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[Page 107]

Speech Given in the City of Belchatow,
on September 17th, 1989

Menachem Sharon

Translated from the Spanish by Jeni Beth-El Ysabellia Armandez

Mister president of the city of Belchatow, Gentlemen Authorities of the City Hall, Delegated Gentlemen, Inhabitants of the city, Ladies and Gentlemen:

In reality, now that I am before you and full of very sad memories, I feel as if you've found me set against the graves of the ones that were very dear to me, and that was part of the population of this city. The best way to express my feelings would be the silence. Nevertheless there is almost 50 years elapsed since the start of the tragedy. I still lack words adequate enough to express my grief.

If the seas were transformed into red, and the trees were hoisted from the ground, this would not be sufficient enough to describe the tragedy of those years. Since almost 50 years of my departure, I have returned to Belchatow to seek tracks, the tracks of the ones that did not believe that this would be their last road. I seek tracks here, because I was born here, already the tongue in which I speak, also stems from here. And exactly here, in this city, in the school area, I listened for the first time the names of Enrique Sienkiewicz, Adam Micskiewicz, Julian Tuwim, Antoni Slonimski, Janusz Korczak, María Konopnicka, Jan Mateyko and Maurycy Gotlib, and also those of Ester Kaminska. Sholom Aleijem, I. L. Peretz and various others. A feeling of pride impeded me, upon knowing that by walking these lands and fighting for the Independence of Poland, was the colonel Berek Joselewicz. Here I have come in search of my people, to pray at their graves. I came in search of the graves of ours wise elderly, to recite on the same the thousand-year-old prayer “El Male Rachamim” (God full of Mercy). But sadly, those graves no longer exist.

Finding me in this area of the city of Belchatow, my memory of the tragic moment of the deportation of my loved ones, whose tracks were lost in the extermination camps. I remember as well the terrible moment, when they were carried out to be executed, the ten Jews that were hung in the Stary Rynek (the old plaza), I lament that I cannot even place a white chrysanthemum on their graves. Here, in the Stary Rynek, August 12, 1942, I visited for the last time with my mother and my brothers, before their deportation to the field of Chelmno nad Nerem, where they died such a cruel death, along with the other inhabitants of Belchatow. The same day, the 12th of August 1942, the German invader I sentence to the death penalty to the Jewish population of Belchatow, this sentence was dictated by the only crime, by virtue of being Jewish. It was made famous by the poet Julian Tuwim, in his reaction to the committed genocide, said in one of its writings: “The Jews are, without place to doubts, the most tragic victims of this war, this is the not alone destruction of the ethics already of the intelligence, but that is a conspiracy against the remainder of the humanity.”

The Jewish publicist, Ajad Haam, wrote, “A country devastated, a town destroyed, for centuries the destruction will remain.” The final goal of the Hitler movement was the total annihilation of the Jewish town. The period from 1939 to 1945, was for the Polish Jews, a time of inexpressible sufferings. Through this period not only was martyrdom seen, but also is perceived as a clear and continuous resistance to the invader. This resistance was passive and active, psychological and economic, all which simultaneously armed us. The Jewish population did not go passively to their deaths. The Jews tried to flee the deportations, and in their search of refuge, were not always friendly arms to welcome them. They jumped from the trains; they were armed as best as they could; they were grouped in the forests; and they tried to be join with the partisans. They fought with weapons in the ghettos and still in the concentration camps, as witnesses confirm it and the testimonies, and also the official parts of the German commands. In the autumn of 1942, during the large deportations, massive flights took place from the ghettos toward the forests. Among the ones there were those who jumped from the trains, there was also a group of Belchatowers, who joined with the units of the partisans that operated in the forests of Bialystok. A Belchatower of this group, Chaim Cohen, was decorated “post mortem” by the Polish government, with the “Cross of the Brave”. Sadly, not everywhere was friendly for the ones that they managed to flee. But when the fugitives found and received understanding, they redoubled the fight against the occupants and gave the ultimate sacrifice. To the ones that had us laid out a fraternal spring, “never we will forget them! One of the cruelest ways to push the Jews to the extreme limit of the existence, were the massive deportations that deprived them of their homes, of their goods, being thrown as the beggars among strangers.

Already in 1939, the Nazis organized the first ghettos. In October of that year was released the ghetto of Piotrkow Trybunalski. In February of 1940, the ghetto in Lodz began to function, then denominated Litzmannstadt, and a little further on, as well in other Polish localities. November 16, 1940, the Warsaw Ghetto was established. The main centers of the Jewish Resistance, they were formed in Warsaw, Bialystok, Vilno, Krakow, and still in the same fields of the death. The Commander of the rise of the ghetto of Warsaw, that April 19, 1943 exploded, Modejai Anilevicz, preferred to die fighting with weapons in his hands; May 8, 1943 perished, clamoring for revenge. Some days later, the general, one S.S., the Nazi one Jurgen Von Stropp, reported telegraphically to Himmler of the destruction of the ghetto and of the cessation of the Jewish resistance. For the new generations, this probably already is history, more for us, that we were witnesses of the cataclysm, this is a tragic reality. And this tragedy took place in sight of the entire world, in the same heart of the “humane and civilized” Europe!

In the year 1942, they began to utilize the fields of annihilation, of the extermination in Belzec, Sobibor, Majdanek, Treblinka and Auschwitz. In these fields, during the years 1942-1944, they were six million Jewish beings! Three million Polish Jews, and the three million others, of almost all the other countries of Europe, especially of Germany, Austria, France, Holland, Hungary and of various other. The invasion of the German Nazis to Poland in September of 1939, put an end to the millennia of Jewish life and culture in this country. Now, our memory is dedicated to its culture, that in this land no longer exists, and sidewalk of which, a poet that the ghetto of Warsaw lived, said in pain, “A world that existed, to exist left”. Although still it exists among us people that recall that world, the same one already belongs to the past, since was annihilated as consequence of the tragic events of World War Two. This, World War Two, struck a terrible blow to the Polish Judaism and to its culture. But the Polish Jews, that live scattered in 80 countries, and they continue carrying out I walk, a private role. “Jewish Polish”, denomination this that use the Jews disseminated everywhere, to indicate and to emphasize to a special and private community, that exercised its influence on the culture and still on the mentality of the Jews everywhere.

Here in this land, the Polish author María Kann, in its work “In the oasis of the world” clamored for help at the same time that by revenge. When of clamor by help treats, should be recalled the renowned social activist, Samuel Zyguelbaum, that, upon seeing done not respond his desperados called to help his brothers in Poland, he resolved to be sacrificed, for call thus the attention of the world. He killed himself in London in May of 1943. With its death he wanted to express its repudiation to the “world” that contemplated impassive and passive, and did not react against the extermination and genocide of the Jewish town. In the years 1960, I knew a noticeable Polish humanist, the president of the Polish Academy of Sciences, professor Tadeusz Kotarbinski, and with the words of the same one, desire to finish this allocution: “We want to retain in our memory the past events, to comply with the desire of the ones that so frighteningly they perished, whose only hope was, that its memory remained perpetuated. You should prepare us to oppose us to the eventual one reiteration of the sufferings and the burden, that suffered. That the man always themselves behavior set against their resemblances, of way such that deserve the respect of respectable people.”

With this inauguration of the commemorative plate in homage to the five thousand Jewish Belchatowers exterminated, we desire to perpetuate in our memories events of the past. We are living in the present, but our hope is put in the future. It is our obligation and of our children, NOT TO FORGET THE PAST!


Menachem and Dafna Sharon of Israel and H. Goldminc of Argentina
visit Chelmno (the place of extermination of the Jews of Belchatow)


* *


Mario Goldminc and Flia
In memory of our mother
Balche Fraiman de Goldminc

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