Partial list of Jewish Children at Zabrze
|Following WWII, Polish passenger trains frequently carried armed military escorts to protect the train passengers from armed ambushes.|
Traveling by train in Poland following World War II was a very risky business. As mentioned before, most of the Jewish children who reached the Zabrze orphanage were there because of the efforts of Captain Yeshayahu Drucker personally or through the various religious Jewish associations that were established by Rabbi David Kahane in Poland. Some children were also brought by relatives when they were unable to support the children. The associations paid handsomely for each child who was rescued from a non-Jewish family or an institution. There was no extensive haggling over the price that had to be paid for the redemption of a Jewish child. Rabbi Kahane insisted that each party who hid a Jewish child was entitled to fair compensation for the cost of caring for the child during the war period.
Every child arriving at Zabrze needed medical attention and mental guidance to return to some form of normalcy. The children were highly traumatized by events they had witnessed and the constant fear they felt from their environment. Because many of the children had been placed in Christian homes at early ages they had very little knowledge of Judaism and continued to attend Catholic services while at the Zabrze home. They had also often grown up in an anti-Jewish atmosphere, had been taught to hate Jews, so they had to be introduced to their real heritage slowly. These situations demanded that the staff provide very individualized attention to many of the traumatized children.
Security was a major issue. The home had to be carefully watched so that nobody attacked the place. The expenses of the home were enormous and Zabrze constantly needed money and big money. The Joint Distribution Committee in Poland was the biggest contributor to the orphanage of Zabrze. David Guzik, Joint Director in Poland, placed youth support projects at the highest level. As early as July 1945, Zabrze was receiving Joint funding, illustrated by the budget sheet of the JDC in Poland. The JDC not only provided funding to the home but also American food products. David Danieli recalled that he had arrived at Zabrze prior to Passover 1946 and ate Manischewitz matzoth that were very tasty. He also saw gefilte fish, macaroons and other American Passover products, items that he had never seen in Poland. He recalled that the children were checked by doctors and some children received enriched nutritional foods to regain their strength. The Joint Distribution Committee also provided money allocations for the medical care of children.
|American Joint Distribution Committee, Warsaw/Poland
Specification of expenses on January 11946
We reproduced the budget sheet since the copy was very poor.
|1. Child care||569,900||1,376.558||1,945,450|
|Children house Otwock||177800||432000||609800|
|This document was recently released by the JDC record division of the Polish JDC archives. The copy is barely legible. We decided to reprint the table. Zabrze is described in red. The sums are quarterly sums distributed by JDC to the various homes. This is a partial list of homes. The page goes on to indicate other expenses namely for special health homes and special care institutions.|
The Joint continued to provide crucial funding for the home in the succeeding quarters. The expense sheet shows the variety of programs that the Joint funded. Drucker was constantly on the road traveling through remote areas to locate Jewish children. Some children were redeemed by the local Jewish religious associations and the bills were presented to Rabbi Kahane. Some non-Jewish families presented the
|Dr. Joseph Schwartz seated third from left, (center in trench coat) with JDC staff in Warsaw, Poland 1946|
Jewish children to the Jewish religious associations without asking for money while others demanded extravagant sums.
Then, on March 5, 1946, there was a terrible accident and David Guzik, the Joint's director in Poland, was killed on a return trip from Paris to Warsaw. His airplane crashed at the Prague airport and all passengers died. The Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) in Poland went into shock. As mentioned earlier, Guzik was one of the few JDC officials in Poland to survive the Shoah. Following the liberation of Poland he was immediately appointed director of the JDC in Poland. He was well connected with the Polish agencies that helped him to launch all kinds of aid programs for the surviving Jewish Shoah victims who were in great need.
Guzik organized a staff that began to function immediately despite the terrible conditions in Poland at the time. The staff reached 130 people in 1947. Warehouses, storage depots, distribution centers had to be organized for the first JDC shipload of goods that had already arrived on October 8, 1945 at the Polish port of Gdynia. The cargo consisted of powdered milk, vegetable oil and other basic food necessities. More and more cargoes of goods would arrive with time. The merchandise was shipped to the various points of distribution and helped maintain the surviving Jewish population in Poland. The aid also included medication, clothing and tools.
The JDC also helped directly and indirectly the following Jewish organizations and associations:
This vast aid organization suddenly lost its driver. The JDC director of Europe, Dr. Joseph Schwartz, rushed to Warsaw to support and maintain the Polish JDC operations. The Jewish institutions relied greatly on the help they were getting from the JDC. Schwartz wanted to make sure that the aid program continued to flow.
Schwartz called on William Bein to assume the JDC directorship in Poland. Bein had been the JDC director in Poland prior to World War II and was therefore familiar with the country. He immediately stepped in to assume the leadership of the organization. Help was needed by local surviving Jews
|William Bein, director of the Joint Distribution Committee in Poland, speaking with youngsters in a Jewish home for children in Srodborow, Poland|
and by repatriated Jews from the Soviet Union. Bein began to tour the various Jewish communities and Jewish orphanages throughout Poland, acquainting himself with the specific needs of the Jewish community, especially the needs of the young Jewish people.
Drucker continued his activities and brought many children to the Zabrze home. When he had time, he would spend Shabbat at the Zabrze home with the children. He became their father and counselor. Drucker managed to create a photo album with pictures of some of the children at Zabrze. He brought the album with him when he moved to Israel and eventually gave it to the Museum of Lohamei HaGeta'ot. Unfortunately some of the photos have no names and Drucker did not remember many of the names of the people in the photos. Still, there is an extensive list of names that are printed in this book. The following is a list of the names of the children at the Zabrze home that appear in the Drucker album, copied with permission.
:The list contains 262 names. Some of the names are misspelled but the existing spelling that is basically Polish is maintained in order to adhere to the authenticity of the document. The list is not complete because many children were not recorded or joined transports soon after they arrived at the Zabrze home. The home and the rescue operation were Drucker's raison d'etre. Rabbi Kahane helped Drucker with all his activities and made sure that he had the finances to carry on his projects.
Rabbi Kahane not only pressed the Joint Distribution Committee for more money but also urged the various Jewish communities in Palestine, the United States and Britain to provide financial support for his homes. The Association of Religious Communities in Poland established another home for Soviet repatriated Jewish orphans in Puszcze Gestcza in Silesia. The home operated for about a year and a half and closed with the end of the massive repatriation of Polish citizens from the Soviet Union. Both institutions received large contributions from Jewish communities throughout the free world.
As mentioned before, Rabbi Itzhak Halevi Herzog, chief rabbi of Mandate Palestine and Rabbi Kahane were awash with letters, pleas and appeals from Polish Jewish survivors to help locate their Jewish children hidden with Christian families or institutions. The letters informed the rabbis that for one reason or another these Christian saviors sometimes refused to restore the children to their families. Rabbi Kahane and Rabbi Herzog also received similar pleas for help from rabbis in Britain and the United States.
Even before the war ended, the rabbi's office in Jerusalem was being flooded with letters of relatives who implored the Chief Rabbinate for help locating children who had survived by hiding in Christian homes or institutions. According to a New York Times report from Cairo, Egypt On February, 14, 1946, Rabbi Herzog estimated that there were approximately 20,000 Jewish children in Europe, not including the Soviet Union, who had survived the Holocaust.
|Letter addressed to Rabbi Herzog to help remove a child from a Christian home to a Jewish institution. The letter mentions all the previously unsuccessful efforts to settle the matter. Some references and addresses are provided for the child. Notice the written comment in pencil made at Rabbi Herzog's office in Jerusalem: Send letter to Drucker.|
Often the Christian families would grow attached to the children and be reluctant to part with them. There were of course all kinds of legal problems that frequently prevented the redemption of the children. Jewish orphans who had no relatives in Poland presented a particular problem. Without a Polish citizen to press their claim, no legal action could be taken to return these children to their Jewish heritage.
Rabbi Herzog and Rabbi Kahane realized that other methods needed to be applied. Both men were firmly committed to bringing these Jewish children out of their Christian environment and restoring them to their place in the Jewish community. Rabbi Herzog was reported as having said that every Jewish orphan who had survived the Holocaust represented one thousand who had perished. Both men also realized that after a million and a half Jewish children had been murdered, along with five million Jewish adults, the continuity of the Jewish people was in jeopardy. Every Jewish child brought back into the Jewish world would help repopulate the decimated Jewish people. But these actions required money and the Jewish communities responded by sending funds directly to the Jewish religious associations in Poland or through the Joint, as the document below indicates.
|Contribution made by the Association of the United Galician Jews to the Zabrze home via the JDC organization in Poland.|
These donations kept flowing to Poland and helped the Jewish religious associations and the Jewish religious homes to provide the needed services to the Jewish community. The fact that Rabbi Kahane was the Chief Chaplain of the Polish Army established him as the leader of Polish religious Jewry. His office became the center of information regarding Jewish religious and non-religious matters in Poland. Rabbis wrote letters to him and frequently sent contributions or gifts to his office so that he could provide the restored Jewish communities with prayer books or bibles or prayer shawls. Drucker, of course, saw to it that the Zabrze home received all the religious items that the children needed.d.
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