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[Page 123-129]


On the outside, it seems that the Ghetto returns to its routine, to its worries and sufferings, as before, but it was not but a delusion. We lacked peace of mind. The methods of the Germans were now transparent: first use the power and labor ability of the young; then rob all the Jewish property; and finally take the soul.

There are some who ask why didn't you escape? Those who ask this question ignore the fact that there was no where to run away in this world full of hatred and animosity. We thought we are the last Jews of Europe, and sometimes we saw ourselves, here in the Ghetto, the last Jews of the world' short of any help and assistance, isolated and cut off human ties, and we cannot trust but ourselves – us, few Jews, weak in body and broken in spirit' after four years of torture and oppression, starvation and humiliation under the Nazi boots, surrounded by the armed enemies, equipped with the newest and technologically the most advanced arms. And in spite of this, the Jewish youth of Zaglembia who survived decided to fight and defend himself. Unfortunately we did not know that a very short time was left before the next Aktion (akcja), and we truly had faith that we shall materialize our plans – and we had grand plans, like the plan to encircle the Ghetto in a belt of mines and blow it together with the Nazis. The comrades from Warszawa sent us instructions to make bombs and mines – but the storm of the deportation prevented us from fulfilling it.

The groups who prepared themselves to the defense and uprising were from members of the youth pioneer movements ("tnuot hanoar hakhalutziot"): "Gordonia", "Hashomer Hatzair", Kibbutz "Dror", "Hanoar Hatzioni" and "Hashomer Hadati". But we had no arms. In spite of that, preparations were made to self-defense, even before the last deportation and by the guidance of members of the Kibbutz we started training of the use of weapons. To get the desired arms we were forced to send members to Warszawa – a matter of great danger and huge difficulties; we worked to obtain foreign false passports bearing Christian names, smuggling the border in Zarki and more.

Three young women volunteered to scarify their life for this holy mission: Edza Pesachson, Una Gelbard ("Hashomer Hatzair") and Renia Kukelka ("Dror"). The first one, Edza Pesachson, was caught in a train station at Czestochowa and severely tortured, but did not reveal who was she, for whom and for what did she carry the weapons. According to what comrades from Czestochowa told us – she was hanged in the local prison as a Christian. The second one, Una Gelbard, managed to evade the German hangmen, finally failed and was caught in Zawiercie and there she was shot. Renia was captured while she traveled for the second time to Warszawa and succeeded, after four months of torture, by the help of her courageous and heroine sister Sara (member of Kibbutz Bedzin) to escape from the political prison in Myslowice.

Also the members from Hanoar Hatzioni made extensive efforts to obtain arms, and one case is known about the young man Hari Blumenfrucht who decided, together with two of his friends – Alek Gutman and Kuba Rozenberg, who is in Israel now, to attack a German apartment and take weapons found there by force. They entered the apartment of a known German by the name of Micacz tied his wife and servant and confiscated the arms found there. On their way back to the Ghetto, a notorious Nazi murderer by the name of Scherter noticed Hari Blumenfrucht and asked him about his whereabouts in the Aryan side without the sign "Jude". The young man took out a pistol and wanted to shoot the German, but he stood near him and managed to take the pistol off his hands. The young man was arrested and severely tortures but did not reveal anything, also after his parents were arrested too and he was promised they would be released if he told them who are his partners and associates. He died in terrible agony, but in purification and heroism.

We endeavored to have contacts with the Polish underground. To our dismay, there was not any activity of Polish underground in the Zaglembia region. It is indeed very strange, as this region in Zaglembia – Upper Silesia, where there was a big center of Polish workers with a communist inclination. Where were all its activists? It is true, the progressive Polish intelligentsia and workers activists were deported to Concentration Camp Dachau, or to the General Government zone. But it remains a fact that there was not any anti-Nazi movement in the region nor any comprehensive sabotage activities in our region. The Polish underground was active only in two neighboring towns, in Pilica and Wolbrom. From German newspaper we learned about raid on police stations, blowing storehouses of weapons, killing German and Polish policemen etc.

The chairman of the Judenrat in the town of Pilica, Fogel, was very popular by the population, because he spared no efforts to save us from the nails of the hangmen. Also the Gestapo had to come in terms with him. By the comrade Regina Hollender, in whose house we gathered to discuss with him saving our comrades by joining the Polish partisans, we learned of his contacts with the Polish underground. But according to his opinion, it was impossible, because the Partisans in this are were not assembled in camps or in the forests, as our region has nearly no forests, but rather they emerge from the local population in the town or the villages, and attack Germans targets or make sabotage actions and then return to their own homes. In spite of this, we made up connections with one name Terla (his origins are from the town of Wolbrom and he is a relative of the comrade Gur Arie Terlo from Jerusalem), and he helped us in purchasing arms in Warszawa. Afterwards he came to Bedzin and helped us in obtaining false Polish certificates etc.

After the deportation of Pilica, Fogel wished to settle in Bedzin, and asked permission from Marin (the town Pilica was in the Generalgouvernement zone). His request was rather, that he would not disturb his transfer and the permission itself he will get by himself from the Gestapo. But after their conversation, Marin refused to adhere to his request. Fogel was obliged then, to remain in Pilica after the deportation, together with a small group of its last Jews who worked in the liquidation of the Jewish property, assembled in camps for dispatch to Germany. Part of this property, Fogel used to smuggle to polish partisans. But eventually, someone denounced him to the Gestapo, informing that he keeps ties with the Polish Partisans and even help them with money. As a result, the entire group who survived was imprisoned immediately, including his wife who was in Zawiercie, and everyone was murdered in horrible cruelty.

In spite of all this, we did not give up the trials to contact the Polish Partisans. Comrade Mark Pulman [1]who spent a long time with the Polish Partisans in the area of Warszawa and Radom, returned to Bedzin from Warszawa in the beginning of June. He confirms to us the fact that the Polish Partisans do not wish to join Jews into their units, and only because of his Aryan face he could stay with them as a Pole. In Bedzin Marek met one Christian name Sucha (who lived in Sosnowiec, in 23 Mundziow Street), whom he knew in Warszawa already, as an officer in the Partisans' army. This Christian accepted to transfer a group of our members to the partisans in the Miechow-Krakow area, in the condition that they will all be arms with weapons. After a visit of two of our group in his apartment – who gave the impression of a poor house where the misery pops from every corner and the children there are all hungry (it was all staged eventually in advance) – it was decided to send the first group, who counted 10 people. They received leather coats, new shoes and arms. In the place they were also delivered a slogan, according to which one Pole will connect them with the partisans in the assigned place.

After three days the Pole who led them returned and the secret slogan in his mouth. Only afterwards we learned that he led them to false "partisans". Then the second group left, with 10 members again. Only due to lack of arms – fortunately – not a bigger group left then. After two days returned to Bedzin one of it members, Aizik Nojman [2] of Hashomer Hatzair in Zarki and testified the following: "Happily we passed villages and were accepted nicely by peasants who knew we are going to join the partisans. By night, when we arrived to the forest, we sat down to have a rest. Our Polish escort got further away from us, telling us that he was going to fetch water. Afterwards he brought a can of water and than disappeared again. All of a sudden we were encircled by a unit of riders, and before we could get hold of our arms and defend ourselves, we were shot at by bullets of machine guns. Only by pure chance I was not hurt and kept alive. When they left the place I started run as fast as I could. I caught a train in the train station and returned to Bedzin."

The following day, this Polish traitor Sucha, came and told us that the group failed but he knows another safer route and he will continue transfer them to the Polish partisans. We informed him that we do not have arms and persons anymore, and if times come we do, we would contact him. Then we learned that this Pole is a Gestapo agent and it was him who betrayed and turned all our members to its murderous hands. Thus we lost young dedicated and dear comrades; from the Kibbutz: Alter Goldblum, Szmuel Finkelstein, Cypora Morad, Icchak Kruwka, Mordechai Bachrarz, Libek Goldstein. From "Hashomer Hatzair": Dawid Kozlowski, Hela Kacengold, Mosz'leh Orbach; from "Gordonia": Abraham Tanenberg, Zalman Tanenberg, Israel Szajntel, Eliasz, Sala and other 4 members of "Hanoar Hatzioni" and "Hashomer Hadati" whose names I don't know.

Nothing was left for us, for the time being, to do but continue building the bunkers, which we started to do already before the two deportations. We build now bunkers in nearly all the houses. Known are the "blind rooms", or dark attics without windows: building one additional wall parallel to the wall of the room and the entrance to it is blocked by a cupboard or a mirror; or a bunker build in the cellar that the entrance to it is through an opening in the window-still, or through a stove on which one part there are still pots for camouflage and an entrance to the bunker is hidden in another part. We made a hole across the floor and from there to the cellar. In Sosnowiec there were bunkers of which the entrance was from a well in the yard, under piles of waste etc. And there was one bunker, which its cover wall was closed and open by electricity – result of special building art full of innovations and inventions.

The Kibbutz in Bedzin erected two bunkers to its members. One was built in a warehouse of coal: a pile of coal covered its entrance and the exit was across the second wall of the house. Another one was in the laundry of the Judenrat. Beside those, other 3 bunkers were built: one of "Hashomer Hatzair" and two of "Gordonia". After one of them was liquidated, its inhabitants gathered in the bunker at the farm.

The equipment of the bunkers with arms was with many difficulties as already explained. After Ghetto Warszawa Uprising on 19 April 1943 – Eve of Passover day 1 5703 – we could no more contact the comrades in Warszawa, and transfer of arms outside the fence was impossible. We sent comrade Natka from the "Gordonia" group to Warszawa and her mission was to contact Eliezer Geler. But she returned after a short time without being able to contact no one of the comrades whose addresses in the Aryan side she had. In spite of all this, we had some arms and money in every bunker of the movement, because although there was sever censorship and closed borders, we somehow succeeded in getting some money transferred in some ways from the "Communication Bureau" ("Lishkat Hakesher") in Swiss and from Warszawa, according to the addresses of the movements for whom they were sent to. Who but us can appreciate the extent of the efforts of our comrades Natan Szualb and Abraham Zilberstein in Swiss? Part of the success in the transfer of funds and arranging false certificates should be credited to Alfred Szwarcboim, a man from Bedzin who lived in Swiss. Nearly half of the Jewish population of Bedzin and Sosnowiec had contacts with him, wrote him letters and sent him photographs. He was among the few Jews who foresaw the events and run away to Swiss in time (1940), leaving behind a prosperous iron shop. He also dared to refuse Marin who wanted to appoint him the head of the Judenrat of the community of Bedzin. "You cannot imagine what great happiness is expected to you and your family", he tried to persuade him, but his efforts were in vain.

There was in Bedzin a group of members who Eliezer Geler transferred a while before from Warszawa and Czestochowa, unprepared for defense, without documents, clothes and weapons. "Gordonia" decided to run for them a special appeal among the party members. I managed at that time to enlist to the idea of Jewish defense a rich Jew, among those who became rich from the war. This Jew, son of a distinguished family, Melech Ernest was his name, contributed generously to everybody in need and to us he donated 50,000 marks. We decided to attribute it all to Eliezer Geler's group. With the help of a comrade from Wolbrom, we bought a few arms to equip their bunker and also food and clothing for them. The rest of the money was shared among the members to ease their misery.

Table of Contents

  1. Mark Pulman was a member of a distinguished family from Warszawa, member of the Zionist Socialist movement. The mother, Jadwiga, activist in the underground movement; the elder son Wolf, active also, as well as his young brother Marek. The sister Chawka was active as will in the movement and the ZOB (the Jewish Fighting Organization, Warszawa) and was member of "Hakhalutz". Among the survivors and live now in Sweden. Return
  2. Ajzik Nojman; among the survivors, immigrated to Eretz Israel in the illegal ship "Tel Khai". Return

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