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[Page 369]

The Shoah


[Pages 396-405]

A Small Child's Revenge,
Even Satan Has Not Yet Devised

by Chana Bursztajn, Ramat Gan

Translated by Leonard Levin

Night. My cheeks burned, and my whole body was feverish. Only, as usual, I was stretched out on the floor, which served as my bed. The cold, transmitted from the ground, penetrated my body, yet I felt hot, too hot. The little straw spread on the floor did not assuage my discomfort. My eyes didn't close all night-such a long night! I tossed and turned from side to side in an effort to free myself from a feeling that oppressed me-but in vain. When the dawn broke, I hastened to get up. I ran barefoot to the river to wash my hands (by strict order of my “aunt,” who forbade me to prepare food with unwashed hands). After a few minutes had passed, I got up on a small chair in order to set the coffeepot on the stove for the family breakfast. Silence reigned in “my” house. Everyone was enveloped in sleep, and I alone was awake and walking around in the kitchen. Heat and cold attacked me alternately, and my teeth were chattering. My lips and throat were dry, and I was dying to quench my thirst, which came and went. The pleasant and enticing smell of coffee wafted into my nostrils. It was so very hard to withstand it! Countless times I was filled with a strong desire to taste it, only just one sip!-but I didn't dare. But once I heard the mooing of the cows in the barn, a sign that it was time for me to go and feed them, I couldn't restrain myself any more, and I had a taste of coffee. The beverage was like a reviving drug to me, and I had another sip of it. With an intoxicating sense of light-headedness, I tried to continue drinking, no matter what the danger-but at that moment a strong blow descended on my cheeks, which were burning anyway. Stars danced before my eyes. I fell unconscious onto the floor, with all the weight of my emaciated body.

When I came to, I felt a terrible burning pain on my back. I had black-and-blue marks on my hands from the blows I had endured. Fortunately, I had not felt them at the time of attack, nor had I heard the crude voice of the head of the family, Adamowicz, my “benefactor.” Still half-naked, with tears streaming from my eyes and choking my thought, I said to myself, “Am I not a good Christian, like all the Christians? Why do they humiliate me and beat me, while as for the other children, their mothers…what? And for that matter, why do I call Zofia ‘Auntie’?” This question continued from that point to guide my ruminations, but I never got an answer.

One day, when “Auntie” Zofia had guests-and on such occasions, she was ashamed to show me the favor of her strong hands-I mustered my courage and presented my question, which had not ceased to trouble me. With a mocking smile she said to me, “Your mother is in heaven!” and went back to the guests. I was too young to understand the sting in her words. Somehow this answer provided me with some comfort. The very mention of the word “mother” shocked me, passing a warmth through my whole body, so that I longed for her all the more. In my naiveté I thought that I, like my other friends, would someday enjoy a mother's warm kisses, even though “for the time being” she was “somewhat” distant from me and was to be found in that wondrous world-in heaven.

Two years passed. The war was still at its height, and the cannons were “working” at full force. As was the Germans' habit, they wreaked devastation among the inhabitants, especially among the Jews.

One day we saw fiery flames behind the fence of our farm. “Auntie!” I called. “What is it?” she asked angrily. I pointed in the direction of the flames. Auntie dashed outside, with me following her. A frightening spectacle greeted my eyes, the likes of which I had never seen! Our neighbors' farm was engulfed in flames, and nearby we saw the Gestapo (“may their name be blotted out,” whispered my aunt furiously; “they set fire to the farm.”) My “aunt” was pained at their coming here but was also incensed at me, as if they had come only on my account.

She put on an act, as if she shared in their rejoicing, and approached the Germans. They spoke with her, expressing sadistic pleasure at what was happening. One of them took me in his arms and gave me a piece of chocolate. I couldn't tear my eyes away from the horrible spectacle. Behind the windows of the house, surrounded with flames, I saw our neighbor, with disheveled hair and terrified, holding her tender baby in her arms. She pleaded bitterly before the Germans, that they might spare the baby. They mocked her and “promised” to spare the child. When the woman recognized my “aunt,” she pleaded with her, too, to have compassion on the fruit of her womb, but my aunt did not dare to intervene. Although I was young, I had a sense that this was not the right time for me to ask questions. I understood the situation of my “aunt,” who was not able, or perhaps had no desire, to respond to the poor woman's request. At that moment, one German stretched out his crude hand and grabbed the baby. The woman thanked him. Now she could go meet her death, and she turned in the direction of the great conflagration. She stopped for a moment and turned her head in the direction of her dearest one, blowing her a last kiss, with a smile of happiness on her face. In full faith that her death would serve as a ransom for her child, she walked serenely into the fire. When her hair and clothes caught fire, she emitted a fearful cry, which did not persist.

The raucous laughter of the Germans was their answer to the woman's bitter death. In the crude noise of their voices was submerged a weaker voice-the crying of the baby. I summoned all my energies to stop the flood of my tears. Several times, when I saw frightful sights, I was commanded by my “auntie” not to show any sign of pain but to imitate the Germans and put on a smiling face, as she did this time.

We stood for a long time beside what was left of our neighbors' farm. The fire flickered, and only one wall remained. The Germans carried on a lively conversation with Zofia, but the baby, who never stopped crying, annoyed them.

Suddenly we heard the voice of the German: “Do you want to see a show? Here's an opportunity!” He grabbed the baby by the legs and approached the burning embers of the last wall. He waved his arms, and with all his strength he threw her at the wall. The head of the baby turned into a mess of flesh and bones!-the crying was silenced!-the annoying voice was no more!

All that day the horrible spectacle flashed before my eyes. At one time, I would see the mother, wrapped in flames. At another time, I would see her blowing her final kiss to her child. At that moment I was seized with feelings of jealousy. But these were quickly cut off when the last act of the spectacle appeared: the German transforming the tender body into a shapeless mass of flesh.

Night again. The heavens were shrouded as if in a black cloak. Far away, a small star twinkled and smiled suggestively at me, filled with light, radiant and pure-there stood my mother. Her dress was white as snow, and the gentle breeze was transmitting her bright tresses my way.

I fell on the ground, face forward. My eyes were closed, and my hands were clasped in prayer. Suddenly my mother disappeared. In her place appeared the woman and her baby, wrapped in flames-and my body shuddered feverishly…

[Pages 404-405]

With Aryan Papers to Germany

by Zahava Lebowicz

Translated from Yiddish by Miriam Leberstein

The accursed decrees that were poured upon us, day after day, throughout the war-years, and particularly in the last two months of the existence of the Jewish community in the area, tightened the noose of strangulation around us and made clear in no uncertain terms what was going to happen.

My oldest brother Tzvi, who was an outstanding communal leader with much experience in organizational work in the Zionist Youth movement in the area, kept continually in touch with the Jews of Warsaw, knew what was happening there, and sought to the best of his ability to bring the bitter truth to the awareness of our community, especially among the youth. While sharing his knowledge with the youth, he demanded that they organize and establish underground defense cells. They should not allow the Germans to lead them to slaughter as they had done-according to the knowledge he had-to the Jews in all the conquered territories. But even after the hostile attitude of the “progressive” Polish underground had become known, and after it had been clarified beyond any doubt that there was no possibility to translate into deeds the burning desire to organize with armed force against the despicable murderers and their henchmen-even then he did not bow to fate but turned to the forest, he and his brothers-Yonah, Benjamin, and David-with him. With Yonah's help, Tzvi also acted on behalf of me and my sister Sarah, to acquire Aryan papers for us, in order to transfer us to Germany for work.

In November 11, 1942, three days after the destruction of the community, I set out on my way. In those days we still hoped that with the onset of winter the second front would be opened,[1] the front we so longed for, and as a result the war would be over quickly, and the lost children would return to the bosom of their families. Could anyone at that time entertain the absurd notion that this cursed war would continue for two and a half more years?

The gentile in whose charge I was placed, to bring me to the train traveling to Germany, gave me a chain with the picture of the Virgin Mary and a copy of the New Testament. In the train, which was filled from end to end with peasants returning from Staszów to their villages, laden with looted Jewish possessions, I traveled back and forth for several days until eventually I debarked at Częstochowa. While walking on the street there, I met a woman who promised me work, an alluring notion. Still, I found this devoutly Christian city, with the picture of the Virgin Mary looking down from the mountain, repulsive to me. To add to the pain, the task of educating a four-year-old girl was beyond my capacity, even though I knew the prayers by heart. I therefore left Częstochowa and set out for Warsaw. On a cold, dark night I arrived at the former capital, without knowing where or to whom I should turn. When I saw a group of young women going to a hotel, I joined them. I didn't close an eye all night, so great was my fear and anticipation. But the next day I took courage and went, as a Polish woman with the name Władysława Sowa, to the employment office at 68 Nowy Œwiat. As pale as chalk and trembling like a leaf I approached the office clerk. He seemed to sense my nervousness but accepted me courteously and soothed me with the words, “Don't be afraid, girl! Travel to Germany, and when the war is over, we will still be here.” I slowly regained my self-confidence and traveled to Prague to a transit camp. In a large group of women and girls, I belonged as one of them. From Prague they sent me on the train to Germany; we were closely guarded until we reached the Reich. In Germany began a long series of transports from camp to camp, disinfections, questions, lists, documents and the like. Eventually I arrived at my assigned place-to Gera in Thuringia. It is strange, but a fact, that in the hated land of Germany I mustered more confidence and started quietly and patiently to adapt to the new conditions. It is certainly the case that the huge, fortified camp, the long line for receiving food, the bunk beds, the people who were completely strange to me, both physically and spiritually, the din of the giant machines in the screw-factory where I worked, the rasping voices of the Germans who supervised us, and the grinding twelve-hour work shifts, both day and night-surely, all this strange, dread-inspiring world made a depressing and fearful impression on me. But I took it all in and tried to enlist all my spiritual and bodily strength in order to accustom myself to the new situation, with all the pain and hardship that it entailed.

Only one thing disturbed my peace of mind, namely the fear that other Poles might recognize me. It was a fear that pursued me as long as I was there.

In the mean time, my brothers succeeded after two months in arranging the journey of my sister Sarah to Germany. I maintained connection with my brothers at “home” and with my sister in Germany. But fate was cruel to us, and there soon began to arrive the mournful news of my brothers who fell, one by one, at the hands of the murderers. At first Tzvi fell, then Yonah, and later also Benjamin and David. Our sorrow and pain was compounded by the fact that Tzvi and Yonah fell by the hand of the “progressive” Polish “ally,” the teacher Widowiak. Despite the deep depression into which I was cast by the tragic death of my dear brothers, it was utterly forbidden for me to reveal what was in my heart to anyone, to cry or even to let out a sigh, so that no one might suspect and reveal my true identity-the terrible “sin” of a Jewish girl who was posing as a pure “Aryan” in order to save her life, to which she had lost all right by virtue of the jungle law of the New Order. Only eight months later, when my sister Sarah came to visit me, posing as my friend, with the name Marianna Sadowska, we went outside the city together (it was Sunday, our day off), and there we let out what was pent up in our hearts, crying bitterly for hours over our fate and the fate of Jews generally.

Meanwhile, the months and years passed, with melancholy slowness. The Allied bombers now started to pay regular visits on Germany, with the result that our living conditions became more difficult and extreme day by day. The more desolate our conditions, the more we needed to exercise maximal caution and restraint, not to let slip a stray thought or complaining word.

The results of our bodily and mental afflictions were not long in coming. Gradually my strength ebbed, and apathy to our unavoidable fate took charge of my whole being. The sense of satisfaction of the approaching end of the war and the certain defeat, apparent now to all, of the Germans, who had wrought the awful crime of unprecedented murder on an entire innocent people, was mingled with the bitter sense that our end was also a near possibility. Who would guarantee that our eyes would merit to see the longed-for day, when we could see justice done against the nation of murderers and their helpers, the scum of the earth, our neighbors?

To our further misfortune, in the end our true identity was revealed-a fact that was certainly caused in part by the let-down of tension and a sensation beyond despair that gnawed in our bones-and we both, I and my sister, fell in the trap and were taken to the prison of the Gestapo.

We spent close to a month in the cellar of the Gestapo, undergoing interrogation accompanied by bodily and psychological torture, fearing every day and every hour that we would be taken out and killed.

A short time after the liberation I managed to leave Europe, drenched with Jewish blood, and was privileged to be among the first Jewish immigrants to come to the Land of Israel.


  1. This did not come until a year and a half later, on D-Day, June 6, 1944. Return

[Pages 406-416]

A Memorial for Those Who Have No Memorial

by Elchanan Erlich

Translated Leonard Levin

Reb [1] Chaim Albaum

The eternal fire of love of Israel burned in the heart of this dear and well–tempered Jew all his days. He was devout in the Jewish Torah and everything that it implied, to the point of zealousness that knew no compromise, and yet he tended to kindness and mercy toward every Jew as such. This precious quality was a lamp to his feet and a sacred principle all the days of his life–like Hillel, he regarded the whole Torah as consisting of this one principle, to which everything else was commentary.

He worked constantly for Agudas Israel, of which he was one of the chief founders, and was active in the religious institutions that it established, such as the Beys Yosef Yeshiva and the Daf Yomi lectures, and its economic institutions such as the Kupiecki [Mercantile] Bank.

Even so, he did not leave untended a single field of activity in which Torah Judaism was concerned, and he was zealous for all matters small and great in whatever pertained to him and the members of his household–all his actions were done not only with the strength of his spirit burning for the sanctities of religion and faith but also out of integrity and exemplary patience.

Except for two daughters in Israel, he perished with the rest of his family.

Hindel Troper

A woman of valor, the widow of her esteemed husband, Reb Dan Troper. She ran the fabrics store that was famous in the city and in the area. She was energetic and enterprising. She was assisted by her lovely and well–educated daughters. She did not neglect the traditions of her husband and parents.

She continued to maintain her household in style and dignity, in accordance with the spirit of the society and surroundings, with an added measure of culture–as befitting the daughters of Israel who had tasted of the beauty of Hellas.

The two younger daughters survived as of the time of this writing (1963), whereas she and the two elder daughters perished in the Shoa.

Reb Jehoszua Binsztok

A smart Jew and honored householder. He was among those who frequented the house of the late Reb Dawid Teomim. He was knowledgeable in the “small letters” of the Talmud and also had a developed musical sense. He regularly led the Shaharit [morning] service on High Holy Days in the Gerer Hasidic shtibl [Hasidic synagogue]. [2]

He perished in the Shoa with his entire family.

Mendel Boguchwal [3]

A young man of Jewish learning who was attracted by the spirit of the times. He was a member of Mizrachi and participated diligently in all current problems that were matters of debate in the Mizrachi world and the Jewish world generally. Before going into business, he was to be counted among the Mizrachi teachers. He was well accepted in society because of his easy disposition and cordial manner.

He left no trace.

Mordechai Dyzenhaus “the Lesser” [4]

Although he was not counted among those of social status in origin, he succeeded in joining the society of “sheyne Yidn” (“Jews of refinement”) out of the will to take a place as a householder among the Jewish people.

He was a successful merchant and fulfilled all the practical mitzvot with his body and soul, including hospitality to guests, visiting the sick, and more. He was active in the Linas Tzedek society [5] and also distributed charity to the poor.

No remnant is left of him.

Reb Mordechai Rozenbaum

He was of those who fulfilled the saying “When you eat the fruit of your labors, you will be happy and it will be well with you” (Ps. 128:2). He was pious and upright.

Except for a son in Israel, he perished with the rest of his family.

Reb Chaim Bomsztik

Wholehearted with God and his fellow man, he was the man who would not depart even by a hair from the path that was trod from previous generations. He fulfilled with all his heart and soul the injunction “Guard your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking guile” (Ps. 34:14). Day and night he engaged assiduously in Torah study and prayer. His sons also perpetuated the ancestral tradition. He served for many years as a Gabbai of the Chevra Kadisha. [6]

He perished in the Shoa.

Reb Szmuel Chelimer

A householder and well esteemed, among the active members of the Agudah and a member of the board of the Kupiecki Bank.

Abusz Goldhar

A sharp–witted young man, industrious and well educated. Thanks to his pleasant demeanor, his understanding, and his developed sense of reality, he succeeded over many years in getting established, together with his well–chosen partner in the leather business, Josef Nechemia Ginzburg.

Possessed of a sense of humor, the two complemented each other marvelously. In short, they were two of a kind. They were well accepted in the group of their many acquaintances and even outside it.

No remnant is left of them.

Majer Goldhar

The son of Reb Velvel Goldhar (may his blood be avenged). Quiet and moderate in his demeanor, honest and modest, he eked out a living as a glazier. He knew how to read a Jewish book [7] and sometimes occupied himself that way. He did not mingle much with people, but he was content to work patiently at supporting his large family in a four–by–four–meter apartment, never complaining about his hard lot.

Except for one surviving son, he and his family perished in the Shoa.

Reb Andzel Rzezak

A proficient scholar and a man of sharp intelligence and wit. Pleasant of demeanor and modest, retreating into the woodwork. The cares of earning a livelihood, which was not to be had in abundance, did not stop him from setting regular times to study Torah on his own and imparting it to students without monetary payment. The happy combination of wide erudition, the ability to analyze Talmudic arguments between the lines to their depth, and a gift for illuminating explanation gave great joy to those who listened to his expositions.

It is about three and a half decades since I had the pleasure of this dear Jewish man's Torah learning. To this day I remember clearly the study of such topics as the rule of majority and minority, legal possession, prohibited and permitted, and the like–accompanied by the sight of several folio volumes stacked on the table. This wonderful feeling of plunging into the sea of the Talmud, with a gifted and friendly guide standing at your side, remains engraved on my memory throughout my life, for which I am deeply grateful.

His sons, too, Abramche and Majer, were blessed with sharp minds and continued the ancestral legacy.

Alas for those who are no more!

Reb Leibel Horowicz and his wife Tzila

He was a maskil [8] and knew how to read a book but was dreadfully poor his entire life. He was humble and of a modest demeanor. He was a devoted reader of the newspapers, including Hatzefirah, [9] and would pass on what he read to his small circle of acquaintances without any hint of pretension.

His son, Israelke Horowicz, was like a chip off the old block. Like his father, he took an interest in and absorbed whatever was happening in the world. He was a member of the local chapter of the Zionist Organization.

Of the whole family, there remains one survivor in Israel.

Reb Jehoszua Kifel (of Raków)

His livelihood from the flour and produce business was not abundant, and he supported his household and family with difficulty. On the other hand, he readily fulfilled any mitzvah that came his way, toward which he was “fleet as a deer and strong as a lion to fulfill the will of his Father in Heaven.” [10] He was counted among the most esteemed lay prayer leaders in the city.

It is told of him that, on the day of the liquidation of the Jewish community, he did not go out to the square but donned his tallit and tefillin and received the Nazi murderers in that attire, to die while sanctifying God's name.

Mendel Dyzenhaus

A quiet and goodhearted young man who continued the way of his father, Reb Jakob Dysenhaus in the shoemaking business, as well as in his readiness for any matter of tzedakah and charitable service. He was cordial to all and contributed generously to all the Zionist funds.

No trace is left of him.

Reb Szmuel Goldfeder

He kept a tavern that served as a meeting place for a large part of the city's intelligentsia; other matters, including important public concerns, were decided there.

His son, Mordechai Goldfeder, was counted among the active members of the left Poalei Zion and was a member of the town council because of his party connection.

A son and daughter survive in Israel.

Reb Naftali Szoor

He was a devout and zealous Jew, who did not omit the jot of a yod. [11] He saw in Hasidism, not Talmud study, the be–all and end–all of life's meaning and was devoted to it for as long as he lived.

He was survived by a son and a daughter.

Reb Dawid Goldfeder

Owner of a hardware store and a pillar of the city, he sold to everyone, great or small. He was a simple Jew and unpretentious. He was not distinguished in learning or piety, nor did he take an interest in communal affairs. But he was honest to a fault. He avoided controversy, and no one ever saw him lose his temper.

He was survived by a son; he perished in a bunker.

Reb Mosze Zylbersztajn

A Jew who was regarded as a lightweight by the sheyne Yidn, but he was a man of integrity, proper and cordial to everyone and treated everyone like a mensch. He was well mannered and presentable. He spoke quietly and politely and never raised his voice.

He was a member of Mizrachi from its founding and contributed generously and willingly to its funds, to Zionist fundraising drives, and to various charitable institutions.

Except for his son and daughter in Canada, who left Staszów many years before the Shoa, the entire family perished.

Reb Betsalel Tenenwurcel

He was one of the great shoemakers in the town. He was devoted heart and soul to his wife Chaya, the daughter of Reb Jakob Dysenhaus, and to his children.

No remnant is left of him.

Reb Majer Taubenblat

Were it not for the traditional Jewish confidence and the deep faith that God will have mercy and everything will turn out for the best, the situation of Reb Majer would not be at all easy. Saddled with the cares of a large family with a meager livelihood would have broken stronger men than he. But Reb Majer'le was not a man to be discouraged. He lived by the motto “Even if a sharp knife is laid on a man's throat, he should not despair of God's mercy,” and he conducted his relations with this world on its basis. Indeed, with a mighty spirit he devoted every spare hour to studying the Talmudic literature. He especially put his trust in the Zohar and the kabbalah generally, and he displayed deep knowledge in this area.

He was scrupulous about every jot and tittle, and his Sabbath and holiday meals, with all the traditional songs sung in chorus with his large family, were famous. When he sat in the Sukkah in the company of his neighbors, who were older than he, he was the first to recite the Kiddush, which he held forth in his sweet voice, with a lilting melody and great festivity, and it seemed the most natural thing. It was natural for him to be counted among the “refined Jews,” but he was no fanatic, and his ears were open to anything from outside.

Except for his son, who emigrated before the war, no trace is left of his family.

Reb Alter Eliahu Erlich

A Gerer Hasid and a member of Agudas Israel from its founding, he was not one of the fanatics. He tended to be influenced by the new spirit, especially thanks to his son Chaimel, a young man who combined traditional and modern learning.

Especially with Reb Asher Nussbaum, he was a Gabbai of the Shemiras Layla Society, [12] and in this capacity he was incomparably efficient and quick to assist. He was amazing in offering prompt aid, and people turned to him for help in every emergency. He was not wealthy, and the living he made in caretaking and related matters was modest. But his house was open to every guest, whom he would greet as if he had found a treasure. Occasionally in need of borrowing for his own needs, he would beam in happiness when he had the opportunity to pay back what he owed and more.

He loved friends and intellectual jokes. His home served as a meeting place for the members of his town (Wiślica [Vayslits]) and others, such as Reb Icek Moncnik (a man of learning and irrepressible humor), Reb Moszele Pomerancblum (who was elegant and full of the most hilarious and entertaining stories), Reb Israelke Weicman (a great scholar and enchanting prayer leader), and others.

Except for a son in Israel, he perished with the rest of his family.

Szlomo Flajszhakier

Influenced by the spirit of modern times, he belonged to the supporters and members of the Zionist Organization. He was pleasant to all, quiet, and devoted with every fiber of his being to his wife and children. He made a good living from his booth in the marketplace. He participated in all charitable enterprises, not counting his regular contributions to the Zionist funds.

He left no trace.

Fajwel Hautman

A smart young man, full of life. He supported a well–arranged and proper house from his hard work as a tanner. He was gracious to others, and a smile never left his lips. A healthy sense of humor was an organic part of his character, and it attracted everyone who came into contact with him.

Aside from a daughter, whom he entrusted at the age of two to one of his Polish acquaintances in the city and who now lives in Canada, he perished with the rest of his family in Poniatów.

Saul Sztajnhart

A young man, a son of Torah and of good disposition, he was pious and paid fine attention to every detail, as scrupulous in ethical interpersonal matters as to those between the individual and God. He lived by the maxim “Any Torah that does not go hand in hand with good manners is worthless.”

Though he was a member of Agudas Israel and one of its active supporters, he steered clear of any fanatical tendencies. He never secluded himself within the strict parameters of the party line. As his ears were tuned to anything new, he maintained personal and social relations even with his pronounced ideological opponents. He was a paragon of friendliness and a deep and engaging conversationalist. He was up front in greeting friends and acquaintances alike, always with a radiant, goodhearted smile on his face.

In October, 1942, he was swept up with the tide and traveled, together with about 300 other young men, the cream of the town, to the so–called labor camp of Skarżysko. The difficult working conditions, the miserable rations, and the cruelty of the murderous Polish foremen decided his fate.

He left no survivors.

Chaya Malka Segal

This woman of valor did not submit to fate when her father, Reb Josef Segal, died but ably continued to manage the large store of produce and eggs. Assisted by her sons and daughters, she maintained her household in abundance and honor, while distributing charity gifts left and right.

The whole family perished, except for one son and one daughter.

Reb Bejnisz Wajnberg

The owner of a tavern, which was run mainly by his wife, Perl. On the day of the liquidation, he found refuge in a bunker, but he later traveled to the so–called “Judenstaat” in Sandomierz [13] and shared the fate of the community there.

He is survived by two sons and a daughter.

Mosze Cytrynbaum

A young quiet man, a son of Torah, upright and of good disposition. As he was disposed to solitude, his presence was not felt in the society. He supported his family, including his elderly mother, in modest circumstances.

He left no survivors.

Velvel Cynamon

The owner of a hat making workshop at the corner of the town square and Długa [Long] Street, he derived his income from selling his wares locally on market day and by peddling them around the neighboring towns.

Except for one daughter, he perished with the rest of his family in the Shoa.

Widow of Abram Rizenberg

Earning a living from selling tobacco was not easy. She had to put in a lot of work before she succeeded, with difficulty, to balance her budget.

Except for one son, she and the rest of her family perished.

Reb Abram Baum

He was one of the town's shoemakers, a son of Torah and of pleasant disposition. He won many friends with his quiet and pleasant demeanor. He was a member of Agudas Israel, but not a fanatic. He came to Staszów from the village of Wiązownica [14] and earned a place of honor.

He left no survivors.

Eliahu Pomerancblum

A pillar of the community and one of the major produce merchants in the city. One of his sons, Jehiel, was active in the Zionist Organization and belonged to the Revisionist faction. After the liquidation, he hid in one of the villages in the area and was captured by Poles who turned him over to the Germans. The youngest, Majer, was shot and killed in the Omler labor camp in Staszów. [15]

He left no survivors.

The Rafałowicz Sisters

The devotion and close connectedness of these sisters is attested to by the fact that the two younger sisters refused adamantly to be married as long as their oldest sister was unmarried. In the end, they all remained single.

They perished in the Shoa.

Abramche Grosberg

A young man who owned a tailor shop, he was industrious and enterprising. His daughter, who was entrusted to a non–Jew before the liquidation, lives in Israel.

He and his wife perished in the Shoa.

Reb Eliahu Cukier

One of the most important Torah scholars in the city, he was a Gerer Hasid and a member of Agudas Israel. He was humble and modest, although he had an important position as one of the great lumber merchants in the area.

The maxim “Silence is a hedge for wisdom” was his guiding light. In matters of tzedakah, he fulfilled without protest the rule “Whoever puts out his hand, give to him.”

Except for a daughter, he perished with his whole family.

Reb Israelke Wajcman

This was a man of many talents. He was a great scholar with a rare ability to explain things. He was the number one prayer leader in the city and its environs. He was wise and a good counselor. He was an orator and a businessman. He was an active member in Agudas Israel and wholeheartedly devout for the sake of religion and Jewish sanctities. He was a Hasid–but did not neglect worldly matters. He had a handsome face and alert, sparkling eyes. He was a brilliant and sharp conversationalist. When the regular frequenters of the beit midrash ran into a difficult problem in their studies, the safest recourse for getting a clear, logical, and to–the–point explanation was Reb Israelke. He did not mumble, he did not beat around the bush with fancy argument, but he grabbed the ox by its two horns, and the matter became clear as day. There was no lack of sharp minds in the larger beit midrash, but there was nobody like him for common sense, penetrating logic, and especially clear, convincing explanation.

During the war, he was immersed for the most part in reading newspapers and chasing after any piece of news that could offer a ray of hope, comfort, and security for his brothers in distress. He was a regular guest in our house in those days and participated avidly in analyzing the political and military situation and its conjectural influence on our own situation and our chances for survival.

The piercing clarity of his utterances, his soft metallic voice, his transparent and logical analysis brought great spiritual joy for all those fortunate to be in his vicinity, even in those days of the pollution of the human spirit.

Except for his granddaughter, the daughter of Abramche Grosberg, who was rescued and lives in Israel, as mentioned above, he and all his family perished.

Reb Mosze Lieberman

A literate Jew, he was a good prayer leader and an expert chess player. His wife, Hinde Rajzel, daughter of Reb Jakob Dysenhaus, ran their shoemaking business with remarkable industry. Her daughter from her first marriage, Frieda Kopel, was a member of the Zionist Organization and the general–Zionist Hechalutz troop, and even made aliyah. But in 1939, the year that the war broke out, she returned and perished together with the whole family.

Reb Jakob Rosenberg

A faithful member of Mizrachi.

Except for one surviving son, he and his family perished.

Reb Getzel Rafałowicz

He owned a sewing shop and lived his whole life from the labor of his hands.

One daughter survives.

Reb Mendel Goldfarb

He was known for his important and devoted activities, organizing workers in the locale. He invested much time and energy to the charitable institutions.

He left no survivors.

Reb Alter Buchwald

A smart and upright Jews, he insisted forcibly on his own opinion but harbored no prejudices. A contrarian by nature, he was always ready to argue the opposite point of view.

Two daughters survived.

Israelisz Zelcer

A son of Torah, he was ready to battle with anyone who did not agree with him.

One daughter survived.

Reb Israel Hersz Graf

He lived by the fruit of his labor and was active in organizing workers.

Except for one son, he perished with the rest of his family.

Reb Leibel Glatsztajn

An industrious worker, a shoemaker, he sold his wares locally on market day and also in the neighboring towns.

Two sons and a daughter survived.

Reb Motel Witenberg

He was the owner of a sewing workshop, from which he made a healthy living.

Except for two daughters, he and the rest of his family perished.

Reb Josef Kestenberg

A devoted member of Mizrachi and one of its most loyal activists, he was a successful merchant who contributed and raised money for all Zionist fundraisers. He invested much labor in the Mizrachi school and in the Talmud Torah.

Four daughters survived in Israel.

Reb Zisman Groshauz

A loyal member of Mizrachi from its founding, he was an upright and proper householder, a Jew who radiated elation and got along well with people.

A son and daughter survived in Israel.

Elimelech Kukiełka

An intelligent young man, he was a member of Mizrachi, a maskil, and a successful merchant. His wife, Deborah, was an active member of WIZO (Women's International Zionist Organization).

He left no trace.

Reb Dawid Rosensztok

A Gerer Hasid and a member of Agudas Israel, he was literate and an expert Torah reader.

He is survived by three daughters, who left the killing field before the war, and two sons.

Reb Herszel Winer

He owned a leather shop in the Ratusz [Town Hall], among the largest in the city. He was one of the most important householders.

He is survived by two sons.

Majer Winer

A smart religious young man and diligent businessman, he was a captive admirer of Mizrachi and a generous supporter of all Zionist funds and activities. He arranged for his children to have a solid Zionist education. His daughter Chana, a lovely young woman–intelligent and wise–was one of the leaders of the local religious Hashomer [Zionist scouting] troop.

One son survived in Israel.

Jankel Rosencwajg

A young man who was a first–rate craftsman (a tailor) of fine appearance, he dressed impeccably. His manner of speech was calm and peaceful. He was counted among the first and most prominent “Europeans” in the town.

He left no survivors.

Chaim Tenenwurcel

He was a modest Jew who faded into the woodwork. He invested a great deal of labor and sweat until he succeeded, with difficulty, to earn his bread.

He left no trace.

Israel Eliezer Tenenbaum

A member of the Zionist Organization, he was not blessed with wealth, but he always knew how to manage, and he frequently came out on top.

His wife was active in WIZO.

Uprooted without a trace.

Widow of Abram Mordechai Solnik

All the children of the family defined themselves ideologically and belonged to the active members of the various local organizations.

Two daughters and a son survived.

Reb Akiwa Dunajec

He had a most developed sense of humor. One furtive glance sufficed, and his sharp eye discerned every exceptional movement or behavior. But he knew how to reconstruct such matters in an artistic and entertaining way.

He perished with his whole family.

Reb Benzion Gerszt

Like his father, the Moreh Tzedek, [16] he was also a sage and a great son of Torah. In normal times, he lived outside the town. But in the time of Nazi persecution, he returned to his place of origin [in the town].

He perished with his whole family.

Reb Herszel Fuks

His work as an engraver was his life and the life of all his family members, and from it he eked out a living. He dealt honestly with God and his fellow men. His daughter was a member of the Zionist Organization.

He left no survivors.

Reb Chaim Rosenberg

An active member of Mizrachi, he contributed and raised money for its funds and was not stingy when it came to charitable institutions generally. His children belonged to the local Zionist organizations.

Two sons survived him.

Reb Icek Mendel Mandelzys

He earned his bread by the work of his hands. He was expert in the small letters of the Talmud and humble in his demeanor.

Except for one son in Israel, he and the rest of the family perished.

Reb Szmuel Goldfarb

A local veteran of Mizrachi, he was to be counted among the important scholars in the town. His small talk was generally infused with saying of the rabbis and the Midrash. He was easygoing and well accepted among the devout and even found a common language with those who took another direction.

He was survived by four daughters in Israel and one in France.

Chaim Nuta Erlichman

He was of the Hasidim of Radzyń [Rodzin]. He prayed in the shtibl of the Gerer Hasidim and was an active member of the Agudas. Dressing elegantly and presenting a fine appearance, he served as its representatives in its institutions, such as the Kupiecki Bank and others.

Except for a son in Diaspora, he perished with the rest of his family.

Rabbi Alter Eliezer Horowicz

He was the official rabbi of the community starting in 1936. He was a Jew of stature and striking appearance. He was of excellent lineage, belonging to the family of Rabbi Naftali of Ropczyce [Ropshits]. He tended toward stringency in his decisions on ritual law. This frequently gave rise to disagreements between him and the Moreh Tzedek [assistant rabbi], Reb Israel Gerszt, who tended toward leniency.

At shaleshudes [late Saturday afternoons], many of his friends and supporters would gather to hear his Torah teaching and to give the Sabbath Queen an escort [melaveh malkah] through soul–stirring songs. [17] These festive meals generally extended until late at night and afforded psychological release and spiritual exaltation to many Jews, who for the six days of the workweek were beset with the troublesome problems of earning a living and the like.

The rabbi's two beautiful and intellectual daughters mixed well with people and loved to engage in conversation with them. Their conversation, suffused with their Jewish learning, brought pleasure to their listeners and all the more to those with whom they conversed.

The rabbi and his son–in–law Raphael were outstanding prayer leaders, and their prayer on holidays was quite an event in the large Beit midrash.

The rabbi, the rebbetzin, their two daughters, and their son–in–law Mosze Rieman shared the fate of the entire community.

Reb Pintsze Nisengarten

He was literate, a Hasid, and his leading of prayers was pleasing to the ear. He was the right hand of the cantor, Israelke Wajzman, for whom he led the first part of the morning service (Shaharit).

He was a man of serene character, humble and cordial to great and small.

He was uprooted without a trace.

Reb Hersz Chaim Lustgarten

He was a quiet maskil, who never mixed with people. He earned his living by teaching youths of established households and from writing petitions in his marvelous handwriting to government institutions such as the court, the town hall, the executive officers, and the like.

No trace is left of his entire family.

Reb Szalom Broner

A bakery owner, he had difficulty earning a livelihood for his large family.

A daughter survived him.

Baruch Knobel

He was one of the town's maskilim and a great lover of conversation. He was good hearted, and his smile and his joy of life–even in his poverty–never left his face.

He left no survivors.

Reb Chaimel Sztrozenberg

A member of Mizrachi, he served his party loyalty.

A son survived him.

Lejbus Dajtelczwaig

A devout Jew, scrupulous in observance, he was a member of Agudas Israel.

A son survived him.

Reb Josef Cymerman (the Lesser)

A devout son of Torah, a Gerer Hasid, his joy of life was one of his prominent traits. He lived for many years in Warsaw, but from time to time he leaped back to his home town.

He perished there. A daughter survived in Israel.

Jehuda Lipszyc

Owner of a printing shop, he was a member of Mizrachi and contributed to funds.

He left no trace.

Reb Ben–Zion Lewowicz

He was one of the activists and zealots of Agudas Israel. He believed with the full flame of his soul that every deviation from the way of tradition, no matter how small, must lead to decadence and disintegration, for who could predict its consequences?

Loyal to his vision, he fought with all his might, within his household and outside it, against every novelty that had made an opening against his will.

Except for two daughters in Israel, he perished with the rest of his family.

Jehuda (Judel) Goldhar

He was a young man, a son of Torah and a maskil, an active member of Mizrachi and Mizrachi Youth. He was straightforward and forcefully insisted on his opinion–a prominent family trait. He was one of the best chess players in the town. After the death of his father, Reb Jakob, he continued in the shoemaking business, ran it ably and successfully, and became the head of the family to his brother, sisters, and step–mother due to his great sympathy and understanding.

His wife was a teacher in the girls' school Yavneh.

In the summer of 1942, out of a desperate attempt to mount a resistance movement in order to frustrate the Nazi plans, his house became a meeting place for youth representatives.

He perished with his entire family.

Reb Herszel Wagner

A member of Mizrachi from its founding, he was straightforward and easygoing.

He was survived by a son and a daughter.

Widow of Reb Herszel Szniper

She was the owner of a shop at the corner of the marketplace and Rytwiańska Street. She managed her house in abundance and dignity. Her daughter Sima was a member of Hanoar Hatzioni. [18] One son, Dawid, was among the most important activists of Hashomer Hatzair, a partisan and fighter in the Warsaw Ghetto, where he perished.

Another son survived.

Kopel Rotenberg

He was the very embodiment of amkha, the ordinary Jew. Happiness and joie de vivre, the simplicity and common sense of a man born in the bosom of nature, healthy humor and spouting words of jest–all of these were dear personal traits that made him most accepted in the circles of his acquaintances and beyond.

On the day of the liquidation, he fled to the forest, where he held out for several months. When hunger oppressed him, he turned to his native village of Tursko, [19] in the hope of finding shelter among his childhood friends. But as was regularly the case in those days, his “friends” turned on him and killed him.

He left no survivors.

Reb Gabriel Bekier

He was one of the common folk, but he was full of love and heart, treating every human being as a fellow human.

This personal trait gave him unsurpassed pleasure and found its expression in his participation in assisting those in need as a member of the Committee of the Gemilus Chasadim Fund and the like.

He left no survivors.

Mosze Ajzenberg

He was alert and diligent. Characteristic trait: “Let me say the opposite…”

Two daughters survived.

Reb Henoch Prajs

An upright householder of wholehearted demeanor, he did not deviate from the straight and narrow even by a thread, right or left, whether in matters between a person and God or between a person and his fellow man. He was a Gerer Hasid who participated in all charitable concerns.

He perished with his whole family.

Reb Nachmia Nisencwajg

He was one of the best makers of horsewhips and walking sticks–an important area of local manufacture, providing a living for scores of families, Jewish and non–Jewish.

Except for three sons, he perished with the rest of his family.

Josef Blusztajn

He ran a sewing factory. He was a maskil and could read a Jewish book. In his leisure time, on Sabbaths and holidays, he liked to study the small letters of the Talmud, and he could give a good answer.

He was an active member of Mizrachi.

Three sons survive in Israel.

Reb Eliezer Wajnberg

He was one of the wealthier citizens and a proficient merchant.

Two sons and a daughter survive.

Reb Berl Solarz (the Blond)

A smart and literate Jew, he was the embodiment of the maxim “Torah is good with worldly living.” Indeed, all his sons and daughters supported themselves by the work of their hands.

Three daughters and a son survive.

Reb Szlomo Lipszyc

He was one of the important produce merchants, a man of understanding and decency. He was pleasant to people and active in the tzedakah societies.

Two sons and a daughter survive.

Reb Icek Majer Erlich, the Moreh Tzedek [20]

A Gerer Hasid, he was wholehearted with God and man. [21] Aside from fulfilling the command to “study it [Torah] day and night,” he knew no other pleasures.

He left no survivors.

Reb Abram Nisenbaum

An active member of Mizrachi from his early days, he was one of its regular representatives in the kehilla council, in the Spółdzielczy Bank, in the Mizrachi School, in the Talmud Torah, and elsewhere.

Two sons and two daughters survive.

Reb Icek Majer Zylberberg

He was a member of Agudas Israel and a straightforward man.

A daughter survives.

Reb Leibish Heszels

He was pious and a devoted Hasid, a member of Agudas Israel.

Two daughters survive.

Reb Motel Solnik

His living from his stand in the marketplace was neither easy nor abundant. Nevertheless, he never refrained from devoting set hours to Torah study.

He left no survivors.

Reb Abram Tenenbaum

Reb Abram also supported his household from a stand in the marketplace. His children were among the active members of Hashomer Hatzair and the Hakoach Sports Club.

Three sons survive.

Motel Pomerancblum

He was one of the most devoted and loyal workers for the local Zionist Organization. He was its president for many years and represented it in many venues, such as the town council, the kehillah council, and more.

During the war, he was active in the soup kitchen for the poor and refugees. After the liquidation, he was captured by the Nazis while seeking aid for his wife and children, who were hidden in the bunker, and he was sent to the so–called “Judenstaat” in Sandomierz.

He left no survivors.

Mosze Nisengarten

He was an active member of the executive board of the local Zionist Organization. After his father's death, he continued the textile business and became the head of the family. He was counted among the wealthy citizens of the town. A man of initiative and talent, he befriended many scholars. His brother, Lejzer, was shot and killed after the liquidation, whereas he and his sister perished in Poniatów.

Josef Nisengarten

Humble and of modest demeanor, he was always on the periphery, and no one ever heard him raise his voice. He did not make a substantial living, but he conducted his household with dignity and fulfilled the maxim “Who is wealthy? He who is happy with his portion.”

He left no trace.

Reb Zelik Hengieltraub

A Jew whose lips were never without a smile, and joy–joie de vivre– was always in his house. His good–heartedness imparted an atmosphere of serenity to whoever came in contact with him. An active member of Mizrachi, his sons and daughters continued in his path and were counted among the participants of the local Zionist Organization.

Except for a daughter in Israel, he perished with his whole family.

Jehuda Milgram

A young man of the simple folk, he was upright and diligent.

He left no survivor.

Reb Szalom Goldfarb

An active member of the workers union, he was devoted to tasks that he took on voluntarily.

He left no trace.

Reb Herszel Szif

Literate and a man of understanding, he managed to support his household only with difficulty. He was a member of Mizrachi and active in its institutions and activities.

Every trace is lost.

Israelisz Olster

He was an educated and cultured young man, a veteran member of the Zionist Organization, and its central speaker in the memorial programs for Dr. Herzl and similar programs.

He taught Hebrew and was thoroughly well versed in its literature. There were many Hebrew–literate people in the town who acquired their first and basic knowledge from him. For many years he lived in Łódź, but in the final years he returned to his home town.

Except for a son, he perished with his whole family.

Reb Leibish Feferman

He was among the active members of the local Mizrachi and its regular representative in the kehilla and the town council, in which he served for years as a member of the executive board (ławnik [juror, assessor]).

Despite his age, he did not hesitate, before the liquidation, to sign up for Omler, the German company for paving roads, adapting quickly to the grinding work and the difficult living conditions.

With the dismantling of the Omler work camp, he was transferred, with the other inmates of the camp, to Skarżysko. He held out there for a while, but the difficult sanitary and material conditions decided his fate. He came down with typhus and expired.

Two daughters and a son survive.

Jakob Bomsztik

He was the owner of a tiny store at the corner of the town square and Krakowska Street, from which he had to support his family and educate his children as befitting a Jewish householder. Not a small matter!

No known survivors.

Lejbus Blum

A diligent and understanding young man, during the war he was often in danger and escaped from it. But on the day of reckoning, the day of the liquidation, his resourcefulness failed him, and he perished with his entire family.

Photo captions:
p. 410 – Israelke Wajcman before the liquidation of the Staszów Jewish community in 1942.
P. 413 – Two daughters of Rabbi Alter Eliezer Horowicz.


  1. Reb: a diminuitive of “rabbi” applicable to any adult male Jew, the equivalent of “Mister.” Judging by those to whom it is applied in this selection, it seems to have been used especially in reference to householders with a family and children. Return
  2. The members of the Ger Hasidic group were followers of the Gerer rabbi, based in Góra Kalwaria near Warsaw. There were enough followers of the Gerer rabbi in Staszów to maintain their own shtibl, and that is where Reb Jehuszua Binsztok presumably led the service on High Holy Days. See the section “The Shul and the Besmedresh” in Hershl Pomerancblum, “What Staszów Was Like,” http://www.jewishgen.org/yizkor/staszow/sta245.html. Return
  3. The name Boguchwal is Polish for “lover of God” and corresponds to the Yiddish name Gottlieb. Return
  4. “The Lesser” is ambiguous and could mean that he was physically small, or younger, or (as seems to be the case here) of lower social status than another person of the same name. Return
  5. Linas Tzedek: a volunteer paramedical society. See “Charity Institutions in Staszów,” http://www.jewishgen.org/yizkor/staszow/sta162.html#Page181 Return
  6. Gabbai: officer, treasurer, fundraiser; Chevra Kadisha: a volunteer, charitable burial society. Return
  7. “Knew how to read a Jewish book” (Hebrew: yode'a sefer). This was a common idiom referring to one who had enough traditional Jewish education to study the traditional Jewish literature on his own, though not necessarily a talmid chakham (erudite religious Jewish scholar). It could also apply to one who could read a secular book (see Leibel Horowicz, below). Return
  8. Maskil: (1) a follower of the Jewish Enlightenment; (2) educated in secular studies (such as European literature, history. and science). Return
  9. Hatzefirah: one of the leading Hebrew journals, appearing from 1862 to 1931 (appearing daily from 1883 onward), and in its later years an important journalistic organ of the Zionist movement. See https://he.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D7%94%D7%A6%D7%A4%D7%99%D7%A8%D7%94. Return
  10. “Fleet as a deer and strong as a lion to fulfill the will of his Father in Heaven”: a folk proverb taken from the preamble to the legal code Shulchan Arukh. Return
  11. Jot of a yod: Since ancient times, the Greek letter iota and the Hebrew letter yod have become proverbial in expressions for punctiliousness. (See Matthew 5:18: “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot [= iota / yod] or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”) The Hebrew kotzo shel yod literally refers to the hook that a scribe draws on the top of the letter yod in the calligraphy used for writing a Torah scroll. Return
  12. Shemiras Layla Society: lit. “night watch,” providing volunteer home assistance to families with sick members, often tending the sick person through the night. See “Charity Organizations in Staszów,” p. 181. Return
  13. The “Judenstaat” in Sandomierz: As the Nazis tightened their vise on Staszów in 1942, they spread the rumor that they were promoting a model regime in Sandomierz, where Jews would receive better treatment. Some Jews were taken in by this rumor and moved to Sandomierz, only to find that conditions were even worse there. It was derisively called the Judenstaat, an ironic reference to Theodor Herzl's novel The Jewish State, detailing the author's vision of a utopian existence in the future Zionist homeland. Return
  14. Wiązownica: a village 10 kilometers east of Staszów. Return
  15. See Natanel Erlich, “From Skarżysko, to Omler, and Into the Woods,” http://www.jewishgen.org/yizkor/staszow/sta492.html#Page494. Return
  16. Moreh Tzedek: Like Moreh Hora'ah, this was a title for the second–ranking rabbi (second to the chief rabbi) in the town's rabbinic chain of command. Return
  17. The shaleshudes and melaveh malkah are among the loveliest and most spiritual experiences that Hasidism has bequeathed to modern Jewish practice. Shaleshudes is a folk pronunciation of the Hebrew expression shalosh seudot (three meals) and refers idiomatically to the third Sabbath meal, partaken in the waning hours of the afternoon as the sun is setting. It is customary to accompany the meal with mystical songs and storytelling or homiletical reflections. Melaveh malkah (escorting the queen) refers to a celebration after dark, accompanied by spirited singing and dancing, often to the accompaniment of musical instruments (typically the klezmer ensemble of fiddle, string bass, and/or clarinet). Between them, they contrive to preserve and extend the holy atmosphere of the Sabbath past its technical ending time into the succeeding evening. Return
  18. Hanoar Hatziyoni: the youth arm of the General Zionist Organization. See Elchanan Erlich, “The Zionist Movement and Its Offshoots,” http://www.jewishgen.org/yizkor/staszow/sta135.html, and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HaNoar_HaTzioni. Return
  19. Tursko: a village near Połaniec. Return
  20. Moreh Tzedek (literally: “teacher of righteousness”): a religious leader second in authority to the chief rabbi of the town. Return
  21. Allusion to Deuteronomy 18:13 “Be wholehearted with the Lord your God” and Proverbs 3:4 “Find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man.” The Hebrew tamim (wholehearted) is related to tam (simple) and has the connotation of singlemindedness and honesty. Return


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