[Pages 450-451]

Tragiv Fate of a Jewish Demblin Family

by Chaya Brocha Rozenberg-Urback

I. Chaya Brocha, daughter of Itza Motel Shuchtz, who was the son and mother, Aydel-Leah Rsenberg, was born in Demblin and I lived there my whole life.

My saintly mother was the first victim in the town. She was shot by Hitler's murderers. We were 7 children, 4 sons and 3 daughters. My oldest brother, Chaim Rueben, with his wife, Shendel Rosenberg, and their oldest daughter, Chaya-Paysel, and son Aleizor, were taken away during the first round-up and sent to Treblinka. One son, Itche, was in the Demblin camp, after that, they sent him to Czenstechov, and from there to Germany, a couple of days before the liberation, during a march, they shot him. The son Moshe also avoided being deported in Demblin, but the camp director wouldn't let him come into the camp. He was shot, roaming around outside. One son, Motelah, with his wife, Itkah, were saved. They are now in America. A daughter of theirs, Hannah, and her husband, Morchai Rosenveim, have lived in Israel since 1934, with a son, daughter and grandchildren.

My brother, Yaacov Mindel, with his wife Rachel Rosenberg, who is the daughter of the Tenenboim family, were together in the Demblin camp. Afterwards, they were sent to Czenstechov. Three days before the liberation, they sent Yaacov Mindel to Buchenwald. And on one day they ordered that all the Jews should go out of the barracks and gather in one place, and on the other side, the other nationalities should gather. My brother went with he Jewish group and they shot him. My sister-in-law Rachel, with her two sons and a daughter, were liberated in Czenstechov, and they all went away to America. In 1951, as a result of all the suffering she endured during the War, Rachel, my sister-in-law, died.

My sister, Nechomah with her husband, Moshe Specter, had two children. Exactly how they died or were killed, I don't know. They sent them away to Germany. The daughter, Friedela, was with me in the Demblin camp. Afterwards, they also sent her to Czenstechov. From there, they wanted to send her to Germany, but with money, we were able to delay that, and see that she could remain. Since we didn't have any money, my husband went to Ita Sahmit, and said to him, that if we had the money, we could save Friedela, and prevent her from being sent away to Germany. And Ita immediately gave whatever money was necessary and our joy was great. But, it didn't last long. Fate followed her, pursued her. Soon after the liberation in Czenstechov, we went back to Demblin and in a couple of days, the A. K. murderers shot her.

My sister, Nechomah, also had a son, Itzche, 16 years old. He was employed in forced labor. A certain day he didn't show up for work and the Germans dragged him out of the place he was staying, into the woods and shot him. Gentiles said that after he'd been shot, he ran around for a couple of hours, with the bullets in his body.

My brother Sholom, with his wife, Leah Rosenberg, who's maiden name was Nachteilor, had two children, Revkelah and Itzchela. During the deportation from Demblin, they sent them right to Treblinka. Never saw them again.

My sister, Feiga, was married to Pesach Blustein. They had a girl named Mindela. They sent Pesach away to Pulaw to work and there they shot him. During the last round-up, the Judenrat ordered that no children should come out into the square. My sister went to a neighbor, a gentile, paid her very, very well, and left her sweet, wise, little girl there. But as soon as my sister was out of the house, the gentile woman drove the 8 year old child out into the street and a German shot her to death. The hard and sorrowful things that my sister endured, can't be described. She remained alone then. There was absolutely no comfort for her. Today she lives in America.

I and my husband, Itzche Urbach, may he rest in peace, and our daughter Revkela, were in the Demblin ghetto from May, 1942 until August of 1942. After that, they put us in cattle cars and sent us to Czenstechov. The overcrowding was unbelievable. As soon as we arrived, they led us into the camp. There, there were already people from our city who had come a few days before. The greeting was a very, very painful and sorrowful one. They didn't even let us talk. They took everything from us. And the most tragic was when they took our dear daughter Revkela. They wouldn't let us see her. We weren't even allowed to cry. We had to go to work. That's the way it was for a few days. And then, they freed the children, they let them out. And among the children that were let go was our Revkela. I can't tell you, I can't describe the joy of my husband and myself. Our daughter said that when they tried to feed them, or give them something to drink, they wouldn't take it, they were afraid that they were going to get poisoned. But our joy didn't last very long. After a couple of months, they sent my husband to Buchenwald. In the last days before the liberation, during a march, he was so worn out and swollen, that he couldn't march the way he was supposed to in line, and the Germans shot him. Revkela and I were already in train cars ready to be sent away, but they liberated us in Czenstechov, the 1 st of January, 1945.

Today, I live in Israel, and Revkela with her husband, Moshe Grossman, and two children in America.

And I have another brother, Shlomo-David who has been living in Brazil since 1929.

[Pages 452-457]

From Camp to Camp

by Mindel Shteinbach, United States

In 1936 an anti-Semitic wave spread over all of Poland. I worked at that time at the air base. In the spring of that year 2 Polish police came to the air base and took the Jews' work passes away. I just hung around for a couple of weeks after that looking for some place to work. Then I decided to travel to Warsaw. I went to work there for a Jewish contractor. I made good money until the beginning of the War.

When the Germans decided to cut off half of Warsaw, I went back to Demblin. The life in the town was horrifying. The Germans just grabbed men and women and took them to forced labor. There wasn't any place to hide. I used to come home beaten up and totally worm out. In November I was hiding at the house of Ignatovskeen, in his attic. Suddenly I heard the ringing of bells. That was the warning to call people and tell them that all men, Jews and non-Jews, had to register at work. But those who had a trade would be employed at the airfield.

I went right down to the sign-up place. Among the Jews, I was the second one who got there. The first one was Moshe Beznos. Before the War he worked in the 15 th Pulk. He remained alive.

That's how the “paradise” at the Demblin airport began. Each day the number of Jewish skilled workmen increased. We worked and forgot that the Jews in other cities suffered horribly. I was able to get my father in the group of painters. He had to shave off his beard and that was a very, very difficult thing for him to do.

But, we got use to the hardship little by little. Especially because in the spring of 1940 we were still around. About half of the town's Jews were working in construction for the Germans. We rebuilt the airfield for the Germans. Until March of 1941, they actually paid for our work. The German power then gave an order that Jews weren't allowed to earn any money. They pulled a lot of Jews off the work. In that way the little “paradise” was over.

New sorrows began. Germans ordered that Jews from the ages of 13 to 55 would from now on go to forced labor. Through the Judenrat they sent a list of those who they needed so that they could be provided. I was sent to the train station. There was an enterprise work going on that was supervised by the Shultz company. They were laying down new tracks. A couple hundred Jews worked very, very hard. Each day, there were accidents and worse. A lot of people were severely injured. They beat us often. The life there was just unbearable.

I worked there for awhile until on a certain evening 2 Polish police came, took me out of bed and sat me down and threw me into the Demblin prison. By the morning, there were 6 men in the prison. They took all of us to the train station and gave us over to the Commissar from Pulaw. There weren't any Jews in Pulaw. This was before the German invasion of Russia. They were making preparations. All of the best Jewish houses had been taken over by the Germans. The Commissar of Pulaw organized a work camp where there were 400 Jews. 200 of them were from Austria. From our general area there were another 200. There were 6 of us painters from Demblin: Yeshy Abenstein, Hersh-Nechemaya Tzitrenboim, Ahron Boymayel, Moshe Puterflam and a kid from Bobrowniki and myself.

In the Pulaw camp, we stayed for about 4 months. The Demblin Judenrat helped us with bread and marmalade. We came back to Demblin after the summer. By that time the Germans were deep into Russia.

– 2 –

The situation in the ghetto in Demblin was quite bad. You got 10 Deca of bread a day. On the black market, it cost 50 or 60 zlotys. Various diseases spread, especially typhus. Jews from other places were running to Demblin. The ghetto was overflowing. The number of strangers was almost equal to the natives from Demblin. They cleared out animal stalls and put children, sick people and old people in them.

A new city Commissar came to Demblin. He was a big anti-Semite. He came with 2 Jewish agents, who worked for him. In December of 1941, he ordered that a new Judenrat be picked and a new Jewish police force as well. The Judenrat consisted of 8 members. One, the leader, was Drafish. He wasn't from Demblin. With him in charge we really lived with a lot of danger in the ghetto. He used to come to our house. He would talk to my parents and he suggested that I become a Jewish policeman. He promised that he would take care of the family. That if I became a Jewish policeman, everybody in the family would get an extra 25 deca of bread, 10 of butter, 10 of sugar, 10 of marmalade, 2 kilos of dark flour and 3 kilos of potatoes. We got that for all of 2 weeks. We were 7 mouths to feed, all together, at that point. My mother cried so long until I couldn't stand it any longer and I finally took the job. My number in the police was 13, which as we all know, is not a lucky number. I just couldn't do the dirty work. I kind of hung around doing that until the end of February 1942. I never was able to be strict with people. When they gave me a group of women who I was supposed to take to work, by the time I got to the work place, half of them had disappeared, and the Germans beat me. They scolded me for not disciplining people better.

One day in February, I was standing in the Okulna street, and an old Jewish lady came out with a bucket in order to get a little bit of water in the square. I made a point of looking the other way so that she could go to the wall. She'd managed to get half a bucket of water, when out of nowhere, the German Otto appeared, who was known as the right hand of the Commissar. He threw the water over the old lady and asked her who let her get through to the wall. She pointed at me. He didn't need any more. He came over to me and started smashing me with the bucket so long that he just got bent over with his great effort. He took me to the Judenrat and ordered that I be punished. They took away my privilege of being a policeman after a week. They took my uniform and hat away and I went home.

I later had to go back to Drafish, and the Judenrat, and beg him to let me off. I apologized. He said that I had to present myself to the German work office. I went to the German work office and they gave me a number. They sent me to the Austrian contractor enterprise, “Oytoried”. They were working on the forts by the airfield. We worked in groups of 60 Jews. The work was hard. We hoped that the War would end and we would all survive.

– 3 –

We made it through the winter. Spring came. From the ghetto they continually dragged people to work. Every grown up man or woman wanted to get a chance to get into the workplace because they had already begun to liquidate the ghettos in Poland. Everybody thought that if you had work, you'd be saved. The construction work at the airfield consisted of building a camp and the gasoline station. Also, at the fortress, there was another camp, and another one at the train station. By the lakes there was another. In the ghetto again, the Commissar had his camp.

In the ghetto we lived on Staromyeiska street. My father worked for the city Commissar. My sisters at the train station. My mother remained at home with my youngest brother.

The 6 th of May, 1942, I came home in the middle of the day. In the morning, on the way to work, I saw that there were a lot of wives of the members of the Judenrat. They were traveling away on rail cars loaded down with different things. They were traveling towards the little towns in the countryside. Therefore I went home and I told my mother that I wanted to go with her, wherever they took her. She cried and said, my dear child, we shouldn't go together all of us. Maybe we'll be able to save ourselves better if we're separate. I left the house with tears in my eyes and asked God, “Where are you? Why do you leave us Jews such a bitter fate?”

At night three fourths of the town was already gone in Demblin. The streets were empty. You could only hear the crying, and the barking of the dogs. The whole night we cried together. It took a few days after the deportation for these who remained in the ghetto to have the courage to go outside again.

– 4 –

After a little while they brought in a transport of Czech Jews and established them in our ghetto. Very soon after that, about three weeks later, they surrounded the ghetto and took out all the young men and women for work, the others, to liquidate. With them, a lot of Dembliners as well were taken to the camp. One was allowed to go into the ghetto once a week with a little tag from the work place. After that, people were completely forbidden to go into the ghetto.

When the work at the “Oytoreid” company at the airfield ended, they brought us over to work for another company which was also working at the airfield. The project was called “White billy-goat”. The Germans were frightful thugs. About 6 weeks before Rosh Hashannah, while I was at work, a Pole with a German in civilian clothes came through. The Pole was a painter and he knew me. It seemed that they needed workers and he wanted me for a group of painters. I worked together with the Christians. There were just a few other Jews in the group. There was a kind of overseer. The German considered our group of Jews to be better craftsmen than the gentiles. Everything went along pretty well until a couple of days before Succoth. The German called me over to one side and he said to me that he was going to send me to another job. I answered that yesterday I had left my tools at work. This infuriated him to no end. He screamed that I should go into the office and sit there and not cross the threshold. I sat there with great fright. I understood that something was going to happen.

In the middle of the day he came and said that I should give him my name and my camp number and for what purpose he didn't bother to tell me.

At dusk we left the camp. When the last Jew was over the threshold all of a sudden, out of nowhere, the S. S. and the Gestapo appeared. They surrounded the camp which at that point contained about 1,500 Jews. On the tracks there were rail cars with a locomotive that was all ready. The Germans had apparently not a lot of time, because they were continually looking at their watches. They drove all the Jews to one place. From the group of skilled workers, they took out three workmen and pushed them over to the police barracks. The picked my name and number from the group of painters. I went into the barracks, looked though the window, it didn't take very long. From the 1,500 Jews, there only remained 500. The others with blows were packed into the rail cars and carried off to Treblinka. Demblin was “judenrein”. There wasn't one more living Jew in the city. They even liquidated the camp in the city.

My father came back from the camp in the town. At the train station my two sisters and younger brother remained. I tried to get them into the construction site, but I wasn't able to accomplish anything. They would only let skilled craftsmen in there. It didn't take very long after that and the construction camp was completely filled up. They brought men from other camps into the construction site and a small number of women. We were al mixed up. People from Demblin, Ryki, Gniveshov, Warsaw and the Jews from Czechoslovakia.

– 5 –

In the spring of 1943, they liquidated the camp at the railroad and sent everybody to Poniatov. I alone from my family remained. I didn't know what awaited me. From day to day life got harder. People were extremely hungry.

November, 1943, I fell from a scaffold and broke my left leg. All I could do was to lie around in the camp for 3 months. In March of 1944 I went back to work. The German gave me lighter work until I was able to stand on my feet.

In June of 1944 the Russians liberated Lublin and the Germans liquidated the camp at Demblin. They sent me to Czenstechov and I worked at the iron works there. I worked as a painter for 6 months.

The 12 th of January, 1945, they took the people from the camp of Rakov, where I was, to Germany. I arrived at Buchenwald but barely had I arrived there when they sent me to Flosenberg. The Germans wanted to make an underground factory there. We slept outside without eating. We were filthy, torn up and extremely weak. The conditions were just indescribable. Every day thousands of people died, and people of all nationalities. From Demblin I met Chaim Kaminsky, the baker, his brother-in-law, and a son. My luck was that they chose me with a Russian prisoner to chop wood for the S. S. kitchen. They cooked for all of the S. S. men there. They threw the peelings from the cabbage and potatoes into the latrine. The Russian and I used to gather up this dirty garbage and hide it close to our body under our clothes. We used to eat it at night. That's how we were able to get through three and a half months. After that, they sent us back to Buchenwald, and from there to Shilenborg, near the Austrian border, where I worked in a stone quarry, packing stone. After that, back to Buchenwald, and from there they sent us to a camp, but we barely got there when the allied armies finally were able to cut Germany into two. The closest way out was to Dachau. They stuffed us into stalls because the camp itself was overflowing. After being there a week, they stuffed us into rail cars and carried us to Mitenvold. There in the mountains the Germans wanted to shoot everybody. But a miracle happened. The 30 th of April, 1945, 2 o'clock in the afternoon, the American Third Army liberated us.

From Demblin there were 60 Jews. The place was called Stalag, not far from Mitenvold. The names of the Dembliners that were liberated there were Moniec Ekheiser, Yehusha Schteinback, Chaim Schteinback, Yaacov-Leb Taitelboim, Moshe Taitelboim and others.

After the liberation I was in the hospital for 3 months. After the War I lived in Germany for 5 years, then I came to America.

– 6 –

A few words about myself and my family:

I was born in Demblin of fine although poor parents. My father was called Moshe Malyazh. My mother's name was Peza Frizirke. I had 4 sisters, Libe, Malke, Rachel, Shendel, and 2 brothers Hershel and Yisrael-Leb.

We lived on Ordenaska street. Our neighbors were Dar Geler Moshe (the yellow Moshe) who was a butcher, Shmuel Kone who was a shoemaker, and Yosele, who was a baker.

In heder I studied with Baruch Zeidele, with Toiven Matas (deaf Matas), and with Moshe-Daden. I studied in the Povshekner school and finished the 5 th grade. In 1931 I began to learn painting. I learned that craft very fast and became a breadwinner in my household.

Since I was kind of shy as a young man, I didn't involve myself with organizations. Every once and awhile I used to go to “Hashomir Hatzayir” [a left wing Zionist organization].

The Polish military had facilities near Demblin and they employed a group of Jewish painters. We often worked together. A few of them were able to survive the War.

In 1934, my sister Libe went to Paris. She got married to Saneh Goldshtein, who was the son of Meir Marteks. With their child, a son of 8 years old, they died in Auschwitz in the beginning of 1944. My sister Malka was married to a man from Pulaw, Avram Kleiner, they had a 4 year old son. She and the son died in Poniatov in 1944. Her husband lives today on a Kibbutz in Israel. My mother and my youngest brother Yisrael-Leb died in Sobibor in May of 1942. My sister Rachel and my brother Hershel died in Poniatow in 1944. My father and sister Shendel died in Treblinka in 1944. Honored be their memory.

[Pages 458-463]

The First Half Year of Horror

by Meir Eichenbrenner, Detroit / Michigan

With great terror and uneasiness the Demblin Jews, more than those of other towns, received the news the first of September 1939 about the outbreak of the War between Germany and Poland. That's because there was a fortress and other military objectives which were reasons for a town to be attacked and as a result there was more suffering, torture and people being driven out of the town.

Although the first day was peaceful in the town and there was not anything extraordinary going on, and although the words of the famous speech by Ridz-Shmiglis, that we were not going to give away one button to the Germans, was still fresh in everybody's mind, still nobody was prepared for how quickly the Polish army was destroyed.

In the town, from the first moment, a very oppressive mood prevailed. A heavy load fell on the heart and never stopped causing great fear. Nobody could lend a hand to daily work. Nobody could think of business. The economic life of the town was paralyzed from the first day.

The first night of War fell precisely on Friday evening, when the Sabbath began. There were Jews in a very oppressed mood who went into the synagogue to say the prayer welcoming the Sabbath. Also in the morning, early when Jews put on their Sabbath clothes with their tallisim under their arms and went to pray, it seemed like with every movement that they made, they expressed their great consternation.

Outside it seemed as if there wasn't any war at all. And as always at that time of day things were quiet and there was a very Sabbath feeling to them.

But, as soon as we started to pray, a terrifying noise of heavy bombers was heard across the city. Momentarily, there was one after another of ferocious explosions, which were ear splitting, and the plaster of the ceiling began to rain over us. We thought that soon the houses themselves would fall down and bury us alive.

From both sides of the city fires were raging and thick black clouds of smoke blotted out the sun.

With the greatest confusion the stampede began of the people who were scared to death. They ran to a big meadow behind the synagogue where there wasn't even a single tree.

There we lay the whole day until night. After every explosion, fresh clouds of smoke rose into the sky. It seemed as if the whole town would soon be consumed with flames. Desperate parents with heart rending cries called for their lost children.

From that early morning Sabbath the quiet and contented town of ours was transformed into and unending, terrifying hell.

When the airplanes went away and it was quiet again, we found out that a bomb had fallen behind the synagogue near the scron [polish word] and that from that airborne projectile everybody who had been gathered there at that moment was killed. A terrible sense of awe and fear fell upon each individual. Nobody wanted to go back to his house, but remained there in the meadow.

By afternoon the German bombers appeared again. This time they bombed the region of the ponds and the lakes where there was a big weapons factory. The whole time not one shot was fired at them.

As soon as the night began to fall, when the German bombers were no longer making themselves evident, little by little, after a whole day of deathly fear and hunger, we returned to our houses which we had left in the morning.

But as soon as we started to eat a little something a frightful panic broke out across the town because horses and wagons had pulled up to some of the houses and onto them people had thrown in the darkness a few things that they needed to survive with. The wife and children had been put in the wagons and they started to ride away to Ryki where there were no military objectives.

Soon there began in the darkness a stampede over the countryside in order to see if you could rent a peasant's wagon. But peasants weren't in any mood to risk their lives at a time like that. So everybody just, as best they could, grabbed their valuables and packed as much as they could carry on their shoulders. Broken and worn out, the sick and the old, the women and children, the whole town on foot, began its journey that night to Ryki.

The road from Demblin to Ryki, which under normal circumstances, even on foot, wouldn't take more than an hour and a half or two hours to walk, now seemed like an impossible course to run because of the automobiles that were overturned, the upended wagons and horses that had been killed dragging them. All of these lay on the highway, which had been repeatedly bombed.

The road was so littered with debris that even the beaten retreating Polish army was only able to traverse it at night. And so after a whole night of walking, all the time tripping, falling, getting cut and bruised, dead tired, and in great despair, in fallen feet, just as the morning was breaking, we arrived at Ryki.

Although nothing bad had happened in Ryki, at dawn the streets were filled with Jews, milling around, and from there, in their tired sleepless eyes, you saw the most extraordinary fear and panic.

Soon the synagogue, all the little prayer houses, the bath house, all available space was taken up with homeless people. Everybody looked for a little piece of ground to lay their head on. And nobody even thought of trying to run any further than here.

In Ryki, we soon felt the bitter taste of being without a home. The Ryki Jews were in the same danger as us, they simply weren't able to help us, they didn't have anything to help us with, because what little bit of food or bread there was to sustain a soul, was simply unavailable at any price. We would look at the heavily laden airplanes that used to fly overhead. We'd look at them as part of a routine almost, get used to them, but, although we would stand out in the street and just stand there looking at them, our hearts still didn't lose their basic terror for a moment.

On the third day, early in the morning, some airplane, like a crow with its terrifying noise, flew over the town and before one was able to run away to the scronos [Polish word], we heard the terrifying explosions, one after the other. Soon the whole town seemed to be transformed into one raging flame. From the burning houses one heard the desperate heart rending cries for help of the wounded.

From all sides the people, in the greatest confusion, were running from the burning city. But as soon as the thick mass of people began to run over the open fields, the German planes came back, swooped down and shot everybody with machine guns.

In just a couple of minutes, the whole field was covered with hundreds of corpses and wounded people, whole families were cut down.

Soon an exodus from Ryki began, people wanted to go any place as long as they could get out of range of danger. The only ones who remained were those who were determined to bury their dead, broken people and worn out who barely were able to walk and themselves seemed like ghosts. The crying pulled their dead in hand drawn carts and with their last strength pulled them to the cemetery. Some even carried the dead on their shoulders. Fathers dug graves for their whole families and young children with their own hands buried their parents.

We escaped towards Boronov, which was in a far off sandy area. On the way we met a rich Jewish family who owned a mill and estate and lots of fields in the area. They just left everything behind now, and in a wagon that carried loads, pulled buy two big strong horses, they traveled in the opposite direction from us.

We told them that we had first escaped from Demblin because the Germans bombarded it several times, and for the same reason we had run away from Ryki as well.

Almost at the same time as us, the Germans came into Boronov and soon began to torture people, Jewish blood began to flow and hell opened up for us. We were not able to get back to Demblin, and were also afraid of traveling by back roads, because they were full of danger.

As soon as the murderers gave an order that all of those who had run away from their towns had to return to them, we began to return, we simply didn't have any choice. Tired, worn out, with swollen, infected feet. We returned to Demblin. Happily the roads at that time were filled with thousands of Poles who were going in the same direction and so we were able to get from Boronov to Demblin without any big problem.

It seemed that we almost were sneaking back into the town like thieves. The streets were deserted. It seemed as if we were the only ones who had just arrived here. We soon learned, though, that almost the whole town of Jews was already there. But, people were hidden away in their houses. People were frightened of showing themselves in the streets because of the Germans. Their torture of Jews was terrifying and savage.

The first day they had grabbed a young Hassid, beat him, and then ordered him to crawl up the front part of a tank. They stated going fast over the cobbled streets. They ordered him to imitate different kinds of animals and to “nay” like a billy goat, bark like a dog, grunt like a pig and crow like a rooster. The young man, beaten up, pale, with all of his strength, held on to the smooth steel of the tank. Finally they began to drive as fast as they could and the young man was beaten over the head with sticks. He fell off, bloody, half dead, and remained lying on the ground.

Each day they dragged people off to work, which consisted of carrying the same load of bricks or wood, back and forth, from the same place. As they did this, they never stopped screaming, “You Jews, you wanted the War and the War is going to make you all die like dogs.”

Every day repeated the one before. At dusk the people would return home, bloodied and beaten up.

Once, all of the Jews, young and old, men and women, they were driven by the Germans out behind the town and ordered to pull out the grass with their hands that was growing in the ditches along the side of the highway.

On the first day in the middle of the market place, the Jewish Council (which the Germans created), before the eyes of everybody, before the whole population which had been driven together, was humiliated and tortured. The Germans made one jump on the other and ride them as if one was a horse and one was a rider.

After seven in the evening no living soul dared to show themselves. At night they use to knock on the doors of a house, take somebody out, and you never saw that person again. You never even knew where his bones ended up.

Once on such a night in the first week, we heard the driving in our street of some automobiles which stopped directly across from our house and remained there. Some Germans remained in the cars for awhile, but soon some of them began to get out and walk away. With our hearts beating very hard and our ears on edge, we listened to the terrible sound of their boots until the sound was completely swallowed up in the dead silence of the night.

Not long thereafter we heard some powerful explosions. Outside it became a bright as day. In tremendous confusion we ran to the door but stayed there, afraid to run out because the Germans were still standing around their automobiles.

Through the cracks we saw the wild, wild flames with the red sparks jumping all over the place which lit up the whole sky. The big old wooden synagogue was now a mass of flames.

In the morning, when not more than a smoky pile of black ash remained of the synagogue, the gendarmes, with revolvers in hand, came into the Judenrat offices and ordered that we should tell them who set the synagogue on fire. Again they demanded more new tributes.

Just as the fall was lovely and dry and it hardly rained at all, with the beginning of winter, the weather was mild and warm with bright and sunny days.

Soon after the new year though, the really heavy winter began. Snow storms blew for weeks and weeks at a time. Everything was covered in white. When the snow stopped, the very long heavy cold spells began.

In this winter, 1940, the German murderers decided that Pulaw must become Judenrein. In order to cause the Jews more suffering and torture, the murderers in the course of just a few minutes, with wild sadism and savagery, drove all the Jews out of that town. Nobody was able to take anything with them at all.

The whole road from Pulaw to Demblin had to be traversed on foot. As the Jews from Pulaw made their way in the terrible frost and arrived in the town, it was one of the most shaking and terrifying sights I'd ever seen. Some of the worn out beaten Jews didn't even have a hat on their head, they had frozen, bloody hair, that was matted together. Others were bent over, barely managing to move on their feet. They had managed to wrap their children who were dying of the cold with rags, they carried them under their arms. The people were resigned. It was extremely difficult to get to say even one word, they couldn't even cry.

Most of the Jews of Pulaw who had absolutely no means of staying alive, quickly died from cold and hunger. From then on, Pulaw was the word that conveyed the most fear to the Jews of the area.

That winter we lived in terror that at anytime the murderers would deal us the same fate as the Jews of Pulaw.

It began to get a little bit milder. The Nazis needed a little bit of slave labor for Pulaw. So they set up a punishment camp there and they used to send Jews from Demblin to that camp. But, it was very rare that those who had been sent to Pulaw came back alive.

If it was possible to manage to save one of the victims, it was thanks to the Jewish craftsman, Avrom Abenshtein, who made boots with great skill and used to please the local commander of the gendarmes, more than any others. With his help and great effort the Judenrat succeeded in getting an in with the Nazis. They bribed them with the most expensive gifts and with money. Whatever appealed to them, whatever they wanted, the Judenrat tried very hard to make available to them, and often could.

Although the situation in town became a little bit easier the Jews worked at various sites and the constant pouncing on people and dragging them off to work stopped. Still life became sadder and more bitter because not one day went by in which we weren't struck to the roots of our being by some horrible news about what had happened to another town. Not a week went by that we weren't caused the greatest pain in the roots of our soul, by one or another savage and bestial murder…

[Pages 464-465]

Survival of Hell

by Miriam Tzimbrovitch, New York

Soon after the first deportation, the 5 th of May, they took my parents, sisters and a brother. They were about to send me away as well, but, through a miracle I remained. The S. S. said that I was capable of working. During the second deportation as well, I was lucky, and I stayed behind.

When I went back from the place where everybody was made to gather, I saw that near the synagogue there lay 200 Jews who had been shot. Among the dead was a woman, the daughter-in-law of Braindel Laibkelis, with a child of about a year. The child was still alive and sucking at its mother's breast. His mother was dead. What became of the child I don't know, because I ran, looking for my children. I didn't know, should I look for them among the dead or among the living?

Later I learned that my daughter Poliya was in the Demblin fortress and the other children in the Demblin camp. My oldest son Avrom was in the town. The gendarmes had appointed him to be one of those who moved out all the dead bodies. His pain and grief is impossible to describe.

I and my husband escaped to the train station. While running they shot at us. A woman from Gniveshov fell from the bullets at my feet.

In Miyershansky we went to a Christian, the train employee, Vidat, and spent the night there. Early in the morning I and my husband ran to the train inspection to work. We loaded coal in wagons. We worked there very hard. They would take care of you somewhat if you worked well.

Once, I and Yenta Seinfeld were standing in a freight car. Along the whole length of the connected train was a high fence. And behind it stood imprisoned Russians. Yenta began to converse with a Russian prisoner and afterwards he gave her a little bit of soap and she gave him a couple of cigarettes. The person in charge, a Ukrainian, saw this, and ordered her to get out of the wagon and he shot her. She left behind a husband and two children who managed to hang on for a little bit longer and then they themselves were killed.

Later on they also took people from the train inspection to Konske-Volya, where there were only Jews, a kind of Jewish town. Each day they sent whole transports in that direction. When they got there they would shoot hem. They'd also chosen me and I was even in line there. But a train employee stuck his head out the window and said to the S. S., that I was a very useful woman, that I cooked and washed for the train employees, and saved my life.

I worked for a year in the train inspection during which the children worked in the Demblin camp. They tried to get the officials at the camp to have us sent over there, into the Demblin camp, so that we could all be together. Before Passover 1943, they sent us to the camp. Two weeks later, everybody who still remained at the train inspection was sent to Poniatow, there they were shot. Of all of those who worked at the train station, not a single individual remained.

I and my husband and children went to work everyday and together we were able to make it through the hell. But we thanked God that at least we were together.

Once, in the morning, my dear daughter Esther went out to work an very quickly she was brought back dead. I'll never forget that day. When I came back from work my husband, with the camp commander, was there to meet me. The camp commander told me what had happened and I immediately fainted. Dr. Kestenboim saved me through use of injections.

One day before the liberation my son Laibel was sent to Czenstechov, there they sent him to Germany, and after that, he never returned. They took them there in rail cars, packed in like beasts, with nothing to eat and nothing to drink until they just died.

[Page 466]

I was born in 1938
(The Story of a Demblin Jewish Child)

by Aba Bronspigel

Berlin, Mariendorf, March 19, 1947
(From the material of Yad Vashem, Jerusalem)

I was in a camp and I had stuff to eat. The camp was called Demblin. I was able to play in the camp. But when a camp officer arrived, my life was put at risk. I thought that they would take me and kill me. My father worked very hard work and my mother worked at a lighter job.

In the camp they hung people for nothing. I learned Polish there. The Germans came often and made searches. These were really, really strict searches. When the Russians approached the camp, the Germans sent me away to a second camp and it was very bad there. I had to hide many times during the course of the day. I worked there very hard at a variety of tasks. Some nights they would call us out for roll call. A child was born there who lives until today. The child's name is Hershela. The mother of the child wanted to strangle him. One night came when they told all the Jews to turn towards the wall and they, in the morning, took my two brothers and sent them away. It was a day before the liberation. At night they wanted to send all of the rest of the Jews away. They took us all into a building where there was storage for gasoline. At night the Russians came closer and they sent us back to the barracks. When it got really late at night, the Russians entered the town and there wasn't a German to be seen.

* Today – Rabbi and head of the yeshiva in Brooklyn, New York

[Pages 467-472]

Tales of a Survivor

by Chaya Zilberberg-Weinberg, Montreal

Until the Outbreak of the War

My father told me that he was born in Bobrownik, 7 kilometers from Demblin. In the city, there was a fortress where there were a lot of military people and the Jews used to service them with food and clothes and shoes and that's how they let them make their living.

In Demblin there were Jewish contractors / undertakers, craftsmen, storekeepers, butchers and brokers. The older Demblin Jews were very pious Hasidim and of course Demblin had the Modzjitzer Rabbi who was very well known for being a great scholar, composer and teacher. But the youth was very interested in socialism and Zionism.

In 1905 all the big cities in Czarist Russia had experienced a revolutionary outbreak. Workers went on strike and marched with red banners crying out “Down with the Czar”. Also in Demblin the work places shut down and the workmen demanded their rights.

The strike was organized by Dembliner students who fought for human rights. They found their way to prison quite a bit. And some of them were sent by the Czar to Siberia. The Jewish students were Barrish Eisenmesser (his daughter Feley Puterman lives today in Israel). He was a student of medicine and after he became a doctor and worked in Leningrad. My Uncle Shlomo Zilberberg had two doctorates and today is an instructor in Leningrad in the University. Schmelzstein was a student who died young of Tuberculosis.

During the First World War, the Russians retreated and the Germans took over. Then after that, Poland of course became independent. The Germans left. I was a little girl at that time and just beginning to go to school and since there was no Jewish school to go into, I went into a Polish school.

There were quite a few of us Jewish students and we suffered a lot at the hands of our gentile schoolmates. They hated Jews and they made us feel it and hurt us quite a bit.

But aside from the anti-Semitism, the life of Jews between the two World Wars was quite rich with social activity. Demblin had all the different Jewish parties, a Jewish school, two banks, free loan service, a free clinic founded by Yarme Vanapol and he gave a lot of effort and care and worry to this situation.

This is a good time to remember the very wonderful friend of the Jews, Dr. Zochatzkt, who worked along with Vanapol in his clinic.

Yarme Vanapol was a very dear and caring Jew. He cared for people free, without demanding any money. Anti-Semitic Poles squealed on him and accused him of being a spy for the Russians so that at the beginning of September, 1939, when the Second World War broke out, he and his wife Anna were sent to the horrible Polish camp of Kartuz-Bereza where they perished.

Bitter Times for Jewish Demblin

When the Germans came into town that's when the really bitter times began for Jews. I and my child, my parents, sisters and brothers went into the Sobyeshin forest in order to try and hide. However, the Polish bandits made a practice of attacking and robbing the Jews that they encountered in the forest. So we decided we better go back to Demblin. The city then was completely under the control of the villains. The Jewish businesses had been taken over by gentiles. The Germans managed to appropriate everything that was worth anything, any kind of valuable objects or merchandise. They made people go to forced labor.

A little time later, in one of the narrow streets, they created the Jewish ghetto. We went there one rainy day. My child (daughter) became very sick, diphtheria had arrived in the camp and everything got a lot worse. I risked my life, left the ghetto, and went to bring a doctor. Things like that were absolutely forbidden. If they caught you outside the ghetto they would just shoot you on the spot and that's exactly how a son of Meir Aranyak was shot to death. I didn't care about the danger, and I was determined to save my child. I made my way to the gentile doctor Gelber and he agreed to come back with me and thanks to Dr. Gelber the child was saved.

Two years later, when we were in the camp by the station, Dr. Gelber risked his life again by coming into help Nesan Vanapol who was extremely sick. I remember that then on that occasion, the Ukrainians and German gendarmes surrounded the barracks. We were sure that now we were going to die. The doctor himself was quite desperate. “I'm going to be shot like a dog. My wife and my child won't even know what happened to me.” I saw Dr. Gelber again in the camp at Shultzen, he was helping a sick Avrom Shilenger. Later, he died. The wife of Dr. Gelber was terrified and she went to the barbed wire to wait for her husband. The doctor was a great democrat, a great friend of Jews, and a wonderful physician. The anti-Semites though, ratted on him, said that he was a Jew and the Nazis murdered him.

The situation in the ghetto became frighteningly bad. There was a terrible hunger. People were dying from typhus and other kinds of diseases. The Nazis emptied all of the Jewish houses in the ghetto of everything they could get their hands on. Any valuables, any possessions, any clothes. And sadistically they beat and murdered Jewish women, old people and children. In this brutal work these people really distinguished themselves: the folksduetche, Edec, and the vicious German Peterson and Knophadayder.

The Round-Up

The 6 th of May, 1942 was the first round-up of Demblin Jews. They drove hundreds of hungry, sick Jews out of their houses, beat them, pushed them into overcrowded rail cars and sent them to the death camp in Sobibor. They never came back from there.

The young men were driven to forced labor at the Demblin airfield and the train station. I and my family succeeded for the time being in hiding ourselves. The ghetto in Demblin during the first round-up was emptied of many Jews, but later on the city was fully packed again because in the place of those that they deported, the Germans brought in thousands of Jews from Slovakia. The situation was absolutely horrible, the overcrowding and lack of sanitation caused lots of typhus and death.

The second round-up came on the 15 th of October, 1942. During the second round-up, they murdered hundreds of Jews, young and old, men and women.

I, my child, my mother and a few other women succeeded in getting into Mayontek Vientshkov on a temporary basis to work. But we didn't remain there very long because on the 28 th of October, 1942, very late at night, the S. S. man Wagner let us know that he needed to take us to the Jewish town of Konske-Volye where we would be safe. I understood at that point that he was trying to hoodwink us.

I jumped through the Window

When the villains encountered a woman or mother with her child, they would regularly, in a bestial way, murder the child before the mother's eyes, and then they would kill the mother. This I was never going to let myself live through. And so, leaving my dear mother, Shayndela, I threw myself out the window and being sure that we would both be shot. But after me, the children of my husband's brother, Sonya and Nachman, jumped out after me and also Tzertzah's fiancée. Luckily under the fence there, there weren't any gendarmes around. All that we had, we had left behind us in the courtyard. Sitting there in deathly fright, barefoot and half naked, I heard how they led out my mother and the other women. I went back to get something for my child and already there were some Poles standing around there and they warned that the S. S. man wasn't very far away and if I hung around I was going to get shot. In terrible fear, I grabbed the child in my arms and began to make my way to Demblin, not knowing if I'd find one Jew left in the city. My child fell asleep in my arms, my heart wept with pity each minute death threatened us because the Poles knew and could have turned us in to the gendarmes. I was very, very preoccupied with the fate of my poor mother.

I came to a farm stall and I met there a peasant who I didn't know before. I laid my child on the ground, I was extremely afraid that he peasant would discover us. It was dark when I set out again, trembling at the barking of the dogs, and hoped that hey wouldn't wake up the peasants.

A good peasant who lived not far from Krukovke in a little colony took my child in his arms and led us to a windmill in an old suburb. We went into Weingelechen, and from there Robert took us to the gates of the camp, not far from Dr. Zochatzky. At the gate there were corpses of several Jews lying around. It seemed that they wanted to get into the camp, the gate was locked and they shot them. We succeeded in getting in. My child and I were able to sneak to the train station where my family was. The barracks at the station didn't have any windows or doors and it wasn't heated and any Lithuanian, Ukrainian, Pole or German all had the right to kill us on the spot. Winter was horribly cold, and they use to come in with wagons, and load up all the sick people and send them to Konske-Volye. Rudolf, Zygert, Peterson and other sadists used to manage to shoot quite a few people every day. We were terribly hungry and sick there. On one bitterly cold day they took my two little sisters, young, blossoming children. I wanted to go to them, but the children started to cry and begged that I should go away because the Ukrainians would shoot me. In Koske-Volye they kept them in open, unheated houses.

And soon, all kinds of diseases started to break out. My little sisters became sick with typhus from lying on the bare ground. The older one, Perla, who was 16 years old, died. The younger one, Esther, was lying hugging her, not even knowing that her sister was already dead. Later on, we succeeding in getting Esther back to the strain station and she told us hideous things that happened at Konske-Volye.

Besides my personal suffering, I saw terrible pain and cruelty at the station.

The 14 th of July, 1943, there was a deportation to Poniatov. At 12 noon, the S. S. came with machine guns, gave an order that we should get ready to travel. Knowing that my son, Yuna was more threatened that I was by death, within eyesight of the S. S., I tore through the barbed wire and I and my child, both covered with blood, succeeded in getting into the house of a Christian acquaintance near the station. We weren't able to stay there very long because the gentile was afraid that the gendarmes would find us and kill them for hiding Jews. Not having any place to go, I decided to go to the rich peasant, Stachorsky, who lived in the same town as my family, the town of Tsherniov not far from Lugov. He had helped Jews, given them food to eat without demanding anything in return. The anti-Semites squealed on him to the gendarmes who hung him with his family in Demblin.

Stachorsky's address was given to me by the leader of the public school, Skovransky, who was a great democrat and a friend of Jews. Later, he, two weeks before the liberation, was murdered by the A.K. in the sight of his wife. This was told to me by Vladeyslav Yarashek, a poor bricklayer, who gave his last bit of bread from his own mouth to Jews. Later he died in 1945 of tuberculosis.

I went away with my child to the Katlavneyah, near the camp, actually, to the airport. And there I was able to meet with my husband and my brother Feivel who had succeeded in running away from the station. My two sisters, Revkelah and Esterlah, and my brother-in-law, Baruch Perelman, from Pulaw, along with all the Jews from the station, had been sent away to Poniatov and they never came back from there. The 3 rd of November, 1943, Poniatov and Travneykey were destroyed.

Good People Help Us

In the camp, at the airfield, we didn't dare remain very long, because we weren't legal. The same night we spent in the field of rye and we were shot at by Ukrainians. Luckily, the bullets missed and before dawn, with our hearts beating, we went back to the Katlavneyah because we had a place to hide. I remember that the woman, Edjsha Ekheizer, brought us something to eat, but because of our great sorrow, we couldn't eat knowing that each minute death was coming closer.

The wife of Doctor Paris came in. She wanted to calm us down and said that people in the camp asked the director of the camp to intervene with the German authorities an let us come in. She also gave me the address of the Pole who she said would take us in if it really got bad in the camp. She, with her husband and daughter, if they were able to, would also go there. At the same time, the director of the camp came with good news that we were going to be allowed to come in. In the camp in Demblin we stayed for a year, we didn't have any money, we were half naked and barefoot, but good people helped us. And a deeply felt thanks comes to the wife of Chaim Teichman for her humane treatments.

In the Dembliner camp, we stayed until the 18 th of July, 1944. When the Soviets approached the Vistula, the camps inhabitants were moved in two groups to Czenstechov. In the first group, were 15 children, and these children were murdered, thanks to the brutality of the German Bartenschlager. And a great deal of culpability in this event rests with the director of the camp, a German Jew by the name of Yoles. The second group, in which there were 30 children, they took away to liquidate, and for two days and nights the children were in terrible fear, but after that, they gave them back to us. And why the Nazis didn't kill them and return them I don't know until this day.

In Czenstechov we remained until the 15 th of January, 1945, when the Red Army liberated us. A day before that, the Germans deported 800 Jews to Buchenwald. Among those deported, were my husband, my father and my brother.

In the last days of the War, they sent my father on a death march, and along the way, they drove the Jews into a river. And coming out of the river, my father died. My husband and brother avoided the death march, because they were so sick and swollen with hunger. They remained in Buchenwald until the Americans and English soldiers liberated them.

And finally the end of the horrible War came. My husband and brother came back from Buchenwald. We lived in Lodz, and after that we left Poland. Now we live in Montreal, Canada.

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