mother leads her daughter by the hand, a father, his son.
Here a young woman in a wide dress is walking.
A delicate fatigue in her face, shame in her eyes.
Her heavy footsteps, how kind and quavering are they?

The Shabbes angels disappear with the last rays of the sun.
The red western horizon marks the separation from the weekdays that follow them.
A quiet, sentimental melody comes from the Chasidim's shtibl,
In the evening dark they celebrate “Shaleshudes
And they sing, among other zmires, the mizmorYedid Nefesh Av Harachaman,”
And the Chasidic melody spills out mystically: “Nafshi Cholet Ahavtaich.”
Sometimes louder, sometimes softer, as if it came out of a distant stillness.

It is a heartfelt outpouring of longing to something…
It is a mystery that cannot be expressed and fills the heart…

And suddenly. A deeply sad singing is heard from every house
--God of Abraham, Itzchak, and Yakov,
Protect your beloved people Israel and your exaltation…

Candles are shining in every Jewish house.
By the red flames that light the charming childish faces, the Jews celebrate Havdala.

[Page 291]

With the singing of “Hamavdil” the hard, week of toil begins anew.
You were so dear to me, Bilgoraj!
In the evening strolls in your streets,
When the dew in the moonlight covered the wet grass like a thin blanket,
The emergence of the sun's redness over your forests.
I loved you, Bilgoraj, for your Jews
And hated your kin's
You were so close to me, and also so far!

 

A wedding in Bilgoraj. Wolf Boim and his wife (live in Brazil), Israel Honigsfeld (lives in Israel). All the others perished.

 

Translator's footnote:
  1. Biblical writings in Yiddish Return


[Page 292]

Bilgoraj on the Eve of Destruction

by A. Yanower

Translated by Moses Milstein

By the first of November 1942, it was almost a certainty that in Bilgoraj too, a general liquidation would take place–in Shebreshin[1] it had already happened a month before–and Bilgoraj would become judenrein. We recognized it in the increasing efforts of the Judenrat. In reality, the Judenrat had ceased to exist by then. There was a certain H. Z. who represented himself as the Judenrat. He was always riding around in a britchke[2] with Nazi–bestowed importance. Anyone who could still scrape up a few zlotys for the Gestapo would greet him with a submissive, “Good morning.” Whoever didn't have the means to give money, who had to subsist on potato peels, would hide from the eyes of H. Z., because he would readily pick him as a sacrifice for the filthiest, hardest work.

He would never tell us, as the previous Judenrat did, what to expect so we could hide. He did everything secretively, and precisely. That's why the Kreizhauptman[3] held him in such esteem.

One Saturday, an order came from the Gestapo, through the mediation of H. Z., to surround the three houses of Eliezer Kandel, Yantche Kantor, and Hersh Panzerman–all on Third of May Street–with barbed wire. Sunday night, the tradesmen, 70 of them, had to move to the ghetto.

It was clear to everyone that with this decree something terrible was going to happen, even though he assured us that nothing was going to happen, that everyone should stay in their houses, and spend the night there.

[Page 293]

At that time, there were about 3000 Jews in Bilgoraj. Many of them had been brought in from Josefow, Goraj, Frampol, and Tarnogrod, because those places were now judenrein. The majority of the Jews lived on Third of May Street, and some on the Lubliner road (the bridge).

That day, the Jews from the bridge street came to Third of May Street, to find out about the new decree. People stood around in circles and talked. When H.Z.'s britchke appeared, the groups quickly dispersed. He had forbidden any assemblies on the street, because, he said, the Gestapo could claim that we were preparing to revolt. As soon as he drove off, the circles reformed, and the talk was of what to do. No one believed anything he said.

Hours went by, evening fell, and the circles grew larger. People stood silently and watched as the tradesmen were moving their things into the bloc. They were to live there, and by day, work in Lipeh Wagshol's house.

 

From right to left: Above, Golda Zoberman, Reizel Wermuth
Below, Rivkeh Susman, Sarah'tche Harman

 

The bloc was allocated for the required workers, and everyone else lost the right to live.

The tradesmen entered the bloc, broken and miserable.

[Page 294]

They were not allowed to bring in their families. The few lucky ones were: Isaac Renner with his whole family; Todros Lang; and David Bendler. Hersh Zilberberg and his family remained living in Lipeh Wagshol's house.

That is how the day of the eve of destruction in Bilgoraj passed. When the sun went down behind the burned down skeleton of the shul, H. Z. hurriedly appeared, went into his house, stayed there a while, and quickly went out to the gate so that, God forbid, some “illegals” (non–tradesmen) wouldn't sneak in. He didn't trust the Jewish police, who were allowing a few “illegals” in.

He went in and searched the entire bloc, but the houses were built such that you could go in one side and out the other.

The ghetto was locked at the gate, but it was not guarded, so people in the ghetto could go about the city freely in the daytime. Only at night did they have to sleep in the ghetto. In that way, everyone had the opportunity to acquire food and various necessities. There were 70 tradesmen in the ghetto. But, in the attics, and cellars another 300 Jews were hiding. In Yantche Kantor's yard, there were Jews in hiding.

When the sun disappeared (many Bilgoraj Jews had not lived to see it rise), and darkness reigned on Third of May Street, a number of young people singly left the city, notwithstanding that it had been one year already since the decree was issued that any Jew found outside the city would be shot. Some went to the forest, some to Christians they knew on farms, anywhere, just not to be in the city. Older Jews said it was God's will, and there was no hiding from it. Many prayed for an end to their suffering. And so, the Bilgoraj Jews waited for the morrow.

[Page 295]

The sky was still dark when we heard shooting coming from all sides of the city. The bloc was sealed. Near the gate, lay old crates, rocks, and some boards which had, just yesterday, been used by the illegals to get into the bloc. I got up on one of the crates, and looked out, and saw Hershele Maler's son–in–law running over the ruins looking for someplace to hide. He didn't run far. He was hit by a bullet. Many more people were fleeing, but were felled almost immediately. There was no question that the liquidation of the Bilgoraj Jews was underway.

I heard loud banging at the gate. I looked for a hiding place because to go outside would be to go into a hail of bullets.

I ran up the stairs in Feivel Panzerman's house that led to a garret. In front of the door of the garret lay, shovels, sticks, and broken pieces of wood. It was impossible to get under the debris. In the meantime, the gendarmes and schutzpolizei had broken down the gate, and would have got here before I had had a chance to get under the wood. I was beginning to think it would be better to go with the others, when I heard my name being called. Avigdor Farshtendig , a furrier, who had been with the “legals” appeared and pointed to a hole in the ceiling of the garret which led to an attic space. It was really tight, he said, but what can you do? You have to save yourself. His father, he said, was downstairs and he would send him up. I was not to close up the hole until his father got there…

I had just managed to clamber up to the opening, when his father appeared ready to come up after me. His son boosted him up, and he climbed in. We covered the hole with a lokshen board, upside down so it would appear that it had been there for a while.

[Page 296]

There I found the owner of the house, and more people, men, women and little children, about 40 people.

The attic was so small and low ceilinged that we could only sit in the middle. On the sides, we had to lie down, and were pierced by the protruding nails of the shingles.

We, the two new ones, were given a place near the garret, because from there, you could see what was happening outside. Nobody wanted to see the horrors taking place outside. Secondly, it was so confined, that people lay on top of each other. Lying there, we could hear the heavy footsteps of the gendarmes on the stairs, their banging on the walls with their rifle butts. Everyone held their breath in deathly fear, waiting for what fate would bring.

 

From right to left: (Seated) Chayah Panzerman, Ganik, Peseh Lichtenfeld
(Standing) Moishe Lichtenfeld, A. Danziger, and Yakov Tayer

 

The assembly point (umschlagplaz) for the Jews caught outside the ghetto was at Berach Hirshman's place, opposite Lipeh Wagshol. Many people were shot in their houses, or while fleeing.

[Page 297]

All the captured Jews were brought to the assembly point under a hail of bullets. Many died right there. They were held there, in terror, until evening.

The gendarmes and the schutzpolizei guarded the Jews, and continuously taunted them. They would single out a Jew and force him to act clownish. They would order him to take off his shoes and prove that he had no gold hidden there, and when he bent down, they shot him in the back. They did this with women too.

The entire city resembled a slaughterhouse. Dead bodies everywhere. There was not one house on Third of May Street that didn't have dead victims. Jewish blood was spilled on the streets, the bridge, everywhere. And the murderers laughed when they shot a Jew.

When the starosta and the Gestapo chief arrived at the assembly point, the shooting stopped. We could hear the sound of shooting in the distance, in the Jewish houses. The starosta sent the “legals” back into the bloc.

In the evening, they were taken to horse stables that had been built on the old cemetery. There they were savagely treated, without food or water. Early Tuesday morning, the Bilgoraj Jews were driven on foot, under continuous firing, to Zwierzyniec for the train, and from there, to Belzec.

Several days later, through betrayal, about 80 Jews were caught who had been hiding in Yantche Kantor's yard. They were all shot there, and stacked in a pile in the middle of the yard. The ghetto continued for about 10 more weeks, and then they were sent to Zamosc, and from there, to Majdanek.

The Gestapo had withheld a few Jews to dig a mass grave at Baruch Hirshman's place, but Christian workers from city hall arrived

[Page 298]

who performed the work with joy. First, because they were burying Jews. Second, because they could plunder the bodies. They took money, watches, gold teeth, etc. There were soon plenty of Poles profiting off of the Jewish remains. They went from house to house, and took anything they could carry.

The attic, small though it was, was full of fear. It seemed that we were not in an attic but in a house of terror. Fear pressed in on us from all sides, from the shots and their echoes.

Aside from the constant fear, there were tense moments that threatened our hiding place. Soon after we got up to the attic, Pintche Farshtendig was looking through a crack in the attic. He saw a schutz policeman beating his daughter. (She had been hiding at Berich Hirshman's). He was hitting her on the head, and when she bent under the blows, a second man shot her in the neck. As she fell, Pintche Farshtendig forgot he was sitting in a house of fear, and shouted out at the shot. Feivel Panzerman quietly said to him, “Pintche, you are endangering so many little children!” And he covered his mouth with his sleeve.

Sometimes, at night, a patrol would go by and a child would begin to cry. It was a miracle that their heavy footsteps muffled the child's crying. Troubles were not lacking. Once, a Jew learned about the attic and wanted to be let up. But there was no place, and it resulted in acrimony.

Everyday, people came to the attic. Whoever heard about it came, until we ended up with 60 people.

One day a Jew came and asked to be let up. But since the attic was packed with people

[Page 299]

we could not accept him. As he left, he said, “You may live, but I can't?”

After this happened, I decided to leave the attic. I thought, no matter what happens, I can't take it here anymore.

Several hours after I left the attic, the Gestapo went straight to the spot, broke out the hole with the lokshen board, took everyone out, and shot them in the courtyard.

 

An aktion at the cemetery

 

There was a cellar in R' Eliezer Shneider's yard on Kosciusko Street, behind Yekele Maydener's apartment. There were never any stairs there. No one ever went in there except cats and rats

[Page 300]

making their wild cries. He was often asked, “R' Eliezer, why don't you fill in the cellar?” He would reply, “It doesn't matter. If it's there, let it be there,” as if he knew that more than 50 Bilgoraj Jews would hide there for almost two months after the last aktion.

When R' Mendel Hurwitz was passing through the cellar, he paused for a minute in thought, and said, “Good, we will hide here.”

He quickly hid the entrance with old planks, and rocks. He removed a board from the floor above, and made an entrance. He brought 50 people there, including women and children who ended up suffering for almost two months there.

R' Mendel Hurwitz's youngest son was then 12 years old. He was the runner and food getter. He was always out. Every night, he came with two sacks of bread. He carried out the buckets of waste that had accumulated throughout the day. He worked like this every night until late. Then he replaced the board in the floor, and covered it with straw left behind by the robbers of Jewish homes.

At the end of December, when the air was frosty already, the Jews in the cellar opened the floorboard a little to let in some fresh air. Two German gendarmes on patrol on Third of May Street came by. They became suspicious. They knew that Jews once lived there, but that there were no Jews anymore. Then where was this awful smell coming from? They approached closer and woke up the two Christians who were living in R' Eliezer Shneider's house. They went up to the hovel, and ordered them to remove the rocks and boards that R' Mendel Hurwitz had put there. And a dark grave was revealed to them

[Page 301]

from which they heard, “Shema Israel! Shema Israel!”

The savage cries of “Heraus Juden!” mingled with the cries of, “Shema Israel.” No one came out until a hand grenade put an end to the cries of “Shema Israel” issuing from the cellar. And even those who did come out did not run far before the bullets of the German murderers killed them.

And with this, Bilgoraj became Judenrein.

 

Berish Mintzer with his wife and family

From right to left: Standing: Sarah, Necheh, Frimet, Pesach Waxman and a child
Seated: Hersh Zotelman, his wife, Heneh and two children
Below: Chana and Shmuel–Leib

 


Translator's footnotes:

  1. Szczebrzezsyn, 30 km NW of Bilgoraj Return
  2. Horse–drawn carriage Return
  3. German district head Return


[Page 302]

My Surviving the War

by Shmuel Sussman

Translated by Moses Milstein

With the coming of the Germans, the horrible chapter of pain and suffering began for the Bilgoraj Jews. They started seizing Jews for labor, beating them savagely throughout. They constantly demanded monetary contributions. They arrested well–to–do Jews, tortured them, and extorted ransoms.

The first deportation of Bilgoraj Jews occurred in April 1941. They exiled 800 Jews to Goraj. This particular forced deportation had no special goal. It was just a German strategy to terrorize the Jews. In a short time, all the Jews returned.

The Judenrat in Bilgoraj was a social institution as well. They established a low–cost kitchen in Eliezer Tayer's house, and the director was Nachum Wagner. They provided bread ration cards, and also monetary help.

Every Bilgoraj Jew could get a cheap lunch, which was an important thing in those days, and if they could not pay, they got it for free. Pesach, everybody was provided with matzes.

Nachum Wagner, on the way to Shebreshin[1] for food products, got trapped in an aktion there, and sent to Belzec. We learned this from a woman who had jumped from the same train he was on.

The Judenrat, putting their lives at risk, succeeded in getting many of the terrible decrees that poured down on the Jews repealed –for great sums of money, of course. This goal was further advanced by the protection of the former vice–starosta, Barszcz, who had a prominent place with the German authorities.

We hoped that we would be able to survive these horrible times. Then Hillel Yanower, the Judenrat head was shot. Hersh Zilberberg was nominated as his replacement.

The second deportation took place in summer, 1942. Belzec, the death camp, had already been built. They assured the Jews they were shipping them to work in the Ukraine. Everyone had to bring 400 Zl. They brought in carriages from the villages, seated the unfortunate Jews on them, and took them to Zwierzyniec. Freight cars were already waiting there for them. They were packed in, and sent to the death camp. Before the “loading in,” they were subjected to various torments.

After this, there was a short breathing spell. No one died.

 

A Bilgoraj Jew in the time of the occupation. (Perished)

 

In the last aktion, they assembled all the exhausted, tortured, half–dead Bilgoraj Jews, and marched them on foot to the Zwierzyniec station.

[Page 304]

Along the way, an SS man tore Shoshe Shechterman's child out of her arms, held it by its legs, and hit the half–dead walkers over the head with it, shouting, “Faster, Jews!”

One Sunday, an SS man seized 13 children, took them to Baruch Hershman's place, near Yeshiyahu Nuteh's pump, and started to shoot them there. In the middle of this ghastly work, he ran out of bullets. So he brought three little kids to the ghetto and ordered that they be well guarded. Then he ran and got more bullets, took the children, and shot them.

During this aktion in Cheshvan 1942, they held back the tradesmen, and their wives and children, and took them back to the ghetto. From there, they took all the men to jail, and left the women and children in the ghetto. Then an SS man appeared, and asked where all their belongings were. They answered that everything had been left behind in the ghetto. They quickly brought a truck, took several men along, and went to the ghetto to get the baggage. At the ghetto, they saw that all the women and children had been shot and were lying in a pile in the courtyard. Later, all the tradesmen were taken to Zamosc.

And in this way, the entire community, one that had endured for hundreds of years, was erased.

* * *

Hersh Tarm (Kras's son–in–law) was in the ghetto. His two children were hidden in Eliezer Kandel's house. While he was at work, his two children were caught. They asked them who they were and they told them. When Hersh Tarm returned from work, the Germans shot all three.

* * *

After the last liquidation,

[Page 305]

the Volksdeutsche, Majewski, came to the ghetto, and proudly displayed the gold he had stolen from the murdered Jews.

* * *

Food provisions for a month in the ghetto were comprised of: 1 kg bread, 15 deca sugar, 10 deca honey, and a little marmalade.

* * *

There was a group of partisans in the forest: Itzik Porcelen, Sinai Shper, a son of Eliezer Shochet, Nuteh Kleinmintz, Shloime, Chaim Feiner's son, and Yosef Hirshenhorn. They frequently came to the ghetto, to try to persuade the youth to join them in the forest.

Once Itzik left the forest and encountered Germans. He began to shoot it out with them. He managed to get back to the forest, but was struck by a bullet there, and died.

 

Yosef Hirshenhorn

 

Yosef Hirshenhorn was caught by some peasants, who split his head open. With no medical help, maggots grew in the wound. He blundered around the forest for a while before he died.

[Page 306]

With great difficulty, we managed to get the Gestapo to accept Moishe Kornblit as a worker in the ghetto. He was overjoyed to get the news. Upon seeing how happy he was, the Germans shot him.

* * *

The Germans tied Hanieh Rosenboim to a horse and dragged her through the whole town. She died after much suffering.

* * *

Fishel Shulman was a painter. He always worked for the Germans, and became friendly with them. This gave him the opportunity to mitigate some of the worst torments inflicted on the Jews. There were cases that were life–threatening, but he ignored the danger, and put his own life at risk to save someone.

* * *

 

Abraham Rubinstein's family (Perished), daughter Chana Tarm and her son (lives in Israel)

[Page 307]

It was just before Chanukah. The Germans seized Jews, among them, Eliezer Shochet. They were harnessed to a wagon carrying a barrel to get water from the pump near Skarwiezak. They were savagely beaten and ordered to run faster, but not to allow one drop of water to spill from the barrel. After the work, they made them all stand with their faces to the wall. They were certain they were going to be shot. They let them stand there for a while, and then they let them go.

* * *

The Germans caught a group of Jews, and drove them, on the run, to work, all the time shooting at them. They hit Henoch Shier's son–in–law, Lumerman.

* * *

When a group of dragooned Jews were being driven to work, a German kicked Yosef Magram in the abdomen, rupturing his intestines. He died several days later.

Sarah Magram

* * *

After the last aktion, Yehuda Tauber was hiding in the “sands.” The Germans captured him, but he escaped to the other side of the river. The Germans shot at him and killed him.

* * *

Zvieh Kolikstein ,David Manis's wife, and her child escaped during the last aktion. The Germans shot at her and hit her. She hid at the river below Maciocha, and lay there for several days in great suffering. Her groans could be heard from far. She and her child lay there in the snow until they both perished.

Leml Widerfelz

* * *

[Page 308]

When the Germans came for Zelig Weintraub during the last aktion, he grabbed an axe and killed a German on the spot. They shot him later.

Mordechai Mintz

* * *

Abraham Sharf had managed to hide under the gatar in his sawmill almost up to liberation. The Germans found him, led him to the plaza, and shot him.

* * *

Moishe Sharf had been in hiding in Radecznica The Germans caught him, took him out to the Shebreshiner road, and shot him.

* * *

Mordechai Zbinovitch, and his wife were shot in the middle of the street near Makarzec.

Yehuda Sharf

* * *

When Antshel Shur, and the Bilgoraj community were being led to their deaths, Antshel continuously spoke to them to encourage them. When the Germans asked what he was saying, he replied, “From the moment you undertook to exterminate the Jewish people, you had already lost the war.” They shot him right there.

Translator's footnote:

  1. Szczebrzezsyn, about 30 km NW Return


[Page 309]

I Hid in a Bunker

by Ben–Zion Rosenboim

Translated by Moses Milstein

By 1940, Jews were forbidden from doing any sort of work. I succeeded in getting a position in Bilgoraj as a forestry worker for a German lumber company, Forfinkel and Richtenberg of Berlin.

Before that, I worked in Majdan Sieniawski, and at the end, at the “Rapa” station in Bilgoraj. Working with me were other Bilgoraj Jews including: Yakov Stern, Itzchak Meir Warshoviak, Chaim Feiner, and Hersh Tarm (Nuteh Kronenberg's son–in–law).

One day, Klinger, the supervisor came over, and began to yell at me that me my work was no good. He grabbed a wet stick, and gave me 10 lashes. I collapsed, and was laid up for weeks after.

Jews were not allowed to leave the city by then. Whoever was found outside without a work permit was shot on the spot.

Almost every day, the German murderers arrived with prisoners from the jail, in crates like dog kennels, and shot them at the Rapa station. Many had to dig their own graves, and were buried alive.

In March 1942, the Germans were transporting the Tarnogrod Jews through the “Raffes”. Among the Jews, was R' Levi Stern. He was sitting on the truck in his tallis. “I know where they are taking me,” he said, weeping.

Hershel Friend was also working for a German company when the first aktion took place in Bilgoraj.

[Page 310]

He was at work with Ben–Zion Rosenboim. Upon hearing that his family had been taken, he said he was going to go with his wife and children, and he perished with them.

On the way to Zwierzyniec during the deportation of November 1942, several people managed to escape, among others, Yosef Hirshenhorn, who I met later in the Bukownica Forest. I also met Nuteh Hirshenhorn there and his family.

 

Hiding in the bunker at Mikulski's: Perl Freiberg, Chaim Rosenboim, Weinberg, and Wakslicht

[Page 311]

Chaim Feiner, his son, and Perl Feinberg, and I, went to a Christian, Pieczkalan, in Bukownica, to spend the night. During the night, we heard him plotting to kill us. So we barred the door, and in the morning, we intended to go back to the Bukownica forest. As we were leaving, Pieczkalan asked us where we would be staying. Because we were afraid of him, we went to a different place.

 

On our sleeping pallets in the bunker

[Page 312]

He looked for us in the Bukownica Forest, and stumbled upon Hersh Mercer, and Nathan Hirshenhorn with his wife and children, and others. He took all their money, and later, killed them all.

We soon had had enough of blundering around in the forest. Perl Freiberg wanted to go back to the city and turn herself in. I refused to let her. We kept walking until we came to Mikulski (the Nadlieszna). He took three people: Ben–Zion Rosenboim, Chaim Rosenboim, and Perl Freiberg. There we spent 9 months in the most tragic conditions.

He had no where to put us, so he built a hay stack, 12 meters high, and put us in there. We could not stay there. The heat from the hay was unbearable. So he put us in a small shed where he kept his rabbits. He pried opened the floorboards, and dug a hole for us. There were five of us; us three, and two new ones, Moishe Goldberg's grandchild, and a woman, Wakslicht, from Bagner Street.

We gave him everything we had. I also had vloshanke in the Rappes, which we brought him.

After being in the bunker for a while, Chaim Rosenboim, and I went to the forest in Ratwice. There we met Chaim Feiner and his son, and Laizer Fruchtlender. We had no bunker there. We sat in the forest summer and winter. With nothing else to eat, we stole potatoes from the farmers' cellars.

While we were in the forest, we heard from some Christians that Nechemiah and Berish Lang, were hiding at the Christian, Maciocha. They gave him a large sum of money, after which he poisoned them both. Before them, he also poisoned Machle Kolikstein, and Tzirl Kandel.

Once while we were lying in the bunker, gendarmes came and surrounded the house.

[Page 313]

We were sure we had been betrayed. Mikulski's daughter came and told us

 

 

Eating: Ben Zion Rosenboim, Perl Freiberg, and Chaim Rosenboim who fell in the Polish army near Berlin

[Page 314]

that they were all going to be sent away, and that we should poison ourselves with the strychnine that we had with us. A little later, after they had gone, she came and checked to see if we were still alive.

While in the forest, we heard that the Russian army was coming closer, and with its arrival we went to Bilgoraj. Upon seeing the destruction the Germans had created, we regretted having survived.

We walked around the ruins with downcast eyes. The Christians asked us where we had come from, but our pain was so great, we could not answer them.


Yakov Stern, and his wife were in Pulczanow at Cibulski's for one month. Then he tied them up and took them to the police.

It is interesting to note that, at the bottom of every picture, Mikulski has signed his own name.


[Page 315]

Exhumation

by Yehuda Sharf, Ben–Zion Rosenboim, Yoel Langburd, and Chaim Stern

Translated by Moses Milstein

The Bilgoraj Jews of the She'erit Haplitah added a worthy page to history, due to the initiative of the following people: Yehudah Sharf, Ben–Tzion Rosenboim from Wroclaw, Shloime Weinberg, Bran from the Diles of Lodz, Chaim Stern, Yoel Langburd, and Lemel Widerfeltz from Szczecin.

Notwithstanding the frequent attacks of the A.K . in the Bilgoraj area, they risked their lives to carry out the sacred work. Koved for the dead, and Koved for the survivors!

We arrived in Bilgoraj at the end of November 1948. The city was mostly burned down, the streets paved with Jewish tombstones, deserted. There was not a Jew to be seen, nor could one hear the ringing sounds of the laughter of Jewish children. The entire city was a wasteland. The cemetery was dug up, its walls were torn down, the synagogue and its bes medreshes lay in ruins. Everything had been erased, with no sign remaining of the hundreds–years old Jewish community.

We immediately set to work doing the holy work. We hired Christian workers to help us, and to show us where the bodies were buried. The first time, we retrieved about 90 bodies.

Gilewski, the carpenter, approached us, and said that he knew where Yekutiel Pest was buried. He had been buried right near the entrance to the Zamosc forest.

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In the Doler forest, which had been a work site for Majdanek, we exhumed about 27 people.

In the Boyar forest, we took out Mrs. Silberfein.

In the Koculkes, between the Smulskis, we found a grave covered by water, in which about 20 people were lying in rows, one upon the other. Because of the water, all the bodies had decayed and were mixed together, so we had to remove them with pitchforks. There lay Moishe Model with his wife and daughter, from the Taubers, Mrs. Dorenbust (the “fiefelech”), and others.

 

At the Bilgoraj cemetery

From right to left: Yehuda Sharf, Yoel Langburd, Ben–Zion Rosenboim, and Chaim Stern

 

Near the “Rapa” station, we took out about 40–50 dead.

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Near the “Rafer” station we exhumed Yakov Grinapfel's son (from the Oleyarnia).

 

The Second Time

Those taking part: Yehuda Sharf, Yoel Langburd, Abraham Glantz, Lemel Widerfeltz, Israel Silberzweig, and Hersheleh Silberfein.

Near Raznowiker yard, we exhumed Yehuda Tauber. Near Walliane's sawmill we took out one person. (It must have been Abraham Sharf).

At the Raznowkes, near the cement works, we found one body.

 

Burying the dead at the cemetery

 

Past Maciocha at the river, with great difficulty, we took out Zviah Kolikstein, and a child. They had been shot there.

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The Third Time

Taking part were: Yehuda Sharf, Yoel Broner.

Near the dogcatcher's we exhumed Hillel Yanower, and Shimon Bin.

Sholem Glicklech was exhumed near the stok.

In the “Rapess” at Zabatowski (Stemflupka), we disinterred Abraham Sharf's wife and daughter, Shmuel and Yantche, the Gerstenman's entire family. We found only bones there, the animals having eaten the bodies.

Past the Gramadas, we exhumed Moishe Boim.

In Fabricant's forest (the Sendlarkas), we exhumed Yekl Cohen Grinfal's son–in–law, and Leibtche Katzenberg.

All of these victims were collected together and buried in the Jewish cemetery.

 

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