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[Page 170]

The Last Community of Klobuck

by Dora Wajs

Translated from Yiddish to English by Asher Szmulewicz

My uncle, Reb Moshe Szperling, was the president of the community of Klobuck for many years. Before his passing away he left a will, in which he requested that his brother's son, my father, Baruch Szperling would become the president of the community, when he, Moshe Szperling, went to the world of truth (pass away).

Reb Moshe Szperling passed away, and the community accepted his will and elected my father as the community president. This happened in year 1934. I was then 9 years old.

My family was very happy with the election results, because being the president of the community was a family heritage. In my home I was always told that my grandfather, Reb Shmuel Szperling, was the president of the community and that he had a respectful relationship, until his passing away, with the Rabbi of Klobuck, Reb Henech Goldberg.

When my father, Reb Baruch Szperling, took his office as the president of the community, he implemented improvements in all of the institutions of the community. In the synagogue, which was one of the historical worship places in Poland, he introduced crystal chandeliers and electric lighting. The walls were recovered with mahogany veneer, according to the pattern of the synagogue in Czestochowa.

The interior painting of the synagogue was restored. The (scheme) was a remnant of my uncle, Moshe Szperling, who brought the best artist painters to paint the ceiling like the sky, with stars, and the walls with the zodiac signs and the emblems of the (Hebrew) tribes.

Despite all of the economic difficulties, Reb Baruch Szperling provided that a tin cover (was installed) on the roof of the synagogue. The work was shared by all of the tinsmiths of Klobuck, so as to not offend anybody. The Jews of Klobuck understood how to appreciate (the costs of the improvements), and they did not complain about at all of the taxes they had to pay the Polish Government. Each one contributed from his savings to the community's

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needs. Therefore, each Jew took great satisfaction when sitting in the Klobuck holy place. During the later elections of the community leaders, my father was re-elected as the president of the community with a larger majority of votes.

In addition to being the president of the Klobuck community, Reb Baruch Szperling was also the president of the “TOZ”[1] institution, which played a great role in providing health care to the Jewish population. TOZ used to send children with lung disease to Otwock for treatment. The Jewish women of Klobuck also participated in the TOZ institution. I remember the following names of TOZ women activists: Mrs. Lapides, Tova Unglick (who lives in Israel), Mrs. Mass, Paula Lubiczki, Bela Kurland Zigelbaum (who lives in Israel) and my mother, Sarah. The TOZ institution provided medical help to poor people, and created camps for children. One of these camps was in Klobuck, and was managed by Helka Weinreich, a teacher, who installed various games and entertainments for the children.

As president of the Jewish community, Reb Baruch Szperling took full responsibility for the life and welfare of the Jewish Klobuck population. He did not pay attention to personal threats when he had to help and protect the community from a danger.

The Thirties were a difficult period (for Jews), because the Endenkes-Fascists started Anti-Semitic actions, in the form of pogroms, including in Klobuck. My father did not spare any effort, and risked his life to protect the life and welfare of the Jewish population in Klobuck. (In other chapters of the Yiskor book there is muchwritten about the Anti-Semitism in Klobuck during the Thirties).

Thus, Reb Szperling led the community until the murderous Germans came.

At the outbreak of the war, when the desperate flight from the Germans started, we also, together with our father, fled through side country paths. The Germans met

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the fleeing refugees and arrested all of the men, and let the women and children go. Large groups of men were dragged by foot in the direction of Wolczszawe.

My father successfully escaped from the Germans. He came back home. When he returned home, he found our apartment empty. Everything had been looted, partly by the Germans and partly by the Poles.

Two weeks after returning home, the Germans arrested my father, together with the other representatives of the community, including the Rabbi, Reb Henech Goldberg. They were locked in the synagogue, and the Germans demanded a large sum of money, as ransom, to release the prisoners. If the German conditions were not met, the prisoners would be shot.

My mother did everything she could (to raise the funds), running to everyone she knew, but did not receive any money. My father stayed calm during this danger, and he came up with the idea to ask the Germans to free him, so he could raise the requested ransom. The Germans agreed, and let him go.

As soon as he was liberated Baruch Szperling started to gather money. Everybody understood the danger confronting the community representatives if the demands were not to be met. There were people who were ready to give their last penny to free a Jew. These were people that were not asked to give money. These people brought their jewelry because they did not have any money left. I will cite the Jews who in such a troubled period fulfilled the duty of freeing the prisoners: the widow, Perel Israelowicz from the market, brought a gold chain, an heirloom from her late husband. Reb Yechielke Israelowicz, and the orphans of Marek Rosenthal gave their last little means and gold. The daughter of Reb Shlomo Weiss, Pesele, gave gold belongings of great value. Thus, the demanded sum of money was raised, and all of the prisoners were freed.

A short time after their liberation, the Gestapo came from

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Czestochowa, and looked for the president of the Jewish community. They were told to go to Reb Baruch Szperling. The Gestapo people came to him and demanded that he hand over a list of the Jews of Klobuck, by a deadline. The list had to be given to the commandant of the Gestapo in Czestochowa before the deadline. If not, he, the president of the Jewish community, would be shot.

Walking in the streets at that time exposed people to great dangers. Reb Baruch Szperling had to go from house to house to register the inhabitants. A military unit arrested him in the street and brought him to the “Kommandantur” (Headquarters). There he was sadistically tortured. They hanged him from his feet and gave him murderous blows. When our family was informed of his arrest, all of his close relatives went to the Kommandantur shouting and crying until the Germans opened the door and threw my father out, beaten, covered in blood and unconscious.

He was taken home. There was no doctor available to give him first aid. Someone ran by foot to Czestochowa, and no doctor there wanted to risk his life to come to Klobuck.

At that time I was very young and I was in Czestochowa. When I learned about the situation I immediately took a carriage and went to Klobuck, and brought my father to Czestochowa to my uncle, Itzek Leib Szperling's, house.

There was no functioning hospital. My cousin, Dr. Szperling, took charge of caring for my father. The convalescing took six weeks. When he returned the German military no longer was present. They were replaced by the German police, who did not have any hatred of Jews; they just required loyalty (to the German power). The police established three Jewish shops, which were supplied with food for Jews. One shop was managed by my aunt Feigel. The second one by the daughter of Mantshe Unglick, whose husband was

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shot by the Germans. The third one was managed by Aizik Weissfelner, the son in law of Meir Spiegler. At that time the situation for the Jews was not that bad. They handled and earned money and could travel.

This “good” time lasted until the arrival of the “good Jews” from the Sosnowiec Judenrat: Jasne, Wiener and Merin. They wanted to impress the Germans by sending the largest possible number of Jews to work camps in Germany, and levy for the Germans monthly payment from the Jews. My father opposed sending Jews to work, and also was against constantly extracting money. He told them that he did not have anybody to send (to the camps), and that the Jews were poor (and had no money to give).

The commissioners from the Sosnowiec Judenrat understood that they could not get my father to collaborate, so they found other people who were ready to advance their private interests to collaborate with the Sosnowiec Judenrat.

Soon the Police staff was changed. A new police force came in. The Sosnowiec members of the Judenrat immediately took the opportunity to report that the president of the community, Baruch Szperling, was a wealthy Jew, a crook and that he sabotaged the German decrees.

The police arrested my father and confiscated all his belongings. It took three days to take everything out of our house. The Germans planned to burn the house and send my father to a camp.

The Libidzer Lord (estate owner) was then the mayor of Klobuck. He did a lot for the Jews. Although he was of German origin and was a brother- in- law of the sadly famous Governor Franck, he was, the estate owner and a Polish patriot. The landowner was sent to an extermination camp, because he would not sign the German Folks list (list of people of German origin). In the beginning when he was mayor of Klobuck, he intervened with the Germans on behalf of my father, and after great efforts and the payment of a large ransom, he succeeded in gaining my father's freedom.

After his liberation, Reb Baruch Szperling no longer was the president

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of the community. The community had other leaders, who were nominated by the Sosnowiec Judenrat. My father no longer was involved in the community matters. Therefore, he was sent to hard work outside of Klobuck. The Polish supervisors took good care of him and sent him back home. They did the same for my brother, Aaron David Szperling, who was sixteen years old. Usually only people above eighteen years old were sent to work. But this was an act of retaliation against my father and his family.

When the Germans started to requisition the Jewish houses, ours was among the first that was requisitioned. The whole family was sent to Krzepice. My father was able to return to Klobuck after difficult endeavors, and lived in his mother's home close to the market.

In the first months of 1942 , the Jews in the Klobuck ghetto already lived in fear. People waited for the final liquidation. In June 1942, people knew for sure that it was the end of the ghetto. We communicated with relatives and close friends and we left Klobuck through the fields and the forest that stretched in lengths like stripes. My father, with Groynem Weinfelner, knew a Goy (non-Jew) who lived on the “border” between the Reich and the “General Government”.

In exchange for a very large amount of money the peasant smuggled a group of about 30 Jews through the border, which was a crime punishable by the death penalty. Everybody arrived safely in Czestochowa. After 3 months, during Yom Kippur, 1942 the general deportation of the Czestochowa Jews to Treblinka started.

My parents were sent, together with the Jews of Czestochowa and the surroundings, to a death camp. I remained alone without any family or friends. My brother was sent somewhere to a work camp, and I did not receive any news from (or about) him.

About three months later, a Jew who escaped from Treblinka,

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brought me greetings from my father, that he lived and was employed in a worker commando in the death camp.

After the war, Yeshayahu Lachman from Dzaloszyn, one of the seven Jews who survived Treblinka, told me that my father lived together with him and participated in the Treblinka uprising against the camp tormentors. The large majority of the rebels died during the uneven battle and among them was the last president of the Klobuck community: my father, Reb Baruch Szperling, of blessed memory.


Translator's footnote

  1. The Towarzystwo Ochrony Zdrowia Ludności Żydowskiej (Society for Safeguarding the Health of the Jewish Population, TOZ) was established in Warsaw in 1921 (Source Yivo Encyclopedia) Return


[Page 177]

Jewish Doctors

by Fishl Fajga

Translated from Yiddish to English by Asher Szmulewicz

In Klobuck we had three Jewish doctors: Yitzhak Djalowski, Aaron Maas and Rodel Mantshe. Each of these doctors had a special role.

Yitzhak Djalowski was a specialist for the “mild” diseases: a cold, a flu, a sore throat or if someone had fever, then people called Yitzhak Djalowski. If the sick person did not feel better, God forbid, people then called Aaron Mass.

Aaron Mass used to walk slowly leaning on his cane. He knew his importance. The cane was a sign for the entire household of the sick person of his diagnosis. If the doctor left and forgot to take his cane, people knew that the sick person was in a critical state.

Rodel Mantshe was a woman pediatrician. When a child was ill, people ran to Rodel. She was always ready to make any call. Her mere presence brought calmness in the house of the sick child. Just with her greetings to the people in the house she already brought healing.

Mothers used to complain to the doctor wringing their hands: “Oy my child is moribund”. Rodel used to stretch the child's feet and hands and smacked her lips to the child. The child started to laugh, the mother was happy and said to the doctor: “You came at a fortunate hour”.

Rodel explained that it was not serious. The child had a cold, or a sore throat, (and instructed), take some warm sand, put it in a small bag and place it on his throat.

The doctor left the apartment and the mother of the sick child gave her hearty greetings.


[Page 178]

Jewish Women Community Workers

by Borukh Szimkowicz

Translated from Yiddish to English by Asher Szmulewicz

There were Jewish women in Klobuck who did a lot in the shtetl through various charity organizations to help the poor people and bankrupt handlers. I would like to remember three of these women here.

 

Sheindel Broches (from Bracha: benediction)

Sheindel Azjner, or as she was called, Sheindel Broches, was my grandmother, and one of the oldest inhabitants of Klobuck.

When I was young she already was more than seventy years old. Her husband, Baruch, my grandfather, was killed in a sad accident on the road to Zagorz. While he was in a carriage on the road, his horses became startled by something, and they bolted away (out of control). The carriage turned over, and my grandfather did not jump off in time, and he was killed.

After his death my grandmother lived in poverty. She lived in a small room in Shmuel Leib Fajga's yard. She made a living from “small handling”. She sold raisins, dried plums, onions, and garlic. During Pesach she provided the weathy Klobucker Jews with kosher for Pesach bran-borsht and matzah flour, which she made from her own small mill.

The small mill was constructed with two round shaped stones, fastened together with four long wooden beams. Between the stones was a kind of funnel into which the broken matzot pieces, which were brought by the well to do Jews, were deposited. In the front of the mill there was a handle. When the handle was turned, the stones moved and ground the matzot into flour. Before putting the matzot in the small mill we had to crush them in a “stempe”, as the wooden mortar was called.

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The work at Sheindel Broches' mill was part of celebrating Pesach for the Jewish children of Klobuck. Almost all of the children of Klobuck came to grind matzah flour. My grandmother did not allow the childrento participate in the festivities of the mill just like that. In front of the apartment there was a jug of water, and each child had to wash his hands before being able to help with the Pesach work of grinding the matzot into flour.

In addition, my grandmother sold homemade wine for making Kiddush.

 

Chayele Weiss

Chayele Weiss was a Chasidic woman with a kind face. She was affiliated with the Raspjer Rabbi court, and was always ready to do a good deed. She knew all of the people who had difficulties, and all of those who did not have enough food for Shabbat or Festivals.

Chayele had an agreement with the state doctor: he would not charge the poor people for his visits, but afterwards he was directed to send her a note with instructions as to (the doctor's) payment terms. The doctor honored the agreement, and Chayele paid the bills. She was very involved in “Hachnassat Orchim” (hospitality), and thereby provided the poor people, who stayed in Klobuck overnight, with a clean bed and with a meal.

There were three blind lonely women in the shtetl. Chayele Weiss took care of them. She provided them with food, a room in which to live and a clean bed. Chayele was also active in the “Bikur Cholim” (visit to the sick people) institution.

 

Hinde Miriam

Hinde Miriam was a woman of the people. She took care mainly of poor fiancées (Kalot), and women in childbirth. When she knew that a poor family had a young woman about to get married, and there was no money to do so, she came to the family's apartment, and simply asked what was needed for the young woman. She did

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the same for women in childbirth. People told her everything.

When she had a list of all of the needs, she went to Wolf Weiss' drugstore, and selected linen and trimmings, which she then sewed by herself into what was needed, or she cut diapers for the women in childbirth. She provided the poor kalot with linen and bedding, and even, on one occasion, with the wedding dress.

Hinde Miriam received the money to pay for the expenses in the same manner as the community activist noted above: she went to the well to do Jews and she gathered money.

The women community activists often gathered together in Chayele Weiss' apartment, and discussed how to help the poor, needy, Jewish families of Klobuck. The women community activists always had a group of women who helped them in their charity activities: Freidel Aaron, Freidel Hartze, Rachel Ziegelman, Sarah Itshe, Freidel Meir, Chana Beinish, Beindel Liberman, Chanele Zeidman, the cook, my mother, Libe Yossel, and Leitshe Itshe Yankel.

It was said by Klobuckers that Hinde Miriam Green was shot dead by the Germans in front of her door.

 

Rivkele Kurland

Rivka Kurland was a partner in the Klobucker mill. Her heart and pocketbook were always ready to help Jews who needed help. When any of the bagel bakers in Klobuck did not have money to buy a sack of flour, Rivka sent them a sack of flour and told them: “when you have the money, pay me back”.

Rivka always took the time to help the poor and sick people, by providing them with a doctor, an old time barber (surgeon) and also medicine. When she knew that a household had nothing for the Festivals, she immediately asked a well to do Jew for help, and both of us went through the shtetl to collect some money for the

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poor family. Chanukah, Purim and Hoshana Raba were her “seasons”. Then she went to the rich houses and collected larger sums of money for the needy. The Klobucker scoffers nicknamed her “the purse knocker”.

 

klo181.jpg
After the liberation, a tombstone was put on the tomb of Rivka Kurland. Her daughter and son-in-law, who stand by the tombstone, found the tomb.

 

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Pictures of the Old Time Jewish Women of Klobuck

 

klo182a.jpg
Sheindel Aznjer (Sheindel Broches)

 

klo182b.jpg
Rivka, the wife of Hirsh Shochat

 

[Page 183]

 

klo183a.jpg
Perel Diaman, the wife of Pinchas Diaman

 

klo183b.jpg
Feigel Fagja, the wife of Daniel Fajga

 

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