The actual number of Jews in Czenstochow was always more than the number of Jews recorded at city hall. This could be explained by the fact that not all Jews, particularly the poor, complied at the proper time in reporting their newborn children. Significantly, during the occupation years, the actual number of Jews amounted to more than the number of Jews reported. This is because the refugees and even the regular residents who returned from their wandering during the start of the war period did not report because, Let us just see how things will look. Mainly, they did not want to appear on any list so as to avoid for as long as possible the multiple taxes that were placed on everyone by the Judenrat at every opportunity as well as to avoid carrying out the duty of forced labor. Later, the order arrived from the city chief that no Jew could be registered without his permission. Very few Jews asked the city chief for permission to register, fearful of the consequences for arriving in the city illegally.
We rely on two sources to deal with the structure of the occupation years:
The statistical office of the city hall stated in the above-mentioned report the number of registered Jews in Czenstochow according to the following table:
|Year and month
|Number of Jews
|For how many souls
At the end of 1940 the statistical office at the Judenrat closed the files of
the Jews in Czenstochow and carried out an analysis of the age, sex, education
and profession of the 32,744 Jews who comprised the files. This research ended
at the beginning of March 1941 and provided the following results:
|70 and older
To the stated numbers from the ages 10-14 and 15-19, as well as 50-59 and 60-69 must be added a certain criterion, because to avoid the obligation of forced labor, a certain number of young people from the age of 14, reported as younger and Jews younger than 60 gave older ages. The exact opposite occurring in 1942 because the obsession arose then to be hidden at the temporary workplaces and everyone then wanted to be considered in the category of being capable of working.
In carrying out the analysis of the educational standing of the 32,744 Jews, the Statistical Office of the Judenrat took into consideration that children up to the age of 10 had received no education because of the specific situation and, therefore, were not counted in any category. Jews 10 years old and older were considered; this consisted of 28,542 people. Of them, 3,782, that is 13.29 percent were illiterate, of them 1,454 men and 2,328 women; 14,401, that is 50.45 percent, who could read and write, of them 7,236 men and 7,164 women; 5,858 finished elementary school, that is 20.51 percent, of them 2,727 men, 3,131 women; there were 2,653 with a middle [school] education, that is 9.28 percent, of them 1,054 men, 1,599 women; there were 394 with higher education, that is 1.38 percent, of them 252 men, 142 women; those with informal educations 1,454, that is 5.09 percent, of them 594 men, 860 women.
When the statistical report about the Jewish population was compiled in 1940,
the Statistical Office at the Judenrat eliminated children up to age 10 and
considered the number 28,542.
Deducted from this were all economically passive elements, 9,479 women who were in the majority busy with running a house and 5,089 male and female students. The general number of economically active who worked to earn a living made up 13,974. There were 4,765 artisans, 3,295 workers, 1,959 traders and merchants, 662 manufacturers, 1,531 without designated trades, 1,088 officials, 272 free professions [medicine and law] were among this number of the economically active. The rest consisted of agricultural workers, musicians and so on. The statistics from the same office look different in 1941; that is illustrated in diagram number 58.
According to all probabilities the Judenrat statistical office used and studied the pre-war professions of everyone because in 1940 the Jews could not be employed in any agricultural work or in the free professions, which included 43 lawyers, and it was then known that lawyers could not be employed in their profession. The same can be said of teachers because only a small number of gymnazie [secondary school] professors led illegal student groups and from this drew a means of support. Another proof that the statistical office at the Judenrat used and studied pre-war employment for everyone is the fact that on the 9th of May 1942 the city chief received a telegraphic demand from the chief of the Radom district to give the exact number of artisans in Czenstochow. The Judenrat provided a list of artisans who were employed in their trades, which consisted of the following:
According to the statements of the Judenrat statistical office it appears that in 1940 504 weddings took place. Ninety-eight of them fell in the first half of the year and 406 in the second half of the year. The greatest number of weddings took place in the month of December 169. This phenomenon [occurred] in the second half of 1940 when a rumor spread that the rabbinate would have the right to provide a wedding ceremony until the 31st of December 1940 and that there would be an interruption in the right of the rabbinate for an entire two years after this period.
|Up to age 19
|40 and higher
This consisted of approximately 16 weddings for every 1,000 members of the population. The same office showed that before the war, there were 7.8 weddings for every 1,000 members of the population.
According to statements by the statistical office at the city hall, in 1939 260 weddings took place. In 1940 500, in 1941 284 and during the first quarter of 1942 78.
The Judenrat statistical office [said] that 351 children were born in 1940; of
them, 170 boys and 181 girls. That made 10.7 for every 1,000 [residents]. The
same office showed that in 1936-1938 there were 18.9 born for every 1,000
members of the Jewish population.
The statistical office at the city hall indicated that births among the Jewish population were: in 1939 339, in 1940 480 and in 1941 281 and in the first three months of 1942 66.
The statistical office at the city hall indicated that births among the Jewish population were: in 1939 339, in 1940 480 and in 1941 281 and in the first three months of 1942 66.
In a report about mortality among the Jewish population the Judenrat statistical office states that in 1940 260 men and 243 women died. The 503 people who died amounted to approximately 16 cases of death for each 1,000 [people] in the population. It is noticed that in comparison to the years 1936-1938, the mortality rate increased by 5.7 for each 1,000.
The statistical office at the city hall again provided the following steady progress of mortality and the natural increase among the Jewish population:
|1941 first quarter
The numbers given, both when it talks about the structure and about the natural movement, cannot be accepted as absolute because in the specific conditions in which the Jewish population lived it was impossible for the above-mentioned office to be able to learn everything precisely and to record it. From that which is provided we see that on one side the births kept decreasing and the cases of death increased. This throws a certain light on the conditions of Jewish life in Czenstochow during the occupation years from 1939 to the 22nd of September 1942, when the German murderers began to carry out their deportation decree across the entire Jewish settlement in Czenstochow.
The life of the Jews in the ghetto was difficult. The Judenrat sent out notices, demands and decrees every few days that began with the refrain: At the order of the regime Such announcements and decrees always brought anxiety. The anxiety would be felt particularly when direct edicts appeared from the occupying regime that always began with threats of persecutions or the death penalty.
With the anxious mood, which kept getting more anxious with the arrival of 1942, there arrived an insecurity that everyone wanted to deny. News went from ear to ear that the Jews were being gassed somewhere; they were being taken in vehicles and in such a manner the Germans were annihilating the Jews from the small shtetlech [towns]. It was reported that a Jew who escaped to Czenstochow from a small shtetl outside Lodz said very secretly that he, himself, had buried his wife and child who had perished in such a manner [as described above]. All of the news was repeated many times and yet everyone added: Somehow I do not believe that something like this could happen. They also spoke about this, that the young doctors who were sent to the Lublin area were deported somewhere with all of the Jews from the shtetlech and every trace of them disappeared. However, the families and relatives of these doctors consoled themselves, [believing] that without doubt they were deported with those Jews from the destroyed shtetlech and villages in Ukraine where they only were forced to do heavy labor. The mood was depressed and there began apparent acts of suicide. A certain Avner, a former teacher, deliberately left the ghetto so that he would be shot and it did happen; a certain Nachum Majmun hanged himself in the bath at Garibaldi Street 18.
In spring 1942 the news about the fate of Lublin exploded like a thunderbolt. The destruction of Lublin was talked about in every house, about which the Germans themselves had spoken and this caused the Jews to start thinking more about the fate of the Czenstochow ghetto. Meanwhile, the Gestapo increased the terror and the frequent murders. The Gestapo shot three Jews on the 18th of June 1942; on the 7th of June 1942 the Gestapo entered Betsalel Walberg's shop, which was located at Orlicz-Dreszer Street, and shot the owner. These cases became known in the ghetto. Still more shootings took place of which the ghetto did not know.
At the beginning of July 1942 all of the men from the age of 16 to 60 were
driven out of their residences, positioned at the old market, the new market
and the 1st Aleje where they were held for hours. The Jews interpreted this as
a kind of test selection carried out in this manner by General
Boettcher from Radom with the city chief, Dr. Franke. The unease thus kept
increasing when the news about the expulsions in Warsaw began to arrive. At the
same time the German Sondergericht [special court], which would sentence Jews
to the punishment of death for leaving the ghetto, began punishment with prison
and with deportation for the same sin.
At the same time, the Jews were shot for leaving the ghetto or for some other kind of sin without any kind of legal judgment. Thus were the 33-year old Anshl Renkszowski and Yisroel-Mordechai Szitowski shot outside the ghetto on the 12th of August 1942. The terror in the ghetto itself increased horribly. On the 3rd of August gendarmes attacked the Jewish hospital on Przemyslowa, destroyed the furniture, beat the Jewish policeman, Birnholc, who served there and stole various things of value. Soldiers and members of the Luftwaffe attacked not only Jewish civilians in the streets, but even Jewish policemen who were in service. Therefore, everyone saw the threatening danger that lay in wait for the Czenstochow Jewish community. Everyone who had the opportunity of making contact with Polish acquaintances tried to do so and firstly arranged for a hiding place for their children. In a similar manner, several arranged for a hiding place for the entire family. Meanwhile, the city chief announced that he was setting up shops at Metalurgia on Krutka Street where work would be done for internal German use and all of those who were employed there would no be affected by any deportations. He ordered machines and a payment of one and half million gildn from the Judenrat so that the Jews could work there. From the 31st of July until the 13th of August 1942, the Judenrat, through its officials specially designated for this purpose, confiscated from the Jews machines necessary to organize the workshops with the aid of the Jewish police and simultaneously tried to soften the heart of the city chief in regard to the payment of money. After long negotiations, Franke, the city chief, agreed to take the payment in three installments and he immediately received the first payment of half a million. The confiscated sewing machines, brush machines and fur workshops were set up in Metalurgia. Jewish leaders were designated for each separate workshop and a separate director was responsible for all workshops.
The hope of those who were not employed at the so-called secure temporary
workplaces now turned to the shops. Every worker tried to
obtain the red booklet at his temporary workplace and have it
stamped at the German work office. Such a booklet was supposed to indicate that
its owner was a needed person. The lines in front of the labor office grew
longer from day to day. At the courtyard at Aleje 12, where the Judenrat
enrolled workers in the shops, it was dark with the thousands of
people who waited here for the luck to be accepted.
Doctors, lawyers, teachers, professors, female Froblists [kindergarten teachers], musicians and artists; directors, merchants, manufacturers and simple traders, who had paid not to have to work or had tried to avoid heavy labor were now transformed into shoemakers, tailors, furriers, locksmiths and brushmakers (only such shops were set up). There were also huge lines in front of the premises of the Judenrat. Here, hundreds of similar skeletons wrapped in rags with hands eaten by leprosy, pushed themselves to the windows of the Judenrat officials and did everything to persuade the Judenrat members and their officials that they the starving, exhausted Jews driven out of cities and shtetlech were not so poor, needed no help, had enough strength to work and as a necessary element they had the full right to continue to remain in the city. The officials, who were employed in the social aid division at the Judenrat, again began to destroy cards from the files with the names of those who had come for aid. Now, the underground political parties, in view of the emergence of the great danger, began to negotiate about united action against the occupiers.
Meanwhile, the Germans kept preparing to carry out the expulsion. On the 10th
of July 1942 the security police arranged for the edges of the sidewalks to be
whitewashed on the corners of every street, that the houses on every street
where the ghetto ended be whitewashed up to two meters high, that the entrances
of every cellar room be whitewashed and so on. The Jews interpreted this order
as the Germans wanting each of them to be easier to locate in the ghetto.
However, so that this order would not evoke any feelings of surprise from the
Jews, it also was ordered that the squares at the new market (it was here that
the selections later took place) be seeded with grass. It was simultaneously
reported that the Jews had the right to gather in the prayer houses during the
Jewish holidays and that the leaders and commissars at all temporary workplaces
had the right on this holiday day at their own discretion to free the Jewish
workers from work. These decrees, which were probably intended to lull the
attention of the Jews to sleep, had just the opposite effect. The mistrust of
German reassurances kept growing and with the mistrust grew the unease that had
as its culmination the approaching Days of Awe when the city leadership began
to mix less in the private matters of the ghetto (this happened after
Boettcher's visit at the beginning of September when the secret deliberations
among the prominent Germans in Czenstochow took place), as opposed to the
security police who began to appear more in the ghetto.
All of the Jews who lived on Kawia Street were moved (during the aktsia the large mass grave for the thousands of Jews who were shot in the course of five weeks that the expulsion lasted was created here); the security police also threw out the Jews who lived on Garibaldi Street in the houses 26 and 28 (during the aktsia they organized the storehouses here for the possessions they stole). Members of the Gestapo headed by Shabelski (Shabelski was the terror of the ghetto; his name always evoked dread) began to carry out more frequent searches, beatings and looting. (After the liberation, Shabelski was sentenced to death by the Polish court in Czenstochow.) Frankowski, Dzherzszon, who always had a large dog helping, Laszinski, Kestener, Hantke (veyser kop [white head), Afitz (Gorgl [Adam's apple]), Shot (Zigeyner [gypsy]), who had, as was told, shot the 26-year old Jeszenowicz for crossing the boundary of the ghetto at Kocapsker Bridge at Wilson Street in March 1942, Shmid (Cyrkowiec [acrobat]), Kirsch (Pesele), as well as Klibsh and Schlosser, who were the closest and most trusted men of Lieutenant Werner, Degenhardt's representative, excelled with their savagery. Onblach, Degenhardt's chauffeur, made frequent visits to Jewish residences, beating and robbing [the residents] of everything that he liked.
The mood in the ghetto already was terrible on Erev [eve of] Yom Kippur. It went from person to person that there was an annihilation commando in the city. The anxiety grew over the course of a day. At night, they began to light the Yom Kippur candles and the ghetto was transformed into great lamentations. Formerly, Jews had the right to not work on Yom Kippur morning; now very, very few Jews made use of this right. Rumors spread that the Jewish friends of the state such as Gnot, Jaczombek, Herman, Kulibejke, Beser, Szeptel, Mechtiger and others, left the ghetto and hid on the Aryan side. It was related that Paul Lange, the chazan [cantor], the German leader of the furniture factory, quietly advised the Jewish workers at this temporary workplace not to go home after ending their work but to remain at their workplace overnight. The workers at the furniture factory, Braland, Rawa and at the Horowicz and Partners factory quickly prepared bunkers at the workplaces and smuggled in their closest family members.
At night on Yom Kippur, the 21st of September 1924,* all of the ghetto streets were filled with fascist Ukrainians and Lithuanian auxiliary police, under the leadership of the members of the Gestapo and security police and the expulsion action began. A frightening tragedy for the large Czenstochower community began.
JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of
the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.
Czestochowa, Poland Yizkor Book Project JewishGen Home Page
Copyright © 1999-2024 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 13 May 2017 by OR