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The Resistance Movement in the Small Ghetto


In the month of October 1942, when the large deportation action was still occurring, four communist activists, Heniek Tencer, Daniel Warszawski, Wilik Celnik and Sumek Abramowicz, already had begun to organize a fighting group. This group arose in the “furniture camp” and active workers from other parties as well as the unaffiliated joined. This group earlier had gathered money and weapons in the large ghetto under the label Dar Narodowy [gift to the nation]. Heniek Tencer, who was known as an active communist during the years before the war, was at the head of newly reorganized fighting group. Heniek was a grandson of the well-known Czenstochow resident, Ziser. During the school year of 1929-30, he and 11 other gymnazie [secondary school] students, among whom were Mietek Perec (son of the well-known dentist Ahron Perec) and two more of his friends, Olek Behn and Pruszicki, were arrested for communist activity among the school youth. He continued to be active in the communist ranks after he left prison until he was sent to Bereza [Kartuska prison]. He placed himself under the authority of the anti-Fascist underground movement at the beginning of the German occupation. As soon as the Jews began to be taken from the temporary workplaces to the small ghetto, Heniek Tencer was designated as house guardian at Nadrzeczna 88, where the workers at the “furniture camp” were supposed to live and where these workers built bunkers for the mothers, children and old people who were rescued during the deportations. Heniek was entrusted as the house guardian for two reasons:

  1. that there be a responsible person in the house where bunkers were prepared, and
  2. so that he would not have to go out of the ghetto for any work in the temporary workplaces and could devote himself to more underground activities.
At a certain time the house guardianship at Nadrzeczna 88 was entrusted to the writer of these lines and Heniek and his wife moved to a bunker at Wilson Street 34. From there, they left for the “Aryan” side where they continued to be active.


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In the end, they perished and every trace of them disappeared. Heniek Tencer was considered the pioneer of the resistance movement that arose after the great annihilating liquidation.

At the start of 1942 the Germans began to transfer the groups of cashiered Jews from the temporary workplaces into the small ghetto. Here, every survivor took stock of the savagery that had taken place during the last five-week deportation period. The last hope that they would see those closest to them who had perhaps survived at another temporary workplace ended for a large number of them. A few surviving underground workers from the large ghetto also realized that a strong “plague” had torn out of their ranks the much greater number of the surviving activists. However, no one knew exactly what would actually happen to the tens of thousands of Jews. It did not take long and letters from Mendl Wilinger and from Lubling were read in the ghetto that they had sent from Treblinka through a Polish train conductor about the suicide of their comrade and coworker, Shimshl Jakubowicz and about the actual fate of all of the Jews who were sent to Treblinka. They ordered that everything should be done for the world to learn what was happening to the Jews there. The word “Treblinka” that first became known in Czenstochow then annihilated all hopes of those who had fooled themselves and did not accept the terrible truth…

It is difficult to record the mood that began to dominate the ghetto then. It appeared as if everyone would become apathetic and that it would not matter what would happen next. Yet, the resistance movement began to solidify themselves. At the end of November there was a meeting at the laundry run by Rozine at Garncarka Street 56 in which took part: Dr. Adam Walberg, Yisroel Szimanowicz, Jakob Razine, Wilik Celnik and the writer of these lines. It was decided at the meeting to begin collecting weapons and various tools with which they could stand against the German in case of a deportation.


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It also assigned to comrades Frajman and Jachimek, as craftsmen, the preparation of scissors and pliers with which they could slash through the wire fences. In addition to this, it was decided to smuggle in benzene and to place it in all corners of the ghetto so the ghetto could be set on fire on all sides in case the fight was lost. Dr. Walberg took on the military leadership. Communists, Bundists and non-party members belonged to this group.

A group of six young girls, Risha Gutgold, Saba Ripsztajn, Polya Szczekacz, Dasha Szczekacz, Sura Gutgold and Lusia Gutgold organized a collective at Nadrzeczna 66 at the same time. These six young girls decided to draw into their collective even more young people with whom they had worked at the TOZ Świetlicys [common rooms] in the large ghetto for the aid committee and also to spread literature more young people. The collective grew quickly with their following comrades: Kuba Ripsztajn, Mietek Ferleger, Mendl Fiszlewicz, Yitszhak Windman (“Lala”). Joining later were: Lolek Frankenberg (“Francek”), Mietek Wintraub (“Marduk”), Hipek Hajman, Aviv Rozine, Marisha Rozencwajg, Polya Hirsh, Jadjsha Mass, Lunya Wojdislawska, and even later this group joined: Izidor Fajner (“Faja”), Wladek Kapinski, Harry Gersznowicz and finally – Felya Zborowska and Pinek Samsonowicz. All 23 young people were from 17 to 20 years old, of whom the larger number were communists. They immediately began to prepare a revolt. They were satisfied with only eating dry bread and saved the collected money for weapons. After they had gathered a little money, Mietek Ferleger with Szulman's help left for the Kielce area and bought two revolvers. They declared themselves a fighting group, divided themselves into “fifths” and designated Mietek as the commandant of the entire group. This was the second and youngest fighting group that arose at the beginning of December in the small ghetto and they called themselves: Nadrzeczna 66.

The third group arose later at Nadrzeczna Street, no. 70 under the name, Kibbutz; this was a haHalutz [pioneer] group that Rywka Glanc, Yehuda Gliksztajn and the shoymer [armed guard] Avraham Zilbersztajn led at first.


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There was yet another communist fighting group composed of: Sztajnbrecher, Szwierczewski, Rajch, Sztrasberg, Yanek, Yankl Besermen and Broski.

A conference of representatives of all of the fighting groups took place at the end of December 1942. The conference took place in an atmosphere of complete understanding. The ZOB [Zydowska Organizacja Bojowa – Jewish Fighting Organization] was founded. A commander was elected who set as a purpose: to make contact with the general “underground” in Czenstochow itself as well as outside of Czenstochow; to procure weapons and monetary means for this purpose. All members of the group were divided into fifths [groups of five]. Chosen as the commandant of the “fifths” was Mordekhai Zilberberg – a young man who had early excelled with his energy and with a certain knowledge and while still cashiered in HASAG began underground activity (his pseudonym was “Mojtek”). The representative of the commandant was Simek Abramowicz. Heniek Fajsak, the Halutz [pioneer], was designated the liaison among all of the groups. At first the Jews in the ghetto reacted to the fighting group with a certain skepticism, several with mockery and others even with hatred. The feeling of hatred was felt by the Jews who still believed that after everything they would survive and they were afraid that the “crazy ones” would bring the end closer… Little by little the activity of the Combat Organization began to have an effect; it evoked a feeling of respect from all of the Jews and also – fear. The Combat Organization grew to such strength that everyone in the ghetto had to respect it. All of the fighting groups, that until the unification numbered approximately 70 men, grew after the unification to 300, of which 120 were constantly involved in active work. Money for weapons was gathered from taxes and “thefts.” The better-situated Jews were taxed and had to pay the designated sum for a particular period of time. The Jews who did not fulfill the demands were arrested and were only freed when their relatives paid the demanded sum. “Thefts” were carried out endlessly in the security police's warehouses of stolen goods on Garibaldi Street.


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There also were “robberies” twice at the Judenrat warehouses and once – the apothecary at the Judenrat where chemicals useful for the grenades were found among the medicines. The “robberies” at the Judenrat warehouses and from the apothecary were carried out by: Avramek Czarna (“Czara”), Heniek Wernik (“Jacek”), Benianim Erenfrid, Pinek Samsonowicz and Lolek Frankenberg (“Francek”). This took place during the months of March and April 1943. Harry Pataszewicz, Avramek Kaplan, Hilel Fridman (“Chilek”), Mlodanow and others from the fighting group who proceeded to help, took part in collecting the assessments. Herszl Frazer with the help of Mosze Shmuel Landberg, Leon Fuks and a certain Guterman was busy stealing uniforms and other needed items from the security police. “Jacek” and Josek Kantor directed the digging of the underground tunnels. “Jacek” and “Bastek” directed the grenade workshop. Kaufman (“Mikrus”), the chemist, prepared the explosive material for the grenades. Michal Wajskop took care of assembling, repairing and cleaning the weapons. Designated as liaison men with ZOB in Warsaw were: Rywka, Hipek and “Francek.”


* * *



Buying weapons was connected with great danger and sacrifice. In December 1942, Mietek Ferleger, walking on Jasnogorska Street to an agreed upon location for weapons, was stopped by “railroad security.” He threw off the German after a short struggle and escaped. However, he finally was caught by the Gestapo and they tortured him for 24 hours and then shot him. This failure had a terrible influence on everyone and this was a particularly heavy blow for the group, Nadrzeczna 66, which lost a close comrade and an active and bold commander. However, it did not take away anyone's courage and the work of acquiring weapons was not weakened at all.

A similar case took place much later with “Zosha” the courier who carried weapons for the Czenstochow ZOB. In Czenstochow, she threw herself on a spy who persecuted her starting in Warsaw and in an uneven struggle with the Germans who encircled her, she fell.


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The third case of victims during the purchase of weapons was on “Kamionka,” four to five kilometers outside Czenstochow. Zilberberg, Kantor and Reni* Lenczner were sent there to receive a transport of [short barreled] rifles that were ordered for 250,000 zlotes through the cooperation of a weapons broker. The broker probably was an agent of the German gendarmerie. As soon as they left the designated spot with the weapons they had received, they were encircled by gendarmes and members of the Gestapo who immediately opened fire. Several Germans were wounded during the exchange of fire. Unverified news reached us that two gendarmes fell dead. Zilberberg and Kantor succeeded in extracting themselves from the German encirclement and returned to the ghetto. Renya, severely wounded, was taken alive when she already had fired all of the bullets from her two revolvers. Dying, she was tortured in the cellars of the Gestapo and did not reveal her sacred secret. All of the failures agitated the entire ghetto. Every failure was another heavy blow for the fighting group. However, the heroic conduct of the comrades who perished filled everyone with pride and inspired them to new deeds.

* [Translator's note: Reni Lenczner's name is also given as the diminutive Renya.]



* * *



The first armed, but weak, organized appearance of the fighting organization took place on the 4th of January 1943. At Degenhardt's order, all Jews who worked at temporary workplaces in the ghetto had to appear at the Ryneczek “Central Square.” Of the command, only Mendl Fiszlewicz, of the fighting group, Nadrzeczna 66, and in whose name he was the representative in the general command, was in the ghetto. The largest number of [members] of the fighting groups in the ghetto again were from the group Nadrzeczna 66 along with several members of the general fighting group. After long consultations, with a majority of vote of the fighters, it was decided to go to the Ryneczek “Central Square.” They did not have any weapons. The few revolvers that the organization did have then were divided among the commanders who were outside the ghetto with special tasks. Fiszlewicz had only one revolver.


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He actually took this revolver with him and his closest comrade, Izidor (Yitzhak) Fajner, took only a knife. The young fighters went to the Ryneczek “Central Square” with these weapons. Only Polja Szczekacz remained on watch in the ghetto.

All of the Jews in the ghetto had long been assembled in the square. The aktsia that Lieutenant Rohn was carrying out was already in progress. Dozens of old people, mothers and children were sealed off separately under the watch of the Ukrainian fascists. At Rohn's order, the entire group of young people was surrounded and, as a punishment which they received later like all of the Jews, they were taken over to the group of Jews who were confined. Here, the group of fighters decided to die with honor. As soon as they were taken to the square and began to stand in rows to be led away, Fiszlewicz threw himself at Rohn with the revolver and Fajner with the knife at Lieutenant Safart. Rohn was wounded in his hand and Safart turned from the square, with a slashed uniform and cut boots. Fiszlewicz's revolver jammed because the cartridge case from the bullet that he shot remained sticking out. Fiszlewicz began to fight with his teeth and nails and fell, pierced by a series of bullets that the Germans fired at him from a machine gun. Fajner, seriously wounded, also fell.

The murderers did not end their blood lecture with this; they pulled out 25 more men from the rows, divided them into two groups and shot them in front of everyone. Twenty-seven young lives were annihilated and among them: the two young fighters Fiszlewicz and Fajner, Herszl Fridman, the well-known fighter since 1905, Natan Rozensztajn the lawyer, Wernik, Szlecer, Trambacki, Haptka Sztal, Wigodzki, Zilberszac, Goldberg, Radszicki and nine more who were not all known. Not all who fell died immediately from the bullets. Several of them, among whom was Fajner, were tormented with convulsions of death for hours.


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Then, after this, everyone exhaled their souls. The rest of the assembled Jews were allowed back into the ghetto. The surrounded group of Jews of about 300 people was taken to Pilsudski Street 21, where the commissariat of the Polish police was located. A group of fighters designated to be taken away, who were able to extract themselves from the encircled group of Jews during the tragic struggle, were among the 300 people. Later, Dasha Szczekaz, the young female fighter, was the only one to extract herself from the commissariat.

The command of the fighting organization did not rest. It sent tools to cut through the bars to its male and female comrades. In the morning, under heavy guard by the gendarmes, all of those held were taken to Radomsk where the expulsion of the last assembled Jews was then taking place. The fighters decided to escape along the road. Sura Gutgold was the first to escape. Jadzia Mass, who slipped and fell when running, was the second. She immediately was recaptured and the guard around the transport was greatly increased. This prevented further tries at escaping.

However, the command did not rest and sent out two emissaries, Yitzhak Windman and Zvi Lustinger, to Radomsk to bring to bear on the spot all its strength to extract their male and female comrades. The emissaries arrived in Radomsk in the very fervor of a “deportation” and it was impossible to do anything. The Ukrainians who were bribed took the money and then threatened to shoot them, if anyone tried to escape there. The female fighters decided to commit suicide and not go into the train wagons. Jadzia Mass was the first to hang herself. The second one was supposed to be Marisha Rozencwajg. The remaining Jews, who were with them, stood opposed and did not permit any further suicides. Therefore, the female fighters decided to make use of their last means – springing from a moving train. They all entered one train wagon with the tools that had been sent to them by the command in Czenstochow.


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Under way they filed through the barred window openings of the horse wagon and one by one began to jump out. Others also made use of this opportunity. Only a few women, among whom was Ceshia Borkowska, the active fighter, returned to Czenstochow. The larger number were shot while jumping from the wagons and the rest perished while wandering back to Czenstochow.


*   *
*



After these tragic events, the commandant decided to use more energy to procure weapons. Everyone was aware of the precise danger that lurked in buying weapons through the intercession of untrustworthy brokers who took advantage of the situation of the fighters in the ghetto and whose price for each old weapon was notorious. It was already clear that several brokers were no more than German placed spies. To be less dependent on the brokers and thus avoid surprises, it was decided to concentrate greater energy in producing grenades with their own effort.

During the late night hours when the prisoners in the ghetto, after a day of pain, insult and heavy labor, slept with a deep but uneasy sleep, shadows began to sneak quickly out of every ghetto corner and with careful movement went in the direction of an abandoned ruin of a house. Here was the workshop; here stood the forge where the forms were poured for grenades. The smoke irritated the eyes, but in every face was mirrored stubbornness, human earnestness, energy and the fervor for courageous deeds.

February 1943 – the first grenades were done. The almost grey fighters trembled with joy. The eyes of the young and even younger fighter-mechanics shone. However, doubt began to gnaw: and perhaps? Perhaps all of the work was in vain? The grenades had been finished with bare hands and without the least experience! “We must test the grenades!” – came an order. Members of the grenade group smuggled themselves out to Mirow, outside of Czenstochow, tried out the explosive force of the grenades and in the morning they brought with them a rejoicing greeting…


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The “greeting” cheered up everyone. They began to feel more certain and stronger. Until now they felt as if they were hanging over a frightening abyss and now they felt firm support. They began to weave the beautiful dreams of an open fight with the Huns of the 20th century. “Now we will not go into the freight wagons like obedient sheep to the slaughter! We will not wait until the murderers come for us; we will go to them and annihilate them: blow up bridges, unscrew rails, blow up trains of the military and ammunition, killing the German criminals and perish ourselves with weapons in our hands!” – this was now the most beautiful dream of the Jewish fighter in the small Czenstochow ghetto. They took to the work with full fervor. A platoon of fighters for special assignments was trained. Leibl Cukerman, both Nasek brothers, Avramek, Czarna, both Szmulewicz brothers, “Bastek,” Harri Pataszewicz, “Mikrus, “Yacek” and so on did not rest. The stole from the ammunition factories and from other temporary workplaces: aluminum, tin, carbide, quicksilver, dynamite and other chemicals that were needed for grenades. All of this was smuggled into the ghettos in small casks in which were the lunches for the ghetto kitchen for workers in the temporary workplaces.

The work was carried on in the same manner every night. Several poured out the forms, which were turned over to the mechanics and from them to those who worked in the chemical division and from there – to those who finished the grenades and even adapted the handles which were manufactured on the lathes of the “furniture camp” and in the carpenters' workshops in the ghetto itself. Young men and women, almost still children who rose here to the height of those who take upon themselves a sacred task, worked here. The work went on night after night. The finished grenades were even varnished and then they traveled to the main arsenal of tunnel no. 1 [which was] built with great effort. The workshops were disassembled and cleaned at daybreak to again be assembled with the coming of deep night and again to pour the grenades with which such beautiful hopes were bound…

At the same time, when one group of fighters was busy with manufacturing grenades, a second was busy with building underground tunnels.


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The first and most important tunnel began at Garncarska Street no. 42 and had its exit outside the ghetto at the old market no. 17. The second tunnel began at Nadrzeczna no. 80/82 and had its exit in an empty field outside the ghetto at the corner of Jaskrowska Street. The tunnels also had entrances in the houses at Garncarska 40, at Nadrzeczna 86, 88 and 90. Both the entrances and the exits were well hidden and there was no danger that the “evil eye” would notice them. The work of building the tunnels went on day and night. The work was done in two shifts with up to 100 men for each shift. The young who were not yet drawn into the ranks of the Combat Organization also worked here and were ready at every call of the headquarters.


* * *



The headquarters also issued bulletins and appeals. One appeal was issued on the 1st of May and a second – to the Polish labor force about help for the Combat Organization. The bulletins were issued based on radio news. The radio was installed in the “furniture camp.” The news was recorded by responsible underground workers. Important news particularly would be provided at roll calls especially called by the fighting group. Among the important news that was given at the roll calls was: the news that the Polish underground radio had provided in the second half of the month of April 1943 that Dutch women had grabbed Jewish children from the ranks and escaped with them during the expulsion of the Jews in Holland, about the course of the uprising in the Warsaw ghetto and particularly about the death of Michal Klepfisz [a chemical engineer and Bundist member of the Jewish Combat Organization]. On the same evening, the Czenstochow Combat Organization honored the memory of the fallen Warsaw ghetto insurgent.


* * *



At the end of February 1943, “Francek,” “Marduk” and Szulman were the first scouts sent out to investigate the possibilities of sending groups into the forests of Olsztyn and “Zloty Potok.” They returned after two days with the view that it was too early to send a group out to the forest.


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Further scouts were no longer sent out because Szulman, who was responsible for the entire Kielce area, was caught by the security police and sent to the Skarzysko camps and disappeared without a trace. A reconnaissance “group of five” was sent out to the forest at the beginning of March. This “group of five” consisted of the young fighters: Moniek Flamenbaum, Olek Hersenberg, Janek Kroyse, Heniek Richter, the son of the well-known communist activist, Dovid Richter, and Jeczik Rozenblat. Szliamek Szajn, for whom the Gestapo had been searching for a long time, joined the group. At first, they maintained contact with groups from Gwardia Ludowa [People's Guard of the Polish Socialist Party]. Later, they began to burn the ground under their feet because they were persecuted by the reactionary A. K. groups (Armia Krajowa [Home Army, major resistance group]). They returned from the forest and fortified themselves in a bunker in a house at Wilson Street no. 34, where the storehouses for the looted old Jewish furniture was located; this storehouse now belonged to the “furniture camp.” From time to time they would make their “withdrawals” from there. Bunkers in which several Jewish families were hidden with their elders and children also were located there. Dovid Kongrecki's wife and her two children were among others who were located there. The Gestapo discovered the bunker of the six young fighters on the 17th of March 1943 because of the carelessness of Kongrecki's oldest child. They were suddenly attacked and did not have time to make use of their weapons. They were shot at the Jewish cemetery on the 19th of March.

Rywka Glanc, Hipek Hajman and Yitzhak Windman returned from Warsaw with literature and instructions at the beginning of April 1943. Rywka and Yitzhak entered the ghetto and Hipek, who was supposed to enter the ghetto with the workers at the Enra temporary workplace, was detained in front of Wilot (ghetto gate). They found literature and a Kennkarte [basic German identity document] on him. He was taken immediately to an arrest house at the Jewish police at Kocza Street and was handed over to the supervision of the Jewish and Polish police. He was supposed to be held here overnight to be given over to Degenhardt's disposition in the morning.


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The group Nadrzeczna 66, to which Hipek belonged, had taken on themselves the task of extracting him from there. This mission was taken on by: Harry Gerszonowicz, Lokek Frankenberg, Aviv Rozine, Mietek Wajntraub and Kuba Rypsztajn. The five young fighters carried out their task perfectly and, on the same night, Hipek left for Warsaw. Weeks later, he and Yitzhak Windman, were stopped by szmalcowniks [Polish slang for Poles blackmailing Jews] as they were going for a transport of ordered weapons. Windman managed to disappear and the szmalcowniks gave Hipek into the hands of the Gestapo who sent him to the camp in Trawnik, where he perished.


* * *



The freeing of Hipek aroused the entire ghetto. The prestige of the fighting organization rose strikingly; they felt proud and simultaneously were afraid of repressions. However, no repressions came after the events of the 4th of January, because for Laszinski and Kestner – both camp leaders – who were designated as overseers of the ghetto with special authorization, as well as Morder, the German commandant of the Ukrainian ghetto guards, the matter of freeing of Hipek worried them, [they feared] the consequences for their own “carelessness.” However, they began to spread a thick net to find all of the threads of the camp organization. Day by day and night by night, they themselves searched the ghetto and rummaged in every corner. Simultaneously, they began to draw into the espionage work their Jewish acquaintances, from whom they would be able to receive the most important secrets. Therefore, the organization decided to take measures against the traitors.

First, they twice warned the band, which had terrorized the Jews in the ghetto, and they extracted money from them, making use of it in a scandalous way in the name of the fighting organization. The two Szwimer brothers (the sons of a former servant in the mikvah [ritual bathhouse] were at the head of the band. The presented themselves as “strong ones” and did not take heed of the warnings and continued their work of terror.


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A death sentence was carried out against them. A second death sentence was also carried out against the baker Motl Herman “Kulbajki,” who had been long suspected of being in contact with the Gestapo and whose letter to the Gestapo had been intercepted by Mekhl Birncwajg. A corked bottle was placed in the grave of every traitor containing a piece of paper on which the reason for carrying out the sentence was written.

The work of the organization became even more difficult and more dangerous. However, no one lost his courage and everyone was ready to carry out anything that was placed on him.


* * *



During the first half of April 1943 the comrades Avramek Czarna (communist) and Manya Szlezinger (female communist) received the task of manufacturing keys that could unscrew the railroad rails. They made the tools in the ammunition factory HASAG Apparatexbau (Pelcery) where they worked and themselves smuggled them into the ghetto. On the 22nd of April five saboteurs left with the smuggled tools to unscrew the rails near Bleszno outside of Czenstochow through which would pass many military and ammunition transports. The saboteurs were: Aviv Rozine, Zvi Lustiger, Lolek Frankenberg, Harry Gerszonwicz and Dovid Altman. They left the ghetto with the workers of the “Ostbahn” temporary workplace. They had to “peel off” one by one and later meet in Bleszno. Here, they had to unscrew the rails and they had to wait here for the results of their little bit of work; from there they were to bring a joyful report.

Lolek was the first one who “peeled off” and he made it peacefully. Dovid Altman was supposed to be the second one. However, he was stopped by the railroad security man, Karna, a volks-Deutsch [ethnic German] from Wyczerp outside of Czenstochow. First he tried to bribe Karna; however, he immediately latched onto a second German from the railroad security. Karna withdrew from taking bribery money and both [Germans] resumed their “guard duty.”


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Harry opened fire on the two train guards in order to free Dovid. One of them immediately fell seriously wounded and Dovid escaped. Harry, Aviv and Zvi did not have time to escape because they were surrounded by a crowd of Germans, who shot at them from every side. Harry and Aviv fell on the spot, Zvi barricaded himself in a peasant's barn and defended himself until he was severely wounded by a grenade that was thrown [into the barn]. Alive, but seriously wounded, he was caught by the Gestapo who threw him into the same Gestapo cellar where he had previously been tortured to [get him to] reveal his comrades. Zvi did not break down and was shot at the Jewish cemetery.

As a punishment, the Gestapo and the security police shot 25 more men on the same day, that is – every second Jew who worked in the temporary workplaces, with whom the saboteurs left the ghetto. Among the 25 shot were: Yakob Mosze Gelber-Litwin, Nakhman Enzel, Berl Zeligman, Stefan Montag, Goldberg (Warszawiak), Rusin (a former student at the Y.L. Peretz school in Czenstochow) and Dudek Lewkowicz. At the same time the Gestapo found the scent of Wladek Kapinski, arrested him and shot him at the cemetery. As later related by members of the Gestapo themselves, Wladek wrestled with them during his arrest and even when he finally stood in chains before his own grave.

The blows that constantly fell on the heads of the fighters were heavy. However, everyone was full of pride as well as hatred that their comrades were perishing in this way, as they all had dreamed – in a struggle with weapons in their hands.


* * *



There were changes in the officials of the Combat Organization because of these tragic cases. Sumek (communist) often was found on the “Aryan” side and he tried to make more contact with Polish Gwardia Ludowa [People's Guard of the Polish Socialist Party] groups so more Jewish fighters could be sent out to the forests. Yehuda left for the villages around Koniecpol to locate bunkers there for groups sent out. “Francek,” Staszek Hauze and Kheniek Wojdislawski were designated… as the liaisons between Warsaw and Czenstochow.


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Mosze Rozenberg (“Futurist” from Radomsk) and Fajgenblat (Zionist) were designated as commanders of three “fifths,” which were sent out to the forests for Olsztyn and “Zloty Potok.” According to later information that was brought by a messenger from the G. L. [Gwardia Ludowa] partisan group of the A. K. [Armia Krajowa – Home Army, major resistance group], all 15 men perished in a fight with the reactionary partisans of A. K. More than 50 men, who were divided into 10 groups, left for the forests before, during and after the liquidation of the small ghetto. The greater number of them perished in the struggle with the Germans and with the reactionary A. K. group. Several of them were in the well-known leftist partisan division of Hanis and took part in various actions against the Germans.


* * *



On the 1st of May 1943, the ghetto was closed and no one was permitted to leave for work. The fighting organization, just as the majority of the Jews in the ghetto, believed that the Germans would liquidate the ghetto and were ready to take on the fight. The weapons were divided among all of the fighting groups, which were deployed to their designated points: at the wire at Spadek Street that was in the direction of Warszawer Street, at the commissariat of the Jewish Police on Kozia Street, on Mostowa, at the entire eastern length of the ghetto near the “Warta” and at all important points in the ghetto that could have a strategic significance. The next day on the night of the 2nd of May, two notes were received: one from Dr. Walberg and the second from Machl (both were outside the ghetto) that they had exact information that this German blockade's only purpose was connected with preventing the Jews from coming together with the Poles. The notes were received by Jakob Rozine and he immediately gave them to commanders. However, the commanders did not call off the mobilization. The mobilization of the fighting organization was called off on the morning of the 4th of May when the blockade of the ghetto was withdrawn and the Jews were let out to work at the temporary workplaces outside the ghetto. However, the mood was not eased very much.


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The security police and Gestapo searched among the Jewish “porters” of their acquaintance and the city chief moved heaven and earth to make Czenstochow judenrein [cleared of Jews]. The fighting organization again decided to constantly be in ready for an alarm and prepared intensively to take up the decisive fight. The security police and the Gestapo did find two contemptible people among the Jewish policemen who provided them with precise information about the fighting organization. The first was the Jewish policeman Rozenberg, who served Liszinski and Kestern, and the second – the policeman Plawner, who served the Gestapo.

On the 18th of June 1943 the security police, under the direction of Degenhardt himself, attacked the “furniture camp” with the purpose of eliminating Machl and his closest coworkers. The security police surrounded all of the workshops with the speed of lightning. Several security police with Degenhardt at the head entered the room in which Machl was located. No one was permitted to move from the spot where they were when the police arrived. They carried out a search and did not find any “suspects.” Therefore, Degenhardt ordered that they not shoot without his order. However, Degenhardt ordered Machl to bring together all of his family members. Machl immediately realized that Degenhardt wished to kill him and his entire family. Therefore, he made use of the moment, ostensibly to bring together those closest to him and calling out: “They will not take me alive” – he disappeared. Three people were shot on the spot and the security police took two with them and later killed them.

Machl entered the square of the “furniture camp” on the same night, closed himself in a bunker of which only a few comrades knew. He was in contact only with Feywish Altman and with Michal Wajskop whom he told of the locations of hidden weapons and money. When all of the important matters already were completed, it was decided to take Machl out to stay with a Polish acquaintance with whom he had maintained contact the entire time.


[Page 130]


Ahron Birnbaum, Chaim the barber-worker, Kobriner the painter-worker and Feywish Altman took upon themselves the removal of Machl from the “furniture camp.” They took him out in a wagon in a coal basket. They stopped with the wagon on Ogrodowa Street near a paint shop, looked around to see if anyone was looking and gave the agreed upon sign. Machl came out of the basket and disappeared. A Polish woman who lived in the courtyard in which they had stopped the wagon noticed and reported it to a granat policiant [Blue police - Polish police in the Nazi-occupied area of Poland known as the General Government]. This policeman stopped all four comrades and transferred them to the security police. They were taken to the police station at the third Aleje no. 75. At the investigation they all denied [doing anything wrong] and argued that they had been sent by the old painting master, Avraham Grajcer, to receive a transport of chalk that was ordered by the “furniture camp” from the paint shop that was located in that house.

The “furniture camp” was surrounded by the security police and Degenhardt himself led the investigation. The arrestees told the writers of these lines about the manner of their defending themselves and this was told to Grajcer, the old Jewish painting master who said that they were his co-workers, that he would take all of the guilt on himself. At the cries and pleas of his children (a son and a daughter), that he not “draw a rope” onto himself, Grajcer simply answered: “I already have lived out my years and I want to be the redeemer of four young lives.” During the investigation Grajcer did not break down and told Degenhardt that he sent the four men for chalk on his own and it was his fault that he forgot to give them an official note to receive the chalk; it also was his fault that they traveled unaccompanied by a German (Grajcer survived the liberation). Grajcer rescued the lives of four young men with his courageous bearing and he, himself, also got away without a punishment. The four arrestees were freed. During the liquidation of the Combat Organization in the small ghetto, one of them, Chaim the hairdresser, perished.


[Page 131]


On the 28th of June 1943, the security police found Machl's tracks; he was hidden with a Polish family. He was arrested and shot.


* * *



Gdalya, an active member of the fighting organization was caught with literature outside the ghetto on the 16th of June. A certain Mrs. Masha Wajnberg also was arrested on the same day removing goods from the haberdashery storehouse on Garibaldi Street. All the workers who belonged to the “haberdashery” group were also arrested with her. All of those arrested were sent to Pilsudski Street to the arrest house at the commissariat of the granat policja [Polish police in Nazi-occupied territory]. The fighting organization decided to do everything to extract their comrade fighter from there as well as the rest of the arrestees. Herszl Prazer and Leib Cymerman were appointed to carry out the prepared plans. Herszl and Leib prepared a place to hide the arrestees if they decided to escape, sent in tools with which to saw through the bars of the window openings in the arrest cellars and simultaneously bribed the guards from the Polish granat policemen.

The period of escape was designated for the 23rd of June at night. However, the plan failed because of the cowardice of the arrestee, Moniek Krojze, who broke down at the last minute. That same day when their plan was discovered, that is, on the 23rd of June, Gdalya and the entire group were shot at the Jewish cemetery. On the same day the security police demanded of Doctor Walberg that he immediately report to Garibaldi Street to dispense medical help to a worker who was employed in the police storehouse who had become ill. Klipsh and Bulle, two German security police, were waiting for him at the designated spot. They greeted him with a friendly look; one of them led him to see where the “sick one” lay and the second one, who walked a few steps behind them, fired his revolver, aiming at Walberg's head. He immediately fell dead. At the same time that this happened to Walberg, the security police arrested a young Jewish couple with papers of Volksdeutsche [ethnic Germans], who worked as guards in the police house at the Third Aleje no. 75 and simultaneously worked with the Polish underground movement in Czenstochow.


[Page 132]


While they were being taken, the man succeeded in escaping and the woman was taken to the Jewish cemetery where she was murdered with the “haberdashery” group. Walberg's body also was brought there and buried in a mass grave with the group that had been shot.

As Jewish workers, among whom was Prazer, who as a tradesman worked at the security police, later related, several security policemen boasted that they had shot “bandits” and thus gave the following history: a certain member of the A. K. [Armia Krajowa – Home Army] in Czenstochow and simultaneously an agent of the Gestapo in Radom said that Dr. Walberg was an important leader of the underground in Czenstochow and also that the couple who served as guards at Aleje 75 actually were Jews who were in contact with the Polish underground movement.

The fighting organization in the ghetto searched for signs of the two traitors, Rozenberg and Plawner and carried out a death sentence on them. Domb, the Jewish policeman, was also sentenced to death for his particular zeal during aktsias [actions, usually deportations] against Jews in the small ghetto. On the 21st of June 1943 the comrades: Avramek, Pinek, Waszilewicz, and “Baster” carried out the sentence against Rozenberg. After the liquidation of the small ghetto, the sentence against Domb also was carried out. The Gestapo itself shot Plawner after the liquidation of the small ghetto because it no longer had any need for his information.

The fighting organization decided to send out a transport of weapons to the groups that were located in the forests. Three comrades were designated for this purpose: Pinek Samsonowicz, Harri Pataszewicz and Lolek Blank. Leibush Tenenbaum, a former member of the Peretz School managing committee and a member of the fighting organization, undertook the provision of a vehicle for this purpose.


[Page 133]


Through the intervention of Wojdislawski and Winter, two Jewish foremen in the HASAG-Pelcery ammunition factory (Apparatexbau), Tenenbaum bribed the German driver of a truck that undertook driving the three comrades and their weapons. As it was learned later, the driver earlier had told everything to the Gestapo.

The three comrades left with the transport of weapons on the 24th of June. They were surrounded on the way by a horde of members of the Gestapo. While shooting at each other, Pinek fell dead, Lolek saved himself by running away and Harri fell into the hands of the enemy. They brought Harri dying into the ghetto, sat him by an open window in the building of the Jewish police and ordered that all of the Jews in the ghetto march by him. Three members of the Gestapo stood near Harri, torturing him terribly so that he would reveal who among those marching by were his coworkers.

They threw cold water on him whenever he began to pass out and continued to beat him. Winkler, a member of the Gestapo, stood out in the torturing of Harri. Harri used his last strength and did not break down. Finally, the Gestapo decided that they would get nothing from him and took him away to be shot. Tortured, Harri breathed out his soul on the way to the cemetery.

The driver also denounced Wojdislawski and Winter. Both were tortured so severely that they were broken and named Tenenbaum [as a coworker]. The Gestapo arrested Tenenbaum, tortured him and then brought him back to the HASAG to show him to his coworkers. To avoid suspicion, the representative of the work security leaders led him through the factory, not the Gestapo. The Gestapo got nothing from the torturing of Tenenbaum. They brought him back and shot him along with Wojdislawski and Winter.


* * *



On the morning of the 25th of June all prisoners in the ghetto were led to work in the temporary workplaces as on every day. No one sensed in advance any special changes as a result of the events of the night before. There was the impression that nothing had happened the previous night.


[Page 134]


A number of those in the Combat Organization also left with the workers so as not to lose contact with the outside world and to further smuggle in that which was necessary to make grenades from the factories and temporary workplaces. However, the largest number of fighters still remained in the ghetto. They had to stand guard after the events of the night before! Everyone was mobilized; everyone was located in the tunnels at their designated place for roll call. The largest group was gathered in tunnel no. 1 where the weapons arsenal was located. Dozens of revolvers, dozens of grenades, two rifles, bottles with Molotov cocktails, carbide lamps and even German uniforms were there.

The weapons were divided among all of the groups and a roll call began. Marek Palman of the Warsaw ZOB [Zydowska Organizacja Bojowa – Jewish Fighting Organization] took the roll call in tunnel no. 1. Everyone was solemn. Everyone took an account of the serious situation and of the duties that each of them had taken upon themselves. They felt and they knew what would soon await the ghetto and they were prepared to oppose the approaching events.

The couriers of the groups who were already in the forest took part in this roll call. The couriers of the fighting groups in Upper Silesia also took part. They reported and they remembered the male and female comrades who had perished. The names of those comrades in the Czenstochower fighting group who perished floated up and the names also of the male and female Jewish fighters from other groups floated up. There floated up the name “Zoshya” – the pseudonym of the 19-year old seamstress, Ruchl Szabszewska, from Sosnowiec, who was one of the hardest working and boldest fighters in the Gwardia Ludowa [People's Guard – armed communist organization] group (G.L.) of Garbaty, which operated in the Kielce area. “Zoshya” was murdered near Wloszczawa by two traitors, Josef Laskowski and Czeslaw Stoliarczik, agents of the A. K. [Armia Krajowa – Home Army – the largest Polish resistance group]. (She was murdered at a moment when she was very sick.)

The name of the fallen heroes in the Warsaw ghetto floated up. Marek told about the courageous fighting comrades in the Warsaw ghetto and about the stubborn fight there. He spoke, gave out instructions and asked that [we go] in the manner of the Warsaw ghetto fighters. He called for fighting until the last bullet. We were absorbed by his descriptions and we were full of envy of the Warsaw ghetto heroes who had the great fortune to die in such a magnificent way.


[Page 135]


The scouts brought greetings from the ghetto every 15 minutes. The ghetto was calm for the moment. All of the scouting divisions reported at three o'clock in the afternoon that the workers at the temporary workplaces had returned as normal from their work and nothing suspicious was noticed.

The mobilization was called off. One by one the fighters left the tunnel. Only the commandant, “Mojtek,” who was sick, and Lutek Gliksztajn, who was guarding the weapons storehouse, remained in tunnel no. 1. It was quiet in the ghetto and the fighters did not give a thought to the fact that this might be a quiet before a storm.

Only an hour later, terrible firing from machine guns took place throughout the ghetto. The Gestapo and security police announced their arrival in the ghetto with this shooting. The houses at Nadrzeczna 86, 88 and 90 – the most important locations of the fighting organization – were surrounded and were covered with a hail of bullets. Blood flowed in the streets. The members of the fighting organization, who had left the tunnels an hour earlier, hurried back to enter [them]. They hurried to grab their weapons and pay with blood for blood, with death for death! However, they fell before they managed to enter [the tunnel]. Yisroel Avigdor Szuldhaus fell; Yosek Kantor fell; dozens of other comrades fell, unsuccessful in taking revenge for the innocently spilled blood of those closest to them, of the fighting comrades and of their parents.

The Germans attacked the tunnels with grenades. They murdered the small group of fighters who desperately resisted. Other Jews who were in the above-mentioned houses also fell. Thirty grenades, one revolver and two rifles fell into German hands. Luttek, who stood watch over the weapon storehouse, was the only one who emerged from there. Mojtek committed suicide at the last moment so as not to fall into their hands. The Germans later took revenge on “Mojtek's” body and hanged him up in the tunnel with his head down. Meanwhile, the fighters in the ghetto who were in the tunnel that had its entrance through the house at Garncarska 40 were the only ones who remained alive. This group under the leadership of Marek came out of the ghetto through the tunnel and barricaded themselves in a house at the old market no. 17. Here they waited for the enemy with their small number of weapons.


[Page 136]


Early the next morning, on the 26th of July 1943, the whole group decided to leave their positions, taking the rescued weapons with them, to join their comrades in the forests to jointly take up the fight in relatively comfortable conditions. They began to leave the barricades in threes.

When most of them were already out and only six fighters were left under the leadership of Rywka Glanc, they were surrounded by security police and the Gestapo. The six fighters carried out an embittered defensive fight with two revolvers and one grenade. They made use of the grenade after firing all of the bullets. One member of the Gestapo fell and Lebel, the security policeman, who later gave the details of this fight to several Jewish workers who were employed by the security police in the Third Aleje no. 75, was wounded. The six fighters carried on their fight without weapons, but with stones and they finally all perished. Here fell: Rywka, Heniek, Polja, Dashya, Rashya and “Marduk.” Few survived of those who did not perish during this fight. Marek perished later, traveling by train; “Francek” and Sumek were attacked on the “Aryan” side; Yitzhak Windman safely reached the group in Koniecpol and was murdered two weeks later when he traveled for weapons to Skarźysk [Skarźysko-Kamienna] with a certain Krzak (the news about the death of Yitzhak was brought by the same Krzak. However, the comrades believed that he had murdered Yitzhak because Krzak's statements seemed vague). Fela Zborowska, Yehuda and Bela Bram were shot by the Polish national police; Kuba Ripsztajn and Lutek Gliksztajn fell in the fight that the Koniecpoler group carried out against reactionary members of the A. K. [Armia Krajowa – Home Army].

The murderous liquidation of the small ghetto took place at the same time that the small group carried out its embittered fight at the old market 17. Dozens of Jews were shot on the spot and hundreds – were taken away in trucks to the Jewish cemetery and murdered there.


[Page 137]


Members of the fighting organization were also among those shot on the spot and among those taken away.

Herszl Praser had been placed separately in the Ryneczek [central square] and was supposed to be shot. Then at the observation by a security policeman that he could be of use as a good tailor at the police workshop on Garibaldi Street, he was taken there and permitted to live. While others pleaded and wailed, Mosze Lewensztajn, already in an auto, with an upraised fist made a declaration against the murderers. At Zlota Street on the way to the cemetery, Lewensztajn, Chaim the hairdresser and other Jews tore open the trunk of the car and began to escape. Several fell on the spot under the fire that gendarmes opened on those escaping. Six of them managed to avoid the bullets. They were persecuted by Kindel, the gendarme, who had returned. The persecuted then stabbed him with his own bayonet.

The six men returned to the ghetto with the certainty that there still were Jews in the ghetto as well as several of their fighting comrades. However, there were no longer Jews in the ghetto, except for several dozen people to be shot, who were still being held. The six escapees again had fallen into the net of death and their lives were ended along with those sentenced to death.

The small ghetto in Czenstochow was liquidated on the last of the month of June 1943 and the heroic chapter of the fighting organization in the small ghetto ended. Surviving, closed in the camps of HASAG was a small number of Jews. A few fighters also remained alive in the forests and in the camps. This small group of surviving fighters did not cease [its activity] and continued to carry out its underground work both in the forests and in the HASAG camps.[110]


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