In Memory of Mark and Arlene Krochmal.
The life of the Survivor of The Holocaust has been impossible to contemplate, yet we are well aware that it has not been an easy one and not just with the ghosts of memory. There is the sense of loss that the term Survivoral Guilt brings to the fore and there is that constant and nagging knowledge of the very betrayal they encountered. Given also that the realisation that there was the clear cut abandonment of the Jewish whim, and to the whim of Hitler, this leaves the Survivor with far too much to despair over. To have Survived at all, when there was a clear Hitler directive that No Jew should ever Survive, is such an immense achievement for any Jew to have managed. I know all too well, there are many a Survivor who call their Survival a matter of luck, as if we can find luck in anything that was brutally meted out to them.
“..A new era has arrived. A different world came to Western Ukraine ..political parties were banned without exception and their leaders exiled to Siberia. People were afraid to talk to each other freely ..management of drilling projects quickly changed. ” Abraham Hauptman.
True, for the chances that the Survivor has taken to eventually emerge, it is with their sheer determination not to submit to the callousness and outrage of the overall atrocity, but to persevere so as to remember, that they have ensured that not all Jews were annihilated. For the Jewish Survivor’s Mark and Arlene Krochmal, who emerged from the desecration of Jewish Boryslaw, they are amongst the many who ensure there is a continued Jewish presence in the World today. For the Polish City of Boryslaw, which was residing at the foot hills of the Carpathian Mountains, what drew the Jewish People toward it is now steeped in a Jewish tradition that is all but lost.
“..1877. ..At this time ..part of Poland called East Galicia was part of Austro-Hungarian Empire ..ruled then by ..Emperor Franz Josef ..whose policies towards ..Jews were tolerant.” Marcus Markel.
Of course, the area was rich in Oil and this allowed the forward thinking and frontier mentality of those Jews who migrated there, a boon Town that grew into a City of Jewish content that was above and beyond 30% of the population. Later, with outer influences, the Town and City was also known as Boryslav, and even Borislav, after it was ceded to the Ukraine by Russian intervention in Poland. The War Russia would engage in and alongside Hitler in 1939, for this oil rich place, as much owned by Jews as the Jews who worked in its fields and refinery’s, it had grown rapidly and prospered. However, and tragically for the Jews of this City, German intervention, and a seething animosity from both non-Jewish Poles and Ukrainians, the tolerance toward Jewish Citizenry dissipated.
“..A forest council ..committee was established. It was headed by Mundek Schwartz from Boryslaw. ..council’s task was to find a hiding place for any Jew. ..council members assigned people to ..various hiding places and established new hideouts for those that had lost theirs.” Frieda Koch.
For Boryslaw is now a desolate place, devoid of its Jewish influence, for it was here, amongst the many such Shtetl’s, Villages, Towns and Cities of Poland which had harboured its Jewish Community, the Jewish People were to be targeted. Since Hitler realised that Jewish blood could be extinguished at will and wherever he wished, Poland with 3,650,000 Jews within its boundary, proved to be the other catalyst to Weltanschauung, his pervasive World view. Also, and throughout the 1930’s, antisemitism scaled newer heights within Poland and the locally induced pogroms, readily conducted against Jewish merchants plying their trade in the surrounding areas, convinced Hitler he would have little opposition to The Final Solution.
“..1930 ..Matilda ..married a farmer from ..Olszanik ..near Sambor. ..They had 3 Sons ..3 Daughters. Their firstborn Son’s name was Wowa. From ..time I was 5 ..my Parents used to send me to their home for ..holidays ..often for an entire month. I liked being there for I could ride horses and drink milk right from ..cow. ..fresh farmer’s produce ..vegetables ..potatoes ..carrots ..cucumbers ..also fruit ..apples ..pears ..plums. ..produce was brought in horse drawn wagons to our town of Boryslaw ..where it was sold to merchants. Father ..a shopkeeper ..used to buy it for his grocery. ..Aunt Matilda ..her Husband ..Children ..were sent to Belzec.” Marcus Markel.
As the scale of atrocity grew in intensity, the Jews in Poland were as yet unaware that what Hitler would afford them would be more directed, brutal and lasting. However, with such assaults and abuses by locals even in the City of Boryslaw, all directed against their own Jewish neighbours, robbery and killings were also rife. More and more Jews from the rural areas sought a better sense of security from within Town and even City limits. This did not go without Hitler noticing. The overall reaction to this growing assault upon the Jewish integrity with Poland was the formation of Jewish Fighting Units, who organized themselves in the fight back. While Boryslaw is a space, which sought out refuge from its own surroundings, it is undistinguished from so many other places within Poland.
“..there are good and bad people in every race ..in every country. It is to humanity’s credit that ..good generally succeed ..though never easily and never quickly.” Sabina Wolanski.
However, it is so clearly distinguished from those same or similar places of Europe that did not as yet have to contend with Hitler’s plan for the Final Solution of the Jewish People. In all of history, and due to the vicious nature of what happened to the Jewish People here in Boryslaw, and for that matter in every Town that occupied Jewish minds for Century’s, the perversity of The Holocaust haunts the existence of Europe to this day. With the bond broken between the Boryslaw Jew and its Boryslaw lands, The Holocaust is written in the Jewish Blood of 19,500 of the some 20,500 of Boryslaw’s Jews no longer alive. While this surely recognises both the inhumanity in humankind and the genuine successes most humans make to prevent most of the atrocity that occurs, The Holocaust has written more than a chapter of degeneracy toward a People for being Jews.
“..They could have gone to China as a Russian Jewish soldier could take them. My Father’s Father Raisel Krochmal said what could they do to us. They had no idea what was coming.” Marilyn Krochmal Gelfand.
Of course, we cannot even be truly accurate with the assessment of this census of a detail written in numbers, as many Jews who gravitated toward the larger metropolis from more exposed outlying areas, many of these failed to acknowledge their habitable status with Boryslaw. Politically too, there was a diversity of outlooks, some harbouring a view that leaving for Palestine was a safer course while all too many others leaned toward the more socially concerned, even communist front their homes would afford them. Among the Communist activists in Boryslaw was Marek Rattner, who had been a medical student in Prague, and who received a six-year sentence from Polish Courts for his Communist held views.
“..Jews from Schodnica were transferred by trucks to ..train in Boryslaw and from there to Belzec and ..Janowska camp in Lvov. Many from Urycz and Pereprostyna were killed in July and August 1941 ..during ..Ukrainian pogroms and other pogroms afterwards. ..In ..Hebrew month of Elul 1941 they gathered ..Jews from Urycz and Pereprostyna ..and killed them by machine-gun” Joseph Kitai.
However, freed by the Russians, and after they took up their bi-lateral agreement to partition Poland in September 1939, Marek Rattner became the Deputy Mayor of Boryslaw from 1939 until 1941. Also, and it is clear that whatever idea’s any Jews had of the approaching intention of Hitler’s Nazi’s, and we know this can only ever be speculated upon and surmised, the certain belief that Jewish Poland would be a wasteland for more than just Jews, is certain. In the wake of Hitler’s Weltanschauung, a World View without Jews was wholly envisaged with not a single Jew in it. Enough here however is known, and from the Survivor, that the tally of the destruction which was met in Boryslaw, and similarly throughout Europe, was what the Jewish People were forcefully met with, and that had been a well ordered and orchestrated plan of annihilation.
“..It is appropriate to make known ..story of ..young Jews from Boryslaw ..brave heroes ..who saved about 300 Jews from ..city. It seems to me that this was ..only case that such a significant number of Jews were saved by ..actions of young people who took it upon themselves to build hiding places in ..surrounding forests.” Bezalel Linhard.
At this time of direst deadly consequences for these Jews, and I bring to mind that there were more than 1,500 of the Jews of Boryslaw who were merely Children, whose maturity of age was from Infancy to the late teen. Given the fact that they were indeed Children, this did not negate the attention Hitler paid to them and these all added to what became of the at least 18,000 other Jews destroyed. The very Jewish soul of Boryslaw had been ripped from its core foundations and extinguished. The inherent needs of the Jews in Boryslaw were plenty and there were various charitable groups Bes Lekhem, Bikur Kholim, Hashgakha and Moadon Khevruti who delivered assistance where needed. The operators of these institutions were principally the Jewish Women of the Community who raised funds, collected and distributed clothing, opened kitchens and supplied medical care. ]
“..We needed equipment and construction materials ..food and weapons. I can attest that in ..work camp ..there was almost nothing you could not get for money.” Arnold Distler.
But! As the struggle to ensure the safety of Jewish Boryslaw was an on going effort, and not to put too fine a distinction upon this, there was a murderous tally of hatred that undid every bit of life saving communal effort. I am certain too, given that I have overseen the pages of this particular research, with a scrutiny that lapped itself many times over, that there could be far more than even that 19,500 number of the Murdered Jews of Boryslaw. I make that assumption, and if ever we get round to fairly calculating the loss to us all, I am sure it can be verified. Of course, the eventual blood lust which Hitler inflicted upon 3,000,000 or so Polish Jews, is only to be measured alongside what we estimate as 6,000,000 Slaughtered Jewish People who are The Holocaust.
“..I did not perceive myself as a vendor of personal guilt and private reminiscences ..nor as a chronicler of ..disaster that befell my People and my generation ..but purely as a story teller.” Jerzy Kosinski.
While History balks at the possibility that many more than 6,000,000 Jews of Europe were Destroyed, as Europe was blinded by indifference toward them, we struggle still further to come to terms with any understanding at all fully compounded by the scale of inaccuracy we are failing to deal with. Uncertainty, and even wilful deceit so as to conceal the true nature of the atrocity, will burden the fate of Humanity for far more years than we have thus far sought to minimise it. It is true of that calculation that has been made, and that not even here at Boryslaw, can we ever be certain of that assessment. Given the evidence of that so many have made throughout the era of The Holocaust itself, we have doubted the very clear testimony afforded us. For far more than the 19,500 Jews assessed her within Boryslaw’s reach, far too many more have probably lost their lives to the will of Hitler’s plan.
“..My Grandmother ..Berta Seeman ..had 2 Sisters and 2 Brothers. One Brother ..Itzik Seeman ..lived with his family in ..town of Skole south of Stryj. There is not a trace of their family. All of them were killed in ..Extermination Camp Sobibor. ..other Brother Hano Seeman ..who lived in Lvov ..was exterminated with his family.” Marcus Markel.
Of course, nothing of this Jewish Blood will be stilled by the lack of justice shown for their extermination, and from a one story teller to another, we gather enough pieces together to mark a piece in a giant jigsaw puzzle. Me personally, I choose to chronicle, in as much detail as I possibly can, the lost vain hopes of those 6,000,000 Jews, and though not as a personal reminiscence, it is with a sense of shame that such guilt for this perpetration was not more severely punished. Also, the Worlds indifference toward the vast majority of these Jews, which accuses civilisations sheer lack of compassion in this crime against humanity, is not to be written out of their History. Of course, while Boryslaw is not unique in the excruciating detail of The Holocaust, the room for much brutality was always unique to Hitler’s horde’s.
“..We want to save ..memories of ..Jewish streets of Boryslaw ..even if only very few of us are still around. There are 1,000 or 2,000 ..perhaps ..scattered around ..world.” Leopold Held.
Along with local collaborator’s, who sought to exact their own brand of vengeance, and they too go very much unpunished by any law we would consider just. The spoils of such inhumanity, the sins of which the Children of the parents have inherited, is now being vindicated by their own governments of today. Here though, with more than 19,500 former Jewish residents of Boryslaw, those alive and those forever extinguished, there are words, let alone my words, which can never come close to understanding or comprehending this devastating loss. For one third of the Town’s population, who were Jews, it is perhaps not all that exceptional an ending for Polish Jews resident within Poland. As the horror is equally witnessed and compared from within all the other Jewish communities of Poland, and throughout Europe, so many Jewish Community’s have been singularly extinguished.
“..Life was bearable. Those who worked could live in dignity. ..Jews had somewhat of a reprieve. ..officially they could not be harassed ..cursed. ..Life under ..Russian regime was pretty good ..especially for ..youth.” Mordechai Marakel.
With this assault upon the integrity of a Jewish Community within Boryslaw, it has to be remembered, and not is isolation, that as a collective effort by Hitler’s demands so as to satiate his own level of hatred for the Jews, other’s picked up the reins of this hatred. What went beyond the bounds of humanity as the Jewish People are being hounded to extinction is the inhumanity which commands that humanity ceased to exist for all civilising purposes. Here too within Boryslaw, and in perhaps as many as a dozen aktionen in and around the City, and along with resettlement exercises completing the decimation of this Jewish Community, there was much for many to profit from, from the very essence of a former Jewish presence no longer of Boryslaw. For these Jews who were extinguished here, and from all former existence, their worth to many was a calculated one in assets stripped from the backs of a slaughtered Jewish People.
“.. My Moms Parents Malka Chill and Mordechai Chill were shot in their own backyard in 1939. Her sister Tema Chill was captured ..a Nazi killed her 5 year old Son in front of her. She said kill me too and he did.” Marilyn Krochmal Gelfand.
While Boryslaw had a very successful athletics team, and there was even a Football Team known as Kadimah, there were amongst the athletics such regulars as Duvko Gartenhaus, Ciulo and Motl Ginsburg, Bronek Jaeger, Max Krochmal, Shlomo Wagman and Izio Wegner. On the football side, which also had some mutual members from the athletics team, these were Chaim Berger, Duvko Gartenhaus, Ciulo Ginsberg, Motl Ginsberg, Mechel Grabow, Bronek Jaeger, Max Kreisberg, Max Krochmal, Shamo Okerman, Izio Parnes, Manes Pfeferbaum, Shimek Rand, Shlomo Wagman, Hesio Wechselberg and Izio Wegner. These we must seek, Always to Remember, and in order that we should choose, Never to Forget them.
“..I was 18 at ..time and kept thinking how and where could we build some type of bunker or hiding place in or around ..house where we lived so that when ..time came ..we could get there quickly and hide” Mordechai Marakel.
On August 23rd. 1939 and in preparation for Hitler’s assault upon the integrity of Poland, and Poland is to be partitioned in connivance with and in accordance with the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact that was signed by the then German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and his Russian counterpart Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov. Firstly though, with the arrival of a Division of the Wehrmacht on September 12th. 1939, many Jews of Boryslaw were considering a future in hiding as many were being rounded up. The occupying German Army now seized many local Jewish towns people for their slave labour battalions and work details. Of course, looting went hand in glove with all such occupying force and was a regular occurrence.
“..1940 ..when ..Miriam married Leon Shorr in Boryslaw ..I was 16. Her husband was a senior worker in ..oil refinery where he earned a good salary. ..1941 ..they had their firstborn Daughter ..just when ..between ..U.S.S.R. and Germany started. I liked Miriam and her family very much. They lived on our street ..Lukasiewicza Street ..Boryslaw ..just in front of ..police headquarters.” Marcus Markel.
For all manner of Jewish property, goods, valuables and foodstuffs to be stolen, was an act of aggression aimed directly at the Jewish People. Of course, this not only incentivised the local non-Jewish Poles and Ukrainian nationalists to follow suit, and with German approval, emboldened them to both rob and brutalise their Jewish Neighbours. On September 17th. 1939, with the Russians march into Galicia, they occupy Lvov, and the rest of Galicia east of the San River, a slight reprieve for the Jewish People here. However, there is no let up in the brutal treatment of the Jews to the West of the River as such attacks on the Jewish People that had been evident here in Boryslaw, and in 100’s of other Jewish Shtetl was unrelenting.
“..My parents were hidden by a Polish woman and her daughter under ..floor where there was a root cellar with his sister and her husband. They were ok for a while as my Father owned an oil well.” Marilyn Krochmal Gelfand.
All Villages, Towns and City’s of Poland ensured all hope would be extinguished and for the sporting Jews of Boryslaw, the continuation of such physical and sporting activity was thwarted. As for the rest of the Jews of Poland, who were immediately threatened by the Germans and even their former neighbours, life was becoming an unbearable drudgery. Unspeakable horrors confronted the Jews on their doorstep and a daily basis and as elsewhere, many Jews of Boryslaw were killed. With the arrival of the Russians forces though, who according to the pact with Hitler took Eastern Poland under its control, they arrived on September 24th. and this brought a temporary halt to these anti-Jewish hostilities.
“..Grandmother’s Sister Regina, a pharmacist, lived with her family in Warsaw. She died with all her family in Treblinka.” Marcus Markel.
However, not all went well for those Boryslaw Jews who had once owned or even worked in the Oil industry, which Russia now sought to nationalize. On November 1st. 1939 with the Russian occupation of Galicia dominant, this now becomes part of the Ukrainian SSR, a satellite of Stalin’s sphere of influence. In the Summer of 1940, there is an influx of Polish Jews from Western Poland into Boryslaw but these are sent to the interior of Russia, and throughout the period of 1940, and with Russian influence, the shift of power moved away from both Jews, and their non-Jewish Polish neighbours. With a more focused drive to endorse a more Ukrainian based influence in the area, Jews and non-Jewish Poles alike are under Ukrainian influence.
“..There were human issues in our first and second bunker. ..many bunkers fell apart because of friction and personal issues among ..occupants. Many people lived together within a very small space and under a lot of pressure. Discipline was one of ..main issues.” Arnold Distler,
With Hitler’s sudden move and his lightning attack on Russia with Operation Barbarossa June 22nd. 1941, Jewish existence within Boryslaw, as with all of Poland, was thrown into an even greater scale of confusion. The escalation of fear and then atrocity grew with such intensity, the belief amongst most of these Jews of Boryslaw was swayed away from civilisation’s lessons. No longer would culture be seen as their saviour as it was forfeited to an abandonment of all that had civilised much of such society. Humanity was totally abandoned by the Nazi’s and the most flagrant excesses of bestiality was brought to bear on an innocent Jewish Community fully fixed upon the idea of human beings acting humanely.
“..My father’s Parents were Raisel Krochmal and Moshe Krochmal. Claire Krochmal and Kivi Krochmal were his siblings. My parents were hidden underground in a vegetable cellar and my Mom was pregnant and lost a son. She used to send things but I do not know ..names of ..Mother and Daughter who hid them since I never could talk about it. My Parents said they would never set foot there again. My Dad owned an oil well and his Father worked in a bank. My Mom’s dad had a confectionary shop on a bridge. When they emerged ..Poles were very cruel.” Marilyn Krochmal Gelfand.
Much of Jewish Youth from Boryslaw, at least those that could do so, either sought to join the Russian forces, and against Hitler, or were simply persuaded to flee East toward inner Russia. The warning signs were compounding much of what Jewish existence had been attempting to come to terms with. With the almost immediate arrival of der Einsatzgruppe a week later into the City, these Hitlerite special murder squads, who would deal more methodically with the Jewish People, saw to the escalation of fear as it grew toward its more rampant and terrifying atrocity. The Germans had arrived back into Boryslaw June 30th. 1941 and at 8:00 pm, and on the morning of July 1st. 1941, the renewal of Hitler’s Final Solution for all the Jews here and for the rest of Europe, was fully engaged and put back into operation.
“..My father started thinking and planning for a hiding place immediately after ..move to ..ghetto. Based on my Father’s plan ..we dug a huge hole in ..yard and covered it with logs. We worked day and night until ..hole was covered and ..interior was also ready. ..Germans knew that almost every house had a hiding place.” Bezalel Linhard.
With the Russians retreating hurriedly, the NKVD blew up the power station in Boryslaw and even set alight to some of the oil wells, all of this in terms of what Stalin demanded would be a scorched Earth policy. Also, with the retreating Russian intelligence agents destroying any evidence of their former presence, they murdered 20 of the arrested local Ukrainian nationalist militia, These, who they had previously arrested and imprisoned led to a counter reaction which fell heavily upon the Jews once the Russians had departed. As the Jews were collectively blamed for this particular atrocity, the renewed excesses reminded Boryslaw’s Jews, they were given any due consideration. This led, on July 2nd. 1941 to 300 of Boryslaw’s Jews being murdered in the centre of City, and just behind the Butcher Shop in the businesses own Slaughterhouse.
“..Frida married a farmer whose name was Jagel. They were not as prosperous. They worked very hard on their farm where they had horses ..poultry ..and dogs. They had 2 Sons ..one ..enlisted in ..Soviet Army in 1938. One of my Aunt Frida’s Sons fought with ..Soviet armies during ..war and therefore survived. My Aunt ..Frida ..her Husband ..and their other Son died in Belzec near ..end of 1942.” Marcus Markel.
Although this Slaughter was with German encouragement, it was not quite the connivance needed by the local populace to act with their intense and already heightened hatred toward their own Jewish Neighbours. The motive of profit was always at the heart of such an abiding hatred and sure enough, all over Poland, and not just here in Boryslaw, so called christian belief was torn asunder in order to steal, abuse and Murder the Jews of Poland. There were groups of non-Jewish Poles and Ukrainians, and all the while the Germans looked on, as the actions of the NKVD saw the Jewish People of Boryslaw to clear out the murdered bodies of the 20 Ukrainian nationalists from the prison and along Panska Street, they are forced to wash them before burial. The Jews had to prepare these Ukrainian nationalists for their burial, and all the time they were being brutally beaten and even killed.
“..The earth almost shivers with loving engines
every living nerve of the earth breathes of oil
no, not breathes
listen clearly how it thunders
with lungs full of Carpathian air
eagerly-widening in pink
loudly pulsates rhythmic labor
through the sleepless rattling apparatus
cuts the day with a bell
in oil bathed marble
chisels your luminous statue.” Juliusz Wit.
Attempts by many Jews to build such hiding places that would secure, for some of these hugely intimidated Jews, a sanctuary, a bolt hole that might even save them, were already under construction. Not only were these hiding places secured in the local forest but also in the Ghetto, yet to become established, and in the middle of the City itself. As we read through those impassioned words, we recognise the name Juliusz Wit, a poet who will be well known to those of Boryslaw, and who was later murdered for being a Jew. The passage depicts the soul of Jewish Boryslaw before it was terminally removed and deposited in so many spaces unknown even to those who seek them out.
“..This camp was under ..jurisdiction of ..Drohobycz Gestapo and Hilderbrant came for inspections local police conducted inspections of ..camp ..primarily by officer Nemetz ..who also commanded ..Ukrainian police. In spite of ..gifts lavished on them ..they always found irregularities and would punish and kill those parasites who could not work because of weakness and disease. We were led to and from work under guard and it was forbidden to leave ..camp. We worked ..received no wages. On ..contrary ..there were those who paid private employers out of pocket to get work permits. We lived 5 to a room in crowded conditions ..but .. place was relatively clean and warm. ..letter R was attached to our chest that was supposed to protect us from being caught on ..streets and gave us a false sense of security. ..R was clearly designated for professionals ..but was often obtained through bribes.” Mates Heilig.
On July 5th. 1941, and satisfied with the excesses enacted upon the Jews by the locals, the Germans themselves drove through the streets of Boryslaw shooting wildly at Jews wounding and killing many of them. It must become obvious to those who choose to read of these excesses to know, Jews in Boryslaw were not as easily identifiable as might be suggested and reliance upon local knowledge from both non-Jewish Poles and Ukrainians would point out who their Jewish neighbours were. Of course, the dead Jews are left where they fall are either mortally wounded or later buried in the Jewish Cemetery after being shot there. A week later, on July 12th. 43 Jews of the Intelligentsia are rounded up by the Ukrainian police and are tortured. 23 of these are then removed to the Bronica Forest, forced to dig their own graves and are shot into them.
“..It was decided to leave for ..surrounding forests. ..we sneaked from ..camp at night ..especially on ..night between Saturday and Sunday ..to build ..bunker. ..Construction took about a month. When ..bunker was dug ..covered ..hidden ..camouflaged ..sleeping bunks ..stove ..pots ..heating materials ..food ..water were installed. On an especially dark night we sneaked out of ..camp. ..We led ..women to a bunker in ..woods where they were left alone under ..ground ..alone until April 1944. ..We had advance knowledge of ..future liquidation of ..camp. ..A few days before ..we smuggled 9 more people to ..bunker ..among them a 13 year old orphan boy. And so 13 people began their lives underground ..in a residence ..5 meters by 2.5 meters. ..food supply came from thefts at night and goods purchased at inflated prices from a bribed Ukrainian peasant. ..A month before liberation our bunker was discovered. By Germans and Ukrainians with dogs.” Gustek Halpern.
The reprieve for the remaining captive Jews lasts until July 22nd. when the remaining 20 Jews are also Murdered in the Bronica Forest. On Friday July 25th., the Boryslaw Judenrate is created with Michael Herz as the Judenrate Chairman and Heinrich Engelberg and Herz Goldmann on the Committee. There are plans for a Ghetto, and these are to be sought from the most rundown parts of the City. Under Michael Herz, the Boryslaw Judenrate will be tasked with the matter of establishing the space for then Ghetto, provisioning for it and ensuring, from the headquarters he established in the former Hebrew school, compliance from a Nazi directive that would not allow any deviation. The Judenrate, given no choice but to confirm they had no choice, will seek to alleviate as much of or even any part of the Jewish suffering they can.
“..In ..long corridors of ..second floor people sold cakes that ..women had baked and couples were intimate ..even openly. People gambled for money.” Bezalel Linhard.
Eduard Goldmann is the liaison between the Judenrate and the German Security Police and the task has many of those same risks apportioned to the Judenrate itself. When Herz went into hiding September 1942, he was replaced by Heinrich Kahane. Gradually, all Jews are subjected to more and more restrictions, properties confiscated, businesses aryanised and plundered for all their worth. Those homes and premises, previously owned by Jews who had been Murdered already, were often left derelict. As Jews are forbidden to attend Cinema’s or Theatre and refused entry to all public buildings, the separation of Jews out of society is increased. Jews can no longer own Cars nor travel on Public Transport.
“..It was obvious ..Germans would kill all ..Jews. It was clear that first they would eliminate ..Women ..Children ..Older People ..then ..Young People’s and workers’ turn would come. There was no longer any doubt. So even though we did not know for sure where they took ..2 transports of Jews from ..2nd. and 3rd. Aktions ..Gentiles rumoured that ..Jews were deported for extermination. Having no choice ..we got used to such rumours and accepted ..fact that those who were gone would never return”. Mordechai Marakel.
The further confiscation of Jewish goods, furs, jewellery, radios and telephones, can no longer be owned by Jews as next in the Nazi sights are Jewish legal rights which are to be denied to them. Also, rationing was intensified for all Jews as non-Jewish locals moved quickly to capitalise on this with plundering what extra worth they could gain for a slice of bread. On August 1st. 1941 a local Jew by the name of Jonas is tasked with Heading the Jewish Order Police and on November 22nd. 1941 Michael Herz is ordered to inform the Judenrate that Boryslaw must round up 1,000 of its unemployed Jews. With these selected must be their Rebbe and other religious, others of their intelligentsia and those who are considered unfit for the Labour gangs.
“..What did our palace look like. ..entrance was an opening of about half square meter. Inside it was dark and ..smoke from ..stove stung our eyes. We were given 2 wet wooden bunks. It was wet and mouldy everywhere ..mud was ankle deep ..Children were crying. We would go out for a little while after dark.” Tamar Sokol-Diamont.
Word however, had reached Michael Herz of a reprisal action that had been conducted in Drohobycz, and the opinion of the Judenrate collectively is to not comply. This brings the might and terror of the Nazi officials onto Boryslaw’s streets and they immediately set about rounding up any Jew they see until they have gained their tally of those 1,000 Jews to be found. With their search, both relentless and ruthless, the shock of the assault makes future considerations of engaging in the Nazi list, a more tempered effort. The essential need to Survive was met by many who sought differing ways to do so, and as Boryslaw’s Youth grouped themselves and planned to cross the Romanian and Hungarian borders, while those Jews choosing to remain within the confines of Boryslaw, sought their own ways to remain somehow inconspicuous.
“..After 5 or 6 weeks in ..bunker we heard ..sound of a forester approaching. He wanted clothing. I told him I would get him new clothing. I brought him pants from ..bunker. He leaned his rifle on a tree. His legs became caught in ..pants as he was trying to pull them up. I jumped on him and started choking him ..rest of ..People from ..bunker finished ..job.” Arnold Distler.
Tragically, all too many of the Jews who sought routes out of the City and who sought the assistance of local smuggler’s, these Mountain tour guides, were either intercepted enroute and delivered back to the Nazi’s or were betrayed by their paid helpers. Many though, who sought out their own journey’s, ever fraught with danger, many were caught by local farmers, foresters or travelling sales people. They too were handed over to the Nazi’s and murdered. Many hid out in the Forests in flimsy dug outs, where they sought to secure some form of sanctuary for themselves and the Women and Children that had come along with them. Of course, food and water, the 2 most essentials to life and living were difficult if not impossible to come by and many conceded their way back to the seeming secure area of the City.
“..100 People were pushed into each freight car. Women ..Children ..crying ..SS were herding them in while screaming their commands. Those who were not fast enough were beaten with clubs and rifle butts. They were using dogs and many Jews were bitten. ..Ukrainian police especially excelled in this. ..car was crowded. There was no place to sit on ..floor. Only 2 openings at ..top of ..car ..wrapped in barbed wire ..only source of clean air and ..only contact with ..outside world. We relieved ourselves through 2 holes in ..floor of ..car. Those that could not reach them relieved themselves where they were. Between ..cars ..Ukrainian police were keeping guard and would shoot towards us from time to time for no apparent reason ..perhaps to dissuade us from any thoughts of escape. They wounded numerous people. During ..nightly stops they passed by ..cars and gesturing to their throats they demonstrated our fate. They demanded watches and other valuables saying that we no longer had use for them.” Mates Heilig.
The very descriptive assault upon the Jews of Boryslaw as we revisit it here, sees a compelled Judenrate unwilling to comply, forced to reconsider its strategy as the excesses of the Nazi horde takes its revenge. With the taking of both the young, the able, the strong and the capable, a fait accompli strikes at the heart of each and every Judenrate, and its members throughout Poland. Does it give up its weakest, it most vulnerable in order to save the body of the Jewish People. Here, and while I am certain The Final Solution of the Jewish Question was unknown to any Jew, in all of its systematic demands of total destruction, the deliberate lack of choice was an intentioned one. The choice then to choose those who might yet survive the strictures of all that Hitler had thus thrown at the Jews, was a heavy consideration for far too many to have to bear.
“..Yehezkel Bartel ..my second uncle ..married Hudla Zumer in 1940. When I was 16 ..I was present at their wedding. They did not have children. In October 1942 they too were sent from Boryslaw ..to their deaths in Belzec. ” Marcus Markel.
The eventual destruction of these 1,000 and more of Boryslaw’s Jews, ferociously removed and transported to the Tustanowicea Forest, included Jews who might otherwise have been considered for Labour details and hence, a more possible opportunity for Survival. Mine is not the reason why but to understand that the calamity that struck deep at the Jewish People, within the tenets of The Final Solution was the choices they were not free to make but were allowed to make had no possibility of altering what was already predicated upon their death warrant already issued. Those choices the Jews did not have for Surviving Hitler’s intention for them all was till an unknown commodity, even as late as the Winter of 1942. From November 27th. till 29th. 1942 more and more Jews from Boryslaw were being Murdered in nearby forests.
“..Dozens of Jews were in ..forests. ..bunkers were dug by different groups. Individuals from ..bunkers would go to ..villages to buy food. Overall ..it was very difficult and dangerous. Occasionally they were caught by ..Germans or ..local Gentiles would catch them and give them up. ..Germans would torture a captured Jew to force him to disclose ..group’s hiding place and sometimes ..after severe torture ..person had to lead ..Germans to ..bunker.” Mordechai Marakel.
This period, under the careful watch of Schutzpolizei Gustav Wuepper, who was in charge of the 3 day aktionen, along with the systematic liquidation of 1,500 of Boryslaw’s Jews, mostly the elderly, the infirm and the ill were taken to the local forests. These had been ripped from the arms of all they had come to know and were Murdered by an Einsatz detachment or transported further afield to the Mraznica and Tustanowice Forests, near Truskavets, and are then Murdered in their previously dug graves. For those Jews who were still left behind in the City, and were meanwhile detained without adequate food or water, these Jews of Boryslaw also greatly suffered while awaiting the same or similar atrocity.
“..ripped from Mother’s arms we never saw each other again. ..Mother was murdered in a camp.” Sabina Haberman.
Here, and we only have to imagine what Sabina Haberman felt at the time, and then on throughout the life of her Survival, and though her Mother might have been one of these on this particular transport, or other transports that alighted within Belzec, and from where none of them Survived, Sabina doesn’t know which atrocity condemns her Mother. As these food and water shortages proved, with the consequences both ravaging and thus killing all too many of what was the disappearing reservoir of Jewish Boryslaw, there was nowhere else for the surviving Jews to go. During the severe Winter of 1941 and early part of 1942, and with a typhus epidemic threatening, with food shortages impacting heavily upon all Jewish existence, nothing would alleviate Jewish suffering despite Judenrate herculean efforts.
“..Near ..end of 1942 ..Miriam was sent with her Husband and their baby Daughter from Boryslaw to Belzec.” Marcus Markel.
Also, it is clear that this struggle for the Survival of the Jews of Boryslaw, precluded the early establishment of a Ghetto here and delayed its future containment purpose. However, with all too many Jews forced to live in overcrowded and worsening sanitary conditions, it was inevitable typhus would ravage many of the Jews incarcerated here and would see the Germans moving more swiftly to contain further the Jews of Boryslaw. By March, there are plans for the Nazi’s to complete the sweep of the area of Galicia and with that, the destruction of all of the Jewish community’s there, including Boryslaw would be resolved. By July 1942 there were more than 3,000 Jews who were engaged in Judenrate workshops and German Labour Bureau, the Arbeitsamte, within Boryslaw.
“..We were pretty deep in ..forest ..there was a hiding place ..another bunker that my Father started digging ..but construction was not yet completed. ..it was still open at ..top. That was not long after we had escaped from ..first to ..second bunker where a farmer ..from whom my Father used to buy food ..betrayed us and other Jews who were hiding nearby. He came to our hiding place with ..Germans and ..local Ukrainian police with dogs.” Wanda Wincygster.
However, on August 6th. 1942 a newer aktionen is underway and in the early morning, as some 300 of Jews from the Wolanka section of the Ghetto are rounded up and removed to the Grazyna Cinema, they are held there. Many choose, having been warned of what had happened in Drohobycz that March, to head for the Forests or other near by hiding places. Also, and throughout the period of Nazi occupation, there were continuous raids on the Hospital and the Orphanage, all conducted with utter contempt for Patient or Child and the sheer brutality for the many shot Jews is echoing throughout history. Other’s, removed still in their hospital attire, or the Children still in their bed clothes were then removed to the Cinema to await resettlement transports.
“..One of my Aunt Frida’s sons fought with the Soviet armies during the war and therefore survived. My aunt, Frida, her husband, and their other son died in Belzec near the end of 1942.” Marcus Markel.
Later on that day, there were more raids and these were begun all over the City and many more Jews are captured and detained and also shot and killed as they stood or fled. Meanwhile, the Cinema is bulging at the seams and becomes far too small a structure to contain those Jews already confined there. As a temporary measure, other attached and many local buildings are used as detention centres for Boryslaw’s Jews and their long wait begins again for the transports still to come. For the ill, the infirm, those elderly considered unable to live, and even some the Jewish Children, these were systematically were Murdered. Those selected for this ‘Special Treatment’, were dispatched and Murdered behind the Butcher shop, again in its own Slaughterhouse.
“..We simply let them spend a few nights in tents at ..mountain. I’m sure that way ..little kids will be frozen to death. And we’ll use ..old ones as work animals.” SS Obersturmfuhrer Robert Gschwendtner.
This latest aktionen was led by SS Obersturmbannfuhrer Robert Gschwendtner, who was the representative of the Higher SS Leader in Galicia, SS Brigadefuhrer Fritz Katzmann’s, and was ably assisted in the Slaughter of innocent Jews by both SS Sturmbannfuhrer Richard Rokita and SS Second Lieutenant Gustav Willhaus. As they died in ever larger numbers here, their loss was keenly felt by all Jews whose Parents or Children that had been the selected few. Many of these though, calculated to have been surplus to Nazi transportation needs, these were not as clerically accounted for by their German administrator’s. However, that cannot be said for the transports despatched by Eichmann and on the morning of August 7th. 1942. the resettlement transport of the Boryslaw’s Jews begins.
“..Germans designated certain neighbourhoods to comprise a Ghetto. It included part of Lukaszwice Street and ..main bridge area ..entire Dobry neighbourhood. All Boryslaw Jews had to leave their homes and move to ..Ghetto. Ghetto was not enclosed by a wall or barbed wire fence. ..entire area was completely open on all sides ..with free entrance and exit. However ..Jews were not allowed to live outside ..Ghetto boundaries. So those Jews who were still alive after ..second Aktion began to flock to ..Ghetto ..to try to claim an apartment. 2 or 3 families lived in one apartment ..an entire family lived in a single room. Almost every night ..Germans would enter ..Ghetto to rob ..if there was still anything left to take. They would beat people to death ..shoot and kill them. ..situation was unbearable. Hard work during ..day ..without reasonable work conditions ..without enough food ..during cold Winter weather ..and on top of this ..no hope for survival.” Mordechai Marakel.
With 6,000 local Jews, 4,000 of them from Boryslaw, the other 2,000 from the environs and surrounding Shtetl and Villages of the City, they were destined toward Belzec. Two Ghetto are established within the City limits of Boryslaw, an unfenced area redefined but not in a restricted sense. These worst areas of Boryslaw, delineated around the areas of Dobry-Wysypy, Lukaszwice Street, Miskiewicza, Potok-Gorny and the Jewish quarter of Wolanka will see the comings and goings of not Jews Boryslaw’s Jews. Again, very little food is allowed into the Ghetto and severe water shortages are apparent as ever more Jews are allowed to starve till death. By this time Walek Eisenstein has taken charge of policing the area and is now Heading the Jewish Order Police.
“..After this Aktion we came to realize what was happening. After ..previous pogrom ..in which some 800 people ..including my Mother ..were taken from their homes ..we still deluded ourselves that they were taken to a labor camp somewhere. It was hard to imagine ..murder of innocent people for no reason ..just because they were Jews. We wanted to believe they were alive. After ..Aktion in August ..we had no more illusions. It was hard to imagine that small children and ..elderly were taken away for work. News about ..existence of Death Camps started to reach us. ..victims of August were transported to Belzec.” Mates Heilig.
For an increasingly desperate few, escape to Hungary along with the building of newer bunkers would save less than 19% of Boryslaw’s Jews. There is a call for a further 1,900 Jews of Boryslaw to be transported to forced labour camps at Janowska and there was a killing aktionen with some 800 of their Jewish community being Murdered in the nearby Forest. We marvel today at the tales of the Forest hideaways, but we can never know the utter despair that filled empty spaces with concern amidst damp, cold, isolated caverns that had shunted out all former homely existence behind. We know too that while nearby aktionen was taking place, as many Jews were within earshot, and even saw these destructive efforts and it is to these that we acknowledge an ever abiding History’s debt for a great deal of what we now know.
“..And what you do is in ..past ..events. So strange how these things can be debatable. I think since you helped me identify Belzec I could then listen to my father’s testimony and then look into ..family tree which has shown me that there was life and humanity before ..terrible black hole in my past.” Marilyn Krochmal Gelfand.
For the engineer M. Mergenholtz, who led a 20 strong resistance group, and Lonek Hofman was amongst them, the tools of that resistance were barely the hand tools and wooden clubs they owned. On October 13th. 1942, while there is an assessment that barely 5,000 Jews are still living in Boryslaw, all of them are either working in or are restricted to the confines of the Ghetto, life for these Jews is an unremitting horror. Yet again, on October 24th. 1942 a further 1,500 Jews of Boryslaw were transported to Belzec alongside 2,000 Jews brought in from Drohobycz and outlying districts and these also are resettled at Belzec. For this particular resettlement transport, which was stage managed and under the control of Helmut Braunlich.
“..After ..third Aktion ..ghetto’s area was reduced and ..population density became even greater. ..remaining people were mostly young Men and Women who had lost their families. ..war of survival started again.” Mordechai Marakel.
Both Ghettos were now closed leaving 1,750 Jewish workers redistributed to various Camps at Janowska and the Linowska Camp in Lvov and factory workshops and more than 1,750 Boryslaw Jews awaiting their fate. and then further on into November, with some of the remnants of Boryslaw’s Jews, these too were also removed to Belzec. Don’t ever doubt there is a clear absence of humanity about, and that Belzec sits astride a pyramid of such hatred, such was this sinister place, all humanity evaporated toward the so many Jewish People who entered there.
Here, and filled with the atrocity which saw 884,700 Jews of Poland and other Country’s within Europe, Murdered as a consequence of their birth right, few places hold such an air of abject horror. I was asked many times along the route toward Belzec, a small space of such significance, we cannot truly measure the immensity of the crimes here. Of course, the entire discourse of the work involved in that 4th. Book, as to what was I going to name it gave me concerns and after visiting Belzec, I knew Belzec has to add to the consequences of railing against The Holocaust atrocity. Listening to the many non-Jewish Poles of today, signalling their discomfort with the fact of the truth of its existence, I then knew its meaning and subsequent title. The very fact that all 6 Death Camps were placed in Poland, for The Final Solution of The Jewish Question, is a clearly obvious fact as Poland was the largest Jewish Community anywhere in Europe. These facts could not suggest another title so when asked why I chose to name it Hitler’s Belzec, it was simple for me to answer, it was a Hitler construct called Belzec.
“..Germans rounded up Jews in ..Coliseum movie theatre for 3 days and then trucked ..victims to the slaughterhouse. There they were shot and buried in pits that had been pre-readied. It was ..first time the Germans killed Jews without moving them to another location. They no longer bothered hiding their true intentions” Abraham Hauptman.
On Oct 23rd. 1942 a further 1,500 of Boryslaw’s Jews are resettled to Belzec and on November 6th. 1942 2,000 more of Boryslaw’s Jews follow them there. Some Jews of Boryslaw are sent to Janowska for forced labour and from amongst those workers still left, who are being detained in the Coliseum Cinema, their Wives and Children are being rounded up. On November 29th. 1942 100’s of Boryslaw’s Jews, having spent the last 3 to 4 weeks in the Coliseum Cinema, with conditions deteriorating by the minute, conditions that are considered so bad, even the German Commissioner for the City demands their resettlement. During the coming month 300 of these Jews of Boryslaw are Murdered in the Butcher’s own Slaughterhouse.`
“..In ..Spring ..1943 ..tides of ..war on ..Eastern Front turned against ..Germans. In spite of ..relative calm ..it was decided after many discussions that we could no longer sit back. ..Germans would not allow us to meet ..approaching Russians. They would liquidate ..camp and its inhabitants at any time they saw fit or we would be sent westward. We needed to start thinking of ways to escape. People considered hiding with ..Gentiles ..fleeing ..using false Aryan papers ..or building shelters ..bunkers ..in ..surrounding forests. We rejected ..option of hiding among Gentiles due to both lack of confidence and lack of money. We knew of cases where Gentiles took money and property from Jews in exchange for shelter and then handed them over to ..Nazis. ..truth is that hiding Jews was extremely risky and punishable by death. Travel to western Poland with forged documents was dangerous too. So ..option of building a shelter in ..woods was ..one that many of us chose ..even though it involved a great risk ..given ..hostility of ..locals. Most foresters were Ukrainians. They would kill those they encountered and steal their remaining property ..or give them up to ..Germans.” Mates Heilig.
At the beginning of 1943 there were barely 1,200 Jews of Boryslaw left in the City and between February 16th. and 17th. 1943 a further 600 Jews are taken away, this time from the Ceramic Works. Along with some 400 other Boryslaw Jews also rounded up, they are murdered in the Slaughterhouse at the back of the Butchers Shop. Elsewhere, the Death Camp system of 6 factories, solely built for the annihilation of the Jewish People, and Belzec is one of those included, this was the very genesis, though not the deadly model of the mechanised slaughter of the Jewish People in The Final Solution of the Jewish Question. These Death Camps, which had fully emerged prior to 1942, are the all encompassing death toll for some 4,000,000 Jews, and of course other.
“..Rosa was saved by hiding in ..office where she worked. Later she was in a Concentration Camp and in April ..1944 was sent with ..other camp residents to Auschwitz. ..she was not sent straight to ..incinerators. She worked as a clerk because of her considerable knowledge of German and English ..became ill with tuberculosis and was put into a temporary hospital where she waited to be sent to ..incinerators. Fortunately ..Auschwitz was liberated by ..Russian Army ..January ..1945 ..her life ..saved.” Marcus Markel.
As the systematic nature of The Holocaust is being deciphered, it is essential that we recognise that these Death Camps all belonged to Hitler, erected as a consequence of his demands for the destruction of the Jews and, within Poland, as a consequence of there being 3,650,000 Polish Jews in Poland. By deed of word, and by enactment of those carefully framed words of Hitler’s all consuming hatred for the Jewish People, Auschwitz/Birkenau, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor and Treblinka, along with Hitler, all clung together in so as to amass the greatest industrial killing of humanity in all of World History. In view of his vile hatred and the Death Camp’s location, annihilation was a certainty for all Jews sent there, as none were meant to Survive.
“..Dozens of Jews were in ..forests. ..bunkers ..dug by different groups. Individuals from ..bunkers would go to ..villages to buy food. Overall ..it was very difficult and dangerous. Occasionally they were caught by ..Germans or ..local Gentiles would catch them and give them up. ..Germans would torture a captured Jew to force him to disclose ..group’s hiding place and sometimes ..after severe torture ..person had to lead ..Germans to ..bunker.” Mordechai Marakel.
Of course, the fact that 3,650,000 Jews were residents of Poland might help to dislodge the myth that Hitler had not considered their establishment here or even that he himself had no hand in The Holocaust. When we consider this logically, carefully and objectively, we recognise of course his every fingerprint was written upon the very pages of this insult to our own humanity. The very dislodgement of humanity from civilisations very foundation is a deep despair and consequence of the abandonment of the Jews of Europe. Indeed, the act of defilement that is encompassed in the title of The Holocaust alone is an insight into the very intrinsic detail of Hitler’s profanity and lust for revenge and a vengeance toward all of Humanity.
“..poor ..who had nothing to barter ..suffered ..most and were dying of starvation. They wandered ..City streets hungry and no one came to their aid. Many died in ..streets. ..Judenrate cart collected ..bodies and buried them in Jewish cemetery in unmarked graves.” Daniel Hochman.
All of this hatred which Hitler spewed forth all too often and in multiple outpourings on platforms afforded him, saw in his overriding hatred that was clearly directed, specifically augmented and legislated for and against the Jewish People. The very acts of terror enacted by those who acted upon these words and gestures matched the bile of rhetoric Hitler proposed should be the horror which Hitler so proudly and loudly expressed. Of course, and in keeping with Hitler’s non-stop drive for Jewish extinction, we see that on November 29th. 1942 some 3,500 more of Boryslaw’s Jews are transported to Belzec and are murdered there. All such Death Camps were now fully operational and the grinding and relentless destruction of European Jews pounded Jewish existence into dust.
“..Due to lack of food ..filth and contaminated water ..a typhoid epidemic broke out and claimed many Jewish lives. Every day many people died of starvation in ..streets. Because of lack of food ..their faces and feet swelled and they dragged themselves until they would fall dead on ..pavement. Those were horrible sights. People screamed ..cried ..and sometimes erupted in a ghoulish laugh. At those days each person could think only about how to survive.” Mordechai Marakel.
Now, and for the remaining Jews of Boryslaw, all became crystal clear to any of those Jews who still believed in the goodness in mankind and who now sought to see. Perhaps, what they could not fathom nor believe, but what had opened itself up to their fuller recognition, and that this was a deliberate plan of annihilation of all Jews. All throughout February 1943 with those Jews of the City who were Murdered, there was a recognition that all party’s were invited to the atrocity. This was Murder of those 1,000 Jews of Boryslaw and districts was in an aktionen conducted by German Police, SD units and a contingent of the Ukrainian Auxiliary Police. Little more evidence was necessary of any crimes, their identity as Jews was a genocidal warrant.
“..Jews in ..Coliseum Cinema were later marched to ..Drohobycz forests and killed there. This was ..end of ..Ghetto. 800 Men and 200 Women remained in ..work camp.” Marcus Markel.
The full remit of Hitler’s Final Solution had landed at the doors of all of the Jews of Europe, and here too in Boryslaw it was meted out in particularly brutal fashion. There were further major roundups of those remaining Jews who could be found and between May 25th. and June 2nd. 1943, those still remaining within City limits were shot, their bodies displayed across the Streets. Other’s were removed to the Forest and Murdered there. Those still remaining, the more skilled workers were reprieved temporarily and these 1,000 Jews were detained in the City’s work camp. This signals the coming dissolution of Boryslaw as a Ghetto and its Jewry, is further ransacked from life, the facts of which are that those Murdered in situ were some 700 Sick and Elderly Jews.
“..Since August 1943 about 20 people hid near ..Village of Smilna in a hut dug in ..Carpathian forests. They were people of all ages ..but no children ..both women and men from various backgrounds. They managed to organize in a way allowing a basic ..minimal existence in terms of food supply and distribution of practical social functions ..hoping to reach ..moment of liberation by ..Red Army. ..critical problem was getting food. Travel by foot was hard for people carrying 30-35 kilograms of supplies through ..mountains ..hills ..forests ..fields ..in ..dark ..rain and sometimes in deep snow. Sudden blizzards occurred in ..Carpathians and there were cases where people lost their way and froze to death.” Abraham Hauptman.
Though some of the younger ones were also selected for destruction, including some 170 Women and Children, all of these are shot in the Bronica Forest. This aktionen took place on June 12th. 1943. With the final liquidation of the Boryslaw Ghetto, which began on June 24th. 1943, and was accomplished by July 1943, more than 18,000 Jews of Boryslaw had been Murdered. Yet, and for those still remaining, these Jews of Boryslaw were transported to the camps of Auschwitz, Majdanek, Mauthausen and Plaszow. As September 1943 drew in, the special status worker badge, ‘R’ does not safeguard Boryslaw’s Jews for ever and 800 are still Murdered in the Bronica Forest.
“..My grandmother’s second Sister Zila lived in Przemysl with her Husband and their 5 children. They all were killed in Sobibor. My grandmother Berta was driven in November 1943 to Bronica Forest where she was shot with other Jews.” Marcus Markel.
From those few remaining worker Jews, some attempt to escape and are caught by waiting non-Jewish Poles and Ukrainians who savagely beat them and collect their reward. Then, on March 24th. 1944 the local labour camp in Boryslaw is being liquidated and newer Resistance plays its hand from amongst these Jews. Lonek Hofman attempts to group together a forestry detail and after shooting a Ukrainian forester, a local militia is formed and along with the Nazi’s, they comb the forests and capture many of the Jews who sought to flee, amongst them, Lenek Hofman. All are shot. However, for the last remaining Jews of Boryslaw, 522 of these were taken to Plaszow Camp where some of them found their way to Birkenau for destruction.
“..2 homeless orphans ..without a Mother or Father ..wandering inside ..ghetto that was no more. We hid at ..sight of anything or anybody ..scared by our own shadow. What if some ..identifies us and points saying ..Here are some dirty Jews. We would be doomed.” Tamar Sokol-Diamont.
Any Jews of Boryslaw, along with many other Polish Jews still remaining in Plaszow, will be steadily moved westward to avoid the Russian capture of Hitler’s evident bestial truth. Meanwhile, The Final Solution of the Jewish Question in Boryslaw, and its environs, was being brought to its Judenfrei climax and is fully in evidence from April 1944. On May 23rd. 1944 any fit Jews from Boryslaw, still able to work, these are taken to the Railway Station for transport to the Death Camp at Majdanek. Those unable to work are locked in the Coliseum Cinema, a transit camp between death in the Butcher’s own Slaughterhouse or the Forests were they were murdered. The Jewish Order Police are ordered to then bury their Community’s bodies in the Forest and they too are shot into the graves.
“..I continued to work at ..warehouse. On one of his periodic visits ..my patron ..Siegismund ..took me aside for a long talk. He told me that he and his family were being transferred to Lvov. He suggested that I join his family in order to stay alive and told me that ..Jews of Boryslaw had no hope of survival. I was shocked to hear these words. I was 18. I told him that I had Parents and felt responsible for them.” Marcus Markel.
On July 21st. 1944, assisted by many local groups, including the nationalist Banderists, further sweeps of the areas around the City are made in a search for any Jews who had thus far escaped the roundups. Weeks away from liberation, many of these captured Jews were Murdered and by sheer luck, with an approaching Russian liberation force, some of Boryslaw’s Jews Survived. The Russians arrived on August 7th. 1944, and with some 200 Jews of Boryslaw emerging from bunkers within the City and forests and a further 200 or so returning from mostly Russia and even some Jews returning from Hitler’s Concentration Camps, some still saw hope in establishing their former lives. In all respects though, the Jewish community of Boryslaw had ceased to exist. Here, were as many as 1,000 Jews who Survived, though all too many were forced out of their former homes and businesses by non-Jewish Poles and Ukrainians.
“..Germans moved ..remaining few Jews into a forced labor camp in Mraznica. In ..past ..Koszary was a place of tenements and stables owned by ..Silvaplana oil company.” Mates Heilig.
Of these Survivors, it should be remembered, and in more than 2 periods of threat against the Jews in the area, the industrialist Berthold Beitz saved more than 250 Jews. These were from the August 1942 roundup for Belzec and 150 from the October 1942 transport to Belzec. He also managed to save Mother’s and Their Children from the killing operation in the City in August 1942. Both he and his Wife Else are recognised as Righteous Amongst the Nations. For those whose remembrance is abruptly challenged to memory, for the descendants of Mark Krochmal and Arlene Krochmal whose entire Families were murdered, we make a choice to add to their memory, so that they are never forgotten and are always remembered in some way.
“..In 3 things a man is known ..his true nature ..revealed 1 ..in his cups or when drunk 2 ..in anger or ..loses his temper 3 ..by his spends ..or donates money.” Talmud.
For all too many of these Jews, murdered within reach of their own homes or who were forcibly transported out and then perished in the system of Camps designed to hold them, we choose to Remember them. For those worked to death, or indeed those in the Death Camp’s like Belzec, many of their names are unknown and may never be resurrected in forgotten memories. Their memory has always been important to me, so as to ensure that in stating what I consider is my search, I do not omit one single name that might become presented to us. Tragically, there are far too many of those Jews who otherwise might be lost to us, their names never to be mentioned in the history they too belong to.
“..When ..war ended my Parents and Family members emerged. People had taken everything and wouldn’t give anything back. They joined an underground.” Marilyn Krochmal Gelfand.
In my recent Book: Hitler’s Belzec, Boryslaw featured heavily and knowing that I only found the traces of 14,500 Jews from Boryslaw who were annihilated within Belzec, is a sadness. In the grand scheme of The Holocaust, it is just as important to know, from these 14,500 Jews of Boryslaw’s 20,500 Jews, that I have recorded the names of but 6 of them within the pages of Hitler’s Belzec. We know that these 6, who did Not manage to Survive Hitler’s full intention for them, are here at Belzec, while so many more are lost even in knowing they are in one of his other Death Camps.
I) Mindl Abel, Boryslaw,
II) Sheva Avraham, Boryslaw,
III) Roza Glazer, Boryslaw,
IV) Milka Szor, Boryslaw,
V) Ecia Weissbaer, Boryslaw and
VI) Ryfka Weissbaer, Boryslaw.
Amongst these also, are those Jews of Boryslaw who are known to have been Murdered, amidst a combination of Einsatz Aktionen and pogrom’s conducted by non-Jewish Poles and Ukrainians. For those Jews, who had shone a light on Boryslaw, its diversity, it Educational Standard and Athleticism and Culture, we recognise what they have been deprived of. For us, and in order to ensure the future gains that are to be made from the knowledge they have afforded us, we stretch whatever memory we can gain to bring them forward. For a far greater number of Boryslaw’s Jews, and who died as a consequence of the brutality inflicted upon them, there are as many as 19,500 and more of Boryslaw’s Jews that did Not Survive.
“..I don’t know if you would be interested in listening to my Dad’s Testimony. My Son posted it on Facebook a few months ago and it was ..first time I could look at it. I drove my parents to do it but I couldn’t listen. Way too painful. Now with some of my own healing I was able to. He died in 1996. Sounds crazy right that I couldn’t look. I was their only Child born to them when they were 37 and never thought it could possibly happen. They lost a Son not fully born in hiding.” Marilyn Krochmal Gelfand.
Tied into this figure is an uncertainty as to whether some Jews are from outside the area, who are included and there are those not included that should be. Also, and with the emerging figures for the births to those Jews who are lost to us during the period, this too is a catastrophe which further obscures the true assessment necessary to be honouring the totality of those Jews Murdered. In effect, Boryslaw has an open vista as to what happened to practically all its Jewish Citizens, and though all too many of the names are hidden from view, there is no secret here as to what was clearly accomplished and by all of those who sought out these Jews for Murder, Annihilation, Destruction, a forgotten mass of individual Jewish People Slaughtered.
“..In ..meanwhile people died everyday of starvation and disease.” Joseph Kitai. Both in massive killing operations, along with starvation and disease in the Ghetto, these Jews of Boryslaw were left to expire or forced to die in open air pits and in Death Camps or Concentration and slave labour Camps. Many were led away by transportation to both Belzec and Birkenau for their immediate annihilation or toward Auschwitz, Mauthausen and Plaszow for debilitating death by slave labour. It is true that many of these Jews chose to die in place of safety, responsible to Child or to Parent, an obligation borne out of Love, Respect and Human Decency. We are made aware, and by those who know and knew their story that both Fanka Bleiberg and Ruchka Gartenhaus were Sister’s, both were Murdered behind the Butcher’s shop and that Malka Chill and her Husband Mordechai Chill were Murdered in their own home.
“..When I watched my Father’s testimony I was so amazed at how he could talk without breaking down each moment. It was very important to him that ..World learns from remembering that it should never happen again..” Marilyn Krochmal Gelfand.
Tema Chill, who was Malka Chill’s Sister was also Murdered along with her 5 year old Son. Dr. Michal Friedlaender, Marek Rattner, Bruno Schulz were Murdered in 1942. Baruch Wahl was Murdered in an Einsatz Aktionen and Juliusz Wit was Murdered by the Ukrainians acting for the German. Josek Wolanski and his Father were Murdered around the July 1944 purges and his Mother was Gassed in Belzec. Maciek Zwilich too was to add to the shame of loss ordained and commissioned by Hitler and carried out by legions of human beings who left all of their humanity behind them. Individually, these Jews of Boryslaw, who represent but a tiny microcosm of all that The Holocaust means for 6,000,000 Slaughtered Jews of Europe, is none the less pivotal to understanding the entire horror as we approach it.
“..My mother Lea Markel managed to survive Auschwitz. She died in Haifa in 1992 at .age of 90. She had Grandchildren and Great- Grandchildren and lived her last years in a good way..” Marcus Markel.
There is the case of Dinka Rapp, who for reasons of her own respect for herself and for what her life had meaning to afford, and while she attracted the intention of the supposed german elite, she too could have saved herself momentarily. Such was the attention that surrounded Dinka, for such was her beauty, that if she had agreed to sleep with a German officer, she might have been saved for the while. But such is the perversity of the images thrown up in The Holocaust that these glimpses are both transitory and elusive and almost illusionary to those of us searching through the debris of their existence. Mindful too that the attention which so many like Dinak attracted, was against the aryan principle called Rassenschande, in which they disgraced the corrupted ideal of racial purity.
“..Thank you. ..I know how hard you have worked to document ..lives of those murdered. My childhood was not really a childhood and I grew up with so much pain and love. Now I can see ..dark hole filled with names and a life that existed before. My Parents were so badly scarred. Even those who Survived were hurt beyond belief.” Marilyn Krochmal Gelfand.
For Dinka, as she spat in face of the would be defiler who then Murdered her, there must have arose within her a satisfaction that all resistance belongs to those who do not comply. For Hertz Schaller and Betka Held, both having already Survived, it is a further tragedy that for Betka, who had escaped to Kazakhstan, and who chose to return, she was Murdered in Boryslaw, on December 3rd. 1945. Here, and this is but a few pages I deliver on the torment for the Jews of Boryslaw, and for those still left behind to try and accumulate as much evidence of those who remain hidden beneath the deadly detail that is The Holocaust, there will be no final settlement with that bloodied past. There are in fact 9,275 Names of those Jews of Boryslaw who were Murdered in The Holocaust and while these represent 42% of those former Jewish lives extinguished, those that are recorded at:
offer those who Survived, a glimpse of what we choose to share and to know and to come to terms with. But such is the extensive search to know essentially, who is lost to us, far too many names are gone, missing, forever failed by an inadequate memory that will not give up its hidden detail to any of us.
“..Growing up I tried to avoid talking about it since it was so all encompassing and thought with ..death of my Parents I could finally put it to rest. It still stayed with me and ..pain as a giant black hole like a wound remained. There was no past beside it. Finally now I can face ..brutality and acknowledge that this did happen to my family.” Marilyn Krochmal Gelfand.
None of these Jews are left in Jewish Boryslaw.
Balka Abraham, Shewa Abraham, Klara Ajzensztajn, Leon Ajzensztajn and Tina Ajzensztejn.
Berta Berger, Bianca Berger, Chaim Berger, Czarna Berger, Gusta Berger, Joachim Berger, Hilde Berger, Hinda Berger, Laura Berger, Lea Berger, Lola Berger, Margalit Berger, Ozjasz Berger, Pinkas Berger, Zeev Berger, Lota Bergstein, Klara Birman, Abe Bleiberg,Artur Bleiberg, Ida Bleiberg, Eitel Bleiberg, Ester Bleiberg, Fania Bleiberg, Fanka Bleiberg, Golda Bleiberg, Jacob Bleiberg, Janek Bleiberg, Jeshozua Bleiberg, Joachim Bleiberg, Lea Bleiberg, Leo Arie Bleiberg, Minna Bleiberg, Moshe Bleiberg, Rachel Bleiberg, Rosa Bleiberg, Sender Bleiberg, Zvi Bleiberg, Dawid Bokser, Isaac Bokser, Izak Bokser, Isio Bokser, Josef Bokser, Lea Bokser, Leon Bokser, Moshe Bokser, Selig Bokser, Tema Bokser, Temi Bokser and Chana Brodfeld.
Amalja Malka Chill, Avraham Chill, Baruch Chill, Kivi Chill, Kiwno Chill, Mordechai Chill, Saul Chill, Tema Chill and Her Son.
Arnold Distler, Chana Distler, Clara Distler, Izhak Distler, Jacob Distler, Joseph Distler and Rosa Dornfeld.
Dawid Egid, Herman Egid, Max Egid, Yona Egid, Antonina Egit, Ducek Egit, Ignatz Egit, Leon Egit, Matatyahu Egit, Mordekhai Egit, Moshe Egit, Sheindl Egit, Tzila Egit, Cipe Eisenberg, Hela Eisenberg, Helena Eisenberg, Hinda Eisenberg, Sheina Egit, Toni Eisenberg, Yehoshua Eisenberg, Adolf Eisenstein, Aron Eisenstein, Baruch Eisenstein, Berko Eisenstein, Bernhard Eisenstein, Bubek Eisenstein, Cesia Eisenstein, Chaim Eisenstein, Chaja Eisenstein, Chana Eisenstein, Estera Eisenstein, Frederyk Eisenstein, Hersh Eisenstein, Hinda Eisenstein, Imek Eisenstein, Izrael Eisenstein, Jakub Eisenstein, Joachim Eisenstein, Leon Eisenstein, Leontyna Eisenstein, Maurycy Eisenstein, Mina Eisenstein, Miriam Eisenstein, Mordekhai Eisenstein, Moritz Eisenstein, Moshe Eisenstein, Nachum Eisenstein, Ozjas Eisenstein, Pepka Eisenstein, Rosa Eisenstein, Salomon Eisenstein, Shmariahu Eisenstein, Tonia Eisenstein, Tonka Eisenstein, Umek Eisenstein, Walek Eisenstein, Froim Eizenberg, Emilie Engelberg, Heinrich Engelberg, Henryk Engelberg, Maria Engelberg, Roman Engelberg and Romek Engelberg.
Henrik Feferbaum, Losia Feferbaum, Samuel Fridlaender, Elimilekh Fridlender, Joseph Fridlender, Khana Fridlender, Moshe Fridlender, Rakhel Fridlender, Rut Fridlender, Sarah Fridlender, Shmuel Fridlender, Tzila Fridlender, Yekhezkel Fridlender, Ada Gingold-Friedlender, Adela Friedlander, Arie Friedlander, Chana Friedlander, Cifka Friedlander, Ciwia Friedlander, Emanuel Friedlander, Freida Friedlander, Henka Friedlander, Hesia Friedlander, Khala Friedlander, Leo Friedlander, Marjem Rachel Friedlander, Matilde Friedlander, Dr. Michal Friedlander, Moritz Friedlander, Moses Friedlander, Rachel Friedlander, Rozia Friedlander, Sabina Friedlander, Salka Friedlander, Shmuel Friedlander, Smilek Friedlander, Tilda Friedlander, Tonia Friedlander and Tzirel Friedlander.
Salamer Galpern, Berta Garber, Chune Garber, Lwewer Garber, Malka Garber, Mania Garber, Sabina Garber, Bernard Gartenhaus, Dora Gartenhaus, Duvko Gartenhaus, Rachela Gartenhaus, Ruschka Gartenhaus, Sarah Gartenhaus, Shoshana Gartenhaus, Yakob Gartenhaus, Hersh Gintzburg, Yeta Gintzburg, Chaim Ginzburg, Ema Ginzburg, Genia Ginzburg, Gitel Ginzburg, Herman Ginzburg, Klara Ginzburg, Mates Ginzburg, Miriam Ginzburg, Mordekhai Ginzburg, Mundzo Ginzburg, Natan Ginzburg, Rut Ginzburg, Sara Ginzburg, Schifra Ginzburg, Adela Goldman, Avraham Goldman, Berta Goldman, Blanka Goldman, Edward Goldman, Ignatz Goldman, Lipa Goldman, Mair Goldman, Mande Goldman, Menache Goldman, Mordechai Goldman, Mosze Goldman, Seder Goldman, Serca Goldman, Szlomo Goldman, Szmuel Goldman, Tuncia Goldman, Wolf Goldman, Yakow Goldman, Antonina Goldmann, Edouard Goldmann, Herz Goldmann, Chaim Graber, Dawid Graber, Ema Graber, Ester Graber, Minia Graber, Mechel Grabow, Bernard Greber, Cadok Greber, Chaim Greber, David Greber, Ejdel Greber, Golda Greber, Hendryk Greber, Herman Greber, Kivi Chill Greber, Leon Greber, Marie Greber, Mina Greber, Moses Greber, Regina Greber, Rosa Greber, Wolf Greber and Yoel Greber.
Fischel Haberman, Frida Haberman, Gitel Haberman, Henrik Haberman, Hirtzel Haberman, Jesek Haberman, Joseph Haberman, Jurek Haberman, Leon Haberman, Osias Haberman, Sala Haberman, Yehoshua Haberman, Yosef Haberman, Abraham Halpern, Adela Halpern, Berisch Halpern, Chana Halpern, Estela Halpern, Faivel Halbern, Faiwell Halpern, Feiga Halpern, Herzel Halpern, Isser Halpern, Jakob Halpern, Jakow Halpern, Joseph Halpern, Leon Halpern, Markus Halpern, Mina Halpern, Moshe Halpern, Nechemje Halpern, Pepa Halpern, Ratzi Halpern, Regina Halpern, Salka Halpern, Sarah Halpern, Sheindel Halpern, Shlomo Halpern, Wilhelm Halpern, Yosef Halpern, Zosia Halpern, Pnina Hauptman, Ana Heilig, Eliahu Heilig, Hana Heilig, Heinrich Heilig, Lea Heilig, Lola Heilig, Mates Heilig, Matilda Heilig, Rebeka Heilig, Arieh Held, Betka Held, Mosze Held, Natan Held, Rebeka Held, Regina Held, Rivka Held, Michael Herz, Alter Hircz, Mala Hircz, Sonia Hircz, Julius Hirsch, Avraham Hochman, Daniel Hochman, Icchak Hochman, Genia Lanz-Hochman, Ester Hochman, Hana Hochman, Herman Hochman, Sara Hochman, Hela Hofman, Leon Hofman, Leonid Hofman, Lonek Hofman, Luna Hofman, Pesza Hofman, Berl Hokhman, Dov Hokhman, Khala Hokhman, Rela Horowic, Khana Chana Horowitz and Simon Horowitz.
Arnol Jaeger, Bronek Jaeger, Hana Jaeger, Manes Jaeger, Marie Jaeger, Michael Jaeger, Mozesz Jaeger and Rosza Jaeger.
Heinrich Kahane, Abraham Koch, Antonina Koch, Dawid Koch, Jchak Koch, Leon Koch, Pepa Koch, Salomon Koch, Dawid Kreisberg, Ilona Kreisberg, Leiser Kreisberg, Max Kreisberg, Sara Kreisberg, Szymon Kreisberg, Volf Kreisberg, Bronia Krochmal, Bubah Krochmal, Bubek Baruch Krochmal, Clara Kiara Khaia Krochmal, Felicjan Krochmal, Fridrich Krochmal, Gizela Krochmal, Henka Krochmal, Jakub Krochmal, Jetti Doncia Krochmal, Josef Krochmal, Juda Krochmal, Kalmen Krochmal, Kivi Krochmal, Kuba Krochmal, Lorka Krochmal, Marcus Mordekhai Krochmal, Max Krochmal, Mendel Krochmal, Moshe Moses Krochmal, Rachela Krochmal, Raisel Reizele Krochmal, Rut Krochmal, Ruth Krochmal, Roza Krochmal, Saly Krochmal, Szoszana Krochmal, Tzvi Krochmal, Yehuda Krochmal and Yehudit Krochmal.
Chewka Lerner, Adela Linhard, Basia Linhard, Busia Linhard, Emanuel Kinhard, Gitl Linhard, Henia Linhard, Herman Linhard, Ignacy Linhard, Jacob Linhard, Khana Linhard, Lea Linhard, Lusia Linhard, Maurycy Linhard, Roitzl Linhard, Tuvia Linhard, Udel Linhard, Yitzkhak Linhard, Jechiel Linhart, Chana Linherd, Michel Linherd, Motl Linherd and Szlomo Linherd.
Jehezkel Markel, Shamal Markel, Zalman Markel, Fania Markiel, Moses Markiel, Szanka Markiel, Golda Maryl, Rachel Mendelsohn and Klara Montag.
Hela Parnes, Ignacy Parnes, Izak Parnes, Izio Parnes, Raphael Parnes, Yaakov Parnes, Manes Pferferbaum and Golda Polak.
Aron Rand, Bernhardt Rand, Israel Rand, Melekh Rand, Mendel Rand, Shaul Rand, Shimek Rand, Yaakov Rand, Dina Rapp, Dinka Rapp, Elazar Rapp, Jacob Rapp, Mathild Rapp, Reizl Rapp, Gitel Ratner, Marek Ratner, Mikhael Ratner, Abraham Rattner, Chaim Rattner, Gitla Rattner, Rywa Rattner, Tzila Rosenbaum, Regina Rosenman and Pinia Rothstein.
Aleksander Schaller, Antonina Schaller, Chewe Schaller, Golda Schaller, Hertz Schaller, Leon Schaller, Lusia Schaller, Marcus Schaller, Mordechai Schaller, Sara Schaller, Taube Schaller, Zdzislaw Schaller, Zishe Schaller, Lea Sheindl, Leib Scheler, Bruno Schulz, Miriam Schwarz, Leon Shorr, Miriam Shorr and Daughter, Dora Slowik, Cyla Spindler, Adassa Sterbach, Regina Steuerman and Chaja Szwimer.
Shlomo Wagman, Baruch Wahl, Hesio Wechselberg, Izio Wegner, Josek Wolanski and Mother and Father.
Hudla Zumer, Aleksander Zwilich, Celina Zwilich, Hanka Zwilich, Maciek Zwilich and Rosalie Zwilich.ses Greber, Regina Greber, Rosa Greber, Wolf Greber and Yoel Greber.