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[Page 5]

The First Tortures

Czenstochow was one of the first cities in Poland that was occupied by Hitlerist troops. On the 3rd of September 1939, the German military marched into the city. The streets were already covered in placards with various notices from the German military regime on that same day after eight o'clock in the morning. The population cautiously began to appear on the streets to read the demands. The next morning, the German soldiers went through the street and gave the population cookies and chocolate. The people began to feel at ease and to think that “the devil was not as frightening, as it had been painted.” Therefore, they began to appear in the streets more boldly and more often. On the same day at 11 o'clock in the morning, the Germans opened fire on the people in every street without any “explanation.” Many houses were also shot up. After this “foreplay,” the Germans began to chase the people from the streets and residences. Thousands of people with raised hands were driven to the squares: in front of the cathedral (Katedralna Street), in front of the church, “Swientego Zygmunta” [Saint Zygmunt] (New Market, today Dusznicka Square), in front of Brast's factory (Strazaca Street) and to the large square in front of city hall. All of the enumerated squares were surrounded with machine guns and by armed soldiers. The Jews who had been brought together had to lay immovable on their stomachs for hours and they were shot at by machine guns, rifles and automatic weapons. Later an order was issued: “Stand” and they began to chase the hordes of people. Those running were shot at again. The people who found themselves in front of the cathedral were driven into the cathedral. Those who were located at the New Market were driven into the church, “Swientego Zygmunta.”

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Those who were on Strazaca Street were driven into Brast's factory and those who were on the square in front of the city hall were driven into the church, “Swientego Jakuba [Saint James].” It has not been determined exactly how many fell then as victims. Rumors went around that approximately 120 men had fallen in the square in front of the Brast factory, more than 100 at the cathedral, more than 50 at the city hall and approximately 30 men fell in front of the church, “Swientego Zygmunta.” In addition, there were hundreds of victims who had been shot, in the streets and in the courtyards. Meanwhile, the Germans chased people to the designated places. There were many Jews among the hundreds shot and wounded. Many Jews were buried in the courtyard of the artisans' synagogue on Garncarska Street. On this spot, murdered people were slid into a large pit together with cows and horses, which had accidentally met with German bullets during the shooting.

This day entered the history of Czenstochow as “Bloody Monday.” When someone wanted to designate the terms of a certain event, he would not express himself in any other way then, “This was still before Bloody Monday,” or “This was already after 'Bloody Monday.' The then city commissar, Drahaberg, who was chosen as city commissar over Czenstochow and as county chief over the area of Czenstochow by Ridiger, (chief of the civilian managing committee) had a large share in “Bloody Monday.”

“Bloody Monday” was the horror-day for the entire Czenstochow population for a long time. There also was much talk about the appeal of the priest, Zimniak, who, at the request of the occupiers, appeared in the city on the same day. “The appeal was directed “to the residents of the city of Czenstochow. I appeal to all residents of Czenstochow that they should not spread any panic and avoid provocations, which could bring the strongest punishments to the entire city, which according to the rules of war could lead to [punishment] including the death penalty.” Signed: Vicar-General A. Zimniak – Suffragan Bishop, Czenstochow, the 4th of September 1939.

On the morning of Tuesday, the 5th of December 1939, those who were 50 and older were freed. The remaining were taken to the military barracks and a number of them were also imprisoned in jail on Zawodzie Street, where many went through physical and moral pain.

cze006a.jpg [28 KB] - Going to the execution in the Olszyna Forest
Going to the execution in the Olszyna Forest

cze006b.jpg [32 KB] - Before the execution
Before the execution

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On Wednesday the Germans began to free those detained and left several dozen men as hostages, who were held responsible if the city population possibly came out against the Germans. The German guards often made each hostage feel as if their life had been abandoned.

The permanent torture of the Jews began right after “Bloody Monday.” The masses of Jews were driven each day to work, where they had to endure various troubles. Women, men and children and young people were forced to cover the pits with their bare hands, to carry bricks without purpose from one spot to another and also do other heavy physical labor under the blows of rifle butts and whips. At work, everyone had to remove all of their outer coats or jackets and throw then to one side. Under rain and, later, under snow, we had to work this way until late at night. As soon as we were released from work, we had to grab an overcoat and run away. Rarely did someone have his [or her] own clothing. Men often grabbed women's and children's coats, women grabbed men's coats and children heavy overcoats of adults. In general, many did not grab something for themselves and would run from the workplace entirely without an overcoat. Kriger, the chief of the Gestapo in Czenstochow at the time, particularly excelled in torturing people at work. He would often demand that the Gestapo premises be cleaned and that women who excelled with musical capabilities should be sent to him personally. He would force them to clean his house up to the highest floors and then he, himself, played a pianoforte while they worked. Kriger also demanded that the Judenrat should assure that two open graves on the Jewish cemetery would always be ready for Jewish criminals. The graves were often filled and fresh graves had to be prepared. However, this alone did not satisfy the members of the Gestapo and they would often carry out arrests among Jews, sending them to jail and sending them to the Olsztiner woods with larger groups of Poles, where they were executed and buried on the spot. Among the members of the Gestapo, a certain Szabelski, a Volks-Deutsch (a Volks-Deutsch, a former policeman, at the time of the Sanacja*), showed particular sadism and savagery. This murderer was feared for a long time not only by the Jews, but also by the Poles whom he tortured no less than the Jews.

*[Translator's note: A Volks-Deutsch was an ethnic German living in Poland. The Sanacja was a nationalist political movement in Poland that emerged after the 1926 coup that brought Józef Piłsudski back to power. The Sanacja was authoritarian and opposed parliamentary democracy.]

* * *

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Catching [Jews] for work became a daily phenomenon. The appearance of a Jew in the street was connected to the danger of being caught for work and beaten returning late. When walking in the street, everyone moved along at the walls in order to be able to hurry into a gate and disappear in a moment of danger. In addition, no one was secure at home, not knowing if he would be successful in passing the day without pain.

On the 14th of September 1939 (the first day of Rosh Hashanah) hordes of Hitlerists appeared in the thickly populated Jewish neighborhood and drove the Jews out of all of the houses to work. This drive to work was accompanied by various curses. The torturers would shout, “Lazy people, they wanted the war,” and then beat with murderous blows. Dante-like scenes were played out at the bridge that connected the center of the city with the Zawodzie suburb. Groups of Germans with rifles ready to shoot stood on both sides of the river. One division of Germans forced the Jews with blows from the rifle butts to crawl into the water fully dressed and pick out stones from the ground with bare hands. In a similar manner at a second place near the Czenstochowianka (textile factory), the Germans forced the Jews to drag out heavy, long beams from a destroyed bridge and to pull out the nails with their teeth. The 24-year old Yudl Granek[1] was shot for not wanting to carry out the order. This was the first bloody victim at work, which was to serve as a warning for everyone that no one shall dare to turn away from carrying out his orders.

Jews were grabbed in the streets; they were pulled from their residences and from the hiding places in the attics and cellars. No one knew where he was being chased, when he would return, how he would return and, in general, if he would return home again. Often after an entire day of work and pain, the same one would be pulled out of bed at night and driven to work again. Mostly the crowds who were driven to work had to march in rows and sing. Those who could not sing also moved their lips in order that the torturer, God forbid, might not notice that someone dared to not carry out their demands.

On a frosty Friday night of January 1940 the gendarmes of police battalion 72, which was stationed in the Narutowicz Synagogue, under the leadership of Chief Ambras and his close accomplices, Hauptwachtmeister [warrant officer] Cangrel and Kabak, surrounded several streets thickly populated by Jews and shouted: “Juden raus [Jews out]!” They started to enter the Jewish residences.

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Thousands of men, women and mainly young girls were pulled from their beds and driven half naked to the large square in the new market. After holding them for hours in the cutting frost, the wounded, severely beaten and frozen people were allowed to go home. Those remaining, who had not had the “luck” to be beaten, wounded or to have frozen limbs, were sent to the large building of the Narutowicz Synagogue. Here, everyone was forced to undress completely naked. The officers as well as the simple gendarmes bullied them in a sadistic manner. The gendarmes carried out gynecological “examinations” of the women. In the morning a number of the Jews there were freed and those remaining were harnessed to various work. The next day, in the evening, they were allowed to go home. Five men did not return then and every trace of them disappeared.

* * *

The eviction of the Jews from their residences began as soon as the Germans took Czenstochow. Later, the frequent removal from individual houses as well as from entire streets began, which were made judenrein [free of Jews]. No one was certain if he would be there in the morning where he had just settled anew the night before. The eviction of the Jews from their residences took place in the following manner: All of the Jewish residents of these houses were driven out into the courtyard and were held there for as long as it took the Germans to loot everything they wanted from the residences. Then the Jews could remove what the Germans allowed and then leave their houses, not having any designated spot to go to live. The evicted Jews had to leave the furniture and other household items in the apartments they left.

Besides the fact that Jewish possessions were stolen during the deportations, individual Germans would visit Jewish residences on “their own” and take everything that pleased them. The first time, the still naïve Jews who were freed sought justice from the organs of the German regime, for which several paid with their lives. This happened to a certain Jew, Pelta from Ostrow and his wife, who had asked General Barimhercik that her household things, which the gendarmes of police battalion 72 had taken on the 28th of December 1939 from her residence, be returned.[2]

On the 25th of September 1939 the first day after Yom Kippur, uniformed young Germans began to demolish the old synagogue on Mirowska Street.

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Many young Volks-Deutsche and other scoundrels actively took part in the demolition and looted everything that was found in the synagogue. This “sacred” handiwork lasted for three full days. On the fourth day only the walls of the synagogue remained. Even the doors, windows and floors were torn out.

On the 25th of December 1939 (Boże Narodzenie – Christmas) a pogrom was carried out against the Jews under the direction of the gendarmes and police battalion 72. When it started to get dark, hundreds of scoundrels left for the Jewish neighborhood and attacked the Jews who were in the street with wild screams, tossed stones at them and beat them with ice skates and sticks[3]. Many of the beaters also began to rob the shops and residents. In the course of one hour 1,000 windowpanes were knocked out and three shops were entirely looted.[4] Simultaneously the only Jewish cigarette kiosk owned by Kawa, the war invalid, was set on fire. Wild scoundrels, (probably German gendarmes who had changed their clothes) began to scream that Jews had hidden a weapons storehouse in the Jewish synagogue on Wilson Street (the so-called “German Synagogue”). Under this pretext the gendarmes blew up the synagogue and began to demolish the inner spaces. At around nine o'clock in the evening, the young scoundrels set fire to the synagogue and for a long time the gendarmes threw grenades into the fire until the entire building was enveloped in flames.

During the time that the tongues of fire rose to the sky, the same gendarmes arrested 20 men, among them two Jews on whom they threw the blame for the events. Early in the morning 19 of the arrestees were freed and the twentieth, a certain Stanislaw Dergowski, 16 years old, they brought to the State Court for taking part in the looting.[5] As a punishment it was ordered that the curfew hours were lengthened.[6]

In the morning of the 26th, the S. S. Hauptscharführer [squad leader], Ditman, sent a report to the security police of the Radom district about this pogrom. The report ended with the statement that “The largest number of those people who carried out this unrestrained behavior should be considered as lower people who search for such opportunities to rob and plunder.” Ditman writes further in his report: “It cannot be ruled out that on New Year's Eve similar events will happen again.”[7] The then chief of police battalion 72 (the actual leader of the pogrom) sent out a sizeable report. Among other words written in the report: “The hostile mood of the Jews can be seen in the fact that Jewish businessmen use New Year's Eve in order to raise the prices, as well as the fact that the number of Jews in Czenstochow keeps growing through constant emigration.”

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In the same report is also written: “This strengthening of the fire in the synagogue in many areas at once makes it impossible to carry out a search there for ammunition.”[8] In the report, again from the city chief to the chief of the Radom district, it is said, that the pogrom was carried out by former students and this probably was the result of the sermons at the Jasna Góra [monastery in Czenstochow, home of the “Black Madonna”] during the service that took place on the 25th of December.[9] Thus appeared the official clarifications by the Germans, who themselves had organized the pogrom and carried it out with the help of the young outcasts. The purpose of the German pogrom provocations was three-pronged: to terrorize the Jewish population and to throw fear into the Poles one by one; second – to dirty the name of the Polish people abroad; third – the old well-known method of “divide and rule.”

The majority of the documents given below are from the occupation, collected and hidden by the author. There are now partially found in the Archives of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, partially in a private archive.

The Judenrat and Its Authority

On the 16th of September 1939 the expert on Jewish matters with the Gestapo called to him Moshe Asz, Rabbi Nukhem Asz's son, and ordered that he give a list of former Jewish social workers who would also now be involved with Jewish matters. Moshe Asz gave the names of several former municipal community workers. On the same day, after the indicated men were ordered to appear in the premises of the Trade Bank on Pilsudski Street no. 3, where this speaker [the Gestapo Jewish expert] accepted them in the presence of two more Gestapo members. In the course of three hours, he kept “persuading” those called that the Jews are a people only of criminals, that they are hiding a large number of weapons in order to murder Germans and, to their knowledge, in Czenstochow itself the Jews had already murdered two German soldiers. He repeated several times in his long “speech” that the Jews did not have any hope of mercy from the Germans. According to his understanding it would be necessary to cleanse the entire Lublin area of non-Jews and move all of the Jews from all occupied areas here. He said that a Jewish state would be created there. In the end he declared to the Jews who stood before him: “Nevertheless, you know that a German regime exists here, what kind of relationship we have with the Jews is certainly known, so know that from today on and further, the Jews must support themselves and generate income!”

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The Jews tried to make him aware that they did not see the possibilities for this because most prosperous Jews had left Czenstochow as soon as the war operation began; he began to curse them and shouted: “If you have less you'll eat less!” Right there he designated a council of six men: Moshe Asz, Leib Bromberg, Nusan-Dovid Berliner, Ahron-Josef Krojcer, Leib Kapinski and Dovid Koniecpoler.[10] He gave them five minutes in which to agree and to divide among themselves the functions of the chairman, vice chairman, secretary and treasurer. This council of six, on the order of the same member of the Gestapo, had to provide the number of Jewish workers and tradesmen that were demanded by the German regime organs. The council would also have to cover all of the expenses that would be connected with carrying out the work that the German municipal organs would decide.

On the 1st of October 1939, Kapinski, the chairman of the council of six, was called to the city chief. Here he was given notice that all of the Jews from Berlin, from all of Germany and from all of the cities and shtetlekh [towns] around Czenstochow that were annexed to the Reich would be brought to Czenstochow and the Judenrat would need to house them in the streets that run from the train bridge (the end of the First Aleje) up to the bridge over the Warta River (in 1941 these streets were designated as the Jewish ghetto). As a result Kapinski received an order that on that same day he had to put together a Judenrat [Jewish council] of 24 people who would have to deal with all of the Jewish matters and also with quartering all of the Jews transferred to Czenstochow. That day the council of six called together a meeting of about 100 Jews from the almost 25,000 who then lived in Czenstochow, who elected a Judenrat of the following 24 men: Leib Kapinski (a manufacturer, a Zionist community worker, a former managing committee member of the cultural society, Lira and a managing committee member of the Hebrew-Polish gymnazie [secondary school], Moshe Asz (rabbinate official), Nusan-Dovid Berliner (partner in an exchange bank), Mordekhai Beserglik (merchant), Ziskind Brandliewicz (teacher), Yehiel Gerichter (Zionist), Wolf Icek (Zionist), Nakhman Grynfeld and Josef Klajnplac (rabbinate members], Josef Braniatowski (lawyer), Leib Bromberg (manufacturer, Mizrakhi [Religious Zionist], Dovid Koniecpoler (a Zionist, an artisan activist), Ahron-Josef Krojcer (merchant), Jakob Lewit (manufacturer, vice president of Mizrakhi in Czenstochow), Shmuel Lewkowicz (engineer, house owner), Maurici Nojfeld (vice president of the Merchants and Manufacturers Union), Shmuel Niemerowski (president of the small merchants union), Natan Rodal (lawyer), Zelik Rotbard (merchant, Zionist), Jakob Roziner (bookkeeper, Democrat), Mikhal Ruczewicz (merchant), Adam Slonimski (gymnazie lecturer, assimilated), Gershon Szafir (Zionist, kehile [organized Jewish community] council man, gymnazie lecturer), and Wilhelm Czeriker (manufacturer).

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The presidium of the Judenrat consisted of the following five members: L. Kapinski – chairman, L. Bromberg – vice chairman, N. D. Berliner – treasurer and presidium members without offices – Nojfeld and Gerichter.[11] The members of the Judenrat divided the various functions among themselves and started to organize their work.

During the second half of the month of November 1939 the then city chief, Dr. Wendler, ordered all members of the Judenrat to report to him immediately. As soon as they entered the building of the city chief they were surrounded by gendarmes and members of the Gestapo and placed in two rows. Then Wendler appeared and announced to them that the Jewish population must pay a 1,000,000 zlotes contribution over the course of 10 days. If this were not carried out during the designated term, 100 Jews would be shot. One group of members was freed in order to gather the designated sum and the second was taken to the city jail as hostages. In the course of the 10 designated days the freed members of the Judenrat taxed the Jews for this purpose and simultaneously carried out negotiations with Wendler that he decrease the sum of the contribution placed [on the Jews]. The Judenrat did not succeed in putting together the designated sum and it did not succeed in “softening” Wendler's heart. Therefore, on the 10th day all of the wives of the hostages were arrested and they were taken to a special camp with their husbands, which had been prepared for them in the city itself. On the 14th day they succeeded in ransoming [the hostages] with money and objects. The contribution was reduced to 400,000 zl., which the Judenrat had to pay in installments.[12]

* * *

The authority and tasks of the Judenrat kept increasing. Therefore, the Judenrat created even more divisions. During 1940 the following divisions were active at the Judenrat: 1. Division of General Matters (presidium).

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In the beginning, the leader of this division was Pohorille and, later, Gitler, the lawyer; 2. Chief Secretariat – the leader was the lawyer, Dr. Leib Asz, his representative – Avraham Fogel; 3. Request Office, leader – the lawyer Leon Gajzler; 4. IRU (Inspekcja Ruchu Ulicznego – traffic inspection) (Jewish police), leader – M. Galster; 5. Housing Office, 18 officials worked there under the leadership of Bernard Kohlenberger; 6. Requisition Office, under the leadership of the same Kohlenberger; 7. Trade and Artisan Division with eight officials. Leaders: M. Prafart and lawyer Ester Epsztajn; 8. Food Supply Leaders – former bank director – Pruszicki; 9. Registration and Statistics. This division arose in the month of January 1940. Employed here were 11 officials under the leadership of the lawyer, Marian Haspnfeld and Maurici Safirsztajn. At the end of 1940 these divisions under the same leadership grew into eight sections that employed 63 officials; 10. Division for Forced Labor, which fell upon various sections in which 102 officials were employed under the leadership of Moshe Kapinski; 11. Punishment Division, under the leadership of D. Kasman and two other officials: the lawyer M. Renenweter and Y. Rifsztajn; 12. Finance Division, leader Maurici Kacinel; 13. Social Aid, which employed 178 officials under the leadership of N. Radal; 14. Courts Commission. At the general meeting of all lawyers and apprentice lawyers that took place on the 26th of December 1939, it was decided to create this commission that would work to reconcile conflicts among the Jews and also serve with legal advice. This commission began its activities in January 1940. The chairman of this commission was the lawyer M. Konarski, representative – W. Rajchman and secretariat, W. Krakower and A. Radal. Twenty-six lawyers belonged to this commission during the first three months of 1940; at the end of 1940, the commission consisted of 35 members. Twenty-one male lawyers and two women, of them 16 were from Czenstochow and seven from other cities (refugees). Apprentices – five local and five refugees and two judicial apprentices. This division was independent and the Judenrat did not have any great influence there. In addition to the offices mentioned, still others existed at the Judenrat: a technical division, an economic division, a division for training in the trades and a division for religious matters.[13] All of these enumerated offices of the Judenrat were active during the entire course of time until the great expulsion (September 1942). At the end of 1940, the Judenrat selected Pohorille as the organizational chief who had supervision over all the offices, and Gitler as his representative.[14]

The Judenrat needed to be concerned not only with the internal life of the ghetto, but it also had to carry out all of the demands and orders of the German administrative organs, as well as from every other German office that was located in the city. Municipal construction work had to be carried out at its own cost and only using Jewish craft-specialists and with Jewish workers.

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The Judenrat had to provide everything they needed to all Germans and their families who were already in Czenstochow: with skillfully remodeled and beautifully furnished homes, with linen, bedding, crockery, wallpaper and other things. Even the cleaning, furnishing and arranging the house of the former Akser gymnazie as a “down house” for Germans (house of shame – a brothel), to which women specially were brought from Germany, had to be organized by the Judenrat and paid for by the Jewish population. In order to carry out everything else that the Germans demanded, as well as to cover the costs connected with the internal work, the Judenrat placed heavy taxes on the Jewish population and requisitioned from Jewish residences not only what was needed by the Germans in a given moment, but much more, in order eventually to be ready to cover further orders. At the proposal of the Judenrat, the city chief ordered the arrest of the Jews who refused to pay the designated taxes and they would be held there until they paid the demanded tax sum. The circumstances of the contribution and the activity of the Judenrat in general, which the Jewish population felt still more, convinced a certain number of members of the council that they absolutely did not serve the Jewish population as they imagined in the beginning, but that they were a tool in the hands of the Germans at the expense of the Jews. Therefore, they began to turn away from the work, During the course of several months, the presidium of the Judenrat removed the following members for sabotaging the work: Asz, Razine, Beserglik, Brandlewicz, Broniatowski, Grynfeld, Klajnplac, Niemirowski, Ruszewicz and Szafir and one more (Y. Lewit), who traveled abroad. Appointed in their place were: Wolf Anisfeld (Zionist), Dovid Borzykowski (merchant), Maurici Galster (expeditor), Jeremy Gitler (lawyer, Zionist), Shmuel Kac (master tailor), Maurici Kacinel (independent), Moshe Kapinski (manufacturer), Bernard Kurland (proxy for a large firm), Shiman Paharille [alternately spelled Pohorille] (lawyer), Maurici Prapart (merchant) and Hilary Zandsztajn (estate owner). In addition to those, Shmuel Wajnrib (merchant), who was a man from the Gestapo and, therefore, was the liaison between the Judenrat and the Gestapo, was designated. Thus, at the beginning of 1940, the Judenrat consisted of 25 members.[15]

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The composition of the presidium also changed. In the first quarter of 1940, the presidium of the Judenrat consisted of the following seven members: Leib Kapinski, Leib Bromberg, Dr. Shiman Pohorille, Nusan-Dovid Berliner, Yehiel Gerichter, Jeremy Gitler and Zelig Rotbart [alternately spelled Rotbard].[16] Bromberg died in 1941. The remaining composition of the entire council and the presidium remained until the large liquidation of the Czentochow Jewish community.

* * *

Edicts from the German regime organs appeared very often. One more severe than the other and decrees from the Judenrat appeared more often that reflected the orders of these regime organs. The response and reaction of the Jews to various edicts was not always the same. One of the first official edicts was the order to wear armbands. A decree was issued on the 15th of December 1939 that Jews from 14 years of age on must wear a white armband with the blue Star of David of 10 centimeters on the right arm over the elbow. It was not easy to become accustomed to this new “style.” They were somewhat ashamed as if they had committed a crime in public. However, the feeling of shame little by little disappeared and they began to assert: “Why should we be ashamed, let those who thought it up be ashamed.” Later, when one met Jews from the shtetlekh around Czenstochow with yellow Stars of David patches on their chests and on their backs, it was believed that we somehow were special because we had been humiliated less. It was not easy to accustom oneself to this and people would often forget to put the band on the arm before going outside in the street and this caused much pain. The Germans started to chase the “insubordinates,” who would then pay for their “nerve” with money, with jail, or with both penalties together. In order to avoid such “surprises,” a note hung in almost every house at the door to the outside with the inscription: Attention, arm-bands! A large blue Star of David had to hang in the window of every Jewish shop so that the non-Jewish customers would know which shops belonged to Jews. These arrangements were accepted indifferently by everyone because the non-Jewish population that had always bought from the Jews did not pay attention to this and the Jews were happy that the Germans would not come to shop.

On the 8th of April 1940, the city-chief supported by a decree of the 24th of January 1940 about the duty to report Jewish estates, ordered the Jewish population to register their movable and immovable possessions.

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The city-chief announced that all Jews estates, as well as the possessions of converts and non-Jews who had Jewish husbands or Jewish wives, were included. A second edict from the city-chief about the same matter was published on the 7th of May 1940. All of these decrees did not make a great impression on the Jews in Czenstochow because after the beginning of March 1940 almost all Jewish possessions had been confiscated, all Jewish shops, except those selling produced goods, were already locked and the keys were located in the offices of the city-chief. Jews were not permitted to have more than 2,000 zlotes and, later, only 500.[18] The remainder of one's money had to be paid into the K.K.O. (Communal Savings Fund) for a savings account from which he had the right, only formally, to take up to 100 zl. each week for a livelihood. About six weeks later, on the 15th of April, the Judenrat created a requisition office, which was led by the then leader of the housing office, Bernard Kohlenbrener, who disregarded any sentiment. This institution requisitioned 6,964 pieces of furniture and other household articles from the Jews just from the 15th of April until the 5th of August 1940 and then during September.[19] On the 14th of June 1940 the city-chief ordered that the Judenrat gather together various metals up to three kilograms per family, or tin up to one and a half kilos from a family.[20] The Judenrat demanded of all administrators that in the course of 48 hours they gather from among the tenants in the houses that they manage, the demanded metal.[21] The Jews did not take this edict very seriously and the Judenrat increased the time for presenting the metal three times. Finally the Judenrat had to add a certain amount of metal from stores that were located in their warehouses. However, all of the enumerated demands and many others caused the poverty among the Jewish population to be felt even more. It is worthwhile mentioning that the bread ration per person allotted by the German and Austrian powers amounted to an average of 50 grams.[22] Later, the bread ration reached up to 100 grams per person, but not consistently.[23] The situation again became more dreadfully worse. There was suffering today and fear of tomorrow.

* * *

Because of frequent ousters from residences, houses, as well as entire streets, the Judenrat, in the first days of its work, created a housing office in which 18 officials were employed.

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The leader of this office was Kohlenbrener, who with his elegant and beautiful German quickly found favor in German eyes and, therefore, used his influence personally for himself. The housing office hardly helped the poor and impoverished Jews, who were forced to seek a roof over their head. The refugees wandered around refugee points in so-called “refuges.” The “refuges” were located in the synagogue on Mirowska Street 9-11, Hakhnoses-Orkhim [institution to help the poor and visitors] on Garncarska Street number 65, Artisans School on Garncarska no. 86, in a residence at the Old Market no. 18, in the prayer house on Berka Joselewicza Street no. 10, on Pilsudski Street no. 17, in the former premises of the Bund and in the former premises of the Zionist organization in Aleje Wolnosci no. 3-5. After a time, there were also “refuges” in the First Aleje no. 12 in the former premises of the artisans and in the premises of the Makhzekei haDas [those who inforce the law – an organization to improve education and observance] on Nadrzeczna Street.[24]

* * *

Czenstochow became an important location during the Second World War, where refugees arrived from various cities in Poland. The number of Jews, who amounted to 28,485[25] before the war, strongly increased during the years 1940, 1941 and 1942. Exactly how many refugees were in Czenstochow is not known. It is only known how many refugees arrived in the first 10 months of 1940 because until then the Judenrat did not cause difficulties for the refugees with registration and settling in Czenstochow. However, seeing that more poor refugees were arriving, the Judenrat carried out certain selections in order to avoid an excessive burden, in registering the newly arrived.[26] On the basis of an edict from the city-chief, the city hall did not register the newly arrived Jews. It is written in the second volume Statistical Yearbook (Rocznik Statystyczny) of the Judenrat of 1940: the food division maintains only the residents who are registered with city hall. As reported by the statistical office of the Judenrat, 3,252 refugees arrived in Czenstochow. Among the refugees were 1,791 men and 1,461 women. Of them, 676 were children up to 14 years old and 154 old people over 66.[27] A large number of these refugees came from Lodz, 1,116 men; from Krakow – 771; from Warsaw – 106; from Radomsk – 283 and the rest came from other cities in Poland, such as Gdansk, Lublin, Kielce, Radom, from shtetlekh and villages around Czenstochow and from various other cities and shtetlekh in Poland. Not all of the refugees came from the places from which they arrived. Many of them had changed their places of residence several times during the war.[28] Former residents, who left Czenstochow at the beginning of the war, had arrived. Three thousand former residents returned just during the time from the 1st of January 1940 to the 31st of December 1940.[29] Several also came, who had family or acquaintances here with whom they expected to receive a temporary refuge.

Many refugees came to Czenstochow during the course of the years 1940 and 1941, about which we can draw the following facts:

On the 20th of January the inner managing committee in the district in Radom asked the city-chief about the possibility of Czenstochow taking those deported from the territory within the boundaries of the German Reich. On the 8th of March 1940 Wendler answered that Czenstochow had already taken 5,173 forced evacuees and in addition there were 16,000 refugees still present from earlier. On the 14th of May an order came that the Radom district would have to take 20,000 additional refugees and Jews, as well as 500 gypsies. On the 18th of July, the General Government demanded a report from the city-chief about the number deported to Czenstochow. On the 25th of July Wendler sent an answer that the city was over-populated because there were now 14,035 homeless people that had appeared, among them 6,224 Poles and 7,811 Jews. In addition, Wendler reported that there were no arrivals mentioned that can be evaluated: Poles from four to five thousand and Jews from 12 to 15 thousand. It was recorded in Wendler's notes from a “service discussion” and it was discussed there, that 38,000 people would be evacuated, among whom would be found 10,000 Jews from Vienna, from the 1st of February 1941 to the 30th of April of the same year from the incorporated parts of the Reich and from other parts of the area of the Reich.[30] Exactly how many of all of the refugees actually arrived in Czenstochow and how many of them were Jews is unknown. However, it was known by every resident of Czenstochow that during the entire time of the occupation, that in one arrival in Czenstochow of Jewish refugees, there were both illegal and deported, that the Germans sent in from the cities and shtetlekh that they made judenrein [clean of Jews].

[Page 20]

In the month of February and March of 1941 2,300 Jews were deported from Plonsk and Bodzanow to Czenstochow. At the end of February 1941, 780 Jews from Plonsk were held on the train-line between Konicepol and Zloty-Potok, from where they escaped and came to Czenstochow. The Germans brought 1,200 Jews from Bodzanow and 500 Jews from Plonsk to Czenstochow; they were held on the ramp during the 7th and 8th of March and finally permitted to enter the city when the city-chief gave this his agreement.[31] However much larger the number of Jews grew, the Germans shrunk the Jewish living area in the city. At the beginning of 1940 the Jews, who lived here before the war in almost all 400 streets of the city, were pushed into only 84 streets. During the first half of 1941 the Jews were pushed into only 28 streets that were designated as the ghetto for the Jews in Czenstochow.

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  1. Reported his time by eyewitness Birenholc. return
  2. Personal written requests to the Judenrat [Jewish council] by the Barenhercyk and Pelta families. return
  3. Written report of Police Battalion 72 on the 26th of December 1939. return
  4. Written report of the city chief on the 17th of December 1939. return
  5. Written report of the Gestapo on the 27th of December 1939. return
  6. Written report of the city chief on the 26th of December 1939. return
  7. Written reports of the Gestapo and Police Battalion 72. return
  8. Written reports of the Gestapo and Police Battalion 72. return
  9. Written reports of the Gestapo and Police Battalion 72. return
  10. Reports of the time by eyewitnesses Moshe Asz and Jakov Rozine. return
  11. Statistical Book of Judenrat [Jewish council] Volume I. return
  12. Reports of the time by Jakov Rozine. return
  13. Statistical Book of Judenrat [Jewish council] Volume I, II and III. return
  14. Statistical Book of Judenrat [Jewish council] Volume I page 12. return
  15. Statistical Book of Judenrat [Jewish council] Volume I page 11. return
  16. Statistical Book of Judenrat [Jewish council] Volume I page 11. return
  17. Statistical Book of Judenrat [Jewish council] Volume II pages 228, 259.
  18. Statistical Book of Judenrat [Jewish council]. return
  19. Statistical Book of Judenrat [Jewish council] Volume I page 68. return
  20. Statistical Book of Judenrat [Jewish council] Volume II page 250. return
  21. Statistical Book of Judenrat [Jewish council] Volume II page 250. return
  22. Written message from the Judenrat [Jewish council] to the city chief. return
  23. Letter from the city chief to the Judenrat [Jewish council]. return
  24. Statistical Book of Judenrat [Jewish council] Volume III pages 406-412. return
  25. Report of the Evidence Division of the City Managing Committee no. A-891/I/47. return
  26. Statistical Book of Judenrat [Jewish council] Volume II page 126. return
  27. Statistical Book of Judenrat [Jewish council] Volume II pages 163-165. return
  28. Statistical Book of Judenrat [Jewish council] Volume II pages 167-168. return
  29. Statistical Book of Judenrat [Jewish council] Volume II page 135. return
  30. Report from the city chief. return
  31. Daily report of the city chief of the 24th of March 1941 no. 41/17. return

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