[Page 156-168]

My experiences, the pains and sufferings I endured in the concentration camps.

By: Bashe Krawtchik nee Schiff, Bari, Italy (Her picture is on the page)
Bashe Krawtchik nee Schiff is the daughter of Haya Libe Mecheles, a grand daughter of Mechele Kresh, Getzel and a sister of Mordechai Schiff. She wrote a letter on July 1st 1947 from a displaced camp in Bari, Italy where she described the sufferings she underwent during the German occupation.
  The editors.

Dear friend Dawidowicz,

I am pleased to write to a dear friend of Korczyn about times gone by. You are probably curious as to the author of the letter. My brother Mordechai Schiff who is presently in Austria wrote me about you and told me that you are interested in my experiences during the war. I see no reason to deny your request and therefore decided to share my happy and painful thoughts of the period.

You may not know me, but you are very close since your mother Pearl Yente was a close friend of my mother's and they maintained excellent relations. I consider my story similar to the exit of the Jews from Egypt if not worse. I shall begin with the outbreak of the war in 1939 and finish in 1945. Three weeks following the outbreak of the war, the Germans occupied Poland. Their entry to the city was very tragic for us. The first ordinance was on Yom Kippur day and ordered all the Jews to fill all the earth holes around town. These holes had to be filled smoothly or the people would face death. This was their agenda for the day. Fasting since it was Yom Kippur, I joined other Jews. I took a spade and started to work as fast as I could. The German supervisors watched us and did not permit an instant of rest. Thus ended the first Yom Kippur under German occupation.

We returned home exhausted and tired from the heavy work. The slave work conditions continued daily, whether we cleaned the streets transferred goods from warehouses or unloaded coal from train cars. These working conditions lasted until 1941. Then started a series of edicts that culminated in the creation of the ghetto. How I suffered in the ghetto is beyond description and I am unable to describe it but am certain that other people described the living conditions of the ghetto. With the liquidation of the ghetto, living conditions became catastrophic. The word resettlement send electric shock waves through us. Each person draw his own picture of the resettlement process but to all of us it meant that the weak, the ill, the old and the children will be slaughtered, the strong and healthy will be sent to work. I was one of those selected to work.

I was assigned to a factory that produced electro-mechanical parts for the German army. I worked in the place for two years and saw only barbed wire and heavy machines. My workday consisted of 12 hours of hard work serving heavy machinery. The latter used all my energies since we had to fulfill the quota set by the taskmaster. If we failed to fulfill the quota, we were placed on the black list that meant death. One could be shot or torn apart by dogs trained to kill people. This was the death camp of Plaszow. I must have had supernatural powers to overcome all these sufferings for it is difficult for me to perceive how I survived. People that were not in the camps will never understand the horrors of these places. Following two years of hard exhausting labor beyond our abilities, we moved to another camp. We were constantly hungry since we were fed a half a liter of potato soup and a half a kilo of bread per day. The constant fear of the unknown made conditions worse. Rumors started that the Russian and American armies are approaching and we will be evacuated. We did not expect good things from the Germans and as long as they ruled we expected the worst. Suddenly, the day arrived and we were called to the roll call square or appel platz. I will describe for you the square. It was a big field surrounded with electric wires and each morning at six AM before we went to work, we were called to the square by a loudspeaker that uttered the words, roll call, out, out, faster, faster. The people lined up in rows of five and the SS man counted them. This procedure was repeated three times each day; before going to work, returning from work and before going to bed. If a person escaped or disappeared, twenty other inmates were shot. On this day, the group leader informed us that we are leaving the camp tonight and ordered us to leave everything behind in Plaszow. I thought to myself, sooner or later we were all going to die, others in the group said let them kill us here why bother to drag us to other places. Still others hoped to survive the war. We started to march and walked an entire day until we reached a railway station. The Germans screamed and shouted for us to enter the cattle train cars with the sealed windows. They counted up to a hundred and twenty people per train car. Then an SS man closed the door and told us to shut up. The entire train was packed with 120 people per car. Nobody knew where we were going. I still see the mother that died in the arms of her daughter for lack of water. She begged for water but nobody could provide her with the liquid. Nobody cried for the woman, as a matter of fact, some were envious of her situation. She was delivered and they still had to suffer.

The train rolled, we stood like mommies without being able to move, and there was no air. I mentioned to some people that I have a pocketknife and asked to get to the wall. The people moved and I finally reached the wall and began to loosen a board. I worked for some time and finally managed to open a sizable whole in the wall. We immediately saw barracks with their small lights. I screamed out, we are heading to Auschwitz. Hell broke loose, people screamed and shouted, the German guards threw stones at the car and ordered us to shout up. Twenty minutes later, the doors opened and we descended from the train and were counted. We lined up and marched like soldiers through the forest. We expected to be shot at any moment, why the delay, we are not far from the crematoria.

I saw the tall chimneys, taller than the ones in the factory. I smelled the smoke filled air that was rising to the sky. My God, did you forget your people of Israel. I asked many questions but nobody answered them. Is the world dumb to permit the murder of millions of innocent people. All of them asked for revenge but nobody listened. Should we resist but how, meanwhile we are paralyzed with fear. Then we heard the command that we will be showering tonight. As we approached the showers, I noticed a thick curtain that hang over the place and a guard at the entrance. I mentioned to my friend that I would ask the guard what was behind the curtain. She told me not to ask such question since he may shoot me. I was bold and asked and was told that there was a kindergarten behind the curtain. Now I was certain that I faced the gas chambers. The last road that lead to the end, no return, this was where thousands of adults and children were gassed.

We entered a long barrack without windows and remained there the entire night awaiting our verdict. In the morning we awakened to the screams of the guards. They rushed us to undress and forced us to pass in review before so called German doctors that examined us if we were fit to work. The strong ones were sent to the right that is to continue slave labor. The weak, sick and hopeless were sent to the left that is the to gas chambers. Every woman that had to pass the review of the murderers felt debased and violated but there was no choice. I was one of the lucky ones and chosen to continue to work. The next day we received a slice of bread. I had not eaten for two days and therefore swallowed the bread with one gulp as though it was a pill. My stomach was already accustomed to everything, grass, raw potatoes, a luxury in the camps, there were even fist fights over potato peels. Our new camp was Birkenau near Auschwitz. Here I remained three weeks under quarantine. Ten women slept on a platform of wood planks. There was no room to move or budge. The three weeks seemed like three years. We were forbidden to talk loud, we received 5 minutes of fresh air before going to sleep. This bit of fresh air kept me going for the next twenty-four hours. Whoever did not adapt to the conditions suffered. Suddenly, a group leader appeared, a real beast, and ordered all inmates to line up. He checked every person thoroughly and those that looked fit he sent to another barrack where they would continue to work. The others will be sent to the crematoria. I failed the test. I discussed the matter with a woman from Krakow and we decided to leave the barrack. When everybody was asleep, we jumped from the barrack and headed to the one that had received the survivors. We of course faced death if caught but that we already that sentence. We were all tattooed on the left hand and to today I still have the number that remains me of my bondage. It is Germany's shame and not mine, thus was memorialized the brown beast. A new order started in Auschwitz. We entered a big building and received wooden shoes. Here we started very heavy work. Going and coming to work we were escorted by a music band. We marched to the tune. Every direction was 10 kilometers. We chopped trees. Three women were given a tree and it had to be removed with the roots. The tools were heavy and the work was very difficult. We could not relax for a minute for the murders were standing next to us with their dogs. These dogs could tear apart a human being in a matter of minutes. I was lucky that I managed to avoid whippings but I was constantly afraid, cold and hungry. Thus, we worked 14 months at which time I was totally exhausted.

Now begins a complicated game, as the allies approached the camp we are sent further away. The Germans packed us into cattle cars and sent us to Bergen Belsen in Germany. Allied planes flew above us and bombed some cars but we escaped injury. We reached the camp and new problems started. Nothing mattered anymore. We were 300 women in a room all stretched out on the floor. The people were no longer people. Many nationalities were here: Czechs, Belgians, Dutchman, Russians, Hungarians, and Poles. Ten women received one kilo of bread. I distributed the bread in our group. This was a trustful job since everybody was starving. I used a string to measure each portion so that it should be fair. We stayed in this place for 15 months.

There was no shortage of lice. Once a week we did not get food because we did not work. Decisions. The Germans were busy with their own situations and forgot to assign jobs. They did not forget to punish us though for their errors. Many of the inmates lost all hope and collapsed. Suddenly we were on the move again. Nobody knew where we were heading. We were driven over unmarked byways. We walked over fields and through forests. There was no rest, people fall by the wayside like flies. We were exhausted, hungry and fearful. Cold rains, strong winds worsened our condition. The Germans shot anybody that fell and did not get up at the count of three. The fast pace was beyond our ability. We started 1300 women and were now 800. We no longer feared death. At last we arrived at Selenau, deep in Germany. Here a typhoid epidemic broke loose. I was affected and managed to survive without medication. How I survived is beyond my comprehension. There was no medical help or medications. I exchanged my bread ration for some jam. For two weeks I ran a high temperature of 39-40 centigrade. How I managed to overcome the disease is a mystery. Every day, some dead bodies were carried out from the bunk. No sooner did I feel better, they rushed us to leave the camp. The Russians and the Americans were surrounding the Germans from everywhere but the latter were still preoccupied with us. We marched in the direction of Austria. Then they packed us into cattle trains and closed the doors. But the tracks were bombed and the train blocked. We sat in the train for 14 days until the tracks were fixed. The train rolled and reached Check Territory.

Then a miracle happened, a Check delegation came to the train and told the German guards that they brought food for the inmates. The Germans grabbed the best foods for them but let the inmates out of the train and lined them up. From sitting and lying, our feet were numb. We saw that the first inmates in line received a piece of white bread, a piece of salami, a piece of sugar, and a cup of soup. We began to cry from joy. Our hands trembled upon receiving the food. When my turn came, I kissed the bread and the Checks cried. They also whispered that they would have brought more but the Germans did not permit it. When I started to eat my food, I had terrible pain since my mouth was no longer accustomed to food. We constantly gulped and here we had food to chew. We will never forget the kind help of the Checks that saved that day hundreds of women by giving them some food. The same day the train rolled again. The allied armies continued their advances but we were still in German hands. The firing could be heard in the distance, bombs flew over the train but we continued to roll. Already three days we are squeezed together without food. I reminded myself that I saved a drop of salt in my bag, a luxury at the time. I licked the salt and took another lick and another lick. I said to myself stop it, save some for the next day and started to put it away. My neighbors saw that I had something and told me that nobody would survive another day. Better to distribute the item now while we can still enjoy it. I distributed the salt to everybody. Needless to say, I became thirsty and the thirst increased by the hour. Luck had it that it rained. Everybody tried to catch a few raindrops through the pores of the car in order to quench the thirst. The train dragged forever and finally we reached the death camp of Malthausen in Austria.

We were skin and bone, skeletons, nothing resembling human beings. We did not have the energy to talk. They led us to the showers. We knew that this was the end. But we had luck, the crematoria was full with Russian prisoners of war and other transports that were ahead of us. So they took us to a big warehouse where we awaited our turn. Here we met other women from various other nationalities also waiting their turn. We received pieces of bread that tasted like sawdust. We swelled up from the bread, the soup and the grass. Even this food is too good for you since tomorrow is your last day said an SS woman. So indoctrinated were the Germans that to the last minute they saw the Jew as their eternal enemy. But when the allies surrounded the camp, they disappeared like rats.

One beautiful morning at 6 AM, we suddenly noticed that the German guards disappeared. Nobody watched us, unbelievable. Slowly we hedged to the entrance gate and noticed that the guards were gone. We did not believe our eyes and began to run back and forth for joy. Next to us were the inmates that were not able to move, mere skeletons, dying people, a horrible picture. Those that had some mobility moved forward and saw in the distance a white flag. Now we must strengthen ourselves and perhaps take revenge I thought to myself. Then Russian and American soldiers appeared. It was the 6th of May 1945. They immediately gave us assistance such as food, medications, and vitamins. They disinfected us but for many of the inmates it was already too late. No medicine or doctor could have saved them. Even the transition from evil to good required some strength that some inmates no longer possessed. The fact that I survived, I considered a miracle.

Slowly, I regained my strength and decided to move to Italy in order to reach Palestine. Nothing was left for me in Poland where my family perished. Everything was destroyed except for Polish anti-Semitism. I am already here two years and we still have not returned to normalcy. We are still looking for a better tomorrow. We live here in a camp, which is not normal, but we are free. The Italian people are very sympathetic and friendly. It is a year since I married Mr. Krawtchik. He is also survivor, he stems originally from Lodz, Poland. We have no income since we can't work in Italy in spite of the fact that my husband has a good trade.

We greet you and send you our warm regards.

Bashe Krawtchik, Schiff

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Memories of Destroyed Korczyn

By: Yaacov Itzhak Fessel, Stockholm, Sweden
In memory of my father and teacher, Berish-Dov, my mother Alte Hanna Tzirel, my sisters Sarah, and Feige Rachel, my brother Gudel Asher, grandfathers Shimon Wolf-Zeev, and Eliezer Lipa, grandmothers Ethel and Leah. In memory to the inhabitants of Korczyn that were murdered by the German murderers. May God avenge their death. For them I weep and my eyes shed tears, Job section A, line 17.
It is with a great deal of respect and reverence as well as pain that I write these few lines about Korczyn in the past and present. (Picture of the author appears on page 169)

Our lovely little town in Western Galicia was known as a Hassidic township. It was destroyed in a brutal manner in August of 1942 by the German murderers and their Ukrainian assistants. Through this yizkor book we pay homage and reminisce of the people and their saintly souls that were murdered as Jews. 25 years passed since the community of Korczyn ceased to exist, still before us are the personalities of yesterday. They are full of life and devoted to their tasks. We feel that they are with us, they speak and warn us not to forget. Remember what Amalek did to you is written in the Torah. And we are supposed to obey the commandments that were so dear to them. The Jewish towns and townships in eastern and western Galicia were full of beauty, morality, social awareness, religious tradition, and Hassidic in their following. Each community had its talmudic scholars, intelligentsia, leaders, rabbis with or without Hassidim, charity institutions, philanthropic associations, educational assistance groups, teacher institutes, medical facilities, religious institutions, community workers, study groups of holy texts and psalm reading groups etc. A chain of generations continued the traditions from generation to generation and forged the chain. Such communities were numbered in the thousands and Korczyn was one of them. The Germans wiped them out and erased their traces. Slowly, the personalities of Korczyn emerged from memory and passed in review, tending to their activities.

Eliyahu Rubin, the Korczyner rabbi and his sons walked to shul to conduct the mussaf or second half of the Rosh Hashana service. They prayed with such fervor that the entire community felt part of their prayers and hoped that the prayers reached their destination. My Talmud teacher and cantor, Zalkele with his white beard approached the stand and uttered loudly the word King from the High Holiday service. The entire congregation felt the vibrations.

In the aisle, we saw Simha Diller, the shamash of the temple. He provided all the candles for lighting the shul. On Saturday he never spoke but the holy tongue. Next in the aisles we saw the figures of my two teachers, Mordechai Rossdeitcher and the gemarrah teacher Motel Push, both teachers stressed the importance of good deeds, sincerity in praying and continuation of torah studying. Next we saw the two ritual slaughters of Korczyn; Yaacov Pinhas Schiff and Moshe Leichtog who made great efforts to provide the Jewish community with kosher meat.

There was no luck of social and religious institutions in our town. Some are listed; helping the sick, the Talmud torah association, and the mutual cooperative fund. The association to help marry poor girls, the burial society, the transportation committee, the shas study group, the mishnayot group, the psalm group, and the book purchasing group. There were also Zionist groups and institutions that worked for Palestine and other institutions. I must add the name of my teacher Dworah Engelhardt that taught me mathematics and spelling. How can we forget the great benefactors of Korczyn; Yossele Reich, Yossef Weber, Arie Dym, Avraham Raab, Haim Halpern, Hersh Elimelech Reck, Yehezkel Horowitz and Haim Wolf Koref. They were all killed without leaving a survivor. The only active person to survive was Itzhak Englard-Wasserstrum, the leader of the community. He lives in New York.

Facing me were my friends; Avraham Push, Dawid Kirzner, the children of Moshe Epstein, Moshe Kalb, Betzalel Yaacov Reck, Dawid Leib Leiner, Wolf Schiff and his sister, Avraham Zilberberg, Shmuel Aron Dan the son of Yaacov Dan, the daughters of Moshe Leichtog, the daughter of Moshe Roseman. The grandchildren of the Den family, Henie Pineles, the daughter of our neighbor Zissel Pese, Ita the daughter of our neighbor Moshe Ber, the children of Yeshayahu Margoles and dozens of boys and girls that I knew but don't remember their names. The Germans killed them all. The women were also active in the community social life and assisted their brothers and sisters in need. Amongst them; Beile Hendel Margoles, Roisele Dym, Dinale Kaufman, Sartsche Raab, Mindel Rothenberg, Lea Wilner, Lea Rachel Weinstein. Bashe Welke Reich, Hayale Schroit, our neighbor Tile Pasternak Braindel Rossdeitcher and many others that gave of themselves to assist a woman in delivery or help a sick person so that the family would rest a bit. We were all apprehensive about the catastrophic feeling that engulfed the Jews of Europe in general and especially us in Korczyn. Early in 1942, the Krosner Gestapo arrived and shot Moshe Epstein, Naphtali Pinzel, Yehudit Holloshits, Yossef Malz, Mrs. Korb, Moshe Willner's son and son-in-law and others. Their blood was spilled while we still entertained hopes that the merciful God will have pity on his people and will not permit the destruction of European Jewry including the one of Korczyn. The religious judicial representative, the dayan Moshe Epstein, survived the killing with a bullet in his body and managed to reach the house of Yantsche Infeld. But he was forced to surrender to the murderers for fear that they would kill other Jews.

Following the terrible tragedy that affected us all. Entire families, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, wives and husbands, grandfathers and grandmothers, aunts and uncles, cousins and small children were murdered so cruelly within a few days in the middle of the month of August of 1942.

The German murderers carried out the destruction, may their name be obliterated. We remained so to speak orphans without a father said the prophet Job. The pain and the suffering are horrendous. We can not forget the terrible Tisha B'av, ninth day in the month of Av, the day of the destruction of the Temple of our period. We saw the trucks filled with people heading to their doom. We worked at various jobs during these hot summer days of 1942 in Krosno. We then followed the road that the Korczyner Jews took to the railway station in Krosno and saw the bloodstains of our brothers and sisters along the road. At the railway station we too passed a selection and confessed to our creator since we felt that we can not separate from our families and must share their fate.

From the Krosno railway station we were led like orphans to the study center of Krosno. Nobody slept that night, we all cried and wept over the destruction of our community. The next morning, they escorted us into the ghetto that consisted of a few houses packed with people that received labor papers that extended their lives. From the study center, the Gestapo took adults and children that lacked labor papers and led them to the railway station where they joined the Jews from Korczyn and the surrounding areas.

My cousin, the daughter of Rachel Freifeld was amongst them. Here they all waited to be pushed into the railroad cars by the German murderers. The transport headed to the death camp of Belzec where they all perished. In the ghetto of Krosno there were a number of Jews from Korczyn that worked at various places, some were killed like the son in law of Haim Halpern and others. Children and those lacking labor papers were sent to their death. When we left the ghetto of Krosno around Chanukah, some people left the night before to hide in order to save themselves. The Germans searched the attics and shot everybody they found. Amongst those killed was I belief the rabbi of Krosno, Shmuel Fuhrer. They took us to the ghetto of Rzeszow or Reishe. We arrived on a frosty winter evening. The Jews of Korczyn and Krosno huddled together, and talked about the destruction that they witnessed. Soon, the Germans seized both sisters of Shmuel Aron Rubin who survived and lives in Israel, and Malia, the sister of the Malz brothers, now in Israel. They disappeared from the ghetto. The ghetto consisted of two sections, the west and the east. Both parts contained Jews from Korczyn. I met here Shmayahu Ber, Mendel the son in law of Mordechai Rossdeitcher, Matityahu Infeld, and Leibish Infeld. I think that I also met Shimon Ferber and his son Dawid. I saw Avraham Silberberg and his mother and father, the latter managed to take his family from the train station to the ghetto in Krosno. I also saw the shohet Moshe Leichtog who was the only slaughterer in the Reishe ghetto, Nissan Gutwein, Shmuel Rubin Avraham Frei and other Korczyner Jews whose names I do not recall. A dysentery epidemic started in the Reishe ghetto that caused the death of the rabbi of Krosno, Moshe Twersky, Leibish Infeld and possibly Shimon Ferber. They took me, Shmuel Rubin, Avraham Frei and others to the labor camp of Bierzatka where we worked at forestry, other Korczyner Jews still remained in the ghetto of Reishe. From the labor camp of Bierzatka we were led to the labor camp in Mielec. Here we worked in a plane factory. Shmuel Rubin and others were sent to another camp. Sometimes later, I was sent from the camp of Mielec to another camp in the area of Lublin. Avraham Frei remained in the camp of Mielec. I do not recall the names of the other Korczyner Jews in the camp of Mielec or Bierzatka. At the Plaszow death camp I met my relatives and the brothers Benyamin and Yossef Gutwein. I do not know where they were later sent. A Jew from Korczyn told me that my cousins Yaacov and Aron Rothenberg, Mendel Teller, Yossef Reich and others were shot or died of exhaustion. After I left the labor camp of Mielec I never met Jews from Korczyn until I was liberated in Bergen Belsen on April 15, 1945. Then I met Yacov Eisen who lives in Israel and his brother Shabtai who died a few days after his liberation by the British Army. On examining the great tragedy that struck our family, our people, we are stunned. Such dear and pious Jews that devoted their life to worship and charitable deeds should be so severely punished. The children who were so innocent should be murdered so cruelly by the German murderers during WWII, 1939-1945. Very difficult to perceive such deeds in a rational manner. Of course we can ask the question whether they deserved the fate but there is no answer. No other period in Jewish history witnessed the destruction of a third of the Jewish people in a short period of time. Was our generation so sinful that it merited such deadly penalty and if so, certainly the Messiah should have arrived for it is said in the Talmud that the Messiah will come when the generation is all evil or all good. I do not know whether there are many rationalizations that could provide a solid answer to the question.

The heart feels the deep pain of the great destruction that affected the Jews and especially our community of Korczyn. I do not think that any rationalizations will erase the tragedy in our hearts. Today, Korczyn is clean of Jews, the Poles live in their homes and run their business. The Sabbath of Korczyn is no longer a holy day, it is a simple workday. The study center was converted to a store. No more sounds of torah study or prayers. The Jews of Korczyn are no longer, they all perished because they were Jews. Their memory is still part of us. The once lovely little township of Korczyn has the appearance of an orphan, the houses yellowed with time, the grass grew in the streets, nature sheds tears for the hamlet. There is still a memorial in Korczyn to the Jewish community, the cemetery that remained untouched throughout time. Thanks to the efforts of Haim Wolf Koref who built a wall around the cemetery that preserved it from incursions. The Jews that the Gestapo shot were buried in a mass grave in the valley covered with grass. The grave is not marked. At the cemetery, is located the grave of Wolf Kirschner and his son Dawid who were caught after the Jewish liquidation and begged the Germans to shoot them. Of course the Germans obliged and shot them and they fell into their prepared grave. Relatives erected a tombstone after the war for them. There is also a tombstone for the Eichorn family erected by Zishe Eichorn who lives in Israel. Many tombstones stand erect while others lean to the ground. When I visited Korczyn in 1963, I recited the kaddish at the mass grave and at the cemetery for my relatives and the saints of Korczyn I also recited a prayer for those that their burial places are not known. Some of them are in the Jasienica forest while others are at the death camp of Belzec. My prayers were for the Jews of Korczyn and the surrounding areas that were murdered by the Germans in August of 1942 as well as for those that died in the ghettos and camps throughout Europe. Let the Yizkor book of Korczyn serve as a memorial to the Jews of Korczyn. Let the book be a remainder to the generations to come that there was a Jewish community of Korczyn. When a tombstone is written or chiseled, the Hebrew words, our crown has fallen is inscribed at the head of the tombstone. Let us remember these words for our yizkor book that is in memory for those that were killed by the German murderers, may their name be erased. May the Almighty avenge the innocent blood of the Jews of Korczyn and all the other Jews that were killed by the German hands. Furthermore I say to the Germans, may you be paid for the deeds that you performed against the Jewish people. We must remember the saints of Korczyn and may they rest their eternal slumber in the heavens. We must remember the spirit of Korczyn. It lives on through our daily deeds of living and reminiscing of Korczyn. Through the celebration of Jewish holidays and reading books. By contributing to a better tomorrow and supporting spiritually your children. By participating in the renewal of Jewish life in Israel and in guarding the great Korczyn tradition, the traditions of the Jewish people.

In memory to my family and relatives I suffer immensely when I have to write a tombstone of words for my family that perished because they were Jews. A family that stems from Eliezer Lipa. The father of the holy men of Elimelech from Lejansk and Zishe from Anipol. I remember my father, Berish, Dov, Fessel, the man of devotion and piety, his concentration in prayers and study, his simplicity and charitable nature. I remember when he used to get an alyah in the shul and stand before the torah, he felt as though the holy text was directed at him. Both my parents died as Jewish martyrs. My mother, Alte Hannah Tzirel, his companion for life, dedicated herself to charity, to assist the helpless with words or deeds. Both parents devoted themselves to the education of their

children and to raise them in the Jewish spirit. My mother was a saint with a good heart.

My two younger sisters; Sarah and Feiga Rachel attended a religious girl school where they studied Jewish laws of the home. My young brother, Gedalia Asher went to heder and knew the prayers by heart. All these innocent children were murdered by Germans. My grandfather Shimon Wolf Rothenberg read the torah in the study center of Korczyn. He also used to conduct the services. My other grandfather, Eliezar Lipa Fessel that always saw to it that there was always a minian of Jews for services in the village where he was the torah reader and the cantor. The grandmothers, Etel Rothenberg and Lea Fessel, both good souls that helped secretly in order not to attract attention and not to embarrass the needy, May they be inscribed in the saintly book. I must not omit my aunts and uncles, cousins, close and distant relatives, neighbors and Jews of Korczyn that I knew so well; Hersh Haim Rothenberg and his family, Hersh Fessel and his family, Berish and Rachel Fessel from Antwerp and Eliyahu Fessel and his wife. Moshe Fessel shot in Yedlice, Tzirel Fessel, Hannah Fessel, Haitsche Fessel, Naphtali Fessel, Rachel Freifeld and her daughter. Yudel or Yehuda Gutwein and his family and Yantsche Infeld and family. The entire Gutwein family and the brothers Den with their family. One of the brothers thought me during the war the laws pertaining to phylacteries, Yaacov Den and his family, Nachum Schpitz that thought me Yidishkeit during the war. Finally my teachers, my friends and neighbors whose names I no longer remember. Their names should be entered in the Yizkor book so that they remain with us forever. They were all Jews that cared for other Jews and continued the Jewish tradition of Yiddishkeit. Their murder ended the long chain of Jewish life in Korczyn.

Their souls were extinguished through their murder. May God avenge the spilled blood.

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What I saw in Maidanek

By Michael Horowitz, Petach Tikvah, Israel
During 1966-1967 these lines were readied for print, gallons of ink have already been used to describe the destruction of European Jewry. What can I as a later comer to the scene add that is not already known. I can contribute to the memory of the community of Korczyn by describing the murder places that the murderers of the 20th century left behind. With their civilized manners and German ingenuity, they ensnared their victims to the threshold of the gas chambers where millions of people were asphyxiated. Many of the victims hoped for a last minute miracle that did not materialize. The German plan succeeded only too well, the Jews were led like sheep to the slaughter. If only the Jews had been pre-warned, many of them would have challenged the Germans and died fighting, killing the enemy as they were being killed. Some victims did challenge the masters but few in numbers. Most of the victims lacked the physical forces. They were already exhausted physically, spiritually and mentally. To some of them death represented deliverance.

In 1946, on my way home from Siberia where I spent the war years, I came face to face with the great tragedy. No science fiction writer could have written such a script. I met some survivors and traveled with them to Lublin and then to Maidanek, which is about six kilometers from the city. We went on foot to see the death factories where millions of people perished by German methods. The dispersed tombs, in fields and forests, represent thousands of people without a name or address. But in Maidanek there was no problem of finding someone, for all the Jews contributed to the sacrificial alter. At Maidanek, the Jew can shed tears for his entire community.

In terms of human conception, the entire generation that lived during the period regardless of nationality can be sad over the fact that such beasts grew in a part of the globe. These beasts can not even be compared to the wildest beasts in nature. But we suffered the most and did not even have the satisfaction of fighting back and who ever heard of killing women, old people and children. We boast about the progress of civilization that produced such monsters. Perhaps it would be better to reject all the scientific advances and return to the primitive state of nature. A nation of art and letters without a conscience should not exist. They should not be permitted to exist as Germans in the family of nations. If for some reason Germans have to mingle with other nations, they must erase their German name that is adorned with the sign of murder. That should be the verdict of the world and the guilt feeling of the Germans. The latter besmirched their nation forever.

The road to Maidanek was built with Jewish tears and sweat. The road is soaked with Jewish blood. Red bricks were used along the road that gave it a fine aesthetic appearance. Three years the road was built and those who fell by the wayside were killed by a bullet or other means. Those that survived neared the gas chambers each day until they entered them. But the road to the gas chambers was beautiful and it was used by thousands of victims in their final destination. The Germans saw to it that both sides of the road should have greenery trimmed to an even height. Everything was done with precision and order. Only when the victims reached the gas chambers did they understand the meaning of German precision. No slow minded person could have devised such devilish plan, only bright people could have devised and fulfilled the plan. The victims believed to the last moment that this was not their final moment. It took an evil genius to devise such a master plan of destruction.

Picture. The chimney of the gas chamber in Maidanek

Maidanek consisted of showers and gas chambers that were connected. The death camp also contained about two hundred barracks arranged in symmetrical lines. The place resembled a spa center; everything was immaculate. Greenery everywhere, garden paths leading in all directions, all the hedges trimmed even. Only the chimneys of the gas chambers gave a fearful appearance to the place. To most victims it appeared as a transit camp for further travel to other labor camps. But the picture was totally different. Maidanek was a death camp. The transport of victims arrived before the showers and the people were asked to undress and to fold their clothing neatly in small piles. Those that balked at the order were forced to obey or were shot as warning to the others. The shower room was immense and accommodated several hundred people. When the room was full, the doors were closed and the water faucets were opened that sprinkled the people. Humidity was essential to the next step. Then, the bathers were driven to the gas chambers. The doors were sealed and cyclone gas entered the chamber through the water taps. Asphyxiation started immediately, the victims held on to their immediate neighbors and died in each other's arms. It took 18 minutes to asphyxiate the people. A German who stood outside the door that contained a small eyelet observed the entire process.

The asphyxiation finished, the rear door opened, and the bodies were removed. Slave workers performed the work. They untangled bodies that were entwined and frequently sprayed them with cold water to assist the separation. Bodies that were marked with red paint were placed in a special place. The others were transported directly to the crematoria and their ashes were buried. People received red paint on their back when the watchmen noticed that they swallowed valuable items on entering the showers. Following the gas chambers, the marked bodies were dissected in search for valuables. In one barrack, we saw a big concrete table and next to it a pile of human parts - hands, feet and heads. A Polish engineer explained the process of searching for gold, diamonds and valuables. The long table was the workbench for this gruesome work. Needless to add that the pile of human parts was left untouched by the Germans in their haste to escape from the allied armies. The human monument remained as was left by the Germans. The Polish engineer presented the following information as well as the previous information to us. To see the human monument was the most depressing sight and we were transported to the realm of unbelievable savagery. Of course, the human monument could not be kept forever on display since the human parts started to rot. The parts were buried in a mass grave where they found eternal rest. Gypsies, Poles, Russians and Jews were buried together so decided the Germans. Then there were no genocide laws, each country decided the fate of the conquered country as it pleased. No one cared what the rest of the world had to say. The Germans still defend themselves to today with the statement that they carried out higher orders. The religious order not to kill was unknown to them. Had the hungry Jews reacted to the same higher order, the Germans would have killed them much faster.

In a big hall, there is a display of 65,000 pair of shoes from children and adults. Men and women shoes, torn heel and sole in search of valuables. The children shoes evoked my sympathy. The shoes indicated the social status of the family. The mothers provided the children with the best shoes that they could afford. After all, the shoes represented the first steps of the child into the world. How many hopes and dreams the mothers dreamt for their children in the purchase of these shoes. The German saw a financial opportunity even here in the shoes. Another place contained toys of children. Balls, carriages, small and big dolls that the children played with until they were driven to the gas chambers where they existence was terminated. A mountain of glasses worn by all ages. Everything was sorted with German punctuality and in a civilized manner everything was recorded. There was no room for chaos or anarchy. Everything was recorded and alone condemned Germany for generations to come. Many of the records were destroyed but enough were left intact. Of course the Germans would have preferred that these documents vanish. So trials were staged and some condemnations handed down which made a mockery of justice. Killers of thousands received 5, 10, or 15 years jail sentence where conditions were livable. Nobody died during incarceration or suffered mistreatment at the hands of the jailers.

In a display cabinet, we saw passports and pictures of the victims from all of Europe. My ears and eyes heard and saw people fainted on recognizing members of their families in the pictures. The screams and shouts were heartbreaking, the pulling of hairs and hopelessness was beyond description. There was also a large bin that contained thousands of suits, Hassidic overcoats, coats or halats, velvet hats, velvet kippot and military uniforms of various European nations. There were also various camp uniforms with the star of David on the back, clothing that belonged to disabled people since they missed limbs and various Gypsy outfits that perished with the Jews. Perhaps the Germans intended to create an exotic museum to display these items and the people that wore them. The Germans were excellent researchers and would develop all kinds of theories about the development of the exposed items as well as the people that wore them. It would have never downed on the Germans that these people were superior to them in spirit. Fortunately, the Germans lost the war and we ceased to speculate about their intentions All the victims to Maidanek were ensnared with the slogan of resettlement in the East. All transport victims were always instructed to take with them the necessary personal items for the trip. Most of the victims took this as a sign of hope, otherwise, why bring toys. Some realized the situation towards the end but it was too late. Others continued to believe the Germans. They saw the showers as a hygienic necessity until a German grabbed a child and smashed the skull against a wall. Prior to the action, the German officer put on white gloves that were then cleaned with the uniform from the blood of the child. Of course Jewish slaves did the cleaning. But everything was done in a so-called civilized manner.

In the shower room we saw letters, postal cards, scraps of paper written in Yiddish, Polish and other languages. Most of them said goodbye to the survivors and some even mentioned items that they smuggled with them to the camp. One letter, addressed to the neighbor Raisel read: dear neighbor Raisel, before we left the place, we gave all our jewelry and candelabras to the janitor Wroblewski so that he should give it to the gentiles that hid my son Mendele. Perhaps he will be the only survivor of our vast family. If you survive please tell everybody what happened so that the world would know. Stay happy if this is at all possible, your old and trusted friend Lea. There were other scraps that I had no time to read. It was difficult to believe that a third of the Jewish people were killed. We walked about Maidanek, cried and shed tears for our relatives that perished here. We felt the end of the world. We saw in every speck of dust the ashes of the victims and their holy souls that died with the words of Shema Israel, O hear Israel on their lips.

Yossef Weber

by Itzhak Englard Wasserschtrom

Yossef Weber was the son of Aron, nicknamed the Brezower, and Dinah Weber. Yossef Weber was a grandson of the Berezower rabbi, he was born and resided in the village of Berezow until the liquidation. In his youth he devoted himself to the study of the torah. He was raised in the hassidic spirit and dressed accordingly and managed his life in the Hassidic tradition. He was my second best friend. He was a lovely person and a fine soul. He never insulted a person and tried to avoid hurting people. He was always ready to help people and was liked by everybody. He personified Torah knowledge and respect for the individual. He was well read in religious matters and also had a fine general background . He had the artistic ability to describe types of people, scenes, pictures of daily life and the ability to write fine short stories.

The Warsaw Yiddish newspaper, Haint or Today, published a weekly humor edition called Der WeltSchpiegel or The World Mirror. This issue publicized a contest under the topic of shtetl life. The best story was guaranteed to be published and to receive a monetary prize. Many famous writers entered the contest. Yossef Weber received the second prize of 50 zloty for his story entitled The Auction. The story was published in the newspaper of Der Weltschpiegel, in 1929, issue number 45. He also published another short story in this paper entitled The Fisherman that was printed in 1930, number of issue 16. Both stories appeared in the collection of the Weltschpiegel stories and are on display at the YIVO Institute in New York. 25 years have passed and I still see my dear and unforgettable friend, Yossef Weber. The cursed Germans have killed this young literary talent in 1942

[Page 191-195]

Weltschpiegel No.45-1929 Our Literary Contest

Yossef Weber
The Auction
Entry No 31
[Translator. Most Jewish European communities baked matzoth for the local Jewish community. This involved the kehilla in the purchase of wheat or flour and in the sale of matzot. This was a large financial outlay for the kehilla. For provision had to be made to provide the poor people with matzoth for Pessah. Many of them could not afford matzoth. The price had to be set so that the well-to-do would help cover the cost of the production of matzoth. The kehilla covered the remainder of the bill. Thus the importance of the auction. The cheaper the price, the less the kehilla would have to outlay.]
The hamlet awaited with impatience but kindness the first bird that announced better or brighter days. The long winter was already on its way out. The smoked filled room blackened with fumes, the walls and ceiling torn, spiderwebs everywhere, water mixed with dust streams from the walls, the floor was covered with a thick coat of wet mud where planks disappeared. The small windows sealed with earth after the holiday of Succoth accumulated moisture and turned to a green slime. Through these windows the mud-covered rays of the outside tried to enter the house. The mist and the melting snow added a depressive feeling. The old worn clothes itched and scrapped the body. The hay of the mattresses was already rotten and spilled from the beds. The air in the room is stifling. Filth surrounded us. And the youth like all youth. How could we escape a bit from the room. But here was the holiday of Pessah knocking at the door.

The first day of the month of Adar, between the minha and maariv service, the shamash of the shul banged his bony hand on the table and announced in the name of the community that after the services there will be an auction for the Pessah flour. The announcement evoked a great deal of joy from the membership, a sort of holiday feeling swept through the air and warmed the entire shul. Happiness was written on all the faces. The hope for spring, flowers, grass and promenades was on everybody's mind. People started talking. It took a while until the congregation finished the maariv service and quieted down for business. The various shul activities like the mashnayot study group suspended the study program for the evening. Their tables emptied and orphaned this evening. The lamps in the area gleamed a bit weaker than other days. Here sat people in winter evenings, studied and frequently day dreamt. Young boys would spent entire evenings studying the talmud and often think of their future. Suddenly, the area was deserted.

The services finished, clusters of congregates formed to discuss the matter on hand, next to the door and near the stove stood the flour and wheat merchants. They discussed all kinds of possibilities and deals in order to form a cartel that would set the price and bid as a unit. All efforts to form a cartel failed and the merchants rushed home to bring money for the deposit that would be needed if they won the auction. Over there stood the jokers of the crowd and made fun of the way the business session was conducted. Meanwhile the shamash was very busy carrying messages back and forth and the merchants were very moody. Next to us stood a group of cheder boys and listed all the items that their parents would purchase for them for the Pessah holiday: new suits, shoes and hats. Their mouths salivated when they described the taste of the matzot and potato latkes. Profusion of words and noises and above us swept the smoke of cigarettes and pipes.

Suddenly, a loud noise was heard, the shamash banged the wooden hammer on a table and stood up on a bench in the corner of the eastern wall and towered above the congregation. His glazed eyes looked toward the ceiling and his head tilted to a side that gave him a saintly look. The yellow goat beard completed the picture. He announced that the auction has begun. The anticipation of the meeting grew by the minute. Haim, the biggest wheat merchant, moved to the big table covered with a green tablecloth. The movement was slow since there were many people and movement was difficult. The people were jealous as well as respectful of the position of Haim. On top of the table stood two candelabras with burning candles. At the head of the table sat the rabbi and next to him the head of the kehilla. A pen, paper, ink, and the seal of the kehilla were placed on the table. Along side of it sat the members of the kehilla board, their faces stern and serious. Haim reached the table and counted his deposit money. Meanwhile two other groups were formed and they sent their representatives to the table. The rabbi then spoke at length about the laws of kashruth, the laws pertaining to kosher wheat, the mashgichim or religious supervisors and the sacks containing the flour. The speech was followed by the leader of the kehilla who discussed the financial aspect of the purchase of the flour, the financial situation of the kehilla and so on.

Haim the wheat merchant looked askance at all the other merchants and chewed one wheat kernel after the other. He paced back and forth and seemed to talk to himself in an angry tone that the heavy gray black moustache prevented from hearing. His eyes half closed and his forehead deep in thought he seemed determined to move ahead. Indeed, he took several steps to the table and announced in his loud and husky voice ninety-four groshen or pennies. The audience began to murmur, the faces of the leaders indicated discomfort. Haim noticed the situation and stated that he could not do it cheaper. The leader of the community signaled to the shamash to start the auction. The latter immediately began in his melodious tone, ninety-four groshen for the first time and ninety-four groshen for the next time and. . . suddenly the audience protested vociferously, screams and shouts, a robbery, murder, so expensive, stop the auction, don't sell to the thief. He will make a fortune. Let the kehilla buy flour. We will bring flour from distant places. This community belongs in Chelm screamed a troublemaker. All other interested merchants added fuel to the incitement of the audience. No one should deal with this dishonest merchant, in all likelihood we will never get fine flour. Haim was mad and stormed out of the shul, bunch of beggars, I will show you, he said to himself.

The hammer banged again, the congregational outbursts stopped, silence in the shul. The shamash voice intoned again, ninety groshen for the first time and the next time and. . . A stern look from the leader of the kehilla stopped the shamash in mid air. The latter read the message and pointed to his nose as if to say, I understood and his hand signaled that the bid would fail. The shamash started again the bid, ninety groshen for the first time and ninety groshen for the next time and to your health he added. The latter remark appealed to the religious people and the atmosphere of the shul calmed down. The audience loosened up and jokes and wisecracks started to make the rounds. The tension disappeared and joviality returned to the shul. Shlome, a happy Jew with a red nose and a potbelly rubbed his hands and slapped his nearby neighbors saying that happy days were here again. The Shamash's voice thundered again, eighty-five groshen for the first time and eighty five groshen for the next time and eighty five groshen for the first time. The audience that protested earlier so vociferously did it not out of stinginess but it did not want to be made a fool. The people knew that Haim was going to make money but they wanted it to be fair.

Haim was full of anger, a plague on you he said to himself, even if I have to add to the deal, I will add but the deal will be mine. He ran to the table and shouted eighty-three. The kehilla leader winked to the shamash to end the auction. The latter started, eighty-three groshen for the first time, eighty three groshen for the next time and eighty three groshen for the third time. Congratulations reb Haim.

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Weltschpiegel No.16-1930 Short story: The Fish Merchant

by Yossef Weber
Yona was still a young man of about 35 but looked like 50. His red beard was drawn out, his peyot or sidecurls were balding and his hat was drawn over his eyes. His coat used to be brown before he was married. The coat was now torn from all sides and gaping holes exposed the body. He also wore a pair of worn boots and had a small pipe in his mouth. Neche was his wife. A small scrawny woman in spite of the fact that she wore a half a dozen dresses and kerchiefs that gave her the present appearance. She was an active woman, a real woman of valor. Her voice was somewhat masculine with a strong stress on the letter r. When she screamed or shouted, it sounded like a volcano. Yona was petrified of the voice as one is of a bomb. They had five children. The oldest was Henech, he was about eleven years old. He was shortsighted, always wore a big red scarf on his neck and wore an oversized pair of woman's shoes that he seemed to lose with each step.

The family had an income; of course there was always room for improvement. Yona had several jobs; he arose with dawn, prayed, took a slice of bread and placed in his pocket. He took a bag placed it under the arm, a shopping bag in his hand and set out for the village. There he bought whatever he saw fit: a rabbit, small furs, merchandise, an egg and sometimes even a chicken. He had a sad experience with chickens. He once purchased a chicken but it turned out to be a duck. His wife never let him forget the incident and nicknamed him the kwoke or duck. Yona felt badly about the incident and til today has regrets about the whole incident. Also Neche worked hard, she milked the cows and together with Henech sold milk to their customers and the remainder of the milk she converted to cheese and butter. These were all side jobs of the family. Yona's main business was the fish business for Shabbath. This should be recorded for future generations that Yona provided the Jews with fish for Shabbath.

Thursday, Yona assembled sweets and wrapped them in a clothe that he then slid down his boot. He took two big baskets and headed to the gentile Walente that controlled the river and the estate. The latter was a small person with a gray moustache. For years he sold Yona fish in spite of the many attempts to undermine the relationship. Walente has always been loyal and refused to be drawn into financial intrigues. He liked the Jew Yona, as a matter of fact, he sold fish to Yona's father. Yona was very important to Walente and in appreciation gave him some apples or dried prunes for Yona's children. Yona in turn let Walente smoke his pipe while they sat on the porch and talked about the hamlet and the economic situation. Yona was not a talker but out of necessity for his fish business sat and listened. Finally, Walente took his net and other items and headed to the river. Here he proved his skills. Hi filled the baskets with fish in a manner of minutes. Little fish, big fish and real big fish that he immediately assigned. This one will be for the rabbi, the other one for the kehilla leader and that over there for Itzhak. The baskets loaded, he said goodbye to Walente and rushed back home.

At home he started to work. One basket of fish went under the bed. He claimed that an abundance of fish lowered the price. Too many fish and I would have to give them away said Yona. This one basket would fetch enough money for both baskets and Yona was an experienced fish salesman. Yona picked up the basket with the fish and headed to the market. Neche followed him with two pails of fresh water and Henech rolled a box that would be a stand. Yona dunked the fish in the fresh water and displayed some of his merchandise on top of the box and the rest remained in the pails.. He selected the nicest fish for the rabbi and handed it to Neche to give it to rabbi Moshe. He also told Henech to take the next fish and bring it to rabbi Yekele. What, exclaimed Neche, the rabbi's wife is too sick to come and get her own fish, besides, she hasn't paid for last week's fish. Listen to what I tell you Henech. No screamed Neche, I will scratch your eyes if you dare to give them fish. Yona was speechless, pathetic, a beaten man. Neche continued to roar, wake up Yona and don't let them steal you blind. She grabbed the fish and headed to the rabbi's house. Only then did Yona regain his composure. He lit his pipe, wiped his nose with his sleeve and started to sell fish.

I can now reveal to you the secret of Yona's sales techniques. Yona lived in the Old World where there was an iron rule, fish for money. But the woman forced Yona to introduce the credit system as a result he never saw money, pennies chased pennies. People borrowed and did not pay so Yona had to collect debts and chase debtors. He even made a list of debtors, as was the custom amongst merchants. He himself did not understand the economic implications of the list since he rarely collected the debts. First, he never had the time since he was always busy, and second why bother people, if they have money they will pay otherwise what is the sense of pestering people. If a woman decided to weltch an account let it be on her conscience. The most important thing was quiet. He had enough of Neche's screams and Shouts, and as long as she did not know about the debtors he was pleased. Otherwise, she headed straight to the homes and demanded payment. Lucky that Neche could not read and therefore was unable to read the list of debtors.

Yona was ready for business and he was immediately surrounded with people. Screams and shouts, people shoved and pushed and Yona was totally confused. Woman with rolled up sleeves and uncombed Jews pulled and pushed Yona in all directions. He was unable to cope with the crowd around his stand. Braindel, a heavyset woman with dentures, searched in the pail of water and took out a big fish. She pulled Yona's coat and asked how much for the fish, Yona removed the pipe from his mouth, spit to the side, scratched his forehead as if he had to make a big decision and said eighteen sixers, Yona used the old expressions. Too much said Braindele, I will give you fifteen, come over there, and she disappeared. Fessel took a smaller fish and asked Yona for the price, Yona took the fish and said two guilden. You are not very intelligent said Fessel to Yona, Braindel's fish was twice the size and she only paid fifteen. Yona was angry and grabbed the fish and threw it into the pail. This is how I want it to be, the choice is yours. Fessel did not give in, she slowly picked up her fish from the pail and took another small fish and said to Yona, how much, thirteen sixers and finished. Yona loved this term. Please put me down for the sum. Yona pulled up from his boot a piece of wrapping paper, took a pencil and wetted the point. He then inscribed the debt.

Tzippe, Moshe's daughter, a woman with large face and birthmarks, blood-shot eyes, spoke in a raspy and supplicating tone of voice and always involved God in her conversation. She had a problem, namely, she had long arms that stole items under your nose if not watched. She also delivered blows if caught in the act. In the midst of all the hustle and bustle, Tzippe also decided to bargain. She took a small fish and in a trembling voice asked Yona for the price, Yona gave it. She protested and said to Yona, I will give you only forty. Yona refused to accept. No is no said Tzippe and placed herself squarely in front of the pail with fish. She then hunched over the pail and searched for another fish. Her blood shot eyes devoured the fish and her nostrils smelled the taste of the fish. Yona she said, what gives but Yona did not answer. Tzippe turned around and headed away with the two fish under the apron. She would have succeeded if not for the angel in the person of Berl.

Berl was nicknamed the pointer or liar in the hamlet, He was a healthy person, very tall, a red neck and a well-grown beard. He wore a green cap that matched the green moss and a coat with a crown. This was a person without financial worries. His children emigrated to all corners of the globe and sent him money. He became involved in all community affairs. He knew who ate meat, who did not give a gift to the rabbi for Hanukkah, which girls danced with boys and who was in dire need. On market days, he promenaded through the market with his long cane. He inspected the prices of onions, ducks etc. Berele entered his nose into everybody's business and knew what was cooking in every pot in the hamlet. Even if his facts were not correct, he rounded them out, embellished them and completed the missing parts. This was his nature. Thursday when Yona arrived at the market, Berele also approached the fish stand but he took his time. He observed the entire scene with Tzippe and tried to protect Yona. He stood with one hand on the cane and the other on the side and called out to Yona, where are you looking. Tzippe just walked away with two fish. What did you say reb Berl, managed Tzippe to utter in amazement, such an accusation at a Jewish woman. I saw with my own eyes said Berl. You thief, you liar, join your criminal children. You shikse, you thief.

Suddenly Neche arrived on the scene, exhausted from the errands, she caught on what was taking place and without much ado pounced on Tzippe to look under the apron. You thief, you robber; You shikse, you spender... A word to a word and the two woman were at each others throat like chickens. They soon rolled on the ground, screaming, shouting, and pulling hair. Yona tried to make peace and stop the fighting. He said that it was a shame for woman to behave in this manner. Finally he separated them. They accused Berele of doing nothing to prevent the incident. Neche screamed and cried at Yona, they stole everything from us, from our hard work, they should only choke on their food. And you stood there and let them rob us blind. She grabbed two fish and ran. Slowly the fish were sold, the crowd in front of the stand dispersed. Only two small fish remained in the pail. Yona offered them to everybody for half the price but there were no takers. Yona reviewed his debtor sheet and returned it to the boot. Meanwhile children assembled and watched the small fish frolic in the water. Yona also enjoyed the scene until the children became boisterous and misbehaved. He then splashed some water or as he called it fish soup at them and they ran. The playful activities stopped when Neche returned and splashed the water from the pails. Yona took the baskets, Neche the pails and Henech started to roll the stand. With a great deal of noise they left the market and headed home.

[Translator: We translated the stories in a loose manner. Unfortunately, the Yiddish style and cohesiveness of the stories were somewhat lost in the translation. Still we hope that the readers will understand the essence and beauty of the stories.]
[Page 203]

Yizkor book KORCZYN Second part

Memories, personal experiences and life experiences by Moshe Zucker and others

[Page 205-206]

Moshe Zucker, President of the Korczyner Relief Society.

Moshe was born about 70 years ago in Korczyn. His father was Yidel and his mother Reisel. In those days, the family name was not used, a man was called by his first Jewish name and a woman by her first name. My mother was called Reisel Yidels, the daughter of Yidel and my father was Moshe, the son-in-law of Yidel. Moshe became an orphan at the age of three. He was the third child in the family of four children. Moshe was very talented. Already at the age of ten he created items that were displayed in the house. He also made flags for Simhat Torah, dreidels for Hanukkah and masks for Purim. The earnings enabled him to purchase items for himself such as a Talmudic book, or a biblical storybook that his mother was unable to purchase for him. Moshe created a panel with the word shaviti for the shul in Korczyn at the age of fourteen. Those in the know claimed that it was a piece of art.

He left his mother's poor home at the age of 16. The saying that from the poor children will emerge the torah scholars definitely applied to Moshe Zucker. Had he received a formal and artistic education he would have become an important painter or writer since was talented in both areas. Today, Moshe is an artistic painter. Apart from his attendance at cheder, he never visited a school. Yet, there is a lyricism in his work, be it painting or writing. The fact that he had no formal training, meant his talent was lost. I met him for the first time in 1949 in the USA. In spite of the fact that he left Korczyn about 60 years ago, he still has a warm feeling for the place. He also wrote although not professionally. He was the one who pushed for the Yizkor book. He always spoke of the hamlet as a sentimental and nostalgic place. He considered life in Korczyn ethical and honest. The Jewish survivors did not even dream of assembling a book. It was Moshe Zucker who developed the idea and slowly convinced us all that it was feasible and he slowly started to organize the activities and found the people to head them. Thus was created the Korczyner Yizkor book. Moshe Zucker was the force behind the project.

I admit that due to him I participated in creating the book. He never left the project until it was completed.
Itzhak Englard-Wasserstrum

[Page 207]

Personalities and types of people

by Moshe Zucker
In this section I will present pictures of some people from our town that their memories were recorded in my memory. I beg of all the readers and survivors of Korczyn not to indulge in criticism as to why I chose some and excluded other people. There was no intention to offend people. But my abilities and my memory were limited and I did the best that I remembered. I tried to present an objective picture of Korczyn as I remembered it, sixty years ago. There was no intent to minimize or hurt people. However, if somebody finds fault or disapproves of the picture that I drew or thinks that I omitted certain important personalities, then the survivors have only themselves to blame. For they stood on the side line instead of giving a hand to the Yizkor book project.

[Page 208]

Wolf Rapport

Wolf or Wele Rapport was well to do and owned an estate near Korczyn. He led a princely life. He had three daughters and a son, Fishale. Wele Rapport lived to the ripe old age of 100 years. His son, Fishale, was raised in a princely manner and even rode horses, something unheard of in religious Korczyn. The daughters were named Pessel, Frumet and Mindel. Wolf Rapport stemmed from a famous family and he greatly contributed to charity, to the various funds, he was devout and a follower of the Rymanower Hassidic rabbi. He had three son-in-laws who stemmed from distinguished families and were well versed in the study of the torah: Leibush Halpern, Shlomo Gimpel Wasserstrum and Moshe Rothenberg.

[Page 209]

Leibish Halpern

Leibish Halpern was a religious scholar and also a descendant of a rabbinical family, notably the Lemberger rabbi. In my memory, I still remember Leibish as an old man who came to the minha and maariv services. He always managed to study before and after services. We found the hair from his balding beard in the various religious texts. He never wasted time. At home, he studied the talmud and every few years he finished the complete cycle of the talmud and threw a party to celebrate the occasion. His oldest son, Hertz Halpern was also a scholar. His other sons, Yona and Yehoshua were no longer scholars but involved in the management of the business. Hertz's children were also busy working and discarded studies. His grandchildren however that managed to escape Hitler's furnace and found refuge in the USA or Israel have inherited the intellectual ability to continue the religious scholarly tradition of the family.

[Page 210]

Shlomo Gimpel Wasserstrum

Shlomo Gimpel Wasserstrum was a small man, a religious scholar and the poorest among the son-in-laws of Wolf Rapport. He rented an apartment from Mendel Schroit. His business consisted of purchasing wholesale butter that the farmers brought to the market. His brother-in-law, Leibish Halpern and his son Hertz were also involved in the same business. Shlomo Gimpel was not a rich person. He had four sons and four daughters: Shimshon, Hershel, Meir. Yossef, Bashe, Freide,Feige and Hinde. He has many grandchildren and great grandchildren that survived the war and are in the USA. All his children were married except for Yossef who was a few years older than I was. He was always dressed immaculate with a pressed collar and a tie. He spoke fluent Polish and had the head of an attorney. People were not impressed by his Polish but by his being the son of Shlomo Gimpel. He had a fine home. Shlomo Gimpel was a reserved person by nature, never attracted attention but was very knowledgeable in Jewish religious scholarship and when there was a need for a quorum at the religious court in Korczyn, he was asked to participate. He never boasted or showed his knowledge that was immense, especially in the talmud. He had an excellent memory and when his grandson came on Shabbath to review the studies of the week, the grandfather pointed out many explanations to his grandson without consulting a reference book. He knew entire pages of talmud by heart. He loved the life of the scholar and was respected for it by the town. May his memory be blessed.

[Page 211]

Moshe Rothenberg

Moshe Rothenberg, the third son-in-law, was one of the richest people in Korczyn. He stemmed from a distinguished family and was a very successful businessman. He dealt in cloth and owned a dye workshop. Yona, the son of Leibish, worked in the dye place. Moshe had six sons and three daughters, quite a large family to support. They dressed well and in stylish fashion. When the daughters married, the family had enough males to have a quorum for services. Indeed when the family arrived to shul they were visible. Moshe was a distinguished looking man, his sons were handsome and his daughters beauties. One of the latter married Avrum Neuman from a nearby township. He was well educated in talmud and also knew how to conduct services. He cantorial abilities were fully exposed on Sabbath and holidays when he led the services. The couple complemented each other, he by his singing and she by her beauty. She really picked a winner although in those days the parents had more to say in these matters than the couple. One of Moshe's sons, Leibish was an excellent scholar in religious matters. From this large family, only Israel Rothenberg survived and lives in Israel and two grandchildren, Yankel and Moshe Frei in London. The latter were the children of Shaul Frei, a son-in-law of Moshe Rothenberg

[Page 212]

Naftali Hertz Halpern

by Aron Atlas Bear, Jerusalem. Grandson of Naphtali Halpern.
All the people that knew him loved Naftali. He was an easy going and understanding in the relations between people and between man and his creator. He was a devout follower of the commandments. He completed the study cycle of the talmud six times. He was devoted to the study of the torah, to good deeds and most important to charity. Such was Naftali Hertz Halpern the son of Arieh Leibish Halpern who was the son-in-law of the well known Zeev Rapport, the Korczyner golden dynasty. He died a natural death and the entire town followed the funeral cortege. His oldest daughter Tova Yochewed, my mother, was raised in the orthodox tradition. She was a real woman of valor and strictly observed the Jews laws. She married to the hamlet of Jashlusk where she was well known and shared the fate of the Jewish community. These were the last two Jewish generations in Korczyn and we must draw inspiration from them and continue Jewish life in spite of the fact that the candle of Korczyn was extinguished. Now, we must rekindle another light, not by writing an article or placing a memorial tablet in memory of the Jewish community of Korczyn but by drawing conclusions as to what happened. True, a Yizkor book was written to memorialize the souls of the kehilla but that is hardly enough. We must take stock as to why we remained alive and for what purpose. We will then conclude that the best way to ensure their memory is to continue in the ways of the Korczyner Jews. We must teach our children to love the torah and study it. We must stress the importance of Judaism so that they will remain faithful Jews and fill the displaced ranks of religious Jews that were killed by the German murderers, this would be the real memorial.

May he be blessed and sanctified; God will avenge the spilled blood and take revenge for the misdeeds.

[Page 213-215]

Naphtali Raab

recorded by Mordechai Schiff and written by Moshe Zucker
Naftali was a very rich man. He gave charity lavishly and secretly. He studied the torah but was essentially known for his charity. He dealt in linens and nobody came close to him in this field. Naphtali was the biggest merchant and owned a large house that faced the market. The tall build ing contained five apartments. One for himself, two for his sons ,Avraham and Eliezar, and two for his daughters with their husbands, Eliyahu Kaufman and Haim Dym nicknamed the spodick. He always wore the hat called a spodick, summer and winter. Naftali had another daughter married to Zishe Beck and they lived in Lemberg. He and his sons conducted the business. The son-in-laws had other business. The Raab store was a beehive of activity, postal parcels arrived and were dispatched to all corners of the world. The demand for linens was big and the area could not satisfy the demand in spite of the attempt of the Polish farmers to meet the demands. The Raab family had contacts with factories in Bohemia and received merchandise that was then stamped with the Raab name. Of course the factories produced fine linens that matched the Korczyn production. Otherwise the Raab family would have lost their well-established reputation. in this line of business. Nobody was able to outsell the Raab family. They had salesman that traveled and sold their merchandise throughout the region. One of the salesmen was Nuta Joskale who peddled the merchandise in Hungary. He loaded a coach of merchandise and left Korczyn after Pessah and returned two weeks before the next Pessah.

When he returned to Korczyn, he met Naphtali and settled accounts. He then started to prepare for the holiday. The salesman was always short but Naphtali did not terminate his employment, he merely added everything to his bill and he continued to represent the Raab firm. Suddenly, one year he returned practically on the eve of the holiday and informed Naftali that he was bankrupt and has no ability to pay. Needless to say that Nuta did not bake matzot or made other preparations for the holiday. Monday, the eve of the holiday, Nuta went to the first minyan or service and stood behind the oven in order not to be seen. As if per chance, Naftali also went to the first minyan and saw his salesman but played stupid. When the torah was read, Naftali was the reader, he called Nuta to the bima and read for him the section. Following the blessing, Naftali gave him a hearty welcome. Later in the day, he sent him the usual annual Pessah gift that consisted of a liter of Hungarian wine, a liter of chicken fat and six matzot. During Hol Hamoed Pessah, Naftali sent for Nuta to come to the house in order to settle the accounts. Nuta came and told hiss boss that he has money. Never mind said to him Naftali. You will continue to represent us and your debt will be inscribed in the account.

When the rabbi of Dzikow visited Korczyn, he stayed at the house of Naftali. The latter was a hassid of his. The whole town was in motion and many people came to ask for the rabbi's divine intercession. When Naftali became ill and later died, the entire town was greatly worried. Many people prayed for his recovery and special prayers were recited for him. His death was a sad event in the town and the Raab family lost their shining star. The entire family perished with the exception of some grandchildren who live in New York, Israel and Antwerp.

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