The morning of the 22nd of September 1942, the ghetto trembled. Jewish policemen carried the desolating news to their acquaintances that the ghetto was being surrounded on all sides by fascist Ukrainian Hilfspolizei [auxiliary police]. Thousands of people ran around the ghetto from room to room, from house to house, from street to street. They kissed and said goodbye. The tumult was endless. They cried, they shouted, they ran and they dragged packs with them. Some dragged packs of bed linen with them, some a backpack, some a bundle and some a few dishes. They ran as if they were pulling themselves out of a terrible fire. I, too, was chased from street to street. Here I was at the market, here at the old market, here I was on Mirowska [Street], here on Garncarksa and here I was on Nadrzeczna [Street]. Here I went with the storm to Rynek Warszawski [a square now named Ghetto Fighters Square]. I wanted to go back but I could not. I was prevented by the storm of people and mainly the fascist auxiliary police who made us understand with the butts of their rifles that there was no way back Warszawer Street, Krotka. The streets were blocked with people. Dozens of gendarmes and members of the Gestapo, dozens of the Polish police, hundreds of bandits from the auxiliary formation. Under the hail of blows, groups were driven to the Metalurgia, where the shops were set up. Wives were torn from husbands and children from parents. They struggled with the murderers; they wanted to go together. Whoever stood opposed, fell with a shattered skull. The same happened to those who did not let themselves be torn from their wife and child, or dared to say goodbye to their wife and child. Krotka Street was full of frightful laments. Mothers, crazy with desperation, called their lost children and fell with shattered skulls. The shouting and crying of hundreds of children who were calling their mothers tore through the air. The ranks of Metalurgia became even denser and longer. Human shadows with hands stretched out, which held red booklets that certified the usefulness of the person, stood darkly in the giant rows one pressed to another in front of the gates of the former metal factory. The cruel police dog, chief Degenhardt, strolled here calmly among the dense mass and pointed with his riding crop over heads and stammered: You right, you left! He respected no one.
The factory square was full of people and yet it was so quiet, as at a
cemetery. Here served several members of the Judenrat such as: Kapinski,
Berliner, Borzykowski, and Kurland. The Germans also brought the old man from
the chevre kadishe [burial society], Miski, who under supervision of gendarme
Ibersher had to direct the clearing away of the dead to Kawia Street where two
large pits had already been dug for a mass grave. There was a terrible
oppression of sadness and anxiety. We moved in the shadows or we sat frozen. A
high moan was heard from another spot for several seconds, or an outbreak of
crying. The frightening stillness that lasted during the first moments was
interrupted. Leib Altman sat alone on a stone, hit his head with his fists and
screamed: My wife, my children! My joy-giving children! Hela Frank,
the wife of the well-known munitions worker, Engineer Leibusz Frank, sat in a
She kept her three and half year old boy hidden under her dress. She related how Machl Birncwajg with the help of Mikhl Wajskop (he later was an active member of ŻOB [Jewish Fighting Organization]) brought her to the furniture camp after the curfew to hide her and her child in a bunker. However, she was driven from there. She had lived for three years with the hope of finding her husband who left for the Soviet Union and now all of her hopes were shattered. Leon Rozensztajn sat on some sort of old rusted kettle and looked ahead expressionless with eyes wide open. At every step another dejected face, another insane look. They sat; they turned around as if one did not want to see the other. Two gendarmes appeared at lunchtime, looked on all sides, as if they were searching for someone. They stopped near Rozensztajn, asked him if he was the Jew who wanted to go with his wife and called him to go with her. A few seconds later a shot was heard and Rozensztajn already lay in a pool of blood. This shot agitated the despondent crowd like an announcement that here their lives also were not secure. Degenhardt arrived, accompanied by gendarmes. All of the Jews were chased and ordered to stand in dense rows. Every row was looked over carefully. Whoever looked too young or too old, whoever looked weak or had a defect was immediately taken out of the row and taken away. A 14-15 year old boy stood a few rows in front of me. He was removed from the row by Degenhardt himself; then Degenhardt pointed to a middle-aged Jew with his riding crop and called out: You are certainly his father! The Jew struggled, but it was of no use. He had to go with the boy as his father Those who believed that their lives would be secure in the shops and who began to look for ways to save themselves saw these illusions evaporate. The 22nd of September, the first day after Yom Kippur, ended for the Jews of the Czenstochow ghetto with several hundred murdered on the spot and 8,000 deported to Treblinka.
Earlier, the packs that those deported had with them were taken and they even were told to take off their shoes and then they were pushed into the previously prepared cattle cars. The streets: Kawia, Wilson, Krutka, Garibaldi, Rynek, Warszawski, part of Garncarska and part of Nadrzeczna, which had been populated by Jews, were now entirely emptied.
The next morning all of the ghetto streets were heavily guarded, there
was heavy gunfire in the streets from which the Jews already had been deported.
Here were killed Jews who attempted to hide and did not appear at the selections. Frequents shots echoed in the still inhabited streets that ended the lives of those who dared to climb out of a window or to appear on a balcony.
A rumor spread a few days later that a certain number of Jews in the train wagons from the second selection had been sent back to the ghetto. Nervous movement began. They ran to the members of the Judenrat; they tried to learn something precise from the Jewish policemen, from the Polish granat policemen [Blue police - Polish police in the Nazi-occupied area of Poland known as the General Government], from the gendarmes. Everyone wanted to learn if someone in their family, from those closest to them and acquaintances were among the fortunate ones. They learned from the Jewish policemen that Jews actually had been sent back to the ghetto from the train wagons, but they had the right to return only to the streets where Jews remained. A ray of hope that was full of trembling and unease for their further fate was noticed only in a few; the vastly large number were resigned [to their fate] and did not believe in miracles.
On the third day, I was summoned to go to Degenhardt's representative, to the security policeman Sapert, who served at Metalurgia, and in Kapinski's presence I received an order that all former leaders of the TOZ institutions should organize a sanitation site for the remaining Jews. A freight wagon and horses was put at my disposal and under the supervision of a gendarme, of the Polish policeman and of a Jewish policeman, I had to leave Metalurgia twice a day and bring the property assets from TOZ and from the sanitation site which was headed by the Judenrat. I made an agreement with my accompanier and for a 100 gildn a head, he permitted me to take Jews with me from the ghetto and smuggle them into Metalurgia as workers who helped me with the work that was given to me. Later, they increased the payment to a thousand gildn a head. Dr. Yitzhak Szperling, who showed great devotion in his work in the division of help among the Jews in Metalurgia, as well as with the smuggling of Jews from the streets into Metalurgia, was designated as the doctor at the sanitation site. (The same Szperling did not act well in the H.A.S.A.G.)* I encountered a selection during my third time in the street. They drove Jews further from Warszawer Street, from the old market, from Nadrzeczna and Garncarska. All were chased to the large square at the new market. Thousands of Jews were placed here in two long rows. Dozens of gendarmes, dozens of members of the Gestapo, Granat policemen, hundreds from the auxiliary formations and groups of soldiers from the Luftwaffe encircled this square.
*[Translator's note: H.A.S.A.G. is the acronym for a German metal goods
manufacturer, Hugo Schneider Metallwarenfabrik AG. A H.A.S.A.G. factory
was established in the Czenstochower ghetto and employed forced labor or prisoners from concentration camps.]
Day after day, I was in the street with my companions. Calls reached us from the rooms in which there were still Jews: Jews, give us something to eat! Through the windows I recognized children from the TOZ day care locations who shouted: What will happen to us? We are hungry! Large placards with slogans from Dr. Franke, the city chief, shouted down from the walls on which he threatened the death penalty for hiding Jews, for providing Jews with food and for selling items to Jews.
Suddenly a new ray of hope: Gendarmes brought a group of Jews into the shops. They had ransomed themselves for large sums of money, for jewelry and other valuable items. It was reported that Degenhardt himself had taken over from a bunker a large transport of grocery items from Glatter, a grocery firm, and, therefore, he had assured Glater [earlier spelled Glatter] that he would avoid the selection. The Judenrat members who served in Metalurgia undertook the further mediation and collected the ransom money from the Jews for the security police. Jews turned over the last of their possessions. They turned over hidden and walled up treasures and even their most precious jewelry that had been passed from generation to generation, if only to save those closest to them. Sacks of gold, jewelry and diamonds were turned over to the members of the Judenrat and from them some to the gendarmes, but the duped Jews, sentenced to death, walked further on to the cattle wagons in which they were taken to Treblinka.
At the same time, I was forbidden to go out into the street again with my usual
companions without the accompaniment of a member of the Judenrat.
It began with me going with Kurland, the member of the Judenrat, who apparently prevailed upon my enemies behind my back that they not allow the smuggling of Jews into Metalurgia because this worked against the plans of the Judenrat, which collected ransom money. Therefore, I had to be satisfied with providing food for Jews in the closed ghetto during my departure through which I managed to travel with food items that I took from the TOZ warehouses at Przemyslowa no. 11 and from Machzikei haDat [Supporters of the Law] at Nadrzeczna. Kurland did help me in this. On the 29th of September we took 10 sacks of flour from the TOZ warehouse at Nadrzeczna no. 36 and divided it among Jews who were still on this street. We found a man who hanged himself at Nadrzeczna 34. The Jew hung in the middle of the room on tied together towels. We looked at the suicide and recognized him as a certain Yitzhak-Hersh Rug, who came from the small shtetl of Wyczwe that lay near Kowel in Volyn. We met the former leader of the field kitchen, Jechiel Gamulinski, at Nadrzeczna Street, in the house of the Czorker Rebbe. He agreed to take one sack of flour for the Jews who were still in this house. We gave the remaining nine sacks of flour to Zalman Windman's bakery that was located on Nadrzeczna Street so that bread could be baked for the orphans who were at Przemsyslowa no. 6. On the same day we visited the old people's home that now was located on Nadrzeczna Street in the former inn for poor visitors. The entire courtyard appeared like one slaughterhouse. All of the walls were sprinkled with blood and the passageways were full of corpses. Corpses lay in space between the beds and in the beds, several lay in the beds and half of the bodies lay hanging down, others lay with their heads under pillows as if they had wanted to protect themselves from the bullets. In one room we found an old woman among all of the dead, who was sitting in bed, shot in the chest. She was tearing at the featherbed with her hands and murmuring something unintelligible. The gendarme who watched us pulled out a revolver and returned it to the gun holster. The Polish policeman did not want a great deal made of the old woman's suffering the agonies of death.
I was in the street again on the 2nd of October; this time I was chosen to help
distribute bread among the Jews who were being sent away. I felt dizzy
so many acquaintances and those close to me
I noticed Shlomo Fiszman, the
former official with social aid at the Judenrat, who had destroyed hundreds of
cards of the beneficiaries to show that there were not many poor in Czenstochow
and with this
to protect them from deportation. Now, he himself also was being sent away. Here, I noticed the lawyer, Mendl Konarski, who was barely pulling himself on his sick feet and was being supported by his wife and sister-in-law; here went the activist from the workers council Wilinger, near him his wife and children who very frequently furnished everyone with such joy with their demonstrated capabilities, charm and childish gentleness during the public appearances of the TOZ day care houses. A freight wagon of children in small, white aprons with blue stripes and among them their educators were separated from the large crowd. Rywka Waczacha, the former kindergarten teacher in the Peretz children's home and director of the orphan's house during the war, sat on one wagon. Behind this wagon, she pulled her old mother, Szmulewicz, her husband with a fiddle under his arm and the very old man Sztajer. Thus, they led the 150 children from the orphan house on their last road. The selection square was cleared of the sad procession. Only the murdered remained: some of them with shattered skulls and others with perforated chests. One appeared as if he was asleep and another lay with hands and feet spread out as if they were being publicly defiled. Several hundred men remained after this selection, who were sent to the shops as well as other temporary workplaces where they awaited new selections.
A wild hunt for plunder began in the ghetto at the same time that the deportations took place; Germans swindled those surviving of their hidden goods; wagons with the possessions from Jewish residences were drawn through the streets to the prepared storehouses of the security police, which now occupied all of Garibaldi Street. Wagons with the murdered moved to Kawia Street where the security police pulled out the gold teeth from the dead and cut off fingers with gold rings that were collected in baskets and taken away. Old people, the sick and children who were forced to undress and lay in a row near a pit with their faces up, were also brought there. Gendarmes then went from one victim to the next, shot a bullet into the head of each one. Afterwards, the clothing of the murdered ones was partly given to the residents of this street who had earlier been forced to throw the dead into the mass grave.
On the 4th of October, the rows of the sick came from the Jewish Hospital,
which was located on Przemyslowa Street. The doctors and nurses, who served
there, received an order to give the sick death injections. Only a few of them
submitted to this order.
The much larger number tried to calm the sick; there were also nurses who tried to create a better mood among the sick, distributing their personal underwear as gifts among the sick women who already had ended their treatment and needed to be discharged from the hospital. On the same day all of the hospital personnel were taken to a selection from which the largest part was sent to Treblinka. The sick, among whom were 13 new mothers and their nursing babies, were taken to Kawia Street. Here, the gendarmes shot the older ones who were still alive after the injections in their usual manner, laying them in a row before a grave. Ibersher himself dealt with the nursing mothers. This German murderer grabbed each nursing baby by its little feet or by its little hands, shot it and threw it in the mass grave. All of the remaining sick at the hospital at Krutka 22 were annihilated at the same time.
The small factory square, where the shops were located was densely covered with thousands of people. There was no empty bit of space where one could move. There where one ate, there where one slept and there where one sat and cried over their great misfortune there they had to take care of the natural needs. At every step sat people crying. In the other courtyard and corner, among boards that had been thrown there, lay a young woman who writhed in pain from cramps. Forlorn, twisting in pain and alone, she lay biting her lips, her moans held in and kneaded her stomach with her own hands. A dense group of women surrounded her so that no evil eye would notice this. The pregnant woman had to be her own midwife
On the second day the gendarmes found new mothers with newborn children and
took them away to be killed. Each of us was sure that the fate of the two new
arrestees already had been sealed. To everyone's astonishment,
Degenhardt ordered that a liter of fresh milk be provided to the new mothers
every morning. He also demanded that a special room be organized at Metalurgia
where she and her child would be located and also declared an
amnesty for all of the mothers with children who enrolled to be
accepted in the shops and from selections. A large
factory room was cleaned for this purpose on the first floor. Mothers with
children, filled with unease and mistrust, suffering from hunger and exhaustion
in hiding places, left discretely from the cellars, attics and holes where they
lay for long days and nights in deadly fear and took a place in the prepared
room where they also received food for themselves and their children.
The comfortable life for a few dozen mothers and their children lasted for seven days. Another selection took place in Metalurgia on the eighth day. All of the mothers and their children also were taken and sent away with a new transport of Jews to Treblinka. Many Jews appeared voluntarily for this transport because they had lost their hope of again seeing those closest to them who had been deported on the earlier transport. Ester Razine, the director of the dramatic group at TOZ, as well as her sister, Natka Rozencwajg, who could not leave their sister, Hela Frank and her son, Asherl, alone on their unknown last road, were among the volunteers. Selections took place among other survivors at other temporary workplaces, too, such as: Golgota, Broland, Horowicz and Partners factory and the furniture camp. The furniture camp temporary workplace belonged to the Shtol main squad and had a certain right to ride through the emptied ghetto and collect furniture. The Jewish guards of this temporary workplace, under the leadership of the bold and energetic Machl Birncwajg, began to take from the Jewish residences, closets, couches and bullet crates, in which they had secretly smuggled rescued mothers and children from cellars and attics, for whom bunkers had been prepared under the noses of the Germans in the furniture factory itself that was located at Wilson Street no. 20-22. Seventy-three people, among them mothers and children and old people, were hidden in these bunkers during the course of the deportations and for a certain time after the deportation. The workers from this temporary workplace gave almost everything they received in their meager portions of food to those hidden and they would themselves be satisfied with the remainder of the meager portions.
On the first day on which the deportation began, Degenhardt wanted these
temporary workplaces to be liquidated and the workers to be deported. As a
result, the gendarmes took away all of the Jews and brought them to Metalurgia.
Consequently, there was the dangerous threat not only that this group would be
deported, but also that those hidden in the bunkers there would die of hunger,
not having any possibility of leaving. The city chief and his representative,
Linderman, who became interested in the temporary workplaces because of
personal security concerns if they were to be liquidated (Linderman
hid here so that he would not be sent to the front) kept
intervening, not even ceasing [to do so] during a public quarrel in the
presence of the Jews who had been driven together to Metalurgia.
After a half day of intervention, Degenhardt allowed the Jews to return to the furniture camp with the condition that they themselves would decide how many workers this temporary workplace needed. The situation for those living in the bunkers was temporarily secure. However, there was the dangerous threat that during the selections that would be carried out there, the gendarmes would discover traces of the bunkers. The small children in the bunkers would make a fuss and cry. Paul Lange, Linderman's representative, served the entire day in the furniture-camp, taking orders from various German officials and assuring that the Jewish workers carried them out in the designated time. Although a German, it appeared that he knew about the bunkers and pretended he did not. Everyone understood this and did not especially watch out for him. However, there was the threat of danger that during selections the gendarmes would hear a tumult or a cry and then not only those in the bunkers would perish. Therefore, Luminal [a sedative] was provided in the bunkers, which served to put the children to sleep during the days on which selections took place. A certain nurse from the Jewish hospital, Manya Altman (née Malka Kalyn) had supervision of the giving of the Luminal. Yet, there would be cases in which the amount taken was too much and the children received doses of Luminal that were too large for the individual children to be able to absorb. In such cases, the children would sleep an entire day and sometimes even more. There were children who after waking up gave the impression of being drunk and not normal. They also had to be careful that the children in the bunkers did not make noise on the days when there were no selections. On such days, Teni Wajnman and Jadzia Brener, former teachers, dug rain worms in the cellars and amused the children with the movements [of the worms]. Mainly, the teachers mentioned would calm the children with little stories. The daily telling of little stories extended hours long and when the tongue stuck to the palate and they could no longer make any sound, it was enough for the story teller to move her lips, which in moments also had the effect of calming the children. The children also were kept in the bunkers of the furniture camp for a certain time after the deportations. There were cases then of dysentery and diphtheria.
However, this was quickly controlled thanks to the tireless work of the nurses already mentioned, who helped the pediatrician, Dr. Zajf, from Kalicz, who was chased by the occupation to Czenstochow. Dr. Zajf would leave the small ghetto to help the children who became sick in the bunkers of the furniture factory. He was placed in danger when smuggling himself out of the ghetto and also while returning there. The bunkers in the furniture factory were not really hidden; however, each selection that took place removed a certain number of Jews who were sent to Treblinka with others.
Selections also took place at the temporary workplaces where Jews were quartered as well as at other temporary workplaces where there were bunkers. Among the Jews who remained after the selections that the Germans had carried out several days earlier at various temporary workplaces, the Jews of the Galgata temporary workplace suffered the most.
The Germans had the largest annihilation at this temporary workplace. Of the 750 Jews housed here, they left approximately 300 men. Degenhardt did not even spare the Aleje 14 temporary workplace. Since the creation of the large ghetto, the Germans in the house at Aleje 14 assembled the best tradesmen from among the Jewish artisans. This house was located at the boundary point between the ghetto and the Aryan side. This house did not belong to the ghetto. No Jews, besides those designated by the German artisans who only worked on German orders, were supposed to be there. The residents of this house were not touched during the entire deportation action. Jews believed that nothing bad would happen to the residents of Aleje 14 because the Germans still needed these tradesmen for their personal use. The residents of Aleje 14 also believed this. Therefore, they bribed gendarmes, members of the Gestapo, as well as ordinary Germans, giving them the most beautiful and expensive jewelry that anyone possessed to bring their closest relatives and friends here. The Germans willingly let themselves be bribed and Degenhardt also willingly permitted it so that the Jews in Aleje 14 would console themselves with hope. After all of the selections had ended, the Germans turned to the Jews at Aleje 14, carrying out a selection according to all of the rules and those removed were taken to Treblinka.
The murderous dance of deportations lasted for five weeks. Hunger and death
reigned without end. The number of Jews who were sent to Treblinka or perished
on the spot reached to approximately 41,000.
More than 2,000 who perished on the spot were buried in a mass grave on Kawia Street, in a large field, that lay across the road from house no. 19. Only the hearses, which the security police put at the disposal of the old Chevre-kadisha member, Miski, brought 1,600 of the murdered here. Degenhardt designated a separate room at Metalurgia for Miski. Degenhardt brought Miski's closest family members here, giving Miski the mission of collecting the dead and taking them to Kawia Street. Therefore, Degenhardt assured Miski that and he and his family would not be deported. After all of the selections, Degenhardt sent Miski and his family to Treblinka. When Miski reminded Degenhardt of his promise, Degenhardt answered that a word of honor does not apply to Jews. Five thousand-one hundred-eighty five Jews were left legally in Czenstochow; more than 1,000 Jews remained in hiding in various bunkers. During the deportations and for a time after the deportations, those remaining legally were housed at the following temporary workplaces: Metalurgia, Braland firm, Horowicz and Partners firm, HASAG Apparatebau, HADAG-Eisenhuta, Ost-Ban, factory camp, Heresbau, Golgota, Metros, Aleje 14, storehouses of the security police and at Garibaldi Street, no 18, where the Jewish policemen and the Jewish doctors and their wives and children were quartered.
The ghetto was cleaned out; there was dead silence. Everywhere, large pictures of grandfathers and grandmothers were noticed on a balcony. Soundless, frightening melodies of death, of death and ruin, were carried through the wide open doors and windows. The orphaned walls of the TOZ day care houses cried, the orphans' house, that in the course of long months embraced 150 orphans and now was itself orphaned, cried.
The situation for the survivors was frightening. The most terrifying was the
situation for the 856 men and 73 women who were housed in the ammunition
factory, HASAG.  At night, hundreds of people, men and women, were driven
into one large factory room where they were guarded by armed labor security.
Machine guns with their barrels pointing at the room where the Jews were
located were on the roof opposite the factory building. They had to sleep on
the bare cement floors. In order to carry out their natural function, lying
down, they had to first ask permission from the labor security. Pain, hunger
and dirt was the daily bread here.
Only one who had enough strength to save a little coffee from the daily half-liter portion that he received for drinking could wash his face a little.
The situation for those cashiered on Garibaldi in the warehouses of the security police did not appear much different. One was shot immediately here for every small sin. The first victim here was the young man, Czarnelias, who was caught smoking a cigarette. There was an easier regimen where the doctors and police were housed. The regimen in the furniture camp was not as terrible as in other temporary workplaces thanks to Machl Birncwajg and his closest assistants, who placed their lives in danger and arranged bunkers for old women and mothers and children. However, here, too, Linderman sent six men to the security police to be shot. Among these six was the tailor Flamenbaum, the well-known communist activist.
Degenhardt, the chief of the security police, led the liquidation of the Jews
of Czenstochow. The S.S. and the police leader of the entire Radomsk district,
General Dr. Boettcher, who managed the extermination of the Jews in the entire
Radomsk region, conducted the entire aktsia [action, usual refers to a
deportation]. On the 1st of November the deportation in Czenstochow officially
ended and the Germans began to send the cashiered surviving Jews from the
temporary workplaces to a designated small area that was located in the
poorest, dirtiest and most crowded part of the former ghetto. The group
cashiered in Metalurgia was sent first and then from the remaining temporary
workplaces, according to a previously created plan. The Jews who were cashiered
in HASAG Apparatebau were the last to be moved. On the 23rd of December 1942,
this group in the worst and most miserable state was taken to an especially
designated house that was located next to, but outside the newly designated
living area, so that workers in the ammunition factory would not be in contact
with the remaining Jews. After a while the house was combined with a new
fenced-in living area that was called the small ghetto. All of the
surviving Jews were now located here and among them 35 legally surviving
children of doctors and policemen. Everyone here received his number. The
Judenrat chairman received number one and the last number, 5185, was a certain
woman, Franya Najman, who was allocated to the work group at the sanitary
station in the small ghetto.
Everyone believed that here they would be given a little tranquility and here they could mourn their dearest and closest ones. However, here in the small ghetto, those surviving were sentenced to a further fear of death and to further selections
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