I went first to my birthplace, the town of Lancsut. Before moving on to Nowy-Targ and Zakopane, I spent a week in Charni Dunaietz with my uncle and aunt, Eliezer and Rivka Fass.
On Sabbath Eve, as my uncle and I were on our way to the synagogue, I saw a tall woman lighting candles. My uncle told me that she was Madam Zusiya Sobelson of Tarnow, the mother of the Communist leader and journalist Karl Radek. After the death of her first husband, so I learned, she conducted a finishing school for girls. On remarrying, she moved to Charni-Dunaietz, the home of her new husband, Pacenover. Radek visited his mother in 1933 while on an official visit to Poland. Several years later, during the liquidations in the Soviet leadership, Madam Sobelson begged Stalin to spare her son, but was refused.
Of all the scenes from those days that have remained with me, the sharpest is the sight of Karl Radek's mother, blessing the Sabbath candles.
The Beginnings of the Town
Situated close to the Polish-Czech-Hungarian border and about 15 kilometers from Nowy-Targ, Charni-Dunaietz was under the latter's administration. It was founded back in the Middle Ages in 1238 by Theodor Czadre of Crakow. Its church was erected in 1589 and its school in 1750. Its economy was first based on knitting fabrics but gradually branched into several directions.
Near the town there was a huge peat bog, which the people dug up for fuel and fertilizer. The town was the "urban" center for the surrounding villages. It held six fairs a year and carried on a brisk trade with neighboring Hungary. The town was visually exceptionally beautiful.
The Jewish Community
In the 1930's the town had a Jewish population of 120 families (about 500 souls), engaged in the crafts, small industry, trade and some clerking. The big commercial item was the lumber industry, based on the surrounding forests. Landau of Crakow operated a saw mill there, employing about 200 workers. Jews also operated three bakeries, a carbonated beverages plant and a fuel station.
The town's synagogue and Bet-Midrash drew many worshippers for prayer and for study sessions, conducted, in the final years by Rabbi Lifschitz.
Elementary education was available in the seven-grade school, separate for boys and girls; secondary education existed in NowyTarg and Crakow, too expensive for many Jews. In 1929 a Tarbut Hebrew School was founded, and it soon became the center for the Jewish young people. Also, Zionist organizations came into the town: "Hashomer Hatzair", "Akiva", "Hechalutz" (members of the latter worked in the saw mill and Bot's flour mill as hachshara). A local library was opened in 1930, which also led to the founding of a kindergarten, conducted by Anda Ceisler of Dembitz.
Jews served on the town's surrogate bench. There were two Jewish advocates in town: Dr. Leon Lamensdorf and Dr. Shimon Pacenover.
Notices were given to the townspeople by means of a drum, which summoned everyone to come out and listen to the herald. The area also served the army for military drills, conducted at that time by General Mund, a converted Jew.
The Polish Army Routed
Ten days before the outbreak of the Second World War a large Polish army contingent arrived in the vicinity, but well-armed German troops were already waiting on the other side of the border. On September 1 all the young people, Jews included, were put to work on barricades to stem the German advance, to no avail. Most of the Jews fled to Nowy-Targ but the Germans strafed them from planes and killed many of the refugees. This was the beginning of the end for the ancient Jewish community in Charni-Dunaietz.
Kroshchenko's Jews lived modestly, so as not to arouse the envy of the Poles. The latter regarded the Jews as second-class citizens, although they were guaranteed equal rights by the AustroHungarian Empire. The Jews in town numbered no more than 40 families, in a total population of 2,000 souls. They engaged in trade and a bit of farming; the earth was fertile, and the Dunaietz River coursed through the beautiful, mountain-ringed valley. Among the town's professionals were three Jewish lawyers and Dr. Shlomo Riegelhaupt.
Despite its small size, Kroshchenko's Jewish community served the entire area, in such matters as rabbinate service, burials and community registry, Jewish travelers enjoyed communal hospitality, though somewhat makeshift in nature; lodgings were provided in the foyer of the synagogue.
Reb Efraim Halperin was the moving spirit in the community. He conducted the heder, ran the community services, and lived with his family next to the synagogue. This building was built early in the century and replaced the shack used until then. Built of large stone blocks (almost four feet thick at the base) , it had two large chambers, for men and women. Aside from regular prayers, the synagogue was always open to study circles, even late into the night. One of the outstanding lay scholars was Reb Moshe Englander, a Bobover Hassid and cabalist, author of the Or Moshe commentary on the Scriptures. Rabbi Yoel Moshe Boimel was surrounded by many scholars, among them my father, Joseph Zyskind. Another lay scholar, Reb Avrohom Yehoshua Shein, was also a man of means, which he used to help others. Only one of his fine sons, Yehiel Ichel, was able to escape the Holocaust. By devious means he managed to reach Eretz-lsrael.
Zionism manifested itself in the Community largely through its youth organizations. "Akiva" developed rapidly, to the point that, shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War, it had quarters of its own, which it shared in a house with "Agudas Israel" youth. Much of its success was due to the devoted work of Boruch Rubinstein. Before going on to the university in Crakow, which conferred on him the Ph. D. degree, he set "Akiva" on a firm course. Later he made his way to Israel and was active in "Bet Rothschild" in Haifa.
The "Agudas Israel" group also had the good fortune of dedicated leadership in its midst. Here the moving spirit was Yehoshua Noimel, who went on to become the rabbi of Kroshchenko and Sczyavnitza. He was a student of the Yeshivat Hachmei Lublin, where he became imbued with religious activism. Under his guidance, "Agudas Israel" youth founded its club, library, seminars and discussion groups.
These young people of "Akiva" and "Agudas Israel" were the pride of the community and its contribution to the Jewish future, which was cut short by the murderous hand of the Nazis.
Many of the national Jewish institutions carried on vacation activities in the town, and several of its young people, further inspired by Zionist leaders who came there for the summer, made their way to Eretz-lsrael.
The Jews, few as they were, were divided in their views on religion, politics, and world affairs, but their attitudes were positive. Most of the young people were members of "Akiva"; all prepared to go to Eretz-lsrael, but few made it in time.
Four of the great-grandchildren managed to reach Eretz-lsrael. The oldest, Dov Kleinzahler, fell in defense of Kfar Etzyon. In our family, six of the nine children perished in the Holocaust, as did the members of the other branches of our family, scores of men and women and, especially, children.
"We were still youngsters and didn't understand what was going on. Together with other curious youngsters, we roamed through the streets. We saw many adults leaving the town, but most of them came back.
"The Germans were busy taking hostages and staging roundups. On August 30, 1942, came the general roundup. The Germans asked the Judenrat to supply them with 11 Jews to dig amass grave. All the old and the weak were brought to the spot and murdered.
"We were sent to a sawmill in Charni-Dunaietz, then to the Plashov camp, where we were put to work dragging logs out of the forest and loading them on flat cars. We stole potatoes to sate our hunger and were flogged for it. It was no easier in Ostrowietz. The end of the war found us in Auschwitz."
Known as an outstanding scholar while still a young man, Rabbi Hirsch was encouraged by the famed Rabbi Hayyim Halberstam of Tzanz to put his thoughts into writing. He decided to publish a collection of responsa when both of his daughters died; the volume was to be in their commemoration.
Rabbi Hirsch accepted the call to serve in Nowy-Targ after his material state was impaired by adversity. "When I came there," he writes, "I was a stranger in an alien land, for I had there neither relative nor friend, and although its inhabitants were honest and well-meaning and respectful of my person, each had to attend to his own affairs, but the Almighty moved many charitable and prosperous men to befriend me"; he then goes on to list the names of these men, saying that "these distinguished members of our town are my supporters, both in providing for my -household and in refreshing my soul; they are my protection against any foe. May the Almighty repay them as they deserve, and may their years be spent in pleasure and prosperity, in honor and everything good. Amen."
The rabbi's wife sold yeast for baking the Sabbath challas. Thursday was market day in our town, and many people stopped
in, toward evening, to buy yeast, often paying for it much more than the ordinary price; that was their way of supporting the rabbi.
Once, I recall, there was an eclipse of the sun. A huge throng gathered in the yard of the Great Synagogue to observe this manifestation of the Lord's handiwork. Despite his advanced age, Rabbi Yisroel Dovid danced about in pure joy.
When the rabbi died, a tent was set up over his grave, and on the anniversary day many Jews, also from the surrounding communities, came to pray there.
I recently received a copy of his major work, Emek Halacha, reprinted by his nephew, Rabbi Yosef Mordecai Boimel, once the head of the Crown Heights Yeshiva in Brooklyn and now a resident of Jerusalem. The new edition contains a biography of the remarkable young author.
Rabbi "Yehoshua'le", a favorite of the Lublin Rabbi, was a frequent visitor at our home, which served as the center and
meeting place for scholars, writers and community leaders. He was the youngest among them, but his deep erudition gained him complete acceptance.
Emek Halacha is important not merely as a work of magnitude in the vast world of rabbinic literature. It is also an intimation of the tremendous intellectual powers which we lost in the Holocaust. To those of us who feel self-satisfied with the new generation they had reared, this work is also cause for repeating the saying, "When will my deeds equal those of my fathers
My grandfather, R. Shimon Englander, was one of them. He operated a Hebrew print shop, then erected a plant for light beverages and opened a fabrics shop, importing the merchandise from Vienna and Budapest. He was also musical and was' blessed with a fine voice. From his early youth to the end of his days he was the baal-mussaf in the Beth Hamidrash on the High Holydays.
A highly respected member of the community,, he served, on the panel of jurymen. In 1934 he left Nowy-Targ for Eretz-lsrael and settled in Haifa, where he plunged into activity on-behalf of the religious community, studying, writing. He completed, his Shaar Shimon, a commentary on the cabbalist work 'Brit Kehunat Olam. His handwriting was remarkably clear. In 1946, the print shop where the book was being prepared on Ben-Yehuda Street in Jerusalem was destroyed in the bombing incident, and for some time the manuscript remained unretrieved.
In the mid-1930's, when welfare institutions were few and Far from efficient, my grandfather organized Ateret Zekenim, to provide for the needs of the elderly scholars in Haifa. When he died, in 1950, thousands attended his funeral.
One of these was the Chief Magistrate of the Religious Court, Rabbi Hayyim Dov Berish Storch. Although he did not come from a family of rabbis, he became a great scholar, and of his six daughters, five married rabbis.
The persons appointed to manage the religious life of the community were also fine lay scholars. My father, Arye Yitzhak Rand, served in this capacity as Vice-Chairman of the Community Council. Like all the progeny of the Kuznitz Maggid, he acquired knowledge very quickly. Our home was open to a constant flow of friends, neighbors, and townspeople in quest of advice or to consult with my father on community matters. I recall among them Asher Greenspan, Yaacov Schiff, Hayyim Fertig, Zeev Katz and our uncle, Avrohom Moshe Kopito.
We were a remarkable family. My mother, Devora, was a beautiful and wise woman, but death overtook her at the age of 42. We were seven children.
My brother Yosef, an auto-didact, wrote for Hatzefira under the pen name Wofsi. He was a delegate to one of the Zionist Congresses in Basel, representing the General Zionists. Much to our father's disapproval, he changed his hassidic velvet hat for modern headgear. When the Russians came into Polish Ukraine he was imprisoned and executed as a "kulak". My sisters "married well" and reared fine families, numbering scores of children. But only two of the Rand family survived the Holocaust.
Another such family was Lazarkewich. Of the 14 splendid children of Hanoch and Miriam, only two sons survived. This multibranched family, residing in various parts of Poland, met the same fate. Some managed to reach Eretz-lsrael via the Cyprus detention camps. The Lazarkewich home had always been a center of Zionist
activity, and the children joined either "Hashomer Hatzair" or "Hashomer Hadati".
Nowy-Targ is no more. My family is no more - only the memory.
A Jew was falsely accused of a crime. He was taken to court and sentenced to prison. Would Madame Gewirtz intercede with the town authorities ? She did, and the authorities yielded to her intelligence, her exquisite Polish speech, her very personality.
She had her daily work in the community, and she involved the entire family in it. I was "the provider". On Fridays, as soon as I came home from school I was given a parcel - challas, soap, meat - to take to Mrs. Sofer, in her home, past the cemetery. I used to run by, in great fear. "Do not be afraid," Mama would say.
"People take to the cemetery only their good deeds." At times I would take similar parcels to the Christian hospital in town, for a Jewish patient who wouldn't eat treifa.
I remember what the Rabbi of Sokolow said, when I told him that my mother was one of the first to be murdered by the Nazis, in 1942 : "If such a righteous woman is put to death..." and his hands, outstretched toward the heavens, gave voice to what he had left unsaid.
She came to me in a dream when I was in the concentration camp. "Do not be afraid," she said. "They will not have power over you." That morning I was "selected" to die, but suddenly the condemned were assigned to hard labor, beatings. But I survived. My sister and I went back, but nothing was left except Mama's spirit, hovering in the air. We met Dr. Mek. He a Pole, had been released from Buchenwald. "I knew that I would survive," he said, "because of the good deeds I performed at Madame Gewirtz's request."
He was about 15 or 16, dark, hawk-nosed and red-cheeked, employed in Singer's store, always courteous and ready to help. After a hard day's work, he would hurry to the "Akiva" clubhouse, to learn Hebrew.
A few months after the outbreak of the war I met him in Lemberg, then in the hands of the Russians. I helped him get across the border to Wilno. A thousand of us lived in a giant "kibbutz" on Sowoc Street, under terrible conditions made worse by the brutal winter. Muniek was on guard duty in the laundry room. The steaming heat, all night, drove him to the cool showers, regardless of the inevitable end. He was stricken with pneumonia. I went to see him - choking, feverish. His look beseeched me not to leave. He died the next day, and a black headstone was added to the others in the Wilno cemetery, a marker for a young soul on its way to EretzIsrael.
One of my older sisters was paralyzed from the waist down since childhood, She loved books, and people who came to visit us brought her enough books to stack a library. In the 1930's, when my father lost all his savings, my sister ran the library on a commercial basis. A young Pole fell in love with her and was prepared to be converted to Judaism, but this was not to be. Then came the end for everyone: my father and older sister were shot by the Nazis. My mother and two sisters were put on a "transport" to a death camp, and died either on the way or in the Auschwitz crematoria.
As one of the organizers of Jewish self-defense in the area, he was arrested for possession of arms and treason, but was saved from execution thanks to the intercession of Jewish community leaders Dr. Yehoshua Thon and Advocate A.M. Hartglass.
In 1923, Dr. Fass married Anna Pollak of Zakopane and opened there an office for the practice of law, which rapidly gained an outstanding reputation in non-Jewish intellectual circles, as well. Despite the demand on his time, he was very active in the affairs of the Jewish community, organizing it and later serving as its deputy-chairman and chairman, He was instrumental in the erection of the Zakopane synagogue and the maintenance of its cemetery. When Polish economic anti-semitism threatened to wreck Jewish businesses in the town, he was one of the founders and directors of the Jewish Credit Cooperative. He was also very active in Zionist circles and contributed generously to Jewish national causes.
When the Second World War broke out, Dr. Fass and his family headed east toward "Little Poland", which had been taken by the Russians. In 1940 he was deported to a labor camp deep in Russia and died there in 1943. His wife and children went back to Poland after the war, and are now living in Israel.
In 1910, having acquired knowledge in bookkeeping, he became the bookkeeper of the Jewish Credit Cooperative in Nowy-Targ. His free time went into intellectual pursuits, in the Jewish "Readers' Club" and general cultural circles. Politically he was inclined toward the Left, belonging to several such organizations, the "Bund" among them - but he liked to lecture on the Bible. He drew near to Zionism under the impact of Polish antisemitism, joined the General Zionists and placed at their disposal his consummate oratorical powers. For many years he headed the local branch of the Zionist Organization and the JNF. At the same time, he was a member of the City Council and a member of the Jewish Community Executive. His two sons, Zigmunt and Emil, were no less active.
Yosef Folkman died in 1937. His wife Amalia and son Emil lost their lives in the Holocaust. A daughter, Irena Marcus, settled in Ramat-Gan and died there several years ago. Zigmunt, a retiree from governmental service, lived in Ramat-Gan and died there several years ago.
"A Jewish Quarter"
The Germans wanted to clear the Podhala district of its Jewish population, and Nowy-Targ was selected as the site to which all Jews would be sent. The area allocated for the "Jewish Quarter'' was far too small to accommodate them, and the houses were bedraggled and neglected - a far cry from the homes which the Jews had to evacuate and which were quickly appropriated by the Poles.
By assigning the Jews to menial and degrading labor, the Nazis achieved their objective of breaking their morale, much to the delight of their neighbors. But soon the Nazis realized that by selling Jewish labor to the industrial enterprises in the area they could earn enormous sums. The Jews were ordered to organize themselves according to vocations and trades - sewing, feather plucking, brush manufacturing. This productive work filled the Jews with hope that they might weather the storm. The younger Jews were set to work in the peat bogs and saw mills, living in labor camps.
Next came the usual prohibitions: no kosher shechita, no practice of the legal profession, no bank accounts, no pensions, no attending movie houses, restaurants and public parks. In the "Reinhardt Roundup" (named after Heydrich, the murderer of Lidice), the Jews had to give up their remaining jewelry and ornaments, which they had been selling to the Poles to keep alive; their furs went to the front for the soldiers. The synagogue was converted into a silo and later into a movie theater.
The Jewish suffering was heightened by the behavior of the Poles. They brought up fictitious accusations against any Jew they wanted out of the way, and the Nazis sent the accused to the Palace Hotel in Zakopane, where they were tortured to death.
While there were no organized roundups of Jews in Nowy-Targ until 1942, the SS men had the right to kill on the spot any Jew who broke any of the decrees. The SS troopers stretched the law and killed Jews as they pleased. Weissmann, a tailor, and his family were murdered because they bore the same name as did the head of the Gestapo in Zakopane, Robert Weissmann. In all cases, the SS men reported to their superiors that they were eliminating elements dangerous to the Nazi regime...
The First Roundups
The situation worsened as Germany declared war on the United States (December 11, 1941) and no longer had to worry about the Jewish influence on the Administration.
On January 20, 1942, Heydrich proposed at the "Wansa Conference" a final solution to the Jewish problem - the death camps. Until these were organized, the Nazis continued with the earlier procedure, breaking into Jewish homes, shooting the occupants, and assigning other Jews to cart the corpses away to the cemetery. On June 8 a squad of the murderers went into a feather plucking plant where many pious Jews, young and old were working. Provoked further by the traditional Jewish appearance of these laborers, the Nazis ordered them to walk in a procession to the cemetery. Many of them wrapped themselves up in their prayer shawls, knowing that these were their last moments. In the cemetery they were first beaten brutally then shot. Some were still alive when the earth covered them. Next came the turn of the grave-diggers.
The third roundup was of Jews charged with trading in foreign currency. They were taken to the SS cadet training school in Rabka and brutally murdered.
The first deportation took place early in the summer of 1942. About 100 Jews were shipped in boxcars to the BeIzetz death camp.
In July and August Robert Weissmann came to Nowy-Targ and personally directed the murder of the sick, the disabled and the elderly.
The Nazis worked according to lists, which they compiled with the help of the Poles. They knew that the wife of Rabbi Baumoel and her daughter were in the home of Marian Dralich. The Nazis forced the daughter to take her mother out into the yard, and shot the elderly woman. They broke into the home of Hananiah Gnevich, reputed to be a rich man, tore up the floor boards and smashed the furniture. On each of their visits, they murdered one or more members of the family - the two sons, the mother and the grandparents. Gnevich himself was sent to Zakopana and killed there.
All this time, more and more Jews were brought to Nowy-Targ from the neighboring towns and villages: Zakopane, Shchavnitza, Ohotnitza, Habubka, Mamanova, Manioba, Caminitza, Shaflari Hoholov. The congestion in Nowy-Targ became unbearable.
The Last Days
The Judenrat made known a Gestapo proclamation, that if the Jews paid a certain amount in ransom, they would not be deported. The Jews brought whatever they still had. Late in August, cattlecars arrived, ostensibly to take people to the Ukraine for a "new,
productive life". Many Jews believed the story; they still thought that Germany would bring about law and order. Had they, as well as other Jews in the hundreds of thousands, known the fate awaiting them, they would not have allowed themselves to be herded into the transports. Because of the long distance from Belzetz, no survivors returned to Nowy-Targ to tell the true story.
On August 30, 1942, all the Jews in the town were ordered to report to the Pilsudski Stadium. A barrel was placed at the center of the field, and the Jews were ordered to drop in the last of their ornaments - heirlooms, rings, bracelets. Robert Weissmann ordered the non-workers to proceed to the left; he saw a mother and her child walking too slowly to his liking and he shot both of them (for these acts he was tried in court after the war, and the charged was dropped to aiding and abetting because of "insufficient evidence").
The young people - 600 of them - were sent to the labor camps; the others, including the members of the Judenrat and their families, were taken to the cemetery. There they were placed against the wall, and the Gestapo men went from one victim to the next, shooting them in the temple and pushing the bodies into a huge grave, dug earlier. Weissmann himself helped drag the bodies. Marian Dralich, who was there and later gave his testimony to the court in Freiburg, estimated the number of victims at 500-600. The only one to escape was David Grassgreen. Having leased land in the area, he knew about a hidden trail leading out of the cemetery, and managed to slip away, hide in the nearby forest, and make his way to Slovakia. After the war 'he return to Poland, only to be murdered by Polish rightists.
After the slaughter in the cemetery, the Germans gathered in their clubhouse and celebrated their victory over the Jews. One of them, Schmidt, boasted that on that day he had murdered "his 1,000th Jew". To celebrate the achievement, he wrote the number on the cork of a beer bottle and put it around his neck. Later Schmidt committed suicide.
All these facts were given by SS men in testimony in the post-war Freiburg trials.
The Jews of Nowy-Targ went to their death without a trace of hope, unlike their brethren a year later, who felt that, despite their own fate, the war was turning against the Nazis. In July-August 1943 the Russians scored a major victory near Kursk and went on
a general offensive. The Allies landed in Sicily, Mussolini fell, and the Badoglio government surrendered to the Allies.
A year earlier, however, it seemed that all of Europe's Jews would be annihilated. Hitler was at the peak of his triumphs. Leningrad was under siege. The Nazis had launched a major offensive in the Caucasus. The fall of Stalingrad was to be the climax of victory.
No Jew of Nowy-Targ survived the Belzetz camp. Conditions in this camp are known from the writings of Rudolf Reder, in his two books published in Buenos Aires. Unlike the other camps, from which the inmates were sent out to do forced labor and therefore had some chance of escaping, Belzetz served only one purpose murder of Jews. The camp was surrounded 'by a fence charged with a high voltage of electricity, and there was no escaping from it. Since there were no survivors to testify, the prosecutor in the Eichmann trial could only read from a report on Belzetz, drawn up in 1944 for the U.S. Army by Gestapo Officer Gerstein, who had served in the camp.
In August, 1942, the camp was operating at full steam. Each day, three trains arrived - 60 boxcars with 100 people in each. Everyone was told to leave his clothes for safekeeping. The women were directed elsewhere, to have their hair shorn and put into sacks. Naked, they were forced to enter a building marked "Here is the Bathhouse and Inhalation". The stench coming from inside told the story. The SS men forced them, with canes and whips, to go into the six gas-chambers. The sick were taken in on stretchers.
It took about 25 minutes for each batch to be gassed to death. Other Jewish prisoners dragged the stiff corpses, in their upright position, to another spot, where they opened the mouths of the dead with prongs, separating the corpses into two piles - those with gold teeth and those without. Bodies were butchered in quest of money and other valuables. Since Belsetz had no crematoria, the bodies were cast into huge pits.
In 1943, sensing that their defeat was near, the Nazis closed the camp. The bodies were exhumed from the pits and burned by other Jewish prisoners, but enough bones remained scattered over the area to arouse the wrath of world opinion. In 1962, Meir Yacobovitz, head of the Cracow Jewish community, took a group of men with him to Belsetz, gathered huge mounds of bones, and buried them in a common grave.
The Nowy-Targ Labor Camp
The 35 skilled workmen spared in the last roundup were ordered to build a camp, behind the railway station, surrounded by barbed wire, and to set up inside workshops for carpentry, plumbing, tinsmithing, shoemaking and sewing. All the Jewish belongings in the town were brought here for classification.
Already on the first day a truckload of clothing arrived, much of it bloodstained. The camp workers sorted them and recognized some of the attire worn by the murdered members of their families.
The classification was done by Gestapo men from Zakopane, who stole all the valuables they found. Things of little value were thrown on to the junk pile. The workers laundered and ironed the clothes before classifying them.
On one occasion, several workers were taken to the cemetery to uproot gravestones. They saw there an open pit and thought that they were to be its occupants. Later they learned that the real victims were the "Gurales", descendants of Jewish converts in past generations. The Germans had thought that the Gurales - sturdy and Aryan in appearance -came from some pure German stock. When they discovered the truth, they proceeded to murder them, as well, overlooking the fact that many Gurales were staunch antisemites (their leader, Watzlav Casheftovski, a notorious antisemite, was later killed by the Polish underground, Armeia Krajowa).
The camp continued functioning until a Gestapo group came from the Plashov camp and, without asking permission from headquarters, took the 35 workers to Plashov, as they did with the Jews working in the Nowy-Targ sawmills.
The Nowy-Targ Townspeople in the Plashov Camp
The Plashov camp, during this period, was a vast concentration compound (200 units, 40 observation towers, surrounded with 4 kilometers of barbed wire). The inmates worked inside the camp -Jr in various enterprises around Cracow.
The food was poor - a watery soup and a small slice of bread. Any work not done well was considered an act of sabotage. Inmates were shot for not taking off their hats in front of an overseer or for pausing at work. The slightest misdemeanor was punished by public flogging. From time to time the old and the weak and those stricken with typhoid, a very prevalent disease, were taken away and liquidated. Since Flashov had no gas chambers, the
accumulated corpses numbered into the thousands, in 8 huge graves. Among them there were found to be several from Nowy-Targ. When the Russian front moved closer toward Cracow, in the summer of 1944, the Germans closed the camp and sent its inmates to camps in the west; the Nowy-Targ people went to Gross-Rosen. Many perished on the way.
Of the 335 Nowy-Targ townspeople selected for the labor camps, only a handful survived, estimated at 3% of the town's Jewish population.
Why the Total Annihilation of Nowy-Targ's Jews?
In the roundup of Nowy-Targ's Jews, including some from surrounding villages, there perished almost 1,000 persons, in the town itself; another 2,200 were deported to Belsetz, so that the percentage of survivors was below the national average. The reasons for their failure to make a stand against their enemies were spelled out at the Eichmann trial, as being the following
1. Physical exhaustion and mental stress.As far as Nowy-Targ was concerned, there were additional local reasons.
2. Apathy and lack of a desire to go on living in utter misery.
3. Collective responsibility, in which the escape or resistance by one member the family endangered the others.
4. Fear of the brutal tortures inflicted on those caught escaping.
5. Poor prospects of finding shelter elsewhere, due to the inimical attitude of most Poles.
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