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[Page 591]

Eyewitness Testimony of Moshe Hochman

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

Minutes: Melakh Bakaczik-Pelin
Linz Bindermichl, Austria, 18th September 1947

Up to 1939, the Jewish population of my home city, Zolkiewka, numbered 500 to 600 souls. When the war broke out, approximately 10 to 15 families escaped to Russia.

On the first day of the German occupation twenty Jews were shot by the Germans due to their denunciation by Poles that they were communists. Grenades were thrown into Jewish homes in order to frighten the Jewish population and, therefore, many of the Zolkiew Jews dispersed: some to Lublin, some to Chelm and some to other places. Later, when it became a little quieter, many of the Jews who ran away returned to Zolkiewke [the town name is spelled in three different ways].

It again became turbulent in 1942. I remember how I came home frightened on a Friday night. I learned from the Judenrat [Jewish council created by the Germans] that Krasnystaw Jews informed the Judenrat that the gentiles in Zolkiewke had seen a great deal of Jewish clothing in Belczec. With tears in my eyes, I told this to my wife and said to her: “ Ester, light a candle; it is bad, we have to part.” We kissed each other with a heavy sobbing.

The entire Shabbos [Sabbath] day passed with trembling and fear. At night on Shabbos the Gestapo entered the [home] of the most respected Jew in the shtetl, Avigdor, and he scaped in a hurry. A gendarme chased after him and shot him. He remained lying in a pool of blood on the road that led to the church.

A few days later, in May 1942, there was a great turmoil. It was four o'clock in the morning. The Gestapo drove the Jews from their houses and Jews were grabbed in the street. They brought everyone to one place. Poles with rifles also helped catch the Jews, searched and rummaged in every corner. There was a great downpour at that time, a storm with thunder and lightening.

One of the boys asked a German where they were being taken and he was shot immediately. A woman of 50, who also asked something of a Gestapo member, was shot, too.

I had prepared a bunker earlier that was located outside the city where huts had been erected in which to live when a fire took place in the shtetl. On the eve of the war, my wife and children and I escaped to the bunker in the middle of the turmoil. My daughter later left for the shtetl to see what was happening. She told us that all of the Jews were standing at the market square, surrounded by S.S. and Gestapo men and by armed Poles. We did not know what to do. I went out to ask a Pole who lived near the huts. He said to me:

[Page 592]

Moszek zie niema rady was Wysiediajon.” (“Moshek, it is bad; I have no advice; you will be deported.”)

We left the bunker and went to the marketplace. I said to my wife: “What happens to all of the Jews will also happen to us.”

We were driven from the marketplace in storms and rain. We dragged ourselves the entire night with sacks on our backs and at around one o'clock in the afternoon we arrived in Krasnystaw. The storm and the rain did not stop. We all wanted to die on the spot; preferably let them shoot us.

From Zolkiewke to Krasnystaw is 28 kilometers. We left many dead on the road. We already knew that they were driving us to Sobibor, which is 90 kilometers from Zolkiewke.

In Krasnystaw we met Jews from other shtetlekh, such as Trabin, Wysoka and Krasnystaw Jews.

We all stood outside for an entire day until the next morning and the rain continued to pour down. Then we were taken to the railroad. Transports already stood there. Germans stood with two pails, loudly ordering us to give up our gold, silver and everything we had before we were allowed into the wagons. Meanwhile, we were photographed.

Six thousand Jews were driven into the transport. The doors of the freight wagon were sealed. There was not a bit of air and many people, mainly children, lost consciousness and died.

We arrived at Sobibor on Thursday at six at night. Sobibor is one kilometer from Wlodawa. This was a small train station of only a few old buildings not far from the Las Kresowy forest. There was a sawmill and not far away a deep, thick forest extended for many miles.

The Gestapo set their dogs on us as soon as we left the train wagons. Each member of the Gestapo was one meter and 80 centimeters [five feet nine inches] tall. They set the dogs on us and they tore pieces of flesh from our bodies.

The camp was right at the station. It was located on a smaller plot. It was enclosed by wire. The women were ordered to go to the right, the men to the left. Men and women and women and children were separated brutally. There was a great uproar and cry to the very heavens. The strong outcry of “Shema Yisroel [Hear O Israel – the central prayer of Judaism]” could truly have split the highest heaven. They also took my wife and children from me by force.

After this “work,” we were placed in rows and the Gestapo declared: Whoever wants to work should

[Page 593]

step out. We did not know which was better and what we needed to do. Eighty men stepped out and I, too, was included. We were taken to another camp.

There was a pit in the second camp where clothing belonging to the Jews who had been shot was burned along with body parts. Under the guard of armed Ukrainians we lay one after the other and we each expected that death would come at any moment. We said goodbye to one another. We lay down on the ground, stretching one head to another and in such a state we lay an entire night and an entire day. We preferred death rather than living like this.

Twenty-four hours later we were taken away to the previous camp that was near the railroad. Of the 6,000 transported I did not meet anyone there. I did not track down my wife and children, my brother, Hershl, and Zawl Hochman. I only found my son, Yisroel, my nephew, Hershl's son Yeshayale and my cousin Matys, Zawl's son. They told us that everyone already had been gassed.

We worked for a time at sorting the clothing of the dead and then we were given various work.

We saw how they were bringing transported Jews. 5,000 to 6,000 Jews were brought in a transport. Jews from Poland, Czechoslovakia, Holland and from Ukraine were brought to Sobibor. During the winter, transports arrived with frozen children and adults. They would be severely beaten when they left the train.

The frozen ones in the wagons were taken in carts across the shines (rails) to be buried. Later, there were special machines with teeth (lorkes) that threw out the dead bodies from the wagons and scattered them in the fields.

I remember how once a transport arrived of several thousand Jews in striped suits with yarmulkes [skullcaps] on their heads and with bottles at their side. They were all numbered and stamped with Majdanek Camp. We did not know why they had been brought here because if it was to kill them, they could have been gassed at Majdanek. They looked like corpses. Extinguished eyes protruded. They asked us to give them a piece of bread and water. When the Germans gave them a piece of bread, 20-30 people threw themselves on it. They asked us what kind of camp this was. We were afraid to tell them. I recognized several of them; they were from my shtetl of Zolkiewka and from the neighboring shtetlekh.

They waited in the yard for a long time. The Gestapo and Ukrainians came at night and they began to heavily beat them. In the morning, at dawn, we counted 3,000 dead. At 8 o'clock in the morning, they were taken to the gas ovens where they were burned.

I was in the hell of Sobibor for 18 months. There were two barracks in the camp at the very beginning of my arrival. Later the death camp was enlarged, There were

[Page 594]

20 barracks erected. The gas chambers were in a separate place. They had a sloping floor and when a door was opened the people slid down. Five hundred men were let in at one time. A member of the Gestapo watched to see if the victims were dead through a small window on the roof. Then they were removed, buried or burned. They were buried during the first half-year. After the German defeat at Stalingrad, they brought a machine and it drew the dead from the earth to be burned.

All of Sobibor was a field of dead people and dogs dragged hands and feet before my eyes.

When they would bring the transports to Sobibor they would sort [the people] into three camps. The first camp was for tailors and shoemakers, carpenters, plumbers, bakers. The second camp was for workers to sort the clothing and items from the dead. Therefore, they had to work naked. The third camp was for those taken to be gassed.

* * *

I worked in the second camp and then I worked as a tailor in the first camp.

When things grew worse on the front and the Red Army was approaching Kiev, a smaller transport arrived in Sobibor. We saw and sensed that our end was near. In great secrecy, we, approximately 100 men, organized to take revenge on our murderers and, perhaps, some of us would succeed in saving our lives.

It was impossible to escape from the camp. There were three walls around the camp with barbed wire. On two high guard booths also stood armed Ukrainians. Two hundred Germans stood on guard around the camp who were organized in three shifts. In the background of the forest stood a division of armed Ukrainians with an S.S. man.


Shimeon Yakov – Marmeriwtshe Binsztok, Shlomola Binsztok with his wife and children, perished in the gas chambers of Sobibor. Bayla Joba Szmoragd-Binsztok died in Paris in 1936.
May their souls by bound in the bond of life.

[Page 595]

The Germans had mines in certain places. It was even difficult for a bird to fly out, even more so for a person.

Therefore, we were ready for everything and the thought of rising up in a rebellion was very developed. We did not know how to do it because we did not yet have any weapons.

A young man from Warsaw worked at sorting the clothing. He hid tin cans of benzene among the clothing and he wanted to ignite the barracks full of clothing and himself at the designated moment of the beginning of the rebellion. He was still young, but he said with determination: “It would be better to die kiddush haShem [in the sanctity of God's name – as a martyr] than to perish at the Germans' hands, but perhaps as a result you will be saved.” We called off the project because we learned that our hypothesis was incorrect that setting fire to the barracks would create chaos among the Germans and Ukrainians and perhaps we would be able to escape during the uproar. We calculated that first they would murder us and then run to put out the fire in the barracks.

Several days passed in hesitation and reflection about how we should begin the uprising against the cruel murderers. We finally came to a decision that we, the professional men, should [be the ones to] begin.

There were 20 Gestapo men in the camp itself who administered the camp internally with the Ukrainian guards. We thought if we succeeded in suddenly attacking and murdering them it would create panic among the Ukrainians and then we could break the wire fences and disappear into the woods. Since recently each S.S. man had been assigning work to the artisans because of the defeat on the Russian front, it we discussed among us whether we should call each of the S.S. men at the same time to be measured or to see the completed work, or to see if something needed to be repaired.

There were separate workshops. There were several workers in each workshop. We would find a solution with one S.S.-man…

I led my tailor's table with nine workers. We were entrusted to make the start.

This took place at Sukkous time [at the time of the Feast of the Tabernacles], 1943.

We were sewing a civilian suit for the untersturmfuhrer [second lieutenant] Neumann. I let him know that he should come to be measured for the suit because it already was finished. He came immediately, riding on a horse, tying it to a fence.

When the sadist entered my workshop, I shouted: Achtung [attention]! All of the workers in the workshop stood up. He took off his belt with the revolver, laid it down on the table opposite him and stood erect.

The workshop had three rooms and a kitchen. One room was for sleeping, one room for the hatmaker, where a Jew from Turobin sewed hats for the murderers.

A mirror stood in the room where I did the measuring and in order that he not see what was happening behind him I earlier had moved the mirror a little.

[Page 596]

A Russian Jew, who fell into captivity and had been deported to Sobibor was given [the task] of killing Neumann. This Jew was hiding with the hatmaker with a sharp, small hatchet in his jacket. The S.S.-man noticed him when he entered my room and immediately asked: “What is this man doing here?” I answered: “He is here to smooth down the hatmaker's table.” When I buttoned the jacket, the Russian attacked Neumann from behind and split his head with the hatchet. He fell immediately and we stabbed him with a sharp knife in order that he not make any noise and we dragged him, dead, into the hatmaker's room, covering him under the bed with rags.

We needed to liquidate the S.S.-man in the kitchen in the same way. However, he did not have time to come.

Other S.S.-men were also “liquidated” at the same time. The obersturmfuhrer [first lieutenant] Gretschus had slaughtered the above-mentioned Warsaw youth. The S.S.man Beckman had a Warsaw servant. Three concentration camp inmates entered and they stabbed him and his servant with a dagger.

Eighteen S.S.-men and Beckman's servant were killed by our fighting group. Two members of the S.S. remained in the camp.

A group of 30 Jews worked in the forest under the watch of a member of the Gestapo. They came straight to the roll call that took place once a day. Since we already had weapons from the murdered S.S.-men, we immediately shot the member of the S.S.

A commotion began at the guard posts when the Ukrainians heard a shot. However, they did not know what had happened. We began to cry out in Polish: “Czerwona Armia w Warszawie” [“The Red Army is in Warsaw.”]. The Ukrainians were confused and attacked us. We entered a second camp where the weapons arsenal was located and [gathered more weapons]. Meanwhile, a Volks-Deutsch [ethnic German], a Pole from Lublin, began shooting at us with a revolver. We shot him. However, shooting at us by the Ukrainians at the guard posts and by the Germans who stood around the camp began immediately. However, the Ukrainians each had only five bullets. They were not given many bullets because they were not trusted by the Germans. They immediately fell silent. The initiative was in our hands. The two S.S.-members hid in the cellar, afraid that we would make an agreement with the Ukrainians.

We began to run to the wire. Several 100 wormed their way out of the death camp, but about 30 Jews fell dead at the wire because there was a great deal of shooting by the Germans. We ran into the forest and divided into groups. I escaped with eight men. I lost my son, Yisroel, from my hands. I

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learned after the war that my only son perished with my nephew Yeshayale, Hershl's son.

The fate of the escapees to the forest was difficult. It was worse that we had separated into small groups. The Poles attacked the Jews in the forests. Approximately 40 Jews who had escaped from the Sobibor camp lived to see the full revenge against the Germans. In my group were: Leib Feldhendler, the son of Rabbi Yosele, and Jews from Izbica and Krasnystaw. However, they suddenly disappeared from among us and I never saw them again.

* * *

I remained in the forest only with the above-mentioned Russian Jew. He was named Moshe. He began to ask me to go with him because he was in a strange country and did not know the Polish language.

We wandered together through the forest and steppes. I looked around at night, as we were not far from the train line near the Wieprz River. I could swim across the river, but he could not. We wandered around for two days without food. We tried to find long poles and tie them together with the laces from our shoes so that we could use them to cross the river. But the sun began to rise … We left for the side where there was a bridge. He said: “With God's help, we will cross the bridge safely. He had left his hat on the Sobibor wire, so he made a hat for himself with his striped scarf that was seen from afar.

We went to the bridge. There was a hill near the bridge, and when we went up on it we saw two German civilians speaking to each other. We ran by them and safely crossed the bridge. This was at Minkhah [after noon prayer] time. We changed direction on the right side of the Wieprz River, went across the cemetery and highway and out on into the fields where we found beets. We snatched some to eat and we took several beets with us.

We ran constantly in great haste until we went out onto the highway from Zolkiewka. We knocked at a peasant's [door] and asked for a piece of bread. However, he did not give us any. A second peasant opened a small window and gave us bread and milk. The Russian Jew paid him for it with a gold chain from a watch.

Night fell again. There was a beautiful full moon. We rested in a woods near the “Biala” court. However, we heard shooting from a machine gun. I wanted to go in another direction. The Russian Jew advised me that we should go straight with the road. I obeyed him.

Immediately on the road opposite the court, six members of the S.S. sprang out with a shout: Halt, hands high, hands high! We raised our hands and stopped.

They surrounded us and led us into the court – From where were we coming? They asked and we

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answered that we were Poles and were going to Krasnystaw. The searched us to see if we had any revolvers and they found a few beets and pieces of bread. They found a thimble on me and they laughed.

They understood that we were Jews. They calmly asked us if we wanted alcohol. The Russian Jew jumped in with Russian words, saying that we were traveling from Krasnystaw and going to Gorzkow to work. When they asked: “Why are you traveling at night,” we answered: “We want to arrive at work before dawn.” “Good,” they answered and they deliberated among themselves whether to shoot us in the forest or to send us to the head man in the court for him to decide.

Finally, the entrance to the court was 100 steps away. Four S.S. men remained on the highway and two members of the S.S. led us to the court. I went several steps in front.

There was a barrier to the court in front and a military hut. On the right were bushes, a garden and a few stalls. Approaching the barrier, I sprang into the bushes. The guard shouted, “Oh-oh!” and began to shoot with his rifle. The two S.S. men also began to shoot at me. However, I ran with great haste. I fell into the swampy marsh where I could sink in.

I barely crawled out from the swamp and went onto the highway. I ran approximately four kilometers until the day was beginning. Outside of the village of Wisniow that was near Gorzkow, I entered a deep valley and I lay under a bush for an entire day. People passed by and did not notice me. At night I approached the village of Poperczyn, where I had a peasant acquaintance. Coming to his house, I saw his son who shouted: “Jezu kochany, powiedz mi Moszek skond ty sie wzionl?” “Dear Jesus, tell me, Moszek, from where have you come?”

I told him that I had escaped from the Sobibor death camp, but he should advise me what I could do now and I asked him to let me stay in the barn a day or two. He told me: “Crawl in the haystack and I will bring you food.” I gave him a string of pearls, brought from the camp.

I was with him for two days. Then he advised me to go the Lublin woods because there were Jewish partisans there and the woods were thick.

Not far away on the road, four kilometers from the above-mentioned village, was a peasant acquaintance of mine, Ganslowski. I went into his attic quietly and snuggled into the straw. It was a hundred steps from the German gendarmerie. At night I went down and woke him. “From where have you come,” they all asked. They covered the windows and asked me to speak quietly. I asked them if I could stay with them for two weeks. Ganslowski explained that the house was not far from the highway and the gendarmerie was nearby. I drank a glass of tea, said goodbye and left. He asked me to tell him

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where I was going. I did not tell him the true direction because I had hidden my things [at his house] before the deportation.

From Ganslowski I left for the village of Gany. I went to a peasant. His dogs attacked me. I knocked on the window and called “Panie Stechirzu, otworz!” (“Mr. Stechirz, open!”). He did not know who it was and he came out with his wife and children, undressed. He recognized who I was. They gave me food. He put me to sleep in the house, but I immediately went into the stable attic to sleep better.

In the morning, the peasant consulted with his entire household about what they should do with me. The son-in-law felt they should chase me away, but the old peasant said that Moszek is not a dog and if he has come to me, he is destined to survive. It was decided that they would keep me. They kept me for seven months. I did a little tailoring. During this time various searches took place. However, I was not found.

A month before the liberation, a German requisition division arrived in the village, surrounded the village, searched and rummaged. I was in the attic and I covered myself with chaff. The female peasant came in and searched for me with great difficulty, saying that I should quickly escape because if not they would all be lost. However, I

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did not come out from under the chaff and I only came out after the departure of the German requisition division.

The front came closer to the village. It was harvest time; I hid in the fields among the grain. Shooting started, I lay for a time among the rye until the Soviets arrived. Amidst the rye, I heard the Russian language and the peasant's wife came running, telling me the news that I was free.

* * *

I left for my shtetl Zolkiewka. I did not meet any Jews. Everyone looked at me with sorrowful eyes. I found a Polish tailor and went to work for him. With him I earned a pair of pants and a jacket. However, I was not in the shtetl for long. A young gentile entrusted me with a secret that the peasants were contemplating killing me and the priest reproached the peasant in the village of Gany for hiding me.

I reached Lublin. Because of the events in Poland, I left Lublin and went to Austria.

When I traveled to Lublin, I stopped in the court where the S.S. men had kept us at night. There, a young gentile told me how the Russian Jew had been heavily tortured until he was shot. This Russian Jew, Moshe, actually was the one who began the revolt in the Sobibor death camp.

[Pages 599-600]

A Bottle of Ashes

by Avrohom Lew, Israel

Translated by Pamela Russ

Nineteen fifty four is already counted
The wounds are not yet healed
And may it never happen
That the wounds should ever open
And they bleed and they become infected,
G-d, how can I go on living?

Near these large graves
I stand, small and poor.
Near these holy martyr children
I stand, blinded by the torment
Broken, stooped,
I see them as if fresh before my eyes.

A teacher from “there”
Brought along from kindergarten
In a bottle, a little bit of ash.
It is standing here in my table
Like a sad, black flag
As a bloody reminder;

Of those vast years
That could not be clearer,
And death lurks again
Across mountains of the killers.
The world is sharpening its knives already polished
Ready for a new massacre.

Nineteen fifty-four is already counted,
Counted and almost over,
The wounds are not yet healed
And the graves are not yet covered.
Because who can cover
Our holy millions?

Now, to a new massacre –
The world is preparing for a new style,
And we are in the middle.
Whether you want it or not,
We go on the same sleigh - - -

The bottle of ash is honored
On my desk, as a weight.
If that bottle could speak
What would it say to the world?
Just as Hillel, it would call out:
“In the end, they who drown you will themselves be drowned.”

I am taking the bottle into the palm of my hand
I inhale the torment
That is left of the millions
That darkened our shine.

Nineteen fifty four is already counted
The wounds are not yet healed.
Years, bloody and difficult,
Can this wound ever be healed?

[Page 601]

A Conference on Social Self Help

Translated by Pamela Russ

From the archives of the Jewish Historical Institute of the Central Jewish Committee in Poland
Folder 50 (Chelm)

(translated from Polish)

From the negotiations at the conference of delegates of the Chelmer region and of the Regional Provisions Committee of the Jewish Social Self Help, that took place in Chelm on the 25th and 26th of January, 1942, on Kopernik Street 8.

The conference began its meetings on January 25, 1942, at 13 o'clock and 30 minutes.

Those present:

Dr. Tish Eliyahu; member of the presidium of the Jewish Social Self Help in Krakow.

Frenkel Meyer; chairman of the Provisions Committee of the Jewish Social Self Help in the Chelm District. He was also chairman of the conference.

Druker Mauritzi; secretary of the committee of the Jewish Social Self Help, and secretary of the conference.

Shein Yosef; member of the Committee of the Jewish Social Self Help, Chelm.

Oks Khaya Roza; member of the Committee of the Jewish Social Self Help, Chelm.

Katz Nosson; member of the Committee of the Jewish Social Self Help, Chelm.

Dr. Gorin Shimon; member of the Committee of the Jewish Social Self Help, Chelm. Was not able to attend because he was ill, and Dr. Yelen Avrohom, director of Unit VII, attended in his place.

Other delegates of the Committee of the Jewish Social Self Help in the District of Chelm:

Las Khaim Yisroel and Esther Gelbord ……….   Chelm
Kohen Avrohom ………………   Wlodawa
Kraft Bezalel and Zinger Efraim …….   Rejowiec
Lerer Shalom and Kruk Leibe…….   Siedliszcze
Kruger Yitzkhok, Berger Faivel, Sajkewycz Bunim …….   Wojszlowyc
Perelstajn Moshe……….   Swarzhevo
Fuks Alter ……………..   Sawin
Tziberman Yitzkhok, Kozhukh Shaindel …….   Uhrusk
Goron Akiva ………   Sielec
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Stajnwurtzel Akiva ………..   Zmudz
Magistrate Beler Khava, Gerstajn Avrohom …   Cycow
Roter Pinkhas, Migdal Yitzkhok ….   Dubienko
Rozenboim Khaim ….   Pawlow
Other delegates from the Jewish Councils:

Biderman Anshel, Freiberger Aryeh, Reiz Mordekhai,
Tenenboim Yeshayahu, Zilberman Yeshayahu…..
Blatt Volf ….   Rejowiec
Zeidfoden Shimon …..   Pawlow
Kesterman Aharon ….   Krzywiczki

Delegate from Provisions Unit and representative of the fixed estates in the Jewish district:

Szwarcblat Pinkhas ……   Chelm

Guest, doctor representatives from Unit VII of the Sanitation and Hygiene Supervisors:

Dr. Oberlander Noson, Dr. Wolberger Dovid …   Chelm
Dr. Springer Avrohom …..   Wlodowa
Dr. Firt Yoilish ……   Rejowiec
Dr. Bieler Maximilian …….   Cycow

Business of the Day:

  1. Opening.
  2. Reading the Protocol of the previous meeting on February 16, 1941.
  3. Issue of fighting the epidemics, also to improve sanitary conditions.
  4. Financial and activity reports from all units of the Jewish Society Self Help for the year 1941.
  5. Issue of child care.
  6. Provisions for the newcomers and for the workers.
  7. Issues of food supplies.
  8. Receiving financial aid.
  9. Free advice.
Re the first point of the business of the day:
The chairman of the Chelm committee as well of the conference greets the delegate from the presidium of the …
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… Jewish Social Self Help, in the persona of Dr. Eliyahu Tish, and he also greets all the other guests, the delegates from the departments of the Jewish Social Self Help, from the Jewish Councils, and also the representative doctors. He announces that Dr. Alter, as the counselor of the Jewish Social Self Help, head of the District of Lublin, and Dr. Ziegfried, as the representative of the provincial legal guardianship committee of the Jewish Social Self Help in Lublin, reported on their absence – the first because of important official efforts, and the second because of a difficult sickness – and they wish the conference success. He honors the memory of Dr. Mauritzi Kleinhoiz, member of the Chelm committee of the Jewish Society of Self Help and representative of the Department of Sanitation and Hygiene supervision, who died on September 18, 1941, and delivers the following: “A great meritorious person has left us, a person with an unblemished character, who devoted his entire life for the benefit of individuals and for the society. One of his wishes before his death was that there should be no speeches about him, and that we part from him quietly and without fanfare.” And in agreement with this, the chairman requested that the memory of the deceased be honored with a three-minute silence.
Those gathered, while standing, heard the speech, and a silence began, which lasted for three minutes.

The chairman then explained that the goal of the conference of February 16, 1941, was to create units of the Jewish Social Self Help in the entire region, and this now was a report-conference for the period of the previous year.

The chairman gives to Dr. Tish the podium.

Dr. Tish Eliyahu greets all the participants of the presidium of the Jewish Social Self Help, and in his own name, he says: “I have come to you not as a wealthy uncle, but as a friend to a friend, as a comrade to a comrade, as a brother to a brother, in order to discuss and decide the means of working together. The presidium understands the conditions, needs, and requirements of the Jewish people in the general governing area, gives whatever possible, rushes forward with help wherever and for whatever is needed. In a few weeks' time, the presidium will announce through a circular, a report of their activities of the entire year. The presidium cannot be alone in its work. The activities have to be built on collaborative work with all its units in the General Government region. That means, with the committees of the Jewish Social Self Help and delegates, and the negotiations of this conference should take place and will take place on this platform.”

The secretary of the meeting announces that the Kreishauptmann Abteilung Innere Verwaltung Bevoelkerungswesen und Fursorge [German: “Department Chief of Internal Administration of the Population and Welfare”] was duly informed through the committee about the conference, and a letter was sent on January 24 to publicize at the conference:

“General Government region – Lublin. The department chief in Chelm, office of internal administration. Chelm …
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… January 24, 1942. To the chairman of the Judenrat [Jewish Council] H. Frenkel in Chelm, at the conference of the delegates of the Jewish Social Self Help, that will take place on the 25th and 26th of the same month in Chelm, you should announce: The Judenraten and delegates of the Chelmer region have to accurately fill out all the instructions of the chairman of the Judenrat, as well as the chairman of the Jewish Social Self Help, H. Frenkel. Every counteraction will be severely punished by us.


The Official Kreishauptmann: Dr. Bohrman.


Re Point 2 of the Item of the Day:
They reviewed the protocol of the conference of February 16, 1941.


Re Point 3 of the Item of the Day:
The financial and activity report of all the Chelmer regional delegates for the year 1941 – presented by Mr. Yosef Shein.
The Chelmer region includes about 21 municipalities, that include:

Delegates from the Jewish Social Self Help   16
General number of Jews   29,942
Number of Jews needing help   13,449
Number of kitchens   16
Number of people who used the kitchens   6014
Number of meals distributed during one year   73,537
Main products used   92,912 kilograms
Help for homes used in about 7 months in town of Chelmno   385
Families   1925 zlotys

During the period of the reports, the committee held about 23 meetings, other than well-attended meetings of various departments and committees. Members of the committees conducted 18 inspections of the activities of the delegates of the Jewish Social Self Help in these places. They composed 1,646 letters.

In November of last year, they organized a department for non-profit loans, whose goal it was to distribute constructive aid to financially lacking people, and gave them an opportunity to rescue themselves from their needs using their own strength. Thanks to the volunteerism of the people, they collected 3,000 zlotys. To date, about 20 or so people of Chelm were able to make use of loans of about 100 zlotys. When greater funds will be available, the activities of the department will also be more spread across the region.

A unit of help for relatives out of town was also organized, which serves the city and region. From its very beginning, this department showed lively activity. With our collaboration, 122 people made use of this.

[Page 605]

We are always in touch with the German Red Cross with the collaboration of the local Kreishauptmann.

In October, a special esrog [for Sukos] project was undertaken. Thanks to those sent here by the presidium of Krakow, there were 30 esrogim. Around 3,000 zlotys were collected from this.

There were 528 articles of clothing distributed to 432 people, and 462 ½ meters of material to 263 people. In total, 695 people made use of this.

Other than 100 and some tens of pairs of shoes that we received as a charitable gift, the committee bought and distributed 300 pairs of shoes to the needy. Efforts are being made to acquire a purchasing permit for 1,000 pairs of shoes.


Activity Report in the City and Region
For the Year 1941

Place General
No. of Jews
No. of
No. of
No. that Used
No. of Meals
Chelm 12,500 6,928 3 2,164 383,998
Wlodawa 5,586 1,710 1 1,200 144,000
Rejowiec 2,379 717 1 350 66,611
Sziedliscze 2,026 1,000 1 350 49,497
Wojslowic 1,377 813 1 340 2,600
Savin 840 200 1 100 31,068
Sosnowic 831 250 1 100 24,000
Dubenko 648 200 1 100 5,000
Cycow 511 158 1 50 1,994
Swierz-Roda 476 240 2 60 16,107
Wereszczin 394 160 1 100 5,000
Urusk 377 270 1 50 3,000
Rakolupi 398 250 1 50 2,500
Turka-Zhmudz 307 130 - - -
Krzyworzeba 295 100 - - -
Olchowiec 239 43 - - -
Pawlow 238 86 - - -
Zmudz 182 119 - - -
Stav 132 - - - -
Krzywicki 56 25 - - -
Wiroki 150 50 - - -
TOTALS: 29,942 13,449 16 5,014 735,375


Received, among others, from the presidium in Krakow – 36,000 kilo potatoes; 100 liters cod liver oil, 100 shirts, 100 covers, 100 containers of condensed milk, 100 kilo beans, 75 sack cloths, also herring, marmalade, soap, soap powder, pork meat, and so on.

In this year's report, these were given out: 1 man's coat, 3 women's coats, 1 child's coat, 27 sweaters, 100 pairs men's shoes, 3 children's shoes, 3 rubber boots, 2 winter boots, 2 scarves, 15 winter hats, 16 pairs of gloves, 10 knitted suits for women, 10 knitted suits for girls,

[Page 606]

… 53 knitted suits for children, 12 men's suits, 12 boys' suits, 2 blouses, 1 jacket, 16 women's jackets, 9 girls' jackets, 6 furnishings for babies, 42 children's jackets, 42 pairs of women's stockings, 6 children's stockings, 1 men's stockings, 101 blankets, 5 sheets, 2 vests, 49 men's shirts, 11 boys' shirts, 462 ½ meters of material.
Of the 101 blankets, 65 were distributed in the Chelm region, and 31 in the hospital in Chelm.

Other than that, there was also distributed in Chelm and the Chelm region 100 liters of cod liver oil, 36,000 kilogram potatoes, 150 kilo pork meat, 100 shirts especially for the newcomers, marmalade, herring, and a series of life's products.


Activity Report of the Apotropsim [Guardian] Committee
Of the Jewish Social Self Help

The City of Chelm, for the Year 1941


Ambulatory – 8370 persons; patient home visits - 2271 persons.
Ambulatory – 2910 persons; patient home visits – 197 persons; service aide – 581 persons.
Doctors' Treatment:
12,518 adults; 2439 children; 3155 free examinations; 8216 dispensed medication, of these 2488 free; gave 5754 persons preventative injections; sanitary units visited 25,943 homes; shaved 1226 persons for free; 18,037 persons visited the baths.
Children and the sick – 7174; of these, 691 babies; of these, for free 1588. Gave out sugar – 2116 kilo and 52 decagram; 3223 kilo rolls; kasha – 72 kilo and 60 decagram; biscuits – 150 kilo and 10 decagram; in the kitchens, a total of 383,998 lunches were given of which 213,251 were free.
[Pages 607-608]

Financial Report

Place Local Taxes
from the Jewish
Social Self
Help, and
from the
from the
Chelm 30,739.38 26,050- 40, 199.32 66,288.99 4,699.11 167,976.80
Wlodawa 1,165.50 22,200- 28,329.18 15,708.65 9,981.88 77,385.21
Rejowiec 1,739.80 9,794.10 5,638.30 1,721.90 4,628.30 23,522.40
Sziedliscze 2,474.50 10,050- 11,328.18 5,461.58 3,659- 32,973.26
Wojslowic 4,933.60 7,200- - 3,792.47 6,067.39 21,993.46
Sosnowic 123.05 8,200- 830- 254.55 168.50 9,576.10
Swierz-Roda - - - - 5,629.92 5,629.92
Savin 6,123.65 7,150- 70- 159.30 - 13,502.95
Urusk 2,373- 4,300- - 1,102- 497- 8,272-
Rakolupi 1,132.80 1,900- 60- 35.30 513- 3,641.10
Turka - 500- - - 535- 1,035-
Zmudz 204- 350- - - 320- 874-
Cycow - - - 398.80 1,785.51 2,184.31
Dubenko 2,740.50 2,300- - - 9,202.50 14,243-
Weresczyn 1,457.20 1,900- 2,059.60 - - 5,416.80
TOTAL: 55,206.98 101,894.10 88,514.58 94,923.54 47,687.11 388,226.31



Place Maintenance Dispensed
Help for
Chelm 98,172.52 16,450.43 93.37 2,291.50 16,950.94 16,542.82 9,257.50
Wlodowa 35,676.19 - 12,355.90 158- 6,089.40 20,732.90 3,450.06
Rejowiec 9,084.40 2,892.45 897.90 418.90 6,251.33 795.45 2,917.32
Sziedliscze 10,738.94 8,129.15 3,535.20 258.- 7,140.94 336.- 2,828.70
Wojslowic 13,821.08 1,706.90 610.70 70.40 2,697.05 1,038.06 91.30
Sosnowic 4,308.88 - 2,993.55 13.50 1,171.32 769.67 646.-
Swierz-Roda - - 1,370.50 150.- 250.- - 3,625.63
Savin 10,148.86 - 1,648.49 - 1,395.80 791.10 -
Uhrusk 1,410.0 3,583.- 2,661.- 125.- 596.- 397.- 416.-
Rakolupi 243.65 831.53 1,925.- - 100.- 164.50 -
Turka - 535.- 500.- - - - -
Zmudz - - 400.- 55.- - 30.- 445.-
Cycow 1,205.85 - 577.- - - 127.70 -
Dubenko 3,894.60 - - - - - 11,127.50
Wereszczyn             5,498.97
TOTAL: 188,704.97 34,128.46 29,568.61 3,540.30 42,642.78 31,725.20 40,303.98

Subsidies from the chief of the district of Lublin, by the Kreishauptmann for the year 1941: Chelm – 2850 zlotys; Wlodawa – 950; Rejowiec - 650; Wojslowic – 400; Savin – 300; Sosnowic – 200; Uhrusk – 200; Turka-Zmudz – 200; Swierz-Roda – 100; Cycow – 100; Wereszczyn – 100; Rakolupi – 100; Dubenko – 100; Krzyworzebo – 100; total – 7,000 zlotys.

With regards to the report, these were the comments:

Mr. Cohen Avrohom (Wlodowa): The numbers that were presented in the report are not actual, because the needs and expenses increase daily as a result of the growth in poverty of the state population in Wlodowa, where the number of those being supported has already reached 3,000. The delegation also does not have any great pretenses against the presidium of the Jewish Social Self Help, despite that the presidium is feeding the delegation with circulars, and it is not reacting precisely nor in a proper manner to that which is presented by the delegation's unquestionable needs and requests.
Mr. Kraft Bezalel (Rejowiec): I cannot agree with the critic from the Wlodowa delegation. We are doing everything that is possible, regardless that the conditions are very difficult. We have complaints to the Chelmer committee only because they favor particularly the city Chelm, and they have done nothing for Rejowiec.
[Page 609]

For example, for the need of fire wood. The situation in Rejowiec is worsening and the poverty is increasing. And now the needy who require support are those who have not needed help in the past.

Mr. Lehrer Sholom (Sziedliscze): In Sziedliscze today there are 2,100, of which 800 – these are the newcomers – find themselves in exceptional need. The whole town is very poor. Every day, we distribute three meters of bread among the poor, and this is done at the expense of others, as it is removed in parts from their expected regular [provisions]. 375 people use the public kitchen, and several hundred other poor people also request help from the kitchen, but without any result. We know that the Chelm committee is using their energies to the limit and is doing everything that is possible, but it is not in any position to do more here. I appeal to the presidium for more permanent and substantial aid.

Mr. Krieger Yitzkhok (Wojslowic): First I greet the delegate of the presidium and I thank Mr. Frenkel, the chairman of the committee, for organizing this conference. We are working exclusively with our own strength. We do not receive any subsidy from the Judenrat [Jewish Council]. We are not arguing about the views of the Wlodowa delegate, this is not the time to criticize. We want to find a way to work together, particulary with means for addressing the sanitation and hygiene needs. We contribute to the lunches of the public kitchens about a liter of soup daily - a few decagrams, and Fridays – 20 decagrams of bread for everyone. We ask that all these products be compensated for, and especially potatoes, according to the contingency prices, because if not, then the public kitchen will cease to exist. At the same time, both sugar and wood are very much needed. Thanks to the fact that the “distribution center” gives us provisions, the kitchen still exists, and more so, for this same reason, the Jewish Social Self Help also has an income from these consignments.

Mr. Berger Faivel (Wojslowiec) joins in the tasks of Mr. Yitzchok Krieger, and also asks for medical help, asks for provisions of flour and primarily potatoes for the public kitchen. The city pharmacy has very high prices for ordinary medications. The prices are 10-15 times higher than the same medications that are in the stores of Chelm.

Mr. Perlstein Moshe (Swierz) in Swierz-Roda expresses tremendous need. Only ten families are barely taken care of, and these are the workers. The others are hungry and naked. The local economic conditions make it almost impossible to survive. The population is relying for assistance from the outside. Because of the shortage of potatoes, flour, wood, we cannot conduct a public kitchen – one in Swierz and the other in Roda. We ask for help with food products, clothing, and wood.

Mr. Fuks Alter (Savin): We are asking for help with food products, clothing, wood, and also ask that there be a Jewish doctor set up in Savin.

[Page 610]

Mr. Steinwurzel Volf (Zmudz): We ask for help with food products, clothing, wood.

Magister Bieler Eva (Cycow): The delegate of Cycow began her activities on April 1, 1941. And within nine months she got only 600 zlotys from all types of sources and we had to support ourselves. We run a public kitchen, first and foremost for children, because we could not sustain adults with what we earned. If we will not receive provisions of flour, potatoes, wood, and so on, the kitchen will be forced to shut down.

Mr. Roter Pinkhas (Dubenko): Asks for help with food products, clothing, heat, and sugar, soap, and a financial subsidy. In the region of Hansk, to which the delegate in Dubeczno also belongs, there lives a total of 661 Jews, of which 14 people possess special certificates.

Chairman Frenkel Meyer (Chelm): In summary of all the speeches, I see that there is no exceptional overload thrown against the presidium, nor against the committee. The speeches had only suggestions. About the wood, the distribution of it has no practical value because the price of one cubic meter is anywhere from 10 to 20 zlotys, but the transport will cost 80 zlotys. About subsidies, every Judenrat will be obliged to pay the delegate from the Jewish Social Self Help every month and in the next few days a circular will be sent to all the Judenraten in the region, whose task will be to organize a budget for the last six months, and also to indicate if the individual Judenrat has paid the subsidy to the local delegate and how much. A copy of the letter from the Kreishauptmann of January 24, 1942, will be attached to the circular.

The delegate from the presidium, Dr. Eliyahu Tish: The presidium knows exactly the statistics and the needs of the individual delegates of the Jewish Social Self Help, as well as the means and levels of activities of the individual regional committees, among which the Chelmer committee has acquired a name as one of the best functioning; a committee that works with fire, energy, and intelligence. The presidium knows that the Chelmer committee did not use one thing for themselves at the expense of any delegate. But it is unquestionably necessary that the Judenraten collaborate to recognize the sacrificing work of the Jewish Social Self Help, which frees the Judenrat in a large way from the social provisions activities. The public kitchens themselves are a living example of the wonderful and useful activities of the Jewish Social Self Help. I appeal to you for mutual understanding, help, collaboration, because you are both institutions of the Jewish kibbutz and you have to supplement each other.

[Page 611]

Re Point 4 of the Item of the Day:

Instead of Dr. Goren who became sick, Dr. Yelen Avrohom represented him in the fight against epidemics and the establishment of sanitary conditions.
  1. The fight against epidemic is a fight for cleanliness, for improved sanitary-hygienic conditions, and the fight against typhus is, other than that, a fight with lice which is the sole transmitter of this disease.
  2. In the case where the doctor discovers a contagious disease, the sick person must be removed from the home immediately and taken to hospital or to the isolation house. Of these points, if there is not Jewish doctor then you must go to a non-Jew – a doctor – or to the closest Jewish doctor.
  3. Those close by must be isolated in a designated location within 24 hours. In this situation, if there is a bath or a tub, you have to wash those who are nearby, and have them change their clothing for clean ones. If there is no bath or tub, then those who were near the sick person should be washed. If there is lice in their hair, it has to be cut and burned. In the home of the sick person, you have to do a sulphur-gas disinfection. If there are several rooms, then all the things have to be gathered up in one room where there has to be a gas disinfection, and the other rooms should have a general disinfection.
  4. You are not allowed to transport a sick person from one town to another – under the personal supervision of the delegate of the Jewish Social Self Help or the Judenrat.
  5. In order to put in sanitary conditions, the regional committee of the Jewish Social Self Help is creating a “Cleaning Week” under the banner of “Let's get rid of the lice!” To this goal, there will be special placards and instructions. The Jewish distribution center will send a significant amount of soap powder to distribute to the population.
  6. In each community, the delegate from the Jewish Social Self Help, during the “Cleaning Week” will provide the sanitary needs to the appropriate situation.
    1. In the homes, you must wash the floors, doors, windows, beds, and other household items.
    2. The bed linen and personal clothing must be boiled.
    3. The straw and the hay stacks have to be changed for new ones.
    4. If there is a bath, a ritual bath, or a tub, you have to use them as such, meaning if possible, the entire population should bathe there during Cleaning Week.
    5. The yards, steps, balconies, etc., have to be cleaned to a proper condition.
  7. The task of organizing and completing the above-mentioned belongs to the delegate from the Jewish Social Self Help.
[Page 612]

The local population that does not follow these instructions will be strictly punished.

Dr. Shpringer Avrohom (doctor from Wlodowa): The contagious diseases, especially typhus, was brought into Wlodowa and the surrounding areas, from the work camps in Savin, Krikhof, Sajczyce, and so on. The shortage of soap, soap powder, bicarbonate soda, alcohol, and so on, make the fight against sickness harder and sometimes tragic, and the delegate asks that we instruct him on means and ways against this fight that will bring results, especially with the eradication of these lice. In Wlodowa proper there is no epidemic because, for example, now there are nine sick with typhus, but the fight and the means are absolutely necessary to prevent the sickness from spreading. The delegate asks the presidium and the committee to try to acquire the above-mentioned materials for personal bathing and laundry washing.

Dr. Furt Yoelish (doctor of Rejowiec): There is an infirmary in Rejowiec. The medications are very expensive if you buy them in a pharmacy. Therefore we ask that you distribute the contingent medications to the poor in the Jewish population.

Dr. Bieler Maximillian (doctor of Cycow): There is no typhus among the Jews of Cycow. There were only a few cases of abdominal typhus. In the region there are a total of 500 cases of typhus and abdominal typhus, but among the Jewish population, to date, there is not one incident. We are doing everything to eradicate the disease, but we ask that you distribute soap and bicarbonate soda.

Dr. Eliyahu Tish (Krakow): To answer Dr. Springer, I will say that two other doctors at the conference have already described the means and ways to conduct a fight that will bring results. This is already part of the area of the professional doctor's work. Other than that, he recommends that we connect with the epidemiology specialist Dr. Wolberg, employed in the Czestchowa Judenrat, who, with good results, put into place methods and means, among which were also communiques and open appeals. The speaker asks that all local doctors from the region should request from the presidium their orders for medications, which, as much as possible, will be fulfilled.

The chairman Frenkel Meyer (Chelm): With the consent of the government organizations this committee of the Jewish Social Self Help will organize in the entire Chelm region a “Cleaning Week” with the goal of eradicating the lice. This event will take place everywhere as well and will be under the management of the government organizations, of the delegates of the Jewish Social Self Help, and of the Judenrat. They will air out, wash, and scrub people and items. Soon, we will send soap and soap powder to each person for washing and for all the needs. And the price will be one zloty and 12 groshen for a piece of soap and soap powder. Other than that, we have to organize …

[Page 613]

… publicity through communiques, notices, and also announcements, at every opportunity. The committee will compose the text of the publicity material that will, in appropriate numbers, be distributed among the delegates of the Jewish Social Self Help, or to the Judenrat in the places where there is no department of the Jewish Social Self Help. Because of the late hour, the speaker concludes the meeting at 18:30 o'clock until the following morning at 9.
The ongoing business of the conference of the delegates of the Jewish Social Self Help, January 26, 1942, 9 am.

Attendees: As yesterday, with the exception of the out-of-town doctors, members of the delegation of Cycow and out-of-town Judenrats.

Addressing the 5th point of the order of the day, the chairwoman Oks Chaya Roza speaks:

One of the most important tasks of the Jewish Social Self Help must be the children's care. The term “child” contains all our hopes, our future, our existence. If this war business and radically altered social and economic conditions, which the adult population understands and feels and the younger generation will not break under and will withstand, then we will exist. When, before the war, needs among the Jewish masses spread more and more, the internal and external consequences were first evident in the child, because for him the sanitary and hygienic conditions left it stamp in the first line. This already then attracted the attention of the society “TAZ” – this society is for protecting the health of the Jewish population – and it acknowledged the primary task being for child care. TAZ began its activities for care of school age children, and organized child centers and half-centers, care centers for mothers and babies. During these two years that the Jewish Social Self Help was conducting its work, the care of these babies, among others, came as providing milk, sugar, and booties. Care for school children – as provisions (bread and soup). For the summer, a half-center was organized for 110 children of school age. They were given meals twice a day, and were under special supervision from the morning until 4 pm, and the result was that they gained weight to about two kilograms. The physical conditions were very good, because the children were clean, happy, and had smiling, glowing faces. This happened also because they were removed from the atmosphere of the home's pressures and stresses, from the damp and small cellars and attics, where the sun never shines, and they were taken into the fresh air.

[Page 614]

We therefore appeal to you that we want to expand the care for the child, and in order to carry this out we need, among other things, to organize women's committees. We have to strive to support the mothers, organize care centers for babies and children, and protect them with a permanent sanitary and hygienic facility. We have to organize centers and homes where other than provisory and medical help the children should be provided with supervision under the direction of educators, and the children should find themselves in a warm and clean atmosphere. Organizing summer kindergartens where children can spend their free time in the fresh air under responsible supervision, will not create great challenges. In every city, town, or settlement, there will be one house – one large room – clean and sunny, where the poorest children of those being supported will be brought. There, under guidance of a designated person, the children will have their care, and great attention will be paid to the hygiene of each child, they will be bathed, hair will be cut, and so on.

This outlined program of providing care for the poor child and mother is not just in the realm of dreams, because with good will this can be accomplished in real life, even in the smallest town.

Mr. Kraft Bezalel (Rejowiec): In full agreement with the activities of Mrs. Oks, but in Rejowiec these provisions and possibilities of organizing child care do not exist. There is no location to be had, and there is a shortage of wood. Eventually, we could set up the children with other families, and organize a special child center in a more conducive time.

Mr. Lehrer Sholom (Sziedliscze): I am in agreement with the presentation of Mrs. Oks, that the child has to have priority over the adults. In Sziedliscze there is an absolute shortage of homes, and the possibility to be involved with the children becomes worse because of the shortage of potatoes, firewood, and means for bathing and scouring. The residents of Sziedliscze, with few exceptions, are exceptionally poor. There are many who have come here. He asks to demonstrate the possibilities and means of acquiring child provision.

Mr. Cohen Avrohom (Wlodowa): In Wlodowa there are 700 children aged 8 to 12. The delegation, under its own initiative, takes care of the children, and it does so not with the account of the Jewish Social Self Help, but with the funds of its own members. Generally, the children are immediately taken under care, food is not sent to the home. But the shortage of shoes and clothing for the winter completely depletes the provisions on the spot.

Mr. Berger Faivel (Wojslowiec): In Wojslowiec there are no homes, there is a shortage of basic provisions, and in clothing and shoes, money. We ask that these be provided for us, and especially important is sugar.

Mr. Fuks Alter (Savin): Presents the same as Mr. Berger Faivel, but also asks that a doctor be sent to Savin, as well as medications.

[Page 615]

Mrs. Kozhukh Sheindel (Uhrusk): She speaks and presents, as Mr. Berger Faivel, and says that there are 30 children in Uhrusk, between the ages of six and eight, and in the entire district, there are 100 children. The working conditions of the delegates are very difficult, particularly because the support of the Judenrat is not there. In spite of that, the delegation will now step forward and organize the child provisions, and we ask the committee to help us from time to time in the form of suggestions, instructions, and publicity.

Mrs. Oks Chaya Roza (Chelm): The lacking within a house cannot be removed by forcefully overtaking a house. With the dearth of clothing and shoes, one can figure things out by having a collection event, and the women's committee will then mend and adjust; sugar, which is designated for the older ones, and then passed down to the children, because sugar is good for the children's bodies; sugar and coffee and a roll, in worst case scenario, would be enough for a meal.

The chairman Frenkel Meyer (Chelm): He confirms that Mrs. Oks completely accurately presented the issues of child provisions. From these speeches, you can see that houses and firewood are lacking. For these details, the committee will turn to Mr. Treuhaender, that the houses which are used for the tasks of the Jewish Social Self Help should be rent free, the same for child care, and also if houses are lacking, they will give permission some from the Jewish Social Self Help. The committee will also turn to the Fostinspecteur to designate for the delegates a specified amount of provisory wood for the kitchens and similar goals. The committee will also try to distribute amounts of sugar, especially for the children.


Re Point 6 of the Item of the Day

This report was given by Mr. Shein Yosef (Chelm) and in agreement, the chairman Mr. Frenkel Meyer, set up that special material and moral supplies must be distributed to all locations that are part of the activities of the Jewish Social Self Help for those who had moved [fled, been evacuated, etc.,] and for the unemployed. What to give those who moved – make them comfortable in every detail in line with the local population that has always lived here. The same principle understandably applies to the workers, and this is relevant not only to those who are working on local projects, but also in the working camps, and to those who as a majority or exclusively come from Warsaw. Among other things, we are providing them with sanitary care and sometimes with food and clothing.


Re Point 7, Reported by Chairman Frenkel:

From the presenters' reports and from the delegates' speeches, it is clear that all branches of the projects and activities of the Jewish Social Self Help are rooted in food, and this problem is the most prevalent. In …

[Page 616]

… every region, and we must run tight housekeeping, because our funds are limited, and other than that, it is possible that the situation with food provisions will worsen. For the entire period from the war until the present, the region did not receive any provisions for those who need support, or the Jewish Social Self Help was not considered. Other than that, individual locations did not receive anything for their people. As you can see, for example, from the previous year's report, the delegate from Roda-Swierz received 2.10 kilo of cornmeal per person per week. There was no talk at all about wheat flour and other articles.
After great and numerous efforts by the dependable authorities of the materials distribution office in Chelm, it seems that they did not distribute 2.10 kilo weekly, but 550 grams of flour per person. Regardless of that, there are special amounts of cornmeal for kitchens, those who need support, and for hospitals.

Other than the normal provisions that are distributed to the population for those who are supported, for the kitchens, and for the hospitals, it entered my mind to provide for all the locations in Chelm, with the exception of Wlodowa, who had already received 5,000 kilogram of wheat flour. For this the delegates have to go to the distribution office.

At the same time, I wish to report that after strong and numerous efforts, I was able to get 2,500 kilo of sugar, exclusively for those places in the region and for those who are being supported (with the exception of Wlodowa) where, for the entire period of the war no sugar was given out to anyone. (Applause.)

I also received a special amount of noodles and gruel for the hospitals.

Questions come from the hall, can you get salt. The chairman: Yes, you can get it in smaller amounts and the people's representatives can come forward and ask for this, and they will get it according to provision prices. Yesterday, I already shared that I decided also to give a designated amount of soap and powder soap that will be enough to wash one set of clothing per person, and it will cost one zlot and 12 groshen. The delegates or the Judenraten have to pay for this into the fund of the committee or directly to the distribution office. About the sugar, I ask the delegates to first give it to the children, the sick, and those being supported. About potatoes, unfortunately, because of the frost, there can be no discussion of the possibility to provide. That is, I have permission to provide the city of Chelm with 2,000 meters of potatoes, but we cannot fill this because of the frost. But I want to say that of these 2,000 meter, even though this is designated to the city of Chelm, we will give 200 meter to Sosnowiecz.

At that point, the chairman turns to the representative from Wlodowa, Mr. Cohen, and says that following the example of Chelm, Wlodowa should also distribute what they can to the surrounding delegates, because from Mr. Cohen's statements, it is clear that Wlodowa is not suffering from lack of food provisions and is managing quite well. It is not known at all, if …

[Page 617]

… our catastrophic situation will occur tomorrow in Dubeczne, Sosnowiec, and so on.
Then the chairman turned to the representatives of the delegations, if they accept the direction of the work of the committee. Voices: Yes! Yes! Now the task of distributing amounts of wheat flour for matzo is waiting for us. In general, I well understand that financial assistance will not address your needs if you do not get the food provisions according to the allocation prices. If even Krakow and America would allocate subsidies to you, this would not appease your food needs. As an example, I will say the following: I have heard that some of the delegates have reported that they are not able to pay 20 zlotys for a kilo of sugar. If you will multiply 2500 kilo by 25, you will get a sum of 65,000 zlotys at a time when this has to cost the distribution office 4,000 zlotys. This is like a subsidy of 58,000 zlotys for January. I am doing this and figuring this out because of my love for people, and I will keep calculating this in the future in the same way. I ask that this be a collaborative task among the Judenraten and the Jewish Social Self Help.


Re Point 8 of the Order of the Day

The reporter Mr. Katz Noson (Chelm): From the delegates' speeches, I get the impression that among the Judenratens in a relatively large number of places and their delegates, there is some antagonism, which is important to mention because, on a large scale, this can hurt the work of the representatives of the institutions, as well as the interests of the population. On the contrary, a collaboration, a positive one, a friendly one, will be useful to both sides. As an example, I will take the city of Chelm, where the Judenrat is making every effort to help the Jewish Social Self Help. Among other things, the council gives out a regular monthly subsidy of a few thousand zlotys. The delegates, from their side, have always to try to find sources of funding appropriate to the local conditions. And the council gives regular subsidies to these sources, monthly payments, voluntary taxations, projects, events for the Jewish holidays, and so on. All this has to be instituted and evolved.

Mr. Cohen Avrohom (Wlodowa): As the representative of the chairman of the Judenrat in Wlodowa, I promise you that the Judenrat will collaborate with the delegate from the Jewish Social Self Help. He asks for a copy of the letter from the Kreishauptmann, from January 24, No. 111 710-42, which was addressed to Mr. Frenkel.

Mr. Lehrer Sholom (Sziedliscze) and Migdal Yitzkhok (Dubenko) confirm that the Judenrat in their locations are doing everything they can to support the delegates, but their efforts are from time to time fruitless, because the means are not available, since the Jewish population there has become completely poverty stricken. If there would be no help …

[Page 618]

… from outside sources, then the situation would be even worse and it would be difficult to emerge from it.
Mr. Kraft Bezalel (Rejowiec): Asks that potatoes and fire wood be donated to Rejowiec. He reports that soon, a course in agriculture training will be organized, which is very important for Rejowiec.

Chairman Frenkel: We have to accept as an absolute claim that: A) all the profits that the Judenraten received for their provisions distribution will be paid to the delegates of the Jewish Social Self Help. B) The Judenraten must distribute regular monthly subsidies, and the amounts of the subsidies are to be determined based on the budgets of the last six months. C) You cannot provide to those who are being supported with individual help in the form of money, but can only give dry products or another form of help, such as rent, firewood, etc. In exceptional conditions you can digress from this last order (probably for two points).

Dr. Eliyuha Tish (Krakow): The goal of the conference was to find a way to collaborate on resolving the situation, put into place means and ways that could help support the projects of the Jewish Social Self Help. I would now like to discuss the relationship of the Judenrat to the Jewish Social Self Help. We do not see any basic reason that should interfere with the collaboration of these only remaining two Jewish institutions. The Judenraten are obligated to and must recognize the important sacrificing work of the Jewish Social Self Help, which, on a large scale, frees the councils of social provisionary work. Living examples of the beautiful and useful work of the Jewish Social Self Help are the public kitchens, treatment centers, and hospitals, food centers, and child care center, the “Drop of Milk,” and several other institutions that bear a benevolent and constructive character. I invite understanding, assistance, collaboration, because you are both institutions of the Jewish People and you have to complement each other's jobs. With the goal to prevent the Jews from completely going under, the term “self-help” was thrown onto the Jewish street [street jargon], and this term has become the goal of our institution, to bring aid to the poorest masses, among those whose needs are the greatest – and the aid – the most unquestionable. With this term, we come to the Jewish masses and we want to help them.

But it is impossible to find one remedy for all the problems which the delegates presented here. Everyone has to find ways that will relieve these local conditions and situations. We are doing everything humanly possible, but the means are small and frail.

In such a situation, the main goal of our activities should be – child care, because the child is the foundation and the future of our People. Through applying these mentioned strengths the child care situation can be managed in the right ways, even with the most modest means and conditions.

[Page 619]

The work of the Jewish Social Self Help is also a battle for the Jews. I appeal to everyone that this work be carried out, so that after the war it should be an honor to be able to say about oneself that he participated in this work.


Re Point 9 of the Business of the Day

(Open Suggestions)

The following suggestions are presented:

  1. Suggestion by Mr. Lias Khaim (Chelm delegate) about setting up a single, simplified accounting for all the delegates of the Jewish Social Self Help according to the examples provided. He maintains the suggestion be applied in the following ways: Whereas every month I have to become acquainted with reports of the individual delegates, I can show many errors in their notes of profits and expenses, that makes it impossible for them to prepare the correct reports. Because members of the delegation are not familiar with the general principles of accounting, therefore, some delegates are not presenting reports. The system that I am presenting does not require any specific vocational skills, and also not any expensive books. It is enough to have two books: a fund book and an accounting book, demarcated in a specific fashion.

    Setting up the following system of accounting and monthly reports that would bring all the totals of the required individual rubrics, would give the regional provisions committee an opportunity to set up monthly reports for the entire region. After testing this system for a few months in the area of the Chelmer region, we would be able to pass the project by the presidium of the Jewish Social Self Help, as the accounting of the delegates in the entire General Government area.

  2. Suggestion by Mr. Kraft Bezalel (Rejowiec) about interventions of the government organizations, that the locales that are active with the Jewish Social Self Help should be freed from rent.
  3. Suggestions by the member of the delegation: Yitzkhok Ciberman (Uhrusk), Sholom Lehrer, and Leib Kruk (Sziedliscze), Alter Fuks (Savin), about raising the salary of Mauritzi Druker, the secretary of the regional committee of the Jewish Social Self Help by five hundred zlotys a month.
It was decided to give over all the suggestions to the Chelmer regional provisions committee of the Jewish Social Self Help.

Whereas the business of the day was completed, the chairman thanked everyone for their collaborative work and for participating in the discussions, and with a call to further intensify the work in the field of social conditions, he confirmed [and closed] the businesses of the conference on January 26, 1942, 13 o'clock, 30 minutes.

[Page 620]

An Administrative Meeting

From the regional provisions committee of the Jewish Social Self Help, this took place in Chelm on February 11th, 1942, 11 am.

Present were the members of the committee of the Jewish Social Self Help: Frenkel Meyer-chairman; Shein Yosef, Oks Khaya Roza, Katz Noson, and Dr. Yelen Avrohom – representatives for the sick Dr. Shimon Goren.

At the meeting, they addressed the above-mentioned opened suggestions that were brought in to the meeting and the following decisions were made:

Re the first suggestion:

It was decided to accept the project of the monthly fund reports and accounting according to the included samples, to print and send them to the individual delegations in the Chelmer region with the request to provide the reports and books on April 1, 1942.
Re the second point:
The chairman Mr. Frenkel informs: A memorandum about this issue was given to Mr. Treuhaender in Chelm in the name of all the delegates to free from rent all the locations that are used by the Jewish Social Self Help, and also about providing new locales.
Re the third point:
With the consent of all those present, it was decided that from the fund (account) of the regional committee of the Jewish Social Self Help, as of February 1, 1942, every month, the secretary of the Jewish Social Self Help, Mauritzi Druker should be paid 300 zlotys for his work for the region, and this is independent of the earlier agreed monthly salary of 600 zlotys for his work for the city. Other than that, to pay secretary Druker 300 zlotys as a one time payment for his work in the year 1941.


Chairman of the Committee of the Jewish Social Self Help – Meyer Frenkel

Secretary of the Committee of the Jewish Social Self Help – Mauritzi Druker

Jewish Social Self Help
Jewish Chelmer Regional Provision Committee
Of the Jewish Social Self Help

This is a copy of the original
A. Blum
Warsaw, August 1, 1950

Jewish Historical Institute
Of the Central Committee
Of the Jews in Poland

S 20a.

[Page 621]

During the Days of the Destruction
(several memoirs)

by Khaim Sobol

Translated by Pamela Russ

I am not a writer but I will try – as much as my memory will serve me – to describe all that I saw and experienced from the first day that Hitler-Amalek [enemy of Israel] stepped foot into our town with his bloody boots, until the liberation, when the Red Army chased out the Hitler murderers. During all of that time, I was in Chelm.

September 1, 1939. The dark war breaks out, and every Jew feels the terrifying times. The events link themselves to a powerful rhythm. Already in the first days, Chelm was viciously bombed, about 200 people were killed by these bombs – Jews and non-Jews alike. People were leaving the city, running into the villages where the situation is also not safe.

Two weeks after the German occupation of Chelm, rumors circulated that the Soviets were coming to town to replace the Germans. The Jewish population hears this miracle with joy. The Red Army marches into the city, but according to the agreement with the Hitlerist authorities, they leave the city and go back to the other side of the Bug River.

Once again, the city is in Hitler's hands. Fear and chaos reigns. The Red Army – before they left Chelm – warned and told the Jews to go with them. With the greatest regret, only a small number of people took seriously the warnings of the Red Army. Only the Jewish youth, the left-wing, left the city. But the majority of the people and groups of the Jewish population remained in Chelm, thinking that nothing bad would happen to them and that the Germans would not do anything reproachable to the Jews.

But the worst happened. As soon as the Hitlerist occupiers once again retook the city, they created a horrifying terror among the Jewish people: murders, taxation, robberies, happened day and night. In particular, the SS units went from house to house, searching and killing, stealing the best possessions. A Judenrat was formed, and they took Jewish hostages.

The members of the Judenrat were reassured that thanks to the fact that they would collaborate with German authorities, nothing bad would happen to them and they would live in peace. But they were fooled by the refined thugs. The Germans captured Jews for work, left them broke, and in the end, killed them off.

Robberies took place on a grand scale. All the Jewish residents of Lublin Street were chased out of their homes and they were placed in the Jewish streets – Post Street and others – where later that was the Chelmer ghetto.

On December 1, 1939, the Gestapo in Chelm ordered the Judenrat to assemble all the Jewish men …

[Page 622]

… ages 16-60, in the market place, where the “circle” of Jewish business once lived, to hear a Gestapo chief's speech. The Chelmer Jews were thinking that maybe this really could be just a speech and not executions, and so about 1,800 Jewish men came to the above-mentioned place.
When they came to the “circle,” a strong guard of the Gestapo surrounded the Jews. The order was passed that everyone should give all their belongings [which they had on them] over to the Germans. Then they were ordered to get into lines and march to Hrubieszowa Street.

The marching Jews soon realized their death sentence. They cried and pleaded with the Germans that they be freed.

The 1,800 Chelmer Jews were herded to Hrubieszow and from there to Sokol – to the Soviet border, saying that if the Jews love Russia then they must go there. On this death march, many Jews were shot. For the smallest infraction – not being able to march quickly, Jews were shot. Only a small number of Jews crossed the Bug River – to the Soviet side – and a portion of the Jews returned to Chelm.

From that bloody death march until the Aktzias [roundups] in 1942, Chelmer Jews went through very dark days and nights, hunger and deathly fear, seeing death at every moment and at each step. There were deportations to the death camps in Sobibor. The chaos was so great that there were incidents when Jews told the Gestapo that they wanted to be shot rather than be tortured.

In 1942, when the final Aktzia took place, the SS selected the 50 of the most skilled workers – from all vocations. I was chosen from the gaiter makers [spats or shoe makers]. Under heavy armed guard, we worked for the SS officers. By that time, the city was already emptied of Jews.

So, they took to “liquidating” our work team as well. Of the 50 Jewish workers, we remained no more than 15. They took us over from the Block to the prison.

For 16 months, as we saw death before our eyes, we worked in the prison. There was not one single Jew left in Chelm. We also preferred death at that point and waited for it as if waiting for a miracle that would free us from the clutches of the German murderers.

On May 17, 1944, Soviet airplanes bombed Chelm, also the train station and the prison where we worked. The prison guards and some of the prisoners were killed at that time. The prison building …

[Page 623]

… was destroyed. During this bombing, we – the same 15 – fled. One of us was shot by a guard.
On the second day, May 18, we, 14 Jews and 70 non-Jews, were led away to be shot. Until this day, I cannot understand why they shot the 70 Aryans and we, the 14 Jews, were sent back to work in the prison.

We worked until July 21, 1944. Then, when the Red Army did its great offensive and crossed the Bug River, Chelm was the first Polish city that was taken over by the Soviets, and we were liberated.

This happened so quickly, that the prison administration and the Gestapo, in great chaos and fear, …

[Page 624]

… fled during the night. At dawn, we noticed that we were without guard. But the Germans were in the city. There was still fighting and a lot of intense shooting.
After that, we were afraid to leave the prison, so we tried to find a hiding place in a bunker of the prison. We stayed there for three days – without food or drink. We did not know that the Red Army had been in the city already for two days.

As we left the prison, one of our Jewish workers – Yekhiel Szczupak, a hat maker, died immediately. We learned of the great tragedy of the mass destruction only after we were liberated. Some of us felt a terrible solitude and the gruesome tragedy of the Jewish nation.

[Page 623]


by Shlomo Wahrzorger

Translated by Pamela Russ

Wherever I lay my head – my tragedy hunts me down.
O, my hometown, with hilly streets, with ups and downs –
“Its” curse, as a thunder, rolled across the city.
The paved road that leads to the forest lies there isolated.
Brokers, wheat merchants in rusty coats –
Quicksilver in the wind –
With “Ma tovu” [“how good it is…” part of morning prayers] on the lips, at the same time as the blue,
The few peasants went out – to rummage
… in the hay …

Now they are crying blindly
The stone highways, for Stival'e's wagon driver, at the side
Of the wagons, with creaking and groaning.
The market is faint – thirsty.

For bales and barrels, which --- added color
Every Tuesday at the fair.

They are crying as well:
The crooked back streets, the quiet houses, as teeth left in a mouth,
Empty of old age.

O, my fellow toilers – honest butchers,
Jewish from the Eastern Wall – and silver adornment [of the talis]…
All, all, there at the bottom of the field …
The sky is crying over your open grave –
Wherever I put my head, your tragedy hunts me down.

There is no trace of the Beis Medrash [Study House] that was in the middle of the city.
The courtyard, the small street with narrow sidewalks, that had calm
From grandfathers, son --- with grandchildren – taken away.
No sign remains
Of the second shul, the “simple” one, that is opposite here,
Where, every year, the cantorial Kol Nidrei [recited on Yom Kippur]

[Page 624]

Would make the Christians all around tremble,
And to distinguish – the large church
That shoots its shining bare head arrogantly to the sky
With bells ringing loudly …

As the “steel circle” filled with Jewish shops
With hands chapped from the wind – brown, blue – swollen,
Faces – rusted as tin and steel,
That wander around the shelves of the shops.

Where are you, smithies of the “new goal”?
Clumsy porters of the “New World” –
The Shabbath eve – the flames of the burning candles
Tables covered in white, the candelabrum is set.

The Shabbath, heartfelt tones of Shabbath songs,
The mother's “G-d of Abraham” [prayer said by women as the Shabbath ends], her pale face – wrapped
In sadness.
At the first glimpse of the first star in the home – the dark

There are no blessings for the new week.
Wherever I put my head – the tragedy hunts me down.

* * *

When they nailed Zalman the baker to the post
And poured pitch on him and then burned him alive,
Jesus looked through the church windows and watched
And cried out of embarrassment, as his name is put to shame…

* * *

A robed person came to him to purify himself
And “his” priest forgave him, and his priest blessed him …

* * *

And the church bells from the tall mountain saw this
And rang on the Sundays, and the holidays, as if nothing
Had happened….


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