Rabbi Israel Shapiro
by Leibel Richtman
Translated by Anita Frishman Gabbay
Rabbi Shapiro was not a Radomer. In 1940, when the Germans chased the Jews out of the town of Przytyk, where he served as rabbi for many years, he and his family came to Radom and rented a house on Grotzka 11.
This house served as a spiritual refuge for rich and poor. Every evening they met and heard from the rabbi's mouth a lesson in Gemara and Musar.
Rabbi Shapiro was born in Garvolin, near Warsaw, in 1802, to his father, the Admor Alimelech Shapira, a grandson of Mogelnitzer [Mogielnica] scharf Rabbi Hayim Meir Yechiel and of the Kozhenitscer Maggid.
During the Pshitiker events he called the youth to self defence. in his house the meetings of the defence committee were held and no single decision was made without him. After the events, he addressed the Jewish community in America to help the Jews of Pishstick whose livelihood was ruined due to these events.
His days in the Radom ghetto were spent with Torah and work. He was a spiritual educator for all the youth who yearned for a Torah word or a line of Gemara or chumash- rashi.
Not once were his doors shut with the seven locks or having to run to hide from the SS bands, who were catching people for work and were beaten to death.
He comforted everyone, that with the power of the faith, one deserves to see Hitler defeated and see the renewal of Zion and Jerusalem.
Unfortunately, he was not entitled to this. Together with a larger part of his family, he was murdered.
Two sons and a daughter live in Israel.
by Lea Pines
Translated by Anita Frishman Gabbay
In my lifetime I knew many noble and bold women, but seldom can we find a woman with such ethical qualities and sparkling energy as in Felicia Horowitz, the wife of the gymnasium director.
She was not only a devoted mother to her son, but to many orphans. She was an educator and teacher for hundreds of children. Before the war she conducted a modern kindergarten. Even then, she excelled in boldness and energy, but in the ghetto everybody wondered about her actions and bold deeds in order to protect the children from war-induced suffering.
She was the headmistress of all the children's homes. She organized milk drop stations and she worried about the smallest things.
She poured her incredible resources into organizing the social work in the Glinicer ghetto, after the large eviction she was overcome with emotion in the small ghetto on Swarlikowska, which the Germans turned into a labour-camp. The mothers weren't able to take their children to their work. The children were left in the ghetto without supervision. And here appeared the noble figure of the woman Mrs. Horowitz, who gathered the children in a home Swarlikowska 20, opened a children's home and arranged for their everyday needs. She also devised a plan for lectures, plays and other things. This was all done secretly.
Thanks to her personal example she was able to attract more women and even men to help with her work.
She was everywhere and looked after everyone. She did everything with a smile on her face and with honor. She comforted everyone and for a while they forgot their tragic suffering.
I remember one time, sitting in her room, we
suddenly heard shooting. Despite the danger, she stood up immediately and ran to calm the children.
Not long, was she destined to do her holy work. During the well-known Purim- action, at the Shidlovzer cemetery, the beloved Felicia Horowitz perished.
Before her death, she managed to save her son and also the son of Genia Gutstadt--Ali.
Her son later died during a later deportation.
Ali Gutstadt and his mother are now in Israel.
by Sarah Neidik-Wallach
Translated by Anita Frishman Gabbay
In the fall of 1942, when he arrived at the work camp A.P.L, he was only seven years old. A happy and smart child who endeared himself to all.
All day long he went among the tables in the long, large tailoring shop and gathered the remnants of fabric. This was his job.
His mother told how she managed to bring him here. He was previously in the Wolonower ghetto, which had previously been considered a better place for children. But one time all the children were collected and sent away. Dovid'l hid for three days among the bushes and nobody knew what happened to him.
He returned when he was certain that all was clear, that they were not capturing children any longer.
He suffered with all of us. In November 1943, in the Blizin work camp, another action against children took place, Dovid'l was not among them. His mother hid him under the floor-boards.
Several days later, when the camp director Stormtrooper Nel, his name should be erased, saw him, he asked him why he didn't travel with all the other children, Dovid'l answered:
I didn't want to make my mother sad.During the entire hearing Dovid'l remained bold and worthy. Only when he returned to his mother, his tense nerves were exhausted, and he went into spasmodic episodes.
Dovid'l was sent to Auschwitz with his elder brother and assigned to a block for men. During a selection in the summer of 1944, Dovid was taken away. He, like every other grown up, knew exactly where they were taking them. He gave his brother his last portion of bread and said:
--"take this bread, I will no longer need it.
by M. Stashevsky
Translated by Janie Respitz
Moishe Mendl's was born in Radom, went to Heder then studied in Yeshiva, in gymnasia, was involved in communal work, was active in the Zionist movement, go married and lived a dignified life until
he received the following order:
You must appear at the specified location and take over the leadership of a rescue group the details are with the chief commandant at the mentioned location.
This was September 1st 1939 at 2 o'clock in the morning. Moishe said goodbye to his family and left for the central health insurance fund where he immediately took over a unit of 16 people (only Jews) with all necessary rescue equipment. While the city president Gzhetshnarovsky was ending his few cut off words about German soldiers there was the noise of a squadron of German airplanes and right after, a few loud detonations.
Bombs were falling on different parts of the city. The mood is becoming more and more tense. Telephones do not stop ringing asking for help. The gas mask factory on Skarishevska is burning.
People are falling victim: People are dead at the train station. The young shoe manufacturer Korman from Lubliner Street was killed by a bomb on Dluga Street. The amount of casualties is rising: Teitlboym from Kirshnboym's coffee factory, Efraim Melkhior's eldest daughter and her husband at 7 Voel.
A wave of German steel spreads across Poland in the air and on land. Hundreds of Nazi airplanes fill the sky and thousands of tanks on the ground.
They bring with them death and destruction.
England and France hurry to help declaring war on Hitler. But this is of little comfort. No actual help arrives. Heavy battles are fought on all borders. The Germans throw wave upon wave of military with the best equipment. The Polish army puts up a stubborn resistance and retreats.
Many Radomers fall at the heroic defense of Vesterflate (Danzig).
Events hasten with dizzying speed. Unrest and tension rule the population. The distress among Jews is doubled, tripled. Etched in their memory was the Rathenau assassination, the burning of schools in Germany, the expulsion from Zbanshin.
In Radom they were digging zigzag trenches. They besieged all the stores and grabbed all they could: flour, salt, sugar, kerosene and matches.
An order came, Moishe and his rescue unit were on their way to the airfield.
Bombs burned the hangars and buried the pilots.
It was impossible to approach. Everything was burning.
The Zwolen highway was filled with giant bomb holes. The air attacks are more frequent and daring.
Radom lies within a triangle: Skarzhiska Radom Pianki (once Zagazhdzhan) with the military ammunitions factories, gases and explosive materials.
Squadrons fly without stopping dropping bombs and distributing their cargo among the cities.
The officer Khaim Elentzveyg was one of the first killed in the bombing of Pianki.
The central radio station in Warsaw stopped working. Newspapers stopped arriving. Therefore all sorts of contradictory information increases the panic.
The chairman of the Jewish community, Yoineh Zilberberg, came to the city elder (Starosta) requesting reliable information. The elder asks him to calm the Jewish population and explains that help will soon arrive. 800 English airplanes were approaching the Polish border.
At night they opened the gates of all the prisons and let out the prisoners.
The weapons factory payed its 8000 workers for three months and told them save yourselves.
The postal workers and police ran chaotically to Lublin.
Moishe and his unit were among the last to leave. All the others, the commanders, military personnel and doctors disappeared long before.
He managed to buy a few horses and a wagon and at night, the 6th of September escaped the city.
Besides his family he took Hershl Dantziger and his wife, Moishe Yosl Taykhman and his family and Yosef Zanger and his household.
The amount of people increased as they travelled with the dental technician Bresler, Leyzer Yome's and two other Jews.
According to the order given by Warsaw city's president Stazhinsky, tens of thousands of people headed east. The lucky ones travelled by bus, trucks, rovers, wagons. The majority travelled on foot.
The night of September 6th in Radom was like darkness in Egypt. It was dark in the streets, in stores, in houses. From time to time bombs lit up the sky.
Zwolen Road was a moving forest of human shadows: men, women, children, horses.
Moishe saw Reb Mendl Horovitch walking with his prayer shawl and phylacteries and took him onto his wagon.
Rabbi Kestnberg passed by on the packed truck from Gotlieb's brickyard.
The Rubinsteins from the foundry were on a freight wagon. People pushed their way on the crowded highway and arrived in Zwolen.
The defeated Polish army was mixed on the highway among the civilian population.
A few hundred metres from them German troops were shooting at the highway. The panic was growing. People, horses, cars one chaotic mass.
It gets quieter and people push through. Moishe hurries the horses without stopping until the Vistula Bridge in Pulov. The Miracle on the Vistula does not happen. They step over dead people and horses, they climb over the bridge and meet Hendler from the tannery Ludovika.
Moishe was miraculously saved. He arrived in Lublin half dead and hoped to rest and falls into a real hell.
The Polish government personnel, military, police, and postal workers all ran to Lublin. However the German airplanes were faster, for death and destruction. Moishe also received his portion. A bomb split the house at 18 Shviento Duska Street in two, where his family and almost everyone travelling with him were staying.
The fire claimed 17 lives and only by chance the entire group from Radom survived.
They continued to run and a few days later arrived in Zamosc.
There were dead and wounded in the city. A truck arrived from Lodz with 40 people. The well known glass
manufacturer Birnboym stopped the truck and got out to buy bread. When he returned a bomb struck burying almost everyone.
Moishe hastens the horses further. Cannons are shooting. The Germans have crossed over the San in Pszemyshl, leave Tomashov Lubelski and are marching toward Lublin to meet the army which is coming from the other side of the Vistula.
Polish military in the forests near Hrubiyeshov meet the Germans with artillery fire. The battle lasts four days and the Polish military is destroyed.
Participating in these battels was the Radom officer Fridman (the former Latin teacher in the Gymnasia Love of Knowledge). When a large portion of the military was defeated, the soldiers and under officers asked officer Fridman to surrender. He refused. When the requests were insistent he said: Rip off my officer's badge and do what you want! The soldiers went out with a white flag. Fridman left his unit and through back roads arrived in Radom then crossed the border to Brisk.
The Stalin Ribbentrop Treaty brought about suffering and troubles for the Jewish population along the Bug. Everyone tried to leave this border region as quickly as possible.
Moishe crossed over to Kovel where he found many people from Radom. From there, through Brisk to Vysoke Litovsk. Also in his car were the doctors Korman and Borenshteyn, Moishe Kmielazh, the tanner Bukhman with his family and Avrom Fuks. In Vysoke he had his sister Gitl and brother in law Khaim Hirsh Kirshteyn, both doctors.
Vysoke was swarming with refugees. There was no space or bed available.
However, Reb Yakov Elye Rabinovitch, the manager of the synagogue showed an example of welcoming guests. He gave all 4 rooms and old beds to the homeless. The entire length and width of the floor was occupied by Jews, familiar and total strangers from Seidlitz, Mezerich, Warsaw, Radom and everywhere.
It would happen that Reb Yakov Elye would go to sleep and not know how many people he would wake up with.
Strings were hung from one wall to another where baby's diapers were hung to dry. Food? Why do you ask? Take!
Moishe met Aron Rozenfeld from Radom on the street.
I was sent here to take over the administration of a school. They told me I can find a place to stay at Yakov Elye's.His brother Dovid, Leyzer Gutshtat and his son also found place at Reb Yakov Elye's.
In the name of the United Socialist Republic you are being arrested. You have 20 minutes to pack and come with us.This is how an officer from the N.K.V.D greeted Moishe.
This was Friday, June 30th 1940 at midnight in Vysoke - Litovsk.
Moishe and his family lay in the horse drawn wagon together with another one thousand arrestees. They rode and rode-----
They were sent to one of the most remote corners of the Soviet Union where the snow rules for eight months and there are three months of white nights.
In Katlas, the connection station to the Far East, Moishe met Leo Finkelshteyn and his wife. They sat on the sand for 48 hours waiting for their connection.
The white nights prevented them from sleeping and the mosquitos bit so much, their faces were swollen.
They were loaded onto a cargo ship and continued to travel.
They were already sailing a whole day and night.
Suddenly they heard someone mumble a Hebrew prayer: Blessed is the name of the Creator now and forever.
Very early in the morning, Jews gathered on the roof of the ship wrapped in prayer shawls and phylacteries and recited the morning prayers.
Moishe was overcome with a shudder and felt something was tearing apart within. He stood in shock and wondered about the courage of these Jews: they were praying into the mouths of lions!
They unload the ship. The journey took 4 days. A young man in his twenties threw himself into the water.
Two brothers set out, one arrived.
Another 2 thousand were added to the twenty odd thousand prisoners. The area was large. There was enough ground for everyone.
Thousands were actually lying on the ground, covered by a cloudy sky and rain as if especially ordered by the N.K.V.D.
Wagon number 2! Wagon number 3! we heard the N.K.V.D. personnel shout.They loaded people into trucks and continued the journey.
There were no people, no names, just numbers and that's it!
Four kilometres from Siktivkor, the capital city of the Komirepublic. There were police all around aiming their rifles.
Among the masses Moishe recognized a young man from Radom, a tailor from Zhabiye Street. He was recently married and he and his wife were on their Honey Moon.
Moishe's wife spoke Russian well. With tears in her eyes she asked a captain from a boat that just arrived to take her family with him.
He was looking for certain specialists. To where? That was not important as long as they got out of this hell.
An hour later Moishe and 10 other families were in the village Zatan Kranski Vodnik where everyone was working repairing ships.
Two months later Moishe received permission to settle in the capital city Siktivkor.
It was a dark night. A horrible rain and strong winds accompanied Moishe and his son home. They look for shelter jumping from one ruin to another.
Mister they hear a trembling voice call out.The shadow approached. He asked them in Polish a name of a person in the region. During the day he left his wife and child behind and now he cannot find them.
Gavriel! Moishe called out.When he heard his name Gavriel cried from joy.
Oh, woe is me, who are you?
This was Gavriel Vaysman.
By accident Moishe received Leo Finkelshteyn's address. He was thrown into a labour camp which lacked even minimal living conditions. Moishe sent him a bit of food. Meir Kleynman, Finkelshteyn's brother in law is in another concentration camp.
The battles on the western front continue as the German soldiers push forward.
Moishe carries the newspapers every morning to the newspaper vendor and receives a Pravda (Russian newspaper) for a nominal price, 20 kopeks instead of 3 ruble. However he also has to briefly summarize the important news for this woman as she cannot read.
What is this photograph of? asks the vendor.Moishe explains that the picture is of a reception in Berlin for the Soviet foreign minister Molotov. You can see in the picture a table filled with tasty food. They don't feed you for nothing she decided.
June 22nd 1941. The radio announces the triumphant entry of German troops into Soviet territory and the air attacks on various regions of the country.
This news causes chaos and in a few days everything disappears. There is no more bread on the free market, no potatoes, no cigarettes, nothing.
Polish refugees receive some comfort:
News about a signed treaty between Shikorsky and Stalin.
The gates of the concentration camps open a flood of refugees inundate the city.
People begin to search for family, friends, acquaintances. Moishe asks and learns about people from Radom spread out through the length and breadth of the Soviet Union.
A young man in a pair of cotton pants with laced up woven shoes on his feet, bearded, hangs out outside Moishe's window. He walks by once, looks in, leaves and returns again.
Motek! Moishe shouts out to him.Motek Birenboym wants to run in.
Moishe stops him at the door. He hands him some clothes, sends him to the municipal bathhouse and asks him to burn his old rags. Later, they sleep together on the same floor and share their experiences.
I asked Hershl Zaydenshnir to come to you with me. We received your address from Kleynman in the camp. But he went to the family of Bukhman, the Radom tanner.The next morning Moishe and his family were lying outside. The proprietor came in during the night drunk, kicked the door and said: Get out of here!
This was their punishment for allowing someone to spend the night.
Professor Kat was chosen by the Polish government as ambassador to the Soviet Union. His seat was in Kuibyshev. Delegations were opened in the big cities with trustees under the leadership of a chief delegate. Help began to arrive from America for Polish Jews, clothing and food.
A Polish army was created on Soviet territory led by General Anders. It did not last long. The Stalin Shikorsky treated was anulled, the delegations were closed. Anders and the Polish army left the Soviet Union en route to the Middle East. Many Jews arrived this way to the Land of Israel.
Meanwhile Jews wandered here from place to place and news began to arrive about people from Radom, for example Moishe Rotenberg, the lawyers Fenigshteyn, Kosay, Meyzels, Leyzer Fishman. We learned about a group from Radom who went from the Archangelsk region to Kzil Ordo (Tashkent region); Moishe Yosl and Kalman Taykhman, the brothers Fishl and Nokhem Fishman, the son of the famous Zionist
activist in Radom Mordkhai Leyb, Yakov Banker, Hinde whose maiden name was Danzinger and Avrom Rozenberg.
Mendl Vaynberg, his son in law Zigmunt Venger with wife and child were at another place.
We were not permitted to have any addresses on us so we continuously repeated the names hoping to meet one day, chat and make plans for the future.
The following doctors and their families were sent to Novosibirsk region, Kadishevitch, Levin, Kelervorm, the lawyer Kurtz, Judge Kayler, the Goldbloom family, the engineer Tentzer and Yanos Rubinshteyn.
Mrs. Olga Levin, the well know WIZO activist found a way to do communal social work. She was chosen as the leader of 150 workers, men and women.
The engineer Tentzer became well known and very popular thanks to his invention which had great importance during war time: how to extract oil from wood.
Some of the above mentioned went with Anders' army to Persia and from there, to the Land of Israel.
Greetings Reb Avrom! Come in and warm up with a bowl of hot chicory.Avrom Fuks warms his hands on the bowl, sips, sighs, and takes a puff of his cigarette and tells us of his experiences from the day he was arrested in Brisk at his son in law's, the lawyer Kotler. Now he is working as a night watchman at the combine.
Times are becoming worse and more difficult. Leningrad is surrounded. Difficult battels at Stalingrad. Word is spreading that the other night a few families were arrested and sent even further away: to Pietshora, Varkuta.
The High Holidays are approaching. Until now we didn't even dream about praying. On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur we worked like on every other day. But today we feel an inner impulse to be together with Jews and ask, or maybe shout: Why!?
The next day we have to go to work. We want to say Kol Nidre together. A Polish Jew risked his life. At night he carried his bed out, covered the window and 40 Jews filled his room. They come slowly, one by one not to, God forbid, raise any suspicion from those passing by.
Inside it is so crowded we could not breathe.
A soft voice begins to recite the prayer. Soaked in his own tears he continues.
We are not praying, (there is no holiday prayer book). We are not crying (out of fear). We mumble quietly. Few words, a sea of tears. We want to storm the heavens but
Quite, quieter Reb Mordkhai. You will bring tragedy to us all Quietly the door opens. Moishe's son comes in frightened:
Someone is waiting for you at home. He is dressed in civilian clothes and asked me to get my father The chaos increases. The suppressed cries grow louder. Eyes fill with compassion look at the pale Moishe: another family to be sent away.
Moishe squeezed his son and thought: Maybe someone said something? Words slipped out?
One thought followed the other. His heart pounding, tears were choking. He entered the house:
Hello he said in Russian.They sat at the table. The stranger asked questions and Moishe answered.
Nice to meet you was the reply.
He answered everything quickly, distinctly without thinking for long. He feels his nerves won't last. One more minute and he'll fall apart. Then he asks:
Will you drink tea?Moishe's wife borrowed the nickel Samovar, placed a few wood chips under it and the guest continued to talk. He did not stop talking and does not allow anyone to say a word. He wants to know everything.
Suddenly, boom! The samovar exploded.
Form all the excitement they forgot to pour in water
Never mind, never mind, we'll manage without tea. Today is Yom Kippur we really should not drink. Kol NidreAfter the annulment of the Stalin Shikorsky Treaty, Wanda Vashilevska appeared on the arena, a Polish writer. A Polish military division was created named for Kashtshushko. They begin to assemble a Polish government.
Kol Nidre? Yom Kippur? How do you know about this?
I'm a Jew from Minsk, an engineer. I came her for a short time. They told me a Jew lives here so I came in. it's Yom Kippur, I want to be among Jews,
At the same time they create the Association of Polish Patriots and later, a committee of Polish Jews with Dr. Emil Zamershteyn (the former chairman of the Jewish deputy section of the Polish Sejm) at the helm.
According to a treaty with the Polish authorities, Polish citizens
are transported from the northern regions to the European part of Russia.
Leo Finkelshteyn and Moishe were brought to Kherson. Avrom Fuks, Motek Birenboym, Teneboym (the eldest son of the nail manufacturer) to other cities in Ukraine.
Kherson, the beautiful city was partially destroyed. This was once a Jewish centre. They say there were once 19 synagogues. Today, not one. The synagogue buildings have been transformed into cinemas, warehouses and public schools.
In a school for professional education you can see the Stars of David on the window panes. A mezuzah still hangs on the door of the public library.
The library has belonged to the Communist party for 25 years and the mezuzah has remained
The Jews of Kherson have started to return. The reception by their Christian neighbours is far from friendly.
The non slaughtered Jews have returned.The High Holidays are approaching. With great effort they receive two rooms from the authorities to pray.
Due to Moishe's initiative, a campaign is launched to raise money among the Polish Jews. They renovated the two rooms, build an ark for the Torah, a table, benches and even make a curtain to cover the ark.
Kherson also faced a bitter fate. Ten kilometres from the city is a grave where 9 thousand Jews were mercilessly shot.
On the Eve of Yom Kippur about 100 Jews went to the grave to pay their respects. A few Christian women whose Jewish husbands were murdered there show the way.
Leo Finkelshteyn gave an eulogy followed by the prayer for revenge which practically tore open the heavens.
In February 1945 the Committee of Polish Jews in Moscow asked Leo Finkelstheyn to come and take the position of vice chairman. Later, when the terms were set for the Congress of Polish Jews, Moishe also went there as a delegate from Ukraine.
The main task of the Congress was to work out a plan for repatriation of Polish Jews in the Soviet Union back to Poland. Participating in the Congress, among others were poets, writers, and actors like: Moishe Broderzon, Efraim Kaganovsky, Ida Kaminska, Meir Melman, Rokhl Korn, Avrom Sutzkever, Rabbi Surotchkin and others.
Leo Finkelshteyn chaired the Congress and gave the main lecture.
The following greeted the Congress in the name of Soviet Jewry and the Yiddish writer's union: Dovid Bergelson, Itkik Fefer, Peretz Markish. The Polish ambassador, Professor Raabe was also at the opening.
Cantor Moishe Kusevitsky's rendition of El Maleh Rachamim (the prayer for the dead) moved everyone to tears.
Among other things, it was decided at the Congress to send a delegation of 4 men to Poland to make the preparations for repatriation. One of the delegates was Moishe.
A very important position in the Polish Embassy in Moscow was occupied by Marek Tchekhanovsky. He was one of the top 3 secretaries.
On February 2nd 1946 the delegation arrived in Warsaw and immediately made contact with the Central Committee for Polish Jewry which was headed by Dr. Emil Zomershteyn and Pinkhas Zeltisky from Radom.
Not everyone was lucky enough to survive the Siberian taigas, ancient forests and other dark hinterlands where they died from hunger and cold, disease and hard labour.
Spread out over the large Soviet Union you can find countless graves of Jews from Radom.
We don't know about all of them. But the ones Moishe knows are mentioned here with deep sorrow. They are: The musician Itche Bakman, Yakov Banker, Mendl Vaynberg, Zigmund Venger, Hershl Zaydnshnir, Nokhem Fishman, Yitzkhak Kosman, and Dr. Shlaferman.
Itche Bekman's mother Soreh, never recovered from this tragedy. She later went to her older son Shimon, a musician in the Zurich Philharmonic, and died there.
Moishe wandered around Praga trying to find transportation to Radom. He needed to walk the streets of his hometown and see everything with his own eyes. The only means of transportation were trucks with names of cities on them. Finally he sees a truck with the words Warsaw Radom. He ran to it and remained standing: a full truck with passengers from Radom but not one Jewish face.
Moishe turns around and wants to leave but hears this announcement:
Leaving for Radom!He instinctively jumps into the truck and leaves for Radom.
The passengers look at him and one asks:
Are you going to Radom?[Page 372]
Yes, to Radom.
Are you from Radom?
Yes I am from Radom.
Voytchekh, you sit in his place and let him in, in the corner.
Thank you.My heart was being squeezed.
Deeper, Mister, deeper. Just like that, last week a wagon was stopped and a Jew was pulled out. between Gritze and Bialobzhegi and from a distance we heard shots. What a pity for this guy from Radom.
Every minute was dangerous. There were thick forests. Who was lying in wait?...
The road looked so long and the dial on the clock, sluggish.
We passed Tartchin, Gritze, Bialobzhegi. We are approaching Yedlinsk, beyond the forests. It is a bit lighter. Moishe sticks out his head and takes a deep breath.
It is safer here says his neighbour. Here the boys don't bother anyone.After an interruption of 7 years, Moishe is back in Radom.
It is late in the evening. The truck stops on Warsaw Street, near the Razmaytatchi Theatre. Moishe goes into Yoshe Den's. They hug. They lock the doors. The windows are covered with sheets of metal. They begin to recount, recount
Moishe wakes up. It's too early to get up but he cannot lie in bed any longer. He is excited. He gets up and quietly closes the door behind him.
He goes into town. The court house the post office the church
He turns left and continues toward the Rvaynska where Warsaw Street crosses Lublin and Voel Rvaynska Streets. He looks around and discovers nakedness, the great tragedy that befell the Jews of Radom.
Here, in the Jewish business centre there is not a single Jewish face.
He goes in deeper. There are no longer any shops. Everything has been transformed into apartments. The droshkies have been brought here from Warsaw Street. They are no longer standing on Voel in their prayer shawls and mezuzahs. We no longer see the women selling lemonade and candies. He does not hear the shouts: Hot bagel! Boiling hot!
He does see Jews on their way to the House of Study. No one is reciting Kaddish, the prayer for the dead. Everything, everything, is destroyed. Only the pointed stones remain. If only they could talk and tell us what happened
None of the other streets look any better.
True, all the businesses have remained where they were. They are open and almost all have the same merchandise as they did before the tragedy.
The sellers? They are no long the Zilbershteyns, the Rozenblums, the Danzingers, the Tenenboyms, the Tzukers, the Naydiks.
Moishe cries his eyes out. He runs to the train station. He stands there for a while taking in the town with his eyes and leaves her forever.
Radom was a large bustling Jewish city and no longer.
by Yakov Vayngort
Translated by Janie Respitz
When I returned to Radom at the end of January 1945 I met 200 Jews, mainly those who returned from Russian regions. Leading this small community was a committee comprised of: Leshtsh, Boym, Pshedbarsky, Landau, Ziserman and others. The chairman was a partisan called Obsler who was sent from the central office in Lublin.
I was invited to the meeting which took place soon after my arrival and I was elected director of the office for social aid.
I also devoted myself to Zionist work and arranging religious matters.
At that time there was no House of Prayer in Radom. The former synagogue and House of Study (which were German warehouses during the war) were taken over by the Polish authorities. When we turned to the Polish city president in protest and demanded an explanation his reply was that the synagogue and House of Study were greatly damaged and were too dangerous to use.
I then asked the president to share with us the location of the former House of Prayer at 9 Zheromskige Street which had belonged to Jews but his reply to this request was also negative. The residents of the house, Poles, presented a written protest against organizing a Jewish
Prayer House there. I however, would not let this issue go and went to Colonel Rabbi Kahana to intervene. (We received from him, a while later, 10,000 zlotys for religious purposes). Rabbi Kahana went to the ministry and brought a written order to the city president of Radom for him to immediately give the Jews that location for a prayer house.
Exactly at that time, the chairman from Kielce, the lawyer Kahana was in Radom as well as the engineer Boym. They took interest in this matter.
The city president sent us to a certain Turk who lived in that house and rented it out as an entertainment hall. When the Turk was made aware of the matter he promised us he would give it to us as soon as possible.
Meanwhile the Jewish population was growing. We had 1,198 Jews registered whom we helped get settled. For this purpose we received financial aid from the central office in Warsaw.
A few individuals with professional education received long term loans to help set up workshops. Those passing through received between 50 -150 zlotys. Those who remained in town longer, received up to 500 zlotys.
The location of the pre-war Ezra was now a holding place for new arrivals.
I was successful in organizing a kitchen which gave out a few hundred meals a day.
A tailor and cobbler cooperative was established at 50 Zheromskigo Street.
There were 2 doctors and one dental technician.
The Jewish communal organization was now situated at a large nice place with 9 rooms at 45 Trauguta Street.
Jewish life began to revive.
One bright nice day, an injustice occurred, the first slap: Saturday evening, returning home after closing his shop on 21 Zheromskigo Street, Eliezer Gutshtat was shot in his home by an unknown murderer in front of his wife. The murderer also stole valuable items. *His mother, Pesia Gutshtat who emigrated from Stuttgart to America, came for a visit to Israel in 1961 to visit her grandchildren and died in Jerusalem.
It is worthwhile to mention, the Polish neighbours who were in the yard, for the most part, did not react to the screams of Gutshtat's wife and let the murderer leave quietly.
Gutshtat died on Tuesday at 11 o'clock in the morning. In order to bury the first Jew killed after the war I went to the city president who gave me a permit to bury him at the old Jewish cemetery.
At the same time I received from him a written document which stated the Jewish cemetery will return to Jewish hands. It was an empty, neglected place. The Germans broke the tombstones and used them to pave the streets and build roads. The Polish neighbours took the bricks from the wall and built a plum jam factory.
The first murder shook our small community, yet it was considered a robbery.
Two weeks later there was a second murder:
The Jewish representative of the investigation judge was murdered. He was known as Balek.
The circumstances were characteristic: the murderers entered his house and shot him in front of a few Poles, his friends, who were visiting him at the time.
People said one of his co- workers killed him. The specific characteristics of this murder were blatant.
The Jewish people were now afraid: two Jews killed in a span of two weeks! Was a black cloud descending once again on the small cluster of Jewish survivors in Radom? Some Jews began to leave town.
In July 1945 the well known appeals appeared in Radom signed N.S.Z which threatened Jews with dire consequences if they did not leave Radom by the end of August.
We even found a package of these appeals at the gate of our committee.
At the same time gangs emerged which would attack Jewish homes and rob them. Jews kept their homes boarded up and only let those familiar in, or those who knew the password: Amkha (Jewish or one of our own).
It did not take long for the bandits to start using the password Amkha when they carried out their attacks.
This is what happened to the Tzina family at 8 Rvaynska Street. The robbers knocked on the door and when questioned, responded Amkha.
Saturday night, between 10 and 11 o'clock there was another murder at the cooperative. The tailor Tankhum Gutman was there at that time as well as the young couple Elye Gutman and his wife, only 4 days
after their wedding and a Jewish Soviet soldier.
The victims were found slaughtered in a pool of blood, with their mouths stuffed and hands tied.
Their valuables and money were not taken.
We buried 3 of the victims according to Jewish law in the Jewish cemetery. The Soviet Jewish soldier was buried with great fanfare by the Soviet authorities in the Russian cemetery.
People started to leave town in a panic. On all roads you saw some with packs, others with bags, all running to the train station. Monday morning when I went out to Trauguta Street and saw the migration tears welled up in my eyes and I cried like a small child.
It was clear to me that I too will soon have to leave the place I was born and raised for good.
After a few weeks there were only 200 Jews left in town who were also preparing to leave. They walked around despondent.
In October the sixth murder took place. The victim was Aron Hendel. His sister in law, Khane Hendel was wounded. A bullet tore off two of her fingers. She was home during the attack holding her two year old child in her arms.
According to the circumstances it was a robbery.
After the robbery, when the robber wanted to leave, it became dark in the house for some unknown reason. Three or four shots were fired from his revolver.
After the last murder there were only a few individual Jews left in Radom.
I remained until the end of November and then left everything behind and left my birthplace for ever.
(Reprinted from the journal In Freedom which was published in Radom Centre in Stuttgart, 1946-47).
by Chana Margalit- Grodzinski
Translated by Anita Frishman Gabbay
The most tragic of events was the fate of those who passed through all seven gates of hell, who had been miraculously saved and from whose mouths erupted the song Anu Olim Artza-we are going up to our Land with song [a Zionist song of hope]-- but blood-thirsty animals disguised in human-bodies preyed upon these innocents and murdered them in cold blood.
This is how my sister Reizel was murdered, whose motivation her entire life was to immigrate to Eretz Israel. Going to Austria as an emissary of the pioneer movement, hooligans threw her out of a moving train.
My sister had a zest for life, happy and cheerful at each occasion. I-used to tell her-you live on vitamins called Eretz Israel.
In 1944 she was sent to Auschwitz-and from there for hard labour in Czechoslovakia.
When we were fortunate to survive the end of the war, we left for Radom to search for survivors of our family, but as we entered each house we encountered gentiles.
We ran away to Austria and waited in Lintz, for out turn to make Aliyah.
My sister was active in the Hashomer Hatzair movement.
In November 1945, she and other emissaries went to a gathering of the movement in Bad-Gastein, Austria. On their return trip, they accidentally entered into a wagon where Nazi hooligans were sitting. Her friends went to look for a more comfortable and unoccupied wagon. Reizele however kept her seat.
Arriving in Lintz they went their separate ways and nobody noticed that Reizel was not among them.
After a nine-day search, a witness was detained by the train police, in the night of November 28, 1945, a young woman was run over. As they didn't find any documents on her (it seems that the murderers robbed her purse with her money and documents) they sent the body to the Christian cemetery. With the help of the Joint, we, December 14, 1945, brought her to the Jewish cemetery in Lintz.
(From the book 'People Under Cover' soon to be published)
by Binyomin Elis
Translated by Janie Respitz
My mother's sister who I was living with that summer in the Garbatke forests woke me from a terrifying dream.
You are in the forest with your children! Your husband will come tomorrow for the Sabbath! she claimed, stop screaming!I lay there quietly but my heart was pounding as I saw and heard in my dream my great aunt who had been dead for many years. I had never seen this great aunt in a dream before, and she said they will take away my husband, there will be a great war and children and old people will not be permitted to live. Then she took me to houses where all the walls were shaking and were beginning to collapse.
Disturbed by this dream I wanted to go home, but my mother's sister, not knowing anything about my dream laughed at me:
You believe in dreams? she asked. When your husband comes tomorrow he'll laugh at you.A while later, through a bit of light, I looked at my sleeping children and Etl, my mother's sister asked me to tell her about my dream. I was embarrassed to tell her because earlier she laughed at me.
I did not tell her anything but within, the dream did not let me rest. I kept wondering why my great aunt told me: children will not be permitted to live and will they take away my husband?
The next morning I anxiously awaited the hour of his arrival. I went to the train station trembling, hoping our Sabbath will not be disturbed. My heart was pounding from fear. Other women who were waiting fro their husbands sensed my fear and asked:
What happened to make you so anxious?Soon we heard the oncoming train and I squirmed waiting to see if he was on the train. Luckily he arrived and I kissed him so wildly he became suspicious and asked:
Did you miss me so much?My silence surprised him. When we were almost in the forest, at our summer place, he realized I had not asked him about his week at work.
You don't ask anything? When I come for the Sabbath you always ask how my week was at the shop, today you don't ask me anything at all?I responded that soon he will know everything. Auntie Etl will tell him everything. My husband became curious and told me he suspected something from my kisses.
Do you ever have a wife! Auntie Etl began to say as soon as she saw him. At night she dreamt a fairy tale which I could not get out of her! She only wanted to go home! This is you smart wife, believing in dreams!My husband laughs and I am ashamed. I won't speak about it. Let us enjoy the Sabbath. That Sabbath in the forest was a happy one.
Saturday night I was struck by another horror. I want to go with him to the city. I told him it is the anniversary of my father's death and I want to go to the cemetery, to my father's grave.
Why all of a sudden your father's grave? asks my husband.He sees he will not accomplish anything and assures me he will take care of everything. He will go to the cemetery and pay someone to recite the memorial prayer. It would be better for me to remain in the forest and forget all my dreams. In order for me not to even consider the fact that he might not do what he promised he said our twelve year old son should go with him.
I sent my son with him. Both leave. I remained with my two little girls but I can't get the fear of that dream out of my heart.
My mother's sister sees that I am once again uneasy and asks if I am still bothered by the dream?
I burst into tears and told her everything:
There will be a big war, my husband will be taken away and I will be left all alone. Children and the elderly will not be permitted to live.I told her I don't. Auntie Etl became pale and frightened by my answer and told me that when I return home from our summer house I should go to Auntie Reileh's grave, ask for forgiveness and make a donation for her soul.
Do you ever think about Auntie Reileh during the day? she asked.
Don't forget to go to Auntie Reileh's grave! she told me many times when she accompanied me a few days late to the train station.When I arrived in Radom I did not go straight
to my house. Went to my shop where there was also a workshop to repair bicycles and sewing machines. I found my husband with greasy hands repairing a sewing machine.
What happened? Why did you return from the forest?A few days later righteous men from town married off their grandchildren. People ran through the streets to see the wedding. My husband and I also went. On the way I went into a small shop and bought a large package of candles. I remembered Auntie Etl told me to make a donation for the deceased's soul. I took the candles and money and went into the Rebbe's house and gave them to the beadle. We stood and watched the crowd celebrate. When the first song was played, I started to cry.
Itele is not well I pointed to my youngest child, I had to come home.
My husband took me out to the courtyard which was packed. Boys were sitting on roofs and ladders while they placed the wedding canopy under the open sky. Women and girls were holding lit candles in their hands.
When the ceremony was over I went home in a condition as if I experienced something terrible. My neighbours wanted to call a doctor, but I did not want them to.
That was a sad night. It was the saddest and last night with my husband.
At five o'clock in the morning there was a loud noise and screaming in the streets. My husband and I went to the window. We saw a stampede of men and women. My husband grabbed his pants and wanted to go out to the street to find out what was going on. When he unlocked and opened the door a stranger was standing at the threshold.
The stranger handed him a paper which said in one hour he had to present himself at the barracks.
Weeks later, early one morning, German tanks rumbled through the streets. A Jewish boy appeared in my shop and asked me to take pity and save a few Polish soldiers from death. They were hiding. I immediately grabbed some work clothes as well as my coat and a woman's dress and went with the boy to the hidden soldiers. I gave one an overcoat, one a rain coat, one a woman's dress helping them all not look like soldiers.
Then I saw Germans taking prisoners who were asking me for bread. I ran to get bread wanting to give it to the prisoners, but two Germans grabbed me and said:
Are you a Jew or a Pole?I did not answer and went to see where they were taking the misfortunate.
They took them to the barracks. This continued day after day. I stood by the barracks hoping to see my husband among the prisoners.
In September 1942 I was among 1,800 Jews who were still in Radom. They brought us to a few streets and boarded up the streets with planks of wood.
On the third or fourth day I was assigned to a group of men to clean the houses of those who were sent away. We found a child almost everywhere we entered. There were children aged one, two and older who were hidden by their parents who were certain if they showed their work papers they would be able to return home. In the end, all those parents were sent away.
The Germans learned about these children and gave an order to bring them all out to the street.
We brought the children out believing that someone would care for these orphans, but a great terror occurred before our eyes:
A German approached the children, grabbed one by his little feet and banged his head against the wall. A second took another child a tore him in half. When the bigger children saw this they began to scream. By this time the Germans did not waste time and shot them all.
God! I cried out, How have these children sinned?When the Germans heard me yell God they wanted to shoot me too, but a man explained to them that I was angry with our God and one of the Germans shouted in laughter:
You Jews have a God? You have not had a God for a long time!A closet opened in my friend's house. A couple appeared with eyes wide open, barely whispering:
Have the Jews returned?[Page 377]
Where is my daughter? asked the man. We heard people speaking Yiddish so we come out of the closet.
I stood with the others in fear as if we were in a cemetery and saw corpse emerge from their graves.
But we quickly figured out the situation. We immediately took the woman to work to save her life. But the man with the beard? We looked for a scissors to cut off his beard. He began to cry: Why had God not taken his soul before cutting off his beard?
We explained that cutting off his beard will save his life. Since we could not find a scissors we wrapped his face in a kerchief.
We were afraid. We were counted and now there were two more people. We took a risk and they came to work with is in the other houses.
In the other houses we encountered another sad scene: a two year old boy is sitting and his lips are saying: Mama, Mama!
We was weak from crying. He had not had anything to eat or drink for a few days. I looked for something for him to eat and everyone said to me:
Why are you trying to feed him? If you don't give him anything he will die today which will make things a lot easier for him I had the idea to make this child look like a bundle, tie him with a string a place him over a shoulder. Everyone refused to take this bundle.
Suddenly one of the murderers appeared. I told him I don't have anything to wear and want to take some things home. I then asked if everyone could take a bundle home.
Everyone took a bundle of clothes, and I took the child.
When we entered the ghetto everyone with bundles went first. I was one of the last and was trembling as I watched the guards check the packed clothing. What would happen if they did not like my bundle? But the guards lost patience searching. I went in safely with my bundle. We were also able to bring in the Jew with the wrapped up face and his wife as it was a different guard than in the morning when we left to work.
However when I arrived in the ghetto and unpacked the child, he had no signs if life. There was a doctor among us who quickly ran to his house to give him an injection.
When he saved the child's life people began to worry: the child was there illegally. It is forbidden to have a child I said: today they killed so many children and this one survived to be with us. God will help!
I went to the cell and made a bed for the child. He was so scared he allowed us to do everything. He lay in the cell as if he was born and raised there.
Mama he whimpered, Mama.The child's whimpering reminded me of my own two children. Who knows if they were taken from their work in the barracks and sent away? And if not sent away, perhaps something worse?
This thought consumed me. I went out to the street to ask people who worked in different places. Just as I'm about to ask I see a group coming from work. They are carrying someone. Everyone runs to see who they are carrying.
He's still alive! I heard someone say, He will soon die!Then a boy recounted that today an S.S man beat this boy so badly he's been fighting death for a few hours. The S.S wanted to bury him but the Jews promised they would return to the ghetto and take care of it. Now they were waiting for him to die and then they will bury him.
I made my way to him and want to see his face. When I saw his face I wailed:
Binek! Is that you? Bring him into my house!Everyone consoled me as if I've gone mad. What is she saying? they said, Binek is dead, these are his last minutes
Only my cousin came to help me. He carried the dying Simkha Binem Katzman into my house. Then we undressed him, I ripped up old underclothes, pieces of a shirt, soaked them in water, and as big as he was, wrapped Binek's skin in wet rags.
A doctor arrived, the same one who saved the child. He gave Binek an injection. I sat beside him and pretended to be his mother, Khane Leah.
Having been married for eighteen years she did not have a child and there was nothing she wanted more. Her husband went almost every week for advice and she pleaded with God: she would be a beggar and go from house to house if only she could feel the taste of motherhood. This went on for eighteen years. Then, when she became pregnant and gave birth to a boy, her anxiety was indescribable. When the midwife came to bathe him, they covered all the windows. He was not circumcised until he was three months old. No stranger saw him
for an entire year, and when he got older and wanted to play in the yard with the other children, he was protected from evil.
And now? Where are his parents to watch over him?
So I sat with him and described his home and the great joy his birth brought to this world. And what did this world do for him?
And then he opened his eyes and I asked:
Are you better Binek?He nodded his head yes. I made tea and gave him some to drink. He drank and I was happy. I called the doctor again. The doctor said it was late at night and he could not do anything. If Binek can speak in the morning and his hands and feet were not broken he will see what he can do.
Who is he that she's crying so much? asked the doctor.He left and told me that the whole night he should be wrapped in cold compresses. I protected Binek with compresses all night long.
In the morning Binek began to say a few words, incomprehensible. He move my face to his face he wants to kiss me for saving his life.
You are young I said to him, you will outlive these murderers. You are only nineteen years old. Don't worry, I'll be your mother.Later, when Binek was able to stand on his own two feet he went with a group of young men to work in a weapons factory in Radom.
I raised this boy illegally for months. I took to the ghetto hospital which had two rooms and a few beds.
Keeping a child is forbidden Miss Shpayzman explained to me. However, the nurse arranged it.
by M.D. Gisser
Translated by Janie Respitz
|To the wedding in Radom
No one was invited.
Only Germans, genuine murderers
Were represented there.
Side by side with the Ukrainians
Giant lamps shining bright,
With a curse and a whip,
No wine was poured
Nobody was spared.
Form the rooftops outside the ghetto
And delighted by this night play
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