by Wolf Fajnsztadt
Translated by Tina Lunson
I was born in Lublin on November 15, 1919. I was with the partisans from July 26th 1944 until January 17th 1945. Before joining the partisans I was in the Ostrovtse camp.
In February 1943 the young men in the ghetto organized an attack on the commandant of the Jewish [ghetto] police and took 40 pieces of gold from him. With that money (around 36,000 zlotych) we bought 12 revolvers. We sent 17 of our men to Kunow in the forest but unfortunately they fell into the hands of the Polish Home Army: when they were in a bunker with other partisans the P.H.A. threw in a grenade and all of them were killed. Because of that tragic event our actions in the ghetto stopped until May 1944.
In the beginning we were 47 members and we were reduced to barely 30. The leaders of our group were the two brothers Shteyn. They were killed by the Germans in very special circumstances. They had met with the leader of the workers' party in Ostrovtse, Ribovski (known by the pseudonym Voya), and discussed a plan for organizing an escape from the camp. A certain Blumenshtok overhead this and told the Germans. The two were promptly arrested. Over two days they were horribly tortured and finally they were shot on the open square in the camp and all Jews were compelled to watch.
After them, the command of the partisan group was taken over by Dovid Kempinski from Konin. Under his leadership we tore through the barbed wire of the camp in the summer of 1944 and went into the forest. We then had 14 revolvers and two small rifles and also 3 grenades. The Jewish partisan organization from Warsaw, under the leadership of Antek Tsukerman, sent us money to buy weapons and food. We brought the money (25,000 zlotych) and a few grenades to the partisan Fanye Beatos, who had Aryan papers. She got into the ghetto with a group of Jews from the camp who worked in the town and got out of the ghetto the same way, the following day, after she had met with us. While she was travelling back to Warsaw some Germans uncovered the fact that she was Jewish. They arrested her and later shot her. Honor her luminous memory!
We hid the weapons in the hay mattresses that we slept on. When were went out to the forest to Krushemianek, near Ostrovtse, we joined a group of nine Russians who had escaped from a German prison camp. They were well armed with automatics. A Pole from the Polish workers' party joined us and the Russians (after the war he became the police commandant in Bodzechow). We built underground bunkers. All together we were thirtyodd men and among us were also several women, who occupied themselves with the kitchen and laundry.
We left the Ostrovtse camp because we knew that the Germans were going to liquidate the camp: We also wanted to rescue our families and Jews in general from the ghetto. Unfortunately we did not manage to do that, because the Germans may their names be blotted out quickly sent all our dearest ones to Auschwitz because the front was nearing our area.
We used to buy food products from various peasants and paid the prices from before the war. At night we went armed among the villages and sometimes we encountered Germans with the peasants and we had to fight them. Once during such an encounter four of our members fell and two were wounded. We then killed four Germans. We took their uniforms and weapons; our group once encountered an automobile
in which several Germans were carrying cigarettes and preserves. We attacked the auto, took the supplies and burned the auto. At the end of June 1944 our members blew up a transport of ammunition that was going to the front. From a distance we watched with joy as the transport burned. In October of the same year we blew up a house in the village Sudagora where a German officer lived, a great bandit. The entire house burned along with the chief, the murderer.
In the beginning of November of the same year the Germans laid a trap for us. A peasant apparently betrayed us and revealed our bunker to the Germans. The Germans surrounded us and fired on us heavily. We answered with fire. During the shooting 8 of our members fell, among them the two women and one Russian. There were about 60 attackers and we had to retreat. We fell back to the village Tsharno Glino, near Ostrovtse. There we built new bunkers, but our situation was very poor because we were persecuted from all sides by Germans, the Polish Home Army and we still had to go to the peasants to demand food and money in order to survive.
Around February 1945 we were surrounded by a battalion of Hungarian soldiers who were fighting alongside the Germans, and many of us fell as a result of their murderous fire. Only six of us were left. After that shootout we went back into the forest near Ruda Koshtshelnia, by Ostrovtse, and there we hid for three weeks until the Russians arrived and liberated us. We were a part of a partisan peoples'front and our liaison officer, Sternik, used to bring us news from the headquarters of the partisans, where he got it from the radio.
We present here a list of the partisans who were killed in various ways in battle, in various circumstances. Honor their memory!
1. Volman, Motl 20 years old 2. Vaynberg, Shifra 20 3. Flayshman, Mayer 32 4. Flayshman, Yisroel 24 5. Fakhler, Tevi 31 6. Fakhler, Yankev 22 7. Vaserman, Mendl 21 8. Fakhler, Shmuel 29 9. Rubinshteyn, Asher 18 10. Vaynberg, Yosef 22 11. Slodke, Yisroel 22 12. Kempinski, Fayvl 21 13. Ziglboym, Ayzik 23 14. Shmulevitsh, Shloyme 34 15. Aloys, Shmuel 32 16. Zinger, Yehude 22 17. Akerman, Hersh 30 18. Nisker, Dovid 23 19. Akerman, Getsl 26 20. Ziglboym, Moyshe 21 21. Goldman, HirshMayer 22. Goldman, Berek
The survivors of the whole troop of partisans are:
1. Vizer (or Veyter) Moyshe; 2. Sherman, Berl; 3. Sherman, Volf; 4. Kempinski, Simeon; 5. Ayzman, Motl; 6. Faynshtok, Volf.
Translated by Tina Lunson
The Large Ghetto
The large ghetto measured four square kilometers and was bordered on the left by Mlinska Street to Pieratski, and on the right by Denkovska.
It was established in April 1941 and was liquidated on 10 October 1942.
Most of its residents were Polish Jews but there were about 1,200 Austrian Jews located there as well.
During the creation of the ghetto the number of Jews was 18,000 and the average number of Jews in the ghetto was 16,000.
During the liquidation of the large ghetto about 3,000 Jews were shot, 3,000 survived and 11,000 were shipped off to Treblinka, where they were exterminated in the crematoria.
The Jews in the ghetto did not receive any foodstuffs and they were forced to concern themselves with food supplies.
The death rate in the ghetto, in particular from the typhus epidemic, was about 10 % of the general population.
The Small Ghetto
The small ghetto was established from the left of Ailzshetska to Pieratski Street; from the right to Shenkivitsh 18. The beginning size was 30,000 square meters. It was created on 15 October 1942, and liquidated on 31 March 1943. In the ghetto there were an average of 3,000 people, mostly Polish Jews but also a small number of Viennese Jews.
During the liquidation of the ghetto the larger number of residents were shot and a part were deported. During the existence of the ghetto the interned worked for German construction firms, in the Ostrovtse factories and in the town. A sickbay was set up in one of the barracks, especially during the typhus epidemic.
Daily executions took place in the ghetto, of Jews who were discovered in bunkers. Five Jews were shot in December 1942: Yosek Riba, Beyle Rubinshteyn, Rus, Shmuel Miedzshigurski and a dark unknown Jew. The victims were buried in the Jewish cemetery.
During the liquidation of the small ghetto they took away the barracks and only the foundations remained.
Internees in the ghetto who can give witness are:
Chief of Gestapo Saldheim
S.S. men: Langer, Peter, Bruner, Wagner, Ostman, Holwig and Heyer.
Chief of Shupo: Schwarz, Luke, Holzer, Wieland, Wirgin, Michelski.
Gendarmerie: Peters and others.
The Camp Elin
Camp Elin in Bodzekhov, was opened on 1 October, 1942, and existed until 16 February 1943. The internees of that camp were almost exclusively Polish Jews and 10 Jews from Vienna. During
that time about 500 Jews went through that camp. At the liquidation of the camp the internees were transported to Starachovits. The internees worked at renovating the camp. Outside the camp they worked at introducing electrical installations in the town and environs.
Their food consisted of 180 grams of bread and two portions of thin soup per day. There were no provisions for the sick in the camp.
On October 20th 1942 a commission arrived at the camp, headed by Lieutenant Schwarz and Holzer, with the intent to conduct a robbery action. During the course of the action several people were shot: Gershom Vintsigster, who lived on Dankovska Street; Roytman, from Stadalna 10; Yekhiel Esving from Okolna 13 and two other internees whose names are not known. In December a Viennese Jewish family, Kaufman, was shot, a couple with a five yearold son. The murdered were buried within the area of the camp. The German overseers of the camp were:
Leader of the camp, Hans Widmar and Frauline Riesing
Rubert Shtreker, head of the factory Elin
Kinderman and Olshleger, from Vienna.
The camp at the Zakladi Ostrowiecke comprised some 10,000 square meters. It was established on April 1, 1943 and liquidated on the 3rd of August 1944. Besides Ostrovtse Jews there were also Jews from Austria and Russia.
During the liquidation the camp some of the internees were shot and the rest shipped to Auschwitz.
The internees worked in Zakladi Ostrowiecke at the cement factory and at Yeger's brick factory.
Food consisted of 180 grams of bread and 2 portions of watery soup after 18 hours of work.
On the 20th of October 1942, three Ostrovtse Jews were shot: the Hebrew poet Moyshe Gutman, Avrom Yosef Grinberg and a third whose name is not known. On the 1st of October 1943, some 40 persons were transported to Firley to the crematoria; among them Ester Biezshonska, Feyge Fridental, Sheyndl Reter, Nosn Fenshtok, Khave Shniderman, Kerbl, Asher Minkovski, Yekhezkel Krongold, Yekhiel Vaynberg, Shvartsman and child, the pregnant woman Auerbakh, Yankev
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