Translated by Anita Frishman Gabbay
Over 15 prominent men were arrested by the Nazis on April 28, 1943. Among them was Dr. Szenderowicz, the Elder of the Jews, who was replaced as the head of the Jewish police, by the lawyer Leon Synter. Several of this group were shot on May 1st in the Gestapo cellar. Mr. Moshe Korman escaped through a window and walked away unrecognized among the Polish passerby. He remained in the Polish section of the city and survived the war.
Seventeen of the arrested group were driven to the village of Wolanow and executed. Their names were: Shlomo Fishman, Cemach Bojman, Engineer Marek Bojman, Abraham Silberstein and his son moishe, Michal Tauber, Yehuda Kaufman, Jacob Simcha Hendel, Joseph Lastman, Moshe Wercheizer, Moshe Neihaus and his son, Avraham Gutstam, Bravman, moniek Steinowitz, Ackerman, Yehuda Koifman and the attorney Fishbein.
Dr. Szenderowicz and 3 other men remained under arrest for some time and were then sent to Auschwitz concentration camp. After liberation from the camp, Dr. Szenderowicz committed suicide.
One Hundred Jews From Majdanek to Radom
In the middle of May, 100 men and women were brought to the little ghetto from the concentration camp of Majdanek in eastern Poland to Radom. To the Jews of Radom they were a frightening example of what a concentration camp could do to its prisoners; their emaciated figures and ashen complexions bore witness to the sufferings they had been subjected to. The ghetto inhabitants had a chance to see, for the first time, the official concentration garb; striped gray-blue suits, matching caps and wooden shoes. On the back of every prisoner's jacket were painted in big red block-letters KL; a white bull's eye was painted on the pants. Their heads were shaven bare, their faces looked like the dead you pulled out of a grave. They stood a considerable time, on Szwarlikowska Street, until the first help arrived.
The Jews in the ghetto did their utmost to make the Majdanek prisoners as comfortable [we gave them food, pants, jackets and shoes] as possible. They told us that the Jews in Majdanek were being burnt, but they were allowed to leave because they were professionals, printers; they will come to Radom to work in a large print shop. Miriam Biederman, a survivor of this group, writes in her memoirs [Youth in the Shadow of Death]:
-----------We were led from the Radom train station to the gate of the Ghetto. Here were we handed over to the Jewish police.To the Jews of Radom we must have looked like people from another planet. Eat, eat, you will tell us later Though they lived in crowded conditions and hardly had enough food for themselves, the Radomers fed us [black bread and povidla-a fruit spread] delightfully and set us up comfortably in decent quarters, gave us clean linens and clothes. The family we lived with couldn't understand: How did human creatures come to such a sad situation.. Everyone was kind to us .
Again we were among Jews. Questions were thrown at us from all directions: where did you come from? What happened to the Jews there? Etc..
Most of the new arrivals were former printers and print-shop owners, who had been deported to Majdanek from the Warsaw Ghetto. The whim of a Nazi official to establish a printing plant in Radom had saved them from the gas-chamber. Shortly after the arrival of the printers, the S.S. hauled from Warsaw truckloads of printing machines formerly owned by Jews. The printers then installed the machinery in a confiscated Jewish-owned factory building outside the ghetto and were employed there by the S.S. until July 1944, when all the equipment was shipped to Germany.
Fifty Jews from Radom Worked in the camp Ovhut in Walonow, to salvage the barracks, which were sent to Czestochowa. One time the Jewish journalist, Kafer, invited the few Jewish dentists from Radom to his place, Katz, Greenfeld (Eliahu Tenenbaum's soninlaw) and Sterenfeld. A Pole noticed this and denounced them; the Jews were sitting together talking politics. Katz, Greenfeld and Sterenfeld were then shot.
After the liquidation of the Wolanow camp, a family by the name of Friedman, who had Argentinian citizenship, was brought to Radom. Everyone was jealous of them. But in the end they were shot together with the sick from the hospital. Only one person, Frejo Pamper from Warsaw, saved himself from this slaughter.
An electric pressmachine in the Shops was forgotten to be shut off, some merchandise was burned and part of a table. For this sabotage, Avraham Swartzbart and Zuker(from the shirt factory on Ruvinska) were shot in the yard of Swarlikowska 18.
Among the 800 peat workers, every day some were sick, and the doctor wrote permission slips so they could remain in the small hospital for a few days. Ten of these friends were shot so the others would not lust to become sick. Even with a fever of 38 degrees, it was better to go to work.
Translated by Anita Frishman Gabbay
On November 8, 1943 in the morning, all ghetto inhabitants were taken out of Szwarlikowska Street on a two hour march to the Szkolna Street barracks, near the armaments factory. As they passed the gate of the camp, all their bundles were ransacked for jewelry, money and valuables of any kind. Everyone underwent a thorough personal search for hidden items, even coat linings were ripped apart.
It was a cold day and people were exhausted from the march and lack of food. They were forced into a small backstreet, far from the citycenter, through a wooden gate, surrounded by barbedwire. On the other side was a large building which housed many of the gendarmes.
The S.S. Stormtrooper Blum arrived in the company of Rakita and Buchmeier. We didn't know what this meant. Finally they sat at a table with a large valise and every Jew was searched for money and other valuables. The good one [Blum], the whitegloved chief of the day's operation, announced that he would open the nearby Ukrainian barracks, but only for women and children [to warm themselves]. When the building filled up, it was immediately surrounded by armed Ukrainians and sealed off from the rest of the camp. Soon Kapke arrived with his band of Ukrainians and SS. who came to look for old women, men and children.
Blum and Buchmeir did some revisions to their lists for each barrack, they pulled some small children from under the wardrobes in which their fathers hid them until the last minute. The fathers knelt before Blum and begged to return the child, to which he gently replied: why should the small children wander in the camp alone? it doesn't make sense! Whoever wants, should go with their child.
About 200 people were gathered, the armament factory contributed those who no longer had the strength to work.
A few people made heroic attempts to get through the lines of Ukrainian guards in order to free members of their families from the barred building; one person was shot to death. A young man named Joseph Frenkel, a former member of the Jewish Police, risked his life several times trying to enter the building. He finally succeeded in pulling out 2 children through a back window. He miraculously carried them to safety under his coat, past the Ukrainian guards.
The women and children from the building were soon loaded into trucks and driven to Biala Street for execution. They were joined by a group of men and women selected from the Steyer munition plant workers as unfit to work, and some older persons dragged out at random from the barracks at the last minute.
About 200 people were executed that day on Biala Street.
The following morning several trucks arrived on Biala Street from nearby labour camps, such as Skarzysko, Pionki and Blizyn, with a cargo of laborers deemed unfit to work; these were mostly people who at one time or another had been taken from Radom as slave laborers for armament factories. They were then lined up at the edge of a ditch and shot in the back. Most were women.
However, the trucks did not return emptythey were filled with young men rounded up in the Szkolna Street barracks as replacements for the factories.
In the small ghetto, about 300 artisans remained for several weeks to finish their work for the Germans in the shops. Later they were sent to Pionki to work in the ammunition factory.
Following this action, the Germans destroyed the buildings of the former Little Ghetto. All the contents, as well as the bricks, were carefully salvaged and sold to the Poles. The proceeds were sent to Germany for the purpose of the Winter Relief Fund for the German People.
We began again to make some order in our lives in the new camp.
Friends choose to live together in the same barrack, 20 per barrack.
Ten on the bottom, 10 on the upper frame. The bunks were still new with fresh straw, and everyone slept that night like after a great battle.
On the second day, the Jewish factory workers took an interest in the newcomers, they took down the barbed wire and we could pass from one camp to another, to bring food and clothing. Later the 2 camps united. They took away the wire fence and in 1944 of the New Year, the camp became one.
Translated by Anita Frishman Gabbay
In January 1944 a special group of S.S. men under the leadership of Hauftsturmfuehrer Sigman from Auschwitz, arrived in Radom. This camp now officially became a concentration camp.
Before the Radomer S.S. and Gestapo handed over their Jews to the new administration, they still conducted a small cleanup; they arrested the majority of the policemen and sent them to the extermination camp of Majdanek.
The new camp director introduced himself to all, accompanied by his suite of S.S. men.
His subordinate was Ubersturmfuehrer Hecker. The third noncommissioned officer was called the doll or the the duck, as he used to waddle like a duck, the voice of this sadist was like a woman's. The fourth one was the superintendent Frick. He was in charge of the guards and led the men to work. In total there were about 50 S.S. men who watched over the camp prisoners.
The initials stand for Koncentration Lager. The vestiges of Radom Jews living in the Szkolna camp believed themselves to be fortunate because the concentration camp came to them instead of the usual German procedure of transporting prisoners to the camps. In those days transports were feared more than anything else.
A detachment of S.S. troops, specially trained in the art of organizing and supervising concentration camps for Jews, arrived from Lublin in January 1944, and immediately took over the previous S.S. management. In 24 hours, the Szkolna Street camp was turned into K.L. Radom, with all the rules and regulations that went with the new name. The troops had brought with them truckloads of regulation striped uniforms with matching caps for the prisoners [almost newwashed and repaired]; also wooden shoes and gallons of red enamel paint. The prisoners had to change into the new clothing and paint on each other's backs the letters K.L.
The new Jewish warehousekeeper was Heinrich Rakatch, a Viennese Jew, who had a brother in Radom, Fishel Rakatch of Paiance [? street], on the Woel. He used to hand out the new laundry or a new suit. Everyone had to turn in their former clothing.
The despair was great because we were no longer considered human we all wore the same clotheswe became only a number. The hat was round, without a peak, the jacket was bluegrey with stripes, as well as the pants. The shoes had wooden solesbanging at every step. We looked at each other, we cried, we laughedwhat a sight! And now, we must go shave our heads.
As Jewish camp commander, Yechiel Friedman (son of the shoemanufacturer) was chosen because he was a policeman in the [former] ghetto with three buttons on his hat. His substitute was the fatwaisted man, a former bank employee, who also had the same rank in the ghetto. The policemen who remained had to exchange their blue hats with red markings and the officers' boots for the striped uniform, exactly like all the other Jews. They received tape on their hands with the writing Block Elder. There were about 50 Kapos in the camp, the former Jewish police, but some declined to continue in their service.
There were about 20 barracks where Jews sleptmen and women separately. Each barrack held about 200 people.
Life began 5 o'clock in the morning, 15 minutes before a young man blew a bugle for our wakeup call and we were given 15 minutes to wash and dress and assemble in the Apellplatz. Those that worked in the kitchen, woke up at 4:30 to prepare the bed.
The major events of the day were the roll calls, called Appells, dreadful prolonged affairs, especially in the winter months at the assemblyplace. The Kapos searched the barracks for anyone missing and reported to the Jewish Elder Kapo, Yechiel [Chil] Friedman, who reported to Hecker, who reported the healthyones and sick ones[sickbay inmates didn't have to participate] to the German Camp Commander [Sigman].
We learned to march in 5 groups. Then we were lined up in a square around the Appellplatz: three large groups of men, and the fortha group of women, with their Block leader, Mania Zina Brash. The marching took hours, in an orderly manner with greeting. This order was called: Attention, Hats, Off! when we had to take off our criminal hats off all at once, clap our hands, put them at our thighs, thenhats on; put back the hat and so on.
The S.S.guards and Jewish guards stood at the towergate, whom we saluted, until they ordered us go inside! The report would be double checked with the office records. The procedure would sometimes take hours, causing people to faint; many people died due to exposure during the Appells. We ran to the barracks to get our bowls to stand in line for our food.
Every barrack had its own kettle. The BlockElder served us a piece of bread and other food [usually watereddown soup].
A Bunker Was Discovered
Barrack #1 stood 20 meters from the barbed wire and you could escape easily. In the month of March, when the ground was full of mud, a heavy wagon full of sand drove by and the wheels sunk into the ground. The horses couldn't be pulled out. They dug for a long time until they came across the bunker, in which five men were hidden. They lay in the bunker for 2 months, from the time the concentration camp was established.
Everyone in the camp was certain that they will be hanged.
Instead, the S.S. brought a bench to the place for a beating. The first one cried silently, but he endured. They immediately applied a special ointment. The second one didn't make a sound. The commander approached him and looked into his eyes and ordered him into the sickbay to receive aid. The third one was a 25 yearold. At the first whip, he began screaming and convulsing, but the commander didn't stop. At the end, he was
put into the sickbay.
In the middle of the night Dr. Neifeld was called because the young man poisoned himself. The commandant soon arrived and ordered to keep him alive. Dr. Baum also came to help, as well as the laborer Kurtz. They revived him. But the young man tried again to take his life. Two Kapos guarded him day and night, until he calmed down and the episode was forgotten.
They stuck large yellow patches on him, front and back, and then they sent him to work in the camp.
The Front Comes Closer: A Jew is Missing at Role Call
In April 1944 news arrived that the Russians were approaching Lemberg and our salvation is near. Some friends started to think about escaping and we looked for various ways to get out of the camp.
In the month of May, S.S. men came running ragged, dirty and without shoes, without marinarkes [jackets].
A dead silence descended on the camp. On one side we were overjoyed that we had survived to see the enemy in such a condition. On the other side, we were afraid when we found out the Russians had looted Lublin and took over the murdercamp Majdanek.
Jews started to build bunkers and under the barracks they began to dig tunnels to escape to freedom. It was difficult work. The work was done quickly. The same work was done in the Witvarnia (armament factory). Yankel Sreiman work here (at the factory there was a canal). Together with Shmuel Boimelgreen, Tuvia Friedman and Rotstein, they finally crossed the canal on all fours to clear to the exit to see, where the canal ends. The way was prepared for the right moment.
The political ones in the camp recounted that the front was getting closer to Radom, and any day the camp will be liberated.
No one could foresee, if the S.S. will kill us on the spot or deport us. The battles continued until the front was on the other side of the Vistula.
A panic arose among the ranks of the S.S.
But the month of July arrived and we continued to go to our work, as if nothing had happened.
Only on one July day, something happened:
A Jew is Missing at the Apell
After work, the count of the Jews took place at the Apellplatz, a daily affair. Today it didn't add upa Jew was missing!
They counted 3 times, 4 times, and a Jew was missing! Finally we found out, that Itche Katsev was missing. He ran to the forests. People were talking that he bought a revolver, with 50 bullets, from a Christian and disappeared.
In the meantime, everyone stood for hours, until the evening. Who knew if they would take 10 others and shoot them? Hearts were beating among the 3,000 people. In the end, the S.S. told the people to return to their barracks.
The next morning people were sent to work again as if nothing happened.
On the third day after Itche's escape, the S.S. arrived to the Witvarnia to take the people back to the camp. Everyone felt uneasy that now we will be shot or taken out of Radom.
A small group hid in their hiding places which they previously prepared. Several escaped through the canal. The rest were brought to the square for a count. Again there were people missing. The S.S. arrived with their dogs to search, several were found.
Tuvia Friedman and Rotstein hid in the Witvarnia (Yeheskel Matchek blocked it with bricks). This is the same hideout where Itche Katsev spent 3 days and waited for an opportune time to run away. Two days later they escaped to the forests.
Translated by Janie Respitz
July 1944. A mood of panic. Information was spreading that the Soviet military was already in the Lublin region. At night we heard echoes of artillery shots. There was a glimmer of hope for liberation, to live…
The roads were filled with German soldiers dragging themselves from defeated regiments. The wives of the S.S. in Radom were packing their plunder feverishly and returning to Germany.
The camp where 3 thousand Radom Jews were imprisoned (2,450 men, 500 women and around 20 children), received a reinforcement of guards. Despite this there was an increase in the amount of escapees to the Aryan side. Rumours were spreading about a complete evacuation of the Jews. A panic consumed everyone. They did not believe in evacuation, there were no train cars. One could feel the proximity of the front in the air.
We looked for a way to escape or hide. The Germans understood the prisoner situation. Oberstrumfuhrer Sigman assured the Jews nothing bad would happen to them. They would be sent away to work in a military industrial institution in Lodz where the conditions would be much better.
A day before the evacuation only one thing was known, Jews would be leaving Radom on foot in an unknown direction. Right after a rumour spread that the Germans were letting the Jews go free, but because they could not just leave the Jews in town, they would lead them out of town and free them there.
July 26th, 1944 the roll call area on Shkolne was full. Jews came out of the barracks with their packs and waited to begin the march.
There were a few peasant wagons to take the sick…in front of the hospital barrack the company commander Skaniyetchny burnt and chopped up the hospital facilities so they would not fall into the hands of the Russians.
At two o'clock the group began to move. They walked along well known streets: Trauguta, Zheramskiega, Reya, toward the Wolonov highway. Men women and children walked together sticking together with their families. The mood was heavy, hopeless. Inhabitants from the city watched from sidewalks on both sides of the road. At the back of the procession were the wagons with the sick. We were surrounded by three hundred armed S.S personnel with automatic weapons ready to shoot, convoys including a convoy of Lithuanian S.S with dogs. Despite this, some managed to escape mixing in with the local population. The following escaped: Moishe Bercovitch and his brother and the women Tzuker, Blaykhman, Goldberg, Akerman and Miss. Sankevitch.
On Zamline a few more succeeded in escaping into the rye. Two were captured: Goldberg and Tzuker were shot in front of our eyes with a bullet in the neck. We all had to look at the bloody corpses to be afraid.
By evening the procession approached Wolonov. This is where the S.S told us to camp. The tired people lay down on the damp ground near the highway. It was completely dark. We were not allowed to build a fire. We were cold and thirsty.
At dawn we continued on our way. The majority barely dragged their feet. Their chaperones only permitted short rests. We were tormented by the heat and the dust which rose up like a cloud. We drank water from puddles while being beaten by the S.S.
The fatigue was unbearable. People threw down their last belongings. They were stumbling over discarded shoes, valises…
At lunchtime a truck came from Radom and brought the walkers coffee. Due to the disorganization only a few succeeded in receiving something to drink.
In the evening it began to rain. That day we walked 30 kilometres. The S.S. chose a valley near a forest to camp for the night.
The thirst was torturous and people began to push their way to the wagons with barrels of water.
The S.S man aimed his revolver and began shooting with expanding bullets. People ran in a panic. The following fell victim beside the water barrels: Bank, Stashek Fried, Zilberberg and Berish Frishman. Blood flowed from the ripped wounds. The doctors and medics bandaged the wounded as well as they could. People forgot about the lack of water and fatigue.
At night, the two Tzina brothers dug a ditch with a spoon, went in and covered the top with a thin layer of sand. At dawn the S.S commanded we continue our march. Earlier they checked out the entire area. The two in hiding went unnoticed.
A tragic day arrived, the most difficult and bloodiest of the entire journey. The Germans chased us in order to end this prescribed 30 kilometres.
At a certain moment the last rows noticed the wagons with the sick and elderly changed direction, turned toward the forest and disappeared into the trees. At the same time the company commander Skanietchny and a few S.S personnel also disappeared.
Suddenly Yishayahu Fershman appeared and he
told us, he jumped off the wagon when it went into the forest and he heard shooting.
This news went from mouth to mouth. The relatives of those in the wagon tried to remain in the back to try to see if the wagons would reappear.
The S.S used beatings to keep us moving on assuring us the wagon drivers stopped at a well to water the horses.
Unfortunately the tragic truth was confirmed. The wagons did return, however empty, carrying only the S.S who carried out the execution.
Among those killed were the well known philanthropist Yisrolik Goldberg, the Gutman brothers from the old town and Goldvasser.
Despondent and broken the people continued on. Some were walking barefoot. Their shoes squeezed causing wounds and blisters. Young people supported the elderly. Parents took turns carrying their children. Faces were dirty from dust, lips burned from the heat and thirst. The S.S searched the rows for the weak, cripples, children and the aged. The victim they found was invited on the wagon. However, their fate was the same as those who previously rode in the wagons. The wagon became the worst horror. The fear of death proved to be miraculous. Cripples, the sick and paralyzed walked straight, well and quickly.
On this unfortunate day our group was reduced by a few dozen who were murdered. The S.S left on the side of the road, not buried.
Night fell. No one slept as a result of this experience. At dawn we continued. The road went through a dense forest. Our guards increased with German soldiers from defeated regiments.
Rumours spread that partisans were active in the forest. This caused an uneasiness among the Germans and hope for the Jews.
Unfortunately nothing happened. It was still day when the first of our group arrived in Opotchne.
The Jews lay down on the left side of the road near the bridge over the Pilitze. The Germans allowed us to bathe in the river. This permission was gladly accepted and the bath brought great relief.
Once again there were attempts to escape which ended fatally. A man was shot and a woman was brought back and beaten to death. However, one woman, Khave Garfinkl managed to escape.
At daybreak we continued to walk. We barely dragged our feet. At ten o'clock in the morning the fatigue was so great, that a few people, including Henik Gotfried, asked Skanietchny if they could ride on the fatal wagon. An hour later they disappeared with the others and found their eternal rest.
That day an 18 year old boy was shot for receiving a small pot of water in a village. Until this time 60 Radom Jews fell at the hands of the S.S personnel. Around 2 o'clock we arrived in Tomashov. A few women took advantage of the movement in the streets, split from the group and disappeared.
Allow me to note a rare occurrence where a woman took pity on the Jews:
With the resounding shots coming from the forest an old peasant woman emerged from the village near Krulova Wola, holding a holy picture in her raised hands and called out to the murderers to stop these acts of terror! The S.S ordered her to be carried away.
A rarity? No, this was the one and only display of humanity and pity for the Jews. The old woman's village was the only one, during the long march, which brought those suffering from thirst some water.
The procession went through the streets of the city toward the artistic silk factory. There, in the big yard, we sat on the ground waiting for orders from the S.S.
Suddenly Sigman came and explained that we would rest in Tomashov and then travel by train. But given that he had not received place for 3000 people, the men will remain and the women will go somewhere else in Tomashov.
Men said goodbye to their wives and children who went with their mothers. They divided the remaining bread and clothing. The cries and screams were heart wrenching.
After lining up the women and children were taken from the factory.
Accompanied by S.S. personnel they were taken to the prison attic and locked up. 500 women and 20 children were pressed together in the attic. Each one settled as best she could. It was filthy. The bucket for natural needs stood in the middle and the odour poisoned the air.
In the morning they were taken to wash and were given watery soup.
After seven days in the Tomashov prison the women were lined up in rows and brought through the same streets to the silk factory where there was a train ramp. They loaded them on to the train. Where to? No one knew.
A rumour spread among the women that the men were travelling on the same train in the front cars. They could not speak to them but the feeling they were together brought relief and comfort.
The train travelled without stopping. At night we
passed through Tchenstokhov, in the morning Shlonsk and rode another night.
Awakened in the morning by a strong jolt the travellers noticed a small sign with black writing which said: Oswiecim.
The train stood for a few hours. The nervousness among the people increased. Finally, when the train moved, their souls felt lighter, but not for long.
The train travelled back and forth until it switched to a different track. From the distance we saw a giant camp divided by barbed wire and tall watch towers with machine guns. Behind the wires masses of people, tattered or in striped clothing. Further on, black barracks and low quadrangular chimneys of the crematoria.
The train stopped at a gate with a sign New Palestine.
At the command of the S.S personnel the women exited the train cars. Their chaperones lined them up in rows of 100. The S.S clerks from Oswiecim counted, registered and confirmed.
Each step moved the families further apart.
No one cried standing in front of the fearful camp where so many were exterminated.
As we said earlier, the men were taken into the factory hall in Tomashov which could hold, at most, 300 people. The floor of the hall was hot. It felt like people were brought there to suffocate. The building was shut tight and there were S.S on the surrounding rooftops armed with machine guns.
The heat was terrible. Thirst drove people mad. They paid the S.S 500 zlotys for a bottle of water. Others paid with gold for a drink of water.
On the second day they allowed the men to go out for an hour to get some fresh air. They distributed watery soup. They did not give out any bread. Only after 3 days did they distribute one small bread for 8 men.
They took the people to build fortifications along the Pilitze. The first day they took them out they thought they were going to be shot.
At work it was easier to make contact with the surrounding population and buy food.
These despondent men scratched out their last greeting and wills on the walls of the factory.
Here is an example of final regards:
Gedalya Erenberg, born 10. 9. 1907 in Krashnik sends his last regards to Yan Papirose in Krashnik. Let him send my child to the Land of Israel after the war.
The walls were filled with goodbyes to the world, appeals to Poles with whom they left their children.
After 10 days the men were loaded into trucks. In the middle of each truck was a wooden bench for the S.S.
No one knew where they were going. There were mumblings that as professionals they were being taken to work in a weapons factory in central Germany.
On August 3rd the train arrived at the station in Oswiecim. At first there was a sense of panic, but after, resignation.
The train entered the camp and stood on a side track.
When Jewish Kapos from Oswiecim arrived they asked them when the war will end. The Russian military was already in Lublin. Why did the Jews allow themselves to be taken like sheep to Oswiecim where the oven is baking. They searched for a bit of alcohol. They paid 50 gold ruble for a bottle.
The hours of waiting felt like an eternity. Finally they took the men from the train and lined them up in fives. A car drove up with a high ranking S.S. He went down the rows to everyone and asked their age and with a slight movement of his finger pointed to the right to live, to the left to a waiting truck. The truck soon became full.
Piotr Frenkl walked in that direction with Z. Friedman's child in his arms. As he walked he turned to those remaining and said: Go Jews, for a good life and peace.
Among those condemned, designated to die, were two fifteen year old boys.
The Oswiemcim Kapos told those who remained to recite Kaddish (the mourner's prayer) for the old people, women and children who were taken away.
A wagon arrived with food. Everyone received half a bread, a piece of sausage and margarine.
The men were returned to the train cars.
In the evening the train travelled west. After a 4 day journey the transport of men stopped in Bitigsheim near Stuttgart where they disembarked. This was a passage camp quarantine. After three days the Jews from Radom were sent, as a group, to the camp Vaihingen Entz.
With this transport which left Radom on July 26th 1944, Radom was left without any Jews.
Around the same time, the Jews of Radom were evacuated from the camps in Pionki, Satrokhavitze, Skarzhisko, Ostrovietz, Bilzhin and others.
At the same time there was a mass escape of Jews to the forests. The majority of those who escaped were killed. Some waited for liberation hiding in the forests and bunkers.
Those who did not manage to escape were thrown about to all the camps in Germany, the death chamber in Ravensbruk, Shutoff, Bergen Belsen, Dachau, Matthausen, Vaihingen Entz, Unterrixingen, Bissingen, Dautmergen, Hessental.
All of them passed through the station at Oswiecim (Auschwitz) and the majority were exterminated there.
Only the men from the camp on Shkolne Street, were dragged to central Germany where a few were liberated in May 1945.
Translated by Anita Frishman Gabbay
What happened to the women who were transported to Auschwitz, Erdwarda WolochovichZabner describes:
Sunday August 6, 1944, about 500 women arrived at Auschwitz, mostly young and healthy, and by some miracle, some older ones who had been saved [hidden] and also some women with children.
Next to me, the 8 yearold daughter of the dentist, Mrs.Zelnicker, began to cry: Mama, we are going to the ovens, I am afraid, I am very afraid!
We followed the road between the fields; we, the first hundred were led into an empty barrack, where we are ordered to strip naked, in the midst of S.S. men and inmates in pashiakes [striped uniforms].
Naked we were led through two rows of administrators, German and Jewish, welldressed; their dresses had stripes with blue collars, blue head scarves and black aprons. They searched us, ripped our toothbrushes from our hands, our combs which we held, tore the rings off our fingers, the chains from our necks; it was a wellconducted and speedy operation. We were not allowed to retain anything. In the corridor between two rooms, women shaved our private parts. Here was the licecontrol room. The shaving was done with dull scissors which ripped the hair and left the skin with lesions.
The last was the bath. At the door two S.S. men stood with whips in their hands to drive us into the room. We placed our shoes near the wall. Hot and cold water trickled from the ceiling. We washed ourselves.
Suddenly the water was shut off. A group of S.S. officers entered the bath screaming. On their hats was the symbol of the Swastika. They surrounded us when I was suddenly overcome with a sense of foreboding: A selection! I feel, our death is approaching
They commanded us to move with our hands up in the air. They scrutinized us from top to bottom. Then an elderly woman passeda wink, out of the line!
The selected were led to a dryingchamber.
Condemned were the older women and young mothers, who didn't want to separate from their children. Among them Mrs. Friedman and her child, the sisters Zilberstein, Mrs. Beitler with two children, the small Shlomek (who was found in the orphanage after the first great expulsion and was raised in the hospital).
We stood frozen from fear and despair.
S.S. men and women, Kapo men and women chased us naked further. We found ourselves in the dressingroom. And here we were; halfcrazed, a band of ragged beggars with shaven heads and schmates. We look at each other and didn't recognize one other. We laughed hysterically at our bare heads, in our ball gowns, our oversized prison shirt with the banging of our wooden shoes.
The last ceremony in the bathhouse was the marking of our clothes with a red cross.
The selected group of women and children, accompanied by the S.S. men, continued on. Children were no longer crying, though they all knew that this was their last road!....
We continued in a long procession to our hostile life in the camp.
We felt a little emotion [bittersweet moment] when we were greeted by the Radomer women who had arrived in Auschwitz several days earlier, from Pionki and Ostrowiec.
From those that were deported in 1942 from Radom, Yeshaya Eiger was still alive. [achieving the status of prominence as an old timer, he survived Auschwitz]. From the deported in 1943Jurek Den was alive. We met the two sisters, Neidik!
They gave us practical advise and considerable help how to survive.
Our hope and comfort were the airraids. We heard the siren alarms from the town of Oswiencim [Auschwitz]. The overseers chased us into the barracks and locked us in. We felt joy in our hearts. This was our freedom music.
They started to talk about liquidating the camp, the nervous silence was broken by the first event in the many stories of the Oswiencim bund [the groups that were sabotaging the camp].
The Sondercommando ignited the crematoria and during the commotion the Germans fled. The participants of the bund were shot during their escape, except for 7 persons.
October 1944, the evacuation of Auschwitz began, in the meantime, transports from Tereisenstadt were still arriving.
The first to be transported were the working men of field D. We saw them, relatively speaking, not badly dressed and receiving portions of food for their journey, but we didn't believe that the Germans will leave any evidence of the atrocities they committed.
The transports became more frequent, our field also began to empty, the first to leave were the Hungarian women. We were sent from block 8 to 21, then to 18. The blockleaders changed and we felt somewhat less oppressed.
At the time of the autumn rains, they allowed us to remain in the blocks, even the appels were forgotten. The neighbouring fields were also empty.
On the field, where the transports from Lodz stopped, selections still took place. We saw how the S.S. men set their angry dogs on the naked women, chasing them into the open trucks to their deaths. We saw how the remainder of the transports hid themselves in corners of the barracks, the canals and toilets.
At one point we heard the blockleader call out: block 18, enter!
They selected 180 women and separated us in another barrack, from where they later transferred us to a Womens ConcentrationCamp which was transformed into a transit field.
We passed another 2 selections, in the end they gave us linens, socks, wooden shoes, coats and led us to the train.
The train moved. We left Auschwitz in December 1944.
We were transported from Poland to concentration camps deep into Germany
Translated by Anita Frishman Gabbay
About the fate of the Radomers, who were sent to Majdanek, Bernard Gotfried tells:
---------March 1, 1944, the area with the shops in Rynek, were surrounded by a heavily-armed battalion of Ukrainians and it became clear that something was happening and a panic arose.
Weinrich and Kapke arrived and ordered an Appell for all the Jews from the shops- to assemble on the square near Shpitalna Street. They began to register the people. The Ukrainians beat and tortured the Jews with their clubs.
After two hours of beatings, two groups were formed. Weinrich asked: do you want to go to the camp at Szkolna? Or to Pionki. Those that chose Pionki, were taken to the train station, under Ukrainian guard. About 300 people.
Here waited another group of 300 people from the Szkolna camp. Both groups were loaded onto the trains. After a three day trip, we arrived at Lublin.
Here they separated the men from the women, our supervision was taken over by a new group of S.S. men who chased us along Helmer Road.
Now we learned the truth: we were going to Majdanek!
Signs of barbed wire fences and barracks appeared-they led us in and placed us in the bath-barrack.
We stood two hours in the freezing cold.
Then we were told to undress-naked, and to leave behind our packages.
After an ice-cold bath we were chased into a neighbouring barrack, where we had to catch a piece of clothing [schmates] thrown into the air. And naked again, we were chased onto the field. Here barbers shaved our private parts with dull scissors. We had to dress with non-stop beatings by the S.S.
We marched in rows of five, to field number 4. Each one of us had to fill out a form with many questions in the writing-house. We signed our names on the last page.
The scribes, old Polish inmates, congratulated us, we were the first group of Jews that the S.S. were registering. That meant, we were not going to the ovens, but to work. And in reality, after two days, we were divided among several work-details.
I registered as a bookkeeper and a German-speaker. I became a scribe in the D.A.V. German Ousrimung Werke.
I worked here for a month. Next I was sent as a Jeweler tradesperson to the clothing-warehouse. My work was to sort the gold and luggage from the burned victims that died in the crematoria. I was also required to clean the gold teeth of the 18,000 murdered people(November 3, 1943) on the 6th field in Majdanek.
A German, a Kapo, Kurt from Berlin, a political prisoner, took me to visit the site of this horrible tragedy. On field 6, we could still see covered ravines, in the form of a zig-zag and dried up pieces of blood. We saw the narrow train-track that brought the people to the crematoria. There I saw stretchers and two fork-lifts that collected the corpses and threw them into the pyres.
Kurt, who was an eye-witness to this mass-murder, told me the details:
From early dawn they began to bring Jews from all the labour camps in the Lublin district.
All the interned non-Jews, that day, were gathered on the fields 1 and 2. They were locked in the barracks and weren't allowed to leave. From Hellmer Way, a wave of Jews plodded along the newly-built road to field 5.
Here, the required number, about 200 Jews, were led into the barrack. Women, men and children undressed-naked. Through a short underground corridor they were pushed into trucks, on field 6. When a truck was at 2000 capacity, machine guns were heard. The second group of 2000 Jews came to their dead, and then another shooting. The last group was made up of another 2000 Jewish victims.
Radomer Jews in Majdanek were employed in various workshops. Many died from starvation and beatings, about 50 men perished, women I don't remember the number. Our main preoccupation was to endure the beatings and not to die from hunger. We survived through various means, I, for example, sorting confiscated items; when the S.S. turned their backs, I swallowed diamonds. Polish women came to the camp with building materials, in the feed sacks for the horses they brought packages of food for which I paid with these diamonds.
In April 1944, with the arrival of the Red Army, the evacuation of Majdanek began. In the first convoy were the Poles and Russians. At the end, the survived Radomer Jews. From Majdanek we were sent to Plaszow, near Krakow. In the train several got sick with typhus. When we arrived at Plaszow, we were isolated- in quarantine.
In Plaszow we arrived dressed in pashiakes and wooden shoes.
In July 1944, a group of 100 Radomers were sent to Vielichki to work in the salt mines. They went to work in an underground factory for airplane parts, Henkel-Werk. Women also worked with men at the concrete-works, a total of 400 people worked underground. From these difficult working conditions, lack of hygiene and water, many Radomers died.
At the end of August, the women were sent to Auschwitz. Several days later the men were sent to Mathausen [in Austria].
From the transport that left Radom March 1, about 150 Jews perished in Majdanek, about 100 in Plaszow, and about 20 in Vielichki [Wieliczka].
Translated by Anita Frishman Gabbay
Nusia Migdalek describes:
----------216 Radomer women who managed to survive in Majdanek, at the end of April 1944 were loaded into disgusting freight cars and transported to Plaszow.
In the daytime they worked in the barracks and afterwards, without rest, they were sent to the stone-quarries, to load the stones into the wagons for export. Their hair was shaven. The Kapos beat and kicked the young girls.
For some time the women were employed at the air field, transferring parts from place to place, without purpose, in order to torture them. Exceptional at this work was the camp-leader Hiliarevitch, the woman belonging to the camp leadership.
In June 1944, at the Appell, the women were ordered to undress [naked] and undergo a German medical exam. The Germans wrote down all the names of the weak, and especially those who had a wound.
A week later another general Appell took place. They called out the names of the weak, together with several men and ordered them to the side.
Suddenly we were all ordered to turn around with our backs to the camp, with our faces to the road. The radio speakers started to play Prussian marches, and at the same time all the children were escorted out of the children's' barrack (among them-the Radomer children) and loaded into trucks and sent to the train.
A nine year-old girl, Regina Fishman, saved herself in this instance, by standing on a stool [cot] and looked much older, blending in with the adults.
When the cars drove by, the children started screaming and calling for their parents. The mothers tried to tear themselves from the group to run after the trucks. The S.S. began shooting and some men and women were shot. Others were beaten and tortured on the spot.
The children, with the selected women and old men were transported to Auschwitz where they were suffocated in the gas-chambers.
The remaining people on the platz became crazed and some committed suicide by cutting their veins with razor-knives. Among those that committed suicide was Esterke Sheinfeld of Radom.
With this selection, many Radomers were sent to Auschwitz.
That day several thousand Jews died and about 1500 of them children.
A week later a second selection took place.
All the sick and those that had a note from a doctor; about 700 Jews, were sent to Auschwitz that day.
The administrators of the camp were ordered to provide blood for the wounded German soldiers. Blood was taken from select Jewish girls, half a liter at a time.
The camp administration, in June, sent workers to Krakow for office-work: 5 Radomer women (2 sisters Puterman, Lida Tshasnik, and 2 others). They were elegantly dressed and escorted by an S.S. man and sent to the city. Two weeks later they were returned, escorted to the execution-site and shot. The bodies were covered with wooden boards, benzine was poured and ignited.
At the end of June a group of Radomer women were sent to the salt mines in Vielishki [Wieliczka], where they also worked in the underground airplane factory.
Here they worked together with the men under unbearable conditions requiring impossible strenght. At first their work was to clean the chambers [toilets] in the salt mines, clean the walls and maintain the machinery. When the retreat started, the entire group was sent back to Plaszow.
Hundreds of Radomer women were shut in barracks, surrounded by barbed wire and two days later, after terrible suffering-were transported in freight cars.
The same day a general evacuation took place in Plaszow.
They put all the women and sick into the already full transports, cramming 140 per wagon.
The transport to Auschwitz totalled 10,000 people. Many died on the way due to suffocation and exhaustion, thirst and hunger.
As soon as the trains arrived, the first selection took place in Auschwitz under the direction of Dr. Mengele, and with his lightening speed, sent 2,000 women to the ovens. In this group some were from Radom.
The remainder were sent naked into the bath, next began the shaving of hair, the disinfection and bathing which lasted the entire night. When they went to the apellplatz of the camp, they were handed their clothes [a schmate] and wooden shoes.
Another group was selected in the bath.
August 8, 1944, a group of women met up with other women that had arrived two days earlier from Radom. From the transport of November 1944, 200 women were sent to Stuthof (near Danzig), where they were shot by the Germans at the sea [and thrown into the Baltic Sea from the cliff]. From this tragic transport only the two sisters Liberbaum of Radom survived.
Translated by Anita Frishman Gabbay
On August 13, 1944, 2187 men from Radom arrived at the newly-built concentration camp Vaihingen an der Enz (a branch of Natzweiler-Struthof concentration-camp complex).
It was situated 26 kilometers from Stuttgart, in a muddy valley. From one side-forests and from the other-mountains. It was surrounded by barbed wire and was guarded [on all four sides] by K.Z. guards in watchtowers. This was a camp for men only
No one knew about the fate of the women and children that remained behind in Auschwitz.
The German officials in the Vaihingen concentration camp were practically the same as in Radom, like Obersturmfuhrer Hecker, holding the same position as in Radom, writing reports. Actually, he was the dictator of the camp. Officially, the former head of the Wehrmacht, Hauptsturmfuhrer S.S. Lautenshlager was the director of the camp. The day-to-day functions were performed by the former functionaries from the Radom camp which included the same SS men and others [Kapos], about 200 men; among them, some were from Majdanek and some were run-aways from the Russian front that had arrived in Radom, like Miller, Frick and others.
Also the Jewish leaders were the same as in Radom, with Yechiel Friedman-as the Camp Elder and Dovid Eiger-as Camp-Sribe [records-keeper].
The living conditions were very difficult in this camp. We lived only with the portion of food allotted to us [starvation rations]; 200 grams of bread and one liter of soup. Most of the people collapsed from exhaustion in the first few days. Even with gold [money], there was nothing one could buy. Hunger forced us to search the garbage dumps for peels of potatoes and beets, rotten and moldy, which we devoured raw.
After five days in the camp, a search was carried out, everything was taken away from the internees. Every piece of paper, photograph and money, on the pretext that they were needed to set up a cantina (according to some talk of the SS).
The second search took place in the barracks. The prisoners were allowed only what they wore, that means: the pasiakes [striped-prison uniforms], a shirt and under-garments.
The searches continued. Sometimes at the initiative of the SS and sometimes under the direction of the Jewish Police.
Despite the many searches, some managed to hide photographs of their nearest and also other mementos.
The people were divided into 5 barracks, one next to the other, with 3 story bunks.
The block-leaders were:
Block 1-Leizer BeitlerThe washroom was an open-air latrine and a wash basin in the center of the camp square.
Block 2-Yankel Kirschenzweig
Block 3-Doidek Shapir
Block 5-Itze Rice from Lublin
People couldn't get water or reach the toilets without slipping into the mud [one had to learn the skills of a tight-rope walker, for one could only move around by walking on the narrow boards placed over the mud as bridges]. The first time, when the Jews had their first free half-day (Sunday), they pulled off their shirts [from their bodies] to wash in cold water, without soap; this was after 2-3 weeks when their shirts were infested with lice. Many threw their shirts and undergarments away and remained only with their pasiakes.
The first delousing took place after 3 months. Meanwhile there was an outbreak of typhus. The infirmary, where the head was already known from the Radom camp, the S.S. Skaniechni) was filled to capacity. The doctors Baum and Neufeld were busy until dawn, aided by the sanatorium-worker Gimpel Weintraub and the tooth-technician Zelnicker.
We were allowed to take a bath once every two months. The group whose turn came up, didn't have to work that day. They undressed in the barrack and ran naked 300 meters to the bath, even in the winter. It was a tiny room, normally for 10, but 30 men were packed in like sardines. We waited for a whistle and then the water-faucets were turned on, for one minute; again a whistle, the water stopped.
The filth that stuck to our bodies from rust, cement and paint only got soggy. In these conditions the men became swollen and the lice devoured them.
The main tasks of the internees in Vaihingen was stone hacking, to build a huge armaments factory. The work was commissioned by various German enterprises [e.g. Todt], who provided the machinery, materials and specialists, the workers were exclusively the interned [slave labourers]. The work-places were around the so-called toll. A huge crater in the area, perhaps 10 stories [floors] deep. We had to excavate flat surfaces, tunnels up to 200 meters long, build walls of iron- concrete [?], and on the site of the broken stones we had to build an 8 story building for the factory [underground factory].
The Jewish management of the camp provided the people for the various jobs and shifts. Each group was led by a Kapo who both the leader and commander of the group at the work-site.
The largest group of internees worked at
breaking stone and other difficult labour, like pouring concrete at various heights. One group, under the watch of a German, drilled holes for dynamite. A second group placed the stones on wagons, which another group transported over incredible heights (over dangerous platforms, at head -spinning heights). Besides the building-site, every careless step meant death.
The weak, starving internee fell down with the weight of their heavy cargo. Very often, when the German Engineer or supervisor who was not pleased with a worker, gave him a little push, and he fell several stories, his body shattered to pieces. [The Jews sabotaged the work as much as they could, as a result the building was never constructed, except for its foundation].
This was the fate of the former manufacturer Landau, from Lodz, to whom we must dedicate an extra note: [the circumstances which led to his death] Together with his son, a doctor, they were deported from Warsaw to Treblinka. They were locked in a train-car and decided to commit suicide. The portion of cyanide was sufficient for only one. The father wanted his son to take it, to avoid the gas chambers. The son poisoned himself. The transport was not liquidated when it arrived at Treblinka, instead it was sent on to Majdanek, afterwards to Budzin. From Budzin, the old Landau arrived in Radom, at the armament-factory, after-to Vaihingen. The guilt of his son's death was difficult to endure. The memory tortured him: he would have survived, he would have survived-he repeatedly said.
The shattered body was brought to the camp and buried in a common grave.
Another incident, a seventeen year-old man from Warsaw remained in his barrack with a temperature of 38.5 degrees. We covered the unlucky one, in the evening he didn't receive his portion of 200 grams of bread. The next morning we found him hanging from a towel.
The famine decimated the camp. The Chevra Kadisha [ burial society] was overloaded with work.
In the grounds around the construction site, they grew beets for animal-feed. We dug them up and smuggled them into the camp. Those that ate them got diarrhea and some died. When the owner of the field found out, SS guards were placed to guard the fields. If an internee was discovered in the field, he was shot on the spot. To pick up a small apple on the road meant a severe beating or even being shot.
Bistrovitch from Radom was shot tearing out a beet. They found two small apples in Margolis' pocket and he received a beating until he lost consciousness. He was condemned to death. The execution didn't take place because Margolis died from the beating.
The first victim of the camp was Yeshaya [Isaiah] Firshtman; because of his paralyzed hand he didn't go to work, so they took away his portion of bread. He because crazed from hunger and died about 15.8.1944, on the order of Hecker. The body was carried to the nearby forest to be burned. Besides having to use a lot of wood and benzine, the fire lasted the entire day. In the end, the whole body wasn't burned, and the remains were left there.
When the number of victims increased, the Germans ordered the bodies be buried in large pits (that measured to hold about 500 in each). The pit was kept open until it was filled, then when the gold teeth were extracted and given to the German authority, the dead were buried naked.
The treatment was shocking in the hospital.
Shraga Friedman from Radom had a piece of flesh torn from his foot rom a run-away trolley, by no means could he receive an injection [medication]. At night Friedman suffered greatly and shouted Jews, save yourselves!. Two days later he died in agony.
In October 1944 we heard rumours that Vaihingen was to be transformed into a recovery-home for the surrounding camps. Until now Vaihingen was a Jewish camp-a camp for Radomer Jews.
The defeat of the Germans hung in the air. The Allies were approaching on the Rhine. Construction work stopped. They began liquidating and evacuating the construction materials, which could take several months.
They needed five hundred Jews to leave Vaihingen and go to work in Hessenthal repairing the airport [damaged by Allied bombs].
This was supposed to be a newer camp under the direction of the Luftwafe.
The leaders of the internal administration were assigned in Vaihingen. The highest posts were given to the Budziner with Dzalashinsky as the Camp Elder. Thus, the largest part of the transport was made up of Budziners. (Budziner was the name for the group of 500 Jews who arrived at the armament factory in spring of 1944 in Radom from the Budzin labour camp).
In the meantime Rosh Hashana arrived; among the battered and demoralized Jews they found 130 who wanted to celebrate the holiday. Most ironized: to which God do you want us to pray? To the God of Judas that brought this misery to the Jewish people? To exterminate them with the cruelest of tortures?
To celebrate the holiday in the camp, the group of pious Jews were determined to work the night-shifts and pray in the daytime. During Rosh Hashana they assembled in Shaper's barrack and began to pray.
They found a Tallis and a Sefer-Torah, which Jews managed to save, even throughout all the searches!
Erev Yom-Kippur, they requested from one of the more humane managers, that he allow the Jews from other nearby camps to pray together in an underground tunnel.
He agreed. About 80 men assembled in a rock tunnel, dirty, full of lice and sick, and they wished each other they should never live to see another Yom-Kippur like this one-------from their dead-pale emaciated faces, [muselmann as they were called] red piercing-eyes marking their appearance. At the trolley which served as the Aron-Kodesh [Ark of the Covenant] and podium, stood Ali Braver from Lublin, and with a low voice he davened Kol-Nidrei.
Meanwhile bad news came from Hessenthal. According to an order given by the SS, 550 men were needed in Shoemberg. Whoever was able, tried to avoid this order.
Four days later, 150 Poles arrived, sick and exhausted. They described the living conditions in Shoemberg, working in mud waist-deep, about the beatings, starvation and sleeping-conditions on the bare ground.
In November a transport of 500 Jews went to Unterrexhingen and 350 to Hessenthal. From the previous Radomer transport, 337 internees remained, of which, part worked in the administration [kapos] and the others [German lower ranking officials] in liquidating the buildings.
Sick were constantly arriving. The camp became a hospital, transports arrived from Shemberg [Shoemberg], Schorzingen, Bisingen, Dautmergen, Mannheim, Zandfofen, Helfingen, Leonberg, Kochendorf, Neralgerach, Haslach, Unterriexhingen, Averbach and other camps.
In the beginning of 1945, the camp had 1700 haftlingen, about 350 Jews, mostly Radomers. Most of the sick died. Those, that remained relatively healthy, went to construction-work when the liquidation of the camp began or to clean the debris after the air-strikes.
The wagons were burning- struck by American bombs.
The inmates were required to put out the fires and clear the debris. They returned at daybreak, blackened and filthy, always hiding something under their armpits: one-found conserves in a half-burnt wagon, one- tobacco and one-macaroni [?] (from which we baked pletzlech [kind of bread-roll]and sold).
In February 1945 there was a typhus epidemic. Multitudes died. The camp Doctor Dichman, a Lieutenant from the Luftwaffe, organized a so called Sick-barrack where the severely sick and dying were admitted. They didn't receive any food, there was no heating, and eventually they all died.
In the middle of March 1945, when the Allied Forces entered from the Rhine and advanced rapidly, the SS regime ordered the camp to be evacuated and sent in the direction of Dachau. In a matter of 3 days, 900 healthy haftlingen were sent out.
April 7, 1945, the French Army [#1] liberated the camp and found 837 internees.
People went crazy from joy. About 400 men sick with typhus [and others] were in the hospital. About 80 died in the last 3 days were found lying on the side of the camp, not buried. A French sanitary division undertook the work to revive sick internees and bury the dead. They worked with devotion and generous hearts.
The healthy Jews, Russians and Poles were taken to Neuenberg near Baden. The French military and Dr. Deramex, saved the liberated-souls and nourished them back to life.
From a total of nearly 3000, only 300 from the Radomer transport, arrived at Stuttgart. Slowly other survivors from other camps started to arrive, also those from the Aryan side and from Russia.
In Vaihingen on the hill, not far from the camp, in 3 long shared tombs, 1650 of different nationalities rest. Among them-many from Radom.
In October 1944, a transport of 500 men were sent from Vainhingen to Hessenthal, a camp where the internees worked on the Air-Force Base and in the stone quarries. The airfield was 6 to 7 kilometers from the camp. The work consisted of repairing equipment and cleaning the debris from the bombardments. During a bombardment, when the animals were killed, the mayor sent some rotten meat to the camp.
After 2 weeks, another group of 350 men arrived from Vaihingen, the mortality rate was constantly growing. The healthy ones moved like shadows. The so-called Radzinski's Barrack was implemented for the weak, elderly and sick. No more than 50 men survived from these 2 groups.
In the fall of 1944, from the Vaihingen camp, a group of Radomer Jews were sent to Unterriexhengen, where they were employed to build a landing strip for fighter planes, clean the debris and other things.
The first internees in this camp were the Jews of Radom, the camp was located in a place where the mud never dried. This impacted the internees' health immediately. The largest part of the labour-force were sent to build tunnels in the rocky mountains for an underground factory.
Men fell like flies. More than others, those that worked the night shifts were the most vulnerable. Due to the frequent alarms, the work needed to be done at night.
Almost 300 Radomer Jews found their martyred death here. Only the Kapos and the strong men [functionaries] survived.
In the beginning of 1945, a group of 25 Jews were sent out of Unterriexingen to the underground Airplane Factory in Lunenberg. From the hard labour and torturous beatings, 23 died and only 2 survived to see the liberation.
230 internees were sent to Kochenberg [Kochendorf]-among them 150 Radomers. This hellish camp is remembered by the survivors. They had to dig salt from the mines, half a kilometer deep, where 50 Radomers died. In April 1945 the rest of the internees were sent to Dachau-a five-day journey by foot, without a drop of water. The only food was three raw potatoes. Most of the group died during their March to Dachau [this was known as a Death March].
Dautmergen-Schomberg and Bisingen
Another two camps that were lesser known death camps- Dautmergen-Schomberg and Bisingen, like twins, are the memorial to the Jewish Radomer victims.
Pesach Schpeizman describes Dautmergen-Schomberg:
---------November 5, 1944, 500 Jews from the Vaihingen concentration camp had to transported to another camp, most of them offered to go willingly, as rumours had begun that the conditions will be better in a newly built camp.
Besides the short distance of 80 kilometers, we travelled an entire night by train. Despite passing Dautmergen, 250 men were unloaded in Bisingen. We didn't know their fate until liberation.
We arrived at Schoemberg at night, the gate was opened for us, the Kapos were awaiting our arrival-international murderers. We met internees from Vilna who told us, from the 1000 men that arrived 3 weeks prior, only 400 remained.
People died here in huge numbers. We lived in a horse stables- 700-800 men to a stall, in filth, stench and lice. New transports continued to arrive on the site of these mass graves.
April 17, 1945, we were evacuated in the direction of Bad- [enze]?. The 22nd of April, on the road, in the district of Alt-Hausen, we were liberated by a division of the French Army.
Later we learned they [the Germans] wanted to drown us in the ocean.
The camp Dautmergen-Shomberg numbers:
From 6000 internees, 550 were saved, among them 50 Jews. From the 250 Radomer group, 7 men survived. From 300 Norwegians, no one remained. From 1100 Warsawers (in 1944) about 50 men remained.
Pionki, Oshwieciem, Hindenberg, Bergen, Baumlitz, Ellsing
Sonia Tenenbaum describes:
--------the transport from Pionki arrived in Auschwitz in the beginning of August 1944.
Like usual, they separated the men from the women. Soon after the second or third day, during the Appell they choose the young and meaty women from the Pionki transport and sent them away.
They went to Hindenberg, in Silesia, where they worked in an armament factory.
Conditions weren't too bad in Hindenberg, but during the second week, they were sent to Bergen-Belsen, where most died from starvation, cold, and disease.
In the communal grave of Bergen Belsen many Jewish women were buried, some women were fortunate to be buried with a marker and a name.
After 4 weeks in Auschwitz, the remaining women from Pionki, together with a group from Lodz, were sent to Baumlitz (central Germany) to work in the armament factory.
Foreigners worked here and after 4 weeks the transport was reassigned to Bergen Belsen.
After 6 weeks the Germans selected 750 women for a transport to Ellsing. They told us beforehand,
that the work will be difficult, but on the other hand, they allowed us to take with us our closest (if only we had them!)
In Ellsing our work was to produce explosives (grenades and bombs). The work was difficult and taxed our health, naturally, we had no other choice. The fumes we inhaled into our lungs caused lung-disease or poisoning. At the Appell some fainted.
In the middle of April 1945 they sent us in the direction of Berlin. The Germans, from time to time, gave us some food but nothing to drink. The women suffered from terrible thirst.
At the station there were many transports of soldiers, ammunition and merchandise. Alarms were commonplace and airplanes were flying overhead. April 20, 1945 we heard explosions very close to us. The train station where we stood was bombed. The bombs tore apart our train. Many dead were all around us. Some wagons opened, some of the women were forced to open with their remaining strength, ripping off the boards from the wagons.
Other wagons, loaded with explosives and benzine began to explode and burn. The explosions continued, the smoke and fire was everywhere.
The women didn't know what to do, and whoever could, ran away from this burning hell in different directions.
Nearby was a forest and finally this is where we all fled. In the bombed wagons remained about 350 dead women, about half of our transport.
How tragic was their death, in our last minute before our liberation and by the bombs of our liberators!
We ran wherever we could-to the forest. To a stream for water. We were thirsty and overheated from the fire.
We met foreigners in the forest who helped us and bandaged our wounds.
In a short while, the gendarmes from nearby Sedin [?] arrived and arrested us.
Some of the women managed to hide in the forest, among the foreigners. But most were caught by the gendarmes.
They brought us to Sedin and even gave us soup and bread.
We found out that our commander from Ellsing was looking for [us], his internees.
The gendarmes led us at night through the forest. Luckily airplanes were hovering overhead. It began to rain. We spent the entire night in the forest. Again the roaring sounds of airplanes and large explosions. Before daybreak, we saw that we were alone. The gendarmes disappeared during the night.
Again we didn't know what to do and where to go. We were very scared to fall into the hands of our former commander.
We found out there was a camp of foreigners nearby, and this is where we went.
In this camp the Germans were still active so we couldn't stay here. The foreigners-the French, helped us hide in the forest, soon, soon, everything will come to an end.
There were bunkers in the forest in which we hid. The front was getting closer. Soldiers were running through the forest in panic and throwing away their guns.
About 150 women sat in the forest and starved.
The French and Russians put themselves in danger and brought us water and food. This is how we lived for one week.
When we noticed, that on the second day no one was coming for us, we went out to confirm what was happening. We were informed, the Russians were already in this region the entire day. We were free!...
Vaihingen - Dachau - Tyrol
At the end of March 1945, when the Allies were marching deep into Germany, the evacuation of the concentration camp Vaihingen-Enz began. First 400 men left and 2 days later-a second transport. With them several hundred men. Both transports were sent to Dachau.
The 2nd of April at night, another group was sent out, this time, on foot. The next morning, the last group of 149 men left, also on foot.
The last group included the largest part of the Jewish administration, with Yechiel Friedman at its head.
Together in this group were the staff of the SS, Hecker, Paspeshel, Phill, Gehr, Gevala, Hertzig, Gepharz, Miller. There were barely 80 Jewish inmates from Radom.
The Germans gave the inmates shirts, pashiakes, coats, rubber-shoes, and a loaf of bread.
About 800 sick ,and a few healthy inmates remained in Vaihingen to watch over the sick: some SS and the camp Kapo, Avigdor Kirschenzweig. Actually, Vaihingen was transformed into a hospital.
The foot- transports of emaciated prisoners were accompanied by the SS, on their way to Unterreixhengen, barely dragging their bodies. The provisions and baggage of the SS men were loaded onto platforms, which the inmates were required to load.
In each wagon there was an SS man who was constantly on our backs
In the fall of 1942 I was sent to a work group, loaded into a wagon and sent off further.
The road which usually took 5 hours lasted 6 days, with the airstrikes and bombing of the rail-way lines.
With an air-strike, the SS locked the inmates in the wagons and they [the Germans] hid in the bunkers or in the forests.
We starved for six days. Several men got sick with typhus.
April 9, when the transport arrived at Dachau, many men had to be carried out on stretchers. On the way we saw other transports, also on the way to Dachau.
In Dachau we formed groups of 5 in front of the bath. The Kapos ordered us to undress and leave everything on the ground. Two Kapos did a body search, including our mouths and our private parts, in case we hid anything.
Yacov Leventhal describes:
Our heartache weighed heavily on us, tears poured from our eyes, we believed we were going to the ovens. Together with my poor belongings, here, on the ground, I had to leave my dear Sefer-Torah, which I managed to carry with me throughout my deportations and hide during all the revisions.This is the story of the Torah:
It was found in the concentration camp on Szkolna, in Radom, and the Germans wanted to burn it. It was a small one, 40x30 centimeters, carefully-wrapped. I approached an SS man, as I was a kitchen worker, and I asked to use it in the kitchen for fuel. This is the story how I received it, and with luck brought it to Tomasow. Auschwitz, Vaihingen (and together with Gavriel Bergman, we hid it).
In the bath they poured disinfectant to delouse us. Our hair was shaved from every surface. The water ran for a minute to wash. In the meantime, a second review took place in the bath-house. The Kapos didn't believe that nothing had been smuggled.
We were all registered and received a new number, shirt and pashiakes. We were sent into quarantine (block number 23) and in the dark we searched for our beds. There were already previous inmates in the block. 450 inmates were in the room, which usually held 150; we lay down five on a [plank] bunk.
The misery was great; some lay down in bed and didn't get up. The dead were laid out in front of the barrack for 2-3 days. Meanwhile the block-leaders took their products [food]. Finally, when a large number was gathered, we stuck a paper to the large toe of the right foot. The burning-brigade arrived, put the dead on platforms, head to foot and foot to head, likes pieces of wood, and took them away in groups of 100. The dead were disfigured, breasts and other organs were eaten by mice.
After 2 weeks, on April 21, 1945, we heard screaming in the barrack, Jews out!
Another registration. It was raining and snowing. We were certain, we were going to our death!
Jews are evacuated. They are signed out of the camp, but are not evacuated. They stood in rows in the cold the entire day, without food. The camp no longer took responsibility for their food rations.
In the Apellplatz 2250 Jews were assembled. A doctor and a Kapo arrived, a screening began to see if the men could undertake their journey.
In the dressing room, coats, boots, hats, a blanket are passed out for every 2 men(we tore the blanket in 2 right away), scarves, shoe laces?, a bowl and a spoon.
We hear cannon-ball shooting from the Allies-in the skies-hundreds of airplanes from the Allies!
Three in the afternoon, another alarm: Everyone retreat!
April 22, 1945, 10 in the morning they served us lunch. Then they are placed us into groups of a hundred and led us to the gate. At the gate we received 25 deca bread and a piece of sausage and then the columns were led to the train.
On the platform a train with passenger-wagons awaited us. To our amazement, the internees are ordered to get in. Rumours spread that the Jews were going to Switzerland, which the Germans disseminated. In fact, the plan was to make the Jews believe, as they were given clothing for their travel and a passenger-train in which to travel-it makes one believe that our rescue was close-by
We begin to enter the wagons, instead of 8 to a wagon, they pack 19, under the watch of the SS men.
The indescribable crush of people caused the weak to die in the first day.
A wagon arrived to unload the dead and weak, making it easier for the others.
The train stood still until April 27, the locked-up Jews didn't receive any food. Germans arrived in the evening and gave us a 4 kilogram package from the Red Cross. It contained: cake, sugar, honey, cigarettes and other things.
The inmates ravaged the food. This events also strengthened their belief that the transport will go abroad. That same night the train began to move.
In the early morning the train arrived at Munich, the city was bombed and was burning. The train continued on, the tracks were blocked with military trains.
Shabbat, April 28, 1945, after a 3 day trip, the train stops at the station of Seerfeld [Zeerfeld], in Tyrol, where we were unloaded.
The Sturmfuhrer orders an Appell.
Many dead were unloaded from the train cars.
He says to the crowd: The train will not go to Innsbruck as the bridge was destroyed, the following 25 kilometers you will travel by foot. Each one will receive 25 grams of bread and 25 grams of margarine. We will spend the night in the mountains, 4 kilometers from Shefeld
We lined up for our rations, it was snowing lightly.
Suddenly a motorcycle with a military man of a higher rank appeared, glanced at the undernourished, full of lice, sick, bedraggled and overgrown mass, and asked who was in command of this band. We told him he was eating lunch in the nearby villa. He ordered us to call him. The commander of the transport arrived shortly and the man from the motorcycle told him something and then he left.
The internees stood on the square of the train station. From the balcony of the station, the commander spoke to the people:
--"Please calm down! My dear Jews! the war is over! You are free! You can go wherever you want!The people were overcome with madness-joy! We cried and we laughed, threw our arms around each other and we hugged and kissed!
A Hungarian Jew went mad from joy!
Jews took the weapons of the SS and played with them.
The command was now comprised of old Wehrmacht people [retirees], which had been transferred to the ranks of the SS and they also celebrated; they wanted to return home.
But, despite the joy, there were some people who wanted revenge.
The commander again appeared on the balcony.
He announced to the people, everyone should take bread, 5 packages of margarine, a slice of cheese. And says, from here, Jews will be taken to Switzerland and the Red Cross will send you home, to your wives and children
People in the square start taking measures when suddenly an SS man shows up, with a murderous voice yells out. The SS gathered their weapons and surrounded the group.
The SS yelled: this was false news! The war continues! You are still in captivity!
We started to climb the mountain. We had 4 kilometers to go. People were demoralized and resigned themselves to the fact that their lives were over. They had suffered enough-some lay down quietly in the snow and died. The others barely dragged their feet. We slept in the abandoned buildings.
A car arrived on the second day, the mayor from Innsbruck stepped out. He spoke to the commander and said that until now, Innsbruck never had any interned, and doesn't intend to do so now. He will not allow them to enter the city and they must turn around.
Without a choice, frozen, exhausted, the internees returned to Seefeld. We were pushed into the coal-wagons which then started to move. After two and a half hours, the train stopped in a hilly region. It began to snow, we were pushed into some kind of hole. The water was flowing under us, opposite, up above, SS men with machine guns were waiting.
It seemed, the SS men were waiting for their order, meanwhile the inmates were lying among the stones in the snow, awaiting their death.
Suddenly a car from the other direction arrived and a young German woman disembarked. She said something to the Sturmfuhrer, took away his automatic gun. She made an impression that she wanted to join in the shooting of the Jews.
Eventually they both got into the car and left. The higher ranks of the SS disappeared and in the distance we saw the most beautiful sight .
High on the mountain, something was being chased, back and forth a storm was brewing.
In anticipation of our untimely death, we discarded everything-what did we need anymore?!
A suspicious stillness crept over us.
A certain young man, Sperling, started climbing the mountain in the direction of the highway to find out what was happening. He returned and said the S.S. personnel were burning their notes and documents in preparation to depart.
No one believed him. We yelled at him that his climbing the mountain will bring us all a great misfortune. Again, Sperling climbed the mountain and for a period of time we didn't hear from him, finally he appeared holding two suitcases with food and clothing.
The half-humans, with renewed strength, proceeded to the highway.
There were no SS men in sight, only a car remained with some provisions and crates.
A group of 8 men decided to go out and explore [the conditions.] After some time we heard shooting. Six people appeared on the highway, two were shot.
A German soldier appeared, with a revolver in his hand and asked, what are you doing here? Why aren't you going to the Americans who are stationed 4 kilometers from here?-he ordered us to go right. He maintained the order here, whom he will meet from the left side, he will shoot.
A group of 50 men, with the engineer Pshigada at the lead, decided to continue on the road. After several hours they arrived at Mittenwald.
There was a great commotion in town. The Germans were packing their belongings, not detaining anyone. Pshigada continued to lead the group to Garmisch. On the roads, bullets were flying, bombs were exploding.
They approached the German position. This was the night of April 29-30, 1945.
The German officer, to whom we were approaching, confessed, he thought, we were there to offer help he told us to turn around and to wait in the mountains for several days, it will not last long!.
The internees returned to the mountains to hide in the [barns], behind them were the American, in front, the Germans.
Tuesday, May 1, 1945, figures appeared, far on the horizon; engineer Pshigada went to investigate. An hour later he returned carrying a heavy sack on this back, a crate of conserves and threw them on the ground and said three words:--we are free.
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