Table of Contents

[Page III]

Foreword

No comments were passed by the newscasters when the town fell to Hitler's “Wehrmacht”, nor did the press herald its liberation. For Jaworow contained no material resources to make it newsworthy. Geographically, just a dot on the map to be by-passed by the main body of combat troops and left to higher echelons for service operations. Yet, this obscure town contributed its full quota of Jews to the Nazi furnaces, gas chambers and execution squads. They were exposed to similar pitiless brutalities and perished in the same manner which annihilated a third of the Jewish people. thus has the Nazi master plan eradicated an ancient Jewish community.

In spite of poverty and obscurity an intensive Jewish life pulsated in Jaworow. Great scholars occupied its pulpits and taught in the Beth-Hamidrash. They left a distinct mark on the passing generations.

The scope of spiritual activities were not static in spite of the town's remoteness from great centers. On the contrary, it was full and all-embracing. New trends of Jewish thoughts, and historic movements permeated rapidly. thus have the revivalist Hassidism, the Haskalah movement, renaissance of Hebrew, Zionism, Socialism, etc. found protagonists as well as antagonists among Jaworow's Jews.

Now every vestige of this unique life has been wiped out. Only a mass grave among the weeds of the outskirts, containing the mutilated bodies of those who were executed hastily, is the only remnant and reminder of a flourishing Jewish community.

The monograph recapitulates the fate of the community from the day of its invasion until the last Jew was machine gunned into the mass grave.

We wish to register our gratitude to Samuel Druck for assuming this task. By preparing this chronicle he has preserved for History's record a typical chapter of Germany's

[Page IV]

crimes. For the martyrs of Jaworow he has erected a lasting memorial.

Druck is to be commended for exercising restraint and for not digressing into a narrative pace The facts might have been distorted.

We are very much indebted to Chaim Lieberman, the eminent scholar and journalist, for writing the preface to the Yiddish text. From fragments of information Mr. Lieberman reconstructed a phase of Jaworow's traditional way of life absent in the text.

Our appreciation to Samuel Kreiter, writer and translator for rendering the book from the Yiddish into English.

Particular honorable mention is due to Sam Streitfeld who has labored unceasingly to bring the project to fruition. and many thanks to Herbert Schraga, Arthur Nussdorf, Leon Druck and Mendel Schild for rendering every possible assistance, particularly for compiling the list of Jaworow's martyred families whose names are memorialized in these sorrowful pages.

Our profoundest gratitude to Sam and ray Dornstein who for many years sustained the work in behalf of Jaworow's survivors. They have also included the publication of this Yizkor book among their bountiful generosity. Sol and Joe Dornstein, and J. Bienenfeld participated and shared in this noble project.

It is our fervent hope that this work will be enshrined in the hearts of Jaworower everywhere as a lasting tribute to our own martyrs cruelly murdered by the “Herrenvolk”. The world at large may not care to remember. We, must never forget.

We dedicate this monograph to the sacred memory of a group of Jews who in their own way labored for Judaism's weal, suffered its woes and shared fully in its historic tragedy.

For the book committee
Dr. Nathan Eisig Birn, chairman


[Page 1]

Swastika Over Jaworow

About fifty miles west of Lemberg, nesting in a heavily wooded area of great scenic beauty and hugging the banks of the Shklo river, lies the town of Jaworow. Its total population during the period between the two world wars was approximately 11,000 distributed as follows: Jews, 2,500; Ukrainians, 6,000; and Poles, 2,500. The town was noted for a center of Jewish learning. Its tradition of scholarship dated back to the 16th century. There Rabbi Jechiel Ben David altschul lived and wrote his honored tracts. He was a descendant of an illustrious family of scholars who had settled in Prague around the year 1302.

The four gymnasia and teachers' seminaries which Jaworow possessed, attracted young men from various towns in Eastern Galicia who were bent on academic careers. Together with the native school going youth, they lived there in an atmosphere of books and study. Jaworow was also rich in historic landmarks. As a summer residence of Polish kings it could point to its famous synagogue which was built by King Jan Sobieski. Prior to the outbreak of World War I, it was remodeled into a magnificent edifice. The town suffered much during the uprising of Bogdan Chmielnicki who had sent his wild Cossack and Tartar hordes on a rampage of blood and destruction through Jewish and Polish settlements.

The time separating the two world wars was not too happy for the Jews of Jaworow. In the main they were traders in dairy products. Some were lumber merchants since the region abounded in forests and woodland. The post-war crisis quickly impoverished them. The Polish economy, reorganized with the restoration of the country's independence, undermined the foundation upon which the Jews in Jaworow had existed for years. Young Jews had no place where to emigrate and were compelled to remain in the small town without means of

[Page 2]

earning a livelihood, regardless of university degrees. Only a very few succeeded in adjusting themselves in Jaworow or in other towns. The majority of its young Jews were steeped in Hassidism which helped them but little against the grim process of pauperization. Nevertheless, they actively participated in social and political movements and patiently awaited better times.

Although antisemitism at the time was rampant throughout Poland, Jaworow was comparatively free from it. On the surface Jews, Poles and Ukrainians lived in amity. Ostensibly desiring to strengthen their economic position in town as well as in the whole province of Eastern Galicia, the Ukrainians gradually wrested various enterprises from Jewish hands. At the same time, 1924-1928, they attempted to form with the Jews a common front against the Polish landowners. The move to solicit Jewish cooperation was discussed and explored in the Ukrainian press. Jews were invited to state their views and to collaborate.

Obviously, the Jews could not afford to accept coalition with the Ukrainians. They felt that such an alliance would help them in no way either politically or economically. They feared that such an adventure might impair their whole defense program.

Before the outbreak of World War II, Jaworow Jews continued to live in accustomed ways. Day by day they sunk deeper into poverty and looked forward toward better conditions with serene hopefulness. Meanwhile the rise of Hitler darkened the world with gathering war clouds and forever shut out the sun for the Jews of Poland and for the Jews of Jaworow.

The storm struck in September, 1939.


[Page 3]

Chapter I

Hitler on the March

On September 1, 1939, the Nazi legions invaded Poland. The same day at dawn they scored a bomb hit on the great synagogue. The explosion spread to the Jewish quarter, killing about thirty Jews. Among the first casualties were the families of Schildhorn and Rumelt. Nazi air bombers pursuing the routed Polish detachments bombed and strafed the entire town, setting fire to the suburb of Nakoneczne, to Urah and Szojskijewicza streets, and a section of Grela which was in the heart of the town.

Ten days later German patrols entered Jaworow, and in the following morning their troops appeared. The terrified Jews hid in their homes and dared not show themselves in the open. Immediately the Germans launched a grim manhunt. They dragged out Jews from every hiding place and beat them murderously. Afterwards they directed them to various assembly points where they assigned them to labor details. For amusement the Germans started to shear beards of Jewish elders, graft crosses on their shaven heads, and forced them to stare in the sun for hours.

By mid-afternoon the Jewish quarter was rocked by a deafening explosion. It originated in the heavily dynamited synagogue whose entire structure burst in a mass of flames. The Germans with the aid of Ukrainian militia whom they had deputized ordered them to bring forth from the other houses of worship the Sefer Torahs, prayer books, sacred and ceremonial objects, all moveable furniture pieces, and feed them to the flames of the blazing synagogue. The Jaworow prayer houses contained about a hundred Sefer Torahs and they were all wantonly destroyed. Laughing and blaspheming, the Ukrainians harnessed Jews to the fire wagon

[Page 4]

and drove them, whipping them like horses, to pump water in the Witiczka well, half a kilometer away. They returned exhausted and panting, and poured barrels of water upon the houses adjacent to the burning synagogue but whose devouring flames they were forbidden to put out. In the evening when the flames died down, the “fun loving” Ukrainians played the water hose on the Jews who were resting from the ordeal. Those standing close to the gutted synagogue were commanded to chant prayer hymns. The ritual slaughterer (shochet), Reb Shmelke, unable to endure the sacrilege, seized a Sefer Torah and jumped into the still smoldering flames. However, he was quickly fished out. Thereupon the Nazis suddenly produced a microphone and prodded the Jews to declare that they themselves set fire to their synagogue. The Germans jeered, mocked and yodeled, “Wo ist dien rache Gott?” (Where is your God of Vengeance). Their ghoulish entertainment lasted till midnight.

Two days later the Gestapo appeared in Jaworow. Immediately upon their arrival and again with the assistance of the ever helpful Ukrainian gorillas, they rounded up a large group of Jews - old and young - and drove them into the courtyard of the court house. There they were ordered to face the wall. Now the Jews were convinced that their last hour had come. But apparently their tormentors had tired of the fright to death game and they started their trembling victims in a series of physical exercises, consisting of chasing them around the courtyard, crawling on all fours, and high jump under a train of crushing blows. They put ten year old Ephraim Broch in a casket and covered him with dirt. The boy was near suffocation when they dug him out. At the end of the sport they threw a number of Jews in jail. Among those who suffered the most cruel beatings were the aged Dr. Saul Jahr, the teacher Gedaliah Pomeranz, Meyer Baron, Pinchus Deutsch, Alter Zumpf who later died of his injuries, Simeon Strassberg, Leib Marbach, Sender Blum, Lazar Wimmer and Abraham Landes. Finally the Jews were told they had three days in which to clear out, and if any Jew were caught

[Page 5]

after that time, he would be shot. The Nazis took 40 hostages to emphasize the point and the rest were sent home.

In the meantime their fellow Ukrainians paraded the streets dressed in their holiday finery, while the inspired peasants from the surrounding countryside plundered Jewish homes and robbed Jewish stores. Rosh Hashanah passed quietly. The Germans were busy with the Polish counter offensive waged from the area of Grodek-Jagielonski, which drew them out of Jaworow for an entire day.

On the Monday following the High Holiday the Germans appointed as mayor of Jaworow the Ukrainian lawyer and former radical leader, Haluszczak. He had notices posted in German and Ukrainian in all Jewish stores announcing that they no longer belonged to the Jewish owners, but were the property of the Ukrainian Committee.

The Jews were completely defenseless. They were mercilessly beaten up on sight. They were put to cleaning outhouses with bare hands and doing similarly degrading tasks. Gestapo men broke into the home of Melach Manber and demanded that he and his son produce the secret radio within 15 minutes or they would be shot. They dragged the Manbers from house to house in search of the illegal radio, but non of course was found. Although the Manbers were taken near the town's apothecary, ordered to cut each other's hair kneeling and stuff the shorn hair underneath their shirts. With shots fired over their heads they were chased home.

The order of expulsion was to have expired on a Thursday. But on that day news leaked out that the Red Army was approaching as per Soviet Nazi agreement, and that Jaworow would fall to the Soviet zone. Accordingly the attitude of the Gestapo and their Ukrainian henchmen towards the Jews softened a bit. Although they still forced them to labor on hunger food rations, they withheld the beatings. The order of expulsion was withdrawn.

During the two weeks of Nazi occupation, which served as a prologue to the tragedy that was to follow, Jaworow

[Page 6]

counted only two victims. they were the lawyer Philip Guttman and Hayim Lang whom the Gestapo had abducted. Nobody heard of them until their half rotted corpses were discovered in the Porudenko woods in the spring of 1940. An autopsy established that they had been buried alive. By the testimony of Dr. Guttman's widow, the criminal responsible for their murder was the Ukrainian lawyer, Dr. Filc.

Jews who had fled Jaworow towards the Soviet border returned. During the year of the Soviet rule (1939-1940), the influx of refugees from Western Galicia swelled the Jewish population of Jaworow to 3,000 souls. Soviet authorities punished a number of ukrainian militiamen for their Jewish excesses. even then conditions did not improve materially. Property of the wealthier Jews was nationalized. They included Melach Manber, Wolf Broch, Baruch Haas, Lozer Lifshitz, Noah Teller, Moritz Schlager, Sholem Wassner and the Altschuler family. A number of them and some refugees were sent to the Soviet Union.

The views, attitudes, ideas and outlooks of the Jaworow Jews, especially among their young, were subjected to drastic change. the latter welcomed the Red Army with uplifted hearts. They took up positions in the workshops and in the offices. Jewish life assumed a normal, tranquil pattern. Jews believed that the nightmare of recent events would never return.

However in June, 1941, Nazi Germany blitzed its pact partner. Its death and thunder dealing legions were slicing through the Soviet Union and were nearing Jaworow. Their bombs scorched soviet airfields along the Zawadow road and blew up the gasoline dumps hidden in the Smulkis' woods. Panic seized Jaworow Jews. Only a handful of young men escaped, particularly those who worked for the Soviet administration and were responsible for bringing Ukrainian bandits to justice. Others fled with the retreating Red troops in the direction of Lemberg. Many of them found their escape blocked by the heavy battle which hit Zloczow and Tarnopol and were turned back from there. Some were able to reach Jaworow;

[Page 7]

others met with disaster on the way. Still others attempted to cross the old Soviet-Polish border, and as “reward” were pressed into the Soviet labor battalions going to the front lines. A few like Saul Schwartz and Klarfeld, were trapped by roving Ukrainian bands. The survivors reaching Jaworow gave harrowing accounts of the pogroms in Zloczow, Tarnopol and Lemberg.

At dawn of June 25th, 1941, the Germans reoccupied Jaworow.


[Page 8]

Chapter II

The Ukrainians hailed the Nazi conquerors. Their young massed in the streets and greeted the passing troops with flowers and cheers. With them reappeared those Ukrainians who had previously fled to Germany when they evacuated Jaworow in 1939. One of them was a certain Smuch who immediately reorganized a Ukrainian police force. Again Jews went into hiding. A few hours later the commandant requested that a delegation of Jews appear before him. The committee who reported included: Sender Blum, Laib Marbach, Hayim Strich, Dovid Badian, Lazar Wimmer, Yeshue Margulies, Aaron Littman, Yisroel Grohman and Shloime Strassberg.

The Gauleiter, a Slovak named Holub, instructed the Jews to form a council and their own militia charged with conducting their own communal affairs according to the new laws. The Jews were to furnish the Nazi overlords with stipulated quotas of workers and collect whatever taxes and indemnities imposed upon them. Holub warned them their heads would fall for the slightest dereliction of “duty”. He designated Yoel Fuss as head of the committee, and Dovid Badian to form the police. The committee comprised of the following: Margulies, Strassberg, Littman, Grohman, Marbach and Strich. Those picked to serve on the police were: Benek Strauss, Hersh Greenstein, Shimen Kanigel, Zisha Lipshutz, Sever Kirshbaum and others. Jewish homes were ordered to display the Star of David. The town administration was revamped. The Ukrainian teacher, Kmetik, became mayor, and a certain Poslawski the chief of police. Both promptly revealed a virulent hatred of the Jews.

Nazi terror struck swiftly. On the fifth day of reoccupation, the Ukrainian City Council submitted a list of 150 Jews for liquidation. All were victims of personal grudge and vengeance. The German selected the first twelve Jews so listed; engineer Kirschbaum, Fishel Adler, Moishe Strassberg, Yitzhok Schwartz,

[Page 9]

Moishe Bauer, Muni Seiler, Yitzhok Kreibick, Meyer Ratz, Meyer Gerstenfeld, Schlaf, Moishe Pomeranz and Moishe Saubreraum. Under the pretext of taking them for special work assignments, Nazi henchmen loaded them in a truck and drove them through the woods int he direction of Bruchnal. There they were tortured to death. The agents who carried out the action spoke Polish. For a time nobody knew the fate of the twelve. Five weeks later their frantic relatives found them in the woods under a pile of sand buried with some hapless Soviet soldiers. The corpses were naked and mutilated, placed in grotesque positions, and their feet bound with heavy wire. The Jewish Council secured permission to bring the twelve martyrs to rest in individual coffins according to Jewish rites.

The Jewish Council set up offices in Teller's house facing the marketplace. Before its headquarters each morning at six, 400 Jewish workers reported for such duties as sweeping the streets, cleaning the abattoirs, working on rock piles and in road gangs. One group was detailed to gathering up ammunition and weapons discarded by the fleeing Red troops. The equipment was reassembled in the Soviet built barracks in the village of Wolka Roskowska which was eight kilometers from Jaworow on the road to Krakowiec. Whenever the labor quota fell short, Nazi hirelings crashed into Jewish homes, dragged out whomever they could, be they aged or ailing, beat them into submission and carted them off to the Wolka Roskovska camp. As added punishment the entire labor battalion was kept working three and four days without rest.

At the time the labor barracks and prisoner of war camp were located near the town's kennel house. In that area the Germans launched a number of building projects which proceeded under their military guard. The two civilian overseers, Maxen Meier and Kurt Adler, treated the sixty Jewish laborers surprisingly well. A construction inspector named Hermann, on the other hand, pushed around the men with incredible demands but usually relented when his palm was crossed with gifts and bribes. On the whole the Jews there felt a measure of security and even benefited from minor favors. Skilled

[Page 10]

craftsmen received on zlote per hour, and an extra loaf of bread each week. More were allowed to utilize their skills. Saul Schwartz acted as their spokesman; Yisroel Manber worked as bookkeeper; Stepan Apther as technician, Teiger, Mordichai and Steinbach as cabinet makers; M. Singer, Glazer and Tieger were in charge of supplies. Among the unskilled were Ray Diamant, West, Mania Manber, Itzik Fein, Sh. Broch and Yosel Leberfeld. The construction program lasted until September, 1942. The Soviet prisoners were dealt with calculated cruelty. Many of the died daily. The Jews helped them in many ways.[1]

Apart from labor gangs, the Germans constantly demanded of Jews all forms of indemnities payable in currency, gold, fur pieces, leather goods, coffee, tea, wine, whiskey, etc. Moshe Kahane replaced Yoel Fuss as leader of the Jewish Council which together with its militia executed every German request most energetically. They dealt drastically with those suspected of concealing any part of the wanted items.

One time Holub demanded that the Jews deliver to him an unusual quantity of liquor on the following day. They scraped together all the liquor they could get, and brought it to Holub. The Slovac stormed. He summoned the entire Council to him and detained hostages Yeshueh Margulies, Shlome Strassberg and Aaron Littman. The rest he warned that unless he got what he wanted by six the next evening, the three would be shot.

An hour before the deadline he ordered the hostages to dig their graves. Meanwhile the Jews, especially the wives of the doomed, desperately bought up all available bottles, paying Poles and Ukrainians exorbitant prices. Holub's wife was

[Page 11]

showered with presents. Finally Holub relented and released the hostages - severely beaten and bloody.[2]

The Germans replaced Moshe Kahane as head of the Council with Sender Blum.

Jaworow Jews were preyed upon by Nazis of every rank. The notorious Leibmeier, Wolf, Jenke and Goitze vied with each other in inflicting the more bestial abuse upon innocent Jews caught in the street after the curfew which started six in the evening. Old men, women and children were mercilessly assaulted. The Ukrainians with whom the Jews had lived in peace before the war, assisted the Germans with homicidal glee in raiding Jewish homes, destroying Jewish property, denouncing those who had worked for the Soviet occupation and framing others. They fanned the Nazi terror. It was they who arrested jews and threw them in jail which was located in the former county court house on Sokol Street. There the Ukrainian “deputies”, Bazilewicz, Horniak, Glowa and Brindas “examine” them in this manner. They would point a pistol at the head or temple of the victim, then shoot in the air, and explode with laughter at the trembling Jew's agonies. After Feinsinger was taken into custody, they poured urine in his mouth.

Even Ukrainian prisoners joined in the violent, lewd sport. When the Jews' cries attracted the Ukrainian guards, the latter mockingly inquired why they were screaming. When told of being set upon by their Ukrainian cell mates, the guards clubbed them anew and jeered, “are we too manhandling you?”

In the Fall of 1941, the fighting front moved further East. Conditions in town became more or less stabilized. Rape and plunder were now part of a general pattern rather than sporadic criminalities. Demoralized, deprived of the simplest of human possessions, and paralyzed by the haunting fear of sudden death, the ragged Jews moved about in a stupor.

[Page 12]

During the Passover holidays of 1942, there came to Jaworow a high ranking Nazi, a fellow by the name of Steuer. His ferocious deeds will never be erased from the memory of Jaworow Jews, and those of Grodek, Krakowiec and Janow. Each time this Hitler satrap visited a town or village, he left a trail of tears, torture and sorrow. His appetite for loot was insatiable, and the Jewish Council had no choice but to supply him with whatever they could.

Sender Blum, who headed the Council, was an honest but ineffectual man. His weakness was exploited by Shlome Henner, his son Mundek, and Yakob Winter who in reality conducted the communal affairs such as they were under the Nazi boot. Dovid Badian who subsequently played a dismal part in Jaworow, was at that time only a member of the Jewish police force. Under Nazi pressure they abused and mishandled their fellow Jews with perhaps questionable rigor.

Steuer made surprise visits to the Council and lashed out at those present. Unexpectedly he forced his way into Jewish homes, swept the dishes from the table to the floor, smashed the furniture and obscenely humiliated the women. He flogged Ida Lipshitz. He invaded Polka Cipper who was married to a Jew, Dolek Guttman, ordered her to undress, ground her bare toes with his boots, and whipped her unmercifully. He delighted in striking blows at women with bare fists until their blood flowed, and chasing them nude into the cold outdoors.[3]

Once Steuer asked Sender Blum to accompany him to the Jewish cemetery. There he gave him detailed instructions for the removal of the tombstones, and the slowing under and leveling of the burial grounds. he specified that the work must be completed in two weeks. After Steuer returned to town, he summoned Blum to see him at once. Blum hurried over in hast and while waiting in Steuer's outer office, he suffered a heart attack and died.

[Page 13]

Blum's death had a shattering effect upon the Jews. As head of the Council he fulfilled his duties to the Nazis, but at the same time exerted every effort to ease the Jewish plight. He ironed out inner Jewish squabbles, and executed the Nazi edicts with a minimum of hardship upon his townspeople. His honest and devotion earned him the community's confidence and respect.

Lazar Wimmer succeeded him for a while. he too was a kindly man and tried to act as a buffer against catastrophe and corruption. For the reason Steuer disqualified him and gave the post to his favorite lackey, Dovid Badian, who faithfully served the German masters. He helped them in degrading and exterminating his brothers. Steuer was so please with his collaboration that he openly preferred him to Boczninski, the Ukrainian mayor of Jaworow.[4]

The office of vice-chairman of the Jewish Council, combined with that of chief of the reorganized Jewish police which was christened “Ordnung Dienst”, fell to Buzie Hahn. Like Badian, he was of no comfort to the afflicted community.

Two days after Blum's death, the desecration and desolation of the Jewish cemetery began. Men, women and children of all ages were put to the task of extracting the headstones. Jewish foremen in charge speeded the work at a feverish pace which took all of the two months to finish. The monuments were piled up stair-wise outside near the cemetery's fenced-off gate, and the hallowed soil was dug up, resurfaced, and trimmed beyond recognition. the disturbed dead made no protest over robing them of their resting place. Their memorial stone blocks were used in paving streets.

Jews were barred from living in the town's better streets, Mickiewicza, Aleksandrowicza and Krakowiecka and from the market place. Those found in the forbidden zone were driven off into
the ghetto set up in the city's poorer sections. They bore their suffering in silence and with fortitude, and cheered one another with the hope of approaching liberation. Their stark

[Page 14]

reality allowed for none of those whispered prophecies. The specter of hunger stalked the town and their homes. They were denied the opportunity of earning a livelihood, and food was unobtainable. Jews without money or goods to exchange starved to death. All resources seemed to have evaporated. yet there were still a few individuals who managed to find food because they succeeded in concealing a few articles from the greedy eyes of the Council's blood hounds. The rest were beggared and quickly learned the futility of chasing after the elusive loaf of bread. Those who were once rich and smug, swelled up with hunger beyond human proportions and their grotesquely distended bodies frightened their huddling neighbors. Many fed on grass and shriveled corn stalks were considered a luxury. Occasionally an affluent Ukrainian would part with some potatoes in exchange for a new suit of clothes if one still possessed that stuff. The tortured, pleading eyes of the dying! They were unable to see the coming miracle. They writhed in agonies, then their bodies stilled and hardened.

Even the strangulating hand of hunger did not save the Jews from the heartless task masters. They were still forced to clear forests, haul lumber, slave on roads and stone quarries and bend under crushing weights. It would appear that the Jewish Council did have the power to ameliorate the suffering and general hardships, but failed to act with sufficient energy.


[Page 15]

Chapter III

Labor Camps

There were three so-called “labor drafts” in Jaworow during 1941-1942. The first one occurred in November, 1941. At that time the Germans demanded from the Jewish Council 200 able bodied men to be sent to labor camps. When the call was issued, many Jews went into hiding. As a Jewish area, Jaworow included the Jews living in Krakowiec, Wielkioczi, and neighboring townlets and villages. The Jewish Council, unable to draw the required manpower from Jaworow alone, sent out Ukrainian and Jewish auxiliary police to the nearby settlements to pick up the missing number of men. When the quota was completed, the men were taken to the labor camp in Winik, near Lemberg, and to Jaktorow, near Zloczow. Following this roundup the Jews tried to lead a normal existence. Jewish workers were seen marching to their tasks. Hunger and torture claimed daily fresh victims. Salvation was not in sight.

Second “draft” hit the town in January, 1942. the German Labor Office, functioning at Dr. Schnapper's house, now demanded 300 able bodied men to fill the diminishing slave labor ranks. Again Jews ran for cover and there was no escape. The Ukrainians and Jewish “guardians of the peace” knew of every possible hideout and were able to ferret out every one at will for shipment to the dreaded camps.

The third “action” unexpectedly developed in May, 1942, and it was more sinister. The Labor Office this time demanded 500 able bodied men. Since there were few physically fit men left, they built up the contingent of old men and children, and entrained them for the camps located in the Zloczow region. When the disembarked in Pluchow, there were many among them dead. The camp commander, a storm trooper named Warzog, regrouped the survivors; the children under

[Page 16]

15 were sent under guard to Zloczow where they were housed by local jews who returned them to Jaworow a week later, forty in all; the rest were given over to firing squads.[5]

Jews who were caught up in the labor dragnets, seldom came back alive. If one did succeed in bribing his way out, he returned in terrible condition. The German home guard, the Ukrainian and Jewish auxiliary police coordinated the raids well. Their essential objective was to exterminate the Jews. The poor were hopelessly lost. Those still with money and influence in the Council were able to save themselves during the first two “raids”. In reality the labor camps near Zloczow were charnel houses.

 

Jaktorow

The Jaktorow labor camp was established at the end of 1941. It was run by a certain Gzimek and an SS aide named Faika. His “cure” for sick Jews was to have them shot down in cold blood. His equally dreaded henchmen were the Ukrainians Riznik, Czornowec, Buchaiski, Pietruszka, Buri and Szlepi. They would suddenly appear at night and examine the feet of the sleeping men. If one's feet were unwashed they roused everybody and drove them barefoot into the frosty night to wash their feet in the snow. As a result many of the hapless victims contracted pneumonia and chronic kidney ailments. In time of heavy snowfall the Jews were awakened at night after a trying day's work to clear the rail tracks. Such nocturnal experiences usually ended in several deaths. Faiks' sense of humor was as varied as it was resourceful. He enjoyed placing a bottle on a Jew's head or under his arm for target practice. Gzimek, when sentencing a Jew to be flogged, would assist by throwing the Jew to the ground, place his hobnailed boot on his head, and order the flogging. He further reduced the already pitiable food ration for the camp.[6]

[Page 17]

Pluchow

The Pluchow camp served as a trap for those Jews who were picked up in the various villages near Jaworow. There the turnover was several hundred men. Reveille was sounded at 4 a.m. at which time the eating started. They were clubbed at work, and the Ukrainians did most of the clubbing. Ostensibly the project there was to construct a trunk rail line and a highway. After spending two weeks at camp, the new arrivals began to show bloated limbs peculiar to those suffering of hunger. Nevertheless they continued to toil because the alternative was being bludgeoned to death. Death worked overtime there. For an attempt to escape, or for the slightest infraction of discipline, the “culprit” was tied to a tree and left to die. The maltreatment meted out to children who were there in considerable number was particularly barbaric.[7]

 

Lacki-Wielki

In the Lacki-Wielki camp, commandant Warzog “induced” the Jews to wear a yellow badge. Thee they were similarly employed at road work, canalization, rock piles, etc. The ever obliging Ukrainians used on them rubber truncheons and rifle butts without provocation. Pfeifer,the immediate overseer, enjoyed bashing Jewish heads with stones and iron bars. If one rested for an unprescribed moment from his pitiless task, Pfeifer promptly rewarded him with 25 stinging lashes. he kept the barracks unheated in the winter, the Jews barefoot and in tatters, and the food rations to a vanishing minimum.

The shooting dow of Jews in the barracks or at work was a grim daily spectacle. Others dropped by the wayside out of brutal beatings and inhuman exhaustion. Those who worked at the quarry had to bring back stones weighing from 8 to 10 kilos for the purpose of paving the road leading to the camp. Woe to him that failed to “cooperate”! The “culprit”

[Page 18]

was placed over a barrel, with a guard holding his head, another his feet, and a third caning him with overwhelming vigor.

Warzog love to photograph emaciated Jews. The more cadaverous looking he methodically removed to the woods, had them shot and dumped in previously prepared graves. Seeing once the skimpy food handed to the Jews, Warzog wisely observed, “too little to live on; too much to keep from dying”, and he laughed appreciatively. Another time he ordered a group of Jews to wallow naked in a mud pool stretching for 200 yards and a Jewish photographer was compelled to record the scene.

The most wicked of the Ukrainian bandits there were Majorczak, Szapranski and Baran. Their pastime was to come into the barracks at night, wake up the tired Jews, march them up to the roof of the three storied barracks, and order them to jump off. Or on the way to the latrine the Jews were required to hop on all fours. Thee they were given but one minute for their biological function. Those who made the mistake by staying longer, were treated with hot lead for their pains.

At lunch time they played another variation. While forcing down the slop, the Ukrainians habitually beat the Jews over the head, “urging” them thus to hurry. to escape the “prodding”, the Jews threw the earthen bowls away, preferring to go on working hungry. The Jews counted from 8 to 10 dead daily. The soup was brewed for them with decayed potatoes and weeks. Warzog once shot his dog for tearing up his newspaper and directed the cook to throw the carcass into the soup.

With the young and vigorous element plucked away, there remained in Jaworow only old Jews, women and children. Conditions for the rest of the population became increasingly unbearable despite the ten grams of bread which the Jewish council distributed to the Jews. Those who worked in the Soviet prisoners-of-war camp fared a little better. Jews even helped some of the prisoners make a getaway. Unfortunately they rarely got too far. The Ukrainian citizens invariably be-

[Page 19]

trayed them and surrendered them to the Germans. The punishment in camp was death by starvation. There was a case of recaptured prisoners who in order to still their hunger resorted to cannibalism involving a dead comrade. The perpetrators of the act were immediately shot.

In the summer of 1942 there arrived in camp two Gestapo agents in search of former communist commissars, party functionaries and Jews. while the prisoners were screened, a number of informers appeared among them who sold out their comrades for an extra helping of soup. that day thirty men were taken to the woods and executed.

At the same time the Gestapo guests requested that the Ukrainian police assemble all the aged and feeble Jews of Jaworow and bring them to the police station. An out-of-town Ukrainian by the name of Bulawka, seized the following: Aaron Gruber, Meyer Astman, Yoseph Berman, Yoseph and Moshe Bulz, Dovid Pomeranz, Shabsi Junis, Alter Monschein, Mrs. Zegler, Hirsch West, Hersh Licht and Sholem Mandelbrot. they were all executed in the woods and buried in a mass grave, one of the graves which dotted the road leading to the village of Porudenko.

The heavily burdened Jaworow Jews, or whatever was left of them, continued their bleak existence. There was no hope. Yet they clung to life, however worthless it was. Occasionally a glimmering rumor of pending deliverance flashed across their sky. But the bitter, strangulating reality quickly dissipated the dream every time. In its wake filtered in terrifying, more substantiated rumors of long, endless train movements, box cars crowded with Jews who were swept up from the length and breadth of Galicia and transported to Belzec, and of the trains returning only with their clothes. The fearful stories, whispered from ear to ear told of those Jews being used as raw material for the soap factories. Later the stories were more than confirmed by the wholesale liquidation of the Lemberg and Krakow Jewish communities and those of Grodek, Moszcziska, Sandowa-Wisznia. Jews went insane with fright of the

[Page 20]

morrow. At any moment they expected the same catastrophe to explode in Jaworow. They passed days and nights in cellars and sewers, without undressing for weeks on end. They hid in the most ingeniously contrived places of concealment, and there was no where to flee.

Only a small number of Jaworow women managed to slip away with the aid of “Aryan certificates”. Among them were Dr. Irina Jahr, Henie Handel, Cesza Schwartz with her child, the Seifer sisters and their brother, Sheie, Feige Grunstein and Dr. Sobelsohn. Dr. Shoel Jahr hanged himself in order not to burden his wife.

Surrounding townlets had already been wiped out and, for the time being, the municipalities belonging to the Jaworow administration were spared. Once more Jaworow Jews believed that a miracle might save the. But their fate of course was inevitable as it was inexorable.


[Page 21]

Chapter IV

Charnel House

The Saturday of September 7, 1942 was bleak, misty and raining all day. At about 7 o'clock that morning shots suddenly were heard in the vicinity of the town's main square. A detachment of storm troopers had arrived from Lemberg and quickly surrounded the area. They engulfed the Jewish quarter and the synagogues. Closed trucks with black uniformed men lined the market place, waiting, grim and tensely on the alert. Hell broke loose in the ghetto. The brave SS fighters showered a fusillade of bullets upon the screaming, wailing and struggling Jews. They tossed hand grenades with wanton recklessness into cellars and atop attics and wherever Jews were suspected of hiding. Also in this action the Ukrainian and Jewish auxiliaries participated in dragging out trembling, unresisting old men, women and children with deadly thoroughness. The Jewish collaborators who excelled even the Nazi hangmen in the manhunt were: Lazer Kamerman of Sandowa Wisznia; Mundek Henner, Shloime's son; Shimen Kanigel, Benek Strauss, Shloime Bogen, Itzie's prodigy; Levi Holzman, Sever Kirschbaum, Zishe Litfshitz and Hersh Greenstein. They alone flushed out over 70 Jews who were hiding in the houses of Adler, Feivel Klarfeld and Pinchus Manber. The whole group was promptly mowed down.

Early that morning the Ukrainian mayor Boczinski and commandant Holub repaired tot he scene of action to take personal charge of the “engagement”. The relentless Jew-hunt went on all day. The victims were concentrated in front of the homes of Altschuler and Litman. Here they were kept waiting all day in the rain while the bandits combed the town for more and more Jews. Over 200 lost their lives that day by gunfire, the majority of them in the narrow street near Teller's house where the Jewish Council had its headquarters. Some who were

[Page 22]

brought there were first beaten into unconsciousness, and after their clothes were stripped,t hey received the coup de grace. Incessant lamentation mingled with agonized cries and sorrowful chants filled the air of the blood-spattered, corpse-littered streets of slaughter, except for brief periods of silence punctuated by staccato volleys. The Poles were mobilized to remove the dead.

In the afternoon the unassassinated, but half-dead Jews were loaded into the black cars which whisked them off to the railroad station. The cars made several such return trips. Amidst the piteous whimpering of the children and the groans of the aged, an SS man briskly counted off the “cargoes” as each transport rolled away into the unknown. On the whole the Jews, pale and anguished, recovered from the shock, and sat clasping the hands of each other in the spirit of unity created by common disaster. The Jaworow rabbi, Elimelech Frankel, walked with quiet dignity, garbed in the traditional cloak, and intoned the last prayer of penance which reaffirms the covenant between the dying Jew and God.

By nightfall it was all over. over 1500 Jewish men, women and children were put on the train which took them to Belzec. The hospital was emptied of the sick and practically all members of the Jewish Council involuntarily joined the transport. Among the hundreds of families carried off were those of Singer, Pomeranz, Mieses with their daughter Zlatte Druck, Shoel Schwartz, Stepek After, etc. The ailing Anshel Druck was shot on his sick bed. Dr. Bach asked to go along with his bride, Jadzie Beer. A Jewish policeman put on the train Rabbi Frankel and his family. The rabbi tearfully took leave of the remaining Jews as well as of the Jewish militia, and bestowed on them a blessing in these words, “May God never withhold His mercy from you. Let me be the redeemer and the last sacrifice for all Jews!”… (Archives, JJHC, Krakow, No. 1006).

Some of the scenes played by the Jews in their hideouts were woven of horror. Pharmacist Kalmust poisoned his baby lest its cries revealed the family's whereabouts. For similar reasons the woman Maurer secretly strangled her baby.

[Page 23]

Officially the “action” was concluded, and the SS left in their cars for Lemberg, singing “O, Fatherland, O, Fatherland” as though having finished a normal “work day”. In reality, however, the Ukrainian and German police continued to mop up the remainder of the Jews through the following Sunday. They dynamited various bunkers, looted deserted Jewish homes, and anybody caught was shot on the spot or executed in the synagogue. They instituted a regular pogrom under the direction of mayor Boczinski and with the cooperation of other vengeful Ukrainians. Thus fell an additional 200 victims, and among them, the Jewish policemen: Benek Strauss, Shloime Bogen and Sever Kirschbaum. Their betrayal of fellow Jews to the Germans failed to prolong their own borrowed time. Also killed was the dentist Zimmerman who previously been spared from going to Belzec because he proved to the Germans that he was a military reservist.

During the height of the pogrom a Greek-Orthodox procession, marking an Ukrainian holiday and headed by pious looking priests and a forest of religious banners, moved along the streets that were splashed with Jewish blood. The flock chorused hymns of their church in the name of the Prince of Peace. On November 8, the German security police put an end to the slaughter.

A number of bolder Jews leaped off the death train speeding them to Belzec. Some like David Badian, Shimen Kanigal, the brothers Hayim and Shmuel Unger, Chaye Boehm and her two children, Wolf Katz of Oszomla, Sime Mendelshn and others, landed safely and even returned to Jaworow. Among those who were killed in the attempt to save their lives were Elka Wurzel, Moses Eichenbaum, Shmuel Mendelsohn, etc. Youthful Jadzie Beer got her skirt caught in the car window. She dangled in mid-air until a Nazi guard “helped” her with a bullet through her heart.


[Page 24]

Chapter V

The Ghetto

The following day a ghetto was formally established in Jaworow. About a thousand Jews including those who had come flocking to Jaworow from outlying villages, carried with them what little of their belongings they had left and trekked towards their new quarter. Jews from Drohomyszl were driven there in the middle of the night, naked and unshod, a distance of 15 kilometers, and were permitted to bring with them none of their belongings. Along the way they were compelled to sing the Soviet song, “My Moscow”.

The ghetto at first consisted of a number of shanties in the area between the synagogue and public bath house. Conditions under which the Jews lived there were abominable. They were congested and sunk in incredible squalor, without food and clothing. They were denied the means of meeting the most elementary primitive needs. Each new arrival added to the nightmare of a penned in, twisted mass of humanity. If one ventured outside the ghetto fence for whatever reason, outright death was the penalty. Wolf, executioner of Jaworow, cheerfully ambushed the unwary victims. he himself murdered twenty Jews in two days following the formation of the ghetto.

There appeared the Jewish scum, Dovid Badian and Buzie Hahn, who again took things in hand. They reorganized the “Jewish Council” at the home of a certain Lopaczak, located in the heart of the ghetto. They converted Rabbi Fraenkel's home into a hospital for serious cases and also set up a relief committee. Only ten percent of the funds they raised went for public needs; the rest fattened their own hides.

Remnants of survivors from surrounding towns poured into the Jaworow ghetto. Hygienic living was out of the

[Page 25]

question. The German administration made available to the Jewish Council an additional row of ramshackle dwellings which were to be assigned to the newcomers. But Laib Baumehl and Zalmen Lang who acted as housing commissioners, trafficked in Jewish misery. They sold apartments to the highest bidders. The starving and destitute who could not afford to pay were literally left out in the cold. They found shelter in the vestry of the synagogue or slept in the streets. As a result, many of them died of exposure. The synagogue soon became the source of a typhus epidemic, and the scourge spread throughout the ghetto.

The restricted area stretched from the marketplace to Alexandorwiczo Street, circled the Greek Catholic Church and the approached to the synagogue. The devious fenceline was punctured by many entrances each of which was guarded by a German patrol post. Aproximiatley 5,000 Jews lived inside in a total of 80 small houses, or 60 people to a house.

At the same time the members of the Jewish Council bathed in comparative luxury. They slept on clean linen, wore elegant garments, enjoyed sanitary facilities and good food. To the departments of the Council headquarters were added a jail, an office for the chief of the Jewish police, and a well stocked buffet restaurant for themselves and friends.

In the ghetto the mad scramble for food exacted its daily toll of killed Jews. Bullet riddled bodies of youngsters and women were discovered every morning sprawling outside the gates.

One day Wolf trapped two Jewish girls, Sarah Bulz and Mollie Schweizer, at the home of the Ukrainian, Stanko. After castigating the Council for laxness, he unleashed his savage German police dog to pounce on them. The dog tore the girls to shreds. Finally they expired by rifle fire. At another time he came upon Reich and a friend who were returning to the ghetto at dawn with a sack of flour. Both of course were instantly trampled to death.

The Jews received 10 ounces of bread a day for which they stood in long, weary waiting lines under vicious Jewish

[Page 26]

police control Woe to anyone who begged for his or her handout before their turn!

Hunger and disease claimed their dead almost hourly. Motte Laib went around with his funeral cart to collect the corpses. Within six months over 1,500 Jews perished. Life had lost all meaning and its burden became increasingly unbearable. Nobody hoped for miracles anymore. The people knew their fate was sealed. Death was their sole redeemer.

Early in 1943 another tragedy beset the afflicted Jews. The two infamous Gestapo agents, Rakito and Leibmeier, together with picked Jewish policemen, descended from Lemberg. Blandly they asked the Jewish Council to supply them with 500 rugged Jews for a labor camp near Lemberg. Unhappily the Jews sensed the kind of “work” they had in mind, and they promptly scurried for shelter. But the hangmen knew their business and were not to be swerved by the “game” of hide and seek. Methodically they staged their familiar manhunt, sweeping through cellars, attics, bunkers, double walls, like locusts. Finally they gathered up the men they wanted and marched them off, leaving behind only the old and sic, women and little children.


[Page 27]

Chapter VI

The Block

In the wake of the Belzec action and during the establishment of the ghetto, an SS official by the name of Carl Hoffman came to set up an army forestry office. At the beginning of the project only six Jews were accepted. As it developed, more Jews were added. those who were employed by the forestry office received a special insignia marked “W” (Wehrmacht) which protected the bearer against sudden forced leave taking. Sixty Jews were selected in all and a separate block of houses on Szepticki Street was set aside for their use. Besides the lumber jacks, there were also housed irrigation workers, tailors, furriers, shoemakers, book-binders, car and truck drivers. A separate block was organized with Jacob Klein as officer in command and Buzie Hahn as police supervisor. The workday began at seven and ended at six in the evening with one hour off for lunch. All workers received 30 ounces of bread, 10 ounces of marmalade, 2 ounces of tea, 7 kilo pounds of potatoes, 10 ounces of fats, and 28 zlotes per week. In addition they were privileged to have their families live with them. Life in the Block was paradise and those who still had money left strove to obtain a “W” classification.

Afterwards Kakrl Hoffman was replaced by a Berlin german named Walter ginter as director of the forestry office. In collusion with Ginter, Buzie Hahn started a profitable business in dealing with “W” insignias. He would sell it to one, take it back, and resell it to a second, third, etc. Ginter of course derived most of the financial benefits from Hahn's transactions and he constantly increased the number of “W” workers. However, since he was allowed no more than sixty, the others paid for remaining in the Block at his sufferance.

[Page 28]

Ghetto dwellers, defiant of danger, would steal out to visit friends and kin in the Block and take back with them extra food. Laib Kamerman was caught doing it. The police found an unauthorized “W” insignia on his person and held him for questioning. As a penalty he was tied to two horses who were whipped into a run, dragging poor Laib over the cobble stones until he breathed his last.

Life in the ghetto was hard, tense, and without a spark of hope. The corruption that seeped into and corroded the hearts of many individuals made vicious strides. The hardier among the youth resisted its evil influence. They secured guns and ran off to the woods determined to die fighting. Forty such young men joined the partisans in April, 1943, disguised in German uniforms and lost themselves in the Lubaczow forest well armed. They fell heroically.

The pattern of pillage, slave labor, sadistic beatings, hunger and pestilence continued its spiral dance of death for the Jews. Yet when Passover was approaching the tired out and skeletal people took heart in its ancient celebration of freedom from bondage and prepared matzohs (unleavened bread) in observance of the festival which perhaps was to be their last.


[Page 29]

Chapter VII

The Forest of Blood

In mid-April Walter Ginter suddenly summoned his workers together in order to check up on the “W” mark holders. those who did not have it, he detained in his office; the rest he sent back to the Block. Imminent danger electrified the air.

At dawn of Friday, April 16, a detachment of SS men sealed off the Block with lightning speed. Everybody was ordered to come out and to line up. Then with hand grenades they systematically pulverized every suspected hiding place within the Block and machine gunned all “illegals”. First casualties were Abraham Eiss' daughter and child. The SS commanded the “W” workers to help them ferret out every Jew who was hiding. Not one budged from the spot. The Jews so caught were taken to the old cemetery across from the charred synagogue. The “W” workers were brought there later. Martial law was declared throughout the town as though it were under siege. All roads leading to and from Jaworow were heavily guarded . Police swarmed over all highways. Closed trucks moved into the public square driven by the black uniformed deserters of the renegade General Wlasowec.

Another detachment of SS men together with Jewish militia from Lemberg encircled the ghetto. They rushed in at a given signal and began dragging Jews from houses and blowing up cellars, bunkers and every conceivable hideout. They too were taken to the cemetery, trudging, emaciated, pale, tattered and frightened Jews hugging their miserable bundles. The slow moving Jews were administered staggering blows. The teacher Eisenstein was shuffling along with a battered, bleeding head, followed by his wife and sister wringing their hands in mute despair on the unending trek of tears and sorrow.

[Page 30]

At the cemetery the Germans separated the able bodied from the debilitated. Women and children were deposited in the house of worship. Ginter also yielded up twenty-four Jews who had paid him for protection and they too swelled the mass of the wailing and the doomed in the scarred synagogue.

The Jews lined up before two tables. At one table the physically fit were registered for work according to individual skill, and for unskilled labor. Into two empty, open crates the Germans piled up all the Jews” personal valuables produced after a painstaking search, such as wedding rings, wallets, watches, eyeglasses. The trucks came and constantly disgorged more and more Jews to the devouring beast. By noon the classification was concluded. All those who were found unfit for work were summarily sentenced to death and herded into the synagogue with the help of rifle butts and whiplashes. The insistent sobbing and weeping of the women and children crowding the synagogue so unnerved and enraged the SS men that they frequently dashed inside with guns blazing and promptly “quieted” their cries.

That April afternoon was particularly sunny and mild, caressed by a cloudless sky and gentle winds. More women and children arrived. Young, beautiful girls climbed down the trucks, Zimmerman, Genia Stenbach, Brummer, Nusia Fuss, Sabina Mamber. The tragic procession seemed endless. their faces pale and drawn, hair disheveled, eyes reddened and pleading not to be forgotten, bidding farewell, burning with hatred… The moment the trucks emptied their human cargo, they whirred into motion, lurched forward and sped away for reloading fifty women to a truck. Sing-song lamentations shattered the silence.

The men standing still across from the synagogue watched in helpless anguish as the women and children marched out of the synagogue and packed into waiting vehicles. Even as they rolled away to their rendezvous with destruction, the SS men set fire to the wooden houses and the whole ghetto soon leaped into crackling flames. The few remaining Jews,

[Page 31]

forced out by the fire from undetected concealment, started to run for their lives. But the gleeful Nazis turned them back with flying bullets and they were quickly transformed in frantic flaming screaming torches until they sagged in heaps of burning flesh.

With the daring born of insane agony, some Jews, who were consigned for oblivion, attempted to mingle with those who were temporarily exempted by the magic “W” emblem. Such “insolence” called for bestial flogging. The trucks now began removing the old and the sick. A Jewish policeman, Levi Holzman, tried to jump from a truck. An SS ruffian collared him, split his skull, gouged his eyes out, trussed him up and flung him back. The only condemned were carted off to a designated point, a clearing in the Porudno forest. Only two groups of men were for the moment left undisturbed: 160 skilled and the 60 “W” workers.

On that lovely day in April, the Germans slaughtered around 4,000 Jews, men and women and children, in the Porudno forest and buried them in previously prepared mass graves. Before execution they “coaxed” them with painful blows to undress completely, and lie down in rows of ten on wooden planks placed across the graves which were 24 meters long, 12 meters wide and 10 meters deep. As they lay whispering and chanting last prayers, SS gunners wielding automatics sputtered bullets to the prostrate. Then the plank was tipped and the dead and wounded dropped into the grave and three Jews covered them with dirt. On top of them another row of bullet riddled bodies were dropped, and another, row upon row, until they filled the graves to the brim. Out of their depth, faint, muffled moans floated upward and echoed mournfully in the forest of blood, but the sound of the rapid murderous staccato spurts of steel quickly drowned them out. The trees stood still and forest life was petrified. When all was over the SS raked the graves with hand grenades in order to pack the corpses tighter. The blood of the buried came seeping through to the surface and made big lurid stains

[Page 32]

upon the earth. No matter how high they heaped the graves, the specter of the welling blood would not be consoled. The German police feverishly pressed a gang of German construction workers to help erase the blood traces. After feeding them with fifty quarts of whiskey, they poured lime over the graves. That evening the surviving workers were loaded into trucks together with the clothes of the slaughtered and were convoyed to the Janow labor camp. The SS leader who directed the mass murder now turned to the remaining “W” contingent and informed them that they were going back to the Block. He warned them that if as much as a single escape was tried, the whole group would be obliterated.


[Page 33]

Chapter VIII

In Vain the Blood

The Germans converted the Block into a camp. Back in the ghetto it appeared that not all hiding places had been discovered. On the second day dead and seriously injured Jews were unearthed from blown up bunkers. From one an unharmed group of Jews cropped up from various parts of the cratered ground and debris, totaling 200. Somewhat puzzled, the Germans took them to the synagogue, fed them there, housed them in a building,and even organized for them a Council with Itzie Tuch as president. However, their “idyllic” existence was short-lived. A few days later the Jaworow hangman Wolf had them led away to the Porudno forest and mowed them down not far from the lime covered mass graves. Here and there a pitful few were able to cheat the executioner with the help of a friendly Ukrainian or Pole.

the relationship and mutual concern among the “W” Jews in the Block changed for the better. The Jewish militia lost its power and influence. Although the Block-camp was supposed to be in operation for an indefinite period, and Ginter so stated, the Jews learned that it was to be liquidated sooner than anticipated, and cleared of all Jews the Nazi way. Panic broke out anew. Some families tried to run away at once, but were stopped by the ever alert Ukrainians and shot by the German brigand Wolf. When Peppka Charak, a girl of extraordinary beauty and character, was placed before the firing squad, she spat in Wolf's face and died singing. Buzie Hahn, his brother Eisi, Badian and others, succeeded in escaping to Sambor where they were killed, except Badian who returned to Jaworow after the Red Army occupied it.

[Page 34]

Another group led by Henner, Zimmerman, Wimmer, obtained firearms and fled to the woods. There they contacted Soviet partisans who gave them help and direction. A larger group similarly followed suit. Others mingled with the Polish underground. Mamber operated a secret radio and also ran a printing press, both of which kept the partisans informed of developments. The Gorlitzer and Greiff girls saved themselves with the help of Aryan papers.

In many instances trusting Jews gave their savings and valuables to Ukrainian “friends and good neighbors” for safekeeping. A Jewish owner of the beauty salon, “Lwowianka”, asked his “friend” Duszko to hold his money for him before taking to the woods. Later when he asked Duszko for part of it, he stalled him until the gendarmes arrived. A like fate overtook pharmacist Rath and his family who hid with a former Polish neighbor near Krakowiec. Fearful of the roaming deadly Banerovces, the Poles of that region fled to the Western part of Poland, leaving the Jews they were sheltering stranded. Rath's wife and daughter sought refuge from their “friend” the Ukrainian gymnasium teacher, Sadowski, who also held their jewels. In response to their appeal for asylum, he turned them over to the police. The girls swallowed poison in prison, and the mother was executed. When Rath heard of the tragic news, he committed suicide. Lola Wiwak, sole survivor of her entire family, met death through the betrayal of an old Ukrainian woman, Maria Markowes. While the Ukrainian record of humanity towards the Jews is pitch black and soaked in their blood, the Jaworow Poles showed somewhat better sympathy.

By the end of April the Jews who remained in the Block were packed off to the Janow camp and disappeared. The last Jaworow Jews to die were Melach Mamber and his youngest son, Munie; Sarah Mamber and her daughter, Mincia, Gleiszer, Semia Strein and Fein. The ghetto and the Block were razed by fire, the ground plowed and leveled.

July 20th, 1944, the Red Army marched in. Jews returned from the forests. Soviet authorities immediately set up a com-

[Page 35]

mission to study and investigate the German atrocities. It included the Jew Henner and the Ukrainian doctor, Kusznier. The commission took testimony, opened the mass graves, made deductions from established facts, and drew up a report.

The score of Jews who remained alive as though by a miracle erected a modest monument on the mass graves and left Jaworow forever. Now they began a new odyssey across the world.


Footnotes

  1. Archives of the Jaworow Jewish Historical Commission, Krakow, No. 1005 Return
  2. Archives of the Jaworow Jewish Historical Commission, Krakow, No. 897 Return
  3. Archives, JJHC, No. 1105 Return
  4. Archives, JJHC, Krakow, No. 1005 Return
  5. Archives, JJHC, Krakow, No. 897 Return
  6. Archives, JJHC, Krakow, No. 484 Return
  7. Archives, JJHC, Krakow, No. 244 Return

 

Table of Contents


This material is made available by JewishGen, Inc. and the Yizkor Book Project for the purpose of
fulfilling our mission of disseminating information about the Holocaust and destroyed Jewish communities.
This material may not be copied, sold or bartered without JewishGen, Inc.'s permission. Rights may be reserved by the copyright holder.


JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material for verification.
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.

  Yavoriv, Ukraine     Yizkor Book Project     JewishGen Home Page


Yizkor Book Project Manager, Binny Lewis
This web page created by Lance Ackerfeld

Copyright © 1999-2019 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 15 Sep 2015 by MGH