[Page 67-70]

The Destruction By Itzhak Englard-Wasserstrom

From the day W.W.II started until the Germans appeared in Korczyn and the destruction and liquidation of the Jewish community of the town

About the destruction, the pains and the disappearance of Korczyn On reaching this section of the book about the destruction of the Jewish population of Korczyn, I am totally mesmerized. Many times I sat down to write the section but was unable to write a line. The blood begins to circulate much faster and the heart beat increases, the nerves are tense, I sit in stupor and think. What a terrible tragedy has occurred to our people. The Germans killed millions of helpless Jewish men, women and children and nothing happened. In Genesis, section Vayera, we are told that the people of Sodom were mean and sinful and that is the reason why G-d destroyed the city.

The various biblical descriptions of the evil deeds of Sodom can't even begin to compare with the deeds of the German murderers. The people of Sodom were practically saints in comparison to the Germans. Yet the latter were not destroyed or wiped off the face of the earth, on the contrary, they became richer and fatter in spite of all the cruelties they committed. The world continues its course, the Germans are accepted in society of men, Jewish merchants buy and Jewish customers purchase German products. Jewish survivors go on with life as though nothing happened. Religious Jews feel insulted when they don't get the right aliyah in the synagogue, the less religious organise parties and bar-mitzvahs with music and dancing. Everybody in his own way is deeply involved in acquiring more luxuries as though no great tragedy took place.

We mourn the destruction of the temple for three weeks but the destruction of hundreds of Jewish communities where millions of our fathers, mothers and children were killed is not mourned even for three hours by the Jewish world. Today, 25 years after the great tragedy, what is the purpose of retelling the tragedy and am I capable of telling the story in my humble way. Will I be able to transmit the pain, the degradation, the hunger and the various deaths suffered by the victims. Even if I had the literary skill of Job and was able to write a masterpiece, who would be interested, who would care to listen and what influence would such book have.

I would like to describe in the next chapters in a chronological sequence the life of the Jewish community of Korczyn from the day the war started to the day that the Germans erased the community.

[Page 71-72]

The outbreak of the war

Friday, the first of September, 1939, 17 days in the Jewish month of Elul, Tarzat, the war started. The same afternoon, German planes bombed the airfield and the rubber factory, Wudeta, in Krosno. We in Korczyn, saw the smoke columns of the burning factory that was located near the Krosno railway station. Fear struck everybody. Orders were issued to darken all windows. Jews were even afraid to go to the beth hamidrash for Friday night prayers. The radio stations did not give clear indications. The German radio interviewed Polish prisoners of war who described terrible events. The Polish radio interviewed German prisoners of war who stated that Germany was in total darkness and there was fear that Poland will destroy Germany.

The Polish government ordered the call up of all reserve units by means of posters, radio announcements and other available means. Total confusion seemed to be the order of the day. For the government was not prepared for such massive draft and had no ability to absorb all these men. The German attacked an ill-prepared country for war, namely Poland. By Monday, the fourth day of the war, it was obvious that the Germans are advancing very rapidly, government offices began packing in haste and leaving town, Polish retreating soldiers began to appear in the streets of Korczyn. They were totally disorganized and did not know where to go. Tuesday, columns of refugees, Jews and non-Jews, passed through the township-heading east. The Polish government ordered all men to head East. The merchants took the merchandise from their stores during the night and hid it. The panic was growing from minute to minute. The burning question was what to do, to stay or leave Korczyn. Where do you go with your family or can you stay and face the Germans.

The Germans will never kill anyone, they will take Jews to work said Korczyner Jewish who lived in Germany and supposedly knew the Germans. Germany ejected in 1936 most of the Jews of Korczyn that lived in Germany and they returned to their native hamlet. These people, the children of Haim Eichorn, the son of Moshe Lewitman and others remained in Korczyn. Very few Jews left Korczyn for Eastern Galicia and later for Russia. There were seven families: Mendel Rubin, Naphtali Dym, Avraham Lezer, Aisik Lezer, Yehezkel Pinter and Shlomo Horowitz. There were also a few individuals: Arie Dym, Mendel Rosenman, Zishe Grin, Mendel Weinstein, Yantsche Koreff, Leibish Atlas and Mendel Holoshitz. Only the last two individual people returned home following the war. We know nothing about the other single people.

[Page 73]

The German entry

Friday evening, the 8th of September 1939, we heard nearby heavy shelling or artillery exchanges. Saturday morning everything was silent. All the people were in the shelters. About 11oclock in the morning we heard some rifle shots and then deadly silence interrupted by the noise of a German motorcycle patrol. The latter crossed the city in great haste and headed for the village of Kombornia.

The first days of German Occupation

An entire week passed since the motorcycle patrol passed the city and no Germans in town. The municipal office is closed. The voit, mayor, and the soltis, municipal head, left Korczyn. Only Preissner, the carpenter, who was the assistant soltis, remained in town but did not officiate. The hamlet looked like a ghost town, all offices were closed. Even the Poles did not come to town. A deadly silence prevailed in Korczyn.

[Page 74]

Jews must sweep the market and bury the burned animals

Friday afternoon, the 15th of September 1939, suddenly the assistant soltis, Preisner and the policeman of Korczyn appeared in the market place. The latter kept beating the drum that signaled to everybody that an important announcement would be made shortly. Indeed, Preisner informed the assembled crowd that the German military commander of Krosno has ordered that the Jews of Korczyn sweep the market place. He added that the Jews of Krosno did the same thing on Tuesday.

It was never established whether Preisner was ordered to do this job or he took the initiative on hearing the events in Krosno and decided to imitate the Germans. Nobody questioned him and there were no discussions. However, it seemed to give Preisner some satisfaction in denigrating the Jews since the cleaning job could have been done for five zlotys, about one dollar, or even less. Plenty of workers could have been found to do the job. On hearing the order, instinctively, the Jews took brooms and went to the market and swept it clean. Monday, the 18th of September, under the leadership of Tsheike the thief we marched to the village and were forced to remove the burned cattle from the stalls. The cattle were caught in the rifle fire that was heard in Korczyn some days ago. The job of removing partially burned carcasses of horses and cows was very unpleasant and the air was stifling.. The work was terrible and filthy but less denigrating than sweeping the market. Furthermore, it was supposed to prevent diseases. The work was also removed from the sight of onlookers for no one went to the village to see them work. The population of the farms had scattered, thus there were no spectators apart from Tsheike the thief.

[Page 75]

The first Rosh Hashana under German Occupation

Few Jews prayed Rosh Hashana at the beth hamidrash. There was fear of congregating in public places. It was also known that the Germans were grabbing Jews in Krosno to do dirty and useless work for the sole purpose of embarrassing them in front of the Poles. Besides, nobody was certain that the only purpose was work. The Germans grabbed every Jew and tossed them aboard trucks that left for unknown destinations. Until a mother or a wife saw their loved ones, they died many deaths.

Jews organized many small prayer places in private homes. Amongst them was: Shaul Frei, Eliezar Rubin who moved into the apartment of his brother, Mendel, who fled to East Galicia, Eliezar Raab and Nachman Leibush Reich. Most of the prayer places accommodated neighbors who would arrive surreptitiously to the prayers. Guards were posted to sound the alarm in case Germans approached the place. There was fear that the Germans may accuse the people of meeting illegally and harsh consequences would follow. At the first sound of alarm, the congregants could slip into their homes and disappear. The Germans did arrive with trucks to the beth hamidrash and caught whoever did not manage to escape. They tossed them aboard trucks and took them to work. The families of the arrested waited in anxiety all day until they were returned late that night.

[Page 76]

Refugees return

The Germans advanced very rapidly and within less than three weeks Poland was occupied. The Russians occupied Eastern Galicia until Sanok. The new border between Russia and Germany was the river San. The German Army intercepted many of the refugees on the roads of Poland and in panic they returned back home, to Western Galicia where they shared the fate of the rest of the Jewish community. The Jews that remained in the Eastern part of Galicia that was now under Russian control were soon shipped to Siberia and other distant areas of the Russian Empire. The young and the strong managed to survive the hardships and survive the war.

The first victims in Dynow

The sad news reached us that in the city of Dynow, about 50 kilometers east of Korczyn, where there were many Jewish refugees from all across Poland, the German soldiers seized 170 Jews. They were shot and buried in a mass grave. It took a lot of influence and a great deal of money to get the permission of the German military commander to exhume the bodies and bring them to burial at the Jewish cemetery of Dinow. Amongst the victims were Avramtsche Gleicher, and his son, Yudel Gleicher. They were the son and grand son of Mendel Gleicher. They lived lately in Krosno. In the mass grave they found father and son arm in arm. The news created panic amongst all the Jews in town. All the doors were bolted Everybody feared the Germans and everybody made plans to escape if need be.

[Page 77-78]

German soldiers in town

At the end of September 1939, many German soldiers arrived in town. The Market Square was full of German military trucks. Poland was occupied and the German soldiers returned from the battlefields and on their way home stopped in Korczyn. Some units remained in town for a few days and left, other units took their place. Week after week, units came and went. The soldiers requisitioned homes and seized Jews to serve them as domestics. Each unit had its special demands and the Jews in town were frightened to death.

In December some units arrived for rest and remained until May 1940. These units erected many barracks in a large area known as the priest field, it stretched from the school to the Mangl or to the Michael Kirschner house. The Jews did sawing wood and unloading coal and all dirty work such as bringing water, peeling potatoes. The Jews were not paid but received a steady stream of beatings. With time the beatings stopped but the German supervisors insisted that all their workers must show daily for work even if the weather did not permit such activity. Even if a German supervisor granted a day off, another would soon appear and insist that they must show up for work and threatened and cajoled the poor Jews to go to work. The behavior of the German supervisors can only be described as beastly. The work that the Jews in Korczyn did for the German army saved them from being sent elsewhere to do similar work. At least they came home, ate with the family and slept at home. The Nazi chief supervisor for building the barracks appealed to the military area commander not to sent Jews from Korczyn to other areas since they were needed in town. Jews from Krosno were sent to other places like Fristik to work.

[Page 78]

The Germans convert the beth hamidrash into a stall for horses

The first German soldiers that stayed in the city were Austrians. There were plenty of stalls in the hamlet, the stall of Graff Szepticki, or the one of the priest and still other places. Instead they chose to place their horses in the beth hamidrash in order to profane the Jewish place of worship. The unit commandant lived with the pharmacist, a Jew. They were both talking when the soldiers appeared and told their lieutenant that they requisitioned the Jewish prayer hall and converted it into a stall for their horses. Everybody laughed, nobody knew that the pharmacist was a Jew.

[Page 78-79]

Anti-Jewish slogans on the walls and the sidewalk

In the morning, we parted the curtains slowly to see what was doing in the market place. We suddenly saw Nazi slogans to the effect-- out with the Jews, the Jews are human excrement. These slogans were painted on the fence of the church and the sidewalks. Soon we heard the noise of Germans soldiers bursting into Jewish homes to grab Jews for work. They needed their slaves to saw wood, bring water, wash floors and clean toilets. Everyone still remembers the day when there was no sewer system and the entire hamlet used the municipal toilet. This is the way, the German military toilet looked and we had to clean it.

[Page 79]

Young Poles shave peyot of Jews

Young Poles who lived near the city decided to visit the place and when they saw the treatment that the Jews received from the Germans, they decided to have some fun of their own. They would grab a Jew who was carrying water and shave his oarlock. The Germans and the Poles would laugh hysterically as a result of this prank. Luck had it that the Poles and the Germans could not communicate with each other. Furthermore, the Germans dislike Poles and frequently refer to them as Polish pigs. These young Poles were too dumb to understand that the Germans dislike the Poles and if they will win this war they will suppress and slaughter them just as they did in the past during the Middle Ages and the Hansa period.

[Page 80-81]

The German soldiers plunder the Jewish homes

Before the Germans entered the hamlet, all the merchants removed and hid their merchandise with the exception of the metal stores of Bunem Margoles and Itsche Rosshandler. We do not know whether the Germans had information or whether Poles informed but the fact remains that searches were constantly taking place. The Germans searched constantly Jewish homes not the Polish homes. When they found hidden merchandise, they confiscated the content and arrested the Jew for hiding his merchandise. Once the acting soltis, Preisner, escorted the German officers to the homes of merchants and insisted that they open their warehouses. The Jews responded that they were small merchants and their merchandise was sold out with the beginning of the war and they have been able to get new supplies. The Germans accepted this excuse.

The Germans continued to search but found nothing and concluded that there were no hidden merchandise. Preisner insisted that all merchandise should be made available to the local population since it had no clothing. The author of these lines addressed himself to Preisner and asked him whether the local population was already naked after two months of war. Was it not a fact that the Jewish population lacked bread, which was in abundance amongst the farms yet, you are not worried about the hungry Jews but rather about the so-called naked Polish farmers. He did not answer. The Germans did not understand the exchange since it was in Polish.

The Germans plundered the Jewish homes without the slightest guilt feeling. Worse than the Russian Cossacks who knew that they were doing bad things. The Germans did it with greater precision, thoroughness and punctuality than the Cossack ever dreamt of doing. The German stole whatever pleased him, be it a coat, a suit or even bed covers. The Russian Cossack knew that he was committing a crime and faced the danger of being spotted by an officer who could reprimand him. The German knew that this was not the case.

Most of the German soldiers that were stationed in Korczyn from December to May 1940 were from Western Silesia and some understood a bit of Polish and some even spoke the language. They mingled with the local population and soon found out where the Jewish merchants lived and where they could locate some of the hidden merchandise. They would enter a store and find it empty. They would then measure the inside walls as opposed to the outside walls or the attics as opposed to the roofs. They would break into rooms or walls under the slightest pretext. Once they found a hidden warehouse, they would be encouraged to continue their search.

When the soldiers found merchandise, they stole everything they could carry and then notified the local commander who would sent a truck to pick up the remains. The truck would transport the goods to Germany and the soldiers would carry the loot home on leave. Presently, the Germans are asking the Jewish survivors to provide them with the license numbers of the trucks that took their merchandise.

[Page 82-83]

The Germans arrest Lea Blank

Aaron Blank owned a tavern. He removed all the merchandise prior to the arrival of the Germans. He hid all the spirits and liquors. Behind his house there was a big garden where he had a bowling alley. He dug a hole behind the alley and stored there his merchandise. Apparently, his helper or a friend of the helper revealed the hiding place to the Germans. The latter entered the garden and dug up the merchandise. Aaron Blank and his son Meir Blank decided to hide. When the Germans did not find the owner, they arrested Lea Blank and locked her up in the prison of Krosno.

Lea Blank spent almost two weeks in the prison, until her young daughters, Miriam and Rivka Blank assembled a few thousand zlotys which was given to a Krosno person with good connections. They worked and she was freed and returned home to Korczyn. Meanwhile, Aron and Meir Blank escaped from the city crossed illegally the border to the Russian side. Aron Blank did not survive the war , he died in Russia but his son Meir survived the war. The Germans killed lea Blank and her daughters Miriam and Rivkah in August 1942, 29 days in Av, Tashab.

[Page 83]

Jews must wear the star of David

At the end of December 1939, the German military command issued an order to the effect that all Jewish men and women must wear in the street a white arm band with a blue star of David on the right arm. The order was effective the next day. The German soldiers took advantage of the regulation and began to beat Jews who did not wear the band before the regulation went into effect. The Polish police decided to exploit the situation and they too saw an opportunity to blackmail Jews who did not wear the band. All Jewish stores had to display the star of David in their windows.


At the beginning of January 1940, the newly appointed mayor Mermon called some Jewish influential leaders and told them that he had been summoned to the German chief of the area. The latter has informed him that he decided to impose a heavy contribution on the Jewish community. The mayor insisted that he told the German that the community consisted of poor people and will not be able to pay a large contribution. He managed to bargain down the contribution to 300 zlotys. We must add that the contribution was indeed small in comparison with the one of Krosno. The city had to make a contribution of 5000 zlotys

[Page 84-86]

The Judenrat

A week after the contribution was presented, the mayor informed the Jewish community that the Germans had ordered the creation of a Judenrat within 5 days. Each home was informed that a meeting will take place in the home of Itsche Rosshendler to discuss the matter of the Judenrat. The Jews had no choice but to obey the order. People also thought that it would serve the Jewish community to have somebody supervise the supply of labor to the Germans. Otherwise the latter grabbed Jews on the street whenever they needed workers. People that had good hiding places used them daily and avoided working for the Germans. Others were forced to appear daily for work; nobody volunteered to work for the Germans.

The Judenrat consisted of Oscar Rubin, a grandson of of Benyamin Rubin. Oscar was born in Germany. He was elected to be the head the Judenrat. His assistant was Yehezkel Lewitman who lived many years in Germany. The other members of the council were Mendel Halpern,, the son of Hertz, Eli Grin, Ber Erreich, Shlomo Horowitz, Naphtali Infeld and Yossef Weber. Most people thought that Oscar Rubin and Yehezkel Lewitman would help the community due their knowledge of the German language. They were soon proven dead wrong. The difference between the Judenrat and the kehilla leadership prior to the war was simple. The kehilla leaders worked for the interests of the Jewish community while the Judenrat had to work for the Germans.

The Judenrat collected monthly taxes from the Jewish population in order to meet the financial obligations of the council. Whoever did not pay on time his assessment, the Judenrat would send a Jewish policemen to collect an item of similar value to the amount owed. The item taken could have been a lamp, a blanket, a pillow or a suit. On occasion, the head of the Judenrat wrote out a complaint against someone for not paying his assessment as part of a sabotage scheme .The Germans did not need any further evidence to arrest the individual and throw him into the Krosno prison.. He was usually freed by the efforts of Moshe Kleiner, assistant Judenrat head of Krosno.. When the people in question went to thank Moshe Kleiner, he made the following blessing, blessed be the liberator of prisoners and the resurrected to life. Why the latter part of the blessing, Kleiner stated that the Germans would frequently shoot prisoners in order to make room for more detainees.

The head and the assistant head of the Judenrat exclusively ran the Judenrat. Oscar Rubin received a weekly salary and Yehezkel Lewitman ran the office. The other members of the council had no say or responsibilities. They joined the council in the hope that they will avoid the labor draft. Some of them later regretted being members of the council but it was too late. Perhaps some would have survived the war had they not been members of the council, for their need ended with the destruction of the Jewish community of Korczyn. The Judenrat employed two Jewish policemen: Mendel Halpern, the son of Yona, and Naphtali Kirschner, the son of Moshe. The latter was called the lord. We have to praise his behavior that was outstanding. He would always pre-warn the Jewish inhabitants of German or Polish police actions aimed at them. Thus, they could take some preventive measures. The other policeman used his position for his own interest and income. Naphtali Kirschner escaped, hid, survived the war and came to Israel. Mendel Halpern remained policeman to the last minute and perished with the community.

[Page 86-87]

The exiled from Lodz and refugees from other cities

In November of 1939, the Germans grabbed Jewish men and women on the streets of Lodz and shipped them to various towns and hamlets across Poland. Some of these Jews wound up in Krosno. The Judenrat of Krosno could not accommodate the entire transport of Jews and decided to send some of them to Korczyn. About 40 Jews of Lodz, mostly women and young girls, some of them still in their bathrobes, were put aboard horse drawn coaches and sent to Korczyn. It was a painful scene to watch these Jewish daughters torn from their homes. Men did not know where their wives wound up and parents did not know where their children were located. The Korczyner Jews received the refugees with open arms. Families volunteered to take one or two people into their home. The wealthier Jews from Lodz managed to reestablish contact with their families and slowly moved back to the city. Others found other places in Poland. The poorer families about 20 in number remained in Korczyn. They lived with local families until the end of 1940. Then, the flow of refugees increased since Jewish life in many big cities became very difficult. Jews from many towns like Krakow, Radom and others cities began to arrive in the smaller towns where life was still livable. Korczyn was no exception, and the Judenrat opened a public soup kitchen where the refugees and the poor local Jews received warm meals. The facility was located in the home of the Raab family, one of the warehouses was converted into a kitchen.

[Page 87]

The German asked to be paid for shooting a Jewish dog.

The pharmacist in Korczyn was a Jew and he owned a beautiful dog. When the German discovered that the dog belonged to a Jew, he was outraged and whenever he saw the dog he went mad. Once, he could not control his emotions and when he saw the dog, he took his gun and shot the dog. He merely injured the dog which ran away. The enraged German charged into the pharmacy with the gun in his hand and demanded 50 zlotys for the bullet that he used up in shooting a Jewish dog. The pharmacist did not make an issue, he took the money from the till and handed it to the German.

[Page 87-88]

The pharmacist

We have to mention the pharmacist in Korczyn who gave a great deal of charity and helped directly and indirectly many Jews in Korczyn. To poor families he gave the prescriptions for practically nothing. Some of these were very expensive since they were made in factories. He gave prescriptions even to hopeless people knowing that it would merely create the illusion of help. He helped financially needy families on a weekly basis. He once said that money has value only when you can enjoy it and since he can not enjoy it presently, may be other families will enjoy the money. He disappeared with the entire Jewish community. His name was Yaavov Levy, honor his memory.

[Page 88]

The Germans rip open the faces of Itsche Den and Avraham Itzhak Kanner

German soldiers caught in the street Israel Itsche Den nicknamed Broder and Avraham Itzhak Kanner nicknamed Peitash. They forced them aboard a truck that headed in the direction of the village of Kombornia. Late that night they returned on foot to Korczyn. Pieces of flesh were missing from their faces. The Germans stopped the truck and forced the Jews off it. They attached their beards and peyot to each other and forced them to run in different directions. Pieces of flesh and meat were torn from their faces as a result of these barbaric activities. The event took place in December of 1939.

[Page 89-90]

The Rabbi escapes from town

The quote from the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 32, line 25 states, death stalked in the streets and invaded the home, loose translation by the translator. The quote aptly describes the situation of Korczyn.

In the streets of Korczyn were many German soldiers who returned victorious from the battlefield. They were full of joy and drank with their victory over Poland. Their hatred to the Jews was beyond description, especially to a Jew that had a beard and peyot. Such a Jew took his life in his hand if he stepped out of his house. When the Germans spotted him, they chased him and ordered him to stand still. The poor Jew did not know whether he would be shot or merely photographed. Regardless of the final action, we can imagine the thoughts that run through the mind of the poor Jew. Fear also extended to the home, the Germans plundered Jewish homes. Fear became a daily reality.

To avoid humiliations, jeers and nasty remarks, the rabbi of Korczyn, Avraham Itzhak Kanner nicknamed Peitash wrapped a kerchief around the beard and his peyot in order to hide them. When a German would ask why the kerchief, the wife of the rabbi would state that the rabbi has dental problems. He looked comical and this was enough to attract German attention and to ridicule him. The rabbi had a father in law in Slovakia, a place called Welka Berezna. He decided to escape to his family in Slovakia where it was rumored that the Germans behaved a bit better than in Poland. The rabbi and his family rented a coach and secretly left Korczyn. They arrived in Slovakia just in time when the Slovakian Jews were being deported to Poland, about 1940. The rabbi and his family shared the lot of the Slovakian Jews. He wound up in the city of Lublin, Poland.

The rabbi suffered pain and hunger in Lublin. He appealed by letter, still permissible at the time, to the Jewish community of Korczyn. The letters were heart braking and asked for help to get him out of Lublin. But the Jewish community could not help him since nobody had contacts with Lublin nor did anybody have ideas how to organise such rescue. Brief, he could not hope for assistance except to escape by his own means. Apparently he could not escape and disappeared. We do not know the date of his death but it is a certainty that he disappeared a year before the destruction of the Jewish community of Korczyn, may his saintly soul be blessed.

[Page 90]

The death penalty for listening to the radio

The German commandant posted notices throughout the city ordering all the Jews to deliver their radios to the Germans. Listening to the radio or owning a radio became punishable by death. Most German orders were punishable by death.

[Page 90-92]

The ban on ritual slaughter and the shochet Moshe Leichtog

As early as February 1940, the Germans issued a ban on the ritual slaughter of animals. Thus if the slaughterer would kill a chicken he would be shot on the spot. The shochet in Korczyn was Moshe Leichtog, a son-in-law of the shochet Pinhas Yaacov Schiff. Moshe Leichtog ignored the ban and did slaughter animals so that Jews could eat a piece of meat. He did his work secretly in the homes of the owners of the chickens. The owners notified him and he would come, slaughter the chicken, cut the head. The last act was done to protect the shochet in case the Germans appeared they would not be able to tell whether the chicken was slaughtered or killed. We must add that the shochet did not do it for the money but for the sake of helping a Jew to eat meat on the Shabbat. We must understand that Moshe Leichtog risked his life every time he slaughtered a chicken. Chanah Leichtog, the wife of the shochet and her four children were killed with the destruction of the Jewish community of Korczyn.

Moshe Leichtog survived the action and was sent to Krosno to work. We worked together in the same group. We were busy demolishing a wall that was situated along the road leading to Korczyn, facing the house of Itsche David Weisner.

We were supposed to build a road through the garden of the church of the order of the Capuchins. This road would link directly Korczyn to the road leading to Rymanow without the need to circle the church grounds. The monks insisted we stop working. An order was issued to us to sit on the ground and await a decision. We sat on the ground of the church and awaited the order. This was exactly a week after the Jews of Korczyn were deported. As we sat on the ground, Yehezkel Shtein asked Moshe Leichtog to tell a story about a Jewish saint. He started to tell story after atory about Jewish saints and the miracles they performed. I was astounded to hear the stories, how could a person that lost everybody, tell the stories as though nothing happened. I was hopeless, bitter, lonely and amazed at the ability of Moshe Leichtog to overcome all the tragedies and tell stories about Jewish saints. I could understand some people like Yehezkel Shtein who still had his wife and children listening to these tales. But how could Moshe Leichtog ignore all reality and transport himself to another period of time. Yet he did it. Was this heroism or spiritual heroism, perhaps someone could explain it to me. I don't understand it. Yaacov Itzhak Fessel, a native of Korczyn, that lives today in Stockholm, Sweden states that with the liquidation of the ghetto of Krosno, Moshe Leichtog was sent to the ghetto of Rzeszow, Reishe in Yiddish. Nobody knows the whereabouts of Moshe Leichtog or his date of death. May this be his eternal memorial.

[Page 92-93]

Poles requisition Jewish apartments

Each un-shameful Pole could seize the apartment of a Jew if he so desired. What happend to the Jewish family that resided there was of no concern to anybody nor did anyone care. When a Pole wanted an apartment, he went to the owner and told him that he wanted his place, the Jewish owner had to consent. If he consented, the Pole may let him remain with his family in one room. If the Jew refused to consent, the Pole went to the official in charge of lodgings, a German. The latter gave him a written order to the effect that the Jew must vacate the place within 24 hours and surrender the place to the Pole. The Jewish family knew that they must leave the house, the apartment or things will get worse.

In Korczyn, the Christian families lived outside the city and near their fields. This is where they had their homes and barns. They were not interested in places away from their cowsheds or farms. But there were exceptions even in Korczyn. Tscheike thief's son went to Lea Blank and told her that he wanted the front of her house. Lea Blank was familiar with the situation and heard of similar instances in Krosno. She consented to his request and he permitted her to stay with her daughters in the back of the house. Jewish refugees from other cities occupied the second house of the family Blank.

[Page 94-95]

The Germans attack the Russians

Harsh edicts and serious troubles for Jews

Since May 1940, there were no German soldier in town. In comparison with other big cities and even small cities, life in Korczyn was relatively quiet. Suddenly, German soldiers appeared in May of 1941 but they did not stop in town, they marched in the direction of Kombornia and East. They did not march four abreast on the road but rather single file, one behind the other, similar to a bunch of geese. Small groups of 20-25 soldiers, their heads covered with grass or twigs. They did not carry weapons. Some trucks covered with green branches followed them. This process continued for days. The Jews in Korczyn glanced through the cracks in the windows and saw this funny process but nobody could explain what was taking place. Some tried to explain that the German was teaching their soldiers how to camouflage their movements from the view of planes. But Poland was destroyed, France was defeated and Europe was under German control. Against what enemy was Germany preparing to fight. That an imminent attack against Russia will be launched, nobody expected. Only in June of 1941, following thew attack on Russia, did we understand the reason for the funny marching of soldiers.

Some predicted that Russia would defeat Germany and preclude it from carrying out the harmful policies against the Jews. There were others that said that things might get worse. The evil one, Hitler, stated publicly in January of 1942, those that laughed stopped laughing: I will not rest until the last Jew disappears in Europe. The entire free world heard this on the radio or read it in the papers, if we read it in isolated Korczyn in the Krakower newspaper.

[Page 95-96]

Jews are not permitted to own stores

In June of 1941, the Germans ordered the Jews to surrender their stores to Christians. It was forbidden for Jews to have stores. In the township there were only three Jewish stores at the time: the pharmacy and the metal stores of Itstche Rosshendler and of Bunem Margolies. One day in June of 1941, German officials escorted a Pole of German origin to the pharmacy. The Pole was from Poznan, a Polish town, and he was a pharmacist. They told the Jewish owner to hand over the key and gave it to the Pole. They divided amongst themselves the cash from the till and told the owner to leave the place.

Itsche Rosshendler and Bunem Margolies did not wait for the visitors. The former decided to hand over the store to the son of the cook that was employed by the lord Szepticki. In this manner, did the Rosshendler family remain in their apartment and enjoyed some share in the profit of the store. For the new owner gave a portion of the profits to Itsche Rossenhendler. Bunem Margolies worked out a similar arrangement with Solecki.

[Page 96]

Jews are not allowed to read newspapers

At this period of time, the Germans issued an edict to the effect that Jews are forbidden to read newspapers. The newspaper vendors were told not to sell newspapers to Jews. Newspapers were sold in the store of Andzej Gonet. There was a Polish newspaper whose name we don't remember and a German paper from Krakow. No Jew went to buy officially a newspaper but if someone wanted to get a hold of a paper there was no problem.

[Page 96-97]

Jews must surrender all furs to the Germans or face death

In January of 1942, German officials arrived and demanded that the Jews surrender all fur coats and furs to the authorities within the day. They also informed everybody that they would search each and every house the for these items. Anybody that doesn't comply with thye order will be shot. There were rumors to the effect that in other towns Jews were caught and shot for this offense. In some instances the items were not even furs. One Jew had an old green hat that looked like fur but was not. He did not hide it nor did he bring to the Germans for fear that they will laugh at him. Anyway, the Germans found the hat and shot him. A similar incident was reported with a Jew that had a piece of fur sewn onto a sleeve. He did not consider it fur nor was it fur but the Germans shot him anyway. Obviously, the Germans were terrorizing the Jewish population and shooting Jews achieved this objective.

The Judenrat sent officials to everybody to warn them to surrender all furs or furry items within the day. The Jews responded and carried every item, even an old worn out shtreimel to the office of the Judenrat where the Germans received the merchandise. Two days later, the Germans started to search the homes. They went from door to door, they checked every hiding place but found nothing. Our town survived the event without casualties but endured plenty of anxiety. .

[Page 97]

Jews are forbidden to leave the hamlet

In March or April of 1942, the Germans ordered the Jews to stay within the hamlet. They posted signs indicating the limits of the Jewish area. Jews could walk to Godele Gutwein's house, to Herz Halpern's house, to the Mangel street, to the pharmacy and to Pszyslowski's house. A Jew caught outside this demarcated area faced death. .

[Page 97-98]

The Germans demand Jews for an execution

The event took place on a nice May day, the sun was shining and warming all the people outside. The Ringplace was full of Christian worshippers who came to attend Sunday service. Suddenly a great commotion, panic in Jewish homes. The Gestapo from Krosno arrived and demanded that the local Judenrat give them Jews to be killed. No reason or rhyme was offered, just a demand. The Judenrat gave in. They learned their lesson from the Krosno Judenrat that had a similar situation. Sometimes ago, the Gestapo demanded from the Krosno Judenrat Jews for killing. The Krosno Judenrat gave them a few mentally retarded Jews. The Korcziner Judenrat gave them Naphtali Pinzel, the dumb one, Jehudith Holloshicz, Yossef Maltz and Mrs. Korb, the wife of Yossef Korb.

The Polish auxiliary police escorted all of these Jews to the police headquarters. From here, they were taken one at a time to the field of the priest where the Gastapo shot them. The local Polish population looked at our misfortune, they saw how we were led to the slaughter. There would have been some consolation if the sky was cloudy or dark but no, it was a nice and clear day. The sun was shining and witnessing human brutality, the killing of helpless Jews.

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