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[Page 163]

The Song About Szlama Zelychowski

Written by Jicchak Kacenelson

 

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Our literary inheritance from the poet and martyr Jicchak Kacenelson includes the poem “The Song About Szlama Zelychowski”, which the poet wrote while incarcerated in the Warsaw Ghetto. Szlama Zelychowski, the hero of this poem, died a hero's death in Zdunska Wolja. He was born in Pabianice and was the son of Reb Mojsze Gedalja Zelychowski.

Sing Earth, sing heavens, sing God,
Sing all who are down here, sing all who are there up above!
All the worlds should sing, sing out the name Szlama Zelychowski
He raised up the people of the Earth!

Awaken Homer, blind poet and great singer
And generation, the generation of Jesus – let him arise.
Take up the harp, pluck the strings with delicate fingers
And sing to Szlama, the Jew of Zdunska Wolja.

Sing and comfort the Earth... Comfort, comfort and play, awaken it,
You are so lucky, Earth, blessed again and renewed!
Who is Hercules and who is Achilles? And who is Hector
Compared to the hero who was hanged in the marketplace of Zdunska Wolja?

They're so busy in Zdunska Wolja, it's so noisy.
It's the night before Shavuot – the day before the Torah was given – and everyone knows
They opened up the sealed Ghetto to the local non-Jews,
While the Germans prepare for the festival.

They opened up wide, peeled open the Ghetto gates –
Today entrance is allowed to the narrow and ugly Ghetto,
Where there'll be plenty to see today, everyone's going
Where ten gallows stand prepared in advance.

The Germans are happy to enter the sealed-off part of the town.
The Jews had been driven into the marketplace by force
So that they had to see... Quiet! They are being led in, they read aloud
Ten Jewish names, ten who had been chosen and marked.

Szlama Zelychowski! The name sounded in the Jewish air,
The name, and in the ears of those who stand close and those who stand far away...
One of the ten raises his head, as if he were calling someone –
It's him, look! He won't be changed for anyone else.

Szlama Zelychowski from Zdunska Wolja.
Does it sound any better?
O, you brave Jew, you are godlier and stronger!
Look down, your face reflects the light!

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Szlama Zelychowski – is it a name or the beginning of a song?
It sounds in every ear throughout the market –
There he is! There! He is standing as if in shul
And the sun shines brighter because of him and the sky is bluer!

Szlama Zelychowski! Such a name! A Jew's name! A Jewish name!
The whole marketplace repeats it –
Pour a glass of wine on his outstretched hand and make kidush
Who is singing? Who burst out in song like this in the marketplace?

He himself! Before his death he burst out himself in enthusiastic song
And as if the entire Jewish people was singing along with him –
He is singing! And all Jews sing out in his voice.
That's why he is so enflamed and holy.

He reminds himself: No! The crowd isn't singing along... He only thought so,
That the whole crowd was singing together with him.
Not even the other Jews on the gallows. And he turns to them,
And speaks to them, and it seems like his words are flames:

Why? Why do you hang your heads?
Why do you stand so darkly, crippled in this place?
Be strong! And believe that you will be strong!
Because of you, Jews could, God forbid, lose hope!

It is erev Shavuot, Jews! Tomorrow we will receive, again,
With joy, our ancient Torah!
We, too! We, more than anyone else! Although we won't live to see it,
We cannot be depressed today!

Let us be happy! It's an honour to die like this!
We are lucky! We die on behalf of the community, for the sanctification of God's name!
We are lucky to be hanged on the gallows,
So let us sing, Jews, let us lose ourselves in melody!

After saying these holy words he breathed more easily,
And he raised his head to the wonderful blue heavens.
And sang, in Zdunska Wolja's marketplace, the song that was sung in Jerusalem:
Jerusalem, eternal rest –

They stand ready, poised like an eagle before it takes flight,
And turn their eyes to Szlama Zelychowski, full of love,
And Szlama Zelychowski calls out to them, full of hope:
It's erev Shavuot! Jews, come, join in with me!

Sing, Earth and heavens sing! God sings,
All who are down here sing, and those who are up there –
All the worlds sing, sing out the name Szlama Zelychowski.
He raised up those who are here on the Earth.

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Sing, although he didn't kill anyone on this Earth,
Didn't shoot anyone,
Sing, although he was not a murderer
And never shed any blood.

Didn't destroy anything, not a city or village,
Never flew in an aeroplane,
Never bombed anyone who was walking on the road,
And never unsheathed a sword.

Sing about him, the hero from that poor town,
With streets that were narrow and thin,
Sing about him, here he is, you can see him,
The holy one of Zdunska Wolja!

* * *

Rebbe Mendele of Pabianice goes to Treblinka,

Written byM. Prager (Tel Aviv)
[translation of the Hebrew text begins on page 279]

* * *

The First Months under Nazi occupation

Written by Dr T. Sasna-Lifszyc (Tel Aviv)

 

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Pabianice began to experience the war on the very first day of the German invasion. During the day bombs fell from German planes and destroyed factory buildings and civilian homes. During the night we heard the thunder of heavy artillery.

Our neighbours on Mojdona Street gathered in the Wysockis' courtyard. In order to kill time we began to discuss what the invasion would mean to us. All were of the opinion that the Germans would not get far, because the help promised by our allies England and France would arrive soon. No one believed that their intervention would not or could not come. In the meantime, German aeroplanes rained bombs down on us. Everything began to shake as a result of the explosions. Windowpanes flew out. A bomb exploded opposite us and the roof began to burn. One of my girlfriends, Rywka Levy, was wounded in the head by flying shrapnel. My girlfriend's bleeding convinced me of the seriousness of our situation. Everyone ran out into the street in panic, not realizing that this was even more dangerous than remaining indoors. The aeroplanes circled over our heads and shot at the civilian population. People ran around in panic. Everything around us burned.

After the fires were put out we gathered again in the same place. It was a long time before people calmed down. Fear was mirrored in each face as evening approached. We sat in the dark, each busy with his own thoughts. The cannons thundered away all night. By morning it was as if the city had died. The streets were almost empty of people. We heard noises of heavy machinery. The first German tanks entered the city. Their first action was to shoot at the civilian population. The first Pabianice martyr was a certain Fuks and some others were wounded.

This was the beginning of the bloody German occupation.

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* * *

The appearance of the city changed. The inhabitants of Pabianice were used to working, to doing business, to always being busy. Now they had nothing to do. Joblessness always meant hunger for the working fraternity. The current joblessness foretold a slow death. More and more often we saw pale, thin, hungry children. There were no essential goods. Workers were unable to purchase food, which was very expensive. Hunger took its first toll on the working class of Pabianice. Long bread lines formed from 2 a.m. onward, although nothing could be bought before 8 a.m. Fights broke out on the breadlines because everyone wanted a loaf of bread. The rich and wealthy were not yet forced to stand in line for bread. For a high price everything was brought to their homes, but not many could afford this luxury.

The Germans didn't let us rest for long. They immediately started seizing people for work. Jews were forced to carry out the most difficult tasks while being beaten and cursed. Every day Jews returned from work beaten, bloody and covered with mud. In addition they were in danger of being shot at any time, depending on the mood of the individual German, who became the master whose word could decide the life and death of every Jew. The work was unproductive – designed to exhaust a person, to torture him physically and to break him spiritually. We were forced to carry stones from one place to another and the next day to carry them back to where we had started out the day before. This work had to be done at a fast pace until evening. We heard the news that the Soviets had crossed the Polish border and stopped at the River Bug. Jews from this side of the Bug were streaming in masses to the areas that the Red Army had already taken. Some, mostly young people, even began to leave Pabianice, heading in the direction of western Belarus.

* * *

Days passed and the Days of Awe approached. Those days, those holy days, were so sad, as Jews lifted their eyes up to God and begged for His help.

On the first day of Rosh Hashana the Jews in our building met at our house. Secretly and in great fear, they prayed and cried quietly. They saw in their prayers to God the last hope to be freed from their terrible new troubles. While the adults prayed we youngsters stood guard. When a policeman arrived we announced it with a pre-arranged signal and the talis clad Jews hid. This happened a few times, until the Jews were forced to end their communal prayers because Germans were leading talis clad Jews out of a neighbouring building. Jews were being chased through the streets and being beaten and cursed.

* * *

I could no longer hold myself back and decided to cross the Soviet border. The only thing preventing me was the fate of my parents. I tried to convince them that they and the whole family should join me. But my father argued that he wanted to die at home. My mother, who had always been an energetic woman, had become weak and now would not leave her home to undertake a long journey.

In the meantime, my husband's sister returned from across the Soviet border and brought me

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greetings from my husband, who was already there. We decided to cross the border together. My father didn't agree, but my mother, who understood me well, prepared me for the journey without his knowledge.

On 31 December 1939, I was already on my way, heading towards Warsaw. Bronka Lifszyc was with me. On 9 January 1940 we crossed the Bug, where we were caught by Germans. They ripped off our clothes and took everything from us. Later they threw our clothes out the window. The temperature was a frosty thirty degrees Farenheit...

* * *

It was the last time I met up with Germans

Written by Ber Herszlikowicz, Mordcha Szerodzki,
Yichak Urbach Grusman, Penina Jelinowicz and Rochl Alawieska

The Germans entered Pabianice on 8 September 1939. Szmuel Jecheskl Fuks' brother was shot by a patrol. They started to steal everything before evening. A Jewish soldier was buried together with Fuks. The first decree was to bury the dead soldiers and refugees, whose corpses lay on the road leading to Lodz.

The Civil Administration (Landratur – Land Council) first became active in mid-October and started off with anti-Jewish decrees. They let us know that we were expected to organize a Judenrat and a Juden Eltestn. They said that this would be better for Jews because this way we would have a representative to liaise with the German administration. A meeting of representatives of all the organized factions of the local Jewish community met at Jehojszua Alter's home to discuss how to react to the new situation. They considered the possible candidates for the position of Juden Eltestn. Jichak Urbach's name was suggested, but he refused categorically. The meeting did not suggest anyone in the end.

A few days later the Germans chose Attorney Szapyra as the Juden Eltestn (today Attorney Szapyra lives in Lodz under the name Stanislaw Wilczynski). Szapyra only served as Juden Eltestn for a short time. Later Jechil Rubinsztejn, who worked together with Szapyra at first, was chosen. Actually Rubinsztejn simply grabbed the position for himself.

The first Jewish factory that the Germans took over had belonged to the firm Urbach-Szynicki. The Germans who worked at the Land Council were the councillors Tat, Keller, Kaszada and others. Keller was in charge of Jewish property. He immediately ordered Jichak Urbach to leave his factory. He did this while holding a revolver in his hand. Kaszada was chosen as the factory's commissar.

Then they took over the factories of Zarski, Fajwl Ber, Wajnsztejn, Lydzborski and others. The theft of Jewish factories went on for two to four weeks. The factories were emptied. Half a year later they took over Polish factories as well. From amongst the businessmen a commissar was appointed to Rojtkop. Artisans were given special licences that allowed them to continue working.

On 28 October 1939 an order came to empty the block of Boznyczna-Tuszynska. Jakob Kubraniecki, Attorney Alter and Jisroel Jelenowicz went to intervene and never returned. Houses were emptied of their Jewish occupants in a brutal manner and the buildings were handed over to German important personages. A depot was created to hold confiscated objects of value at 11 Warszawska Street, which had been the home of Klejnplac.

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On the first day of Rosh Hashana they seized Jews to cover over the horse droppings. While doing this they were beaten mercilessly and were ordered to throw dirt at one another. Jews had a 5 p.m. curfew, Poles had a 10 p.m. curfew and Germans had a midnight curfew.

At first they organized an Employment Bureau, which took away workers for the Germans according to a list (they also took away Jews for work separately from the list). Jisroel Jelinowicz was the head of the Employment Bureau. There was no age limit for workers. Men and women were taken from the age of fourteen. You were allowed to hire someone to take your place. The Germans paid no wages, but the Jewish community did pay something. A large transport horse arrived and was housed in the shul and in the cinema.

The Ghetto was formed in the middle of February 1940. At the same time a kitchen was created for the unemployed. This was organized by the artisans, who received supplies from the Jewish community. Special orders began to pour out from the Germans, such as the wearing of a yellow armband, taking off your hat to all Germans and the right to buy in the shops only during certain hours.

In the Ghetto, Jews put on the yellow armbands right away. The Germans took over Jewish shops and certain items could not be sold to Jews, such as herring and butter. The punishment for taking off your hat for a German or for not taking off your hat for a German was a severe beating, which was issued in random circumstances. We were only allowed to ride in the last wagon of the tramway. In various German shops they hung out a sign that read: “Entrance is forbidden to Jews and Dogs.”

One day Engineer Katz was removed from his home and he never returned. Jelinowicz's daughter was taken off to work in Kindler's factory on her wedding day. She was ordered to do the dirtiest work, cleaning the toilets.

 

The first exile, the Ghetto and the activities of the Judenrat

Five hundred Jews were sent from the city to Kaluszyn before the Ghetto was organized. The Judenrat decided who was to leave the city, taking into account who depended on the free kitchen and who lived on the available support.

The Judenrat organized welfare for those who had been driven out. Money, clothes, underwear and other things were collected on their behalf. Those who were driven out received food for the road from the Judenrat, before they were loaded onto separate wagons, which became a convoy of humanity. Special German army units guarded the convoy all the way. This forced exile occurred towards the end of December 1939, after the Lodz district was incorporated into the territory of the Third Reich. Those who had been driven out were unloaded in Kaluszyn under the open sky. Some of them returned to Pabianice secretly.

The Germans carried out a general census after the exile. All the inhabitants were ordered to remain in their homes while the census takers came in to take their fingerprints. The Ghetto was organized in the middle of February 1940, after the Jewish population had been robbed. It consisted of the following streets: Tuszyn, Sobjeskego, Kapylyczna and Garncarska (only the even numbers) and Szul (odd numbers), Mlynarska and Konstantyn (both sides of the street up to and including numbers thirty-one and twenty-six), Garncarska (even numbers up to and including number twenty-two and odd numbers up to number five, Batorego (Szkolna) – both sides of the street.

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The Germans referred to the Ghetto as the “Jewish Quarter”. It was not enclosed. A sign with a gold Star of David on a blue background hung at the end of every street. Over eight thousand Jews entered the Ghetto. We were allowed to bring everything with us – of course, this was limited to what was left after all the robberies. The accommodation was assigned by the Judenrat's Housing Bureau.

The building located at 11 Konstantyn Street was known within the Ghetto as “The House of Lords” because it housed the Ghetto aristocracy. The Judenrat was made up of the following:

Rubinsztejn was the Juden Eltester;

Leml Marako was the Chief of Police;

Jechil Glas headed the Finance Department; and

Mordcha Bryn (Provisions Department, Post and Administration).

These four people made up a kind of presidium and were the main decision makers. They were in charge of all the legal and illegal matters in the Ghetto. The rest of the Judenrat was made up of:

Lolek Urbach (secretary),

Szmelka Sztejnhorn (provisions),

Jecheskl Hejman (provisions),

Jecheskl Kochman (Milk Department),

Jakob Szynycki (Health and Social Services – hospitals, pharmacy);

Goldblum (Court);

Aba Kupperwasser (Police);

Jisroel Jelinowicz (Employment Bureau).

The Judenrat was located in the former building of the Kehilla. During the war the old aged home was run by Mrs. Goldblum and Mrs. Marako and remained at its pre-war location, which was included in the Ghetto.

After the closing of the Public Kitchen when people were afraid to eat there for fear of being listed as a useless element, a tea house was created in 1940. There, for a small charge, you could get bread and tea. It was located in Elka's hall at 22 Popzenczna Street. This used to belong to the weavers' union, which was led by:

Jeszaja Birnbojm,

Dymant,

Lubnicki,

Grojnem,

Majer,

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Federman,

Kalman Rypsztejn,

Lejbl Moszkowicz,

Josef Geller,

Note Goldring,

and others.

The food was provided by the Judenrat. The tea hall was closed in 1941 because of the rise of the work resorts, which were created on the order of a German firm from Berlin.

 

The Work Resorts in the Ghetto

The owner of the firm of Ginter and Schwartz came from Berlin. He arrived at the Judenrat together with an officer who was a representative of the German Air Force and a master tailor. He suggested the creation of a Tailors' Resort, which would make coats, pants, shirts, etc. for the German Air Force. There were also civilian orders, which were prepared side by side with the military ones.

The Judenrat called all the tailors together and suggested that each one bring along his sewing machine. The tailors agreed and brought their machines. The resorts were created on the following streets:

31 Konstantyn,

5 Garncarska,

6 Mijodowa and

17 Konstantyn.

All the workshops worked for the above-mentioned firm.

At first about two hundred people were settled in the resorts with forty machines. Additional resorts were organized for carpenters, hat makers, leather workers and makers of women's wear.

The leather workers and women's wear resorts were located at numbers 15 and 17 Popzeczna Street under the leadership of Zajdman.

The carpenters' resort (Land Council and furniture making) was at numbers 45 and 47 Tuszyn Street. The hat makers' resort was at number 29 Konstantyn Street.

Shoemakers and bookmakers worked outside the Ghetto some of the time.

There was a department of “Lehman Works” located in Grossman's factory, number 19 Popzenczna Street, where light metal objects were made as well as electrical outlets. There were about twenty or twenty-five workers there, most of them women. This department was suddenly closed due to

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a mistake made by the SS. All the workers were sent to work in Posen. The daughter of Jisroel Zaks returned thanks to the fact that she was ransomed by payment of a large sum of money. Most of the others perished.

The looms of Jewish and Polish weaving installations were sorted into three categories. “A grade” looms were sent to Germany. “B grade” looms remained in Pabianice. “C grade” looms were melted down. There was a group of about twenty Jews working there, in addition to the master weavers Fiszl Mentlich, Lejbl Grossman, and Mejer-Chona Radzeiewski. Chaiml Miller was the foreman. The looms of categories A and B were polished and taken apart before being taken to the Collections Camp (Joskowicz's factory) at 45 Tuszyn Street, where they were reassembled. The Germans used to come there to purchase the machines at ridiculous prices. The profits went to the society “T.H.O.” (Treuhandschtele Ost). This was run by the Land Council.

The tailors' resort developed into a large business and employed twelve hundred workers. We thought that this resort supported the entire Ghetto. They had meant to close down the Ghetto a number of times, but each time the firm of Ginter and Schwartz had intervened and each time the decree was postponed. These practical Germans were, however, only interested in what was good for them.

There was a group of Jewish Gestapo agents who did much evil and caused much trouble. The tortured Jewish population also suffered because of the Juden Elteste, who thought that they would survive the war and make good money in the meantime. They really did make good money and lived like kings. Jechil Rubinsztejn, for example, belonged to those Jews who were out to make money at any price and to satisfy his German bosses on the collective backs of the Jewish community. The Judenrat members

Judl Rojtkop,

Goldblum,

Jakob Szynycki,

Jecheskl Kochman, and

Jecheskl Hejman

were worthy exceptions to the above mentioned dangerous types. As well as Jechil Rubinsztejn the following also excelled at evil:

Leml Marako,

Jechiel Glass,

Mordcha Bryn and

Abba Kupperwasser.

The salaries of the employees at the resorts were paid – thirty percent to the Judenrat and seventy percent to the Land Council – and were held in special accounts. The Judenrat deducted ten percent of its share for its own use.

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Mrs. Penina (Pola) Jelinowicz said in her witness statement:

When the Germans conquered Pabianice, they created a Land Council that was meant to serve as a kind of Civil Administration. When the Jews complained to the Land Council about their suffering, they were told that the Council couldn't talk to everyone and that the Jews must organize a representation. My husband knew some German civilians through his work for the firm Kruscha- Ender and they told him that he must participate in the Jewish representation.

They created an Eltestn Council with Jakob Lubraniecki and the Attorney Izak Alter at its head. The Jewish Community Council was then located at number 7 Mojdani Street. This council functioned for ten weeks. Most of its work consisted of shtadlanut, avoiding decrees to empty blocks of their Jewish inhabitants.

When the first block was surrounded during the first clearing action, three Gestapo men came and asked whether Wolf Jelinowicz lived there and where he was at present. I told them that he had gone to intervene with the Land Council. I was worried by this and went out into the street. As I approached the Land Council I saw three Jews being arrested by the Gestapo men and put in a taxi. My husband was one of the three. He just managed to tell me that I should intervene for him with Lehman, the director of Kruscha-Ender. Lehman had previously assured my husband that nothing would happen to him.

I immediately went off to the director, but they wouldn't let me in to see him. After three weeks we found out that the arrestees were imprisoned in Lodz in the prison on Szterlingo Street. After the arrest of Izak Alter, Lubrijaniecki and my husband Wolf Jelinowicz, Attorney Szapyra became the Juden Eltester. He worked very hard to free the three arrestees. I am not of the opinion that Attorney Szapyra was involved in the arrests because he wanted to get rid of Attorney Alter. I know that the whole matter of the arrests of the three Jews came about because of the hatred of a folks-deutsch named Kiepsch or Cerba for Lubraniecki. When the Germans entered Pabianice he told him: “Up until now I served you. Now you will serve me.” In the end the doorman and the Pole at the Jewish Community building informed the Gestapo that the three Jews, Lubraniecki, Alter and Jelinowicz, gathered together at secret anti-German meetings.

They were arrested on 11 November 1939. More than anyone, Attorney Szapyra intervened on their behalf. We contacted the only German attorney who would intervene on behalf of Jews, we paid him a thousand marks and he contacted the families of the arrestees. This attorney constantly reassured us that everything would be fine.

One morning he held out his hand to us and said that he had great news for us. He told us to come to him that afternoon and that then they would be freed. When we arrived everything had totally changed, and he told us that he couldn't do anything because the Gestapo had already taken away the papers.

The arrestees remained in the prison on Szterlingo Street in Lodz. My husband was in cell number ten. We now had something new to worry about – bringing food to our husbands. This entailed great difficulties and danger. Often I disguised myself as a Polish woman and succeeded in bringing in food. The last time my husband sent me a note in Polish, saying “Don't send me luxury items. Send me bread. I am hungry.” He put in notes for me often, seeking to reassure me.

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After six weeks the arrestees were shifted to the Radogoszcz (Lodz) Punishment Camp. I left for Radogoszcz. Someone tried to cut my throat on the way. In the end I made it to the camp. They told me that I couldn't bring any food in there but that I could bring fresh laundry. After being in Radogoszcz for a few days they were shifted to the prison in Lenczyc. There was no communication permitted with that place. There were rumours abounding that Lubraniecki died in Lenczyc.

No one knows how long they were there. Then we heard a rumour that they were in Dachau. Two Poles who had returned from Dachau assured us of this twice. Later someone told me that my husband was shifted to Posen at the head of a group of seven hundred men who were meant to clean bathrooms. Since then I have heard nothing about his fate.

The above-mentioned Poles also said that they had seen Attorney Alter in Dachau.

 

As told by Mrs. Rochl Alawieska:

When they found out in Warsaw that the Germans were planning to close the Pabianice Ghetto on account of the typhus epidemic, Bernard Faust collected a large supply of anti-typhus injections, which he sent to Pabianice with the help of Baruch Lychtensztejn. This alleviated the effect of the epidemic.

Dr. Szwyder and the Polish surgeon Dr. Majer participated in much of the medical treatment in the Pabianice Ghetto. Dr. Majer heroically defended the health of the Ghetto. Every day he sneaked into the Ghetto illegally and carried out complicated operations gratis under the prevailing primitive conditions. He also helped financially and gave medicine and other things to foster health generally. The Germans hanged Dr. Majer. Among other things, the Gestapo accused him of befriending and helping Jews.

There were a few hundred people from Pabianice in the Warsaw Ghetto. A special kitchen was created for them. It was organized by Baruch Lychtensztejn and was staffed by:

The wife of Dr. Midler (dentist),

Sonja Kahn,

Benja Rotberg, and

Cela Skurkowska.

Any profits from the kitchen were used in order to help Pabianice Jews who were in need. Samuel Faust was a member of the Warsaw Committee and did much to help Jews from Pabianice. Mrs. Midler was the head cook.

 

Additional statements:

There were quarantine days when Jews were not allowed to be seen in the streets. The quarantine took effect when high-ranking German guests were expected and those in control wanted to present Pabianice as already being Juden rein.

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There was a prison in the Ghetto where Jews who could not or would not pay the special taxes were imprisoned. They were held for a few days until they agreed to pay.

During the northern winter of 1941/42 the Germans in the city carried out a collection of clothing to help during the winter. The collected items were brought to the Jewish hospital on Konstantyn Street, which was empty at the time. German women sorted everything and Jewish tailors (male and female) mended them. The Jewish police kept the peace and kept an eye open, yet things were still stolen.

One night Jichak Urbach was awoken so that he could intervene with the Germans on behalf of Rubinsztejn over some thefts. Urbach didn't want to go, but he was eventually convinced. After all, one of the Germans had already announced that the punishment for theft from the winter help collection was death and everything should be returned within half an hour. More things were collected and the matter was dealt with. After all this we were told to take our things back.

At the end of February 1942, the Gestapo ordered a search for medicines amongst the Jews. The search took place in the Kehilla building and everyone was searched bodily (men and women in the same room), except for children who were under ten years of age. No one was told what the purpose of this was. Those who had been searched were classified either “A” or “B”. Later it turned out that “A” meant “capable of work” and “B” meant “blessing”. Those who worked in the resorts were long since not enjoying any privileges. It wasn't long before the entire Ghetto was closed.

 

The statement of Berl Herszlikowicz

In February, 1940, the Germans demanded that the Jews of Pabianice enter the Ghetto. A few streets in the old part of town were designated as the new home of Pabianice's Jews. Over eight thousand people squeezed in. A number of families lived together in each room.

Life was painfully difficult. Fear of the future meant everyone was in a state of uncertainty. The Judenrat was created. The Germans did whatever they wanted, such as robbing Jewish homes, beating and murdering.

The Judenrat was forced to provide the Germans with labourers for the dirtiest and most difficult jobs. Every day hundreds of workers were sent to work outside the Ghetto. The bandits weren't satisfied with robbing and abusing Jewish labour. They wanted to break us morally. They attacked the Ghetto and seized Jews for work.

Those who were seized returned from work in a sorry state. They had been beaten until they bled. Not a single day passed that they left us alone. They seized us for work, took our furniture, clothes and fur coats, they beat us and insulted us. These were all daily occurrences.

In May 1942 the Jews of Pabianice experienced the worst. At first there were rumours that the Ghetto was being closed. We didn't know what closure meant and worried first and foremost about our children. We felt that the German bandits wanted to murder us and we ran to the Judenrat to beg them to tell us what we should do for our little ones.

The answer was: “Keep calm, go to work, nothing bad will happen to the Jews of Pabianice!” This is how the Judenrat seduced us. They knew exactly what awaited us. Many of the children could have been saved. They could have been sent over to the Aryan side of the city. I could have given my two

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children to a Polish family and they certainly would have survived the war. There were plenty of parents who could have saved their children, but not only did the Judenrat not help us, they lied to us and seduced us with the promise that everything would be all right.

The great tragedy finally occurred. Posters appeared in the streets of the Ghetto, saying that all Jews – with no exceptions – must stand in front of their homes for a census. Everyone already understood what that meant. On the last day, the Judenrat was still assuring us that nothing bad would happen. They themselves arranged to be supplied with special work passes to save their wives and children.

Saturday, 16 May 1942, at 4 p.m., the Hitlerite bandits came, armed from head to toe, and tore us out of our homes. They lined everyone up in fours and led us to the park near Krusza-Enders' factory. There they separated us – healthy men and women to one side and the elderly, the sick and the children to the other side. The healthy were sent to the Lodz Ghetto where they were to work for the Germans. The sick, the old and the children were sent to Chelmno to die. Our dearest ones were first gassed and then burnt.

The surviving men and women had to continue to work in the Lodz Ghetto under conditions of hunger and pain. Some of us still hoped to survive and reclaim our children. But the longer the German debauchery continued, the clearer it became that they had murdered our children and our elderly.

During the winding up of the Lodz Ghetto we were sent to the death camp Auschwitz. A small group was sent from there to work in Germany. The majority were murdered in the gas chambers.

 

Youth Care

The Judenrat had a legal institution called “Youth Care”. This institution looked after poor children and taught them in heated rooms. The following were active in “Youth Care”:

Berek Abramczyk,

Mojsza Szynycki,

Abram Frejman,

Hela Klinowska,

Jechiel Lypynski,

Mojsza Krakowski,

Alla Szapocznyk,

Bella Gelbart,

Ruzka Marako,

Szlamek Rubinsztejn,

Sala and Genja Col,

Alek Adler and all of the Zionist youth.

[Page 176]

pab176a.jpg
 
pab176b.jpg

The deportation of Pabianice Jewry during the first two days of Sivan תש"ב, (1942)

[Page 177]

pab177.jpg

The ruins of the Pabianice Jewish cemetery

 

Mrs. Goldblum oversaw “Youth Care”. She was the daughter of Herman Faust. Most of all she was the co–ordinator of all social activities amongst Pabianice Jews during the German occupation. It was mostly women who worked doing this. They served in the following institutions:

the hospital,

the old age home and

the free kitchen.

The Youth Care was created because a lot of Jewish women worked in the tailors' resort and they needed a place to leave their children. The institution was located in a heated hall in Lydzbarski's house on Papzeczna Street.

The children received a second breakfast there , which consisted of bread and milk. They also learned to read and write. There was no set curriculum , but the teenage instructors tried to create all kinds of reading materials , from Zionist brochures , old newspapers , etc. The well–known Pabianice teacher Hela Birnbojm–Szliwkowicz was their pedagogic advisor.

 

The horrible death of Icza Doktorczyk

Icza Doktorczyk was an elderly Jew. He was about seventy years of age. He fell during the march from the Ghetto to the “Resettlement Place” (Gruscha–Enders' Park). The Germans did not allow anyone to lift him up and forced all the marchers to march over him. The old man died on the spot and his corpse remained on the road.

Transcribed by Gerszon Rajchman in Tel Aviv

* * *

[Page 177]

From Pabianice to the Zanszyn Torture Camp

Written by Mojsze Herszman and A. T. Kochman

Before dawn on a Friday morning, 22 May 1941, Jewish police and SS men came running into the Jewish Ghetto and seized young men. They said that a transport of Jews was being sent off to work in Germany just “for a few weeks”.

[Page 178]

There was a great commotion with people hiding as best they could. If they didn't find your children they took your father until the young ones were handed over. In some cases when the children weren't handed over, the father was taken away.

The seized Jews were collected at the slaughterhouse on Jewish Community Square. On Friday night everyone was taken to the collection point in Lypski's factory. Early Saturday morning we were led to Kindler's factory under heavy SS guard. Someone tried to run away while we were being shifted. He was shot to death on the spot. After being assessed by a commission of doctors, some of us who were ill were sent back into the Ghetto.

Before nightfall we were taken to the Lodz Ghetto. We were two hundred and thirty people in the transport. When we were led down Warszawska Street, women and children from the Ghetto stood on the footpaths on both sides of the street (the men were still in hiding). It is impossible to describe the wails of our families. This was the first transport that was taken to Lodz from Pabianice.

In Lodz we were locked up in the Ghetto prison, which was located on Czarneckego Street. We had plenty of trouble from the Lodz Ghetto prison police, who kept us imprisoned for three days until we were sent on further. We first saw in the Ghetto prison exactly what the Lodz Ghetto was. Our food consisted of a bit of grass soup. From the Ghetto prison we were sent to Zanszyn. We already knew the city from the first exile that was imposed by Hitler's Germany. We had met German refugees from Zanszyn.

There we worked on the railway. The work was beyond our level of strength. The food consisted of a litre of soup that was made out of rotten leaves and fifteen decagrams of bread. We were beaten terribly at work. Many fell dead on the spot. Every day we carried a couple of corpses back to the camp. We were taken out to work before dawn and returned to the camp at night.

Once they physically searched the torture victims and they found some potatoes on five of the men. The unlucky ones were locked up in a dark basement where they were held for a few weeks before all five were taken out and hanged. We had to stand in front of the gallows during the execution. If anyone didn't look directly at the gallows he was beaten by the SS bandits.

The names of the five martyrs were:

Efrojim Goldberg (son of Szulem),

Goldring (grandson of Hodl, the peat bog sander),

The son of Lejb the porter (Berkowicz),

Flam (from Brewer's warehouse),

Jecheskel Blankjet (who lived at 7 Warszawska Street).

A short while later they hanged the seventeen–year–old boy Aron Kifeld, the son of Jankel Dawid the ritual slaughterer and Krojzminc, a grandson of Henech Chrystowski. Many were unable to work due to hunger, beatings, dirt, cold and various other things. The camp leader chose ninety–four men and sent them back to the Lodz Ghetto, because the Pabianice Ghetto had already been closed down.

[Page 179]

M. Ch. Rumkowski, the Judeneltester of the Lodz Ghetto, didn't want to accept the sick ones. He said that he needed healthy people. So the unhappy ones were sent straight to Chelmno, where our families were sent after the closure of the Pabianice Ghetto.

Of the two hundred and thirty of us who were sent out from Pabianice, only seventy–two remained in the camp. We were sent to Auschwitz. After being there for a few weeks forty–eight of us were selected. They were sent to Warsaw together with a group of Greek Jews.

They were to clean up the remains of the Warsaw Ghetto after the uprising of 19 April 1943.

The day before the Polish uprising in Warsaw, the camp was closed down. Those who were too sick to walk were shot on the spot. Before the march began, Abram Ernst was shot. We walked for two hundred and fifty kilometres and then we were packed into wagons. Hundreds died on the way due to the crowded conditions in the wagons. A hundred and thirty people were packed into each wagon without food or water. Those who were still alive when they reached Dachau were also half dead. A total of thirty–five survived of the original two hundred and thirty who were transported from Pabianice. Some of us are now living in Israel and some in other countries. We were liberated on 30 April 1945.

Those from the transport who survived were:

Mojsza Herszman,

Jichak Fyszer,

Abram Kochman,

Josef Kotek,

Jisroel Pyk,

Domrowicki,

Jojel Bergman,

Flamholc,

Jakob Jekubowicz,

Kalman Wiszniewski,

Jichak M.,

Mojsza Zewel,

Jehuda Walys,

M. Alter,

Chaim Markowicz,

Hirsz Kapidlowski,

Pawlowicz,

[Page 180]

Beserman,

Goldring,

Manic,

Jichak Skura,

Grojsglik,

Krymolowski,

Cucanowicz,

Jisroel Jukowicz,

Geter,

Brandes,

Grojsman,

Gerszt,

Nop,

Herszkowicz,

Goldman,

Zonensztajn, Mojsza Zonensztajn,

Eljezer Izbicki.

* * *

How I Survived the War

Written by Jehojszua Birnbojm

1 September 1939. On that beautiful sunny day the sirens wailed and the radio announced the news that frightened us so much: war had broken out! The madness that destroyed everything that we had built up with so much effort had arrived.

On Friday, the grey birds of destruction appeared in the sky and we all shivered with fear. The horrible nights and the dark days began. After eight days of terrible bombardment, we found ourselves in the hands of the Hitlerite beast. Our city provided many sacrifices. The first Hitlerite troops that arrived in Pabianice shot out of hand the quiet and innocent Jew Fuks, laughing cynically. They met up with him as they marched in to town. He was the first of thousands of victims who were murdered at the hands of the beastly Hitlerites.

[Page 181]

From that moment on, we Jews found ourselves with no form of protection. The lawless elements began to steal Jewish property indiscriminately, all accompanied by insults and informing on people to the authorities.

We Jews didn't receive any bread. There were breadlines and when the Hitlerite “Order Service” found a Jew on line, he was beaten brutally. When they couldn't tell the difference between a Jew and a Christian, the Poles “helped them out” by pointing out the Jew – “Juda!”

Life became bitter. Jews fled in great disorder towards the Russian border. I also wanted to head for Russia together with my family because I knew that a great tragedy was beginning. But my wife (of blessed memory) did not want to part with her elderly mother. She told me to go myself. I didn't want to part with my family either, because I understood that it wasn't good to separate during wartime. It was my moral duty to my dearest ones as a father.

After a few weeks of uncertainty the Front Police left and the Gestapo arrived. They ordered us to create an eltestenrat for Jews. We didn't yet understand what the Judenrat would be expected to do in Pabianice. We had a secret meeting of the Employed Master Weavers' Union together with other groups and with the agreement of our union executive, we expressed our faith in the honest and responsible attorney Iza Alter (Jichak) to protect and represent the Jews of Pabianice. The other groups sent two representatives – Wolf Jelenowicz and Kuba (Jakob) Lubraniecki. This is where the tragedy began.

The above–mentioned three representatives wanted to carry out the responsibilities which they undertook on behalf of the community in an honest and moral manner. They had no desire to accept blindly the bestial demands of the Gestapo. Therefore, they were soon arrested and no one knows what sort of martyrs' deaths they suffered. With their deaths they proved their dedication to the Jewish community of Pabianice. These three great Jews fell as defenders of justice and their memories will always be holy in the hearts of all Pabianice Jews. We remember their martyrs' deaths with respect and honour.

 

The Activities of the Judenrat

After their deaths a second eltestenrat was formed. This time it consisted of morally irresponsible people in the persons of Jechiel Rubinsztejn and his clique. They began their work by registering those in need of financial support. They organized a kitchen that supplied soup and bread. This is how things went for a while. Until, one Saturday before dawn, during a biting frost, we were all awakened by a horrible screaming and crying. All the members of the Judenrat were running around with lists that contained the horrible news of the first deportation. Jews who relied on financial support were sent to Kaluszyn near Warsaw. We collected warm clothing and food for the deportees.

This deportation was only the beginning. The Judenrat took the people to the town border in wagons, where they were loaded onto trucks. It was horrible to watch mothers with small children being deported and parting from their nearest ones. Our hearts bled from the pain. This was the first “deportation” from Pabianice.

[Page 182]

After that other problems developed. The remaining Jews were now afraid to accept any kind of financial support. They did not want to be sent away and therefore they starved. The situation became unbearable.

On the initiative of the Employed Master Weavers' Union, we created a Support and Self–Help Union just like the one that we had during World War I. At this time the president was Comrade Michal Wolf Kochman, the current president of the Pabianice landsmanshaft in Israel. We raised money for Jews of all classes. We set up a tea hall, which handed out bread to alleviate the terrible need that ruled the Jewish street at the time. The “gentlemen” of the Judenrat couldn't bear this and we were forced to close the tea hall. For us this was a terrible blow. Immediately after the closure of the tea hall a demand came to the chairman, Comrade Moskowicz, to Ripsztejn and to me, to present ourselves at the Judenrat. We found ourselves in a difficult situation. If we didn't go we were in danger of being deported. We held a secret meeting. It was clear to us that the Judenrat was demanding that we participate in its work and to us that meant to serve the Gestapo. We decided to explain to them that the union no longer existed, since it had long since been disbanded, and at the same time, to ask them for work.

There was a tailors' shop in the Pabianice Ghetto. That was where we wanted to work. But the eltester of the Judenrat categorically refused to let us work there out of pure spite. We knew that he could deport us at any time, so we approached the leadership of the tailors' shop and asked them to help us. Comrades Redlych and Malc brought us into the shop. They taught me how to be a presser. But soon a certain Lederman arrived from the council and demanded that I leave the job. Lederman contacted Rubinsztejn on the telephone and he sent over the Ghetto police to remove me by force if necessary. As a protest, everyone stopped working. The Judeneltester, Rubinsztejn, who was very ambitious, arrived and called out all the group leaders. After a long argument between him and the group leaders, I remained at the shop.

There was a Workers' Bureau at the Judenrat that was always in touch with the Gestapo. They sent people away to “work”, but they never returned.

At this same time, while simple Jews died of starvation, the Council members enjoyed themselves and lived under the best of conditions. There was a German who did good business with them providing food. We didn't receive our share. The members of the Judenrat bought expensive things at the same time that we had to sell everything that we owned in order to meet the great need of our unhappy children.

A group of Jews worked for the German Land Council in Pabianice. When the overseer of the Council asked the Jews why they worked so slowly and with so little strength, one of them (named Landsman) said that they received too little to eat. At the same time, the overseer asked Landsman how much they were given to eat. When the Land Council found out that the Judeneltester Rubinsztejn was robbing the Jewish population, the Gestapo men got involved. They went to the Judenrat and found a lot of stolen food there. They took it all away and sent the Judeneltester to prison in Lodz. Now Landsman was assigned the position of Judeneltester. The other members of the council began to plot against Landsman. Their plot worked. The Gestapo wasn't happy with Landsman either, because it couldn't do business with him. The new Judeneltester was tortured by the Germans. They forced him to wear a talis and to run down Warszawska Street while they shot at him. Landsman fell down dead.

[Page 183]

They send us to the Lodz Ghetto

A few days later, on Saturday 16 May 1942, at 10 a. m., an unsettling announcement appeared on the street. It said that at 4 p. m. all Jews were to line up five in a row and march to the football park of the Gruscha–Enders factory. All the Jews were full of uncertainty, but we had no choice. We walked slowly with the premonition that this would be a terrible moment that would destroy our lives and rip apart our families – families that were connected in a holy manner, with so much love and mutual dedication.

Together with my wife and three children – a sixteen–year–old son, a thirteen–year–old son and the youngest, an eight–year–old daughter – I was chased to the Brand Gate while being beaten by sticks. They spared no one. The elderly and the sick fell along the way. At the Brand Gate the Hitlerite murderers ripped my little daughter away from me. I wouldn't let them take away my child, so they beat me until I lost consciousness and fell down. When I came to, my two sons were holding me up and leading me to the park. I was covered with blood, had a split lip and had lost four teeth. My wife succeeded in running away with my little girl and hiding amongst the crowd in the park while all this was going on.

It started pouring with rain and we lost one another in the crowd. After a long search, we were finally reunited. At 3 a. m. first the women were sent away on tramway cars and then the men. We had no idea where they were taking us and when we climbed off the tram, we found ourselves in the Lodz Ghetto.

We were taken to a camp that was located at 25 Lymanowskego Street. There were thousands of Jews there already. Despite the difficult, painful experiences, I was happy knowing that I had saved my eight year old little girl from the Hitlerite claws and that we were together again in the Lodz Ghetto.

When we arrived in the Lodz Ghetto, the local Judeneltester, Mordcha Chaim Rumkowski, demanded that the Jews from Pabianice should send a delegation to him. I was elected to participate in this delegation together with others, but I refused categorically to participate. The function of this delegation was to create a list of three hundred men from Pabianice who would then be deported. And they were deported in a brutal manner. This was our welcome by Rumkowski.

I saw terrible things in the Lodz Ghetto. Thousands of Jews died of starvation there. The majority of those who died there died with these words on their lips: “A piece of bread!” It would take me too far from the subject to describe all the horrific pictures that I saw in this gruesome hell. I lived in the Lodz Ghetto with my family, worked and starved, while remaining happy that at least we were all together. Unfortunately our happiness did not last long.

On 1 September 1942 the “Shpere” arrived. This is what they called the deportation. Nineteen thousand Jews were sent away. The whole city shivered in panic. Once things calmed down a bit, I went to my sister to see whether or not she had been deported. Suddenly the Hitlerite bandits appeared again with trucks. They began to seize people. I was shoved into a truck as well. I jumped off and began to run. They shot at me, but I succeeded in running away and hiding.

[Page 184]

In the evening I came home half dead. How great was my sorrow when I found no one from my family there. My anguish was impossible to describe. No one could comfort me. I ran like a crazy man to the Ghetto Administration and demanded that they allow me to go with my family. My wife and children had already been sent off though and I never saw them again. After so much struggle this was the tragic end of my family life. It all occurred on 1 September 1942.

For two years I suffered alone – until 26 August 1944. During this time other deportations occurred in the Lodz Ghetto. They didn't deport me because I had a special skill as a locksmith. On 26 August 1944 I was deported along with my entire work resort.

 

In the death–camp Auschwitz

We were packed into freight train cars and travelled for twenty–eight hours. When the train stopped, they opened the door and took out many dead children. They died due to the terrible lack of space and unclean air. When we got off the train a gangster from Lodz was standing there. The people from Lodz recognised him. His name was “Mojsza Chasid”. He said: “What do you care? You are in Auschwitz. You're all going to heaven and I'm from the heavenly band. ”

A whole staff of Hitlerites appeared. They lined us up in rows of five – women separately and men separately. The tragic selection began. One of them directed it – to the right, to the left – whatever one's fate might be. He told me to go to the right. The small children were sent to their deaths. The Jewish mothers fought to go along with their children to the gas chambers. It was such a horrible moment that we all broke down.

I will never forget the picture of people parting forever. During this tragic scene the sun didn't go dark, but shone as if nothing had happened. Nothing...

They brought us through a gate to a certain place. On the gate were written the words “Work will set you free”. When we came to the place the SS men ordered us all to undress and stand there, totally naked like the day we were born. Then there was another selection. This one was far more brutal than the last one.

They beat us in a murderous manner and sent more of us to our deaths. The remainder, exhausted, half dead, were driven into a bathhouse where our bodies were shaved and disinfected. We were given rags to wear. No one could recognise anyone else. Then we were herded into blocks where there wasn't even enough room for everyone to stand. We were forced to sit on one another. The screams were awful. In the meantime, the Kapos beat us until we bled. Now we saw the chimneys of the crematoria, which were burning and smoking. We knew that they were burning our brothers and sisters.

At 4 a. m. they drove us out of the blocks for a roll call. The roll call occurred twice a day. We were stuck outside in the cold all day, half–naked and barefoot as we were.

After being in the camp for twelve days, I registered as a locksmith. I was examined and they tattooed the number 8632 on my hand. This number will remain with me my whole life as a living, burning witness to humanity's endless inhumanity.

[Page 185]

Together with five hundred and fifty–two other prisoners they sent me then to the Althammer concentration camp, sixteen kilometres from Auschwitz. We worked hard there and received only twelve decagrams of bread, three decagrams of margarine and some soup every twenty–four hours. Every day people fell dead at work. Many of our comrades were led away to the forest by the camp leader and were shot there. This occurred often. We learned the ingenious ways that they had to torture us. In November they handed out jumpers and coats, but in December they took them away just when the first snow began to fall. We had to work half naked in temperatures of eighteen to twenty degrees Farenheit. We called winter “the white death”. Every day some of us dropped from starvation or from the cold. Every day we saw that death was coming every closer to us. I also felt that my end was near.

While unloading a wagonload of stones I fell unconscious. When I came to I found myself in the first aid station. My comrades had carried me there. I lay there half dead and exhausted. The doctor told the “Kapo” that I should stay in the block because there was no space in the infirmary. It was overfull with patients. The doctor also told the camp leader that I was totally exhausted and ill. A few weeks earlier they would have sent me straight to Auschwitz to be killed. The gas chambers and crematoria were not working at this time though, because it was just after they were blown up [according to aerial photos this occurred on 20 January 1945].

Lying in my cot on the verge of death, I felt a ray of hope. In January 1945, after so much suffering and pain, the longed for day had arrived. I heard the SS man read aloud to the camp director from a newspaper. It said that the Red Army had begun its winter offensive.

&nbswp;

“I will save you, but you must save me”

After a short time, the aerial bombardment began. It used to be repeated each day and each night. All of a sudden, at 1 a. m., the alarm would sound. The camp director and all the Kapos ran like lunatics. In the morning, no one went to work. A special commission came from Auschwitz. They led the last roll call and announced that everyone would leave at midnight. A doctor and an SS man came with the commission. They ordered that the deathly ill, those who could not walk, should remain in the camp. I was amongst those who were to be evacuated, but I felt that I was not in any condition to walk even a few metres. If I were to go, I would fall dead on the road. I spoke to my good friend Rosen, and we decided to hide.

We went in to where the critically ill remained with the doctor and the SS man. One of our comrades, Pynes from Lodz, was a nurse there. He let us into the infirmary so that we could hide. We found another comrade, Wiszlycki, who was critically ill, there. He took me into his bed and hid me under his blanket. This was at midnight. Everything was deep in darkness. We heard bombs exploding and I lay there waiting for the moment of truth. All of a sudden Gestapo men ran in with guns in their hands and lit up the hall with reflectors. The Gestapo doctor (who had remained with the patients) had a list of all the patients. They looked over the list and left. I lay hidden, somewhere between life and death. They left the Gestapo doctor behind to kill the patients. They took with them a couple of thousand more Jewish victims from Althammer and Auschwitz.

I continued to lie hidden. Suddenly, the now very nervous Gestapo doctor ran in and said to the patients: “They left me behind to kill you, but I will save you and you must save me. ” Hearing these words I came out from hiding. The doctor said that the Red Army was now not far from us. “You

[Page 186]

should know, ” he said, “that the ones who left took all the food. I will buy bread for you with my own money so that you don't die of hunger.”

The bombing continued day and night, always more intensive. Everything around us was burning. All of a sudden the bombing stopped. This was the last offensive. We heard the banging of machine guns. Bullets broke through the windowpanes and we heard how yesterday's heroes ran away like rats. We couldn't believe our own eyes. The doctor begged us to remain calm and not to show ourselves in the camp grounds, because if the Hitlerites were to find out that there were still live Jews here, we would all be lost – as would be the German doctor himself.

Suddenly – Saturday at 4 a. m. – we saw the Gestapo doctor run in and out with a loaded weapon. He ordered us to remain totally calm, not even to breathe.

We were very impatient and we couldn't control ourselves. I approached a window and – what an amazing sight! Three people in white coats were standing near the electrified barbed wire. We could see how they climbed the observation towers and looked around. It wasn't long before they entered the camp. We weren't sure – if they were German Hitlerites, then we were lost. The Gestapo doctor ran out and we followed him. I said to my comrades that we needed to go outside. The doctor yelled that we should go back, but we stayed where we were. Suddenly the doctor pulled back like he was scared to death. We could all see in the distance that these were forward troops of the Red Army. We approached them, yelling “strastvistshe, tovarishtshi!” [Greetings, comrades!]

They greeted us warmly. They were three Mongols. They asked us to calm ourselves, because we were frantic with excitement. One cried, another laughed. It was indescribable. The Red Army men went in with us to see the critically ill ones. They took bread, lollies and cigarettes from their backpacks and divided them amongst the patients. They asked us many questions and calmed us down. They reassured us that we were now free from the hands of the barbarous Hitlerites. They parted from us warmly, saying that the next group would arrive soon.

We were freed on 28 January 1945.

 

The longed for freedom arrived...

Two hours later the second group of twenty–one soldiers and an officer arrived. They gave us bread and cigarettes. They asked us a lot about the Gestapo doctor. We told them everything in great detail. The officer said that they would interrogate him. Then he made a speech, explaining that they were freedom's army which “gives away its blood and its life for all the oppressed and enslaved individuals and peoples and fights for a better tomorrow for everyone, without discriminating for race or belief.” We answered him by yelling: “Long live the Soviet republic, the Red Army and Comrade Stalin!”

This second group parted from us warmly with the promise that the next day the Red Cross would come and remove the sick. The rest of us could go wherever we wanted – “You are free!” Ten of us, camp brothers from Lodz, came together and parted from the critically ill ones. We wished them a quick recovery and a quick return to their families. We left the sick ones under medical supervision and made sure that they had food.

[Page 187]

When we left the camp we saw a horrible scene. All around us were ruins. The fields were covered with the corpses of soldiers. The train line was destroyed. Despite all this, we walked home with the thought that we would meet up with our families. Throughout the difficult journey we were barely able to drag ourselves forward towards my hometown Pabianice. We were physically and spiritually broken. Only now, when I arrived home, did all of my hopes disappear. My hopes had sustained me and given me patience during the whole time of pain and suffering. Now I finally realised that no one from my family was still alive... I walked around my home town lonely, depressed and resigned to everything.

The tragedy had occurred. There was no comfort for me. With my last bit of strength I dragged myself out to the Jewish cemetery in order to cry my bitter heart out on the graves of my parents. But even there everything was broken and destroyed. The holy graves were desecrated... After much looking for any sign of my murdered family, still in hope, I found out that my dear wife and our children Dawid, Mojsze and Rywkala were murdered by the Hitlerite cut–throats in the forest near Chelmno. I was told this by the non–Jews, who showed me the site where they met their gruesome end. All that I could find of them was holy ash and burnt bones. I took some of it with me and I will take it with me to my grave. This will unite me with my dear beloved wife and children.

* * *

The People's Kitchen for Natives of
Pabianice in occupied Warsaw

Written by Rochl Abramczyk–Alawieski

The wave of refugees from all kinds of cities and towns in Poland, which flowed towards Warsaw in 1940, showed us the necessity of founding a people's kitchen to feed the hungry. I don't know who had the idea first, or if the people's kitchens were founded by the landsmanshaftn that were created by people from towns and cities outside of Warsaw, like Lodz, Kalisz and others.

Those who came from Pabianice also participated in this program in Warsaw. One of Herman Faust's sons had an important position on the Warsaw Jewish Community Council. He worked together with the Engineer Czerniakow, later tragically departed.

The younger Faust contacted some people from Pabianice and suggested that they found such a people's kitchen, which would be supplied with cheap food by the Jewish Community Council. A large property was rented at 17 or 27 Nowolipki Street. That's where the kitchen was organized. People from Pabianice could purchase a meal for 1. 20 zloty. The same meal cost between six and eight zloty in the city. Baruch Lichtensztejn was the manager of the kitchen. The staff was all from Pabianice. Some worked for a wage and some volunteered. The following were active in the kitchen:

Sonja Cohen,

Mrs. Midler,

Benja Rotberg,

Cela Skurkowska,

Bronja Rotberg,

Latka Izraelewicz,

The author of these lines.

[Page 188]

Each day the kitchen served fifteen free meals to people from Pabianice who couldn't even afford these very reasonable prices. I won't mention any names, but most of them were well known householders from Pabianice and even formerly wealthy people.

Faust supported the kitchen constantly. He served meals there and generally showed a lot of warmth and enthusiasm for our refugees. It is worthwhile to take this chance to mention a situation when Faust saved the Pabianice Ghetto.

Lolek Urbach told him that the Ghetto was in danger of being closed down, because there had been some cases of typhus and it was necessary to send anti–typhus inoculations from Warsaw. We raised twenty–two American dollars and Faust bought the injections. That same day he arrived in Pabianice, and as a result the evil decree was postponed.

 

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