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[Pages 528 - 530]


(Olchowiec, Poland)

50°21' 22°59'

Rafael Wasserman

Translated by Martin Jacobs


The Wasserman family
Right to left: Elazar (lives in America), Moshe Naftali (father) and Beile (mother), who were tortured by the Germans; daughter Chana (perished); Yosef and Rafael (living in Israel)


My parents lived for years in Olchowiec, a village 18 km. from Tarnogrod. All five Jewish families living there belonged to the Tarnogrod Jewish community. Relations between the Jews and the peasant population were friendly, and no one foresaw that killers would come from there who would cooperate with the Nazi murderers.

The Jews in Olchowiec were pious and preserved the Jewish traditions. They eked out a difficult living trading with the peasants of the village, acquiring among them a reputation as honest people who worked hard for a little bit of bread but would never cheat anyone out of a penny.

The younger children were sent to Tarnogrod to study in the heyder, where they absorbed Jewish ways for their journey through life.


Great was the weeping, and heart–rending the singing of the prayer leader. “On Rosh Hashana it is written, and on Yom Kippur sealed”, and on that Yom Kippur the great Destruction was decreed for the Jewish people, which did not spare the simple honest Jews of Olchowiec.

Even in the most dangerous days the Jews of our village took care not to eat unkosher food (God forbid!). Avrahamtche, the ritual slaughterer, having walked a whole night from Józefów, came to our village to slaughter a cow. Jews came to my father to buy kosher meat from other nearby villages as well.

On that day two Jewish girls from Oleszyce came to us and bought two kilograms of kosher meat. As they were walking back home they were stopped by German SS personnel, who took the meat and forced them to show them where they had bought it. They arrested my father and also got to the slaughterer. I hid for about a week until they caught me too and arrested me. For three weeks straight they tortured us and beat us severely on our naked bodies. They wanted us to give them the names of other Jews involved in the kosher meat affair. When they were unsuccessful they freed us on two thousand zloty security.

Our peasant neighbors found out that we were given a brief period in which to bring the money and knew we were unable to raise such a large sum. Immediately one peasant after another came to us and in a few days the necessary amount was collected.

But the Germans didn't leave us alone for long. A decree was soon issued requiring us to leave our village and move to Józefów. They took my father away to Maidanek, where he was among the first victims.

My brother Elazar was in Warsaw at that time. For a while he worked as a baker for the Germans, then did hard labor in the labor camps. The liberation found him in Germany, and he is now in America.

Yosl remained with us and also succeeded in being rescued, after experiencing all the horrors of that time, witnessing the death of our nearest and dearest. The three of us are the only ones left of our entire family, which so horribly perished along with all the other kind and sincere Jews from the village of Olchowiec.


Once, once, in Tarnogrod…


Right to left: Eli Han (lives in Bolivia), Eliezer Teicher (Israel), Yoske Goldman (died in exile in Russia), Faiwel Koenigsberg (Israel), Yehuda Leicher (Argentina), Baruch Gutherz, son of Chaim–Yechiel the slaughterer (perished)


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