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[Page 202]

The Jews of Koło in the Warsaw Ghetto

Esther Nashelska-Bendler

These lines will try to shed some light on the last days of tens of people from my town who fled to Warsaw during the Holocaust and are missing. I shall start from the place I lived in- the home of Yitzhak Izhbitzki. He was the concierge of a large house at 29 Gjibovska street. Many were jealous of him because concierges were not taken for forced labor. The home was near a metal-bed factory where non-Jewish Poles worked, and these people helped us by smuggling food. Each day they brought foodstuffs which we paid for with our gold and jewelry. Some of the food we ate and some we passed on to grateful friends. The food was not hygienic but it was better than eating waste scraps.

Yitzhak's home became a center for the Ghetto Jews. There we heard what had happened in the expulsions from Koło, Izhbitza Lubelska and other places.

I think about 100 Koło Jews took refuge in Warsaw. I can recall Izho Frankel, his wife and son Kova (who supported them), David Fernikez, his wife, and daughter Halinka,Moshe-Leib Levin, his wife, their daughter Genia and son Adjo, Tempelhof and his wife, Israel Czeczinski and family, Yedza Bijzvinska, Paula Zaitzek, Yehezkel Vahulder and family, Adek Schlechtov and wife, Regina Schlechtov and husband, Mrs Schmuklerska and family, Binyamin Kuninski and family from the New Market, Rabbi Shlomo Rotfeld and daughters, Brunek Silberberg and family, the son of Sinai Brockstein, chankovitch, Itzhe Neumann and wife Olek Neumann and wife,Ignasz Neumann, wife and son, Gittel Neumann Nashelska, Ezra Izbitzki, the Futter family, Naomi Kirschbaum, Sala Kirschbaum and her sons.

The Jews of Koło came with a few belongings and sought work. Ignasz Neumann and I stitched uniforms for the army, this saved us from deportation.

…our relatives: Itzik Czezinski was a policeman with the Jewish “militia” Adek Schlectov and his wife were dentists, Ezra Izhbitzki was a metal worker.

One day Regina Schlectov and her husband visited me. Their knapsacks indicated a lengthy journey. Regina showed me a German handbill that said: “If you want bread and work, come to Umschlagplatz and you will be sent to a place of work”

They complained about their bitter life, they were tired and hungry. At that time nobody knew of the Nazi deception. The Nazis tricked thousands of Jews, and so they were in the first “transports” to the crematoria.

The family of David Firnikazh were killed in Warsaw. His wife was killed when an SS officer entered their room and told them to stand up. She was paralysed and could not move so she was shot on the spot. David tried to move to the Aryan side of the city and with him went the families of Szezinski, Wachelder and Bizhvinski. They were all captured and shot and nobody knows where they are buried.

In Warsaw also died the wife and three daughters of Arthur Nashelski, Kazik Yoel and his wife (nee Wartski). Fabian Yoel, his wife and daughter, Abraham Feldman, his wife and daughters, Aharon Ritschke, his wife and their daughter Zoshia. His son Shaya Rassler returned from Russia and was killed in Warsaw.

Tempelhof refused to go to Umschlagplatz and commmitted suicide with cooking gas.

The rest of our fellow townsmen mentioned above were caught in the Selections and sent to Maidanek and Treblinka.

As the ghetto area was reduced, Yitzhak Izhbitzki was dismissed and found work as a concierge on Niske street.

He was killed in the final assault on the ghetto as he smuggled weapons through the sewers into the ghetto for the Jewish fighters.

The years 1941-42 in the Warsaw ghetto were cruel and bitter. Each day we waited in vain for deliverance. Those who found work became slaves, but we did not lose hope, we tried our best to hold on.

Nobody who was not in that Hell can imagine the slow death of our community in Koło.

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