The Rov and Rabbi of our Town

by Hershel Pistrong

Rabbi Shmuel Engel was a very learned scholar and one of the righteous ones of his generation. He published a book "Questions and Answers". He received applications from all over Europe concerning “the permissive and the unpermissive”. When only 13 he knew the whole of the Shas and when he talked with the judge the latter called him a "walking library".

He read sermon on Shabbat Tshuva and Shabbat Hagadol. He was a tall big man, with such a big head that his hats were specially made for him in Vienna by Hickel. He was a sickly man, suffered from hemorrhages. He was more often ill than well. I particularly remember a certain Friday morning when he had a hemorrhage, a cable was sent to Krakow for a Professor to come and attend him. Small as well as big children stood at the windows, praying and saying psalms. And it helped. He recovered and lived for many years.

He had a son, R' Haiml, who was also great scholar and married the daughter of the Rabbi of Podgorze. The whole family was murdered by Hitler's Nazis.

The rabbi of Plancz was the son of Rabbi Moshe Horowitz. He lived in Radomysl for a certain period. He had three sons and two daughters. One son was called Dovidl and the other Eliezer. One daughter was called Margaltsche and she married R' Joelish Teitelbaum the son of the Rabbi of Siget. He was 14 years old when he married. I remember him coming to prayers, standing in the corner and shaking back and forth. The Rabbi of Plancz greatly respected him for he was a fine son in law.

One winter night, (it was Hanukah, time), the Rabbi sat and studied Torah. Suddenly someone threw a stone through the Rabbi's window. The Rabbi said: "may he become crooked and lame".

Yankel Bader was called (he was the glazier). He put in new panes and the incident was forgotten.

One fine day, the eldest son of the non-Jewish family Wilensky (he was a big, strong chap and all the Jews were afraid of him as he was a noted anti-Semite) became sick. The doctors could not diagnose the illness. He ate and drank as usual but he steadily shrank. Instead of being long and lean he grew a hump, the hump grew constantly and every day he became smaller and smaller. And then he told his parents that he felt this was his punishment for having thrown a stone through the Rabbi's window.

Then the parents came to the Rabbi and asked that their son be healed. They told the Rabbi that their son had, confessed to throwing the stone and they cried and pleaded for the Rabbi to heal him. They promised a lot of money. But the Rabbi told them that it was a lost case.

The boy lived for a many years and was ashamed to go out into the street. The young children made fun of him and the non-Jewish girls were afraid to accost the Jewish boys, they were warned that the Rabbi would punish them and they were afraid.



The Three Betei Midrash

The tradesman prayed in the synagogue and Rabbi Hersch Mechlovitz was the handsomest Baal-Bait of the synagogue. He sat at the eastern wall. He had strong husky sons. Whenever a goy drank too much and started trouble, he taught him a lesson not to hurt Jews again. The Beit Hamidrash was next to the synagogue. Here the Dembicer Hassidim, Mielicer Hassidim and Planczer Hassidim prayed, learned Gemorrah and read the psalms.

The Gabbai was Leizer Koch. The second was Yehiel Buxbaum. The reader was Mechel Fish. There were a number of young people who prayed well, such as Anschel Tenenbaum and others. The shamash was Pinchas Lipshitz. He was tall and dour, all the children were afraid of him. At Hanukah we played Dreidlech and Kwitlech after studying.


Meir Kutsh

by David Pelz

If there were any righteous Jews in Radomysl, then Meirl who was called "Kutsch" was surely a Lamed Vavnik (one of the 36 righteous ones). May all the enemies of Zion live the life that he lived. He had nothing. We gave him little food, some clothing, but he had no pleasure from life.

He played a rare role in the town, every Friday afternoon he would call through the streets of the town "come to the baths". And later before candles were lit, he would call out 'to the Synagogues'.

The Jews in Radomysl were so used to this call that they thought that after his death when there would be no one to call them they would not know when to go to the bathes and when to go to the synagogues.

And that is how Meirl performed his good deed in the town of Radomysl.

Blessed be his memory.



Memories of Radomysl in Argentine

by Moniek Reindel, Buenos Aires

I think that the Heder takes the most important place in our memories. The first thing that I remember and which has remained engraved in my memory is the day I began attending Heder. All the children of my age who began attending Heder were taught by Itzele Fogelfang.

When I began attending the Heder he was already an old man with a long gray beard. All the children were scared of him, but the townsfolk were of the opinion that he was the best possible "melamed" (teacher) for young children beginning to attend the Heder.

Apart from being the teacher he also owned a textile shop. The shop was looked after by his wife Hannah and his son Berl. He himself had little to do with the business. His wife and son would take their stock to the Radomysl market and to the surrounding markets. Every time they returned from the market he would mobilize all the children and they would take a piece of material off the wagon and put it on its place on the shelves.


The Rabbi of Plancz megaresh Hadibbuk

by Izik Reichman-Bizgayer

Rabbi Avraham Haim Horowitz – great-grandson of R' Napthali of Ropczyce – was known to all as an honest man who devoted his life. to the Torah. It was said of him that he spent nights on end sleeplessly in pursuit of his studies. He was a great scholar and despite the fact that he was a Rabbi taught only his grandchildren and one or two pupils. And these he taught at midnight. At the Holydays hundreds of his Hassidim (followers) would come to him from all comers of Poland and especially from Congress Poland.

I well remember the Sederim he used to hold on the eve of Pesach. These would last until dawn, and it was impossible to forget them. A similar event was the lightning of the Hanukah candles. The Planczer Rabbi was the only one to celebrate the Hanukah Shabbat in full, there was great rejoicing and even the family of Jacov Goldman was present, one of whose sons used to accompany the rejoicing on his violin.

The Rav of Plancz was considered to be a great Zadik as the following story will prove:

In a near by town, Pilzno, near Tarnow, lived a woman who imagined that the "Dybbuk" had entered her body. The reason being that the local butcher had been selling unkosher meat to the Jewish population. She wished to atone for his sins and ensure that he would be allowed to enter Paradise. It was therefore necessary to drive out the Dybbuk from the woman's body, and who could possibly do this? Only a great and exemplary Rabbi could help to drive out the Dybbuk.

It was therefore decided to send the woman to Plancz. I myself, then only 7 8 years old, witnessed the whole procedure, and with me half of the townlet's population.

The Rabbi invited the woman to the synagogue, in order to hear the whole story from her. The Rabbi sat some way off, and the woman began telling the story in a man's voice, accompanied by peculiar grimaces and movements. The "Dybbuk" recounted the fact that the butcher had consistently sold nonkosher meat to the Jews of the town. And that now he had become a wanderer and was not allowed to enter Paradise. The Dybbuk asked the Rabbi for atonement, he requested permission to leave the woman's body and enter Paradise on the strength of the other good deeds he had performed in his lifetime. The Rabbi set conditions – that the Dybbuk leave the woman's body through her little finger and that, having left, must not enter the body of anybody else present. There was a long discussion during which the Rabbi and the woman became very tired and the Rabbi decided to continue the discussion the next day, to the great joy of the children who would thereby have another lesson-free day. The discussions continued the following day until a day was set on which the Dybbuk would leave the woman. On the third day, the day on which the Dybbuk had agreed to leave he again became obstinate and set new conditions. Until, finally, the Rabbi decided to excommunicate the woman until the Dybuk agreed to leave. Of course the Dybbuk did not leave.

The woman was excommunicated and a fast proclaimed in the whole town. A Baal Tkiya was invited and candles fit in the synagogue. When the ram's horn was blown the woman began to scream, shiver and cry in her 'man's voice" that 'he' wished to leave her body, but still he did not leave. The ram's horn was blown again and the woman began to shout and threw herself on the ground and asked that they cease the excommunication.

She then said that she had a more serious sin to confess than the selling and eating of nonkosher meat, but that this sin she wished to tell only to the Rabbi and not in public. Eventually it was decided that the Gabbai R' Yossele would also be present at the confession. The woman, a married woman, told of having had relations with another man. The Rabbi shocked to hear this, said that he would consider the matter and give his reply the next day. During the night the woman left the town.

Who can forget weddings held at the Rabbi's house, rejoicing continued for the full seven days accompanied by feasting, singing and dancing.

The Rabbi especially liked to celebrate the Milaveh Malka meal on Saturday night. There was great rejoicing, music and dancing, the Mavdil with Hassid Goldman and his sons who accompanied the rejoicing on their violins – it seemed as if only the prophet Eliahu was missing from this festivity.



Builders and Defenders

Shmuel Ganani (Gärtner)

The Chronicles ("Davar") 30-8.1929, under the headline "further onslaughts on the Georgian neighborhood" we read among others… A tourist from England Wiener and Chaver Menachem Savloni were killed and Chaver Shmuel Ganni seriously wounded, he died of his wounds on Thursday. The tourist and the workers had left their work and come down in the bus, the driver drove them straight into the mob near Neblus Gate and there they were murdered. The aged English tourist Wiener was an in and out friend of the Arabs and supported several Arab students from Erez Israel at the American College in Beirut…"

In the book "The people of Israel will remember the victims of Av 1929 by A. Z. Barazin, Jerusalem, Av 1930 there is also a report on Shmuel Ganani and which we bring forth here;

"Shmuel Ganani was born in 1902 in the town of Radomysl Wielki in Galicia, to very religious parents. He studied in the Chaderim and Yishivot until he was 16. He then underwent a change… He saw the lives of the Jews among whom he lived and decided that he would not follow in their footsteps. He longed for a life of work for himself and desired to participate in the fulfillment of renaissance of his people. At the age of 17 he left Galicia for Germany. Upon his arrival in Köln on the Rhine he immediately approached the Chairman of the Zionist Youth Club and asked to participate in the Zionist work and offered his services every evening. Shmuel proved to be a devoted worker, and later united his work with that of the Halutz Organization in Germany. As a member of the Central Committee of the Hehalutz Organization he visited many towns on propaganda work. He organized branches for the organization. From the day he arrived in Germany he lived from his work as a manual laborer and later as a miner in Aachen. A little later he began his training for work in Eretz Israel and entered the Leipzig School of builders.



In Memory of Aharon Salomon (Shlomy)

Taken from a collection written by his Chaverim in kibbutz Mizra on the first anniversary of his death by M. Ish-Shalom 
Aharon was one of the veterans, one of the few who were left from the "Hapoel Hakovesh" group, which came to the country at the beginning of the Third Aliya. He came from Radomysl, a small town in Western Galicia. His parents were fairly well off and religious. He was not spoiled at home. The family consisted of four brothers and four sisters. He lived his whole life as a worker, he hated the idle life so characteristic of the small townlets of that times. He helped his parents in the wholesale grocery store and did any work that was to be found. He knew how to command others and was sometimes obstinate, sometimes cruel, but was always ready to draw the conclusions of his acts and prove by deeds the right of the way he had chosen.

I accompanied Aharon a long stretch of the way. From Köln until the day he fell. Practically thirty years. At the end of the First World War I returned to Köln and joined again the "Hashahar" a Zionist Youth group, which was founded by me as an organization for youth from Eastern Europe. From time to time young emigrants came to Köln and amongst them many Zionists. A number of times I tried unsuccessfully to set up a halutz body. Eventually a group of youngsters from Radomysl came and rescued us. They brought with them a spirit of Zionism founded in Jewish roots. But not many of the group came to Israel. Amongst the few who did was Aharon. He immediately became prominent as a man of action and initiative, intelligence and unlimited loyalty.



Mendel Wolf

by Menachem Bader

I take leave of you in my name and in that of Ish-Shalom.

After the death of Aharon Shlomy – only three out of 16 members of the group which we set up at the end of the First World War and came to Israel in 1920 And now with your death only two of us remain.

It is with great sadness that we take leave of you dear Menachem Wolf. Until our last day we shall remember our partnership for over 50 years, partners in dream of self-fulfillment which has become a reality with the help of all those standing here. The dream of building Eretz Israel and an independent Israel and the upbuilding of a free life in a kibbutz. And in the existence of this house we shall find our consolation and may Nonia, her children and her grandchildren and the whole family be consoled together with all the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.



The Neighborhood Borowa

by Shalom Yam

In the mosaic of little townlets in Galicia our little town of Borowa had a special place; it was part of the Mielec regional administration and in matters of the Rabbinate. It also belonged to the farther off town of Radomysl district in connection with community matters as civil weddings (a system used mainly in Galicia).

One could well have been married by the local Rabbi, but, when a son was born the Brith Mila had to be performed and one had to be married again by the official Rabbi of Radomysl. If this was not conformed to, then the child bore mothers surname and in most cases the wife herself bore her mother's name.

And, when someone, heaven forbid, died, he was buried in Mielec. Community tax was paid in Radomysl, once a year the community came to Borawa and let us be quite frank about it – "one came to terms".

Even though B' was small it had its own religious appurtenances: its own ritual Mikveh (bath), its own Shochet (slaughterer) who served the area. It also owned two Synagogues, with the Baalei Tfilot. It went so far that we had our own Rabbi, even though his permanent residence was Mielec. But he was called B' Rabbi!




Czernin was a village in Mielec Poviat region whose community belonged to that of Radomysl Wielki. Not far from the village was a German colony inhabited by Shwabians who had been brought to Galicia by the Austrian Kaiser Joseph H.

As far as I can remember from the tales that were told, one the Jewish community in Czernin was a young one. Among the first families who inhabited the village was my great great-grandfather David Zelig who arrived there in the 1830's. He was of the richest Jews in the village. When the community began to grow and Jews from nearby Mielec came to join the village he built a Beit Hamidrash, where the Jews prayed every day. Next to the Beit Hamidrash was a ritual bath, a Mikveh.

Shortly before the war there were about 20 families in Czernin (about 80 90 souls). Their economic situation was not a bad one. Their livelihood was derived from trading, craftsmanship and agricultural labor. In the village there were: two Jewish tailors, a nurse, a baker, 4 textile shops, an inn-keeper (whose inn at the time of the Poles was taken over by a non-Jew).



The Townlet Zassow

by Jaacov Issler

The townlet of Zassow lies about 7 km. from Radomysl. It actually belonged to the municipality of Pilzno and both in the district of Krakow. Zassow was divided into two parts, half rural and half urban, both parts were governed by a Muchtar. (Chief).

There were a 100 farming families in Zassow. The farms bordered on the houses lined on both sides of the road right to the borders of the neighboring villages. Apart from the farmers, the urban part of the town was populated by the Catholic priests, teachers of the elementary school, the clerks of the Graf's estate.

At the end of the townlet, on the cross roads which led to the railway station of Czarna on one side and Radomysl Wielki on the other, was a big square surrounded by houses, the church and the gate to the Graf's family estate. In addition there was an inn, which in those days formed the hub of activities for the non-Jewish population. A market was held in the square every Tuesday, which drew people, and many peddlers from the surrounding villages. The market was a meeting place for all the local people and the townsfolk and was looked forward to by all.

It is difficult to ascertain just when the Jews began to live there, but it is thought that they did so around the 15th 16th centuries when the Jews of Poland began to live in the towns.

At the beginning of the 20th century there were about 50 Jews in the townlet and the number dwindled over the years. The Jews either emigrated to America or moved to the towns. Most of them lived and carried on their respective businesses. In the rural part there were fewer Jews and they worked their small plots of land, small cow sheds, and poultry house . Some of them had little workshops or shops.

The Jews of the townlet were either traders or tradesmen, and except for the Eisler family they did not have farms.



My Townlet Przeclaw

by Ben Moshe

No matter how small the townlet, it had all the necessary religious institutions: A Rabbi Dayan, Shochet, Shamash (the synagogue caretaker) a Mikveh and a Chevra Kaddisha (a Burial Society) – there were also "Tehilim-Yidden (psalm-sayers).

The community lived like one great big family, everyone participated the joys of the others as well as their sorrows. There were among the ordinary Jews, those called "Tehilim-Yiddn", pious and devoted Jews and one of them was my late lamented father, Moshe Bienenstock. He spent many a night helping at the bedside of a chronically sick person, and it was with enthusiasm that psalms verses were said for the salvation of the sick. At the bedside of a very sick person the psalms were repeated twice, and if this and the medicines did not help, then the same psalm-sayers became members of the Hevra Kaddisha (burial society) and carried out the necessary duties to the hilt.

When there was a celebration in the townlet all the Jews participated.

The well-to-do families did not forget the plight of the poor and every Friday they sent Halot (loaves of white bread) and fish to the needy families so that they too could enjoy a plentiful Sabbath.



The Old Market of Przeclaw

by Naphtali Gastwirth, Barcelona (Spain)

How far and how near are my memories of you. My childhood memories still live in my mind.

The Jewish streets in Przeclaw were Jewish and seldom was there heard another language save that of Yiddish. The Sabbath day was holy and dear to the Jewish youth of Przeclaw.

In truth, I was only 13 years old when I left my hometown. The more the years pass and the longer I live my present life the fresher become my memories of the old homely Sabbath. What chills ran through the childish blood when on a Sabbath afternoon, I with my friends walked to the Wisloka. It looked as if God himself had clothed the district in honor of the Sabbath in that wonderful panorama.

Przeclaw at twilight – the young folk sat in the market and sang together.

That joyful life remained fresh in my memory.



The Townlet Przeclaw

by Avraham Spielman, Holon

Future generations should not forget that there existed a small Jewish "yishuv” which was cut down by the Nazis.

In the eighteenth century there were about 120 Jewish souls in the townlet. During the first World War there were 300 Jewish souls there. This community had its own Rabbi R' Dovdl Horovich, a son of the Planczer Rabbi. Some years before this there was a Dayan, R' Yankel Eisland, a member of the Eisland family of Radomysl, a Shohet, a Beit Hamidrasch and also a group of intellectual Jews and scholars. Later Przeclaw belonged to Radomysl though it was 12-15 kilometers away from the later.

I wish to mention R' Yohanan Schraub known by the name of R' Yohanan Baal Megiya; A righteous man and a great scholar. His sons were R' Itza Lerer in Radomysl, Hirsh Schraub in Tel-Aviv and Israel Schraub in America, who were active in public life there. The children followed in the path of their father.

The two people, the Jews and the Christians lived together peacefully. For many years it even had a Jewish vice-mayor, R' Israel Bienenstock, and a few councilors such as R' Yosef Bauer, R. Haim Spielman, R' Yudl Schraub, R' Yosef Gastwirth, R' Leibish Dershowitz, R' Moshe Bienenstock and R' Sander Weiss.



Jews in the Village

by Hannah Wasserstrum

The village in which my family lived was called Dulcza Wielka and it was three kilometers from Radomysl Wielki. We were just as tied to that town as the others who lived there. But, after all, ours was a village and we, villagers. And that is how the people of the townlet looked upon us. It was a great event for us when we could go into the town and meet company there.

There were 8 or 10 Jewish families in Dulcza, that is to say, that there was hardly a "minyan" on Sabbath. I have been told that earlier, 60 or 80 years ago, there were more Jews there, but these had left in the course of time to settle in the surrounding towns: Dombrowa, Radomysl, Szczucin and even as far as Tarnow.

Out of the few families who lived in the village hardly any of them earned the livelihood by working the land (though practically everyone of them had a small farm and a piece of land), apart from one (Avraham Greenzweig) who had a larger plot of land, about 30 50 hectares.


Part II

Holocaust and Destruction

“The Holy Congregation who sacrificed their lives
for the holiness of Gods name
May our God remember them for good
with the rest of the righteous of the world
and avenge them with vengeance
for the blood of his servants that was spilled.”

Introduction to the History

The Bulletin of Warsaw's Jewish Historical Institute (no - 30, April – June, 1959) presents us with an excellent account of the tragedy of the Jewish people in the Krakow District. The essay, written in Polish, by E. Podhoritzer-Sandel gives us some detailed information about our community. It says:
"The District of Krakow was one of four and later one of five districts of the so-called 'General-Government', subdivided into 10 regions called 'Kreizen'. Groups of Jews were to be found in the following regions: Dembica, – 2200, Mielel – 3500, Radomysl Wielki – 1300."
In the same article under the headline: "The Biological Extermination" we read:
"The raids against the leftish elements of Jewish population in the Krakow area, as in the other places, during the period April 28th—30th, were parts of the massive operations that were called "Actions" by the Germans. According to a ready-made list hundreds of victims were taken out of their homes and sent to their death. Thus one can understand the background of Jechezkel Eisland's execution, whereas he was a member of the Hashomer-Hazair, which was a leftish organization."
On page ninety-five of the same publication we read:
"The last days of July 1942 were the days of the final liquidation of the Dembica region. Rozwadow, Dzikow, Pilzno, Radomysl Wielki, Ropczyce and Wielopole, only 12,000 were left. These were in the ghettos of Dembica and Sendziszow. During raids and selections that took place from July 21st—25 the large numbers were still left in the ghetto Dembica and in several labor-camps;

"One of the first to be organized was the Jewish camp-camp in Mielec. The camp was under the command of the S.S. troops and was located at the "Heinkel" aircraft factory."
It had started with as few as 250 prisoners, 80 from Mielec and the rest of Wielopole. The numbers kept growing and got to as many as 1,000 people during the deportation activity in March in the Mielec area. In this group were included the people of Dzikow and Komarowa Huta. Daily, ten to fifteen of the ill or wounded were shot to death. The Mielec camp was closed down on August 1944 and the 13,000 Jews were sent to Wieliczka where an airplane factory was being erected. With the advance of the Russian front they were moved to Flossenbürg. In the Dembica region there were two other camps; one in Postkow and one in Plawne near Rozwadow. The latter was known as the Rozwadow Camp. The camp in Postkow was located at the S. S. training area. It was opened in April 1942. It had been formerly a prison for criminals and was in existence since 1940. In 1942, however, it became a camp for the Jews of Mielec, Ropczyce and Sendziszow. The conditions in the Jewish labor camps in Postkow were extremely harsh. The prisoners worked at the "Allgemeine Elektrische Kabelwerke" (General Electricity Installation) as well as uprooting in the neighboring forests. Units of the so-called "Abteilung Strafkommando" were brought into the Camp and the prisoners had to dig canals for the German company Krause. In the Postkow camp the Jews of Mielec were settled (400), of Ropczyce, Sendziszow and others. In August 1942, 1,222 prisoners were transferred to Hamburg, Germany, and a year later (August 1943) the camp was liquidated. At that time it had 1,500 prisoners) 280 of those were deported to Auschwitz, Brzerzynki. In the Fall the remainder was sent to Silesia to work as slave laborers in the coal-mines of the area.


The First Days with the Germans

by Haja Garen-Rozenblat (now Levi)

As Hitler's first units entered the town they found the market-place deserted; the streets empty. A fearful silence had fallen upon all and nobody was there to greet them.

Behind locked doors and curtained windows eyes were watching anxiously asking: "And now what?!"

Just before our "guests"' arrival, people had been saying that one should have treats, cakes and liquor, ready for them and one should make them eat as soon as they come in. Having helped themselves, they might be nice and spare their hosts. So we set the table with all the best food we had and waited. The family gathered in the inner room of the house; father thought it safer in case of some possible shooting.

Single shots could still be heard from the direction of Wilki, a suburb of Radomysl, as the Polish Army made some unsuccessful attempts to stop the Germans. The area was burnt down and when the shots ceased finally, in came Hitler's army into our town.

Four o'clock in the afternoon. German patrols were tearing through the dormant streets of Radomysl. The town was very quiet. They came humming noisily filing the market completely.

Doors and windows were shut down. Suddenly a heavy pounding was heard; someone tried to break into our store that was in the heart of the market-square. A mad savage voice shouted from outside: "Open up immediately or we shall use an axe!" Afraid to budge we stood there, scared to walk over and open. Our faces turned a shade paler. Another heavy push and the door gave in. "I shall let them in!" I said and made my father lie down and cover his beard. Then I walked towards the store.

I made a tremendous effort to put on a gay amiable smile. Smiling pleasantly I opened the door and exclaimed: "Welcome!" The murderous expressions changed all of sudden and they demanded to know whether there was any Polish soldiers in the house or any hidden weapons. I said there weren't any. They did not take it for an answer and pushed into the house searching thoroughly. They looked into every corner, opened closets, turned over mattresses causing an upheaval. Whenever they got hold of something they liked, they piled it up neatly in the corner. Every room was treated the same. They pretended to look for arms but were actually looting. I tried to draw their attention to the food but they refused politely telling me they were in a hurry. Then they did not feel like taking anything but instead felt like making love to me and my sisters. Luckily my sisters managed to get them out of the house and get rid of them somehow. We feared they might come back later at night, and drunk too, but still we felt relieved having gotten them out. The feeling of relief did not last long, as another patrol entered our house shouting at the top of their voices: "All men out to register!

I trembled at the thought that they might discover father and our brother-in-law, who wasn't young either. Again I spoke sweetly: "How about a little drink or a piece of cake?" Not waiting for another invitation, they sat down and started stuffing themselves gorging on the food. They invited the others to join in. Father, my sisters and another little boy, sat down trying to make conversation. Meanwhile another patrol came in and joined the celebration. That was how we passed the time till eight o'clock at night. We weren't conscious of the rioting that went on in our town that day.

The Germans herded all the males, Jews and Gentiles alike, and placed them in a church. Beaten cruelly they were kept without food or water for three days and nights. Wives and children, sisters and brothers stood outside the church bundles of food and jars of water in their hands, but nothing was allowed in. The town was in a state of terror.

As the church was packed with men, and the doors and windows shut, the air inside became unbearable. Whenever someone fainted he was immediately shot and left among the living.

It occurred to us women to bribe the officer in charge. Since ninety percent of the men held in the church were Jews, a large amount of money was raised in minutes. With the money in hand we tried to persuade the officer. It wasn't very hard; he took the money and promised to talk to his superior officer. Permission was granted – water and food were allowed in, though we had to hand it over to the guards. Thus, only a small portion of the parcels reached the prisoners; most of it simply disappeared. Another result: the corpses, that lay prostrate beside the semi-dead prisoners, were removed. There was no possible way to set them free. We searched for other means. We presented doctors' health-certificates thus managing a few releases. Six days later, some were set free – others were taken to an unknown destination. Much later, those too returned to Radomysl.

Meanwhile, all sorts of German regiments passed through our town. They stuck their noses everywhere, stole, looted, beat people up and shore old men's beards. They shot those who looked suspicious. To save our father's beard I gave away a hundred meters of fabric; a deed for which I gained the reputation of the town's heroine. My father was one of the few in town who still had his beard, but not for long.

Within a couple of days new trouble was in sight; the "Hitlerjugend" units were about to pass through our town. We were told that the soldiers we had met already were 'angels' in comparison. People wondered and asked what could be done. It was certain that death awaited those unable to hide themselves. Walls, floors, ceilings, were tested as potential hiding places. Echoes of hammering could be heard as people spent days in attics building secret hiding places that would be difficult to trace. In most cases, holes were dug under the floor; first small ones, enough for one or two persons, then roomier ones for ten people. The reason for enlarging a hiding place was due to the neighbors' intervention. They claimed that the bigger the place the safer and easier for everybody. What were those places like? Generally they were cellars dug under the floor; deep, broad, and almost half-a-room in size. There was no furniture. A well-hidden entrance led into the cellar. The ceiling above was carpeted. Obviously such a hole was stifling, so a small opening was dug in the foundation of the house. After a certain period of time one could easily suffocate for lack of air.

Almost every house in Radomysl had a hiding place for the men in case the glorious "Hitlerjugend" units were to pass through our town. They were expected on Friday. Heaven was merciful – they didn't arrive that Friday.

The regular soldiers of the "German Wehrmacht" stationed in the town had grown accustomed to the Jews; thanks to the Yiddish language they could communicate more easily with Jews than with others. Among the so-called "good Germans… there were, of course, some scoundrels who under the influence of some slanderous "goyim" would break into Jewish stores and empty the goods straight into the lusty hands of the gathered peasants. At the beginning it happened quite rarely, then more and more frequently, Men and women from neighboring villages crowded the market with their wagon. The appetite for Jewish property grew bigger and Jewish stores grew emptier.

Smart store-keepers hid some goods in the attics; most were scared to do likewise as rumors circulated about that the peasants had already informed the Germans and threatened to show them the attics. An atmosphere of doom lay on the town.

Us women – as the most important element in town – felt that something should be done to stop the looting. We chose two pretty German-speaking girls and sent them to talk to the authorities. The officer in charge – mean as Hitler himself refused to see the girls. They were given an explanation: "He does not talk to Jews!"

Life was bitter. The situation quite hopeless: "God's will cannot be challenged," said the orthodox. How should one exist under such circumstances? Some said: 'Nothing matters either way: slow starvation is worse than death.

On the Sunday morning of following week, I heard a knocking on our neighbor's door. I sat up in my bed quickly and looked though the window. I saw men in black uniforms. My heart pounded. I remembered being told that the "Hitlerjugend" wore black outfits, so I ran into my parents' room to wake my father. He was asleep. I helped him into his clothes and hid him in the hiding place under the floor, piling all kinds of things on the place where it was hollow underneath lest someone walked there. Confused, half-dressed, I ran to warn my sisters and urge my brother-in-law to hide quickly. They knew already; my younger sister, the one married to Mendel Eisland, had already had the honor of "entertaining" the rascals. Not having found any men in the house, they had become furious and while having spilled a barrel full of water right at the doorstep. They had slammed the door as loudly as they could exclaiming: "Where have the men disappeared to?!"

I hastened on; friends, relatives had to be warned. I looked like a mad person. I ran scared to look back for fear of being stopped. Suddenly, I heard a female voice screaming. It was Ziphora, Michal Fish's wife. She wailed: "oi! vay! They are going to shoot my boy. What shall I do? What shall I do?" While trying to comfort her, I saw two S.S. men leading a large group of Jewish youths. They were taken straight out of their beds, half naked, with only their pants on. Closing the procession many S.S. followed urging the prisoners to run hitting them with rifle-butts and rubber-clubs. "Oi! How awful!", I said to myself. "What will happen to these Jews? Will they shoot them or send them away to labor-camps?"

Meanwhile others were brought into the market-square, carrying brooms and shovels. Elderly men, some sixty or seventy years old, followed the young ones. Sick people were dragged out of their beds. A young SS, about seventeen years of age, made them run back and forth, half-naked, barefooted, their beards fashion. Running to and from, they were being clubbed by the wicked SS. The cries of the bleeding, beaten victims, mixed with the shouting of their persecutors, pierced the heavens.

Suddenly an order was issued to sweep the square. Having swept once, they were made to do it again. Finally, after the garbage was neatly piled up in one place, they were ordered to scatter it and start anew. All that time they were screamed at and beaten cruelly. Blood was running out of their noses and mouths; their heads bruised and badly wounded. The sun burned overhead; the Fire of Hell.

We burst out crying as we watched our fathers and brothers being dragged so. We begged the murderers to let us finish the sweeping. I summoned up courage and approached the SS men. I played on their conscience and so did the other women. Finally I managed to save my brother-in-law's father, the sixty-year old Mendel Honig. When I brought him home he fainted. We nursed him for quire a while until he regained consciousness. Similar incidents took place in every other house.

The operation ("action") continued till ten o'clock at night. The victims, when left alone, were afraid to return to their homes. Nobody knew what the next day would have in store. "Will Heaven have mercy upon them?" The men spent the night in hiding.

Later, such "actions" occurred more frequently, but people became used to it. They feared worse was still to come.

Rumors spread that in other places Jewish councils were established. The councils were named 'Judenrat" and acted as the representative body of the local Jewish population. One of their responsibilities was to supply young manpower for such odd jobs as sweeping the streets, shoveling snow, and towing the road. In addition to that they had to collect automobiles that had been struck in the middle of taxes enforced by the Nazis. Heavy responsibilities lay on the shoulders of the councilmen. Disobedience could cost one his head.

In many places there were Jews of despicable character who hastened to carry out the Germans' demands. They did not see, or refused to see that by doing so they would be forced to betray their own people.

The Judenrat in Radomysl was founded four months later than in other places. The exact date was Sunday, the 25th of January 1940. The head of the Gestapo in Mielec, the central town of our district, arrived in a winter-sleigh. Along with him came the representatives of the Jewish council there and two members of the council. They picked the members of the committee that was to act as a Judenrat; a body supervised by the Gestapo in Radomysl. The Mielec council had twelve members; Dr. Fink (deceased), a known lawyer, acted as chairman. One of the tasks was to form Judenrats in the district and undertake the responsibilities for their actions. Those Judenrats were in charge of the Jews living in neighboring villages.

Knowing how hard, dangerous and contemptible such jobs could be, the people of Radomysl tried to avoid them, but after being forced to accept they gave in. Thus, some very good and noble men found themselves appointed members of the Jewish council of Radomysl. They tried to do as much as they could for the benefit and protection of the town. Jeremiah Leibovitz, the son of Shmuel Leibovitz, was appointed chairman, Berish Eisland – treasurer, Anshel Tanenbaum – first vice-chairman, Melech Amsterdam second vice-chairman and Melech Gross, the son of Reuven Gross, – secretary. A few young people were included. It was rumored that members of the Jewish council were to be dismissed from forced camps; compulsory for all males from twelve to sixty years of age. Young people who wanted to escape the agony of forced-labor, applied for council-membership. They were stationed as policemen, messengers, etc. Next, an order was issued to the council to furnish a list of all Jewish males in Radomysl and the neighborhood. The purpose – to recruit manpower for local errands and labor-camps.

Since there weren't jobs in Radomysl, it was obvious that fathers, sole-supporters of families, as well as many sons, would have to be sent away to work in factories, earning as much as a pack of cigarettes' worth. Meanwhile, their families would have to put on sale all their possessions in order to survive.

Yet, that wasn't all. Besides regular labor-camps, where people slaved in factories earning next to nothing, there were punitory-camps. One such camp was located in our region. It was the camp in Postkow, near Dembica. People were horror-stricken at the mere mention of its name.


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