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[Page XXV English] [Page 417 Yiddish]

A Ghetto Diary

by Joseph Goldstein, Australia

Translated by Joseph Goldstein, Australia and Miriam Leberstein[1]

September 1, 1939: In the grip of nervous tension and still hoping that we might emerge from the Nazi menace with only a fright, the news that the Germans had attacked the Polish border early this morning hit us like a thunderbolt. The war that I so feared has unfortunately become a reality.

September 2, 1939: It turned out that the Polish government, despite its loud patriotic outcry, was far from prepared for the unequal contest with Germany's huge mechanized war machine. Disorganization reigned in the military, as well as in the economic realm, which cannot provide the material means necessary to wage war. For example, there is already a shortage of gasoline. Refugees from western Poland are already streaming into town.

September 3, 1939: In contrast to the incompetence of the military, the Polish tax authorities became very active in extracting from the Jews all kinds of taxes, even those that had already been paid a year in advance.

September 4, 1939: The local school authority issued a public announcement declaring that its normal operations would continue. This is evidence of the stunning stupidity of governmental agencies in failing to understand the military situation.

September 5, 1939: On Tuesday, September 5, the town was bombed, and the bombardment struck down the first Jewish victims, from the family of Majer Kohen (Iwansker) of Dleshniakesuga Street. This evoked turmoil in town, and the majority of the population is running away to the woods, fields, and the like.

September 6, 1939: Today, Wednesday, a big fire broke out, beginning on Łazienkowska [Bath] Street and spreading as far as the Magistrat [town hall].

September 8, 1939: During the night of September 7–8, the German army marched into town without any resistance. The scattered Jewish population lives in terror, afraid that a great repression will soon begin.

September 9, 1939: One by one, Jews begin to return to town. The Germans permit them to return to their homes, do not detain anyone, and even engage in a friendly chat here and there. People are pleasantly surprised. We begin to think that perhaps all the reports about German brutality are just propaganda.

September 10, 1939: Today the Germans began to inflict small vexations and public insults against the Jews. They carried out nasty pranks, especially in the barracks, and showed what they are capable of. The pranks and most of all the insults hurt, but people got the impression that things were not as terrible as we had imagined, and we would probably be able to come to terms with the situation.

During the High Holy Days and Sukkot, Jews still gathered to pray in private prayer groups.

First day after Sukkot: Immediately after Sukkot, the infamous Nuremberg laws concerning Jews were proclaimed. Among these, Jews must give up their businesses, houses, and property and must not possess more than 150 zlotys in cash.

October 26, 1939: Today the first German police posts were established, headed by the experienced SS officer Commandant Braun. On his third day in power, they arrested five of the leading Jews in town, detaining them as surety for the keeping of order and the “good behavior” of the Jewish population. These were Efraim Zyngier, Jechiel Najman, Symcha Szwarc, Itchele Rozenman, and Bencjon [Bencjon] Rizenberg. They were freed after great effort and the payment of a large cash bail.

November, 1939: During the first days of November, the Landrat [District Council] in Opatów appointed the first Jewish community council consisting of the following: Jechiel Najman, chairman; Efraim Zyngier; Herszel Goldberg; Lejbus Sznifer; Herszel Winer; Alter Band; Dr. Kirszenbaum; and Josef Kestenberg. Their formal title is Yidisher Eltestn Rat [Jewish Senior Council], later called the Judenrat. Jechiel Najman soon gave up his leadership position, and the council named Efraim Zyngier to replace him. Zyngier carried out his difficult, responsible job until the last day of existence of the Jewish community in Staszow, November 8, 1942, when he became the first victim of the German mass murder.

 

The First Kontributsie [monetary contribution or levy]

November 25, 1939: On Saturday, November 25, the Eltestn Rat received a harsh and threatening order to turn over to the German powers a contribution in the amount of 200,000 zlotys. If they failed to do so, the Germans threatened, all Jews would be expelled from the town. Given their economic situation, the Jewish community was terrified by this colossal sum. The impoverished community was in grave danger of not being able to raise the money. The Eltestn Rat quickly called together a larger group of people who had been active in communal affairs. After internal discussion, they divided the population into categories, according to the individual resources of each person. The required sum was raised by 2 a.m. on Sunday.

On Monday morning, November 27, three members of the Eltestn Rat delivered the contribution to Sandomierz. It should be noted that there were irresponsible people, even in such a difficult time, who left the town that day in order to avoid paying money, despite the fact that they thereby endangered the entire Jewish community, including themselves.

 

December 1939

Not a day passes without a decree against the Jews. Among these, in early December, all Jewish residents over the age of 10 were required to wear an opaska, a white band with a blue Star of David, on their left arms. Failure to do so is punishable, as usual, with death. Incidentally, the name of the Eltestn Rat was changed to Judenrat at this time and remained so to the sad end.

This month the first Jewish refugees arrived from Kalisz, having been forced by the Germans to leave their homes with a half–hour's notice, leaving behind everything they owned. A few days later, an even larger group of refugees arrived, having been driven out of their homes in Łódź.

In order to provide food and shelter for the refugees, most of whom had nothing but the clothes on their backs, the Judenrat called a meeting of a larger advisory group. Chairman Zyngier called on the population to do whatever they could to aid their unfortunate brethren. At this meeting, they established a Relief Committee to work with the Judenrat consisting of the following: Izrael Band, Maniek Band, Josef Dunajec, Chaim Frydman, Motye Floderwaser, Rojza Fuks, Szlomo Graf, Sima Hengieltraub, Fajwel Hautman, Mendel Lipszyc, Lejbus Lipszyc, Dawid Sznifer, Mosze Aron Sztalryt, Chana Winer, Izrael Wajnberg, Rachela Rozenblum–Fefer, Aron Mosze Rozenblum and Josef Goldsztajn.

Thanks to the energetic and devoted work of the Relief Committee, the refugees were dispersed among the local population, which provided them with a room or two, mostly voluntarily but many only under pressure of social opinion. The refugees were also provided with dry clothing, subsidized by the Judenrat.

January 26, 1940: Today the Judenrat, with the assistance of the Relief Committee, opened a communal kitchen, located in the Hasidic besmedresh on Rytwiańska Street, where as many as 400 refugees were fed three times each day.

January 29, 1940: Today an expedition of 150 SS men arrived under the leadership of Obersturmführer Wosmann, with the objective of liquidating Jewish businesses and in general confiscating and robbing Jewish property. Each day the group conducted intensive searches, and whatever they discovered–textiles, clothing, leather, shoes, furniture, jewelry, and so forth–was taken and shipped to omnivorous Germany.

Poles and Volksdeutsche from neighboring villages, such as Sielec, Grzybów, and Przeczów, near Poleshniakesaniec, aided the Germans in these looting actions. With their extensive knowledge of local hiding places, their denunciations, and their theft, they played quite a large role in the suffering and repressions visited upon the Jews. The Volksdeutsche in Jędrek's gang from Sielec were particularly well known for their brutality. They stormed through the town spreading suffering in their wake until the beginning of May. Meanwhile, the Judenrat was forced to provide the SS expedition with all the necessities.

March 1, 1940: Between the growing number of refugees and the increasing impoverishment of the local population, the leaders of the communal kitchen were forced to expand the number of meals for the needy. By March 1, more than 600 people, refugees and local poor alike, were using the kitchen. In order to cover the great expense this entailed, a monthly payment was imposed, which the still more or less well off Stashover Jews paid regularly and with a sense of responsibility.

[photo caption: The communal kitchen in the Hasidic besmedresh]

May, 1940: After the SS gang left, the town was visited by a new affliction. A company of the forest patrol, the so–called leshniakes,[2] occupied the area and began tormenting the exhausted Jewish population. Although their assignment was to deal solely with matters related to the forests–with which the Jews had absolutely no connection in wartime–they were eager to participate in beating and robbing Jews and did so wherever and whenever the opportunity arose.

Erev Shavuot, 1940: At 10 a.m. on the day before Shavuot, an official of the electric company ZEORK,[3] accompanied by two officers from the Forest Military, came to the Judenrat office demanding that it pay 2,200 zlotys for electric service that had been provided to the military pavilion during the time the SS stayed there. When Chairman Zyngier daringly replied that the Judenrat was obliged to carry out only the orders of the District Council, the enraged forestry brutes attacked the Judenrat members, especially Mr. Zyngier. They beat him badly, took him away, and later took him to Iwaniska to the High Commander of the leshniakes to stand trial before the military court. Dr. Kirszenbaum and Mr. Goldberg of the Judenrat quickly followed them to Iwaniska and intervened, and Zyngier was released after great effort and the payment of a bribe.

July 1, 1940: On July 1, the Work Administration in Ostrowiec issued a decree ordering the Jews to perform forced labor. The order stated that every Jew over the age of 15 was obliged to work two days a week for the German authority in town. The Judenrat was obliged to organize a Jewish work authority.

July 15, 1940: On July 15, the Ömler Road Construction Company began operating in Staszow. The local division was headed by experienced murderers, led by the tyrant Schtitzler.

The Jewish workers authority was forced to provide workers to Ömler for construction of the Autostrasse No. 5, which passed through Staszów. In addition, the work authority, with the assistance of the helpless, tormented Jews, carried out various improvement and repair projects in Staszów and vicinity. Among these were drying out the swamps in Radzików, on the road where Nachum Garber once lived, up to the so–called Cholera Cemetery.

[photo caption Captured Jews are rounded up to be sent to the work camp in Bychawa near Lublin.]

Friday, September 9, 1940: Today there occurred the first Aktion [operation or raid by the Nazis] to capture Jews and send them to forced labor in concentration camps.

At 9 a.m., the town was surrounded on all sides by SS men, gendarmes, and regular military, and the hunt for Jews in the streets, houses, attics, cellars, and elsewhere began. The 260 people who were captured were held an entire day on Targowa [Street]. Twenty of them were released for medical reasons, and the remaining 240 were sent the same evening to the concentration camp Michów (Wielki?) near Lublin. Izrael Gula (Fajga Rachela's son–in–law) and Berisz Broner, son of Jeremiasz and Pua Broner (granddaughter of Rochel the Baker), died there. They were the first Staszów victims of the camps. The others were released in December after 3 months of forced labor under the most difficult conditions.

End of September 1940: At this time, the German District Council in Opatów named Magister Suchan as mayor of the town, to replace Raczyński, who had been arrested and sent away. The new mayor soon demonstrated his criminal intentions. Every day brought new decrees terrorizing and blackmailing the Jewish population, until the last day of the Holocaust.

Here is an example of his “accomplishments”: One Thursday, he used the town bells to summon the Christian residents to incite them against the Jews. At the same time, he ordered the firefighters to destroy the wall of the old Jewish cemetery in order to create an open pathway from the market through Bóżniczna [Synagogue] Street to the Bleshniakesonie [commons]. The Poles dove enthusiastically into this “holy” work.

October 15, 1940: A day before Sukkot eve, a group of gendarmes led by the Volksdeutscher Karl Tirene arrested Lejzor Brendzel (Garber)[4] and locked him in a separate cell in the town jail. After torturing and having their merry way with him, they finally hanged him. The next day at 7 a.m., the jail guard declared that Brendzel had hanged himself.

Stubborn rumors circulated that the crime was incited by the town secretary, Cukierski, a neighbor of the murdered man, who had long sought a way to get rid of the Jew and his tannery. This was just one more demonstration of how hopeless and anarchic Jewish life was in such a hostile environment.

*

Meanwhile, days and weeks passed. In that atmosphere of fear and vulnerability, the Jews had to put up with persecution not just from the Germans but from Mayor Suchan as well. He was always locking someone up in a dank bunker and threatening them with eviction from their home in order to extract large sums of money from them, especially so–called “soft money” (dollars).

June 1941: This month the District Council in Opatów ordered the establishment of the Jewish police, called the Ordnungsdienst.

(Original English version begins here)

December 30, 1941: There are posters in the streets that from January 1, 1941, no Jew may leave Staszów without the permission of the district council in Opatów. Every Jew found outside the limits of the town after that date will be shot.

This decree has gravely affected the Jewish population, which lives by trade with the surrounding villages. When this economic branch is cut off, many Jews will be left without the means for living.

January 6, 1942: In accordance with an order issued by Governor General Frank, the Fur Action was begun from today. Every Jew at once had to hand over all his fur garments to the Germans, otherwise he was in danger of the death sentence. The collection point of the contributed furs was in the Jewish community building, at the Judenrat offices. The order was carried out punctually, in spite of the bitter cold of winter all round. Several Jews in the neighborhood who were found in possession of furs after the above–mentioned date were shot. One of them was in Ostrowiec.

January 15, 1942: From today no Jewish business may operate except under the supervision of a German, a Volksdeutscher, or a Pole. That is the new decree that has been published.

All businesses and factories in the entire region have been placed under the supervision of the Trade Association of Radom District, whose chief commissioner is Kurt Harry. The sources of livelihood of hundreds of Jewish families in town have again been cut off at a single stroke. The gendarmerie and the Polish police have immediately undertaken to carry out the order. This action has been headed by the Volksdeutscher Jędrek from the neighboring village of Sielec.

February 1942: This month the notorious Von Maloschki, that trained tyrant and sadist of the Hitler school, has begun to take charge in Staszów. Until now his place of residence was at Tarnów near Kraków. Von Maloschki arrived for the first time with his assistant, entered several Jewish shops, and took whatever goods he felt like taking. Anybody who dared to ask anything was murderously beaten by him and shot in many cases. Later, this person often appeared in Staszów and savagely terrorized the Jewish population, always taking valuable things. One Friday, during market day (before the war, markets used to be held on Mondays and Thursdays, but the Germans changed this and fixed Friday only as market day), this Von Maloschki arrived and took the wares of three hatmakers: Lejbel Flajszhakier, Welwel Cymerman (Gila), and Jeszaja Podeszwa. Von Maloschki compelled the hatmakers to hand over the rest of the goods that they had at home. He sold the cheap wares to the peasants of the surrounding villages at dirt–cheap prices and took the better goods to Tarnów. The pillaged Jews were thoroughly thrashed after having been robbed of their possessions

March 17, 1942, Tuesday, 10 a.m. : Von Maloschki suddenly arrived in Staszów. On Krakowska Street, he came across two Jews from Mielec who had run away from their town after the extermination action, which had taken place ten days earlier. The murderer took the two unfortunate men to the Golejów Woods, gave them rifles, and ordered them to shoot into the forest. He photographed the scene to show how Jews shoot at Germans in the woods. After that he beat them murderously, ordered them to dig graves, and then shot them. This took place near the home of Bublik the forester.

Von Maloschki came back to town, became thoroughly drunk, and began attacking passing Jews. First he caught hold of Lejbus Blum, beat him thoroughly, and wanted to shoot him. But Blum managed to run away. To make up for it, the next man was a victim. This was a certain Lichtensztajn, a refugee from Warsaw who fell into the hands of the drunken murderer and was shot by him. The news of the murderous hooligan quickly spread through the town, and Jews vanished from the streets. These first victims warned everybody that an extermination action was approaching in Staszów. The action took place on the last day before Passover 1942, so that the entire Jewish community passed the festival in a state of terror. That was actually the last Passover celebrated by Staszów Jewry.

April 1942: The extermination actions among Polish Jewry are growing worse. Bad news [lit.: “Job's tidings”] keeps arriving about actions of this kind, which have already been carried out in the larger towns of Poland. Poverty in Staszów is growing from day to day. Anybody bringing a little food in from the villages is shot. The Poles are denouncing the Jews to the Germans when they catch them on the road.

The first victim of such a denunciation was the 19–year–old daughter of Herszel Bezem of Stodolna Street. The girl stole out of town and went to the village of Dobra near Staszów. Two Poles caught her, and she was handed over to the German gendarmerie. They shot her at once.

June, 1942: The Judenrat received an order to send 100 “volunteers” from Staszów to the ammunition factory camp in Skarżysko–Kamienna. The Judenrat immediately drew up a list of 100 young men and women from among the poor segments of the population and refugees who had come to Staszów. During the night the Jewish police rounded them up and sent them to the designated place, providing them with work clothes and a little money. At the time, people thought that they were being sent away to work, but later they found out that Skarżysko–Kamienna, while it was a work camp, was a hellish crucible that extinguished many thousands of innocent Jewish lives. Several Stashovers later told of the horrific acts that were carried out in the cursed camp departments A, B, and especially Z.

 

The Decree of the “Ghetto”

June 15, 1942: Notice was served that a ghetto had been proclaimed for Staszów's Jewish population by order of General Frank. A Jewish quarter had been decided on and prepared by the Polish mayor, Suchan. The ghetto was called Dzielnica Żydowska [Jewish Quarter] and included the following streets: Zleshniakesota, Dleshniakesuga, Krótka, Stodolna, and Bóżniczna [Synagogue], as well as Górna and Dolna Rytwiańska Streets and Łazienkowska [Bath] Street as far as the tanner's place. All the main streets, as well as the Rynek [Market Square], were to become clear of Jews.

July 1, 1942: The two sections of the ghetto were closed off by a gate on Krakowska Street next to the house of Rivele Trina's and Bencjon Rozenberg. The Jews of the two ghetto sections were permitted to meet for two hours a day, from 10 to 11 in the morning and from 3 to 4 in the afternoon.

The Jewish police took care that the order about closing the gates of the ghettoes was strictly observed. Jews might go about in the ghetto until 6 p.m. only. After that, any Jew who was still in the streets was arrested by the Polish police, who took care that nobody should be late getting home. A very small proportion of the Jews remained in their homes. Most had to move to the restricted area of the ghetto, where they lived crowded together under the worst sanitary conditions.

At the same time, Mayor Suchan, helped by denunciators, terrorized and tormented many Jews, extorting money from them without a break.

The same was done by the gendarmerie, police, and a Volksdeutscher from Sielec named Jędrek Dressler. They used to enter Jewish homes by day and night and pillage all the belongings they wanted to.

One evening in August 1942, Panter the gendarme came to the home of Herszel Witenberg (Herszel the Glazier) and shot him without any reason, claiming it was because he caught him baking a couple of loaves in the oven.

Other Jews also perished in the same way at that time. Jews were afraid to appear in the streets of the ghetto even by day. Many were brought before the district court at Opatów for black–market trading, slaughtering a cow, or preparing a skin for sole leather illegally. Some of those arrested were sent to Auschwitz. This was what led to the death of Mrs. Pesa Witenberg, wife of [Ruwen] Zala Witenberg, Towa Feldman–Szternszus, Basia Kirszenwurcel, and Judel Szmajser, for preparing a piece of leather. The same fate befell Anulewicz, the refugee from Radom, who undertook the responsibility against pay of engaging in illegal work at the tannery. All were sent to Auschwitz. As I found out later, Anulewicz was saved from the furnace. Nothing more was heard of the other banished people until the liquidation of the ghetto.

August, 1942: Two Volksdeutsche named Richter and Strecker came to Staszów with the intention of setting up a workshop to manufacture clothing for the German military. They had received a permit to do so from General Frank and called upon the Judenrat to provide tailors and other craftsmen to carry out the project. Rumors spread that anyone working in the shop would be spared from expulsion, so it is not surprising that people did anything they could to be hired as workers in the shop. The Jewish police began to collect sewing machines for the shop from among the Jewish population. At first, they would take a machine only from people who owned two, then they took them from people who had only one, thereby denying them the means to earn enough to feed themselves.

The two German “entrepreneurs” weren't satisfied with the free labor (the Judenrat paid for everything). They also exploited the Jews, taking their valuables in return for being employed in the shop.

The shops were located in the large buildings of the Jewish public school, the besmedresh and the Gymnasium [academic high school].

The Jews hoped that the existence of the shops would enable them to avoid a tragic fate, even though they had already heard the bad news about the Aktionen conducted in Radom District (Kielce Province), which portended that danger was approaching.

September 11, 1942: This was Friday, Eve of the New Year 5703. Jews did not go to selichot (midnight penitential prayers), first because they were afraid, and then because they did not have any place to go since the synagogue and house of study were to serve as workshops. So everyone recited selichot at home.

About 10 a.m., a lorry full of SS men stopped in front of the house of Jechiel Milgram on Krakowska Street. They carried out a search of his business, although a Polish commissioner named Sleshniakesawek had been in charge for almost two years. All the goods were loaded on lorries and taken away. The SS men arrested Jechiel Milgram and his wife. Their children succeeded in escaping.

Jechiel Milgram was tied half–naked to a taxi in front of City Hall, and every few moments shots were fired in front of his eyes. In the evening, the SS men released him and placed him with his wife in a cell, where they kept them until the day of the general Aktion in Staszów on the 28th of Heshvan, 5703 [November 8, 1942], when they were added to the transport. All efforts to obtain their release for a large sum of money proved to be fruitless.

On the New Year, people prayed in small groups as far as possible. Some of them went to work on the festival at the suggestion of the workshop manager, a refugee from Łódź named Zitter, as a mark of their devotion. They hoped that in that way they might save themselves from transportation. People felt the approaching danger and hoped that it would not be their last festival, God forbid.

Work for the Ömler Road Construction Company went ahead at full speed. Jews made every effort to find work with the company, for which they labored very diligently in order to find favor in the eyes of those who were in a position to decide their fate. Everybody wished to survive the war at any price.

Sukkot was also a time of great fear. There were rumors that in Kielce and Dzialeshniakesoszyce Aktionen had already taken place before Rosh Hashanah and that Nowa Sleshniakesupia had also become Judenrein [cleansed of Jews]. Jews were already planning to build bunkers to hide in, and young people prepared to organize resistance in the event of a general deportation. The task of organizing the resistance fell to Mendel Rubin. The Judenrat learned of the plan and opposed it, arguing that if the Germans found out, they could destroy the entire Jewish community. The Judenrat believed the Germans' promise that all the members of the Judenrat and their families would not be killed. The young people bowed to pressure from the Judenrat to abandon the resistance plan.

September 27, 1942: This day, at 2 p.m., on the second day of Sukkot, SS men and the gendarmerie arrived in the ghetto and impressed Jews for forced labor. Those who were caught were immediately sent to Skarżysko. The same thing was done again on the fourth middle day of Sukkot. Those who were taken were locked into the Jewish bath. The arrested ones were released thanks to the intervention of Mr. Efraim Zyngier, the chairman of the Judenrat, which was certainly accompanied by a large sum of money.

October 1, 1942: On that same Thursday, Jędrek Dressler of Sielec appeared at the home of Jakob Urisz Kozuchowicz and demanded leather goods from him. As soon as Jakob Urisz answered that he had no goods because he had not been working for a long time, Dressler took out his revolver and shot him.

October 2, 1942: It was a fine Friday morning. The sun shone bright, but not for the Jews of Staszów. Early in the morning, the gendarme Panter shot Markel Wajswol's wife, whom he met as she came out of the home of Lejbus Blauwajs. This took place on Szkolna Street where the ghetto came to an end. A few minutes later, the son of Josel Wajnbaum's son was arrested on the Bleshniakesonie [the Commons], where he had gone to buy some potatoes from a peasant. The poor father ran to Jędrek Dressler of Sielec, whom he had formerly known well. He flung himself at his feet and begged for mercy for his son. Dressler pointed to his revolver and said, “I can help you with that.” The little boy was shot the same morning.

October 4, 1942: Today, Simchas Torah, we learned that an Aktion had been carried out in Szydleshniakesów and the Jews sent to Chmielnik; the Jews of Chmielnik were also to be transferred the next day.

Soon after Sukkot, we learned that in the surrounding Jewish towns and villages, such as Ostrowiec, Opatów, Iwaniska, and Busko, the extermination actions had already been carried out. Staszów Jews are living in great fear. The Aktion in the city is being constantly deferred thanks to the unwearying intervention of Efraim Zyngier, chairman of the Jewish Council, who bribes the Germans as much as possible. He hopes that as long as the Germans are prepared to take bribes there is still some hope of saving us from death.

October 10, 1942: The first Saturday after Sukkot, three large trucks drove up to the Judenrat and demanded people to work in Skarżysko. With no great hopes of being able to hide among their Polish neighbors, many Jews decided to volunteer to work in the ammunition factory Hasag in Skarżysko. About 300 young people used whatever connections they had to obtain a place in the transport. Only a small number of them survived.

October 17, 1942: At 2 p.m. today, Jews were brought here from Osiek and Poleshniakesaniec. This was on the Sabbath day, when the Aktionen had already been carried out there. They were brought to Staszów to be attached to the Staszów transport. At first they were caged in the middle of the town market. Later they were released on condition that they remain in town and not run away to the places where they had lived. Jews also arrived from Chmielnik, Szydleshniakesów, Raków, and Kurozwęki. The rabbi of Szydleshniakesów was among the refugees, but after seeing what was happening, he afterward returned to Chmielnik together with a few of his family and acquaintances.

The situation became tense. Besides the 5,000 Staszów Jews, there were now another 2,000 “illegal” Jews from the vicinity. The ghetto was dreadfully crowded. People began selling all kinds of things to the neighboring Poles for trifling prices in order to have ready cash in case they had to pay for their lives. The Poles were not prepared to buy houses or other real estate because they were sure that it would fall into their hands in any case. Many Jews gave valuables to the Christians in return for a promise to hide them during the approaching Aktion. The Christians did not keep their word. They denounced the Jews to the Germans, or else they simply killed them themselves.

A few others and I managed to get ourselves into the shop after steps had been taken to set up a special department there with 20 workers. The “lucky” group consisted of Mendel Sznifer, Jankel Wagner, Judel Wajngarten, A. M. Rozenblum, Chaim Frydman, Icek Wolman, Avrom Zylbersztajn, and others.

Work in the shop was going ahead at full swing. Material that could last us for at least a year was brought to manufacture military uniforms. The shop foremen were Zitter, the Łódź refugee, his assistant A. Kaleski, the master M. Zysa Cukier, and M. Goldfarb. They did everything to ensure that production should be at a high level in order to convince the Germans that the workers were faithful and deserved to survive. At the time when it was necessary to legalize this enterprise with the higher German authorities, the two German managers of the shop disappeared, going off to Kraków. This upset us all, for it gave rise to the suspicion that all the promises to save at least the shop workers had been false.

Feeling that the danger was very near, people tried to run away into the countryside. But they were denounced by the Poles. That was the cause of the death of Rachela Fefer, the daughter of Jechiel Rozenblum, who ran away to Jędrzejów together with her child. When they arrived there, the gendarmes were already waiting for them, and both were shot at the railway station.

November 1, 1942: The town is in an uproar. The tragic news came that tonight the punitive expedition, consisting of Lithuanians and Ukrainians, will arrive to carry out the Aktion in Staszów. The blood froze in our veins. The panic was indescribable. People began to prepare for their final journey. They put a little bit of food in the rucksack of each person in the family in the event they are separated.

It had already been announced that when the Fire Department sirens sounded every Jew had to gather in the market square. The Judenrat had prepared a banquet for the expedition in the hopes that they would get drunk and be more lenient in carrying out their terrible task. At exactly 1 a.m., the bandits arrived in two cars. They announced that they were traveling to Nowy Korczyn (Neustadt) and Pacanów in order to carry out Aktsionen there. Jews began to hide in the bunkers they had prepared or with Christians. Several families left for Szydleshniakesów and Chmielnik, hoping to avoid the disaster, since Aktionen had already been carried out there.

Several women hired the carter Olek Majewski and paid him well to take them to Chmielnik. When they reached the road to Szydleshniakesów, some gendarmes arrived and arrested them all. Afterward they were all shot except Chaja Jaskóleshniakeska, who succeeded in escaping and returning to Staszów. The unfortunate women were Fajga Zyngier, the wife of the chairman Efraim Zyngier; Prywa Band, the wife of Alter Band; the wife of Mendel Frydman (Beriszens); Estera Malka Szternlicht, the wife of Elchanan Szternlicht; the twelve–year–old daughter of Szalom Feferman. These martyrs were brought to a Jewish grave in the Szydleshniakesów cemetery.

On the same day, the Ömler Road Construction Company received orders that all Jewish workers employed by them must remain quartered at the enterprise. This meant that nobody could leave his place of employment and go home after work as had previously been the practice. It was another sign that the Aktion against the Staszów Jews was approaching. On the same day, the remaining Jews, about 20 in number, were brought from the neighboring village of Koprzywnica, where the Aktion had taken place two days earlier, that is, on October 30, 1942.

November 2, 1942: The sad news of the women who had been shot in Szydleshniakesów dumfounded us all. All Jewish life was completely paralyzed. Everybody and everything became apathetic. There was a state of anarchy. The Polish police were pillaging almost openly, and even the watchmen such as Brzozowski and Sopa permitted themselves to extort money and goods from Jews, taking away the last tools from poor tradesmen. It must be said to our great shame that certain Jewish policemen used the confusion and demanded money from the Jews. When they were asked why, the better–class ones answered that they needed money, while the others said sarcastically, “for burying you.”

Suchan the mayor also found ways of robbing the Jewish population and demanded taxes from them for a year in advance.

When Jews suddenly received permission to go to the market during the last week, they found Christians there from Raków who were selling meat. One of them, a woman, was wearing an apron of parchment, made from a Sepher Torah sheet.

The ghetto became more crowded than ever. Ten or twelve persons were crushed into a tiny room. The whole of Jewish life was suspended. The only active institutions were TOZ [Towarzystwo Ochrony Zdrowia], which was the Health Society, and Kropla Mleka [Drop of Milk]. The Judenrat did nothing, with the exception of its chairman, Efraim Zyngier, who was on watch in spite of all dangers. The only officials of the Staszów community still left were the rabbi, Izrael Gerszt, the two slaughterers Motel Bloch and Icek Pantirer, and the synagogue cantor Josef Dyzenhaus. Aron Shochet's and the three beadles Akiwa Goldsztajn, Abram Lejb Dyksztajn, and Jechiel Morgensztern (Magid) had died a natural death together with the cantor Izrael Majer Lieberman during the war years. And that was a fate that few were privileged to experience.

The last Staszów rabbi, Reb Alter Eliezer Horowicz (Der Riglitzer Rav), had left two weeks before the Aktion for Neustadt with his youngest son–in–law, Mosze Rajman, in the hope of saving himself. But their fate met them there when the punitive expedition visited the spot.

The rabbi's friends collected money in order to try and save him. Chaim Elbaum and Bencjon Lewowicz were the ones who collected money on his behalf. At the same time, there were a few other Jews who also packed themselves off to Neustadt, such as Alter Grosman, the Hebrew teacher and his family, who went to his son Jankel Grosman's, and Jecheskiel Ajchen and his son Bejnisz and their families. They were all swept away by the same sad fate.

 


A Jew compelled by the Germans to dig his own grave

 

November 3, 1942: Staszów also contributed to the Aktion that was carried out yesterday in Neustadt and other neighboring towns. Those who were being banished were driven away on foot through Pacanów to Szczucin on the way to Beleshniakesżec.

The Staszów rabbi and his son–in–law were shot the same day on the road to Szczucin, as soon as they left Pacanów. I learned this in the camp in Kielce from a Pacanów Jew who was in the street–cleaning commando of Pacanów on that particular day.

The panic in the town became worse from moment to moment. Peasants were already arriving from the surrounding villages with their sacks and were shamelessly asking, “Hasn't it began yet?”

An order arrived from Mayor Suchan requiring the Judenrat to set up a cleaning commando for the day of the approaching Aktion, to be headed by a responsible person. People volunteered for this as well. Szalom Braun was chosen to be burial officer. He was the son of Wolwicz Braun (the postman) and was to work with the old sexton Noach Lyszkiewicz (Noach the Carrier). Jews paid money in order to be accepted for the cleaning commando, with the tiny hope that they might be saved from death that way.

An order also arrived calling for young people to be sent to Skarżysko. The Judenrat decided who was to leave. Orders also arrived for workers to be sent to Mielec and elsewhere. Some people were feverishly building bunkers in the hope of saving themselves from the Nazis.

All electric light was cut off from the Jews during the last week before the Aktion. Work in the shop was continuing at full speed. The two vanished Volksdeutsche who were responsible for the shop did not reappear. People began dashing from Ömler to the shop and the other way around, not knowing where it would be safer to remain.

November 5, 1942: The Judenrat decided to send two messengers to Kraków in order to find the two Volksdeutsche Richter and Strecker. Since no Jew dared undertake so dangerous a journey, they asked the mayor to send a Pole on this task. After greasing wherever necessary, the court official Wojciechowski went as the representative of the Jews, with the driver Czach who had a lorry together with the Volksdeutsche. The mission returned on Saturday at 12 noon with the sad tidings that the two Germans did not wish to return because it had already been decided that Staszów was to be made Judenrein [Jewish–free region]. The shopworkers began to run away in order to find themselves places of safety.

November 6, 1942: Yesterday, a second Aktion took place in Chmielnik. All remaining legal and illegal Jews were collected from the vicinity and driven to Stopnica, and the extermination action took place there today. In this action, such Staszów martyrs were killed as Jechiel Najman, Zysman Groshauz, and Abramele Nisenbaum. Among them were also Z. Zonszajn and others, who miraculously managed to escape, however, before the Aktion.

Today, Friday, at 3 p.m., three S.S. men came into the shop for a checkup and went away without saying a word. Zitter, the Jewish shop manager, ordered the handful of remaining workers to go on working all night long. Maybe that would be a charm to save them from death. We carried out his orders, although every one of us could feel that our last hours were already approaching.

November 7, 1942: It is Saturday today, 27th of Heshvan 5703. Maybe it is the last Sabbath, God forbid, of the fine and extensive Jewish Community of Staszów. One does not wish to believe that the angel of death is already preparing to take our innocent souls. Is there really no justice in the world? Why do we deserve this?

Everybody runs to see his near and dear ones, to console the dejected, to plan means of escape, and also to say goodbye to one another. We want to be together during our last moments.

At 10 o'clock in the morning, we learned that the last Jews were being collected in Szydleshniakesów and Kurozwęki in order to add them to the transport from Staszów. At 11 o'clock, the news spread that tonight the punitive expedition would arrive in Staszów and would present an order to Efraim Zyngier, the chairman, to prepare a meal for the 150 members of the expedition who were to carry out the Aktion in the city. This news spread at once through the city and led to a terrible panic among us all. Jews ran to the Judenrat to ask for advice. People began looking for ways and means of saving themselves. Nobody wished to admit the thought that the unhappy end was approaching.

Efraim Zyngier answered every question very clearly. He no longer saw any way out. It was no longer possible to do anything anywhere to defer the bitter end. These words from the last Jewish communal head discouraged everybody. The whole population found itself sad and mourning. Each one felt his last hour approaching, that death was on his threshold. And everybody wanted to go on living. The question why was still there. Why did we deserve it? Because we were Jews, was that why we had to be persecuted like wild beasts all over the world? Why did the world watch and say nothing, when brutal murderers were destroying a whole people?

But all these questions received no answer. The world is corrupt. There is no justice. We had to save ourselves, but where and how?

At about noon on the same Saturday, a Jew arrived in Staszów from Ostrowiec. His name was Abram Icek Kerbel. He was accompanied by a German SS man and offered to take Jews on to work at the Bodzechów labor camp near Ostrowiec for the payment of a thousand zlotys each.

Jews paid the sum demanded in the hope of saving themselves, although the entire transaction was afterward found to be a miserable swindle.

At 2 p.m., people already saw how the Nazis were driving the last Jews of Szydleshniakesów and Kurozwęki to Staszów. An hour later, this unhappy transport consisting of 200 men, women, and children arrived in the town. Szydleshniakesów's old rabbi's wife was among them. All these Jews were kept under the strict watch of Ukrainian bandits at the Staszów market square. They did not even permit a drop of water to be brought to the unfortunate people.

Watching this spectacle, each one felt that he himself could expect the same fate the next day. Dreadful weeping and wailing were heard from many houses as families began to say goodbye to one another

Night fell. The town sank into a painful darkness. No light was to be seen anywhere. Here and there Jews could be seen disappearing, one making his way to a Christian acquaintance in the neighborhood and another to a long–prepared bunker.

From 5 p.m., the town was cut off and guarded by Germans, Ukrainians, and Poles so that nobody would run away. I succeeded in getting out of town and went to a peasant acquaintance in Dobra village to bring my family there as we had agreed. But the peasant had taken fright and did not wish to admit me, claiming that the Germans were coming next day to take his quota of grain and might easily find any hidden Jews. Helpless and dejected, I went back to my family in Staszów. Another Jew named Aron Zylberbogen (Powrosznik) also went off to Dobra to a Christian who had agreed to hide him. A few peasants waited for him on the way, robbed him of all he had, and gave him a thorough thrashing. The fellow came back to Staszów half–dead.

Watch over the town by the German gendarmerie and the Ukrainian and Polish police became more strict at about 7 o'clock. Everybody could see clearly what was to be expected in the morning. The only way to try to escape was in a bunker near the home.

The Germans started rumors that the Jews were being sent to work, and the unhappy people did their best to believe it. After all, they still wanted to live. Others planned to return to the shop or to Ömler's enterprises in the hope of saving themselves that way. For maybe, they thought, in spite of everything, the Germans would leave the working elements in the town, and so some member of the family might succeed in escaping.

I took my rucksack, said goodbye to my dear ones and went off to the shop. In the house of Samuel Mersel where I lived, a number of Jews gathered at the same time. They were Ruben Baruch Hercyk, Joel Hirszberg, and A. Birncwajg, who had decided to conceal themselves together until after the Aktion. They had been advised to do this by Mayor Suchan, who had promised to rescue them afterward. Suchan's promise proved to be worthless, and they were all found.

About 200 workers had gathered at the shop. Some of them wanted to go home. It was already mortally dangerous to walk through the streets. Death lay in wait everywhere.

At 10 in the evening, Obersturmfuehrer Schild, who had led the extermination action in the Radom Government District, arrived in town. Schild rode to the Jewish police (the Ordnungsdienst as it called itself) and demanded that Chairman Efraim Zyngier should supply him at once with 10 kilos of butter, 10 kilos of pork, 10 kilos of rice, and 5 kilos of tea. At the same time, Schild entered the police office in the house of Herszel Winer, banged on the table, and gave notice: “In Himmler's name, the resettlement action of the Staszów Jews will take place tomorrow, November 8, 1942.” He ordered the Jewish policemen to instruct all the Jews in town to be present by 8 o'clock in the morning at the Rynek (Market Square). Anybody who did not obey this order would be shot. The Jewish police and their families would not be included in this action.

At 12 midnight, the city hall official Wojciechowski arrived in the shop accompanied by two Polish policemen and announced that the shop had been legalized for 800 workers. Those present immediately went off to town to fetch their relations. A work card was received at a cost of 50 zlotys and was demanded from everybody. At 2 a.m., Wojciechowski returned and ordered the register to be closed in the name of Mayor Suchan. By that time, 330 Jews had managed to have themselves entered as workers in the shop. The foreman ordered that the machines be started and that we begin to work. The machines were already going properly, but our hands refused to follow. Everyone was dejected, feeling that a great catastrophe was approaching.

Meanwhile we learned that the mayor had declared himself ill and would therefore not be present during the action in town next morning.

It was 4 a.m. The punitive expedition, which consisted of 150 Ukrainian and Lithuanian bandits, arrived in Staszów. They began eating and drinking for all they were worth at the meal that the Jewish Council had had to prepare for them. They made themselves thoroughly drunk in order to be able to carry out their bestial tasks more easily.

 

Black Sunday

Sunday, 28th of Heshvan 5703 (November 8, 1942) : The dreadful slaughter of the Jewish population in Staszów began at 5:30 in the morning. As ordered by the trained murderer Schild, the Jewish police dashed out to order all the Jews to gather together in the Market Square by 8 a.m. Those who came late would be shot.

While we were in the shop, we learned that at 2 a.m. a number of the Polish intellectuals, such as Dr. Kozleshniakesowski and Dr. Lemieszczewski, had been arrested and handed over to be guarded by the Jewish police.

At 6 o'clock in the morning, the murderers called on Chairman Efraim Zyngier, took him to the home of Szmuel Ajzenberg, gagged him, and after torturing him shot him there. The dreadful murder of Chairman Zyngier was the signal to begin the extermination action of the Jews in the town.

By 8 o'clock in the morning, about 5,000 Jews, young and old, children and grown–ups, had assembled in the market square in order to begin their march to death. At the same time, three known SS sadists from Ostrowiec came to the shop. They were Willi, Petter, and Braun, and they wanted to amuse themselves a little with the Jewish workers. They started off with Mordechai Zeigermacher and asked him, “What are you doing here, old man?” which he answered, “I am old, but I am the only mechanic in the whole factory.” They let him go and began moving around among the workers. When they came to the third row where I was standing, they went to Icek Flajszhakier, a tailor from Bóżniczna Street. Willi the murderer took out a revolver and said to Flajszhakier, “You cripple, do you also want to survive the war?” There was a shot and the poor fellow fell dead. The murderer began laughing, ordered those present to stand still and not move from the spot, then said, “All these will still be able to work” and went off to the market with his colleagues.

Since the shop had been authorized to take 800 workers and only 330 were there, 200 skilled workers and young men were chosen from the transport. They were not permitted to take their children with them, but they were added to the factory personnel.

At 10 in the morning, Schild gave the order: “March!”

And so the transport of almost 5,000 Jews, including the finest and best of the community, our fathers and mothers, wives and children, brothers, sisters, and relatives, started out on their last journey accompanied by the 150 murderers.

As soon as the first rows entered Krakowska Street, the murderers began shooting into the mass with dumdum [expanding] bullets. As was afterward reported, the first victims were Naftali Tenenbaum and Dawid Rozensztok with his wife. When Majer Goldhar saw his wife Pesa fall, he left his place and asked the murderers to shoot him too. His wish was immediately granted. Majer Jankel Guterbaum fell near his shop. The murderers went on shooting into the mass of people, strewing the whole road with innocent victims. Jewish blood ran from Krakowska Street down to the river.

Jankel Ruda fell at Folwark Bridge.

We were still standing in the shop, five in a row, listening to the ceaseless shooting. Our blood ran cold in our veins as we felt that our nearest and dearest were no longer alive. Then we thought that maybe they were better off, those who had already finished with the gruesome nightmare of Nazism and the banditry of the Ukrainians, Letts, and Poles. But on the other hand, there was still a spark of hope in our hearts. Maybe we would still survive them, maybe a miracle would take place and the savage hordes would be defeated by the civilized world. There was still a chance for a person who remained alive.

After our dear ones had marched off, orders were given to clear away the dead. It was a dreadful scene. By one o'clock, 189 Jewish bodies had been picked up from the streets, apart from those who had not come to the transport and were bestially murdered in their homes. For this purpose, they took the Jewish police with them when they went looking for all the remaining Jews. Majer Rozen (Majer Mosze Jechiel's) put on his prayer shawl and tefillin and waited for the murderers in his home, ready to perish in order to hallow God's Name.

Jechiel Rozenblum (Mostiker) was lying very ill that day. When the murderers reached him, he entreated them to shoot him at home. The beasts picked him up and flung him down into the street from the balcony. All those killed in Staszów itself on the day of slaughter were buried in a single mass grave in the Jewish Cemetery.

The march of the unhappy Staszów Jews took them through Szczucin and Stopnica to Beleshniakesżec, that second Treblinka. More than 1,000 Jews reached Stopnica. In the village of Nizszen [Niziny], 9 kilometers from Staszów, a mass grave was dug for 740 victims. During that one day, the old and widely branching Jewish Community in Staszów was cut down. May the Lord avenge their blood.

 

The Dumb Protest of the Blind Man

The shooting of the unfortunate Jews who had hidden themselves in their homes and were afterward found by the murderers could be heard till late in the afternoon.

Blind Herszel Wolman left his hiding place by himself, stood in front of his home on Rytwiańska Street, and began to lament aloud for the destroyed and martyred Jewish Community. He sang songs of lamentation that suited the situation and burst into a bitter lament for the destruction of his people. He stood there for a few hours, and the passing German murderers did not have the heart to kill him. Only later did they send a Lithuanian murderer who shot him. And so fell the blind man, who in this fashion expressed his deep protest at the barbarity of the entire world, which saw it all and heard it all and permitted the murderers to exterminate a spiritually rich yet helpless people. May the memory of the righteous be a blessing.

At 3 p.m., I succeeded in making my way to my home. At No. 8 Stodolna Street, I found Herszel Ladowski shot in his bed.

That same afternoon, an order arrived to billet all the shopworkers ten to a room and only on Bóżniczna and Zleshniakesota Streets. The other surviving Jews who had concealed themselves exploited the opportunity and joined the shopworkers when they moved into their new quarters. The Jewish police remained with their wives but without their children. The police remained in town in order to clear away the murdered Jews.

A few families succeeded in getting into the shop all together or else into Ömler's working place thanks to bribery and protectionism. That was done, for instance, by Jecheskiel Wajchman and his family, Icek Zelcer, and Szmul Gliklich of the Folwark and his wife and daughter. Those Jews who did not succeed in entering “safe” places such as the shop and Ömler's works were classed as “illegals.”

Night fell. Terrified Jews came running to the shop manager and begged him to be merciful and take them into the shop. Some also came who had been hiding all day long with Poles but could not stay there any longer because their lives were not safe. They had simply been driven out by their Polish saviors who had taken in Jews, promising to hide them, but now threatened to murder them unless they cleared away at top speed.

None of us in the shop closed our eyes all night long. Ghosts were hovering in front of our eyes and gave us no rest. All of us were wondering whether we would live to see vengeance taken on the enemy or whether the same fate would befall us next day.

Monday, November 9, 1942: Morning came. We were still affected by yesterday's extermination and were still physically and spiritually broken. But we survivors had to go to work as though nothing had ever happened. The number of illegals was growing. They were all in despair, a despair that increased from hour to hour. Nobody knew what to do. Should they try to get a reliable working place in the shop, for instance, or was it possibly better to run away into the forest? The angel of death lay in wait everywhere. All roads had been suddenly cut off, and the surrounding population had grown hostile as though by order. In this state of despair, Alter Band and his son Izraelke left their legal working places and went off to look for some way of deliverance. Before long they were killed like so many others.

Tuesday, November 10, 1942: The Poles Stempien and Janek, who held the shops of Szmul Goldfarb and Icek Mandelzys, informed the German gendarmes that behind their shops was a bunker where several Jews were hiding. A group of gendarmes arrived at once, and with the help of the Polish Police they opened the bunker and took out 26 Jews. All of them were led to the cemetery where they were shot. The Jews of Ömler's Company, who were then working on Krakowska Street, saw these unhappy people going on their last journey. One of the workers, Mendel Lipszyc, recognised his wife, Rajza, and his son Zacharia in the group. His younger children, Fajga, Abram Icek, and Izrael Dawid managed to escape. Zacharia had hidden but was caught. Mendel could only accompany them with his eyes and with blood welling from his heart as his dearest and nearest went to their eternal rest.

[Included in the 1962 English version but not in the Yiddish version:] These victims were punished because they were “illegally” in Staszów where they had lived all their lives, according to the Nazi sentence that had been carried out so strictly against them.

 

The Following Is a List of the 26 Martyrs:

Izraelke Wajcman, the cantor, with his family;
Nechemia Nisencwajg with his wife and daughter;
Lejbus Kac [Katz], the carpenter, with his wife and children;
Rajza Lipszyc with their son Zacharia;
Josel Gliklich (Goldschmidt, the goldsmith) with his wife and child;
Estera Rachela Mandelzys;
and others whose names I cannot remember.

November 11, 1942: As soon as night fell, a group of Jews, including Mendel Sznifer and Awner Wajl, came running through the water from the military pavilion on Folwark, where Mayor Suchan had supposedly employed them to work for the Wehrmacht. During the day, the mayor had sent word that they should leave because he could no longer keep the workplace secret. Frightened to death, the Jews that evening went to the Ölmer workers' shop in the legal quarter to find a way to save themselves. In the panic of escape, the child of Josel Ajdelkop's daughter got lost. We Ölmer workers took in all the illegals, even though we had been threatened with death if we took in outsiders.

 

The First Selection

Friday November 13, 1942: At precisely 7 a.m., the shop was cordoned off by gendarmes and police. When we arrived at work, we were kept in the open and were arranged in rows of five in order to separate us from the illegals.

Orders were received to march into the market square near the pharmacy beside the Town Hall. A few illegals gave themselves up because they were already sick and tired of life and saw no sense in hiding themselves any more.

The Germans began sorting the transport. A few shop people were placed by themselves to be sent away, and younger illegals were left behind as shop workers.

In this selection, as in all the other Aktionen, victims were left lying in the market square. Bajla Buchholc, the daughter of Dawid Solnik, had given herself up voluntarily at the market square, together with others. When she saw what lay in store for her, she begged the German gendarmes to allow her to fetch her hidden children from the house in order to take them with her on her eternal way. He did not believe her but dragged her into a neighboring courtyard and shot her there.

Fifty Staszów Jews were taken away to Ostrowiec in peasant carts. At that time, the following people were selected and sent away from the shop: Szmul Gliklich with his wife and daughter; Izrael Hersz Graf; [Abram] Aba Rozenblum; Alta Milgram of the Birenbaum family, who did not wish to give up her children and went together with them. They also took several orphan children who had been hidden with Poles for several days and had run away from there. Those children had been entrusted to the Poles by their parents against ample payment. When the parents were killed, the “good” Poles drove the children away.

Saturday, November 14, 1942: Joel Sznifer's bunker was discovered today, having been denounced by Poles. This bunker was under the baker's oven, and ten people had hidden there from the previous Sunday. During the past few years, the bakery had belonged to my brother, Chaim Dawid Goldsztajn of blessed memory. In the bunker there were Joel Sznifer, my brother with his wife and three children, Mosze Jechiel Kozienicki and his brother–in–law, and also Frajda Estera Wolman, the wife of Naftali Wolman. These Jews were taken to the Magistrate's Court, where they were kept with 16 Jews from other bunkers until Monday morning.

Monday, November 16, 1942: At 6 a.m., the 26 Jews were taken to the graveyard and murdered there. We learned of this from my brother's daughter, who succeeded in escaping when all the people were brought out from under the oven. At 10 a.m., the captain of the fire brigade, Panek, came into the shop and ordered Zitter, the shop manager, to send 10 workers to bury the 26 Jews who had just been shot. Zitter asked who was prepared to volunteer. Ten of us did so, including myself.

We took spades on our shoulders, and accompanied by a Polish policeman we went to bury our dear ones. The ten grave diggers included Aron Mosze Rozenblum, Abram Ber Leszkiewicz, Tron, Rozencwajg, a son of Pinchas Rozencwajg, and others whose names I can no longer remember.

The scene we found at the graveyard shook us to the core. Labor cards were lying near the dead, and they helped us to identify the victims.

A Christian of my acquaintance, who had been serving there on behalf of the fire brigade, afterward told us that my brother's daughter Tauba had at the last moment struggled against a gendarme and had flung a stone at his head. For that she had been savagely beaten, and only then was she murdered. The others had been maltreated in the same fashion.

With my own hands I set in the mass grave the bodies of my brother Chaim Dawid, of his wife Chana Lea, of his daughter Tauba, and of their two sons; and all the other martyrs as well. We covered over the grave, but the Polish police who had remained on duty there ordered us to tramp with our feet in order to level the area out. A silent Kaddish forced itself out of our choking hearts. As soon as I uttered the words “Yisgadal Veyiskadash,” a [Polish] policeman came to me and said that the German gendarmes ordered that nothing was to be said at the cemetery. The policeman was an acquaintance of mine, and that was why he gave me the warning.

Among those who had been killed, I found not only my own family but also Joel Sznifer, Frajda Estera Wolman, Brajna Frankel, Mosze Jechiel Kozienicki, the father–in–law of Lejbel Beker, the Latvian refugee Feiglisz, and others.

Of the ten shop workers who buried the martyrs, I am the only one who has been privileged to remain alive to tell the world how the murderers destroyed our beloved Jews and exterminated a widely branching Jewish community.

Tuesday, November 17, 1942: The Poles denounced the bunker of Chaim Nuta Erlichman. The people there were Zalman Szajner, Noach Blusztajn, Josel Blusztajn and his family, and others. The Jews discovered there were arrested and kept at City Hall until their fate would be decided.

At that time, after the general Aktion, many Jews appeared who had saved themselves somehow. This fact disturbed the Germans, who looked for ways and means of trapping the criminals who insisted on wanting to live in spite of orders. For Germans do not love lawbreakers.

 

The Judenstaaten[5]

The infernal killing machine decided to change its extermination tactics. They proclaimed that all Jews who concentrated themselves in the “Judenstaaten” of Radomsk, Sandomierz, Szydleshniakesów, and other towns would not be killed. And as a token of their “good will,” they began to send captured illegal Jews from the entire area to those towns. Several thousand Jews voluntarily reported to these places, among them several hundred Stashover Jews in Sandomierz.

November 18, 1942: Today they announced in the shop that a new selection was being prepared. Several Jews were called in to the shop supervisors who told them the “news” that they could buy their way out with 1,000 zlotys if they didn't want to go to Sandomierz. On that dark day, too, there were people without a conscience, among them Jewish police, who sought to profit from the tragedy to become rich. Several people were taken out of the shop and transported to Sandomierz. After work ended that day, each remaining worker was given a number without which he would not be allowed into the shop the next day. Those who were doomed to die were not given such a number.

November 19, 1942: As soon as we arrived at 7 a.m., the workplace was surrounded by gendarmes and the Polish police. Again we were lined up in rows of five. Several miserable Jews who could no longer bear living like hunted animals inserted themselves into the group so that their fate would be determined once and for all–to live or die. The Germans picked out 120 healthy men and women and separated them from the rest.

We felt the approaching danger. We had nothing in our possession in the event we were sent away. We begged a Polish policeman from Staszów whom we knew, Kaczmarski, who had been guarding us, to let us go to our homes to get some clothes and underwear. The sadistic policeman responded ironically, “It's not necessary, you won't be needing it.”

We who were selected remained standing outside while the others returned to the shop. Standing there, we learned that a factory director and a security director from the Kielce ammunition factory Hasag, as well as the Jewish director of the work camp there, Chaim Rozencwajg, had arrived to take people to Kielce.

There came an order to march. We were brought to the town hall where we found many Jews who had been found in hiding. They told us that since the morning, illegals had been arrested; the old ones were sent to Sandomierz and the younger ones to Kielce.

Some of those who had been arrested managed to get away and return to the shop, among them Noach Blusztajn. When he got to the shop, the Jewish policeman Birncwajg came up to him and said, “Mr. Blusztajn, you can't come in, you know why.” Noach Blusztajn in despair returned to the town hall. At 1 p.m., three trucks took us to Kielce. With mute glances we said goodbye to our hometown until it disappeared from view.

Several Jewish police rode with us until we passed Szydleshniakesów. In the village Grabki [Duże], the trucks stopped, and a transaction with the Germans began: whoever gave them 1,000 zlotys could return to Staszów. This was worked out by the Jewish police. One of them, M. G., added, “Jews, whoever gives 1,500 will be allowed to get out and go back to Staszów.” Several Jews paid the money and got out. They also had to pay 40 zlotys for return fare to Staszów.

We continued on the way through Chmielnik, which was already Judenrein. We 120 Jews arrived in Kielce at 7 p.m. Among us were the following Jews from Staszów: Josel Blusztajn and his son Meir; Noach Blusztajn; Jankel Wagner, Mosze Ajzenberg and his two daughters; Judel Wajngarten; Jankel Targownik; Avrom Zylbersztajn; Dawid Frydman, his wife Bajla, and their two children; Jenta Bomsztyk and her two children; three children of Sara Estera Kac; Dawid Nisencwajg; Bencjon Grinbal and his son; Mosze Erlichman, the son of Chaim Nuta; Szmul Samborski; the Wagner sisters; Szmul Rozengarten and his sister; Meler; Herszkop; Abram Feldlaufer, and others. We, 40 people from Staszów, were placed in Barrack No. 5, known as the Stashover Barrack. There we learned that a few days earlier Chana Winer, the daughter of Majer Winer, had been shot there.

November 23, 1942: Today, the fourth day since we arrived in Kielce, they carried out a selection and sent 20 people to Neustadt to be sent from there to Sandomierz to be transported, among them Noach Blusztajn and Mosze Erlichman from Staszów.

As in all the camps, we in Kielce endured hunger and suffering. Everyone, Germans and Poles alike, beat us for every little thing, for nothing. Risking our lives, we maintained contact with our townspeople in Staszów, Skarżysko, and Sandomierz and so learned of the Jews who died in the hellish camp in Skarżysko.

December 15, 1942: Today all the workers and machines from the Stashover shop were evacuated to Poniatów in the Puleshniakesawy Region.

December 29, 1942: A group from the Kielce Hasag factory, including ten of us from Staszów, went to Staszów. The Kielce commander had to pick up potatoes there, so we managed to get the camp director to take some Staszów Jews in the hope that we would be able to bring back something or recover some of the things we had from our homes that we had entrusted to Christians. Among the Stashovers were myself, Meir Blusztajn, Avrom Zylbersztajn, Mosze Ajzenberg, Zigi Prajs, Judel Wajngarten, Lejzor Herszkop, and others I don't recall.

In Staszów we were allowed to go to the Jewish quarter, where the workers of Ömler were living. We took back whatever we could. The Ömler workers helped a lot, preparing 120 loaves of bread for us, which was a great help because in the Kielce camp a bread cost 30 zlotys, which we didn't have.

January 3, 1943: Today we again went to get potatoes and again returned with a little food. The mourning over the destruction of the Jewish community is still obvious everywhere. You can still see bloodstains on many houses. In the few hours we spent there, we tried to meet with as many Jews as possible, among them the rabbi, Izrael Gerszt. I can still hear the last words we heard him call out as we were leaving: “I see how people yearn to stay alive, but my wish is to die in Staszów.” Later we learned that the rabbi did in fact die a natural death. At that time, Mosze Prajs, son of Motel and grandson of Henoch Prajs, died in the Kielce camp.

 

The Last Aktion in Sandomierz

Sunday, January 10, 1943: At 5 a.m., the Germans surrounded the Jewish quarter and, after assembling all the Jews, transported them to Treblinka. As many as 800 corpses remained in Sandomierz that day. Many Stashover Jews were among those transported. Mordechai Zonszajn and his wife and Azriel Berlin and his wife managed to jump off the train at the last minute and escaped death. In the clothing of those who died in Sandomierz, which was brought to Skarżysko, they found the work cards of several Stashover Jews.

Several weeks later, the last remaining Jews in Sandomierz, from the work camp Liceum, were brought to Kielce and told us about the sad ending of that cursed Judenstaat. On the day of the Aktion, it was freezing. Those who had been shot on the spot froze to the ground, and the Jews from the work camp Liceum, tasked with picking up the bodies, had to forcefully tear them from the ground.

After they had transported the workers from the Staszów shops, it was easier to detect the illegals who had hidden away in bunkers. When they were found during a raid, they were shot on the spot. In one such large raid, 10 Jews were shot in one day, among them Izrael Olster and his wife and little girl, as well as Pinchas Dambrowski's wife.

At that time, the German announced that any Pole who brought in a hidden Jew would be rewarded with 10 kilos of sugar. The Poles began even more energetically to catch Jews and turn them in for the promised reward. The Jews fought hard for their lives, but the majority died in the unequal struggle. Among those who died in raids by the Poles were Mordechai Zysman Cukier and his wife and two daughters. The “socially conscious” Communists also participated in this dirty work, including the two Grudzień brothers, who strived to liberate the world from injustice and racial hatred. In contrast, the antisemitic Endek member Szcz–[6] acted humanely and risked his life to bring sacks of bread to the forest for many Jews in hiding.

April 2, 1943: An Aktion was conducted in the Kielce Hasag factory, during which 120 people were sent to Pionki, an ammunition factory near Radom. Among them were several Jews from Staszów, such as Mosze Ajzenberg and his daughter, Buchman, Brukow, Jankel Wagner, Judel Wajngarten, two of Zysman's sisters, two Kac brothers, Rywka Baum, Fajga Tenenbaum, Dancyger and his wife, and Meler. Eight Jews from Chmielnik and Neustadt, who had hidden during Appell [roll call] were shot on the spot.

May 13, 1943: There is another selection of people in the Kielce Hasag to be sent to Skarżysko, where people are no longer sent to the work camp but to death. But people want to live and outlive the horrific enemy. The words of wise King David are steeped in our bones: “Better a living dog than a dead lion.” A living person still has hope, but death puts an end to everything. The drive to live has become for us a goal in itself and really an art.

August 10, 1943, Tisha B'Av: Today the Polish Underground carried out a death sentence against the Polish provocateur Mietek Lagabo, the machinery repairman of the Hasag factory. The sentence was carried out by a 16–year–old Polish boy under orders from the “Jędrusie,”[7] an underground [youth] movement in Poland. The wounded provocateur, lying on the ground, still managed to whisper that it was the Jews who shot him.

An investigation against the Jewish workers began immediately. The Germans arrested three Jewish machine repairmen, Dawid Frydman, Herszel Kupper, and me. They accused us of the murder. We were freed after three days of torture. The Germans well knew who the true murderers were. When we returned to the camp, the Jews started to believe in the resurrection of the dead. They had assumed we were already dead.

 

Staszow Jews Who Escaped to the Forests

When the Russians began to approach the Vistula, the Germans started to evacuate the camps in Radom, Skarżysko, and Kielce. Prior to the evacuation, they conducted several selections of the Jews in the camps and murdered those who were left. During one of those selections, on July 30, 1944, a group of 300 Jews was killed.

In the final night from Saturday to Sunday, on the eve of the evacuation, a group of Jews cut the electric wires in the Skarżysko camp and began to run off into the woods. The majority were shot in the course of pursuit

August 1, 1944: Twenty Jewish men and women were assembled in camp and sent in a contingent to Auschwitz. Among these were Stashovers Josel Blusztajn; Bencjon Solarz, the son of Nosen Dawid Melamed; Abram Feldlaufer; Bajla Frydman; and Genendel Jaskóleshniakeska. The women survived, while none of the men remained alive.

On the day of the selection, several Jews attempted to escape but were all shot by guards. We had to work 20 hours a day to pack up the machines to be transported as quickly as possible.

August 6, 1944: Today we were taken from Kielce to Częstochowa. When they didn't want to accept us there, the Germans took us further, to Radomsk, where all 450 of us were handed over to the SS. The same afternoon, they loaded us onto trucks and took us to Przedbórz, near Pilica. There we worked hard at building fortifications for the Germans who had retreated from the Vistula

In Przedbórz, all 450 Jews lived on the farm of a local peasant. There we learned that at the beginning of August the Russians had taken control of Staszów and had liberated several hidden Jews. When the Germans mounted a counterattack and bombed Staszów, the following were killed: Jerachmiel (Romek) Segal, Mordechai Goldflus, Anszel Bergman, and Rajza Goldflus, all of whom were living in the house of Eliahu Pomerancblum at the corner of the market square and Opatowska Street. They fell in the course of escaping into the forest. The other survivors soon left Staszów.

October 2, 1944, First Day of Sukkot: Today they took us from Przedbórz to Częstochowa, where we remained until January 16, 1945. With us were other Staszów Jews from the camps in Skarżysko and Kielce.

January 1, 1945: Our camp in Częstochowa became a concentration camp [as opposed to a work camp] and was given the name Heftlinge. The concentration camp didn't last long. The big Russian winter offensive began, and the camp was liquidated.

January 15, 1945: Monday, January 15, they gathered 300 Jews from all the work locations in Częstochowa and sent them to Buchenwald. At midnight, a delegation from Hasag, headed by the chief director of all the Hasag factories, Budin, visited the Częstochowa factory and ordered that work be stopped.

January 16, 1945: The Russians took the rest of Warsaw, as well as Łódź, Kraków, and Częstochowa. Before the Russians conquered the city, as many as ten thousand Jews were deported. In contrast, we were loaded onto train cars and left there unguarded until 7 a.m. Only then did the SS take charge of us and send the men to Buchenwald and the women to Bergen–Belsen.

At Buchenwald, they took away our clothes and possessions and sent us to a bath to be deloused. An SS doctor examined our mouths and pulled out gold teeth. After washing, we were given concentration camp uniforms, and everyone got a number. Mine was 116579. As many as 300 men were packed into one block. The Stashovers were concentrated in Block 52.

We didn't work at Buchenwald. We received one black bread a day, to be shared by six people, and a little soup twice a day. The camp supervisor was a German and his assistants were Poles. The camp was a gathering point for tens of thousands of Heftlings, and from there they were sent to various work camps.

In Buchenwald, the camp was run for the most part by the inmates themselves. The camp had many political prisoners, Jews as well as Germans and others. While we were there, Leon Blum [former premier of France] and Dr. Philip Auerbach were there. The inmates carried out trials of former Jewish police and others who had mistreated them. At some of the trials, the death penalty was imposed.

February 6, 1945: I was sent to Tröglitz, to the Rehmsdorf [Concentration] Camp. There were 2,300 people there, Jews, French, Italian, and others; we worked in the Brabak factory, which had recently been heavily bombed. Because the water system had been destroyed, we were forced to bring in water from 60 kilometers away. The factory was extremely important for the Germans because it made benzene from coal, and for that reason it was frequently bombed by “the enemy.” The conditions for the workers were intolerable.

The camp director was a German gypsy named Hans Wolf. Although he himself had been politically persecuted, he caused the Jewish prisoners a lot of suffering and was just as bad as the real SS murderers. At the great trials of the Nazis in Dachau, this Hans Wolf received the death penalty, based upon the testimony of camp survivors, myself included.

March 26, 1945: Today in camp, Dawid Frydman died. He was the son–in–law of Welwel Frydman from Staszów. We stayed in this camp until April 11, 1945, the day that Buchenwald was liberated by the victorious Americans.

Thursday, April 12, 1945: The Germans evacuated us. We traveled an entire day and night and only covered 30 kilometers because the roads were completely destroyed. The next day, Friday, we remained at the train station in Siezenheim until Monday, 70 men in a train car, among them many dead. We were not given any food the last days. Suddenly there came an order to start moving. The Germans shut the wagons. Then came an air attack. Our SS guards fled the wagons, and we followed, looking for protection outside. After the attack, we were forced to go on foot because the rails had been destroyed. We were as hungry as wolves and sought something to eat. The sick among us who couldn't walk were taken aside and shot. In this way, 115 Jews were tragically killed on their final journey to freedom. Twenty–five healthy people from the group had to bury the dead in a village near Siezenheim in order not to leave any trace of Nazi atrocities.

The entire transport was brought past Chomutov, Czechia, on the way to Theresienstadt. During the last bombardment of our group, several Jews escaped into the nearby forest, but the civilian Germans of the neighborhood recognized them by their uniforms and brought them back. The same day, Monday, April 16, we arrived at Chomutov, in Czech Sudetenland.

April 18, 1945: Again we were not given any food for an entire day. Not until 6 a.m. did we get a little bit of watery soup before being forced to proceed to Theresienstadt, 68 kilometers away. We were already half–dead. The leaders of the transport refused a request to rest for a bit, ordering us to keep going, with the result that 189 Jews died within 8 kilometers, among them two from Staszów: Jechiel Awenus and Mosze Bajtszer, son of Lejbel Bajtszer.

In the evening we arrived in Terespol [Třebívlice?],[8] where they packed 1,800 of us into a large horse barn and finally gave us a bit of bread. They kept us like that until noon the next day. Several people died from hunger and fatigue

On Friday we continued our sad march. The Czechs displayed great compassion and pity. They set down food on the roads that we were walking. In the evening, we arrived at the infamous camp of Litomeřice [in Czechia], 9 kilometers from Theresienstadt, where we were kept outdoors until Saturday morning.

April 21, 1945: Today we were brought to the Judenstaat: Theresienstadt. Similar transports also arrived, among which there were many Stashover Jews. The Germans gathered together young and old, even cripples, to show the world that they hadn't killed every single Jew. There were Jews in Theresienstadt from Holland, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, and Poland. In sum, there were 26,000 Jews, 5,000 Russians, Poles, and others. We didn't work in this camp, but we also didn't get enough to eat. The number of sick grew, and some died, not making it to liberation. Among the dead were Jecheskiel (Zigi) Prajs, grandson of Henoch Prajs from Staszów; this happened three days before liberation.

May 9, 1945: The day of liberation finally came. Russian forces marched in, and an end came to our six years of horror and pain. We were very weak and emaciated. At the time I weighed 28 kilos [61.7 pounds]. We remained in Theresienstadt until June 23, when we returned to Poland. Everyone was hoping to find someone from their family after the great catastrophe. We arrived in Kraków on July 1, 1945, after 9 days of traveling. There we found a group of people from Staszów and stayed there until August 12, 1945.

We wanted to go to Staszów but were afraid to risk it because of the danger of being shot by the Poles. The A.K. [Armia Krajowa–Polish Home Army] gangs, as they called themselves, murdered every Jew they encountered after liberation.[9] Among those who met this fate were Hertske Brandszteter and his wife and child, who hid the entire time of the war only to be killed by Polish antisemites after liberation.

In Kraków, too, terrible antisemitic attacks began after several days of compassion on the part of certain segments of Polish society. We felt that the cursed Polish soil was no longer for us, and we decided to leave it for good. We tried to move to Linz or Prague, where larger groups of surviving Jews had concentrated, in order to set out from there to anywhere in the world where we could find a bit of rest.

 

The Pogrom in Krakow

August 11, 1945: The antisemitic Poles couldn't tolerate the fact that a small number of Jews survived the Nazis, so they decided to finish off those who had returned. A feeling portending a pogrom suddenly spread over the city. Poles began to beat every Jew they passed in the street and to throw them from trolley cars, not sparing women or children. Almost everyone had been caught up in the incitement. Police and military were drawn into the attacks and energetically assisted the hooligans.

In order to inflame people, the Poles deliberately bloodied a Polish boy and shoved him into a synagogue on Szeroka Street while many worshipers were present. Their scheme worked. Inflamed masses attacked the unfortunate Jews in the synagogue and in the street and beat them brutally. Poles began to rob Jewish property. Wild crowds besieged the house at 3 Przemyska Street, where Jewish refugees were living. Luckily, two Jewish NKVD [Soviet] police who were passing by and brandishing their weapons ordered the Polish police who were standing nearby to impose order within 15 minutes. Their threat helped, and the Jews were rescued.

This city, which was so proud of its high level of culture, its universities and religious seminaries, its strong socialist and Communist parties and progressive elements, had produced this terrible pogrom, and there was no one who tried to protect the Jews. This “cultured” Kraków could not rein in its antisemitic, bloodthirsty instincts and brutally attacked the Jewish remnants who had barely survived the Nazi hell. Four innocent Jews died at the hands of Polish hooligans that day.

August 12, 1945: The Polish Socialist Party in Kraków distributed leaflets denying their complicity in yesterday's pogrom, blaming the “Hitlerite elements” for what had occurred. Their defense did not reassure anyone. On the contrary, we came to the firm decision to leave Poland, this twentieth–century equivalent of “Bloody Spain,” and to escape as quickly as possible.

As we waited to board the train, an elderly Polish railroad official screamed at us that the Poles would soon finish off the work that Hitler had not completed, since the Jews had dared to beat up Poles yesterday ad had bloodied a Christian boy. We wanted to report this man to the authorities, but the train was about to leave, and we were sure that such a person would not be punished, given the general atmosphere.

On August 14, we arrived in Prague and from there traveled to Germany, where representatives of the Jewish Agency had organized aid for Jewish survivors.

August 20, 1945: In the Feldafing [displaced persons] camp near Munich, we found a group of Staszów Jews, among them some who had returned from hiding in the forests. We began to try to make contact with Stashovers all over the world. The postal service was not yet functioning, but a Jewish soldier from the American occupying forces connected us with Rabbi P[hilip?] Graubart in Texas, a son of the great intellect Reb Yehuda Leib Graubart, former rabbi of Staszów.

November 4, 1945: We held the first yizkor ceremony for the murdered Staszów Jews, attended by 250 Jews from Staszow, as well as Jews from neighboring towns such as Plontch [Poleshniakesaniec], Oshik [Osiek], Korezwanke [Kurozwęki], and others.

[Photo Caption First memorial service held by survivors, Feldafing, Germany, 1946]

On January 13, 1946, we established the first committee of Stashover survivors in Germany with the goal of providing aid to the sick among us. The committee included Aron Fajner; Josel Goldsztajn, Chairman; Szolem Herszkop, Secretary; Lejzor Lewkowicz; Mosze Jechiel Rozen; Herszel Goldsztajn; Chaja'le Wagner; Zelik Pantirer; Herszel Goldberg; Mendel Lipszyc; Herszel Bukszpan; Binem Rozensztok; Zisel Dula; Elchanan Szternlicht; Avrom Zylbersztajn; Szlomo Graf; and Jankiel Buchman. Later, we received aid from Staszów Jews living elsewhere, such as Canada, Argentina, Israel, and so forth.

At that time, Poles in Stuttgart killed a boy, Abramele Jaskóleshniakeska, son of Awner and Sara. The Poles lured him into the woods, promising him something to sell, and killed him. A similar fate befell Aron Milgram, son of Jechiel and Perla Jenta, who was shot by Poles in Katowice. In the Kraków pogrom, Dawid Kirszenwurcel, the son of Shvartsn [Black] Abram (the butcher), died; and Izrael Sznifer, son of Mosze Sznifer (“Korzh”) was badly wounded.

In March, 1947, Tauba Solarz died in the Turkheim [DP] camp.

On July 1, 1947, we unveiled a memorial stone at the cemetery in Hessental, Germany (60 kilometers from Stuttgart) in memory of the Stashovers who died in the Hessental Camp three months before liberation. The inscription reads: “In everlasting memorial of the slaughtered from Staszów, including those anonymous Jews who fell for the martyrdom of their people in the year 5705 (1944–45).”

Their names are Abram Bergman, Icek Guterbaum, Eli Barnsztajn, Aszer Asker, Dawid Zyngier, Zundel Goldflus, Zalman Kaufman, Icek Nisengarten, Dawid Hautman, Josef Szaniecki, Jenkel Lemberger, Chaim Szaniecki, Josel Rubinzon, Icek Futerman, Izrael Lejb Lewkowicz, Lejbel Lipszyc, Majer Mansdorf, Mosze Broner, Mosze Jaskowicz, Mosze Nisencwajg, Mosze Rafaleshniakesowicz, Nuta Rozencwajg, Fiszel Brendzel, Szolem Szmajser, Baruch Szlomo Zylbersztajn, Szlomo Cebularz, and Szymon Lipman.

Ezil Goldberg, son of Szmul and Bajla–Tema, who was in a sanatorium in Göttingen after the war, died there on July 29, 1947. Also in 1947, Rywka Ajchen, daughter of Aron Sofer and wife of Szczakówka, died in the Hofgeismar [DP] camp. By 1946, the Stashover Jews had begun to forsake the cursed German soil for other countries, such as Israel, America, Australia, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, and others.

Of the Jewish children from Staszow, the following survived:

The daughter of Abram and Lea Grosberg, granddaughter of Izraelke Wajcman and Fajwel Grosberg. The little girl was entrusted to a Christian woman named Baltin, who lived on Górna Rytwiańska Street, and lives today in Israel.

The daughter of Fajwel and Bluma Hautman, granddaughter of Szmul Hersz Garber and Anszel Rozenbaum. The 3–year–old was entrusted to a Christian, Czerna, on Stolodna Street. She now lives in Canada.

The daughter of Mosze and Henia Nisencwajg, granddaughter of Nechemia Nisencwajg and Izrael Wajsbrot was saved in Warsaw.

The daughter of Malka Cederbaum, granddaughter of Motel Witenberg. The child was saved by a former Endek, Szczurek, and after the war was reunited with her mother.

These were among the few noble deeds carried out by a small group of Poles who manifested profound humanity in their relations with their unfortunate Jewish neighbors. The number of such people was, however, so negligible that they cannot atone for the great sins of their people toward the Jews, with whom they lived for hundreds of years, creating a valuable cultural and material heritage.

In this way, a sacred community in Staszow perished, and in this way, the Nazis annihilated thousands of communities in Poland and in all of Europe, with the help of certain other nationalities, thirsty for Jewish blood.

God! Do not forgive the murderers of your people of Israel, and give us the strength and courage to transmit our fury and scorn to future generations until the end of time. May those who said and did nothing in the face of such barbaric murder suffer a shameful stigma forever, and may future generations look with shame upon that generation and its leaders, who are not worthy of being called human beings.

May the memory of our martyrs be magnified and sanctified forever and for all eternity! Amen.

 

Notes
  1. The English version of this article in the 1962 Staszów Book comprised the entries from December 30, 1941 to November 17, 1942, with some abridgement. The earlier (1939–41) and later entries (1943–47), as well as the entries for June, 1942, August, 1942, and parts of September 11, October 10, and November 1, 10, and 11 entries were first translated from the original Yiddish by Miriam Leberstein for the 2019 edition. Return
  2. Leshniakes–foresters. In Polish, leśniak is a kind of bird (vireo), although leśnik is a forester. The Yiddish term seems a hybrid of both. Return
  3. ZEORK– This was indeed the local electric company, Zjednoczenie Elektrowni Okręgu Radomsko–Kieleckiego, United Electric Companies of the Radom–Kielce District. Given how important all the utilities were, it is unlikely to have been run by Poles during the occupation, unless they were dedicated collaborators.–DF Return
  4. Garber (cognate with Polish garbarz) means tanner and is thus probably an occupational designator, not a proper surname. Return
  5. Judenstaaten –plural of Judenstaat, “Jewish state,” the title of a novel by Theodor Herzl projecting the ideal life in a Jewish homeland reconstituted in the Land of Israel. The term was used ironically and derisively by the Nazis to refer to the ghettos of Sandomierz, Radom, and other cities, to entice Jews from other locations to relocate there in the false hope that their lives would be spared by this maneuver. Return
  6. This possibly refers to a man named Szczurek, who was remembered with gratitude in the Dyrcz–Freeman family. He was a known antisemite before the war but risked his life rescuing Jews during the war–one of the paradoxes of the experience of World War II in Poland.–DF Return
  7. The “Jędrusie” were one of the longest lasting underground youth groups founded in the first days of the war by Wleshniakesadysleshniakesaw Jasiński, a scoutmaster, attorney, and teacher. The young people in the group were held to a very high moral standard and carried out innumerable clandestine operations, including, as here, execution of collaborators. They were active in the Tarnobrzeg area, thus not far from Staszów and environs. However honorable they in fact were, it is likely that independent operatives could call themselves “Jędrusie” and do what they wished.–DF Return
  8. The text here has “Terespol” but this is probably an error on the author's part, as Terespol is on the Poland–Belarus border far from the other towns mentioned here. The town Třebívlice, Czechia, is indeed on the road from Chomutov to Litomeřice and Theresienstadt, a day's walk from each, and is probably the site of the event recalled here. Return
  9. As with the Jędrusie, independent operatives with various motives could call themselves “Armia Krajowa” and carry out self–initiated actions without supervision or authorization. Return

 

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