in Zelechow During the German Occupation
by Israel Najszteter (Australia)
Translated from Yiddish by David Lukowiecki
In July 1940 a representative from Warsaw came to us in Żelechów. He gathered a pair of comrades and explained them that all the former members of the Communist Party or the Young Communist Union, except for former prisoners from BerezieKartuskiej, should organize themselves. The people who were in BerezieKartuskiej, were under suspicion, for signing a declaration that they will never belong to the Communist Party. Under such conditions they were set free. And by the interference of the new party, they weren't allowed in.
We were 12 people. Our task was to prepare politic mature people for the new state in Poland. Our activity needed to spread over all the towns in the Żelechów region and also in the Polish Intelligence.
We organized the towns of Stoczek, Sobolew, Parysów, Ryki and Dęblin. In Żelechów we took in the movement, the former political aspirant Rybak, a Pole. Before the war he was a specialist for political issues in the Polish Police in Żelechów. During the HitlerOccupation he repented and for his illegal activity he paid with his life. Also we organized a YouthGroup. Moshe Majchel's daughter, Tsheshe, directed the YouthOrganization. We kept newspapers, Polish and Jewish, the Polish one was The Czerowny Sztandar (The Red Standard), and the Jewish ones The New Life and The Rebuilding. We also directed a Politic Education Party. On the circles, they learnt the Communist Manifest, Marx Politic Economy, etc.
In 1941 the war with the Soviets broke out, we again directed the movement. When the German soldiers started to go forward and took tens of thousands of Russian prisoners, they weren't far from us, in the village of Dęblin. Each day were shot thousands of them. A lot succeeded to escape in the surrounding towns and villages. We started to search for a contact with the escapees. On a certain day came a peasant to the comrade Moshe Majchel and told him, that at his house were two escaped Russian prisoners. We were soon connected with them and organized help for the Russian Army. In all the villages we organized HelpCommittees for Russian prisoners, collected things and money. Because of a report the peasant who used to inform us was captured. The Germans made a revision at his place and found a prisoner. They arrested the peasant and strongly beat him, so he gives in the people who help the escaped prisoners. The tortured gave in Moshe Majchel, that he gives things and money for the escapees. They arrested Moshe, he denied everything, saying he doesn't know anybody. After a few days they set him free.
The movement wasn't interrupted. After a few months came a lot of arrests. They arrested Zishe Ankerman, Moshe Majchel, and from Stoczek some others. They took them to Warsaw into Pawiak. We sent them packages of food and laundry.
In Warszawa the youth leader was Shimon Lemberger. He lived in Gęsia 51. Worked in Pawiak as a tailor and at night used to sleep at home. He used to bring different news from the arrestees, who were in Pawiak. Chaim Ankerman stood in contact with Lemberger and through him gave packages of food to Zishe. Once when Chaim came with a food package, Lemberger explained, that he's not taking any food, because the party had stopped the contact. Chaim Ankerman realized that when they took Moshe Majchel to investigation in the Aleja Szucha, on the way back to Pawiak, he was given a message that Zishe gave in a lot of comrades and also Majchel's daughter Tsheshe. The message arrived in Zelechów. Soon Tsheshe left for Warszawa. After a few weeks she wrote a message to Chayale Gurfinkel that the issue with Zishe was true, that people should take care, because he had delivered a lot of comrades. Chayale told me this.
Indeed at the time, the Gestapo arrived in Zelechów. They shot Rybak and were looking for Etel Drumlewicz. Moshe Majchel was shot in Warszawa. The traitor thought he would save his own head, but he was also found shot at the gate of Zamenhof Street. Tsheshe stayed in the Aryan side for some time. Coming one time back to Żelechów, they caught her outside the ghetto. She was arrested and on the same day shot at the Żelechów cemetery. It's understood that during the arrests the movement was stopped and in Hoshana Rabbah 1942 the Jews from Żelechów were deported and from all the PartyComrades only I remained.
Our underground movement took a lot of victims, all our best comrades were sent into different camps. The frightening terror, which ruled under the German regime, the ghettos, which separated the city from the village and from the NonJews, took away the possibility to prepare an insurrection. Jacak from the village of Wylezin with two other leftminded peasants were barbarically murdered in a forest. There wasn't any special partisan group in the beginning, only later partisan groups were created by the Russian prisoners, who used to escape more and more. Our group was under command of a Russian Army Captain, Aleksey Serafim. He acquired a great fear in the districts of Garwolin, Łuków and Pulaw. For his head, the Germans designated half million Marks. From our groups a few fell under German hands. But more were killed by the Polish A.K. Therefore a lot of villages were burned down.
With the arrival of the Red Army we organized ourselves in the P.P.R. Party. The party consisted of former communists. The first task was to eliminate all hostile elements. We divided the area into districts. B. was in charge of one district. They conducted revisions at Fascist and Hooligan elements, who assisted the Germans and helped them murder Jews. The campaign of cleaning the area from Fascist bands lasted 2 months. A lot were tried for different crimes, also including murder and robbery of Jews.
In the Jewish street we created the Jewish Committee. It consisted of 4 members of the P.P.R. and one nonparty. Among other, the Committee was also involved in the recovery of part of the stolen Jewish property. On the basis of the evidence obtained, the peasants were found, who hid Jews, later robbed them and killed them. Moshe Boruchowicz, as president of the Jewish Committee, directed the hearing. During the act he held the Bible on the table and swore the prisoner. There was such a case: They brought a peasant, his name Kabus. He killed Yankel Goldcwajg with his wife and children. Moshe Boruchowicz interrogated him. The murderer didn't accept his guilty and he was delivered into a normal court, who tried him on capture, because he didn't appear to be the murder director.
After the Red Army left, the Polish Fascists raised their heads. They came out of the hideouts and attacked the surviving Żelechów Jews. The newly established Polish government (the direction still then in Lublin) did everything to defend the Jews, but it was then too weak. Therefore the Jews left Żelechów. I left Poland and went to the German camps (D.P. camps).
by Shalom Sztejnhendler (Poland)
Translated from Yiddish by David Lukowiecki
My activities in the partisan group begins in the moment when I with the two brothers Maks and Sergey were taken in the partisan camp of Serafim and Ivan. We received guns from them and thanks to them we had the possibility to pull in and to arm many of our townsfolks that were threatened by death and in such way received the possibility to fight the German enemies.
I will not undertake to describe all the experiences from our partisan group and the whole journey that we made through until the liberation. A whole book can be written on the topic. I will then hand over only some moments that had a determined significance for our partisan activity.
Our battle against the Germans and their helpers, the provocateurs and agents, began in January 1942. The first battle act was the disarmament of the German Police posts in the villages Zloczew, Jarczew and Myslów in the vicinity of Żelechów. Together with the Russians we took revenge on provocateurs, on which hands were a lot of our townsfolk killed.
In 1943, the partisan movement grew thanks to the weapons we received. This gave us the possibility to drag in our lines a great number of Jews. In that time the battles adopted a serious character. Our activity became systematic, it was needed to reckon for the activity: To tear a German train with ammunition by the Golomb
Station, not far from Dęblin, the train went towards the eastern front; to dismantle a camp with had 200 prisoners; the great battle we led by the town of Kurów, during which 5 gendarmes and some policemen were killed, among them was also Borowski, the town commander, the immediate perpetuator of transporting the Jews from Kurów to Treblinka.
In that year we also led a battle with the Germans in Jarczew down below Żelechów. The Germans had great losses but we didn't hold any victory over them because the Germans were then about 200 and ours only 25. Among the killed partisans were some Żelechów Jews, including Moshe Wajsleder.
In 1944, close to the liberation, when the Germans had suffered great defeats on the eastern front, we believed that all of those that were with us will survive. Unfortunately it wasn't like that. On that time we had great losses of people. Therefore it occurred on great measure because we remained without the supervision from our Russian leader then. They received an order from their commander to retreat to one side of the Bug River and we stayed there. On account of that a disorganization was created in our lines, many did everything on one hand. As a result from the situation we suffered one defeat after another. During a battle against Okrzeja in the vicinity of Żelechów, 15 good Jewish armed partisans were killed, among which were my friends, Yankl and Hersh. In the battle against Ciechomin almost the whole division was killed, which was led by the brothers Maks and Sergey. From them I remember that remained Melech Rozenberg, who is now in Venezuela. During a roundup in the Gulów forest, fell from Żelechów: Yosef Sztejnhendler, Shmuel Oszlak and others.
The partisans didn't experience the victory over the enemies and the freedom they dreamed of. They died with a heroic death. Their deeds will never be forgotten.
by Yosl Lukowiecki (Costa Rica)
Translated from Yiddish by David Lukowiecki
In Hoshana Rabbah 1942 took place the socalled Deportation of the Żelechów Jews. They gathered 7 thousand people. From the designated to be sent away the Germans chose 50 people: 25 for firemen and 25 for policemen. I was designated for a fireman. They ordered us to bring food and water for the miserables, who waited until they will send them away. We also needed to bury the Jews, who were shot by the Germans. These were Jews which the German murderers had pulled out from different hideouts. Above 300 of such victims we buried that same day. After they were led to the train, which went to Treblinka, we remained (the 50) in a side of the square, guarded by the Germans, armed with machine guns.
There also remained 25 babies of about a year old, which the mothers had left behind. They were later shot next to the eastern wall of the synagogue, in our presence. A lot of children later received 56 bullets for crying. The Germans later killed the not dead ones by hitting the little heads on the wall, grabbing them by their little legs.
When the night fell, they took us into the firemen house. Hershel, Israel Chanan's soninlaw, was taken out of the line and shot in our presence, threatening thereby, that this will happen to those, who will not follow all decisions. The following day, on the fair day, the Germans hanged a Pole and left him hanging a whole day. At night, they took again 2 others. We were sure, that they were going to be shot. It turned out, that they needed to remove the Pole from the gallows and bury him in the place of execution.
Two weeks' time, after the resettlement, the town was surrounded with Germans and Polish policemen. We were taken to clean up all the Jewish houses from everything that remained after the Jews. On the BeitHaMidrash, warehouses were organized, where everything was sorted. Besides that, we later again had to bury the Jews, which the Germans found in hideouts and murdered.
Throughout 4 weeks, we had buried about 1500 Jews. Despite everything, a great number of Jews succeeded to hide. Between them, was found the Żelechów Rebbe Mr. Shalom with Hasidim, which hid in an attic, as well as the Kock Rebbe, who hid in the tavern, to whom we used to bring food and water.
One time, they ordered us to bury 18 shot Jews. I, Moshe Lukowiecki and Shmuel Goldfil were designated to bury the 18. While laying the dead on the carriage, raised a bloody Moshe Perkal and quietly said: Jews, I'm still alive. We turned the attention of the gendarme and led Perkal into a house. The rest of the dead we carried away to the cemetery. While laying them in the pit, when the gendarme counted 17 instead of 18 shot, he hit us, so we tell him where the eighteenth one is. But we survived only with beatings.
After removing the watch from the Jewish houses, Polish bandits, locals and foreigners, entered with the purpose of robbing. Some of the hiding Jews were discovered by them, and given over to the Germans, who shot the miserables. Like this was also shot the Żelechów Rebbe with his family and the Hasidim who were hiding with him. When our job of emptying the Jewish houses was finished, the Germans asked us about the specialties we have. I said to be a tailor. 25 of us remained in town as craftsmen, while the rest was sent to a camp and from the camp to Sobolew. After 8 days being in Sobolew, they were transported to Treblinka. Some of them, with the Commander of the Ghetto Police Melech Szarfharc, were later ordered by the Germans in Sobolew to dig graves and shot by the graves.
For us 25 the Germans organized workshops of tailors, shoemakers, furriers, tanners and leatherstitchers. Among the 25 were found: Tzemach Szyber, Leibl Mydlarski, Moshe Lukowiecki, Melech Worcelman, Reuben Iglicki, Abramtshe Oszlak, Abraham Fastman, Shmuel Goldfil, Yechiel Baruch Wajsleder, Moshe Goldszmit, Monish Rojzenkind, Chone Rojzenkind, Monish Gedanken, Hershel Bar, Yankel Winograd, Finkelsztejn, some of other towns and me.
We worked for 6 months. During that time the Major Domański, together with the Germans, sold 500 Jewish houses for demolition. Żelechów later looked like a cemetery.
Being one time at the gendarmerie to measure a suit on someone, a Polish worker from the Żelechów electricity, brought 2 young Jewish children: Itzchakl Lukowiecki and a son of Asher Kowal. He led them by rope and received therefore 2 kilograms of sugar. One of them, my cousin, shouted: Yosl, save me! The Commander asked me who this is and I had to explain that I don't know. They took the children behind Kasperowicz's house and shot them. The name of the Pole was Witowicz.
On the 28th of February 1943, at 10 in the morning, suddenly arrived the Garwolin Gestapo with machine guns and surrounded the whole factory, which was in the BeitHaMidrash. The leader of the Gestapo explained us that he takes us to Garwolin to work. I felt, that they prepare us for the last journey. I gathered up the courage, broke the window to the synagoguecourtyard and jumped out. After me jumped Abraham Fastman. The Germans opened a shooting, but we both managed to escape. A great panic broke out and from another side escaped Yosl Sztejnhendler and Chone Rojzenkind. 21 men were loaded on a car and transported to the gate of the new cemetery. There a fight was developed between bare hands on one side and the Gestapo with guns on the other side. Shmuel Goldfil jumped on the Commander of the gendarmerie and bit him on the throat. Understandably, the miserable fight ended with the death of the Jews.
I and Abraham Fastman ran into the Żelechów forest. After finishing with the shootings, the Germans surrounded the forest and shot, but they missed us. From there we went to the colony of Wola Żelechowska. For money, we were let to spend the night at the Pole Władysław Więckowski. Abraham Fastman, having more money, separated from me and went to another hideout. Więckowski kicked me out.
I began wandering in the forests: Stryj, Gęsia Wólka and Sokola forests and fed myself with stolen potatoes. After walking around 4 weeks alone in the forests, early one morning I noticed a smoke, rising from a certain place in the forest. Cautiously I got closer and for my great surprise found sitting a group from Żelechów: Mendel Gerecht (found in Israel), Yosel Oszlak and Gedalia Oszlak (both in Australia), my cousins Mordechai Lukowiecki and Israelke Goldszmit, Tzalke Berencwajg, David Korcarz and others. They were very pleased to see me and me with them. I asked them from where they came here, they explained me that they jumped from the train on the way to Treblinka. On my question on what they fed, they told me that not far from there, in the village Gózd, near Jagodne, some Evangelic priests are found, which keep them with food, for which they come at night. By day, they find themselves in the forests. After staying with them 2 weeks, with the delivery from the Poles, took place a roundup of Germans with their Polish helpers, who showed them were we found. They opened a shooting on us. It killed my 2 cousins Mordechai Lukowiecki and Israel Goldszmit, Tzalke Berencwajg, David Korcarz, Luzer Guterman. I with the Oszlak brothers managed to escape. Mendele Gerecht escaped in another direction.
We got to the Dąbrowa forests. There we met different groups of partisans, also a Żelechów group, where the commander was Shmilke Oszlak. Among the partisans: Shie Fajnzylber (with the nickname Conspirator), Sztejnhendler (today in Warszawa), Yankel and Moshe Sznapstejler, Faige Tobes's sons, also Russians and other partisan groups. They were strongly pleased with us and I, on account of being the only one who escaped death, was soon given a gun. I told them that at Baranowski's, the shoemaker, German pilots find themselves. Our Jewish as well as Russian group went to Żelechów under the command of Captain Ivan, shot the Germans at Baranowski's house, one German was killed and the rest fled. We came back without any loses.
Eight days later, our group quartered at the Zadyb colonies. Came to us the Żelechów: Yidl Iglicki, Pesach Gelburt and David Wajsleder. We convinced Commander Ivan to let take the Żelechów ones in our group. The following day we quartered in HutaŻelechowska. We were denounced and gendarmeries of Żelechów, Garwolin and Dęblin surrounded us. A strong fight was developed between us and the Germans and fell: David Wajsleder, Pesach Gelburt, Yidl Iglicki and a few more. Aizik Bojmal was seriously wounded, he lost a hand. Not able to use the machinegun, his known girl, who was next to him, took the gun and continued shooting. The fight lasted two and a half hours and we had to withdraw because of the shortage in weapons. On the German side fell 3 Germans and 2 policemen.
We went further. A certain time later approached our camp a group dressed in civilian clothes. On the guardpost stood the above mentioned Shie Conspirator. He believed, they were their own people and let them get closer. They shot him and other two partisans and we also had to withdraw from there. We continued further with our campaign. Having learned that the Germans will lead a train with victims towards Oświęcim, we shot the locomotive by Leopoldów station. The train stopped and a big part of the candidates to Oświęcim (Poles) ran away. A lot of the escapees joined our group.
We sent a Jewish girl from Ryki, Etke Fraudenhajm and a Polish girl to investigate the area. Both were captured by the Germans and led to be hanged. We decided to attack the Germans and free the girls. Waiting by a road where they were transported, we attacked the Nazis and freed the girls.
Considering that the Ciechomin police had caught and shot many Jews, we decided to carry on a campaign on the police. 21 partisans attacked the policepost, shot it as long as they had to surrender. We undressed the 7 policemen until the underwear and also took the guns. The campaign was directed under the command of the Russian Partisans Commander Serafim.
After the campaign we moved to the Gułów forests, were a great number of partisans found themselves. On a certain day a German reconnaissance plane flew over the area and a partisan shot it down with a machinegun. As a result, the Germans carried on a raid in the forests. A number of 4 thousand Germans surrounded a 20 mile forest and shot the area. The churches in the villages Hordzieżka and Gułow were manned with machineguns, that were shooting at us. 2 days lasted the fight, which was directed on our side by our Commander Shmilke Oszlak. The Germans drew more closely to us. Finding ourselves in such a critical situation, we decided to break the line. In our group fought: Itshe Cackiewicz (in Australia), Mendel Gerecht (in Israel), Melech Rozenberg (in Venezuela), Israel Najszteter (in Australia), Shalom Sztejnhendler (in Warszawa), Yidl Ajznhand, Abe Bejtel and others. We managed to break the line. By breaking it fell: Yosl Sztejnhendler, Shmilke Oszlak was wounded, in order not to fall in the hands of the Germans, he shot himself, Itshe Cackiewicz's wife and 2 more people. In a certain evening, going to a campaign, the Germans shot us and in the battle (Wacek) Shalom Sztejnhendler was seriously wounded. With a shaving razor they cut his shot hand and avoided a blood infection.
During our campaigns we established contact with Jews in a camp in Dęblin, and with the Jewish police in the camp, which was under command of a certain Leibl Waldman. We organized them, and they took machineguns, grenades and came to us. Our group became bigger. We reorganized and designed the above mentioned Leibl as Commander. Not being content with the direction of Waldman as commander, I, Yankel Sztejnhendler, 2 from Adamów and a girl, separated from the group. Half an hour after we left they were surrounded by Germans and all in number of 17 killed from handgrenades.
I later wandered in the forests until the day before the liberation, when the Germans were retreating. We in number of 3 people, went to look for food. The retreating Germans spotted us and opened fire. One of us threw a grenade and the Germans ran away. About them, we denounced to Commander Serafim, who surrounded the Germans and took them in captivity.
The following day arrived the Russian army, who liberated us.
The Russians formed the previous partisans as militia. I was sent as a militant to Lubartów and from Lubartów to Lublin. Learning about the surviving Jews in Żelechów, I went to Żelechów.
by Mendel Korcarz (Australia)
Translated from Yiddish by David Lukowiecki
It was 1939. On the morning of Rosh Hashana the Germans arrived in Żelechów. On the second day of Rosh Hashana they set our big and beautiful synagogue in fire. A black smoke raised from the burning Torah scrolls straight to heaven. In the town of Żelechów there was darkness.
I was then 18 years old. Understanding the terrible situation, I decided to escape to the Red Army, which stood in Luków, 40 kilometers from our town. My parents, especially my mother, was against my step. She fell over my feet and begged me to stay with her, if not, she would die. She locked all my things. However, just like a thief I escaped almost barefooted and naked from my mother, my father and my brothers.
After different experiences I arrived into the Soviet Union in the city of Dombas. I was destroyed, naked and hungry. They called us Biezhentsy (refugees). I went to look for a job. I found out that I was in the center of the coal mines. I was feeling healthy and strong. I was young, I didn't ask much what's the job and I went to work in the coal mines.
Hardly and bitterly I worked for three months and felt that slowly I was losing my forces. Points out that I was too weak for the job.
I went to Ukraine to the city Równe and met a few Żelechów Jews. Here they all lived a normal life. I settled with the local Ukrainians and with the help of my colleagues, I went back to my old profession, furrier. My job had success on the Równe population and I had income. Here I also got in contact with my home Żelechów. I wrote a letter and sent packages to my parents and it was a great joy for my mother, when she found out that I'm alive. My mother wrote me how happy she is that I escaped from Żelechów, because the life the life there was already unbearable. Every day Żelechów Jews were killed. In Równe I also encountered Sender Wajsleder with Boruch's son, and I worked together with them until the year 1941, until the Germans attacked the Soviet Union.
When the war broke out, some of my friends tried to escape. Among them were also the Żelechów Jews that were together with me. But I and Sender Wajsleder remained on the same place. It didn't last long and the German Army took the city and began their bloody rule.
Here the work of the murderers went much faster because they had to deal with communists, that's how they called the Belarusian population. But they also came here with a lot of practice they had in Poland and also received good help from the Ukrainians, which were worse than the Germans with the Jews. Sender escaped to Kostopol where he was killed and I went into the forest to the partisans.
I was already 20 years old. My young blood was boiling for revenge. The first forest I arrived was in the vicinity of Briansk, in Ukraine. I walked alone in the depths of the forest, under open sky, whether by day or by night and didn't encounter any people. After four days people that had escaped from the murderers, appeared in the forests. I began to organize the people around me. We gathered 40 individuals. In that time there wasn't any organized partisans there (in 1941). We all remained together and mutually helped against the Germans, against hunger and need, cold and dirt. We wandered in deep mud. Every day we had victims, killed by the Germans and Ukrainians. In the course of one month from 40 men we remained only 10.
In that time we found out about a greater partisan group which was under the leadership of General Lieutenant Kowpak. This was in year 1942 in Briansk forest. With great exhaustion and troubles we entered to unite with the mass partisans. It wasn't easy, we weren't trusted.
Finally we persuaded them in out utility for the partisan camp. I recovered in another life which was required to be active, by passing jobs. On account of the least negligence, people could expect death on every step. I took weapons in hand and with a prominent heart I went to our common enemy. I learned from our great fighters, from the Russians. (These were escapees from the German captivity). And in that time I was awarded from Moscow with Red Stars. Later I received 30 men under my command and I became a commander.
Now it's hard for me to describe the changes that occurred to me in the course of the three years. I became like an animal that looks for their prey. No fire, no water, no mud mattered to me. Whether summer or winter under the open sky or among thick trees. The whistle of bullets, the loudness of exploding grenades weren't heard. Nothing else but the wild cries of the Germans were heard. But that didn't stop us because the heart only required more vengeance for the destruction of the German murderers. My job was to hang and shoot Germans.
I became quickly accustomed to the life in the forest. To sleep three years with the things and the shoes on became like as normal. Our partisans received a name. We were strong, heroic and wellarmed. We forgot from our homes, wives and children, parents and sisters and went into the hard battles. I used to dress in the clothes from a German Major and enter the city in the middle of the day in order to carry out the mission of the partisan command. It remained on my memory the battle on Stolin (Belarus)…
We found out that in the city the peasants are being taken out to work in Germany. We surrounded the city and after great and difficult battles we entered Stolin and took 800 S.S. men prisoners. It was a holiday for our partisans. Each one had the honor to be part in the execution.
I remember the attack on Baranowicz (Belarus), where in the middle of the day we took 8 German airplanes with one German Captain. Our victories flew straight to Moscow.
Never in my life will I forget the Carpathians, where the great oil mines were. This was in 1943. We received an order from Moscow to destroy the oil mines. We went to the great battle. Every day the bombs from the German airplanes fell on us. And not caring about it, we entered with great loses, to destroy the oil mines. At the end 8 German divisions surrounded us and we found ourselves in grief. The battle continued. Group wise we managed to break the ring around us. In the battle I was wounded. We returned to Belarus and remained until the summer of 1944. Then we received an order to go to Warszawa, to blow up the railroad. I blew up 4 echelons.
On the way back I entered in the village of Kamien, 8 kilometers from Żelechów, which attracted me. My first question was if my parents and other Jews are still alive. I looked like I wasn't a local and answered that there are already no Jews in Poland.
Broken and without courage I went again into the partisan group until the Red Army arrived. I was sent in an officer school to learn. I received the rank of Sergeant and they sent me to the front. The battles were very heavy. Thousands were killed. I was severely wounded. I didn't speak or hear for 6 weeks. After the time in the hospital, I became very weak and therefore received a month of vacation.
My first journey was to my hometown Żelechów. I arrived there safely and didn't know where I was because the town wasn't recognizable any amore. I didn't see any more the house where I was born and raised. I stood and looked for a known person in the Żelechów streets but it was hard to find…
Later I encountered a few known people and from them I found out about the great Holocaust that the Germans had made together with AntiSemite Poles. I went to work at the Russian Commandeer. We arrested a lot of Polish Fascists. We went from house to house and made inspections. On some we found complete packages with Jewish things. And that told us a lot….I also found out then, which murderer had shot my mother. She was a whole year hiding with a Pole. He kept her as long as she and my younger little brother had money still. But when the money ended, the scoundrel brought Germans and they shot my mother and my little brother. I went immediately to the murderer that had delivered my mother and brother to the Germans. The murderer showed me behind his house, that my mother lies there. I didn't ask him much and with a few shots, he fell dead, next to the grave of my innocent mother…
I also found out that my cousin Duvidl was killed 6 months before the liberation. It occurred in the following way: Duvidl was hiding in the forest. One time he went to look for a piece of bread, a hooligan encountered him and killed him. I searched for the murderer and he was arrested. It was very hard to show that he was the actual murderer and therefore he only received prison. He was later sent to Siberia.
The front moved again and the Red Army had to leave Żelechów. The Polish Fascists again began to take the Jews. Many Jews were found dead. We, the Jews, had again to begin to run from the town of Żelechów. I went to Lodz and from there abroad.
by Tzivia RozentalWorcelman (Barranquilla)
Translated from Yiddish by David Lukowiecki
Before Rosh Hashana it was heard in the Żelechów ghetto, that all the Jews will be deported. Each of the ghetto inhabitants sought in advance where to escape. Tsheshe Majchel with her boyfriend Levin went to Warszawa and there made “Arian” documents.
The eve of the liquidation of the ghetto Tsheshe and her friend came to Żelechów. The couple hid outside the ghetto at Tsheshe's schoolgirlfriend. An AntiSemite denounced to the Germans and the house were the two young people hid, was surrounded by the Gestapo. Tsheshe Majchel and Levin were arrested and taken to the commandheadquarters. Saturday at 2 o'clock in the afternoon, they them to be shot at the Jewish cemetery.
The German executioners took with them 4 Jews with shovels to dig the grave. About the last minutes of the murdered was later told: The gendarme Wicki ordered the victims, to hug for the last time and to kiss. So they did. Right away there was a shot and both were killed together.
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