The Gestapo, the gendarmerie, the city leadership with its officials and all other Germans and folks-Deutschn, who were in our city in large numbers, lived a good life. They found themselves far from the war's front line and they tried to arrange the best and most beautiful for themselves. One day they organized to create businesses that would serve only Germans.
This creation of German businesses happened in a very simple way: German officials, accompanied by gendarmes, barged into a Jewish business and drove out the employees. Then they took the owner for a short interrogation; they wanted to know where the money, the goods and everything that belonged to the business was. The books were looked through superficially; the money in the cashbox was counted and taken and the owner had to give away the keys and everything that he had with him. If he asked questions, How come, where is the justice, he immediately received an answer that he would then remember for a long time. They immediately went from the business to the merchant's private residence and if they found goods, the residence was requisitioned with everything found there. Thus the owner of a large business became a thoroughly poor man in the course of one hour.
The looted businesses were handed over to a German or a folks-Deutsch. The Jewish name was torn off the sign and there appeared in the German language: Hier wird verkauft nur fur Deutsch [Only Germans may buy here]. The new German merchant sold the goods that the Jew had left. He received permission to requisition the products from the nearby peasants for which he paid very little.
In the Aryanized businesses, the German population acquired
goods and food products at very reduced prices. For instance, two kilos of bread, for which the entire population paid 30 zlotys, cost the Germans only one zloty; the Germans paid six zlotys for a kilo of butter that cost 200 zlotys. And so on for other articles.
The new merchants received wide opportunities to carry out new businesses: They took the goods away for the lowest prices; a small amount they sold for low earnings and they sold the remainder on the black market for higher prices.
Polish officials, seeing the German businesses with the cheap prices, also wanted to have such businesses. They proceeded to open stores. However, in order to acquire premises, Jews were again thrown out of their shops and the premises were Aryanized. The stores also received part of their food products for cheap prices.
During the Aryanization action the Germans would be seen going through the Jewish streets with lead pencils and notebooks in their hands and recording Jewish businesses. An hour later, the owner of the recorded shop would receive a notice from the city leadership to leave the premises. The large white boards with the blue Mogen Dovid [Star of David] in the window and at the entrance of the Jewish businesses made it easy to locate the Jewish premises. The folks-Deutschn and Poles also searched Jewish shops and if they had connections in the German offices, the Jewish owners would be thrown out and they would take over the business.
The Jewish manufacturing, finished furniture, linen and haberdashery businesses were liquidated all at once and in the following manner:
One morning all of the businesses were attacked simultaneously by gendarmes. The owners and the employees were driven out,
the premises were locked, the windows and doors were sealed and the keys were taken.
The shops remained locked for several weeks; the merchants tried to get the Judenrat to intervene. However, no one could help. The matter ended after long weeks in this way:
Before the war, a Polish officer named Maszewicz lived in our city. The officer died and left a wife and son and daughter. The family remained without means and lived in need. Mrs. Maszewicz received the position of selling lottery tickets. However, this business brought her only a little income and in addition, it reached the point where the wife and two children, wanting to commit suicide, took poison. But they were saved. Nothing more was heard about this family.
When the Germans entered our city, we first began to see Mrs. Maszewicz often in the company of the city chief, Dr. Wendler. It became know that the woman was descended from a family from Germany; she was a folks-Deutsch. Mrs. Maszewicz began to travel around in her own auto; she opened two large textile businesses in the most beautiful neighborhood in the city and received control of the largest Jewish factories that had already been Aryanized and, in general, she became known as the right hand of the city chief. Mrs. Maszewicz would often do a favor for a Jew and sometimes visited the chairman of the Judenrat. In time, this woman became the most influential person in the city.
After being closed for several weeks, the Jewish manufacturing businesses were all opened again and the transfer of their goods to Mrs. Maszewicz's businesses began. Jewish workers labored under police supervision for many weeks transferring a very great number of goods.
Jewish workers worked for many weeks transferring great quantities of goods in trucks under police supervision.
The Jewish merchants stood from afar with grieving hearts and watched as all of their goods were taken from the businesses and they were not permitted even to go closer to their business premises.
The emptied premises on the most attractive streets were given to the Germans, while the keys to the other shops were given to the Judenrat. Again, the Judenrat, which always made use of an opportunity to extract money, gave the keys only to those owners who paid a great sum of money. A small number of merchants took back their business premises with the payment of money, and most businesses were auctioned and whoever paid the most money received the premises. The former large manufacturing businesses were converted into small shops selling soda water, ice, toys, buttons, cheap fruit and so on.
The large Jewish factories within the firm Gnaschiner Manufaktur in Czenstochow, which employed several thousand people before the war, were located outside the city on the road to the German border. When the German military marched by the factory on the second day of the war, a tall, long-time factory official went out to greet the Germans with flowers. This official, who was known as a Pole for many years, was suddenly transformed into a folks-Deutsch and was chosen by the Germans to head the factory.
Jewish master craftsmen, factory officials and the chief engineer lived in the factory houses.
All of the Jews were no longer permitted to work and the new manager threw them out of their apartments, not permitting them to take even the least trifle of their possessions with them. The newly revealed German also denounced the owner, as he took the money and the cashbox from him. The owner had to endure a great deal and in the end had to leave the city.
The same thing happened with the foreign owned factories, French, Belgian and others, with which Germany was at war. The trustees taking over their offices began their activities by checking if the original owners had left everything in order. If the cash box agreed with the books, if the money had been taken out of the banks and if the stock of raw and manufactured goods were in accord with the books. If something appeared not to be in order the Jewish owner was called to the trustee at the factory and was murderously beaten there, then he was taken for interrogation and had to answer the questions posed. Manufacturers who had sent their goods deeper into the country several weeks before the war in order to safeguard them against all possibilities had to inform the trustee and bring the goods back at their own cost.
The greatest number of trustees were former officials from the same factories. They were even worse than the new unfamiliar trustees. Not wanting to be associated with the owner and former
working colleagues, they immediately drove away all of the Jews and hung out an inscription at the entrance, Jews are now forbidden to enter. A former official, who had been sent at the owner's expense to England in order to study the weaving trade, became the trustee of the Jewish factory, Warta. After taking over the leadership of the factory, he immediately drove out the Jews on the first day. This same person also took over the Juta Factory, which he liquidated, sold the goods and the machines and thereby earned many millions. The former Jewish director of the factory, who remained without means of support, asked him for help. However, instead of help, he took his watch from him and laughed at him.
And this is how all Jews were handled, both owners and employees and workers at the factories taken over by the Germans. A small exception was a number of smaller factories and shops, where the owners were themselves tradesmen and managed the enterprise. The new manager, the trustee, did not feel himself capable of running the enterprise and, therefore, they left the owner at work. It should be understood that work in such conditions was bitter for the Jews, but one could not refuse. In addition, he would have had to work at forced labor somewhere in a forest or in the water, if not at the factory.
However, the earnings of the Jewish workers who were permitted to stay in their positions were 25% lower than what the non-Jewish workers earned. In addition, the non-Jewish workers received certain products that the Jewish workers did not receive.
The Jewish factories operated for a long time using the raw materials that the owners had left. A number of factories had enough raw materials for two years. The new money that the Germans had introduced
did not win the trust of the population. Therefore, every one wanted to protect themselves with goods. Polish merchants paid any price for a little merchandize. The trustees of the factories were required to sell goods at the pre-war prices, but they took ten times the price and listed the normal prices in the books, so that these people made millions in a very short time.
The Jews, from whom the factories were taken, and who had not been left with any work, turned to the central regime with a request that they receive support from the revenue, because they did not have the means with which to live. After a long time, the regime informed the trustees that they should pay the owners 200 zlotys a month, but with the stipulation that the support did not have to come from capital, if the enterprise had superfluous expenses. The payment of these 200 zlotys thus became dependent on the good will of the trustees, who always found a reason for not paying the money, although in three day's earnings, there was enough under the current conditions. The 200 zlotys were also with a few exceptions not paid. There were only a small number of trustees who also thought about the future when the war would end and in each case wanted to remain on good terms with the owners of the enterprises. They also understood that the co-workers of the former owners would be of more use than the new personnel who had no knowledge in the field of work. These owners, although they worked at simple jobs, actually stayed in close contact with the trustees. They showed the trustees the entire mechanism of the business and shared in the income.
In time, the raw materials that the Jewish owners had accumulated were depleted. The government had allocated new material
in small quantities and, more generally, not at all, because everything was provided for the ammunition factories. The enterprises were shut down little by little. The regime decreed that several firms be consolidated into one enterprise. However, the new firms did not last long and had to be liquidated because of shortages of raw materials. The machines from the Jewish factories were sent away somewhere and a large amount was used as scrap in the iron smelters, so as to be made over into artillery guns or other weapons.
Not only shops and factories, but also housing was taken from the Jews and they were placed under a trustee manager. An office was created under the name treuhandschaft fir yidishn grundbesitz [trusteeship for Jewish real property]. A specialist in housing management, who was for many years an administrator for Jewish home owners in Dartmund, was brought from Germany. This person immediately instructed that he be called doctor and he settled down in complete comfort as did every civilian and military person in our city. He ordered first that he be given a villa that the Judenrat had to beautifully furnish. Then he had to be provided with a renovated and appropriately furnished office of several rooms and then he began his activity. His deputy and the remaining personnel were Poles from Pozen this was a special type of Pole who always had had a reputation for anti-Semitism. The administration of the Jewish houses was given to the folks-Deutschn and Poles. Each of them received an entire street of houses and they began to collect rent. The books for the houses were organized and the past sums of rent owed from before the war had to be paid
by the tenants to the last groshn. The Jewish home owners had to pay rent just as every other tenant.
The press began to write about the bad condition of the Jewish houses that were taken over by the German trustees and their assistants. The houses were supposed to be renovated under the management of the Germans. However, in the end, the opposite happened. The new administration only extorted still more money from the tenants and the houses now actually were neglected.
The administrators, the folks-Deutschn, carried out searches in the Jewish residences and took everything that had any worth, on the pretext that it fell under requisition orders. In this way they would take out machines and goods from small factories. They did this after eight o'clock at night when Jews were forbidden to be in the street and they could not see to where everything was being taken away. One audacious Jew, from whom the administrator had taken out his entire possessions at night, informed the police and showed the Polish firm to which everything had been taken. The Polish police carried out an investigation and showed that everything matched exactly as had been declared: that the Pole had purchased the goods and the machines stolen from the entire factory from the administrator. All of the things were sealed and as the administrator was a folks-Deutsch, the Polish police could not make a decision on the matter and the Jew went to the Gestapo. In a few days, the Jew and his son received an invitation to appear at the Gestapo. They went with light hearts, in the complete certainty they would not put any blame on them.
However, the two Jews were received with murderous blows and hurled into a cellar as soon as they entered the Gestapo office. After lying there for several hours, from there they were
taken to the second floor into a room where their administrator was waiting for them. Again, he and a Gestapo person beat the father and son so badly that they lay unconscious. When they were revived with a pail of cold water, it was declared that Jewish swindlers must not blame the German people for anything.
After a certain amount of time it was just possible to extract the two Jews from the Gestapo. They lay in bed for a long time until they recovered after the murderous blows. This was a lesson for all of the Jews that they should not complain against the Germans and folks-Deutschn. The administrator continued to remain in his post and the Jew paid rent to him for his residence in his own house.
The Judenrat received an order from the regime that the buildings that had earlier been the location of the Jewish hospital had to be made into a dormitory and a school for German children. All of the premises there had to be renovated, all auditoriums, rooms and entrances had to be renewed; the large garden had to be beautified with new plants and everything had to be organized as was appropriate for a German school.
The technical division of the Judenrat mobilized all of its strength; the labor office employed the necessary number of workers and the building of the new German work began, which lasted for many weeks and cost the Judenrat a great deal of money.
The representative of the chief of the city monitored the work. During his visits, as a reward for their work, he would curse the Jews with the worst words. When the renovation was finished, beautiful furniture and all the other requirements needed for a modern dormitory were brought in. The Judenrat delivered the required manufactured goods, from which the Jewish tailors sewed uniforms for the students who were already assigned to be in the dormitory.
While the Jewish tradesmen were still employed doing the last work and in preparing the decorations for the opening celebration, it was learned that the governor of the Radom district was coming to the opening. The representative of the city chief with his whip in his hand arrived several hours early. He looked around to see if everything was in order and called out: Jews disappear! His whip began to fall over the heads of the Jewish workers and he beat them until all of the Jews were driven away.
Dread reigned in the city when the governor arrived there. Jews were not allowed to leave their houses. The streets were guarded by police and, there, in the former Jewish hospital building, the grandest holiday took place. The next day we read in the newspapers that the governor gave a fiery speech and thanked the German officers of the National Socialist Party for the new, beautiful work that they had done in the neighboring land of the German Reich.
A short time later, the chairman of the Judenrat was called to the city chief, who told him that each institution and firm in our city would have to give a one-time large monetary payment for the further development of the dormitory and the Judenrat also had to make a contribution for this purpose. The chairman of the Judenrat understood that this friend-
|The Jewish police office in the small ghetto|
|Jews in large ghetto|
ly offer must not be refused and announced a contribution of 50,000 zlotys for the dormitory for the Hitler children. The chairman wondered from where the money would come. However, the city chief felt insulted that the chairman had announced such a small sum for such an important purpose. The chairman tried to explain the scarcity of money and promised to increase the sum and the Judenrat had sufficient work to procure the sum for this voluntary contribution.
Not much time passed and the Judenrat received an order to provide a swimming pool for the German population in our city. A sports room also had to be created with all of the modern accommodations. In addition, the city theater that was built just before the war had to be completed.
The best Jewish artisans again worked for many months; the best Jewish sportsmen with hundreds of workers poured out their sweat working on the fields. The inauguration of each particular institution took place with great solemnity in the presence of highly placed German personalities who, in solemn speeches, praised the great and difficult achievements the Germans with their professional capabilities had carried out in this neglected country. The party members and the officials of the city chief's regime received great awards and furloughs for their great exertions so that they could rest a little from their hard work.
The Gestapo rummaged through the remaining archives and examined all of the materials from which they could
record the names of political suspects or anti-fascists, both those who were Jews and those who were Polish. They mainly searched for the intelligencia. Arrests took place every day and every night. People were placed in prison and, after a short time, they generally disappeared. The residents of the village, Olsztyn, not far from a forest, were able to relate that people were being taken from the prison to the woods during the early morning hours; there they were forced to dig pits into which they were then flung and there shot.
Food brought by the relatives of the arrestees was accepted twice a week at the prison. The food was often returned with the explanation that their relative was no longer in the prison. The wives of those men who disappeared then began going from one office to another in order to learn the fate of the person who had suddenly disappeared. Finally, they received a severe answer, that they should stop taking an interest in where their husbands are. Always, therefore, when women or children came to the prison with food for their husbands or fathers, they would stand in fear and wait; would they bring back the food or not? The secrets of the Olsztyner forest were no longer a secret and returned food meant the relative no longer was alive.
Therefore, a heartbreaking lament often was heard on the prison street. Wives and children or parents of those who had suddenly disappeared threw themselves on the ground in despair, tore at their hair and screamed in wild voices. The gendarmes immediately chased them with rifle butts. The relatives of the arrestees would wait the entire night for the autos that took their dearest to the Olsztyner forest. From afar because one was not permitted to go near they would stand and see how before daylight, the prison street would suddenly be surrounded by the Gestapo and
people were loaded into autos driven right up to the gate. When the autos drove by the road on which the relatives of the arrested stood, a cry would break out and the relatives accompanied the autos as if following a funeral.
Every few days prisoners would be sent out to concentration camps. After every transport, the prison would again be filled with new arrestees and thus the procedure continued constantly with arrests and deportations. It was learned that there was a concentration camp in the town of Oswiecim [Auschwitz in German] not far from Krakow to which thousands of people were continually brought and, after a short time, annihilated. The families of the people sent there received a telegram that their relative had died. After a while, the family was called to the Gestapo where they were given some of the deceased's clothing.
The relatives of the deported made an effort at various offices to save those closest to them from Auschwitz. However, it was quickly learned that those for whom the efforts were made for their release perished more quickly and the families immediately received a telegram, has died. Yet, two or three people were found in the city who had returned from the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Special efforts had been made for them through people with great influence. In general, how they were freed, what happened in the camp, remained a secret because they did not relate even one word about it all. They were warned that if they said anything, they would be sent back.
In the summer of 1940 all of the Jewish lawyers were arrested in the city. They were placed in the prison cells where those chosen to be sent to Auschwitz were held. The families of the lawyers made every effort
to save them. The Judenrat also tried to do something and Wajnrib was much occupied with the matter. At first, the actions to save everyone were carried out jointly. Later, each family began separately to do everything possible because of fear that they would be sent away and help would come too late.
After several days it was learned that the Gestapo had arrested more Jews from various classes. Their families also ran to the Judenrat and to Wajnrib to beg that something be done for them. They wanted to give everything that they possessed, but no one wanted to do anything for them. They were sent to Auschwitz several days later.
Right after this, the lawyers were freed. It was suspected that the lawyers were saved at the expense of the other arrestees, for whom no one wanted to intervene. If this was how it was, it remained a secret. In each case, the families of the deported went around with darkened hearts and with anger at the Judenrat, whom they suspected of making this terrible exchange. The suspicion was also strong because the lawyers gave the Judenrat a great deal of money that was required for the release. Meanwhile, new arrests were occurring; new transports again went to Oswiecim and telegrams were again received from the Auschwitz Concentration Camp to the wives that their husbands had died.
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