The material for this chapter of destruction was collected from testimonies from the Radomer Sh'erit haPletah [organization formed by Jewish Holocaust survivors living in Displaced Persons (DP) camps] which were concentrated in the Radomer Center in Stuttgart (19451949).
Part of the material (which can make you faint, from the outbreak of the war until the final action of August 1942, )was described in a book which the Radomer Committee in Stuttgart published in 1948. The rest of the material (which can make you faint, from the small ghetto on Svarlikovska until liberation) together with the liquidation of the Radomer center in Stuttgart were brought to the Land [Israel] and given to Irgun Radom B'Israel.
This manuscript was originally written in polish, and our landsman in Afula, Yitzhak Weisbard, may his memory be blessed, translated it into Yiddish.
Also C. Shalom Strovthinski of Haifa helped with the editing.
Tuvia Friedman, leader of the Historical Documentation Institute in Haifa added to the chapter of destruction, testimonials and other documents.
Translated by Anita Frishman Gabbay
Weeks before the atmosphere was tense and many expected that the war will break out any day. Defense preparations were organized in which many Jews participated. The League to defend against airstrikes conducted exercises and taught men how to put out fires, defuse live bombs and give first aid. District and house committees were set up, commanders, sanitation workers and fire fighters. Next to each house sacks of sand, pails of water, pumps and other necessary equipment were placed. In every square and in every garden trenches [protection pits] against air strikes were dug. Despite strong antiSemitism and antiJewish attitudes that stemmed from previous times, the digging of the trenches united everyone like one family, even the rabbis and the priests dug together. Wednesday, August 30, it was declared to mobilize, and all military aged Jews rushed to their designated meeting spots. And despite all the preparation, the situation was seriously underestimated, and we prepared for the worst [the radio announcer warned the population to prepare food supplies for 2 weeks]still, the outbreak of the war came as a sudden shock. Friday morning, September 1, 1939, the radio reported, the German Army crossed the Polish border and was advancing deeper into Poland.
As soon as the radio reported the words of the warpresident, the assault by the German military on Poland, Radom was already experiencing the first airraid on the Sodkover airbase where the first victims were killed. It was a beautiful day, the sky was clear and bright, and the German airplanes flew around virtually undisturbed, dropping bombs. Victims were falling on Woel 7 [Walowa], on Novagradzka, Lubliner and Traugutta Street. No opposition of the Polish Army was seen. Only the sirens screeched. The radio reported false information and gave late signals and the confused population ran to the trenches.
In the first days, the relationship of the Poles towards the Jews, was quite good. We didn't hear any antiSemitic remarks and didn't feel any animosity. The Poles knew the Jews will fight together with them against the common German enemy, with their best intentions.
Wednesday, September 6, the Germans captured Kielce [about 40 miles from Radom]. Radom withdrew the 72th division and the royal and government institutions were evacuated. Also the exodus of an entire population took place, especiallyin the direction of Pulav, Lublin, Kovel, Brisk, Bialystok. Most of them were Jews, but also many Poles, who were conducting themselves in a friendly manner on the road. Soldiers requisitioned horses and wagons, motorized vehicles, and even rovers. Running after the fleeing soldiers, there was a mixed civilian refugee population among them. Thousands of people ran away from occupied Kielce. German officers on motorcycles chased after them, many of the captured were taken into captivity and put under arrest. German squadrons didn't stop shooting at the refugees on the road, lowflying planes and dive bombers flew over Radom and its surroundings. Bombs fell on the viaduct [large bridge], on the Shkarshiver street and other streets. The barracks of the 78th division were empty for several days and the underworld [black market] mulled around trading food and clothing.
The same day, a meeting was called in the apartment of the P.P.S. Dr. KelesKrauz and they selected committee of officialsto have control over the remaining population of the city. This committee also included the Jews: Yaakov Goldberg, Ignatz Goldberg and Yishaya Eiger. A civilian militia was formed of Jews and Poles and watchposts were erected, to keep peace and order. During a shooting at the slaughterhouse, the policeman Moshe Glas [Glasman?] was badly wounded and lost an eye.
Translated by Anita Frishman Gabbay
September 8, 1939, in the afternoon, Radom was occupied by the Germans. The conquerors immediately moved into the government buildings and hoisted their German flags with the black Hakenkreuz[swastika] on the judicial court and city hall. They moved through the empty streets which trembled beneath the tracks of hundreds of German tanks and the roar of motorcycles. The first Germans wore green uniforms and large helmets. The fieldgendarmes wore insignias on the chests with the writing God is with us.
Later Germans in black uniforms arrived, with skulls on their helmets. They were of athletic build, with murderous eyes, which instilled fear in everyone. One of their groups took over Feivel Danzinger's house on 27, Lubliner Street, others stationed themselves in the engineering buildings. The recently arrived Security Police had their headquarters on the Walking Promenade Street.
We feared going outside. Then we sent forth, like Noah from the ark, a dove: a child, with some apples, candy, cigarettes, or oranges. The Germans bought and paid with German marks and Polish zlotys. As the dove peacefully returned and instead of a green leaf in its beak, brought instead a few German marks, several of the older stuck their noses out, but soon the German face appeared and our troubles began. They stopped Jews in the street and asked if they feared the German soldiers. If they answered yes, they beat him, shrieking, we are not hotentoten[killers?], just German soldiers. Next time the Jew answered no, and again they beat him. The same was with the order to take off your hat in front of a German: so they took it off, and again they beat him, while shrieking, you are not my comrade! so when the hat was not taken off, they beat him again. Jews had no other options so they barely left their homes without the fear of a beating. A Gestapo driver was traveling in a car through the streets looking for Jews[Orthodox] with beards, to cut them off; Polia Krakowska saw on Revinske street, how half a beard was cut off from Itsele Zakenshticker. Other Germans caught the crazy watercarrier Haida from Lubliner 7, smeared him with various paint colors, put him into a small wagon sandwiched between four elegantdressed Jews and commanded them to parade themselves along Lubliner street.
At first the Germans couldn't tell a Jew from a nonJew. But soon the Polish undesirables got involved, and pointed out the Jews.
A few days after Radom was occupied, thousands of civilian Germans arrived which we had to accommodate with housing. Soon they started to catch Jews for work, to carry dressers, tables, benches, beds and other furniture and household items. Also the Luftwaffe which was stationed in Sodkev, came every day with several cars, to catch Jews for work. The S.S. men of Koliove 18 came with their famous beaters Max and Schultz. The captured laboured until late at night and they were beatenup very badly. The Gestapo needed to procure heatingmaterial for winter. Wagons full of coal arrived which the Jews had to unload and deliver to their large cellars. Jews cleaned the horsemanure from the policecavalry battalion on Skarshiver street, carried beds from the barracksto the arms factory; they caught Jews in the streets, dragged them out of their homes, they worked hundreds of jobs and returned every night to their homes beaten up, oftencrippled and disabled. About ten thousand Germans
were in the city, and everyone used the free Jewish workforce. On Lubliner Street, not far from the city hall, the S.S. in their yellow uniforms with armbands with the Hakenkreuz made their headquarters. The Germans intimidated the Jews, humiliated, kicked and beat them in front of the Polish population, who took pride and satisfaction from this. For example[they invented diabolic schemes], they caught an Orthodox Jew and cut off his beard, lit it on fire with matches mostly on one side of the face only, making them pose for photographs in grotesque positions. They took a Jew to smear another Jew with mud and ordered them to dance, commanded Jews to empty the latrines and pour the filthfeces, one on another then form a circle and sing and dance.
Whoever was able, especially young people, left the city and fled to the east, to the Soviet occupied parts of Poland.
Translated by Anita Frishman Gabbay
September 10, the German regime decreased the Jewish civilian militia and increased the Polish militia. Several days later, the Polish militia was relieved of its duties and a new Polish policeforce was put in place. The civil authorities worried about the shortage of bread in the city, as well as electricity, heating fuel and other muchneeded necessities. It was seen the need was great and a JewishPolish help organization was founded in the local of the Jewish Cooperative Bank, 3rd of May Place, number 8, later the Polish Red Cross took over the work. The Jewish members argued that the relief work should also be available for Jews. But the Germans immediately ordered the Jews needed to distance themselves and create their own committee. The city commander convened 50 homeowners and appointed them as the temporary Jewish Committee with Yacov Goldberg as chairman and Yosef Diamantas his deputy.
In October the Germans ordered that they prepare lists of Jewish residents of Radom, with their age, education and qualifications. In the Kehila [community], on Lubliner 9, the former officials Blum[an] and Boim still worked. They called the former gymnasiateacher Worstman and others to help, and in a few weeks, they prepared the required lists. Then an order came, on the basis of the lists, each day a designated quantity of Jews were needed to report for work.
Beginning December, an order arrived, that the Jews needed to provide selfmanagement under the direction of the Elder of the Jews to be confirmed by the cityofficial and policechief. In the same month the S.S. General Fritz Katzmann, who was supported by the GovernorGeneral Frank, came to approve an Elder Council with 24 members. He nominated as Elder Yosef Diament who had to select people for the council to cooperate with him.
The composition of the council, over time, changed. At the end of the year, for example, Dr. Tzung and Dr. Finkelstein left and in place, Zilberstram. The council was situated at first in the building of Ezra and later in the building of the Kehila, on Lubliner 9.
Translated by Anita Frishman Gabbay
The Germans forbade the Jews to pray in their synagogues and BeisMidrashim. All the BeisMidrashim were transformed into stalls for horses, into barns for grain and for other things. In the Days of Awe, minyanim [quorums of 10 men] of Jews assembled in private dwellings to pray, although they knew this was dangerous. The S.S. and Gestapo knew exactly when the Jewish holidays occurred and suddenly they appeared on the streetsto kidnap Jews for workdetail. RoshHashana, they caught the Melamed Chaim Dovid Waks, together with other Jews, took them away to the barracks, and forced them to dig pits for their burial. As well they received severe beatings and R'Chaim Dovid was badly beaten. Then they gave him treif [nonkosher] food with pork and beat him to death, precisely on RoshHashana, a holy day to eat treif. R'Chaim Dovid fought back, received cruel and sadistic beatings but didn't stop screaming the Shmah Israel [Hear, Oh Israel]! This upset the German who took out his revolver and shot the melamed.
YomKippur Jews were dragged from their prayer halls [shtiebels], and were chased to the church on the 3rd of May Place. They were forced to stand there without their hats, facing the baptistry, and to sway back and forth, as if they were praying. The community elder, Yona Zylberberg, was dragged through the streets with his hands held high and beaten in front of the pedestrians [Christians], enduring their laughter who were enjoying this spectacle, how the Germans humiliated and inflicted
pain on the Jews.
Each time they put the Jews against a wall, pretending to shoot, those that survived this cruel joke, feared for their lives. Then they were forced to wash the floors of the offices of Lubliner 27 and then forced to lick the floors with their tongues.
A group of Jews were caught again, to carry iron beds from the barracks to the weapon factory, no one understood what this was about, why you had to bring beds to a weapons factory? but the Jews had to run through the streets with the beds, receiving murderous beatings. Separately, the unlucky ones who were beaten, while running with the beds, fell. A crazy German threw himself on the unfortunate (from Lubliner 18] and kicked him for such a long time [with his boots] in his stomach and to his heart, until he finally expired. As there was no official murderordinance, and [law] and order needed to be preservedso the murderer obtained a certificate from the Jewish hospital that he died from a heartattack. He also forced the family to sign the report.
Capturing a Jew for work was a daily routine. Mostly the work was useful, but had one purpose: to torture Jews and beat them bloody. A special horror fate took place in the house of the SchulKult, on Lubliner 27, where a division of black S.S. made their headquarters and every Jew that passed was pulled into the office, tortured with refined sadism. They also put a pail on Fuchsman's head and forced another Jew to bang on the pail with a stick. When Fuchsman's head was bloodied and swollen, he had to put the pail on the head of the one doing the beating and the beating started over again.
Jews had to jump with pails full of water, without spilling a single drop of water. On Kaleiova 18 there was Droplabourcamps of the S.S. Airforce where they brought especially the Orthodox Jews. There they tore off their tefillimand burnt them. The Jews were forced to kneel before the director and sing, the Germans beat them on their heads and kicked them, or lit their beards on fire. They also found humour and craved [sadistic] entertainment: 4 elderly Jews needed to undresstake off their outer garments, put on children's' hats, hold children's' smotchkes [pacifiers] in their mouths, and in their undergarments, go around in their offices and make merry. This is how the Gestapo tortured many in the EngineersHouse as well as in many other places of torture in Radom.
The Germans also looked for practical needs: in the first days they made Jews open shops, where they bought everything, without money. Or for a song. From the large synagogue and Beit Midrash, all the holy and sacred articles were looted. In addition, the Germans shot at the walls, at the ceiling, demolishing the AronKodesh [Torah Ark]. They requisitioned from Jewish homes all the expensive furniture and decoration for the German officials.
Large amounts of Jewish merchandise was confiscated and sent to Germany. All radios had to be handed over [confiscated] to the Germans.
In October the Jews had to contribute [a tax] three hundred thousand zlotys and ten thousand marks. The committee barely raised 220 thousand zlotys and 10 thousand marks, which was paid to the bank of the magistrate. The Jews, who were at the head of the committee [Yosef Diament, Moshe landau, Hillel Goldberg, Itche Green], tried with whatever means to stall the Germans, to diminish the fears of the Jews, but this didn't help: the Germans again started to kidnap Jews for work, to beat and to rob them of their possessions.
End of October, when Radom was proclaimed as one of the four districtcities of General Government, the local governor, Dr. [Karl] Lasch, whose house was in the city council, demanded from the Radom district two million zlotys. When the Jews couldn't pay, they were obliged to bring thousands of sets of linen and cots to the S.S. men in Radom, and when there was not enough in Radom, he requested permission from the Gestapo to bring the balance from Lodz. The members, with the Gestapo, went to Lodz to bring these articles. Those that went, Yosef Diament, Moshe Leslau, Hillel Goldberg and Itche Green, also brought fabric, down and buttons and commissioned Jewish tailors and seamstresses to sew the linens and bring them to the Gestapo.
December 16, 1939, the GovernorGeneral Frank, issued an ordinance that Jews cannot leave their cities, without a special pass. They couldn't sell their houses and property, couldn't have more than 150 zlotys in cash. Each Jew, from 10 years onwards, had to wear a white armband with a blue MagenDavid [star of David]. Not wearing the armband could result in punishment of death. According to another ordinance, Jews needed to transfer their factories and shops to be owned and operated by Polish commissioners.
Many Jewish owners gave away their businesses to their Polish friends, who officially became the owners, their names were on the leases and now the Jews were their employees. This is how the signs of the shops of Lubliner, Rvinska, Warshawer and other streets suddenly received names of Polish owners. The enterprises, which received new ownership, besides their previous names, received an additional name: new administration The Jews then remained in the enterprises, tallied in the workforce lists and received a token wage.
Translated by Anita Frishman Gabbay
Shortly after the occupation of Radom, German families started to arrive, among them Volk [Folk]Germans from the nearby towns together with Poles, from the Poznan region; former antiSemites, enemies of the People of Israel. They all took up residence in the best Jewish homes, from which the Jews were expelled. Then Jews were forced out from their streets to make them Judenrein, from Monuski, Lubliner, Skarishewer, and Pilsudski streets. The expelled Jews had to search for new homes in the Jewish quarter. Many Jews from Warsaw, Lodz, Kalish and other towns also arrived in Radom, especially from those regions that had been annexed to the Third Reich. The Judenrat set up a Special Housing Office [Wohnungsamt], to provide each one with a roof over their heads. It was difficult work. It was impossible to please everyone, and there were many complaints, some were happy, some were not.
In order to eliminate the wild kidnappings and the cargo for forced labouroffice, the Judenrat set up a Special Work Office to justly supply the demand of worklabour and satisfy the needs of the Germans [in the beginning the supply of 80100 people was met]. At the head was the gymnasiateacher, Y. Worstman, who tried to intervene at the workplaces to improve the conditions: to minimize beatings and to improve the food for the people, and for the elderly and weak, to be sent for easier work. But this didn't deter them [the Germans] from capturing Jews for work and even the personnel from the work committee. Shortly afterwards the Germans demanded 500600 people a day, and the work committee had to provide them with these larger numbers as well as providing them with workpapers [passes].
The vicepresident of the Judenrat, Moshe Leslau, recommended as permit [carrier]administrator, his friend Joachim Geiger, who previously worked as a glazier for the Gestapo and had his contacts [connections]. Shortly after he became the administrator for the Ministry of Labour. In the summer of 1940, Geiger was put in charge of the entire system of forced labour of the Jews of Radom and its environs, the Department of Labour [Jewish] became an independent department which was supervised by the Labour Office of the local governernt where he had his connections. Up until the war he had been an administrator of a private night firm [nachtsmira], Straz nocna.
It didn't take long and Geiger soon became the Director of Labour. He was friendly with the boss of the Polish criminalpolice and a matchmaker for the Gestapo. To find among the Jews a hidden jewel, embedded, was easy at the time. Geiger was eager to make sacrifices with money or other valuables [he bribed the Germans]. He also had as a partner, Israel Katz, and together they pushed out of office Y. Worcman. Until the spring of 1940, the work office was situated in the building of Ezra and was under the control of the S.S. Haupsturmfuhrer Tamalla, and his substitute Rum [Rom]. Then the work was turned over to a Jewish Labor Force under the control of the Municipal Labour Office, directed by OberBirgermeister [Head city superintendent] on Tragutta 55. Every day a German arrived to supervise the work. Over time four supervisors were engaged to do this work: Staromak, Gavrilla, Sneider, and Yanek. The Germans now demanded 10001400 workers daily.
For a bribe, one could free himself from the forced labour and the labouroffice sent a replacement in his place. Several hundred men were taken to the outskirts to difficult camps and forest labour. They received very little to eat and the Judenrat sent provisions and set up soup kitchens.
The Labour Office also provided Jews and sent them to work in camps near the Russian border and for the first relocations.
The Labour Office consistently provided new offices: a legal Department, a Trade Department, a Passport office and others.
The Legal Department fulfilled the duty of a civilian arbitration court in disputes arising between Jews and giving Jews legal aid. At first it was managed by Advocate Leon Sytner and later, Vladislav Weisfus. Also Advocate Dr. Fensterbloi of Krakow was later involved. They all served with great devotion and worried for the interests of the Jewish population.
The Trade and Industry Department need to protect the rights of the Jewish enterprise owners dealing with the German authorities, receiving certain rights, and Wolf Sanitski was the representative.
The Bureau of Permits, summer of 1940 the city commissars received directives Jews were forbidden to walk on the Reichstrasse(formerly Lubliner/Lubelska Street) and in the Rynek (the Rathaus Platz), where the court was situated. Jews were not allowed to walk on the sidewalks. The office gave out permission slips [permits] to go to the city districts [outside the ghetto], where Jews were generally forbidden to go, showing how to maneuver and navigate the streets [the streets that can be used and how far he could go by listing the house numbers]. All along the way he was continually stopped for pass inspection and questioning. The bureau was controlled by the City's Jewish Department, later, when the ghetto was in place, the permit was signed by the German police and they were issued on a limited scale and for high fees. The clerk was a Miss [Fraulein] Martoppel.
Other sections [Audit Bureau] It was a staff department under the direction of Vladislav Fenigstein, whose decision it was to accept or release officials and workers and report all the evidence to the Judenrat, [when the numbers were over 500]. There a special division for the provincial Judenrat.
The work of the department was controlled by the presidium of the Judenrat. There was a central accounting, whose head bookkeeper was J. [Yeschaya] Eiger, who examined the financial records of the entire apparatus [Judenrat], and all its financial operations passed through him.
All the contributions of gold and valuables that was collected by the Judenrat was difficult to calculate; how much was collected and what was actually given to the Regime was not known. Several of the Judenrat officials lived off their work, became rich on the backs of the misery of the population, when all the Jews were suffering.
Translated by Anita Frishman Gabbay
It was a cold winter with frost, snow and blizzards. The dwellings were insufficiently heated. Illnesses were mounting, we stood in long rows for every necessity and bread. As much as the bakers baked, it wasn't enough. The bread was black, mixed with bran and was heavy and sticky, like lime. Entire winter evenings we stood in line for bread. Standing were thousands, families with small children, freezing and getting sick. Later they organized food carts, which still didn't meet the needs. In addition, they took more people for labour, to clean the snow from the streets and airfields. The richer ones paid Geiger a monthlyallowance (he was now in charge of the Labour Office) and they put a man in his place (for money), paying the replacement for the work 3 zlotys a day. Hungry youngsters and old people applied to earn this money.
At the time greetings came from Lemberg, Kovel, Bialystok, that under the Soviets you can still live freely, there were no beatings and there was no kidnapping for labour. Hundreds of youngsters, in the biggest frost, left the city and went to the border. Weeks on end they spent wandering about, to receive the neutral pass, until they crossed the border. Overall many succeeded in fleeing from Radom to Russia (about 2000 Jews).
Erev Pesach 1940, several commissions were established by the Judenrat, to procure Matza and Passoverproducts. The Judenrats of the many districts made great efforts to obtain the money to provide for the needy. Help came from the Joint. Also needy packages of matza arrived, stamped Yugoslavia, Rumania and other lands.
The hunger grew and men and women searched for workplaces where food was provided. Willingly, women went for construction work at Wolanow and other places. The Jewish population weren't able to earn a living. At first the Judenrat founded a branch of Social Welfare, which was later taken over by JSS (Zydowski Comitet Opikunchi), a Jewish Self Aid Organization, whose central offfice was in Krakow, directed by Dr. Michel Weichert. The JSS in Radom was founded in the spring of 1940 by Advocat Avraham Zalba, who was its chairman. The committee members were: Aron Friedland, Leibush Mendel, Ziserman and Wolf Feigenbaum. There was also a local committee which looked after distributing help for the district. 10 men worked in the office. A representative from the Joint and from the main office in Krakow controlled the work. The Joint inspector Israel Falk had his office on Kapernica 9. Office members were Magistrate Gershon Pinem. The JSS procured products for the soupkitchens, in Glinice (which fed 1200 meals a day), in Shulgas [SynagogueStreet], (2500 meals a day) on Ruvinska Street. A meal cost 20 groshen and consisted of a soup. The poor and children did not pay. Also American shoes were handed out, which the Joint sent. The JSS helped the orphanage and the oldpeoples home and later conducted their activities in the ghetto.
Araham Ferstendig recalls:
In 1940 I lived on [Wawel] Voel 31. My son, Yitzhak, (now in Israel) was 12 years old. Walking on Dluga Street, an S.S. man called him over with a whistle and ordered him to perform various tasks, after which he beat him until he was bloody. After the exercises, he put him together with a pig, whipping him with a wood and leather whip, chasing him around. In addition the S.S. man's dog bit my son terribly and he fainted. Then he shaved half his head, and instead of reviving him with water, he poured a bucket of waste [feces] on him. I found my son in this condition when he was brought to the mikveh, but it was impossible to clean the waste off his body. In addition, his entire body was covered in wounds. The streets were spreading the news, that a young boy was found unconscious who is unrecognizable. I ran to look, I recognized my child and I fainted. After this episode, Yitzhak lay sick in bed for a long time.
Zalman Fuks recalls:
They captured me on the street together with 40 other Jews, and brought us to Bronia Street, next to the weapons factory where they put us in 2 rows. A German came out with his sleeves folded, a rubber apron, and a long knife in his hand. His expressionless face warned us of imminent danger. He called out the first person in the row and took him into a cellar, a few minutes later, the German returned alone. He had bloodied hands and the knife was stickyred. A shiver went through our bodies and the hair on our heads stood up. He pulled out a second person and took him to the cellar. When he returned
he was covered in more blood. This is how he took a third and a fourth, until my row was next. I said my goodbyes with the world, with my life, muttered Shma Israel and with feet heavy as leadweights, shaking like a condemnedprisoner, I let myself be led.
The cellar was full of geese. We had to run after the geese. To catch them and give them to the German, who slaughtered them.
He slaughtered them and we had to pluck them.
After plucking, and cleaning the geese, they sent us home….
In the first days of Pesach 1940, 32 Jews received papers, to present themselves to the German workoffice. 18 men presented themselves, among themthe clerk of the Judenrat, Wolf Guzband, first them were brought to the jail, where they were cruelly tortured, then with cars, they were transported, together with Polish political prisoners, to Firloj. There they were thrown into trenches and then hand grenades were thrown the into the pits, the Polish folk later recounted that hours after the murder, the earth still moved….
In June 1940, the first chairman of the Jewish committee, Yacov Goldberg, was arrested for by the regime. He was sent to Buchenwald and survived the war.
Translated by Anita Frishman Gabbay
In the summertime the Germans carried out a large aktion sending young people to the workcamps in the Lubliner district, next to the villages of Hrubieszow, Narol, Belzec, Firtze [Firlej] and Cieczanow. The first group of about 1000 young people were deported August 20th and then another two groups followed. A large amount of the young people received orders from the work camp, they should present themselves before a Commission which will facilitate their work passes. If they didn't present themselves it meant 10 years of prison and confiscation of their means. It was Friday, mothers prepared the rucksacks, put in whatever they owned and the sons departed from them on Traugutta St.
The Commission with Dr. Szenderowicz looked out for everyone. In the office there were people loitering who we called machers [people who made things happen] who charged three to four zlotys to free them [the wealthy ones] from being deported. The people were guarded by police on all sides, who didn't let anyone leave the square. The procedure took the entire day. In the evening they were placed in rows and transported to the train station. They were very weak and their families were not allowed to approach them to say their final goodbyes.
In the evening they put 50 men in a wagon. About 2:00 o'clock in the morning they arrived at Lublin [staging point]. Wild screaming was heard: Heraus, you swine, they were taken out while receiving blows to their heads, blood began to flow. Again they were put into rows and guarded not to escape. The Germans were riding in their small wagons and the Jews were running in a thunderstorm until they arrived in the city. They were chased into a courtyard on Lipova St #7, it was a large courtyard, muddy and wet. They whipping us and made us sit on the wet ground. We sat here until 5:00 o'clock in the morning, then, first, we received coffee with bread and were led into the large barracks with three story bunkbeds. There was a concentration of 20,000 Jews from all parts of Poland. From here transports of Jews were sent two different workcamps. The S.S. men, together with the Lubliner helper Marfinkle, inflicted unimaginable beatings with their whips.
The first transport of approximately 3000 men was supposed to go to Belzec. The group from Radom, together with the Jews from Warsaw and Kielce. At the station of Hurbieszow, several hundred men were taken off the train, the part stopped on a sidetrack. It was said this is Belzec. This is where we stopped and were taken into the work camp which was a large courtyard with barracks in the middle. Under the free sky Gypsies were wandering about, as well as families and all the Jews skin and bones. This is where they slept in the rain and in the wind. They beg for a piece of bread and the newly arrived open their rucksacks gave them bread and undergarments. The Jews cried from pain and fear. The water in the barracks smelled foul and the atmosphere was disturbing. People fell like flies.
The same day the newly arrived, about 1500 men, received beatings and they were chased through a forest. They had to run for several hours in the heat. After 20 minutes of rest they had to run again. On the way a group was divided and driven in another direction. About 1000 Radomers arrived at Cieczanow, which is located at the border. There was once a Jewish community here, with a synagogue and Beit Midrash, with a rabbi and many Hasidim. All of them were deported and the city was empty no more Jews.
The Radomers worked here and were starved; wrote letters of their misfortune to their families back home. Their parents in Radom ran to the Judenrat and created a commotion, screaming that Geiger fooled them and sent their children away to slave labour camps. After a few weeks autos arrived in the camps with packages from their families. On each package was written the name of the child. The packages were brought by Yacov Friedman and Hillel Winer. They managed to bring some of the young men, who were ill and wounded, back home with them which the Germans had badly wounded.
A delegation from Radom arrived with Dr. [David] Wajnapel, Yakov Weingart and others who freed a few of the young men. They were shocked by the unbearable conditions dysentery and other illnesses were prevalent in the camp. To alleviate their pain, the Radomers would sing a song with the melody of in their kushnia, here are 2 verses from the song:
In Cieczanow there in camp
Are many people here.
People work here in the Great Fire
And the camp is guarded.
Work brothers, work fast,
If you don't, they'll lash your hide.
Not many of us will manage to last
Before long we'll all have died.
After a few months, the work in the camp was completed and the campdirector, Korlas, sent the youth back to Lublin, from where they were to sent home. The Lubliner Judenrat had a conflict with the Radomer and the young people were stopped, and the Germans sent them to the stonequarries, where they worked for another week. They were freed after the Days of Awe [High Holy Days], at the intervention of the Judenrat of the Radom Work Office. The youngsters returned home sick, broken and hid for weeks on end [their health ruined and permanently disabled].
Translated by Anita Frishman Gabbay
In December 1940, a new edit was issued: Radom has too many Jews and a third of them must be deported to other districts. This was called, chasing out 10,000 Jews[exile]. The Judenrat promised to intervene, that the expulsion should occur orderly and with modification, with a newly formed committee, ViceGovernor [Starosta] Dr. Aisik Shitzer, Merin, Eiger, Zuker, Holtzkener and Birenboim. A headtax was levied on each Jew who remained in the city and they collected 165,000 zlotys [needed to bribe the German officials] and indeed, the order for further deportations was rescinded.
The Germans agreed to send out parties of 2000 Jews and give them the right to take with them their belongings.
December 18, 1940, the first expulsion took place. 1840 Jews were deported, according to a list the Judenrat prepared. Each expelled family received 300 zlotys for expenses.
The Gestapo demanded that in the first expulsion, it should consist of harmful and unproductive elements. Most of the expelled Jews soon returned to Radom.
Geiger, however, did it his way. He modified the list, he took off whomever he wished.
In accordance with the demand of the Gestapo, included in the first deportation were families with many children, elderly and sick, who could not be part of the labour force. The Germans demanded another transport of 2000 men, but it was delayed for technical reasons, [through protection and gifts], and in the end it was not carried out.
The deported lived in the small towns in dire hardship. The largest part of them ran back to Radom.
End of 1940, all Jewish enterprises were nationalized and transferred to the German administrative office (Treuhandstele), which was headed by Felix Weinopfel. The Judenrat was nominated for the administration of the Jew's property for the German administrative office, for the collection of rent payments on Jewish apartments, the maintenance of structures which the Germans requisitioned, and so on. The Treuhandshele started to dismiss the Jewish middle class and craftsmen from the factories and shops. They soon discovered that to run these enterprises without Jewish skills wasn't feasible and they reengaged the craftsmen. At the same time Jewish homes were nationalized and property, which was passed on to the Treuhandstele whose head office was on Rynek 13. The office had an entrance on Woel 13, through which Jews passed after leaving the ghetto. Office staff for Jews were Felix Weinopfel, Advocate Leiter and head accountantC. Freilich, from Lodz. The bureauofficer was the S.S. officer Reinhart. The administration demanded housemoney even from the welltodo. Furniture was registered, house objects, gold, foreign currency and various goods.
Not looking at the war years, 1940 was still the easiest of all the war years. A certain part of the Jewish population still traded and made money. Those that managed to survive the trojan commissioners in the enterprises, bought raw materials for himself and sold the production at high prices: others made partnerships with civilian Germans, who had transport means and brought food products, textiles and other products. It also provided advantages to other workers, middlemen, frontmen, intermediaries, carriers and others. Mostly we traded with leather, which was bought throughout Poland. Another Jewish trade was to collect old things. With the private German firm Lumpen and old iron works having old things[scrap] hundreds of Jews worked collecting and expediting this scrap. The workers wore green armbands and they weren't kidnapped for other work. All the small and larger earners were considered a needy consumergroup, who enabled many small businesses to earn a living.
In the beginning of 1941, the entire population was deported [Christians and Jews] from the shtetl Prystk and from 150 smaller surrounding villages. In this place a large concentration of military personnel established themselves. Germany prepared itself to invade Russia and the GovernorGeneral Frank gave strict orders, to put Jews into ghettos.
Translated by Anita Frishman Gabbay
On March 29, 1941, the Governor of Radom, Dr. Karl Lasch, called a meeting for all the district leaders and city councilmen from the Radom districts and declared, that shortly, the war with Russia will begin and Berlin has ordered that ghettos for the Jews need to be established and resettlement must begin quickly, giving the authorities until the 5th of April. Soon posters appeared in the Radomer streets which advised that 2 separate ghettos will be established: one within the city around Woel [Walowa Street] and the second [smaller one] in the suburb of Glinice.
On April 1, on the orders of the Gestapo, the Jewish Ordinance Service [Judischer Ordungsdienst] was formedthe Jewish Police and 7 days later the ghettos were established. The organizer and commandant of the Jewish Police, was Joachim Geiger, his subordinate, Advocat Leon Synter from Kalish. The Policeinspector Lipa Weitzhendler, his adjutant, A. [Gaviser] Wiener. The police commander in the Glinicer ghetto was Heniek Borenstain. His subordinate was Geiger's brother.
There were notices posted that candidates can present their resumes to work in the police force: young people, 21 years and over, those who had served in the military. The Jewish youth with education, who studied in Polish military academies [the socalled podcharonzakes] , at first they decided not to enlist. But later they saw, this was a good place to work and then Jews paid [bribed] 5000 zlotys in order to be accepted. The Jewish police were divided into 2 groups: the firstin the large ghetto, in the Old TownSquare # 10, which employed hundreds of policemen. The secondin the Glinice ghetto, at Blotnia 4, employed about 40 policemen.
The duties of the police initially were: to stand guard at the ghetto gates, not to allow entry to any unknown persons and not to allow any Jew to exit without a proper permit; provide the contingent workers at the assemblyplace according to the requests of the workoffice, make sure the ghetto is orderly and patrolled at night; to make sure sanitary conditions were met.
There were no uniforms, except for their caps, which were similar to those of the Polish Police, but with red stripes and the Star of David insignia. The officers wore stars on their caps according to their rank, a maximum of 4 stars; these embellished caps proudly roamed the streets of the ghetto. The policemen wore yellow armbands inscribed in German and Polish: Judischer Ordungsdienst. Their rules were similar to the Polish Police. There were officers, noncommissioned officers and ordinary policemen, who together, practised their manoeuvres on the grounds of the Jewish Hospital.
The secretaries of the branches prepared daily situationreports to the German protectionpolice, as well as to the Polish Police. These reports were comprised of day to day events, the number of arrests, the cases of smuggling, theft, prostitution, and other things. There was an arrest at the police headquarters. Here the imprisoned were dealt with according to the instructions given by the Judenrat, for the offenses of: not appearing for work, not paying taxes, offending officials, members of the Judenrat and Police, for not heeding sanitation rules or other police rules; these could be overcome with moneypunishment [bribes]. The group of 10 Jewish policemen would also send Jews to the Gestapo for interrogation.
The monthly food allowance for barely enough for 23 days, and therefore, with the quiet consent of the Judenrat, food smuggling thrived. Some of the police at the ghettogates took the hush money and earned a nice living this way.
In June 1942, the leadership of the Ordungsdienst was arrested on the accusation of attempts of bribing officials of the S.D. Those arrested were Geiger, Weiner and Weitzhendler. They were held in prison until the great expulsion, and then, they too were deported with all the other people. The new commander was Leon Synter and his subordinatemagistrate Henrik Hamerstein. Later Hamerstein was also later arrested, and in his place came Kuba Fried and Lutek Minkovski. Although the Jewish police were also exploited by the regime, they assisted in all the actions, but eventually they were expelled with the deportations.
The Housing Office
When the ElderCommittee of the Housing Office received the plan for the ghettos and the task to transfer all the Jews, they were besieged by thousands of housing demands. Everyone looked for protectia and offered bribes. The HousingOffice had to assign Jewish families to the unbearable congested slums and their mishandling caused a lot of fury. The personnel was increased in the committee. Those involved were: Joseph Stelman, Josef Blas and Ruven Ziskind. Later Eliezer Gotlieb was appointed, but the arguments did not diminish. Some Jews undertook to exchange houses with the Poles, who had to leave their houses in the now called ghetto. In such instances, the Poles settled their own affairs with the Housing Bureau. Christian families who lived in tiny decrepit buildings in Glinice, and in alleys around Walowa, suddenly were welcomed by a three bedroom house instead of their one roomslum, with a courtyard and a garden. In addition they [the Christians] received a some money and brokers also benefitted.
The scheduled time for the transfer to the ghetto was
April 1, but it took until the 7th of April. Both ghettos were not surrounded with a fence but the houses themselves indicated the borders. On all sides, at the passageways, there were inscriptions: Danger, Entrance Forbidden. At the main entrance, Jewish and Polish Policemen stood together, at the other entrancesonly Jewish policemen. The main gate of the large ghetto was at the end of [Woel] WalowaLubliner Streets. Besides this one there were other designated passages: corner Piekla and Narutavitcha, corner Peretz Street and Narutavitcha, corner Psechodnia and Starakrokowska, corner Zgodnie and Mletchne, corner OldTown and Miretski, corner Shpitalna [Hospital] and Mletchne, corner Grodtzka and Rynek, corner Rynek and Starakrokowska, corner Zhitnya and Rynek, corner Zhitnya and Miretski, corner Volnostze and Shpatzir Street [Promenadestreet] and corner Volnostze and Rynek.
The ghetto on Walowa was a denselypopulated quarter with its surrounding Jewish streets. The Glinice ghetto started at Biala Street until the end of Kachne and Fabritchne, the whole of Zhabia and the surrounding small streets. Until now a poor Christian population lived here, in small wooden huts. Most of the Jews wanted to be in the large ghetto, as it was the center of Jewish life and therefore, the congestion was greater than in the Glinice ghetto. Most of the congestion was on Walowa, Zhatilna and the surrounding streets. Of the Jewish institutions, only the Jewish hospital, on Starakrokowska, was in the shadow [outside] of the Glinice ghetto. The Orphanage, Old Age Home and Epidemic Hospital were outside the ghetto, on Starakrokowska. A part of the Old Town, on the left side, was outside the ghetto, where Hempels' laundry and Polish Children's' home were situated; and on the rightwhere the Kindsmachine factory was located. Outside the ghetto and in the middle of the Old Town Square, two Polish Institutions remained: the Christian Old People's Home and the Hospital for Mental Illnesses. Together with the refugees from Krakow, Lodz, Pozen [Posznan] , Pomeran [Pomerania] and even Vienna, there were about 35,000 Jews crammed into these two ghettos.
The first days in the ghetto the situation had not yet been stabilized. People did not take the bounderies so seriously. The passages were not heavily guarded and we could still go in and out. Through the back roads we managed to go from one ghetto to another. When one was caught outside the ghetto borders, you could still redeem yourself with a moneypenalty [bribe] .
Translated by Anita Frishman Gabbay
The ElderCouncil controlled all major aspects of life in the Ghetto. It was originally created by the Germans to execute their orders and collect fines imposed on the Jews, but it later became the official representative of the community and spokesman for all Jews in the district of Radom. As the needs of the community grew, the Jewish Council organized many branches of activity aimed at regulating the unique and complicated life of the Ghetto. As it grew in scope and power, the Jewish Council employed over 500 people, ranging from lettercarriers to attorneys. Here are some of the Judenrat departments and their functions, in addition to the labour and housing agencies already discussed in previous chapters.
The food rations granted to Jews were purchased from supply centers and distributed in stores throughout the Ghetto. The department was headed by Moshe Leslau and Joseph Stelman.
Supervised by Dr. Szenderowicz, it had under its jurisdiction two hospitals, ambulances, an apothecary, a delousing station and public bathhouse. The department had broad powers: it introduced many compulsory measures aimed at preventing diseases.
Managed by Jacob Fishbein and Henryk Zameczkowski, it kept precise records of the Ghetto population. The Gestapo frequently visited the offices and compiled lists of individuals to be arrested. The clerks in this department are known to have performed invaluable services by warning those in danger and removing the records of persons wanted by the Gestapo.
Offered complete postal services to the Ghetto inhabitants. Jewish letter carriers distributed the mail. Chief of the department was Isaac Bravman. They had telephonecabinets, received telegrams, wrote letters, received parcels and moneytransfers.
The members of the Judenrat had special privileges and ruled over the Jewish population. They took advantage of the taxes collected, to which they had access. The Judenrat wore white arm bands, with the German inscription Judischer Ordungsdienst with a blue MagenDovid and a stamp from the S.S. and chief of police.
Translated by Anita Frishman Gabbay
In 1940, even before the ghetto was established, every Jew is given identity card bearing his photograph. This served in lieu of a passport. When the ghetto was established, Jews were issued yellow identification cards with a large J for Jude stamped on them. In order to leave the ghetto, a Jew had to have a special pass. At first these passes were obtained from the commissars and the directors of the places where Jews worked, as well as from the Council of Elders which opened a special Department for issuing passes. Such passes were issued for various periods of time, and no one could leave or enter the ghetto without them. Even Poles who wanted to enter the ghetto had to have special permission. As time went on, it became increasingly difficult to obtain such passes. The commissars received directives to decrease the number of Jews allowed to work. Every pass was limited. The streets that could be used and those that could not were listed on the passes. For example, Jews were not allowed to walk on the Reichsstrasse (formerly Lubelska St) and Adolf Hitler Platz (3rd of may square) ,the Rathaus Platz, (Rynek) and all the other streets in the centre of town. If it was necessary for someone to walk along one of these streets, the pass indicated how far he could go by listing the house numbers. All along the way he was continually stopped for pass inspection and questioning.
To leave the ghetto without a pass, which had previously been punishable by a fine, now became extremely dangerous. The Jews of the ghetto were shocked when it became known that two Jews had been shot for leaving the ghetto without permission. Later, the number of Jews shot for leaving the ghetto without a pass increased continually. Yet Jews had to risk their lives and leave the ghetto in order to retrieve garments or valuables from a former Gentile neighbor and bring home some food for their hungry families.
Bread rations became smaller and smaller. The monthly food quota distributed in the ghetto was hardly enough to last for a couple of days. The Jewish Council made an effort to ease the situation by opening a large kitchen, under the management of Selig Goldberg, and free soup was served daily. It became more difficult to bring food into the ghetto. Poverty and hunger became more widespread, and there was an outbreak of epidemic diseases especially typhus. Adding to the suffering was the forced labour that Jews had to perform every few days. If that was not enough, a series of raids began. Whenever the army needed a certain number of workers, a raid was made on the free slave market in the ghetto, and Jews were picked up and forced to work for the Germans.
From outside the ghetto, news filtered in that heavy concentrations of German troops were moving eastward. It became clear that Germany was about to attack the Soviet Union, and Jews began to wonder whether this would improve or worsen their situation.
At 4:00 o'clock in the morning of June 22 1941, the ghetto was awakened by the loud noise of airplane motors. The sky was filled with countless German aircraft flying eastward. Soon it was known that the war had started. For two days there was no news and everyone waited in suspense. Then the news came. The Germans were advancing rapidly inside Russian territory.
The German victories were accompanied by increasing Jewish despair. The Jewish aid committee was no longer able to alleviate the privations faced by the population. The charitable institutions which had existed before were no longer functioning but here and there a few individuals tried to take over some of their responsibilities. They solicited contributions privately, and distributed help among the sick and the needy. In the Large Ghetto Labish Mendel's Zisserman and Mechel Rychtman carried on such campaigns and in the Glinice ghetto this work was done by Gershon Lederhendler and Mendel Steinbok. The majority of those who had some income made contributions willingly. Among them were the tanners, Israel Goldberg, Herschel Bojman, Israel Wertsheiser, Buckman and Cemach and others. All this, however, was only a drop in the bucket, compared to the urgent needs of the Jewish sick and impoverished. The Jewish welfare committee and some individuals utilized every piece of unoccupied land in the ghetto to plant vegetables.
A great effort was made to support the orphanage and the old age homes. Jews took care of these two institutions which sheltered 60 children and 30 old people. Their task was made somewhat easier because of the orphanage's 5 cows and garden which the children cultivated under the direction of the dentist Dr. Tatar. Later, it became more difficult to sustain this effort because the orphanage was outside the ghetto and a special permit was necessary to go there. The collection of money and food however, continued. The following persons made heroic efforts to maintain the two institutions: Itmar Adler, Mmes. Horowitz, Lastman, Levinson, Green and Bluma Rottenburg; Messrs. Dr. Tatar, Isaac[itche] Green, Jonah Goldberg, Suskind, Leslau, Yeshaya Eiger, Mordechai Langer, Mechel Rychtman, and Dr. Tatar. Of the staff the following were active: Dr. Gustave Horowitz (Rabbi and Hebrew teacher from Lemberg), the director, Mrs. Grossfeld and the teachers, Mania Spiesman, Necha Freedman, Blumka Klein.
Described by Rochel Rodomska
Translated by Anita Frishman Gabbay
……it is 8 o'clock in the morning, I get dressed. Since we were forced into the ghetto eight of us are living in a small room on Woel [Walowa] Street. I walk over to the window, and I see that the street has suddenly become empty. I hide behind the curtain and try to find out what is going on. From the labour office across the street emerge several German soldiers, leading two boys. It seems that they are picking people up for forced labour. Suddenly, one German starts running in the direction of our house, and yelling: Komm, komm! and a fiftyyear old Jew comes out from behind the gate.
Our household is in panic: we do not know where to hide the men?
We know the Germans will soon begin searching the houses. The worst thing that can happen to a man is to be caught. When this happens, he is beaten even while he works. I get an idea. I go out and padlock the door from the outside to give the impression that there is nobody at home. I go to the neighbours next door. There are no men at the neighbours; the son is at work and his father is hiding in the attic. So we sit there, three women waiting for the visit. Two Germans kick the door open and come in. Without uttering a single word, they open the closet, pull out all the drawers, and fling the bedding around. Then they begin to bellow: Where are the men?, Gone to work my neighbour stutters. The Germans curse us and leave.
I hear their steps approaching our room. They bang on the door and I think the house will fall down, but they finally leave and climb the stairs to the second floor. A few minutes later, we hear them cursing again. We look out and see them dragging our neighbours' husband, who has a black eye and a bloody nose. His wife runs out crying and begging for mercy. She pleads that her husband is illbut to no avail. They take him away. They have already assembled about 50 men. It seems that today there is a large catch.
Sometimes later, people come out into the street. The raid is obviously over. I go back to our room and unlock the door. We still have to be alert because the day is not over yet.
We sit down for breakfast. Every minute somebody knocks on the door. We are besieged by hungry beggars, who plead for a piece of bread; but how can we feed them all? The ration card is good for only 70 grams of bread a day, and on the black market a loaf of bread costs 25 zlotys. But there are beggars who refuse to leave unless they get something, and then we have our own paupers who come to us several times a week for dinner. We cannot give, but and we cannot refuse either.
Later I go to buy bread at a bakery on the Shul [Synagogue] Street, where it is somewhat cheaper. The Synagogue street is so crowded, it is almost impossible to push through. There is a brisk trade going on here. If one looks carefully, one can see meat showing under the piles of rags schmates and eggs and butter hidden under vegetables. With the right connections and enough money, you can buy anything here. I meet a woman I know who is selling food and she advises me to buy all the food I can : you have to while eat while you can,she saysthere's a famine coming and who knows how long it will last! She is right. A lot of people are thinking like that and exchanging their furniture, clothing and everything they possess for food.
Everything people once held dear is being sold dirt cheap; all valuables finally get into the hands of the Poles outside the ghetto, and they grow rich on Jewish misfortune. Among the sellers, I see an acquaintance who is selling her coat. She sees me and is embarrassed. she explains the sale in the ironic language of the ghetto:
The coat is worn out and I no longer need it and takes up room in my closet. It is better to sell it and buy myself nasch [sweet/a snack]…I agree with her and we walk a little way together. The street is noisy, crowded, dirty and smelly. I notice my companion looking at my shoulder . A blondie, she says with a smile and delicately takes a louse off my shoulder. She put it into a piece of paper and wraps it up, in order to burn it later. Now this is how one acts in polite society these days. I thank her politely and invite her to visit me in 14 days to make sure that blondie was not a typhus carrier…We have a new custom here. We wish each other that our lice should be strong and healthy…
On the way back, I notice that street is empty again and I duck into a gateway. What happened?The gendarme and his dog are here. He has invented a new sport:
He walks his dog on Voel, [Walowa] and turns him loose on Jews to attack and bite them.
I continue on my way and see the hearse coming towards me. Another victim died from typhus. So many people have died from typhus and funerals have become so common, that no one pays much attention to them. The hearse is followed by a few people, but we can go as far as the ghetto gate. Before we could say our farewells until the 3 trees and turn around.
When I arrive home, the family is talking business around the table, they found a customer for leather, but he must have the merchandise the next morning. There is a possibility we can earn a few zlotys. My brothers decide that I should gather the information, were we can obtain the leather. I even protest Why me? But I already know, why me: for a woman, it is less dangerous to go in the street than for a man.
I eat my lunch quickly. In the middle, the runner [messenger] from the labour office comes and brings orders to present for forced labour, tomorrowmy brother and the day aftermy father. My brother however must remain home tomorrow, to conduct business [with the leather] and it was decided to hire for a few zlotys a replacement [a substitute] who will present himself at the work office instead of him. [so we could earn a few zlotys]. This is a poorly paid job, bitter and difficult, in order to earn a piece of bread, but some had no other option. One wants to live and will do anything possible. For my father, we will try to get a medical excuse from the doctor, to say he is sick. In the meantime, I have to go to the OldCity Square, from Woel [Walowa], ordinarily it would be a 2 minute walk. But I have to make a large detour of 20 minute through the crowded ghetto streets and Pentz'sGarden, through the dirty Konolova, Pentzes garden and Pszchodnia. Why? Because two local Germans, Kind and Hempel, have their factories in OldCity Square and dirty Jews are not permitted to go past them. In Pentz's garden, the mud is thicker than anywhere else. Beggars are pulling at your shoulders: Madamashi, a piece of bread and they shower you with blessings, but those who do not give are followed by curses until they are out of earshot. I cross the garden and enter Przechodnia where there is less congestion. Here live the better class Jews and in the evening we come here to catch some fresh air. The OldCity Square is plowed up. They want to plant potatoes here. Finally I arrive at the tannery where the densely populated poor Jewish folk live. The owner knows me and promises me immediate delivery of merchandise and I return in a good mood.
I look inside my house and hear political discussions, joking at the Germans expense, they will soon be defeated when a second front opens…I am not so optimistic and express my opinion. But they don't want to listen to me, they are upset, angry: you don't know anything! What do you know about politics?! I then see, perhaps I misspoke, perhaps if they can find some consolation in believing that a German defeat is imminent, why should I destroy their illusions?
Lately the political analysts of the ghetto are talking enthusiastically about America, which, at any day, will enter the war against Germany. The German newspapers rant and rave about Jewish America and the Jew Roosevelt and our knowitalls are making bets: how many airplanes and tanks can America produce in an hour, how much gasoline and how many soldiers do they have; and how long will it will take for them to smash the German warmachine. Yes, there are pessimists here, that for every attack Germany will take revenge on the Jews. But we don't want to listen to them, and the ghetto is happy, the ghetto is spinning [full of optimism] and we barely notice our hunger and our sad and oppressed condition.
The conversation turns to local matters: and someone points out that in comparison to Lodz, there is still gold here [we are on easy street]. There people are dying of starvation in the streets. A neighbour shows us a postcard from his sister from Lodz, the card is not from the sister directly, but from Rumkowski. The Elder of the Jews of Litzmannstadt printed and signed the card that such and such a woman is healthy and has it good [getting along fine]. This is how things are in Lodz, which is part of the Reich. By comparison, Radom is a GanEden [Heaven]: here we can still write our own letters without the meddling of our own Rumkowskis…
My brothers suddenly remember that they have to go for the smuggled goods. Such a thing was better to do when it is dark outside, when no one sees. If someone sees you and says I see you, he becomes your partner. We have to give him his cut for not informing. Jewish police and civilians make a living this way. What can we do? Everyone wants to live.
Two hours later my two brothers return exhausted, but happy. Someone did see them, but it was settled for a pittance. This was a big event and they had something to talk about.
The day comes to an end. Before we go to sleep we talk about our youngest brother, about enrolling him in vocational school, although it isn't easy to get to. There they teach a trade and you are free from slavelabour. Someone is knocking at a neighbour's door. A policeman has came to look for someone who didn't show up for forced labour.
We all heave a sigh of relief. Another day in the ghetto is over. What awaits us tomorrow? Perhaps we are getting closer to our redemption ?….
The song was very typical of those days in the ghetto, The Forgotten Man, a parody on a Polish tango that was popular in the ghetto then. The Polish words of the parody were written by Reinia SanitskyGreenberg. Here is a translation of the song as we remember it:
|In the morning, when you wake,
All you face is pain and woe.
No one's here your case to take,
And like a candle you sink low.
|On Walowa you chase about,
Frantic to make some dough,
Afraid to speak out loud
That you were, once, in the front row.
You were rich, had friends galore,
Need a room, poor man?
Can't afford? Hungry, broke?
Reported by: Dr. Wainapel, Mrs. WolchowitzZabner and Nurse Rose Rivan
Translated by Anita Frishman Gabbay
Ever since The Germans occupied Radom, the medical facilities have been in critical condition. Almost all the Jewish doctors had left the city. The Jewish hospital was full of victims of air raids and street shootings. At that time it was established that the Germans fired on the civilian population with dumdum bullets. At the outbreak of the war, the following were staff physicians at the hospital: Dr. W. Finkelstein, Dr. H. Newfield (surgeon) and Dr. D. Wainaple of Radomsko. Soon, however, the following doctors returned W. Tzung, N. Szenderowicz, A. Fried, L. Fastman and H. Witonski. Their homes were returned to them and they resumed their practice and worked in the hospital. At first they also worked in Polish institutions, but the Germans soon prohibited Jewish doctors from treating nonJews.
Most of the patients at that time had been victims of SS cruelties (split heads, eye injuries, disfigured faces and battered bodies). Soon, however, there were many patients admitted with sicknesses caused by malnutrition.
In addition to the Jewish hospital a health centre which treated the ill and wounded free of charge was set up in the Ezra building. The centre also had an ambulance.
Dr. Szenderowicz became the director of the health Department of the Council of Elders and soon undertook an immunization campaign against typhus and dysentery. There was no serum for typhoid fever allocated to Jews. An isolation ward was established for those suffering from typhoid fever and there was an agency which disinfected their homes. These measures, however, did not control the situation and it was necessary to establish a hospital for contagious diseases.
In accordance with the directive of the government such a hospital was organized in April, 1940, in a section of the orphanage building. Four rooms or allotted for this purpose. In addition, there were two small rooms used as an office and a nurse's duty room. The rooms were damaged, dirty, and had no beds. The first patients were put on the floor with straw pallets for mattresses. The Germans did not wait until the Jewish Hospital was ready, but ordered all Jewish patients move to it from the City Hospital because of lack of space, men and women were put into the same rooms, since the rooms were classified according to diseases. One room was for typhus, another for typhoid fever and the third for dysentery. Seventeen patients were transferred from the Polish Hospital for Contagious Diseases. Dr. Szenderowicz was able to wangle some beds and other equipment. It should be pointed out the whole staff did an extremely fine job under enormous difficulties.
In addition to their medical duties doctors and nurses performed the task of cleaning and painting the hospital premises, many times working through the night. Special mention must be made of the fine work done by the hospital manager, Maria Hartman, a deportee from Lodz; Dr. Szenderowicz also set up a laboratory which was operated by the bacteriologist Anna Herstal, another deportee from Lodz; she was assisted by Miriam Yeshurin. In this primitive and difficult environment the staff did research on typhoid fever which was of interest to the government Dr. Weitzeneger, a Nazi physician, read a paper prepared by the staff of the Jewish Hospital at a medical conference in Krakow without indicating its authors. This paper was later published in the German medical Journal Leben und Gesundheit.
Confining Jews to crowded ghettos had serious medical consequences. Lack of adequate food added to the problem as did the transfer of many Jews from one place to another, thus spreading the germs of infection.
To our good fortune, the numbers of doctors in Radom increased: Dr. Finkelstein and Mrs. Dr. Wolkowitz returned and two ElderDoctors came: the 82 yearold Dr. Yosef Finkelstein from Krakow and the 80 yearold Dr. Steinberg, an xray specialist from Lodz.
Some of the nurses were professionals and some were beginners I just started to practice. There were also trainees in the nurses' course, which the health Department had organized. Drs. Szenderowicz, Fastman Witonski, Newfield and nurse Maria Neihaus had trained approximately 30 nurses, who later functioned in all the health facilities. Nurses who had been qualified before the war were Rose [Rosza] Rivan and Sonia Gorin (in the Jewish hospital), Maria Neihaus (in the Clinic), Saba Wulcan of Krakow (Chief Nurse in the Hospital for Contagious Diseases), Anna Zuckerman, Irka Shlaferman and Niusia Gutstadt. When the epidemics intensified, Dora Munk, Dinah Bango, Esther Sheinfeld and Hannah Rutman joined in the work. The last two performed their duties with great sacrifice.
The clinic in the Ezra building had to be discontinued since it was outside the ghetto. It was removed to the city bathhouse opposite the Jewish Hospital. The bathhouse with its showers and delousing rooms was on the ground floor and the emergency wards were on the second floor, thus, with the exception of the Hospital for Contagious Diseases, all the health facilities were within the confines of the ghetto.
Control cards were issued and every ghetto inhabitant was supposed to be deloused at least once a month and have his card stamped. This campaign was only partly successful for most people used every trick not to undergo a mass delousing session.
The large synagogue was turned into an isolation ward in order to prevent further spread of diseases. Hastily constructed board beds were placed on the main floor and the women's balcony and here those who had been in contact with patients suffering from contagious diseases were quarantined.
Conditions at the hospital for contagious diseases became more critical with time. The number of patients increased to such an extent that a larger part of the orphanage building had to be utilized in order to make more room. One floor was double decked and the sick beds placed in tiers. This was still not sufficient. The hospital soon became so crowded the two patients had to be put in one bed (except for the very ill) and at times four children had to sleep in one bed. As the disease spread, the corridors were full of patients on beds and straw pallets. For 150 patients there was only one bathtub. As a result all the strenuous efforts of the staff were wasted and the louse plague increased, also spreading to the staff and employees. In 1942, almost the whole staff contracted the disease. Those who escaped it reached the point of exhaustion from overwork.
The following succumbed to typhoid fever: nurses Hankeh Rutman and Bronke Kellerwurm, Dr. Minsky, and of the disinfection personnel, Bakoven and Feldstein.
In the short period up to autumn of 1942, about 4000 patients passed through the hospital. There were many more people stricken with the disease, but they were kept at home and their illnesses were never reported.
In the district of Radom there were 300 cases of typhoid fever reported on the day of April 18, 1942. Onethird of the patients died. In general, about 50 percent of the illnesses among the Jews of Poland during that period were fatal.
During the epidemic Doctors Feldhof, Silbershatz, and Helling were engaged by the hospital. They, too, worked unselfishly to aid the sick, and themselves became the victims of the disease.
At the same time the Jewish Hospital was overcrowded too. There the patients were victims of starvation, swelling, tuberculosis, pleurisy, and other diseases resulting from hunger and deprivation. In the surgical department, Doctors Kleinberger and Newfield performed many difficult operations successfully. Thanks to the great efforts made by the managers, Joshua Helfand and Maria Hartman, supplies in both hospitals were adequate.
Due to the shortage of physicians, medical students were recruited to help the health institutions. Among them were Leon Kurtz, Gimpel Weintraub and Edward Borenstein. Several local dentists volunteered to assist the physicians in the hospitals. Dental surgeons, Tatar, Nadel, and Fraydus were active in the Glinice clinic, headed by Doctors Zabner and Boim.
People with academic degrees were enlisted for supervisory jobs in the hospital. The engineer Berish Goldberg became supply director of the Hospital for Contagious Diseases and was assisted by his wife Bala (nee Speisman) a former high school teacher.
We wish to mention here the cooperation of Dr. Rost who came from Krakow with his mother inlaw, the widow of Dr. Joshua Thon, a former leading member of the Polish parliament. Dr. Rost was wanted by the Germans for political activity and was later arrested and deported to Treblinka.
Early in 1942 the Gestapo began its socalled political actions. These were night raids and on thespot executions of Jews suspected of resistance activities. During the February raid the Gestapo brought 19 bodies to the hospital morgue in the early morning hours. The Gestapo left clear orders not to permit the families to claim their dead. In April, 49 bloodsoaked corpses were delivered to the hospital and laid out on the grass. On one occasion the ghetto policeman Abraham Silberstein was ordered by the Gestapo to deliver to the morgue a truckload of corpses of men killed that night for alleged conspiracy. He found among them the body of his own father.
In 1942 the hospital opened a section to accommodate refugees from the Warsaw ghetto, who arrived exhausted and swollen from hunger. Only a few recovered. The dead were buried without shrouds because the linen supply of the hospital was completely used up.
The summer of 1942 spelled disaster and more suffering. The hospitals were hitherto supplied with food, though meagrely. The rations were maintained through the combined efforts of personal and citizenry. The patients were given daily: 3 1/2 ounces of bread, 1/3 ounce of butter, 5 ounces of meat, (three times a week) soup, sweetened tea or coffee. The seriously ill were given milk and fruit. In the summer of 1942 the Germans cut down the food supply to a mere trickle. The supply of medicine and bandages were completely stopped.
News came from Lublin that during the deportation there in August 16, 1942, all hospital patients were shot to death. This prompted the staff to discharge everyone who could manage to walk out of the building on his own. There were only seven patients in the Hospital for Contagious Diseases on the night of disaster August 16, 1942.
The action lasted for two nights and among the deported were the doctors and medical personnel, nurses and others from the hospital. Anna Hersthal, the bacteriologist, willingly left with the group because she wanted to remain with her child. Also her parents were deported (her mother was a dentist). At the evacuation, Miriam(Mala) Yeshurin, who worked in the Laboratory, didn't want to leave her mother, who was limping with a broken foot, and was then shot on the spot. Dr. Wainapel, was hidden, but the Germans found him, beat him, tore up his documents and deported him. (he saved himself and is now in America). All the other doctors were left behind [perished].
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