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[Page 439]

Dąbrowa after the war

by Stanisław Wygodzki

Translated by Avi (Abram) Stavsky

After the war I visited Dąbrowa Górnicza several times, not for any specific reason, but [merely] because I wanted a glimpse of the town of my childhood. I once had a whole family I would visit; furthermore, I spent a short while there as a teacher. I had had friends and comrades on the road to Dąbrowa, in Koszelew-Kasawer, but I didn't seek them out [as] they are no longer alive. [In Dąbrowa] my kindred and those best known to me, were killed in Auschwitz or in labor camps under severe labor conditions. [Local] police authorities had [falsely] tried and judged these people, convicting them and dispensing “justice” without witnesses or due process. Many were no longer around; some were killed in 1937, others in 1939 and yet others in the [Communist] occupation period after 1945.

The small Jewish tailor shops no longer existed in Dąbrowa; the businesses where workers would sell handmade items; where laborers young and old would toil by day and night in order to produce some meager goods. Gone were the haberdashers, the tailors, the bakeries, the shoemakers, the candle [i.e. lamp] makers. Disappeared were the doctors, the lawyers, the dentists, teachers and their pupils. Vanished too, were the rabbis with their students, the mothers and their children, the wagon-drivers with their loads.

I looked into the yards and windows of the small houses, deliberately seeking out those which had some connection with those [people] I knew. But there was no one left I had known, no one…

The appearance of the city has changed; it has grown in the direction of Reden. Tall [apartment] houses now stand and the city's squares have been enlarged. The small fields that were between Koszelew and Kasawer no longer exist. In their places are [meters of] concrete and asphalt.

dab439.jpg [26 KB] - Dąbrowa Górnicza city council building
Dąbrowa Górnicza city council building
(after the war)

There is no longer a forest in the “Zieleniec” [green fields] and the small stream [called] Przemsza virtually disappeared. The Górnicza synagogue, which once seemed large and imposing, now is surrounded [by much larger edifices] and seems small and puny. The once-imposing “Resursa” building is now just a small house. Not far from the train station and the market place, a large “Culture Palace” has been built. It is ugly and grandiose, having been built in [Stalinist] Communist architectural style.

Dąbrowa was never exceptionally beautiful [architecturally], but now, after the war, it gave me the impression of a clean and orderly, yet sterile, bureaucratic city.

[Page 440]

This is due thanks to the influence of an Aleksander Zawadzki, a coal miner from Kawaser who became Dąbrowa's mayor and head of the city council. His chief contribution was to redesign and influence the town's new architecture.

I did not visit the Jewish cemeteries, as all of my relatives died at Auschwitz, [and thus were not buried there], but I understand that the Germans did damage there and later other elements [i.e. Poles] completed the job.

After my arrival in Israel, some people asked me about particular individuals and places [in Dąbrowa], however I was unfortunately unable to assist them in most cases, as my memory did not serve me well here. They were disappointed and asked how I could not remember, but it was because so much had changed physically in the city, and areas where Jews once congregated and dwelled are now simply gone.

[Page 441]

Dąbrowa without Jews

by Lea Zaks

Translated by Avi (Abram) Stavsky

It approaches [now] a year time since I left Poland and arrived in my sunny country, won at bitter cost through bloody campaigns by my brothers and sisters; a land which enchants me with tears of joy and a glad heart.

I wanted to shout with delight just seeing what I saw. Perhaps from great surprise or awe something stuck in my throat, and only tears poured from my eyes – tears of happiness! This is [despite all] my country, my fatherland, the land of my forefathers and yet also of the current generation. Dąbrowa, I want to write about you! This small town where, before the war, a heart beat and a soul breathed. But today? Oh, bitter fate! Now is not the time for memories. No one can [bring back] remembrances without sadness.

Dąbrowa without Jews. Three fateful words. Oh, Dąbrowa – how dear you were to me until the year 1939. I can still hear the murmur of the Dąbrowa, Sosnowiec and Buków (?) trees on the “Zieleniec”, a song of life. I loved your large and small houses; your noisy main streets and quieter, tranquil side streets. I heard the mother tongue spoken by neighborhood dwellers, and I understood you! You were so close to me, my [now] old strange yet familiar Dąbrowa. I sought memories of years ago. After the Holocaust I sought familiar faces; I looked for poor folk; wealthy; youngsters; old folk; I looked for “our people”. Then I thought of finding a synagogue; perhaps my brain was struck by lightning because I imagined maybe the Almighty had spared someone, given them their life [so that I could find them]. But the synagogue was closed…

Perhaps I would hear from their graves; perhaps a voice from beyond, from someone who did not suffer in the crematoriums but whom God himself called; those people for whose souls we said kaddish and lit memorial candles, to whose graves we brought flowers? And perhaps…?

dab441.jpg [43 KB] - Szopena Street without Jews
Szopena Street without Jews

At the edge of the city, near the Heronimski Street, was the cemetery, but today there are only memories of it. The tombstones have been smashed and goats, belonging to the neighbors, graze on the grass. I ran from that place with great tears and a torn heart.

Dąbrowa without Jews! Pretty you are today, Dąbrowa, in your new clothes. Nice are your schools, but my eyes seek what's no longer there, the old houses where there was so much sweet happiness.

In Dąbrowa was a Jew named “Berek”, a poor fellow that wandered from street to street. His home was only the streets, an unfortunate chap, but a happy one. You [must] certainly remember him. When you remember our holy ones, remember also our “Berek.”

(Translated from Polish by Riwka Barkai)

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