On March 19, 1941 appeared the „Ordinance concerning the regulation of accommodation and economic relations of Jews in the Radom District based on the Ordinance concerning restrictions of residence in the General Gouvernment form September 13, 1940 and on the Decree of the Department of Administration in the government of the General Governor. from November 21, 1940, where it was stated:
In all cities there must be separate districts reserved for the Jewish population. In the choice of such districts the following factors must be considered: accommodation needs of the army and civil administration as well as the location of the offices of the military and civil authorities and German houses ( ) The Jewish districts are not supposed to be ghettos or confined in any way but only to constitute a place to live for the whole Jewish population. The accommodation must also take into account Jewish doctors, dentists, pharmacists and midwives. The Council of Jewish Elders will submit a report about the localization of these people to the poviat staroste. The districts may be left ( ) only under permission of the poviat staroste (municipal, town commissioner), who gives appropriate certificate ( ) The entrance to all main transit roads of the district as well as main streets is forbidden for the Jews ( ). It applies to the following streets: Krakau, Jędrzejów, Chęciny, Kielce ( ) Kielce, Opatów, Sandomierz; Kielce, Chmielnik, Busko ( ). All Jewish shops on the above mentioned streets outside the Jewish district must be closed, with the exception of the Jewish companies that are under the management of the trust government. The Jews are entitled to take the shop equipment and to open new shops in the Jewish district. Emptied shop rooms should be given in the first place to people of German nationality for arranging German shops or to bigger companies for new branches ( ) The Jewish districts will be administered by the Council of Jewish Elders in consultation with the commander of the SS, the Police and Jewish order service. The men of the order service are to be distinguishable and their task is to maintain peace and order in the Jewish district and not allow the Jews to leave the district without written permission. However, the supervision of Jewish districts by the German and Polish police is also possible.
A detailed ordinance concerning the creation of ghetto in Kielce was signed by Stadthauptmann H.Dreschel, the announcements by the mayor of Kielce, M.Bogdanowicz. The decree concerning the creation of a Jewish district in the city of Kielce from March 31, 1941 provided:
The ghetto comprised the area framed with the following streets: Orla, Piotrkowska, Nowowarszawska, Pocieszki, Radomska. That area was called the great ghetto. The small ghetto comprised St.Wojciecha Street and Bodzentyńska from St. Wojciecha Square inclusive. According to an attachment to the above quoted decree the ghetto comprised 50 buildings on Piotrkowska Street (numbers from 6 to 106), 30 buildings on Jasna Street (1-43, 2-6), 27 buildings on Stolarska Street (1-37, 2-14), 8 buildings on Wąska Street (1-14), 6 buildings on Krzywa Street (1-9), 37 buildings on Zagnańska Street (1-27, 2-44), 40 buildings on Okrzei Street (1-39, 2-4), 70 buildings on Nowy Świat Street (1-61, 2-72), 36 buildings on Starowarszawskie Przedmieście (1-37, 2-34), 8 buildings on Przechodnia Street (1-9, 2-4a), 4 buildings on Przecznica Street (2-9), 48 buildings on Dąbrowska Street (1-37, 2-52), 28 buildings on Szydłowska Street (15-31, 2-38), 18 buildings on Targowa Street (1-23, 2-22), 25 buildings on Pocieszki Street (1-23, 4-22), 5 buildings on Nowowiejska Street (1-1), 24 buildings on Silniczna Street (1-15, 2-32), 8 buildings on Kozia Street (3-12), 43 buildings on Radomska Street (3-59, 6-26), 2 buildings on Orla Street (2-4), 10 buildings on Cicha Street (1-5, 2-12), 7 buildings on St. Wojciecha Street (2-14), 4 buildings on St.Wojciecha Square (1-4), 11 buildings on Bodzentyńska Street (3-23), 3 buildings on Marszałkowska Street (1-4), 1 building on Polna Street (2) and buildings between Szydłowska, Pocieszki and Targowa Street. Generally, there were 5000 buildings that could be inhabited by up to 15000 people, while there were about 27000 Jews in Kielce.
An analysis of the decree shows that the occupation authorities feared passive resistance of both the Jews and the Poles, who were also evicted. There must have been some reasons for threatening the Poles who helped Jews.
On April 1, 1941 two announcements were hung on walls in Kielce. The first one concerned providing for carts for the time of displacing and the other handing over the furniture and equipment from shops and institutions.
The first announcement informed the inhabitants, both the Poles and the Jews:
In order to duly execute the decree concerning the creation of the Jewish district in Kielce and according to the order of Mr Stadthauptmann I call all owners of horses and carts to deliver their means of transport on April 2, 3, 4 and 5 from 6 a.m. in order to transport the luggage of displaced people. The assembly points have been fixed at: 1. Plac Wolności, 2. St. Wojciech Square, 3 Leśna Street, 4. Squre at Starowarszawskie Przedmieście Street, 5. Square near the St. Cross Church (on the courtyard of priests Salesians), 6. Okrzei Street. The remuneration for the transport: by a one-horse cart 5 zloty, by a two-horse cart 7.50 zloty, by a platform cart 20 zloty. The fare will be paid by people who this decree applies to.
In the second announcement it was stated:
The furniture and other equipment, which in relation with the displacement to and from the Jewish district couldn't be fit in the new flats, should be handed over to the Council of Jewish Elders, as far as the Jews are concerned or the Municipal Board, as far as non-Jews are concerned ( ) Who does dot hand over the things defined by this decree and sells, hires, lends, destroys or locates at other people's houses will be severely punished, as well as the potential purchaser, and is responsible on pain of forfeiting his property.
The Germans gave only three days to carry out the complicated operation of moving to ghetto 27000 Jews from the city. Although the action itself was quite thoroughly planned ‘on paper’, there arose many problems which were rather difficult to solve within just three days. Apart from people also the equipment of flats, shops and workshops were to be moved. All that was left was lost. Similar problems had the Poles leaving the area intended for the Jewish population.
This is how J. Alpert recollects the creation of the ghetto in Kielce:
There was a terrible mess with allocating flats, you had to bribe, and people with no money had difficulties with obtaining a flat. ( ) We got a flat with another family: two rooms and a kitchen; we got a big room and the family a small room with the kitchen ( ) Till the creation of the ghetto we had had a shop with building material, varnish; that all was left, we went to the ghetto without anything 
This is a recollection of the Pole Wacława Zimoląg-Szczepańska:
We were woken up by aggressive knocking on the door. Through the window we could see that it was still deep night. Three or four men came in, civilians; they were speaking Polish ( ). ‘You must move out within 2-3 days, swap flats with Jews because here there will be a ghetto’, they said. They noted the number of rooms and people. God, how will I manage to pack it?, I'm only with my daughter’, my mother tried to postpone the decision. ‘Don't waste your time lamenting or going to the Municipality, it's an irrevocable ordinance of German authorities. Not a single Pole is allowed to stay here’. They left. Fortunately, my mother was immune to reverses of fortune ( ) When the day broke she drank only some coffee and went out to look for a flat. Almost on the doorstep she met the first guest a young Jewess who asked if she could see out flat. My mom told me to write down the addresses of people whose flats were of similar size. She came back nearly in the evening ( ) ‘I've walked whole Kielce and haven't found anything: either too big or already occupied and people are running like crazy’. The following day she took the addresses and left ( ). She came back at about midday and cried straight at the door that we had a flat 2 small rooms on the ground floor ( ) a Jewess from Piotrkowska Street was coming soon with a horse-cart with her things and we would load our things on it. We started packing. ( ) We lived then on Nowy Świat Street, just by the station ( ). The embankment of the railway constituted the northern border of the ghetto. I remember the move very well. Horse carts were going along narrow Nowy Świat Street and it led to Starowarszawskie Przedmieście Street ( ). It was difficult for two horse carts to pass without the chaotically loaded furniture catching on each other. Our table lost one leg in this way. I picked it up from dirty water of gutter before it was squeezed by iron wheels. I remember that nobody shouted, nobody was angry, nobody hurled abuse. Everybody was filled with dread ( ). We were paralyzed by the fear of the future. We were gripped with fear. What will happen now? Why are they separating the Jews from us? Are they going to kill us? Or them? Nobody knew the truth, everybody felt something cruel looming, heading towards us and everybody was silent. Everything was happening in terrifying silence ( ). When we were leaving our flat on Piorkowska Street the Jewess asked my mother if she could leave big linoleum on the floor and if we could clean it not with water but with white paste, like parquet floor. It was a normal care of a good, neat housewife who still held hope that she would return but never could tread on her favorite carpet in red flowery patterns.
Despite German threats, not only theoretical ones, which can be proved by the act of hanging Jan Nowak in Skarżysko for helping Jews, many Poles decided to keep some things of the Jews so as the Germans couldn't get them. Janina Stein, the daughter of judge Witold Stein, writes:
The couple Witold and Jadwiga Stein kept movables deposited from haberdashery shops of Warbrun, from R. Wallischowa's shop and the furniture of a Jewish attorney K.Wygański. These goods were returned to the families of the murdered owners after the military operations stopped. A. Birnhak says:
In 1941 the Kielce Jews were driven out of their homes and moved to the ghetto. Before we left our flat at 1 Plac Wolności, my dad deposited at Mr X a lot of valuables, jewelry, fur coats and even our piano ‘till the end of the war’ ( ) My poor parents thought that the war would soon end and that they would come back to their old flat with their belongings In 1942 the author found the above mentioned person and asked him to sell her things and give her the money: They gave me back absolutely everything. Thanks to Mr X I not only managed to survive but also some other people who I shared my food with. During a radio interview emitted by the Kielce Radio Janusz Pelc, the son of doctor M.Pelc, many times emphasized that Tadeusz Wroński helped the Jews a lot.
Bookseller Feliks Grostal, when he realized that he wouldn't manage to save his well known bookshop, chose the best books and gave it by the mediation of Stanisława Massalska to the Public Library.
Merchant Szaja Wajsman asked Teofil and Edmund Ząbek and Stanisław Urbański to keep his store of leather and tops of knee-boots. Later on they were sold and the money was sent to the ghetto with help of forester Franciszek Zając and shoemaker Jan Muszyński.
On April 5, 1941 appeared The decree about the creation of contagious area in Kielce, where it was written:
The moment the decree was passed no intensified spread of contagious diseases was recorded. The conclusion is that the ordinance aimed at a complete isolation of the Jewish district from the rest of the city.
The Jewish district was enclosed partly with a fence and partly with barbed wire. Every several dozens of meters there were plates in Polish, German, Yiddish and Hebrew Closed area. No entrance. By the five gates there were plates with inscriptions: Jewish district. In the former shop of Icek Kopel, on the corner of Radomska and Bodzntyńska Street there was later on a permit office, where it was also possible to get information about people who lived there. Some offices of the Judenrat were moved from Orla to Okrzei Street, just like the seat of the order service.
On April 7, 1941 appeared an announcement about the necessity to report to the Accommodation Office all flats left by the Jews:
In connection with the creation of a Jewish district in the city of Kielce I put all the house owners and administrators under the obligation to report immediately to the Accommodation Office, 5 Adolf Hitler Platz, 1st floor, free flats left by the Jews. Not obeying this order will be punished according to the binding law.
After concentrating the Jews in the poorest district of Kielce, where the buildings didn't have canalisation and running water and sewage was flowing in the gutters, the Germans finished the creation of their German district in the square of the streets: Sienkiewicza, Żelazna, Żytnia and Szeroka. They occupied also Jewish flats, of course the best ones, in other places of the city.
Already during the isolation of the ghetto appeared an announcement to the Polish population ordering them to register their real estates in the Jewish district so that:
Arian owners of real estates could receive tenancy rent ( ). They should submit a filled in and signed form. The forms can be obtained against a fee of 50 zloty in the Accommodation Office ( ); the owners who do not report in the appointed time shall lose their rents for the benefit of the Municipal Government.
The opinions of Jews concerning the creation of the ghetto varied. Some people thought that the action aimed at separating the Jews from the Poles, which would automatically limit help given to the Jews, it would particularly impede getting food. According to others the ghetto gave a sense of security, the more that for some time the Germans were not allowed to enter that district. Because at the beginning the Jews cared for peace and order by themselves, some people joked that now it would be like in Tel Aviv. M.Bahn recollects: Hunger prevailed; we were closed like in prison. The only good thing was that we didn't see the Germans and weren't taken to labor. After 6 weeks the Poles started bringing food and we got into contact with the Arian part. The Jews who were coming from work used to bring food and other things. Marian Cecot recollects: At nights big groups of providers used to go around Kielce, mainly women and children, they used to buy some food and people would also give them something for free.
W.Zimoląg-Szczpańska: My mom knew that they were starving and when they appeared in the streets among the Poles it was possible tot give them bread or other food, quickly, so that the gendarmes didn't notice. My mom had known the Wygańskis before the war and she had seen their lovely little plump a few months-old son. When she saw the Wygańskis in a group of Jews going to labor she decided to help them. This is how it all started. She gave them food many times. Although after 6 weeks of isolation the Poles were allowed to enter the Jewish district, it still required some courage because the German gendarmerie regularly controlled the ghetto. Jan Toborowicz recollects: I didn't go there; after all, people were afraid. The ghetto was fenced and the Germans were watching there. M.Cecot: The Poles rarely approached the ghetto. It was too dangerous.
The creation of the ghetto brought about great ruin of craftsmen workshops and shops. Out of 456 workshops and shops registered in January 1941 only 225 were left, which constituted almost 50%. The bookshop of Grostala ceased to exist as well as he Goldwassers' bookshop Pocztówka, known for selling post cards from Kielce in the interwar period. Destroyed were the books from two typically Jewish bookshops located for a long time on Leonarda Street of Aron Wolden and Moszek Mendel Walden. On Plac Wolności the following Jews had to close their shops; Estera Rozenbaum, Fiszel Dajtelcwajg, Mordka Kestenberg, Jojne Listgarten, Henoch Strosberg, Mojżesz Goldberg, Jakub and Szaja Kohn, Henoch Glazer, Fajgiel Wajcman; from Sienkiewicza Street were thrown out; Rywka Rutkowska, Abram Ber Ajzenberg, Dawid Sylberman, Judka Nawarski, Chana Kajzer, cyrla and Moszek Mendrowski, Lejbuś Szydłowski, Bajla Chmielewska Wertel, Hersz Wolf Goldfarb, from Ewangelicka Street disappeared the shops of: Juda Gutman, Lejbuś Rozenwald, Szmul Moszek Lenczer; from Kilińskiego Street: of Dora Wajnberg, Chaim Barankiewicz, Szmul Hofman, Hersz Gestenfeld, Szlama Rottsztajn, Fajwel Borkowski; from Szeroka Street the shops of: Chaim Federman, Chaim Bugajer; from Wesoła Street the shops of: Liba Cwajgoel, Naftul Gutman, Perla Goldberg, Szoel Granfinkiel, Icek Cukierman, Rywka Kohen, Hilel Weltman, Abela Bramowicz, Jakub Apfelbaum, Icek Bera, Dwojra Rapoport and Jankiel Szynkman. The situation was similar on other streets.
Also private doctors' and attorneys' practices were liquidated. From Hipoteczna Street the family of doctor M.Pelc and the family of barber-surgeon S.Rotman had to move out, from Wesoła Street the family of well known doctor Henryk Krauzy and Leon Reitter, from Leonarda Street doctor J.Szatz, from Sienkiewicza Street Alter Fisztenberg, from Kilińskiego Street dentist Anna Fiszer, from Focha Street doctor G.Harkawi and dental technician Salomon Salomonowicz. From Kilińskiego Street had to move out attorney Izydor Zimmer, from Sienkiewicza Street Jakub Wajnberg and Adolf Weisenfreund. Also well known producers were thrown out of their homes: Bermard Bugajer with his family (Józefa, Majer, Tauba), Maria Urbajtel with her daughter Regina, Henryk, Hzerszel, Chajm, Etla, Sara and Cypla Zagajski, Maks, Gabriel, Chaja, Samuel and Zofia Ellencwajg.
Some factories couldn't be moved and therefore their owners had to give up the production. In this way the brick-field Głeboczka belonging to the Cukiermans, Marksons and Gołębiowskis as well the factory of candles on Czerniakowska Street belonging to Jakub Szenfeld stopped the production. All kinds of social institutions had also to be moved. The old people's house and the orphanage on Poniatowskiego Street had to leave. The old people's house was moved to 24 Piotrkowska Street and the orphanage with 170 children to 2-4 Piotrkowkska, on the corner of 30 Okrzei Street.
According to the orders of the Judenrat in every building a House Committee was created and on every house were hung boards with names of all residents. The Judenrat had also to be informed, on pains of liquidation of a company, about the current address of the workshop or the shop. The Trust Government moved to the ghetto and took the house of Chana Holzkener at 17 Leszczy ńska Street. For the purposes of the ghetto a post office was opened on its territory at 19 Radomska Street. One could phone all cities in Poland. It was possible to send parcels up to 2 kg on condition that one had a certificate of sanitary control. There were no problems with sending and receiving money from outside the ghetto. After the creation of the Jewish district the Department of Work undertook a great action of verifying addresses, preparing to potential German orders concerning the employment because the obligation to work was still valid for the Jews.
The people were still looking for flats and rooms for their shops and workshops when the Judenrat was burdened with another serious problem connected with providing lodgings and food for about 1000 people. On April 12, 1941 a transport of Jews from Vienna reached Kielce. They were brought in solid Pullman cars with quite a lot of cash, clothes, food and medicine. They represented rich bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia. They were producers, merchants, musicians, doctors financiers for generations fully assimilated in their countries. They didn't speak Yiddish at all, which was widely spoken by the Polish Jews. They spoke mainly German or Czech, many of them knew French and English. The customs, clothes and behavior of the Kielce Jews evoked their surprise and reluctance. It soon turned out that they couldn't understand each other with the local people. The majority of them were unbelievers and tried to keep away from the representatives of Orthodox Judaism and Hassidism. They soon created their own compatriots' society and kept together. They were sure that they would return to Austria or Bohemia because on transporting them to the GG the Germans told them to buy return tickets.
At the beginning the occupier treated this transport in a different way from the local Jews. Those who had money could freely look for a flat in the ghetto. The poorer were put up in the former school Bejs Jakow on Aleksandra Street. They weren't forced to work in local factories unless somebody wanted to do the work voluntarily. The Germans didn't impede their correspondence with families scattered around the world. They were receiving numerous letters from Germany, Bohemia, Hungary, Switzerland and even the United States. There were also attempts to get into contact with a group of Vienna citizens transported to Lublin and Łódź. It proved to be more difficult than contact with Austria or Bohemia. After several weeks the majority of the Jews transported to Kielce were moved to smaller towns, which even worsened the shock, especially among old, sick people. The death rate among them was enormous. Kazimierz Cichoń, a railway man working on the station Kielce Herby remembers trains going on this track with Jews from Western Europe: when I was a switch-man on the station Kielce I used to receive trains with Dutch Jews. There were several trains and they were all destined to Lublin and Majdanek.
Among the thousand people transported from Vienna to Kielce was Gertruda Zeisler. In her numerous letters to family living in different European countries she made interesting remarks about what was happening in Kielce. In August 1942 she died in gas chamber in Treblinka but her letters survived and were thoroughly collected by her family and printed. When Zeisler got to the Kielce ghetto she was 53 years old, a widow of lawyer Maks Zeisler. Educated in Switzerland, speaking several foreign languages, she was an acute observer of life. She had been to Paris, London and Moscow. After the Wehrmaht had occupied Vienna she moved to Prague, where she had her family. From there she was transported to Kielce. She lived in hope that she would return to live on the Danube. She lived with her four compatriots at 45 Nowy Świat Street (later on 45 Arona Street). Relatively soon she managed to get into contact with her family, who helped her significantly sending money and parcels.
Her letters value more than the memories because she wrote down the events in the ghetto when they were still fresh. Being not from Kielce she could see some phenomena more clearly than the Jews living there for ages. Of course, the censorship was a significant impediment therefore she used many metaphors. Not being able to write about the death she was writing about passing time, etc. Her letters broke some stereotypes about the ghetto. The Jewish district wasn't so isolated to prevent the Kielce Jews from knowing what was happening in the world. It took the letters 7-8 days to get from Switzerland to Kielce, although it was war. It didn't take the parcels much longer. The Germans didn't limit their number. There were months when Zeisler received 5-7 parcels with such rarities as oranges, figs, currants and sweets. Beside food she was also receiving books. The source of information about the world constituted also the Gazeta Żydowska. It evoked great interest among the youth who often expressed their opinions there.
Generally, in mid 1941 there were about 27000 Jews in the Jewish district in Kielce, including about 2000 from Austria, Germany and Bohemia. This is how M.Bahn described the relations in the ghetto:
There was created an administration with the following organs: the Judenrat, the police, the hospital, the accommodation office, the tax office, the post office, which gave the opportunity to phone different cities, department of work and many other commissions. I had some fears about the Jewish police already when it was created and my fears proved to be justified. You could wriggle out of a German policeman but from a Jewish one it was impossible. I remember the following event: The Gestapo organized a round-up of Jews and a woman hid diamond earrings in her shoe. The Gestapo policeman couldn't find anything and went out to the neighbor; only a Jewish policeman stayed. The woman thought that she didn't have to be afraid of him and pushed the shoe further under the bed. He noticed it and called the Gestapo who found the earrings. She was sent to Auschwitz and her family soon received a certificate of her death. The Jewish police obeyed all orders of the Gestapo ( ). Officially people were given 130 gram of bread every second day. The Jews were selling their last shirts; swelling of hunger ( ) the children were looking for offal in rubbish dumps. The help was scarce. There was a Jewish Committee of Mutual Aid but its activity was too weak ( ). There was also court of conciliation which dealt with disputes concerning flats and money ( ). Special measures were taken when a member of the Judenrat or a policeman was offended. The accused person was taken to the side then and battered in the darkness. The privileged position of the Judenrat and the Jewish police caused bitterness among the Jewish masses. Hunger, coldness and forced labor led the Jewish population to despair ( ). Severe sorrows and constant waiting for the death causes indifference. There were no schools. Very few children were learning privately. In orphanages were gathered children of the poor and orphans together 288 children; there was also the old people's home for 70-80 people. There were some lectures and a few football matches. There were blackmailers and informers who swindled Jews out their money or told the Germans where goods were hidden. One was afraid of another. The golden thread of ethics and Jewish decency broke. Corruption started after doctor Pelc was removed and sent to Auschwitz. A certificate of his death was sent to Kielce. Newly appointed Lewi was a native of Kielce Jew and tried to fully please the Germans. There was still no religious life. The prayers were taking place in private houses. The religion had little influence on the masses and didn't protect them from extermination. The war with Russia and America even worsened our situation. They started beating communist Jews for who in their view should be wiped out ( ). Usually after 9 p.m., when the ghetto was closed, there was some relief. People gathered for prayers or visited one another to relieve stress after a day of humiliation.
There are two important statements in the memories of M.Bahn:
The middle class ( ) withdrew fearing to give help to others. Serious worries, constant waiting for the death caused indifference. Indeed, although there were many people in the ghetto who had been socially active before the war, including teachers, musicians and even stage performers, no steps were undertaken to create an orchestra or a small band. Only as late as in February 1942 there was some information about artistic performances, though, prepared by amateurs. People were becoming listless. The main aim of most activities was getting food and fuel in winter, sometimes also medicine. Bread was the most important topic of every day, in the course of time even more important than human life.
And here are remarks about the Kielce ghetto in letters of G.Zeisler from June to December 1941.
there is almost nothing to buy and everything is very expensive ( ). People who receive parcels help those who are less lucky ) winter and high prices of wood make our life difficult 
In her letter written at the end of October 1941 Zeisler writes:
The post day our only pleasure and entertainment turned into a source of suffering and tears. We haven't still received parcels form the Protectorate ( ). I'm not in that bad situation as I haven't had to sell any of my dresses yet ( ) In the afternoons we look for shelter in an outbuilding shared by 4 emigrants and we find some warmth here and the opportunity for a friendly chat. Usually our discussions enter around food and high prices, etc. From time to time we touch upon a really interesting subject or Mrs. Sachs reads in a loud voice 
On November 7 she wrote:
The Gutmans have the opportunity to leave for Cuba. Of course, I'm very glad but for me it means greater loneliness ( ) and I'm beginning to doubt if I'll manage to go through it. The prices are still growing, I receive only a half of the parcels sent by friends and to make the matters worse, I'm still worrying how to get an allowance of solid fuel. If only I stood a chance of getting a job. But unfortunately, it's rather impossible for a woman. One of my friends tried to dig potatoes one day. Although she is a very diligent worker and younger than I she had to give up. She was exhausted in the evening and destroyed her last clothes and shoes ( ). The world looks very gloomy.
In one of her letters Zeisler characterized the attitude of the Vienna Jews to the local people: a constant company of noisy, dirty and unfriendly people isn't pleasant. At the beginning I used to take their part because they are very unhappy, just like us. But the longer I am here the less I understand them. Only the children are charming in spite of that all.
Meanwhile, to the Kielce ghetto were coming new people, from: Warsaw, Piaseczno, Garwolin, Chmielnik, Działoszyce, Szydłów, Lelów, Żarki, Chęciny, Bodzentyn. It caused constant problems with accommodation and food prices increase. Some people were looking for a job. The working brigades consisting of Jews worked in the quarries in Kielce, Sitkówka, and Chęciny, in mills, feather processing factories and in the following industrial plants: Ludwików, Henryków and Hasag that is the pre-war Granat. K.Cichoń recollects:
Every morning young Jews and Jewesses were driven to work on the railway. They didn't get any money and were taken to the ghetto for night.
This is what he wrote about how the Germans treated them: Battered and pushed, kicked, treated like animals. We learn about the work at the Henryków from the memories of M.Sowiński ; The director of the Holzwerk (timber works) was reichsdeutsch Nazi Fuss. He distinguished himself in brutal treating the workers, especially Jews. There were numerous cases of battering and even shooting at the workers  H. Obara wrote about Fuss He bullied and beat people with a wooden rod and particularly the Jews who were employed there. About the situation of Jews in the Ludwików wrote also Czesław Król: There were craftsmen, merchants, etc. They were doing auxiliary work, loading and unloading goods, cleaning rooms and the territory of the factory  H.Opara adds: in our electric workshop worked two Jews. One of them was an electric technician Henryk Minc, a former radio-engineering shop owner on Sienkiewicza Street, the other was an electrician from Łódź.
Some Jews were transported from Kielce to work in other towns, mainly to Skarżysko Kamienna, Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski and Pionki. The information about the working conditions was falsified on purpose. This is an announcement in the Gazeta Żydowska from 1941 calling to work in the factory Hassah in Skarżysko Kamienna:
The Department of Work at the Council of Jewish Elders in Kielce informs that the industrial plant Hassag in Skarżysko Kamienna has reported demand for 100 Jewish workers for different jobs. They provide full board and daily remuneration or piece-work. Transport to the place of work and return for Sunday by company cars. The Council of Jewish Elders in Kielce provides the volunteers with 1 kg of bread weekly. The registration will be done by Department V at 4 Orla Street in office hours. The local Caring Committee of Jewish Mutual Aid joined in the agitation informing that: all family members of people who voluntarily left to work at the Hassag in Skarżysko Kamienna will be receiving dinner from the kitchen of the Jewish Mutual Aid until further orders. All interested should report to Department X of the Social Care at the Council of Jewish Elders.
In fact in Skarżysko Kamienna the Jews were used to the hardest and the most dangerous work, among other to fill artillery missiles and mines with trotyl. For 12 hours people employed in the so called werk C were scooping hot trotyl with buckets and pouring it into the missiles. The vapors of picric acid were destructive. The Jewess Róża Baumminger wrote that the picric hall was dripping with blood:
in trotyl dust, at cleaning the grenades they had to do enormous norm, which was constantly increased ( ). At every table there were several controllers with whips who supervised fast work. It would be possible to sit while cleaning the grenades but so as to torture them more the Jews weren't allowed to use chairs, the number of which was sufficient in the hall. The legs were heavy and swollen hands couldn't keep up with the killing pace of work. Any rest was out of question, a product was passed on from hands to hands and they were hurried to carry out the norm. We can read in Dawid Rubinowicz's memories about the situation of the Jewish brigades in the Hassag: if somebody sings badly or marches in a wrong way is battered ( ) During 13 hours they are not allowed to sit down even for a moment  Small groups of Jews were also abused in waterworks companies, storehouses of things confiscated by the Sipo at 1-3 Mickiewicza Street and a car base located there.
In June 1941 the Jewish society was struck by another event. Doctor M.Pelc was arrested for conspiratorial activity, among other thing for falsifying Arian documents and organizing escapes of Jews from the town. Arrested were also Poles, for example the director of Municipal Hospital doctor Marian Gustek and Superintendent Marian Green. The day after the arrest of M.Pelc the Gestapo detained doctor Gerszon Harkkawi, who during the defense war in 1939 had been a doctor of the 3. light artillery regiment and doctor Oskar Serwetnik. The daughter of the latter writes:
The chief of the Gestapo offered my father work for the Gestapo because he was a well known doctor. In secret, my father was kept for three weeks in prison and then sent to Auschwitz, just like Pelc. Two days before the transport I saw doctor Pelc accompanied by two SS-men in the city, he was all in blood. After three weeks they received a telegramme from Auschwitz that my father and doctor Pelc died of pleurisy. They both had always enjoyed good health. According to files of the Auschwitz camp M.Pelc came to the camp with Radom transport on July 30, 1941 together with doctor M.Gustek, Szloma Gotfryd, Arian Bester and Nikodem Rawicki. Pelc was marked with number 19066 and as a political prisoner he was directed to the Stafkompanie that is to penal campaign. Ill M.Pelc was laid on the floor and an SS-man put his foot on his throat crushing it. Jan Sikorski, who knew Pelc personally, writes: In prison and later on in Auschwitz doctor Pelc enjoyed great sympathy among other prisoners as a Polish patriot and a good, kind friend. Similar confidence and sympathy of the prisoners won later on another Jew from Kielce doctor Henryk Krauze, who treated patients in Auschwitz-Birkenau: He worked disinterestedly and with devotion.
The ghetto was a site of both individual, common crimes and the ones specially prepared by the Gestapo. Bogumił Sędek was an eye-witness of a visit in the Jewish district of two well known in Kielce Nazi murders: Hans Gayer and Gerulf Mayer:
Through Jewish policemen they ordered two Jewesses to go out to their cart: Lewi, a pretty 26-year old widow of Lewi, who had been shot by the Germans after entering Kielce and about 28-year old Goldberg's wife. I think that both men were drunk and behaved in a very noisy manner. Both Jewesses went to the. The Nazis wanted to force them into the cart and take them in indecent purposes. The women opposed. Suddenly Lewi hit Geruf Mayer in the face. Both Nazis began beating the Jewesses, kicking them with their shoes; the women fell on the ground. Finally Mayer shot Lewi and Gayer Goldberg's wife.
This is what M.Bahn wrote about the Sipo chief, Ernest Thomas:
One evening he burst into the ghetto looking for some Zawadzki ( ) He found his wife who said that he husband went to pray. He went with her to the flat where her husband was praying. He ordered everybody ( ) not living in this house to undress ( ). He told them to switch the light off and hitting them with horsewhip drove them out of the house.
Also H.Gayer enjoyed such excesses: once he went into the mikveh and threw naked Jews out on the street. There was frost and snow outside. And they were standing there battered with a ( ) baton  Because there were photos of those events, some copies are preserved thanks to Polish conspiratorial photographers.
Anna Mordeusz, who entered the ghetto with a friend, described what they saw there:
when the policeman wasn't watching I crossed the forbidden border of Okrzei Street ( ). The streets we were going along smelled awfully because of the gutters, into which in those times all sewages were poured. We were passing terribly ragged people who were with serious faces moping about like shadows. From the distance we could ear hysterical screaming of a battered man and the bark of police dogs. It was becoming horrible; I was shivering ( ) and started to look for a way-out from that labyrinth. Only after an hour of wandering around did an old Jewess show us a secret exit. When we got out of that hell, we had sweat on our foreheads.
The first special action was carried out against the Jews who came to Kielce from the lands behind the Bug after the outbreak of German-Russian war. S.Celer wrote about E.Thomas: He was leading an action against the refugees from the USSR. One night he dragged them from their houses, ordered to go outside on the street and shot them with his people. Those were the following Jews: Tomala, Henisz, Weber and others. Under the accusation of a communist activity the Gestapo shot in their flat Abram, Estera and Szloma Gryszpan on November 13, 1941.
On August 20, 1941 a round-up took place in the ghetto, due to which to prison were taken: Beniamin, Lejwa, Szajndla, Chandla and Estera Cukierman, Estera Prajs, Izrael and Estera Mincberg. After a short investigation they were all sent to extermination camps. Some Jews were killed behind the walls of the Kielce prison, among them Estera Walden on October 15 and Alter Zylbersztajn on November 15.
The situation of the Jewish population was worsened by the fact that the Germans managed to force the Jewish police to close cooperation in fighting illegal, according to the Germans, trade. Between May and December 1941 68 Jews were punished with fines of 25 to 2000 zloty for smuggling food to the ghetto. When it turned out to be not effective enough 4 policemen were shot because it was proved that they turned a blind eye to smuggling. After that event the Jewish police became exceptionally vigilant. However, the hunger forced people to risk contacts with the Poles. It can be proved by the fact that the authorities warned people from standing in groups near the gates and fences of the ghetto. Trade associations tried to improve the situation. The craftsmen opened a soup-kitchen for the poorest and at the end of June they were giving already about 1000 soups. The workers followed them and also decided to start their own soup-kitchen. It was possible to carry out those aims because the Judenrat managed to win the assurance that all fruits of fields and gardens belonging to the Council of Jewish Elders will be sold by the way of tender. People applying for the purchase of the products had to deliver their offers to the Department of Gardens and Agriculture of the Council of Jewish Elders, which had its seat on the territory of the former Forest Inspectotare at 32 Starowarszawskie Przedmieście. In July 1941, because the number of people who needed help increased due to the policy of the occupier aiming at starving the Jews to death, the Jewish Mutual Aid opened another soup-kitchen at 10 Cicha Street. An announcement put in the Gazeta Żydowska informed:
All interested in using the soup-kitchen should register in the office of the Local Welfare Committee ŻSS at 10 Kozia Street. The right to use the kitchen number 3 have in the first place those people who haven't profited so far form the Social Care. People receiving dry products from the Social Care can exchange them for prepared meals.
On October 11, 1941 appeared the Announcement concerning factories in the General Gouvernment. According to the announcement, all industrial, commercial, craftsmanship plants, public institutions and facilities of private and cooperative character, factories and cooperative societies of farm production dairies, drying rooms, mills and saw mills in Kielce should be registered. According to existing registers, at the end of 1941 to the most significant industrial plants working in the Kielce ghetto belonged: tin factory of Szmul Szydłowski (6 Piotrkowska Street) and of Jakub Kener (10 Piotrkowska Street), upholsterer's workshop of Jakub Konig (20 Silniczna Street) and of Juda Eichenbaum (13 Silniczna Street), parquet workshop of Ajzyk Kaczyński and Juda Eichenbaum (13 Silniczna Street), locksmith's workshop of Lejba Hirszman (10 Okrzei Street), glazier's workshop of Jakub Wajnberg (6 Piotrkowska Street) and Jakub Zylberg (31 Okrzei Street), carpenter's workshop of Szaja Zunsztajn (28 Silniczna Street) and Judka Goldlust (6 Piotrkowska Street), painter's workshops of Szlama Bruk (13 Silniczna Street) leather workshop of Izrael Rotenberg (1 Kozia Street) and manufacture stores of: Aron Ickowicz (33 Piotrkowska Street), Bajla Rapoport (31 Okrzei Street), Dawid Zylberberg (2 Bodzentyńska Street), storehouse of sea-grass and upholstery articles of Juda Eichenbaum (3 Silniczna Street). Those were small companies employing 1-2 people working mainly for the needs of the Jewish inhabitants. Commissioner Wacław Racławski created on behalf of the German authorities Shoe Center at 62 Kolejowa Street for which worked 17 shoemaker workshops in the ghetto, such as the workshops of; Joska Zilberman (12 Radomska Street), Jakub Wajcman (10 Kozia Street), Kalman Sokołowski (72 Piotrkowska Street), Rafałowicz and Lewkowicz (11 Silniczna Street), Moszek Lubelski (36 Piotrkowska Street), Szmul Lawensztajn (17 Okrzei Street), Lewit and Krakowski (60 Nowy Świat Street), Laks Rotenberg (9 Silniczna Street), Jakub Ickowicz (6 Radomska Street), Abram Herszkowicz (10 Radomska Street), Aron Gotlieb and Icek Tenenbaum (14a Starowarszawskie Przedmieście Street), Nuchyn Gorlicki (12 Piotrkowska Street), Moszek Garnfinkiel (3 Targowa Street), Todorys Gebrider (3 Silnicza Street), Zelik Fajersztajn (60 Piotrkowska Street), Icek Czrny (10 Kozia Street) and Izaak Blank (34 Nowy Świat Street).
For fear of starvation people were ready to take up every, event the most difficult work. The Germans and the Judenrat were using that. The Gazeta Żydowska from October 12, 1941 included an announcement:
Rozenholc brick-field in Kielce needs 15 Jewish workers for piece-work or for daily remuneration. Full board, flat and piece-work or daily remuneration provided. Volunteers will be given additionally by the Council of Jewish Elders 1 kg of bread per person a week. Registering can be done at the Department of Work of the Council of Jewish Elders at 4 Orla Street in office hours.
Another announcement in the same newspaper concerns quarries:
The quarries Rykoszyn-Bukówka need 20 Jewish workers for breaking and transporting stone. Full board, flat and piece-work or daily remuneration provided. For Sundays Rykoszyn-Bukówka provides return to Kielce. Volunteers will be given by the Council of Jewish Elders in Kielce 1 kg of bread weekly.
If they attracted people offering them 3 slices of bread daily, it means that there was real hunger. On the other hand these advertisements mean that the Jewish society was conscious that the offered work was the worst, heaviest and the most dangerous one. Otherwise, there would have been more volunteers than places.
At the end of 1941 other restrictions were introduced for the Jewish population. On October 15 appeared the so called Third decree concerning restrictions of residence in the General Gouvernment. It was stated among other things:
Jews who unauthorized leave their district are liable to death penalty. In the same way shall be punished people who give shelter to Jews. Inciters and assistants are liable to the same punishment as the perpetrator; any attempt shall be punished in the same way as a carried out deed. In minor offences severe imprisonment or prison will be adjudged. The verdicts are given by Special Courts.
The decree concerning restrictions of residence of Jews in the Radom District of December 11, 1941 prohibited the Jews from leaving their place of residence. Any leaving the ghetto could be done only on the base of a permit given by the poviat staroste or the municipal staroste. The Jews were not allowed to use any kinds of vehicles that constituted a private property, particularly horse carts on public roads out the place of residence: Jews who illegally leave the determined by this decree districts will be punished with death. In the same way will be punished those who give them shelter.
Tightening the ghetto confirmed the Judenrat in the conviction that the Jewish districts were permanent. Therefore it was decided to keep order in the occupied area of Kielce. The Building-Agricultural Department was created at the Judenrat, which in the first place cleaned the Jewish district of sewage and litter. Having finished that task the Department started ordering the streets and doing, with a lot of effort, building works necessary in the newly created district in order to make possible foot and wheel traffic between different parts of the district. However, because keeping order was beyond the ability of the above mentioned Department licensed city cleaning plants were introduced in 1941, which had to pay fees to the department of 50 grosz monthly.
The Social Insurance was reactivated, which had now its seat at 17a Okrzei Street. Doctor J.Lewinson was appointed head doctor. The office hours were from 14:00 to 15:30 and from 18:30 to 20:00. People coming for consultation had to show an identity card of the Insurance and a certificate from the place of work. It didn't apply to the youth under 15. It wasn't very difficult to find a doctor in the ghetto. There were doctors, barber-surgeons, dentists, dental technicians. It someone had money it was easy to have all kinds of examination. It was much worse with medicine which had to be smuggled from the Polish side.
The Judenrat hoped that in the course of time it would manage to create Jewish education. Therefore they were registering the youth and keeping lists of teachers. Unfortunately, the talks with the Germans didn't bring any results. The only official courses were nurses' courses. There were no restrictions in this matte because those people were to protect the district from epidemics of contagious diseases, which the Germans were afraid of.
The only thing that could be done was self-education. After closing the ghetto it was more difficult because Jewish bookshops were destroyed. From the letters of G.Zeisler we know that the Kielce residents asked the Vienna residents for help, for sending children's books to the ghetto. She wrote on April 30, 1942:
.On 26 of this month I received a parcel with books for children, which caused great joy among my friends. In February 1942 the Department of Craftsmanship and Industry of the Judenrat organized a 3-month long course of cutting and sewing ladies' and children's clothes and underwear. It worked in the workshops at 2 Warszawska Street. People who had the so called Arian documents participated in secret courses covering the programme of high school, which allowed them to take part in secret university courses. In this way Icek Mincberg and Maria Machtynger studied medicine.
The Kielce Jewish Council supervised unofficially the Judenrats in Bodzentyn, Daleszyce, Nowa Słupia, Bliżyn, Górno, Krajno and Samsonów. On a common meeting it was decided that the Kielce Jewish hospital would admit ill Jews from towns and villages near Kielce and in return the Judenrats over there promised to provide for food. Because it was quite difficult, in practice people were directed to the Kielce hospital only during epidemics of contagious diseases.
The first satisfaction of the Jewish society, which cost them dearly, though, came in December 1941, when in Russian frost and snow ended the German dream about Blitzkrieg. On December 24 the commander of the security Police and Order Service in the GG, Eberhard Schögarth, on personal command of Heinrich Himmler, ordered the SS commanders and the police to confiscate immediately all leather clothes and fur coats of the Jewish inhabitants. They were to be sent to the front. Not handing over the fur coats would be punished with death. The Kielce Judenrat ordered to send the coats to its seat, from where they were transported to stores organized in the bishop's palace. The fur coats from Bliżyn, Daleszyce and Nowa Słupia were also stored there.
When talking about 1941 another German action, this time a spectacular one must be mentioned. That action aimed at ridiculing the Jews and constituted a sensation on the country's scale. In June 1941 names of 58 streets were changed in Kielce. Some new names were related to the 1000-year-old tradition of the Reich and weren't allowed to be translated into Polish. Thus, the pre-war Pierackiego Street was now named Strasse der Deutschen Wehrmacht, Wesoła Street Kommendaturstrasse and Klińskiego Street Gouvermentstrasse. They changed also some names of streets in the ghetto, trying to ridicule the Jewish society with the new names: These are the ghetto streets:
|Dąbrowska Street||- Figowego Liścia [Fig-leaf E.W.] Street|
|Jasna Street||- Zaśniedziała [Verdigris] Street|
|Kozia Street||- Mojsze Street|
|Krzywa Street||- Abrahama Street|
|Nowy Świat Street||- Arona Street|
|Okrzei Street||- Jerozolimska Street|
|Pocieszka Street||- Trefna [Tref] Street|
|Przechodnia Street||- Sary Street|
|Przecznica Street||- Jojnego Street|
|Silniczna Street||- Srebrnego Kamienia [Silver Stone] Street|
|Stolarska Street||- Dawida Street|
|Szydłowska Street||- Czosnkowa [Garlic] Street|
|Targowa Street||- Izaaka Street|
|Wąska Street||- Rabinów [Rabbis'] Street|
|Starowarszawskie Przedmieście Street||- Szczęśliwa [Happy] Street|
The action was on everybody's lips so that even Emmanuel Ringelbaum noted it in his Kronika: In Kielce the names of streets have been changed into: Jojnego, Abrahama, Czosnkowa, Figowego Liścia, Zaśniedziała, Treife, Gasse, Jerorolimska, Rabina. On the gate there is an inscription in four languages. The Germans required people to use those names. Letters and parcels with old addresses were sent back. Also the Gazeta Żydowska had to use those names.
The winter of 1941-1942 worsened the food problems of the ghetto and more and more Jews, mainly the youth, risked their lives to smuggle at least some food from behind the wall. Witold Ceberski testified before the Circuit Commission of Investigating the Crimes against the Polish Nation:
I saw with my own eyes how the Germans bullied Jewish children caught in attempt of crossing the border of the ghetto to get some food. The children were collecting bread and other articles and coming back through cracks in the fence. Caught by the Germans they were tortured by them, kicked and battered over the whole body including the face and the food was seized from them. I saw children beaten with barrels of the guns and kicked in the face. The Germans stood often by the ghetto fence trying to catch the Jews waiting for coal thrown over the wall by railway men ( ); after catching a Jew they took the coal ( ) torturing, beating and kicking the Jew.
Kazimierz Fijałkowski witnessed an SS-man on Piotrkowska Street near the pharmacy catch a 8-10-year-old boy who went out of the ghetto and: hit him against the wall like pendulum and then jumped on him when he was lying on the ground. Such accident must have been frequent as in January 1942 the Gazeta Żydowska put an order of the commander of the Jewish police: It is strictly forbidden to stand near the borders of the district or the fences and gates leading to the Arian district. The memories of A.Mardeusz confirm the fact that the Jews used to wait for help by the fences of the ghetto:
I met aunt Flora. She stood lurking next to a sack filled with bread. She was surprised seeing me and asked me to carry the sack to the other side of the street, which I didn't feel like doing at all. But on the other side there were people waiting behind the barbed wire fence with stretched out arms. I couldn't stand the expression of their eyes and hastily started giving bread to the arms. There was only one left when I heard a scream run away! At a bound I crossed the street and hid in a gate. A moment later I heard the steps of gendarmes patrolling the street.
Apolonia Sowińska, née Rabinowicz distinguished herself with great courage; many times she got to the ghetto under a false name and helped her family:
I was several times in the ghetto, bringing food for my parents ( ) some Jews were taken from the ghetto to work in Kielce factories ( ). In the ghetto they worked in tailor, shoemaker and carpenter's workshops ( ). In one house lived 2 or 3 Jewish families. In one room lived even 10 people. The Poles were bringing them food in secret. There was hunger and epidemics ( ). There were many cases of death of hunger.
The Kielce ghetto was a place of frequent robberies. On the pretext of controlling illegal trade the Germans stole the most valuable things. According to the testimony of Kazimierz Misiek, a Schutzpolizei functionary Mathias Rumpel was selling stolen jewelery and valuables on a mass scale.
Apart from the food an increasing problem constituted getting warm clothes. It was particularly hard for the Jews transported to Kielce from Bohemia, Germany and Austria. For many of them the winter of 1941-1942 was tragic. Because there were more and more people in need the chairman of the Judenrat, at the same time the president of the Jewish Caring Committee, H.Lewi, appealed to the Jewish society for help and support to the action of collecting clothes. Warm drinks began to be given free of charge in the streets:
On January 1, 1942 an action of help to the poor population has been started in form of hot coffee given free of charge in provided for this purpose street kettles. Every cold and thirsty poor Jew can get a mug of hot coffee and warm his or her hands by the fire. The points are located in different places of the Jewish Residential Area and it is needless to say how popular they are. Crowds of people gather around these primitive stoves to drink something hot. The Council of Jewish Elders in Kielce plans to use portable field kitchens instead of the improvised stoves, which will allow an increase in the amount of coffee. For the time being the first point has been set up on the bridge between Jerozolimska and Szczęśliwa Street. Special stamps put on every application to the Judenrat were introduced to raise necessary funds. The price of the stamps varied between 10 grosz and 1 zloty.
At the end of January 1942 it was decided to create the Committee of Temporary Help to the Poorest. Its motto was: Let's give immediate help to the poorest. The Jewish district was divided into 20 beats and each beat got a patron from among the Judenrat members. Each patron could choose 4 people to help them, who were to control the beat and give immediate help. The next step was the creation other three points of distribution of hot coffee on Jerozolimska, Srebrnego Kamienia and Bodzentyńska Street. 1200 liters of coffee were given away every day. In February 1942 another slogan was spread:Every hungry sated. At the same time richer families were reprimanded that it was their duty to support the poor. They were even threatened with sanctions, such as forced payments. The Judenrat allocated 25000 zloty or winter help and organized a collection of money. The threats didn't bring, however, any results even when the number of the Jewish order service was demonstratively increased by 30 men. The Jewish society was excessively burdened with various taxes. The Jews were obliged to pay the following taxes: personal, special, local, compensatory, hospital and of winter help. Most of them fell into arrears with the payments. The Judenrat wanted to collect at least a part of the due amount and therefore announced a 50% remission of arrears for 1941 and the rest could be paid in installments beginning in March 1942. At the same time dilatory inhabitants were threatened that: After the above fixed deadline the whole sum of the due taxes would be collected by force. Those were only idle threats. The Germans didn't pay the Jewish workers for their work preferring to remunerate them with a bowl of water-like soup. The majority of people had already sold everything they could. They didn't pay for their flats, then, and didn't have enough money for fuel. However, the Judenrat kept trying to force the Jews to give their last money. This is the announcement of March 1942 concerning the obligation to pay the rents:
the rent and the due amount for water must be paid till the 7th of every month. The whole amount for the rent and water must be paid within March this year. Not complying with these requirements shall be punished with executive measures, such as seizure of movables. The movables shall be sold within five days on a public auction 
At the beginning of January 1942 on commission of the occupation authorities the Judenrat carried out another registration of men between 12 and 60. Two officials of the Department of Building and Agriculture were ordered to carry out the registration. In March a detailed registration was made of people employed in factories outside the ghetto. After this action all craftsmen domiciled in the Jewish district were registered. The following professions had to report for registration: brewers, maltsters, millers, weavers, tanners, soap producers, saddlers, printers, stenotypists, dental technicians, glass-blowers, painters, glass-cleaners, pattern-makers. The following action concerned the militaries:
The Manager of the Order Service at the Council of Jewish Elders in Kielce informs that according to an order of the authorities the former officers of the German, Austrian and Polish army, domiciled in the Jewish district must report for registration to the secretary of the Order Service in office hours.
It is probable that the latter action was later used to liquidate Jewish officers living in the ghetto. J.Alpert testified:
the first serious action had been carried out ( ) before Hitler was born. It was an action directed against the reserve officers and communists. Many people were killed on the spot and the rest were sent to Auschwitz. We were woken up by shots at night there were shots in flats. Very few Jews were officers, unless they were doctors, so many doctors were killed at that time. The following people died then: Schatz, Schmeterling; Marek Rozenberg died as a communist, dentist Hescheles, who wasn't from Kielce, was sent to Auschwitz. I don't remember exactly who else died, but I'm sure that a lot of people. My cousin who was a reserve officer (but not a doctor) was also arrested. He had worked in the Kadzielnia in bookkeeping there and he was saved in the last minute by the superintendent of the Kadzielnia, Klotz. After the latter one no other serious action was carried out in Kielce till the displacement.
According to witnesses' testimonies M.Rozenberg was shot by M.Rumpel himself. Also L.Serwetnik wrote about that event: One night ( ) doctor Strumw was shot on Stolarska Street, ( ) shot were: Szatz, Rozenberg or arrested: Chaim Krauze, doctor Kleinberg from Łódź, doctor Schmeerling. We know the details of doctor Oskar Strumw's death from the memories of A.Birnhak:
One April evening in 1942 two Gestapo policemen came to the Judenrat and dragged president Lewi out of his bed. They took, as they always did during such actions, a few Jewish policemen who guided them to the given address. When they came to take my dad I was sure that it was a mistake and that they would take him to the headquarters to interrogate him and that he would be released. He was such a quiet man. He had never belonged to any organization ( ) They came and started banging on the door. My mom opened them and reproached herself later on ‘Why did I open them, if only I hadn't opened the door’. ( ) They didn't take much trouble with my father. They didn't even send him to Auschwitz. Thy shot my daddy downstairs in the courtyard. A Jewish policeman who witnessed the execution told us afterwards that when my dad fell down shot in his head the Gestapo policeman who murdered him said: ‘du warst ein Arzt’ (‘you were a doctor’). It wasn't enough to murder a man, he had to disrespect and humiliate him ( ) He was buried in a common grave with other victims of that terrible night. He was 55.
The example of what happened to doctor O.Strumw indicates that in the ghetto people were murdered not for an anty-German activity but just because they were Jews. Also Sz. Celer writes about the above mentioned action: only doctor Reitter was saved, he was manager of the Jewish hospital. Afterwards he got to Auschwitz. Celer witnessed also shooting of 18 people, mainly from the intelligentsia.
In memories of surviving Jews striking is the fact that those who survived have a lot of reservations about the behavior of the Jewish order service, which had been in good graces of the Germans till the liquidation of the Jewish district. In the Gazeta Żydowska of March 6, 1942 in the article titled Rok istnienia służby porządkowej w Kielcach it was written: On the occasion of the first anniversary of the Jewish Order Service in Kielce a celebration was organized. The ceremony was opened by the speech and report for the previous year held by commandant Bruno Schindler. After his speech president Lewi rose to speak wishing the Order Service good results at work. Next, by the order of the day 15 members of the Order Service were promoted. The number of members was increased from 85 to 127. The official part was followed by artistic performances of amateurs, mainly from the Order Service. The whole ceremony was impressive thanks to good organization of Herman, Kopel and Albirt. At the end superintendent Schindler arranged a collection of money for the President H.Lewi orphanage.
Many critical remarks were addressed to the Judenrat, which was criticized for its submission to the occupier. Indeed, some statements of its members as well as the orders it gave indicate that the Council agreed with all German orders. The following information about sanctions for avoiding work, it has to be admitted killing work, may serve as an example:
People who do not report at the call-up of the Department V of Work on the fixed date shall be brought to disposal of the Department V of Work and forced to work three days for each day that was determined in the call-up, irrespectively of other kind of punishment. Men aged 16-60 who have received an equivalent of work are obliged, apart from paying the equivalent, to serve work ( ) at a nominal call of the Department of Work. The charges who do not report to work at the call of the Department V of Work will be deprived of the right to use the Social Welfare, irrespective of eventual bringing them to work.
They didn't want to understand that many Jews didn't report to work only because of their poor health conditions. G.Zeisler wrote in her letter of March 13, 1942: We had to bring to hospital a relatively young man, who belonged to our circle of friends. He suffers from complete physical and mental exhaustion and needs above all a lot of good food ( ) it hurts when I see that somebody I used to spend a lot of time with is weakening and I can't help him. In that hunger and coldness every work was difficult:
The work with children has proved that it is too much for me. I couldn't break the language barrier. Not mentioning the fact that I've lost 1,5 kg again. Work combined with malnutrition leads to fast passing of time. I'm becoming old and depressed ( ) we are all beginning victims of depressing attacks caused by foreign and unnatural life. Our horizon is shrinking every day.
The author couldn't write about death so she was writing about passing time, about slow dying in the atmosphere of closed ghetto. The atmosphere of fear, insecurity of coming days and depression was killing even the local people, after all more immune to life difficulties. On February 27 1942 took place the funeral of Etla Zagajska, the wife of H.Zagajski, the owner of the quarry Wietrznia, who deceased in the interwar period. In the obituary notice about her in the Gazeta Żydowska it was written: She belonged to the women of the old style, who are scarce nowadays ( ) she supported poor fiancées, helped her relatives and strangers with a generous hand, etc. In the funeral participated the youth from the orphanage and the inmates of the old people's house that is from the institutions that the Zagajskis had supported. On February 18 died a well known zaddik from Radoszyce, Chaim Uszer Finkler. When the Jews learnt about his death an hour of mourn was proclaimed and the work was suspended in Jewish workshops. In the funeral participated thousands of Jewish inhabitants of Kielce and delegations from other towns and cities  Over the open grave the rabbi of Kielce A. Rapoport held a speech for the 1st time in public as well as the chairman of the Judenrat H.Lewi. A few days afterwards the son of the dead rabbi was elected his successor, who also lived in the ghetto with his family. In the same month died also one of the best known social activists in the Jewish society, 65-year-old Mordka Fiszel Kaminer:
The deceased was from a well-known Hassid-aristocratic family and embodied the greatest virtues of humanity. His activity was always characterized by honesty and energy of spirit. He was the head of all institutions in the city and was particularly active in creating religious education. In 1938 thanks to his help started the building of a new school, the end of which he didn't live to see. In the deceased the Jewish society is losing an honest and irreplaceable man. Peace to his memory.
The next victim of the atmosphere of the ghetto was 56-year-old Talmudist Chaim Warszawiak. As a merchant he distinguished himself with his active philanthropic help. In March died Fajgla Hirszman. In the obituary notice it was written: The deceased was characterized by good and helpful heart and unusual modesty. No poor or needy could leave her house without help. Because F.Hirszman was the mother of a Judenrat member all its members participated in the funeral.
In 1942 the penalty for leaving the ghetto illegally was death. In February the occupation authorities sentenced to death the following for leaving the Jewish district in search for food: Szmul Ziblerberg, Szprynca Tojta, Josek Zylbersztajn and Brandla Zajączkowska. They were executed in the prison area on Zamkowa Street. In the following months for similar offences were shot: Jankiel Wygodny, Majer Binem Zylbersztajn, Majer Wikiński and Szabsa Wolfowicz. On April 1 Frymeta and Majer Żuchowski were shot in their flat for selling meat. For similar activity were put into prison and died due to battering the following people: Abram Barus, Moszek Strawczyński, Szaja Ehrlich and Josek Lewin. I. Obarzański, a joint owner of the photo-chemical factory Orion, was murdered in an exceptionally bestial way. He was dragged on a rope behind a car on a stony road near the Kadzielnia. All that was left after him was a massacred piece of body. His ‘crime’ was that he tried to send by post a parcel with food for his distant family in the Bohemia Protectorate. Once recollects J.Piękusiowa two Jews tore off a board on Pocieszka Street wanting to get some potatoes. I saw with my own eyes the Germans shoot them. After an interrogation by the Gestapo Frajdla and Lejzor Rajzman were transported to the extermination camp in Majdanek for trade with food. Blima Fryd and Maria Dajbog were shot on the spot.
In spring 1942 the Gestapo policeman M.Rumpel shot two girls on the courtyard of the Schutzpolizei because he caught them going by railway without a permit. A.Sowinska recollects: In summer 1942 I saw on Stolarska Street a 4-year-old boy go out of the ghetto. A German gendarme was on duty there. He took the boy's legs and killed him by hitting his head against the wall so heavily that the head burst. A 16-year-old Jewess only leaned her head out of the fence and was shot.
Although in 1942 no epidemic was recorded in the Jewish hospital of typhus died: Moszek Lerer, Salomon Bunin, Sara and Abram Wodzisławski.
G.Zeisler noticed the tragic fate of Jewish children: The situation of the children hurts me deeply but what can I do when I see the enormity of unhappiness? All we can do is to close our eyes and ears so as not to go mad. This is how A.Birnhak remembers her younger brother:
Heniuś couldn't understand what happened and what it meant that his father was murdered. For Jewish children in the ghetto the Gestapo and murders were normal phenomena and normal life was beyond their comprehension. The kid was becoming wild playing with other children in the dirty and smelly streets of the Kielce ghetto. He didn't know at all what was music, games, sports stadium, swimming in summer and skiing in winter, walks among pine trees surrounding Kielce. He didn't know at all what school was.
Although the administration of the ghetto was quite competent, the post office functioned, we received newspapers, it was possible to get food for working people and social institutions (hospital, orphanage, old people's house), the atmosphere in the district was getting more and more difficult. People were becoming less afraid of death but were much more frightened by the perspective of coldness, diseases and hunger. Particularly hard was the situation of people parted from their families, the old and the lonely. The letters of G.Zeisler written between March and August 1942 reflect that situation. At the beginning of March she wrote: Less and less information from Prague and Vienna and I'm beginning to feel lonely ( ) sometimes we shouldn't feel sorry for those who died before us. On May 7, 1942 she wrote; time is breaking my courage and now from time to time I am depressed. I'm happy that my husband isn't here. It's easier to take care of yourself. Worrying about the happiness of other people is so hard  On June 5 she wrote: In the last three parcels I found potatoes and flour instead of what had been sent. A week later: we have received flour and potatoes ( ) instead of food parcels  That means that the parcels from Europe to the Kielce ghetto were robbed on the way, instead of sweets, sardines and tins the recipients were receiving potatoes. On July 17, 1942 Zeisler wrote: I've heard from doctor Fajlg's niece that Artur's old uncle died and that aunt Kamila is now completely alone in Łódź. It's not a reason to cry that an old man has been freed from the illness that we call life  On August 13: I seem to have lost my common sense in this atmosphere of destiny and hopelessness.
Was there anything that could bring joy at least for a moment? Unfortunately, there was not much. The Jews from Vienna were glad when they received letters and especially parcels. Their arrival meant food, clothes and books. A part of that was sold. However, the majority of the Jews were deprived of that, even though they try to keep wide correspondence. In January 1942 the Post Office at the Judenrat announced with help of the Gazeta Żydowska that 30 parcels from abroad should be collected. In her letter of February 19 G.Zeisler informed her family: I experienced something wonderful yesterday when I went to a charity concert. It was the first music I could hear after ages. It was rather amateur but what a wonderful change was it for me. The first staves of the music after such a long time brought me to tears. The information is parallel to a press announcement in the Gazeta Żydowska, where we can read:
Thanks to an effort of the Committee of Aid to the Poor Jews in Kielce ( ) on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th February there will be held two concerts for the benefit of the Winter Help to the poorest inhabitants of the city of Kielce. The two events are prepared thoroughly with a lot of work and effort. In the concerts perform very talented artists, amateurs of our city, such as R.Mincowa and A.Charin canto, A.Ajnsztajnówna, J. Lewi piano, A.Szmulewicz and H.Gertler violin, D.Abramowicz cello. The proceeds of the concerts will go to the Winter Help.
Although it was an amateur performance it attracted wide audience and was a great event. G.Zeisler wrote about that in her letter.
In the Kielce ghetto there were several dozens of professional musicians, among them: Majer Gurewicz, Henryk Lewek, Dawid Abramowicz, Boruch and Estera Szpilman, Ita Szymszalewicz, Jakub Golendziner, Bajla, Estera and Chaim Biderman, Icek and Lejba Laks, Jankiel Podstopnicki, Estera Prajs, Herman Szwarc. Almost all members of the Grostals and Gringrases played various instruments very well. Most of those people thought, however, that it wasn't appropriate time to play.
People were looking for oblivion in books. G.Zeisler wrote: I've finished a book of Hudson, it helped me to be away in a very pleasant way ( ). His opinions are indeed right. Not only I but also my friends liked them.
Still others were looking for consolation in religion. Because the Great Synagogue in Kielce was devastated the Jews created illegal prayer house at 6 Okrzei Street where they used to meet in the evenings. They had to be very careful, though, because the occupier persecuted praying Jews.
In 1968 the Circuit Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation in Kielce was doing several investigations against the former functionaries of the German police. Some testimonies concerned also the ghetto. Here are the most important ones. Stefan Weber said: I was in a secret Polish organization the Home Army and therefore I was interested in the behavior of the Germans in Kielce, among other things in their attitude to the Jewish population. Stanisław Gozdur said about M.Rumpel, a fierce Nazi: Rumpel was said to be a sadist ( ) he killed people for pleasure, both Poles and Jews, he used to beat passers-by without any reason ( ). It was a common knowledge that the Schutzpolizei was responsible for the Jewish ghetto. They supervised the ghetto, entered the ghetto most often and murdered people there. Jan Kowalik: The Schupo policemen supervised the ghetto and it was them who committed most murders there. Aleksander Sędek: many Jews had houses outside the ghetto, in the city and yet, they had to pay taxes and fire premium ( ) beating Jews by German gendarmes and sometimes by the Jewish police were of frequent occurrence.
The place where most executions, both of the Poles and the Jews, were carried out in Kielce was the Jewish cemetery. The Nazis brought there the victims from the Gestapo, prison and the ghetto:
A hole used to be prepared the day before by the son of undertaker Jankiel and Jewish workers. The victims were driven from the cars to a wooden building (the so called Jewish mangle) on the Jewish cemetery. From there the Jews were taken in pairs, usually a man and a woman. They were told to strip naked and put their clothes on a pile in one place. Next the victims were escorted by four Germans: two behind and two on the sides to the verge of the hole. Then the Germans killed them with a series from automatic gun. Quite often the victims that fell into the hole were only injured. When all Jews had gone through their last way the Germans carrying out the execution covered the killed ones with a thin layer of sand and called the Jewish workers to fill up the hole. Meanwhile, the Germans took the clothes left by the Jews ( ) and looked for gold and other valuables. The Jews on the Jewish cemetery were shot by SS-men, among whom Rumpel ( ) was known ( ). The frequency of executions on the Jewish cemetery decreased when a cemetery was created in the ghetto. It was located on a slope between Nowy Świat Street and the river Silnica.
Together with physical destruction of Jews a propaganda action was organized which was to justify the murders. To this purpose served itinerant anty-Jewish exhibitions, such as Die judische WELT-PEST (Jewish World Pest), brochures, satiric drawings and posters. This phenomenon intensified after the first defeats on the eastern front. In February 1942 a poster was hung in Kielce in large amounts, on which next to a picture of three Jews there was the following poem:
Look, dear spectator on your way
The Jews have hunted us at bay
Instead of meat a rat they chop
The milk they sell is full of slop
Full of warms is a Jewish cake
Which with their dirty feet they make.
Very few but still some people found it funny. D.Rubinowicz from Krajno wrote in his diary: people were going in the snow and laughing so loud that I was getting headache from the humiliation that the Jews are experiencing today. Oh God, put an end to this shame! Krystyna Urbańska recollects:
I often saw posters with a slogan ‘Jew is a swindler, your only enemy.’ You could see them on the fence near the Śniadeckich High School, on fences on Wschodnia or Poniatowskiego Street. There were sometimes copies of the so called Gazeta Ilustrowana dla Wsi Polskiej [Illustrated Magazine for the Polish Village] with different slogans, such as ‘The Jews are carriers of lice and typhus’. Later on brochures started appearing in masses, like for example: Blasphemy against Holy Sacraments or Confessions of Jews. Among the intelligentsia this kind of propaganda caused disgust, we were aware of the fact that the Germans hated both the Jews and us.
It results from the existing material that the Judenrat and a part of the Jewish intelligentsia knew quite well what was happening in the country and what was the direction of the German policy. The decree of the governor of the Radom district of February 1942 limiting the number of food coupons from 337000 to 200000 and decreasing the food rations by 50% testified to the fact that the Germans wanted to starve the Jewish society to death. And hunger weakens physical and mental endurance. This decree was explained by the fact that the Polish population wasn't fulfilling the contingent but knowing the hypocrisy of German propaganda it was hard to believe.
The youth protested against the passivity of the older generation. Rafał Blumenfeld, a native of Kielce, domiciled now in Israel wrote about the years 1939-1942 in Kielce: I got involved and worked as a volunteer in a Zionist youth organization Hanoar Hacyjoni, which was active in conspiracy till the first transport of Jews from Kielce  To the Kielce ghetto were getting through also liaison girls from Jewish underground organizations, among them Chaja Grosman from Haszomer Hacair (Young Scout) and Froma Płotnicka from Dror (Liberty), Because both girls were getting through also to other ghettos, for example in Białystok, Tarnów, Będzin, the Jews in Kielce knew what was happening in Jewish districts in other cities.
In the course of time people knew what Treblinka meant. A few people managed to escape from that extermination camp, including two Jews from Kielce Wacław Zalcberg and Nachman Diament. Another Jew Srul Rakowski fled from Treblinka and managed to get near Kielce .
In July 1942 a possibility of deporting the Kielce Jews to the east, near Lublin was often mentioned. The information came from different sources, also from the Germans. M.Bahn said: Wirtz from the Schupo told me that the Jews might expect deportation.
The information about deporting Jews from the capital of the district from Radom reached Kielce on the very same day that is on August 5, 1942. It was spread by railway men coming back from Radom. It was a shock for many people. The majority thought, though, that the situation would be different in Kielce. The Judenrat was maintaining these illusions convincing the Jews that they could prove with their effective work that the Germans needed them. Some, however, decided to risk an escape from the ghetto. It was unlikely that they could succeed. It was 1942. The Germans were ruling from the Pyrenees to Stalingrad and small partisans units couldn't accept greater numbers of refugees. However, an escape gave a chance of surviving whereas in the ghetto such possibility practically didn't exist.
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