Blog Image

This Holocaust Author's Auschwitz Blog

This blog describes my thoughts and experiences in visiting Auschwitz, Belzec, Majdanek and Sobibor and Anne Frank's House from 2014 to 2018

I blogged my preparations for my visit, I posted daily during my visit to Poland...there are also my ongoing thoughts posted here; in the aftermath of my visit...
(Please note due to the sensitive nature of this blog, and the prevalence of trolls, comments may be blocked)

Helena Katz

Uncategorised Posted on Mon, June 21, 2021 20:10:33

Helena Katz (1916 – 2009)

Helena Katz was born on June 22nd. 1916 in Trutnov, Bohemia and after her Father died in 1934, Helena and her Mother Elsa moved to Prague, Czechoslovakia the following year, 1935. In 1936 Helena met her future Husband Paul Hermann, and after her Education had finished and she had qualified in Dance, Helena Katz became Helena Katz Hermann in June 1938. WhenHitler invaded Czechoslovakia and, on March 15th. 1939, the Nazi’s entered Prague, the Jews of Czechoslovakia came under constant pressure to live as the Nazi’s immediately enacted countless anti-Jewish measures.

Although deportations from Czechoslovakia were still some time away, and Jewish Families had only begun deportations around August 1941, life for the Czech Jewish population grew more and more difficult. On October 15th. 1941, some 1,000 Jews from Prague were transported to the Lodz Ghetto to already add to the debilitating conditions for Jews awaiting extermination in the Chelmno Death Camp, Poland. The following year, in 1942, both Helena and Paul and Helena’s Mother were detained within the Transit and so called model Camp at Theresienstadt, which Helena refers to as Terezin.

While Helena’s Mother Elsa was Murdered at the Death Camp Sobibor, most likely from amongst a Transport of those 1,000 Jews transported there from Theresienstadt on April 15th. 1942, Helena and Paul remained behind. Later on though, in May 1944, they were both transported away from Theresienstadt and toward their intended destruction at Birkenau. Here, Helena became separated from Paul in the tangle of Nazi diktats and demands issued to them as they arrived and they were Never to see each other again. Here, we learn partially of Helena’s experiences from that transport from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz and these evidences are seared into her memory.

Words are never enough to explain the terror nor the devasating effects such isolation, harassment, intolerance and human brutality towards oneself can ever relate, but they are recounted her in part. There was always the expectation of this though, of an arrival at a destination those like Helena undertook as Jews, and which No Jew was ever assured of the outcome as many 10’s of 1,000’s of those Jews brutally succumbed to the inhumane way they were mistreated. Here, these resettlement transports, which constitute an integal part of The Holocaust, and of all those 6,000,000 Slaughtered Jews.

“..If we had ever thought that 2 years in Terezin had left us sufficiently tough to bear any hardship ..first few minutes on ..train taught us otherwise. We travelled in conditions designed to inflict ..greatest possible suffering. Old and young ..invalids ..babies ..all crammed together so tightly it was impossible to move. There was no air light water bucket. When ..train moved out of Terezin Station ..many panicked ..others wept ..a few prayed ..most sank into silent despair. At night ..train arrived in Prague and stopped there for a while ..a long line of sealed cattle wagons ..each with a tiny window behind a grille. ..must have been people on ..station platform ..people who saw and heard. What did they think ..what did they know much did they care. Another day and another night and there were few left in ..wagons full possession of their physical and mental capacities. ..dead were everywhere. Could one really pity them.” Helena Katz.

While we seek to recall, all we can find of these 6,000,000 Jews, those who were dead upon arriving at places such as Belzec, Majdanek, Sobibor, Treblinka and here at Auschwitz and Birkenau, have mostly escaped the scrutiny of the time to which we search to find them. I am here though to remind us all Always to Remember, Never to Forget and also with an answer for Helena, one I suspect she knew for herself. For me, and it is a truth that those people not treated as the Jews were, thought they were fortunate not to be the Jews, knew every grizzly detail of the Jewish plight and did not care enough to be concerned.

This must have been a very difficult position for Helena to live with as it is a very sad indictment of what humanity had stooped to. But, and it is indeed remarkable that those like Helena came out of this hell to deliver back to Culture what was almost extinguished by the savagery. It is clear, that with the longer detained Jews in Auschwitz, and indeed within Birkenau, there were a milieu of Jews from the more recognisably religious and less assimilated Jews still living. These Jews, who would have made no similar sense of the reactions from most of Europe to the plight of the assimilated Jews as opposed to the very best of the Hassidim, were on an equal footing as Jews destined for annihilation. Within the Death Camp system, these differing Jews, and not necessarily on a national basis, and though they would have been separated by Culture’s more established over the 1,000 or 2,000 year presence of their Religious adherences. 

All Jews were equally Jewish under hate filled Hitler ideologies and the fact that these Jewish People were clearly set apart from the newer arrivals, by their customs and their long established traditions, altered nothing. This might have been wholly aligned to their religious education and upbringing, and this is telling, but this did not allow any opportunity for any Jew to escape the sentence which had been imposed upon all Jews. This is well recognised by Helena and as we look in on what this diversity within Judaism means, we accept that nothing other than the fact of their Birth decided their fate under Hitler’s resolve to exterminate them all. This position, which condemned all Jews, no matter their Religious conviction was to a certain death. As we become witness to Helena somehow avoiding 2 selctions conducted by Josef Mengele in Birkenau, we know All Jews Were Victims.

“..There were 300 of us ..who had ..been in Theresienstadt and ..Family Camp Birkenau. ..we shared a similar background and outlook. 500 prisoners ..arrived ..weeks earlier ..from Poland ..Baltics ..Hungary ..Romania. Most ..from a strict religious upbringing ..gave them a strong sense of identity. ..preferred to talk to each other in Yiddish ..which I ..didn’t understand.” Helena Katz.

Prior to her liberation, many Jews of Auschwitz and Birkenau like Helena, were forced to leave this facility of destruction and were routinely headed for places away from close detection and toward another false dawn. Helena landed at the Stutthof Concentration Camp, ostensibly a work camp for those still too many, of these very debillitated Jews unable for Labour. Helena could audibly hear the approaching Russian Army on January 27th. 1945 as she was perhaps fortunate to escape from the next detail. While being ejected toward another destination, Helena managed to escape and was afforded some assistance by the Russians in getting her home. Helena’s Husband Paul, who died at some time in 1945, having been forced to leave Auschwitz on a march to and from the Schwarzheide Concentration Camp, succumbed to the forced march which eventually killed him.

Following on from this and her eventual liberation, Helena returned to Czechoslovakia where a fellow Czech, Harry Lewis, whom she had known from her school days, reached out to her. Alone, and with the knowledge that both Elsa and Paul had become a part of the litany of The Holocaust atrocity, Harry returned to marry Helena in Prague, in June 1947. Harry had left Prague for Britain, prior to all that happened to Helena and during that October of 1947, both Helena and Harry left Prague, Czechoslovakia and the place of such trauma and moved to Belfast. As Harry had a dual citizenship with Britain, this facilitated their speedy emigration.

“..Survival was almost as traumatic as witnessing so many others die. It was very difficult even to try and see why I survived and others perished. It remains too difficult to understand or explain was simply fate.” Helena Katz.

As a Survivor of The Holocaust, Helena chose to settle in the North of Ireland, where she became a renowned Dance Choreographer, a pioneer of modern dance and a Teacher of Contemporary Dance. Helena formed the Belfast Modern Dance Group in 1962 and is a Lady who lived to fulfill perhaps not all her dreams, but the promotion of tolerance and the exertation of her testimony was delivered so that more of us should learn from what she is a witness to. In 2001 Helena was awarded her MBE for services to contemporary dance and received honorary Doctorates from the University’s of Belfast, Queen’s and Ulster.

Helena wrote of her experiences in The Holocaust, and her Survival are detailed in A Time to Speak, which was published in 1992 and has been translated into varying languages. It is somewhat fitting that it was stage adapted for the Theatre and performed in Theatres and Synagogues, in 2009 and 2010. Sadly, Helena Katz Hermann Lewis (Helen Lewis MBE ) was taken from us on December 31st. 2009, at rest in her own home while she was only 93 years young. She is survived by her 2 Children.

The Ringelblum Archivists

Uncategorised Posted on Sun, June 20, 2021 12:14:14

The Ringelblum Archivists.

“..It must all be recorded with not a single fact omitted. And when ..time comes it surely will ..let read and know what ..murderers have done.” Emanuel Ringelblum. #My effort in the work I have chosen to do is so very important to me, it has taken hold of much of what I have written and still wish to write. For that reason I have read much of the Survivor’s their hope emblazoned upon an experience we have no understanding of. In that, what Emanuel Ringelblum sought to achieve, and the fact that he could not achieve the life for 6,000,000 Jews of Europe, affords us an archive of moving tribute. The very fact that we have an Onyeg Shabbes, is a record of a glorious effort to outwit the Nazi’s and report the atrocity.

“..Remember ..there is a national treasure buried under ..rubble. It’s ..Ringelblum Archive. We must not rest until we find ..Archive. ..even if there are 5 layers of ruins over it ..we have to find ..Archive.” Rachel Auerbach.

My own search has taken me to places of unspeakable horror, places not quieted by the years since they were filled with the cacophony of annihilation, destruction and extermination. Elsewhere my search to know has taken men back to those places were the effort to at least secure the evidence of the Jewish Culture that was being eradicated is best achieved in places like Cracow, Lodz, Lublin and of course in Warsaw where Jewish persistence not along struck back, it dug deep to deliver more than a glimpse of what is lost.

“..Leviathan would be too small to accomplish thou has performd up to now.” Icchak Giterman.

It is essential therefore, for those who seek through any of my words their own search for the incomprehensibility of The Holocaust, that they clearly recognise that I stand alongside 6,000,000 accusers who must Never be the accused. There is no ambiguity in all that I have sought for these Jews, abandoned by our humanity, sought out for Slaughter and devastatingly destroyed as we watched on. In that, no sense of responsibility belongs to other than the perpetrator and the accomplice in what amounted to an intolerance beyond intolerable.

“..Director of ..public kitchen ..40 Leszno Street ..Rachel Auerbach ..told me ..a pot is use serving 3rd. generation of one Family ..first two generations have died.” Emanuel Ringelblum.

As for History, it should have been better spent looking at these 6,000,000, who were systematically sought out an slaughtered for being Jews. We must acknowledge, with all due concern to the irretrievable position they were placed in, without any ability to extricate themselves from its iron grip. Then we would have accomplished a better vision of a history, of what had supposedly civilised, that would not now be taken up with having to look to find them. Truly, a precedent has been laid down and Genocide has now become the reflection of our failure to protect all that is worthy of humanity.

“..very existence of this archive a testimony. Few texts live a life as intense as these ..written by ..deaths of 1,000’s.” Hersz Wasser.

No one should ever doubt the terrifying facts of what horror I seek to present nor should they then deny the very truth of its veracity. And no one should ever complain that I uphold the integrity of a factual truth so often proven, as this unprecedented event became a tipping point in the loss of civilisation. Here, where nations could and did ignore the boundaries of ethical morality, all society has been crushed by the weight of the atrocity against the Jewish People endlessly raged against the Jewish People of all of Europe.

“..January 1st. 1940 ..mortality rate among ..Jews in Warsaw is dreadful. 50 to 70 deaths daily.” Emanuel Ringelblum.

Hope sprung up from every moment it was taken away from the Jews and what we came to witness, as the Destruction of the Jewish People took on its unprecedented nature, was hope’s wastage. Whether by der Einsatzgruppe, their killings in the field of operations or with the Death Camp gassings, hope is submerged by a record of such destruction that now realises in Warsaw, feats of Resistance. As the Nazi’s destroyed entire Jewish Community’s with ruthless efficiency, Jewish efficacy was moved to store away from the larceny of German, and non-Jewish Polish greed, the artefacts of Jewish life and existence.

“..What we were unable to shout out to ..we hid underground. May this treasure end up in good hands ..may it live to see better times. May it alert” Dawid Graber.

The truth of this Jewish Reistance is being written and it has been recorded and it must be recognised as an effort beyond the physical wish to fight back. We know well of the armed Resistance the Jews caught within the trap Hitler had laid down for them. The inescapable truth, given a choice that had no way of being realised, was to be consumed in line with Hitler’s demand, and all of these 6,000,000 Jews are recorded in that eventual resolve. Everywhere, as Jews were flung headlong into oblivion, Jews were sifting through the debris of these crimes to manage a restorative essential that would recall all that was being done to them.

“..If none of us survives least let effort remain.” Emanuel Ringelblum.

Of course there were obvious quarrels amongst those who sought to fight back, but there were always going to be Jews who recognised what could and should be saved from the destruction that could not be prevented. For all of these Jews, who sought to ensure the Cultural and Civilising influence of all that mattered to Jewish History could be salvaged, and that these could be preserved as Jewish life was to be so radically annihilated. Within this remit, as opposed to the fighting essential for those who did seek retribution and resistance to assail their assaulters, there was a quiet revolution in the making that would eventually surpass expectations.

“..I have to die ..but I did my thing. I would like ..memory of my paintings to survive.” Gela Seksztajn-Lichtensztein.

Of course, there were other Jews who also saw a form of redemption in saving the truth of the era and Avraham Tory in Vilna was one of these. For those who also sought to salvage the integrity of Jewishness, the strength of Polish Jewry’s intellectual position in Poland brought to the fore, an intellectual force over brutal illegitimacy. In all of this, Emanuel did not forget the Jews of all of Poland and features efforts to record what was happening and The Lodz Ghetto and in Lublin, also provides another insight into the wider spectre of the destruction.

“..Friday June 26th. 1942 ..English radio broadcat ..fate of Polish Jewry. ..about Slonim ..Vilna, Lvov ..Chelmno.” Emanuel Ringelblum.

Today we have the evidence of all that was sought out from Jewish existence that persisted and survived. The concentration of minds does not always allow us to see what has become obvious to some to see past the immediacy of what we seek to grasp. Without saying too much of these few, and we recognise that some 50 to 60 Academics, Administrators, Artesans, Artisists, Clerics, Diarists, Essayists, Note takers, Poets, Typists, Writers of every calibre, and all of these who were all drawn together by the vision of one man, Emmanuel Ringelblum.

“..a stone hurled under history’s wheel in order to stop it.” Gustawa Jarecka.

The intellectual attempt was to archive all that had always mattered to Jewish antecedence and at the same time, record the atrocities and those who perpetrated them. Within this too was the record of those whose commital of such crimes of depravity, and as it was happening to the Jews, would indict the many who then escaped judgement. Remember too that these Jews of the archive managed to achieve all we have in evidence, and in the jaws of a destruction that rages as they write, save, encourage and share. As an immense Slaughter of all those Jews they belonged to was being waged, the reams of acknowledgement were being accumulated.

“..Onyeg Shabbes has passed from poor work to good work ..back to poor work. ..necessary to save ..information we have.” Emanuel Ringelblum.

The Archive itself, formed by some 1,100 committees in more than 1,100 buildings spread throughout the Warsaw Ghetto of January 1942, exceeded perhaps even what Emanuel had hoped for. Though many of these, who composed and gifted their efforts to Ringelblum, all associations with the entire effort could not be limited nor exclusive to these being mentioned. Over 35,000 pages of writings in some 6,000 Documents now exist and along with these are Children’s School projects, German orders of the day, Invites to Ghetto events, Leaflets, Letters, Newspapers, Postcards, Posters, Ration cards, Sweet wrappers and Tram tickets.

“..Heard of a Woman who foretold ..what was going to happen. ..As ..Menachem Kon tells it ..ending with ..prophesy ..war will end November ..1941. ..Jews reason that ..war will end ..because of ..numerical value of Hebrew year.” Emanuel Ringelblum.

These, the ordinary day to day artefacts of everyday living, are now encompassed in a material resource that preserves much of these lives the Jewish owners once belonged to. What we have to deal with is the future which is absent of all those who perished, those who sought rescue, an intervention on their behalf to save them, or luck. So we are thankful to the vision of Ringelblum and the collective surrounding him, which saw in his vision what has been delivered to posteity, when the end was imminent, and without hope of other than destruction. Some of these whose effort, memory and for 3 who lived past being engulfed in the conflagration they are amongst:

Rachel Auerbach, Aleksandra Bankowska, Eleonora Bergman, Dr. Adolf Berman, Eliezer Lipe Bloch, Hans Braz, Szmuel Breslav, David Cholodenko, Tadeusz Epsztein, Yehuda Feld, Daniel Fligelman, Bluma Fuswerk, Icchak Giterman, Leib Goldin, Jechiel ‘Chil’ Gorny, Dawid Graber, Nachum Grzywacz, Eliasz Gutkowski, Rabbi Szymon Huberband, Gustawa Jarecka, Bernard Kampelmacher, Josef Kaplan, Menahem Mendel Kon, Aaron Koninski, Abraham Kurz, Alexander Landau, Henryka Lazowertowna, Abraham Lewin, Israel Lichtensztein, Menachem Linder, Rafael Mahler, Bela Mandelsberg, Sonia Nowogrodzki, Perec Opoczynski, Salomea Ostrowska, Shie Perle, Symon Pullman, Szyja Rabinowicz, Emanuel Ringelblum, A Samberg, Gela Seksztajn-Lichtensztein, Moshe Skalow, Cecilya ‘Luba’ Slapakowa-Slepak, Rosa Symchowitz, Szmuel Szajnkinder, Wladyslaw Szlengel, Mordechaj Szwarcbard, Basia Temkin-Berman, Nechemiasz Tytelman, Bluma Wasser, Hersz Wasser, Jerzy Winkler, Izrael Winnik, Szmuel Winter, Shakhne Zagan, Michal Znicz and Jakub Zylberberg.

“..populace is afraid that at ..crucial terrifying moment ..Germans will discover some clever way of turning to nought all our efforts at self rescue. Whether that is true or not ..only ..future will tell.” Emanuel Ringelblum.

Henryka Lazowertowna

Uncategorised Posted on Sat, June 19, 2021 15:14:26

Henryka Wanda Lazowert. (1909 – !942)

“..when I tackle a book I do not part with it until I am finished ..reading at meals bed. is with me at all times ..I do not take a single step away from it ..and such close companionship is possible only where a book does not repulse by its physical appearance many library books do. I do prefer to read a book untouched by ..hands of others cut ..pages ..rejoice in ..peculiar fragrance of ..printers ink.” Henryka Lazowertowna.

Henryka Lazowert (Lazowertowna) was born in Warsaw, Poland on June 19th. 1909 to Bluma, a School Teacher and Maksymilian Lazowert. After her Father’s Death, prior to Hitler’s invading armies breached Polish sovereignty, this left Henryka and Bluma to get along as they had always done. Henryka as the Jewish Poet, who wrote in the Polish language, is noteworthy.

As such, Henryka as a Poet and Essayist is detailed into the Onyeg Shabbes archive, and as a constituent part of Emmanuel Ringelblum’s effort. As Henryka’s work estimates as a matter of social concern and is of course of worth to all of History. As such, Henryka was greatly involved in both the efforts of the Centos Central Organisation for the Care of Orphans, a Jewish Charitable Organization. Also, while caring for the Orphaned and Homeless Jews of the Ghetto, the role was fulfilling a direct aim of the Onyeg Shabbes.

The heightening rage of Polish antisemitism during the early stages of 1930’s Poland, affixed itself to the many Pogroms that abounded in Polish Society. This consequently, prompted Academics, Artists and many Writer’s just like Henryka, who up to this point were of no particular Political persuasion, to politically include themselves into a more Politically and Socially Concerning leaning.

For Henryka, what might otherwise have remained dormant, in her drive for poetic need and excellence, became a newer focus on her writing. With the use of her burgeoning concern, so as to pen words for the common good of all humanity to stand by, Henryka has bequeathed to us a legacy evidences of the clearest eloquence and resonance. This political awakening was also connected, in itself, to Henryka identifying more and more as a Jew than she had previously considered necessary.

Hatred, for whatever reason and manifestation will ensure the joining together of those Peoples being sought out for a differing decency in treatment. It is important here, as we move closer to the fate Henryka faced as a Jew is to Remember that she immediately volunteerd to the transport which would resettle her and her Mother Bluma all the way from the Umschalgplatz, Warsaw to the Death Camp at Treblinka. It is in accordance with a hate filled resolve that they were both Murdered at sometime during the period of their arrival in August 1942 at Treblinka.

That Jewish Poland lost both Bluma and Henryka to the intentioned systematic Slaughter reserved for all of European Jewry, still does not exclude other’s from the killing managed by the Nazi’s. All of this, as part of Hitler’s Final Solution of The Jewish Question, is a murderous resolve for 6,000,000 Jews of Europe, who are The Holocaust. That this is a period which is growing in ferocity and intensity, and though Hitler could realise that some 2,000,000 Jews or 3,000,000 Jews had already perished, Hitler still sees his ultimate demand as unfinished.

In this particular space, and given its perspective as a major Killing Centre, Treblinka, this extermination facility finally murdered close on 1,000,000 Jews. Even though this is a figure that is often disputed, it is a contentious one, and as such, is none the less an unverifiable certainty. With all of this to consider, the best placed People to narrate our way through the vagaries and destruction of The Holocaust are always those it was visited upon. Also, and it is usually those who then managed to escape from its grasp who afford us the examples of such terror, the horror of which rmains inexplicable and uncomprehensible.

But, and it always the Jewish People, such as those who have delivered in words what we learn was a brutal crushing of voices. Henryka Wanda Lazowertowna was one of those stilled voices and with her most famous poem, written in the Warsaw Ghetto, Henryka has been witnessed as the unflinching tribute to the more than 1,500,000 Jewish Children Slaughtered by the Nazi’s is recalled. These words, now etched onto the Memorial to the Child Victims of The Holocaust, this then becomes Henryka’s epitaph as it is the:

The Little Smuggler (Maly szmugler)

Over the walls, through holes, through the guard posts,

Through the wire, through the rubble, through the fence, Hungry, cheeky, stubborn,

I slip through,

I nip through like a cat.

At midday, in the night, at dawn,

In snowstorms, foul weather, and heat,

A hundred times I risk my life,

I stick out my childish neck.

A rough sack under my arm,

Wearing torn rags on my back,

With nimble young legs

And in my heart constant fear.

But you have to bear it all,

And you have to put up with it all,

So that tomorrow you Will have your fill of bread.

Over the walls, though holes, through bricks,

At night, at dawn, and in day,

Cheeky, hungry, crafty,

I move as quietly as a shadow.

And if the hand of fate unexpectedly

Catches up with me one day in this game,

It is an ordinary trap of life.

Mother, don’t wait for me anymore.

I will not be coming back to you again,

The voice will not be heard from afar;

The dust of the streets will bury

The fate of the lost child.

And I have only one request,

And the grimace is set on the lips:

Who, Mother, will bring you Your bread tomorrow?” Henryka Lazowertowna.

Ludwika Fiszer

Uncategorised Posted on Fri, June 18, 2021 20:05:10

Ludwika Fiszer.

It is all too easily stated that 6,000,000 Jews were gassed and Murdered in the Death Camps in Poland or that these were largely from amongst the killings engineered by der Einsatzgruppe. Though some 4,500,000 Jews were Slaughtered in just 6 Death Camps in Poland, Auschwitz/Birkenau, Belzec, Chelmno, Majdanek, Sobibor and Treblinka, there were another 1,250,000 of those Jews Murdered as der Einsatzgruppe trawled the East for Jews to shoot and Murder. This was not the full range of Killings reserved for the Jewish People as the pestilential Hitler sought all and any Jews for his most prescient demand. 

Jews from all over Europe were Murdered indiscriminantly, wherever they were found, and once the Ghettos were established, the Jews were left to die of Disease and Starvation within them. Of course, the sheer evidenced barbarity would be confined to the East, away from the sensitive eyes of prying nations, who had more or less gifted their Jews to Hitler’s Final Solution. This is not to say that the evidence of what could be managed against any of these Jews nor that any of this would escape the gaze of those who Survived to tell the tale.

One such massacre is under the auspices of the term Erntfest and of the 3 Women to Survive from the Poniatowa Massacre, and there were only 3 Survivor’s of this Massacre and of these, Lea Chanesman, Ludwika Fiszer and Estera Rubinsztajn I wish to recount the evidential testimony of Ludwika Fiszer. Ludwika Fiszer who was to be a part of that operation, known as Erntfest, thogh she decided to Survive. The plan to Murder some 42,500 Jews in the Death Camp and other Camps in and around Lublin, Poland, was a coordinated effort.

Of these Camps, which included the Death Camp at Majdanek, with the camps at Poniatowa and Trawniki, what was actioned on November 4th. 1943 and November 5th. 1943, involved Waffen SS, German Police and the usual killing teams and Ukrainian Camp guards. The operation had been a well oiled cog in the murderous machinery of Jewish Destruction. The area of Eastern Europe is so riddle with the debris of this deviant hatred, Jewish existence in all but a handful of areas was eraicated.

“..They had to lie down ..SS from Sonderkommando of ..ditch ..machine gunned them. ..batches along ..bottom of ..ditch ..had to lie down on ..corpses of those already shot. Men ..executed ..seperate from women. Action lasted without ..break till 17:00. ..SS men shooting changed ..left for meals ..but ..executions continued incessantly.” Erich Muhsfeldt.

What we know of these multiple operations is confirmed by Erich Muhsfeldt, who describes the process of elimination of those final 18,400 Jews of Lublin. Now confined to Field V of Majdanek Death Camp where they were Murdered by a Sonderkommando of SS. This is Operation Erntfest at its height and with Trawniki Camp being liquidated, 8,000 more Jews are murdered in Erntefest. The following day, November 5th. 1943, and with the Poniatowa Camp being liquidated, there are a further 14,000 Jews Murdered to be added to the Erntefest aktionen.

A point of note, which History must clearly acknowledge, unlike the Slaughter of Kiev’s Jews at Babi Yar, which denotes the single most concentrated action against 33,771 Jews, this is in a single geographical area. The fact too that over a 2 day period this was achieved whereas Erntefest, though specified as a single action, ranged over 3 separate sites. Also, and though this amounted to a colossal account of more than 40,400 Jews murdered under a single banner action, it is not to be compared to that atrocity which befalls the Jews at Babi Yar. Hear what Ludwika Fiszer wishes for us to know of her escape from an intention No Jew was ever meant to Survive.

The Testimony of Ludwika Fiszer.

I worked in a facility for making floor tiles. The plant became the favourite of the SS sub lieutenant Wallerang, who allowed two of the inmates to bring breakfast and lunch in a pot.. I was, in a way, exempt from standing in line. After much commotion we would march to the camp under the watchful eyes of the station commander, the highest ranking policeman of the Ukrainian camp. In order to get by the guard we needed passes which had to be shown with raised hands in order that the gendarme or Ukrainian policeman could see it. For some time now, people have been shot for not complying with this policy. The men had to remove their hats and we all passed the guard with fearful tremor in our hearts. 

Workers of the Arbeitseinsatz who passed the guards, were rushing to the field. The head count started at 6:15am. The whole neighbourhood was present. The Tobbens workers went to the plant. Machine guns and tanks surrounded our square. We did not understand why they brought tanks. We were joking about the fact that in order to kill us, one machine gun would suffice. They did not need tanks.

The month of October 1943 fell upon us like a bad omen. In the beginning of the month the schedule of the patrols was changed from 8:00 to 6:00am. Even then due to some good signs, we deluded ourselves that we would spend the entire winter in Poniatowa. Many people in the neighbourhood lived in attics, and the SS arranged to move people into apartments when the weather got colder. They distributed blankets, underwear, and clogs for our feet. They even placed heaters in the new bunks. #Suddenly, like thunder on a clear day, the Tobbens workers were informed that the next day, October 9th. 1943 a head count would take place at 2:00pm, in the plant. It had been a long time since a head count was conducted during the daytime. The atmosphere in the workshop was completely calm. Apart from the visits of various committees who were interested only in the quality of the work and not the workers, the plant was operating with almost no supervision. Once a day, Bau or Murman, the managers would make short rounds otherwise everything was quiet. 

That same day, Bau promised, there will only be a head count not everyone believed what they were told and not everyone showed up for work that day. Since the head count was set for 2:00 o’clock, the first shift at the plant was delayed. Usually the first shift was from 6:30am till 2:30pm, and the second set out for work at 1:30pm, in order to arrive at 2:00pm at the camp, in time to eat lunch. When the second shift arrived they counted all the people together. The Camp Supervisor Gley conducted the count. A number of people were missing from the list. Gley was getting ready to search for the missing people in the neighbourhood. A few days earlier Gley was overheard saying that the summer camp had to be destroyed. At the same time a head-count of the Arbeiteinsatz was conducted in the neighbourhood. It lasted from 2:00 till 4:00pm.

In the fifth district the head-count of the Arbeitseinsatz was cancelled. The Tobbens workers disregarded the roll call and did not turn out for work that day. SS soldiers joined the ranks during the roll call. All living quarters had to be empty between 2:00 and 4:00 o’clock in the afternoon. Only the sick or mothers with children up to four were usually exempt from joining the lines, but not that day. They too had to vacate the premises in order to be counted. It seemed as if everything was flowing smoothly and after the head count people returned to their lodgings. As though a dark cloud was suspended from the sky, the entire camp was enwrapped in mourning. At 4:30 Gley called the quarter and inquired if the roll call had ended. The SS soldier Brilush answered affirmatively. Then an order was received to reamass the whole camp, and he commanded everyone to return immediately. 

The thunderous voices of the Werkschutz guard was heard, everyone outside and the gunfire on the multitude of people had already started. Many women were already injured. People, fearful and without having time to put on coats, leaving their rooms unlocked, running under the barrage of gunfire to the square where the roll call was about to start again. The Ukrainian guards are standing ready with their guns, waiting for the order to shoot. Speedily, everyone is organised in rows of five. The heart is racing, eyes are wide with fear. There are no questions. Deathly silence; Brilush asks the group leaders to report their numbers of people. Each in turn complies. He suspiciously repeats his question and says terrible things, such as if the group leaders would not admit the presence of outsiders in their groups, they would be shot on the spot. It turned out that a few dozen miserable souls who missed the workshop count joined the present group. Among them were at least ten people with legitimate medical exemptions. The Ukrainians surrounded the unlucky group immediately. Except for the ten people with medical permits, all the outsiders were herded towards the grove of trees near the entrance to the quarters. 

In the meantime, the sound of the bell was heard in the camp. It was four o’clock and work was finished for the day. 1500 workers started gathering as usual and returning to their living quarters. Upon their entering the camp, the division was halted. By chance, I was among the first to arrive and served as an unwilling witness to the events that followed: Women cried and fainted. One begged aloud Commandant Sir, I swear to God, I work every day. Only today.

The talking stopped. Waiting and howling, everyone followed the order to undress and lay down. Dozens of guns were fired. The blood froze in our veins. I began to shake from fear. My ten-year old little girl, who by chance, I took with me that day, comforts me. My husband holds his hand over my mouth in order to silence me. He covers my eyes. We must be quiet. I saw the workshop overseer Gedanken beg to save his wife by asking for her release. In response, he was also ordered to strip and lie beside her. 

After this terrible carnage, the Ukrainians returned to their homes. The SS soldiers, Brilush, Gley and the company commander drove to the camp, probably to their’ hotel’. Our division was sent to the quarters. We passed the body of a woman lying fully clothed on the road. She was probably hurrying to the roll call at the basket-weaving workshop. She did not make it in time: her bread, apples and her knapsack were strewn about her. Each one of us had left someone close to us at home. Everyone hurried to see if the family was still all right. People were screaming, crying and shouting. A young woman was scurrying about screaming Father I killed you. I didn’t let you go to the roll call at the workshop how can I continue living carrying the burden of your death?

After this last roll call, the shootings and murders continued as a result of any little misdeed. They started arresting the wealthiest people. There were the Opolion, Noifeld, Proisal, Niedzwiadz, Szach and other families. They were released for an exorbitant price. The shooting and arrests continued every day. People were shot in their hovels even though they had medical certificates releasing them from work. I also got into trouble during this tragic time. I worked in a tile factory in the 5th district. It was a workshop where the men made floor tiles. One day in the latter half of October, I fell ill with a bad cold. I had a runny nose and a terrible dizzying headache. It was a beautiful sunny day. I went out of the workshop in order to sit and warm myself in the sun. Without my noticing Gley rode his horse towards me. He stopped about 5 meters from where I was sitting on the tiles. My head was bent, leaning on my hands. I suddenly heard his voice saying in German, What is with you? Are you sleeping on the job? I jumped up from my seat and answered quickly. I am not sleeping. I have a terrible headache. Luckily a Kapo walked by and diverted his attention. He screamed at me, Get back to work immediately! This is how I was saved from certain death that day. About 20 people were shot for sitting and sleeping on the job, or for lack of permits and for other small misdemeanours.

On the October 24th. we came as usual to the square. The head count was dragging on. Fish reported his toll to the camp supervisor Gley, who in turn passed it on to camp commander Hering. The SS Untersturmfuhrer Wallerang arrived. Lingering, like a performer waiting for the audience to applaud, he came slowly towards us. Those who were busy with urgent work, like for instance sewing, carpentry, shoe-making or taking care of the drainage, continued towards their workplace. Those of us, however, who did less important work were suddenly surrounded by the Ukrainians. We were given shovels and were directed to the woods to do different work. Overwhelmed with shock and emotion we started our work. Block 6 was spread out opposite Block 5. On this lot, near the woods, there was a beautiful double storied house with luxurious plush furniture and carpets. This served as accommodation and offices for the SS. Some of those working there were Jews. It was referred to as the hotel. In the woods near the hotel we were ordered to make a clearing and to dig a ditch. The field was covered with shrubbery and roots. The designated area to be cleared was about a half a kilometre long. The area, marked by wire cable and stakes, was one meter wide and two meters deep. We worked with shovels and pick-axes. The SS officer Wallerang didn’t let up on us for one minute. Swing those shovels, heave those axes, he ordered while he was beating and whipping us with all his strength. He yanked women’s hair, battered he trampled and beat us with all his strength. His friend Gircik also whipped and set his dog on us while shouting, Tempo, Tempo.

It was a freezing wintry, sunless day; in spite of the weather we were forced to remove our coats, gloves and kerchiefs. Once I dared to raise my head and glance at the other workers. My eyes wandered to a red-haired woman. She hesitated a minute to straighten a painful back. Gircik approached and whipped her on the neck. I never saw her again. I never dared strengthen my back since my light hair and complexion stood out among the dark haired women working there. The pain was excruciating. We worked from 7:00am till noon when the midday bell struck to mark a twenty-minute break. The SS left for lunch, but not before they brought the Ukrainians to guard us. During the break we lined up in rows of five in order to have our numbers checked. We were compelled to sit while the group leaders handed us our knapsacks. That day we hadn’t eaten breakfast. Since we had been called for special work, more than 2,000 people; I presumed that the kitchen would send us coffee for the break. Throats dry from thirst, each person grabbed his knapsack. I managed to eat half a small apple. The bread was beyond my capacity to devour, my throat was so dry from thirst, but then we were already ordered back to work. Usually our superiors took a 2 hour lunch break but this day they hurried back after half an hour so as to continue torturing us again. My hands were covered with blood-filled blisters. I worked with the remainder of my strength.

We continued at this tempo till 4 o’clock anxiously awaiting the bell that terminates the day. Four o’clock finally arrived but there is no bell. We were not excused from work. Every 15 minutes that passed seemed like an eternity. Wallerang drove the tired, feverish, thirsty labourers to continue. Gircik, on the other hand always accompanied by his black dog, whistled and ordered the work to stop. We jumped out of the ditches and started to dress. Suddenly we heard Wallerang’s thunderous voice, Who allowed you to stop working? and before Gircik had a chance to explain that he was acting on Hering’s orders, we grabbed our shovels and resumed digging. Those who did not manage to recompose themselves in time were the recipients of Wallerang’s vicious boot. To our relief, Hering arrived at five o’clock to explain to Wallerang that work could be stopped because it was getting dark.

We jumped out of the ditch, lining up in rows of five and took our tools back to the shed. The tools were our property. An order was given on October 5th. to return them once the workday ended. Non compliance carried a death penalty. We surely obeyed believing that once the axes were returned, our masters would leave us in peace they probably were afraid that we would use these tools to attack them. About 2,500 people went without lunch that day because of the disorganisation concerning the food vouchers they lay down to sleep on empty stomachs.

On November 3rd. we came to a head count. A long time elapsed before the exact count was reported. In the meantime, an extra division of Ukrainians arrived. No one was sent to work. We were at a loss to understand what was happening. I noticed suddenly that there was a selection of people for deportation. Fear struck my heart, for I was without my husband and daughter. I frantically searched for a way out. Without further hesitation I told my group leader that my face hurt terribly, probably as a complication of my severe cold I developed a sinus condition. Before the group leader could reply I was already on my way to the doctor, accompanied by an SS soldier. I covered my head with a kerchief. The Ukrainians surrounded the selected group and led them to an empty wooden building. Gley, the camp commander himself searched their belongings. Those who were not ready to be deported did not manage to hide their money, which now fell into Gley’s hands. After the robbery, Gley announced that he had received instructions from Lublin to cancel the deportation. For now everyone was released.

Thursday November 4th. A raging windstorm ripped the leaves from the trees and blanketed the streets with a beautiful coloured carpet. The bell chimed at 5:00 o’clock. After the second bell I was already downstairs with my husband, on the way to the road. What turmoil in the street. I did not know what was happening. I wanted to advance but the supervisor from the workshop was shouting. The Appell is at 6:00, everyone outside. I raced back to the hut in order to dress my daughter and pack her breakfast. I collected all the bread in the room, a pat of butter and a few apples. I placed a towel, soap, comb and a razor in my husband’s knapsack. He shaved and put on an extra sweater it was cold.

Before I could finish, the Werkshutz supervisor’s shouts were heard again. Everyone Outside. We had to leave the room at once. There was commotion in our neighbour’s room. Everyone is dressing haphazardly so that they could get out of the house quickly. We are rushing for the road no one bothers with the formation of 5’s. We are hurriedly marching to the camp. After a few meters we suddenly notice Ukrainians training their guns on us from both sides of the road. Before I could understand what was going on , I heard an SS saying, Why don’t you run a little? We had to run a half a kilometre. Once we were allowed to slow the pace we could glimpse at the SS soldiers they were wearing grey coats with green collars. Some said these were Wehrmacht soldiers of the regular German Army. We could not imagine the reason for the use of so many soldiers and guns. Our footsteps were silent until we reached the guard post. The permits were redundant now. However, the men still had to remove their caps. After passing the guards my husband and I went our separate ways. He was one of the Tobbens-workers. Beyond the guard post, I saw Hering and Wallerang standing by the car talking to strangers, SS soldiers. This meant that the square where the Appell was usually held was empty. I felt my feet tremble.

After parting from my husband, my daughter and I continued marching forward, I saw on the way that Gley had selected a group of women to be sent to Block number 6. There were about 100 people under the watchful eyes of the SS. At first, we thought another deportation was being selected. I wanted to join them but my child made me too noticeable. I had to give up the idea. Since people were wandering around aimlessly, I turned to the wooden barracks to search for my husband I did not find him. In the meantime, the SS were shoving people into the barrack. This was a place which previously housed 8,000 people. Now, since additional barracks were being constructed, people were relocated to the newer barracks, men and women separately. Only the centre of the barrack was occupied, the periphery was going to be a new metal workshop.

More than 13,000 people were ushered into the barrack. There was screaming and wailing. Mothers lost their children, wives lost their husbands. Everybody was searching for someone. Parentless children cried endlessly. Not all the mothers took their children with them. The Ukrainians searched the houses and whoever was found children, the sick, dressed or partly dressed were rounded up and taken to the barrack. The SS blockaded the rest of the barrack and forbade us to go near the windows. One soldier shot at the ceiling and ordered fifty men to be removed at certain intervals. I was sitting on a bench near the exit and saw all my acquaintances leaving the building. I nodded to say goodbye. From the corner of my eye I noticed a group of men talking quietly to Lant, the camp commander. I went over to find out what was going on. A Viennese man answered me, Don’t you know that you are a half hour away from death? #His answer did not penetrate my consciousness. After several thousand men had left, I finally found my husband. He told me that the camp was being liquidated. The men would probably be taken by foot to an unknown destination, and the women would be deported by train. I was so stunned by what he said that I completely forgot to repeat to my husband the words of the man from Vienna. I completely forgot about it. My husband broke down. He cried like a little child and could not be calmed. The 50 member groups left quickly. The women silently weeping, departed from their husbands. My husband’s turn finally arrived. He was crying and I stood motionless and watched him, thinking to myself, this is the second time my soul is being ripped apart. My husband, without knowing that in a few minutes he will be shot,left the building promising to search for me in all the camps. Those were his last words. 

All the people from the workshop shift were removed, and immediately afterwards the men were taken away. Now the women’s turn arrived. Before leaving, they powdered their faces and rouged their cheeks in order to look healthy for what they thought was another selection for work. Bauman, the shift commander, and the SS soldiers arranged groups of 50 women and started to send them out of the building. All this activity was conducted in almost total silence. The SS made a thorough search of all the bunks, suitcases, the slabs where we slept. The sheets were torn with their bayonets all this in order to find hidden people or money. After their check the barrack looked like after a pogrom.

I prepared to leave in one of the first groups. I was desperate to know what had happened to my husband. My acquaintances held me back. She said that is no good to be among the first in the selection line. Holding my daughter’s hand tightly I left the barrack. Just as we were leaving, we heard shots. We looked around but still did not understand anything. By the new barracks, near the road we were stopped and ordered to remove our shoes. I shouted Women I believe we are going to our graves! Barefoot, we went to the second barrack. There the SS ordered us to hand over our valuables – gold, watches, money and jewellery. Those who did not comply would be shot, they said.

I raise my head and I see around me women stripped naked, with arms raised over their heads, walking aimlessly in a circle. What is the meaning of this I ask myself. I am young and shapely, but with my little girl I wont last in a selection. We had to hurry and get undressed. I saw a young woman jump up the stairs and call to her mother in law, Farewell Mother, see you in the next world. In one of the rooms, 3 women were standing and arranging clothes. An idea flashed in my mind maybe I could join them and arrange the clothes with them, but what would I do about my daughter? I had a few thousand zloty with me. I said to my acquaintance that I will be buried with my money, and wrapped them in a handkerchief and hid them. My bracelet and ring had to be given up but I still managed to hide another ring with a pin in my hair.

We stripped quickly and marched with raised hands to the ditches dug with our own hands. Two meter deep graves already filled with naked bodies. My neighbour from the camp with her 14 year old sweet, fair haired daughter, an innocent smile on her lips, it seemed as if they were just searching for a place to rest. As soon as we arrived the SS soldier cocked his revolver, perhaps it was stuck, for he was fiddling with it. I looked up at him and he said Not so fast. In spite of that we lay down, so as not to have to see the bodies. My little girl asked me to cover her eyes because she was afraid. I hugged her head and covered her eyes as she asked me to. With my right hand I held her tight. That is how we lay there with our heads bent down. Within a moment the shooting started. The shots were aimed at us. I felt heat in my left arm. A bullet had passed through it penetrating my 10 year old daughter’s skull. She never even shivered. Then I hear the thunder of shots again in a nearby place. I’m in a complete shock. I feel a pain in my head but I have no recollection if I passed out or not. I hear my neighbours dying groan.

In a moment there is total silence. I am still conscious; after all I am still alive and waiting for the bullet to end it all. Outwardly, apparently, I do not show any sign of life. After a while the SS bring another woman and child. The women’s last wish is to kiss her child the murderer did not allow it. She kneels beside me on my right hand side and leans her head on mine. The slaughterer shoots and her blood spurts and oozes down my head and collects at the back of my neck and in my hair. From the back, I surely looked as if I am dead. I hear the noise of shooting for a while then I lose track of time, and then silence rules the air. So I am alive but I am incapable of focusing my mind on what to do next. An hour or so, I hear the SS again. One of them steps on my shoulder and shoots while saying, Black haired, fair haired. I understand that they came to verify that we were all dead. Certainly there were wounded, since I had heard groans, but after the last volley of shots everything was quiet. The SS soldiers left but I didn’t have the courage to lift my head. I was feverish from the cold, the corpses which still warmed me during the morning became cold.

Wind was blowing through the trees, chanting kaddish for the dead. Ukrainians passed by a few times, cursed the zyd, spat on us and left. The hours passed slowly, each seeming like an eternity. With evening the Ukrainians returned and covered us with fir branches. I feared that maybe they want to burn us. Fear struck I wanted to scream that I am alive, but no sound came from my throat. I heard their steps receding, and only then did I dare lift my head a little. The branches hid me, so I gaze about me. It was twilight time. My first gaze fell on my daughter; her usually oval face was now rounded and ashen with death. I kissed her hair and neck her hand fell from mine. I looked at my aching left arm and saw two holes. The arm was soaked with blood. I rested my head again, for I was very tired. In spite of the exhaustion and the dizziness I started formulating plans about what to do next. I did not know the area or exactly where I was. I thought to escape towards the forest but I was naked. We were lying near the road to the town neighbourhood. Should I go there to find clothes? The way there passes by the guard post and the illuminated gate. Never mind the 2 kilometer distance. Just then I noticed two Ukrainians walking in the direction of town rushing, seemingly scared of the bodies.

My plan was inoperative. I remained lying there asking myself how in heaven did the bullet go through me and how was it that I did not show any sign of life? I had no hope of being saved and not only because I was naked. I continued watching the Ukrainians hut and the hotel. The windows were well lit. Suddenly a naked woman or maybe the shadow of one appeared to run straight to the gate, which I had thought impossible to pass. I don’t know if she got through. It was difficult to judge from that distance. My attention from the woman was diverted to horrible screams of women crying for help, coming from the barrack. I thought that it would have been better for them to have been murdered like us. Finally the screaming ceased.

All of a sudden I heard a voice from the grave, Mother, Mother, and a few other words. It was too difficult to understand because of the howling wind. I wanted to answer, Who is alive? but I was afraid. It was completely dark by now, probably about seven o’clock or later. My attention was alerted to a blazing fire that broke out near the guard post. The fire was enormous, spreading towards the barracks where our clothes were piled up. Afterwards I found out that a group of youngsters revolted there. The fire frightened me. I thought they had decided to burn the bodies. I was horrified of being burnt alive. Terrified, I stroked my daughter’s neck. I was hesitant to kiss her because the blood and naked bodies stupefied me. I removed the fir branches, leaped over the pile of bodies and dashed towards the woods.

After crawling dozens of meters on hands and knees I met up with two other naked women I joined them. Without realizing what I was doing, I touched them with my hands and asked if they were alive. They answered me and in disbelief I started caressing them. We could not dawdle because of the proximity of our location to the catastrophe. We decided to go towards Malinki, the nearest village. I remembered that I still had my money and I told my companions, don’t worry, I have money to get clothes! They asked me how I managed, and I showed them that paper bills are not hard to hide.

We could not lose time and crawled quickly to the first hut. An old man and woman lived there in one room. They were shocked and crossed themselves at the sight of three naked women. The old lady threw a faded old dress and tattered pants at us and then chased us out in fear that the Ukrainians would punish them for helping us. I evaded her and went to the kitchen in order to warm up a little but the old woman was adamant to throw us out. One of my friends grabbed an old curtain and draped it over her body. When we got outside I tore a piece of the curtain to partially cover my body.

We entered another hut and asked for hot water to wash our bloodstained bodies. They gave us water, and I got a shirt because I was still naked. We each were given a slice of bread and again we had to leave. We hurried to another cabin and a young girl threw us a simple skirt and ordered us out of the house. We decided not to go to more huts that night. It was late and we searched for a straw pile to hide in. We indeed found one and climbed in to hide for the night. The wind penetrated and the hay did not warm us a bit. At first light we heard the farmer’s steps near the stack. A woman came out of the cabin to scatter grain for the chickens. It seemed to be very early in the morning.

My friend Rozka jumped out of her hiding place and entered the cabin to beg for some clothes. We were all chased away; Rozka ran so fast that we lost complete sight of her. We continued on our own, choosing to go by way of swamps. We were in mud up to our knees until we reached the other side of the village. A woman stopped us and asked, which of you has money? Come with me! I was afraid to acknowledge, but when she told me that our third friend was sitting in her house, I went with her. Rozka arranged with her that we would get lodgings for two days and that she would bring us clothes. We received an old summer coat; Tusia, my other friend, put it on. I gave the woman a 1000 zloty, and for this money she was to bring us another one. There was another woman with her who went out and came back later saying that we had to leave immediately because the neighbors saw us when we came. We left quickly, leaving the 1,000 zloty for the rags. We went onto the next village, Poniatowa. However we were refused to enter the village and had to continue to the forests. We found piles of leaves and dry branches that the farmers used for firewood. We were freezing cold and climbed into the piles, which served as haven from the cold and prying eyes.

In the morning, while still inside the piles, we heard the approaching voices of a farmer and his wife. We decided to approach them and asked for food and clothes. He was an honest man and agreed to bring us rags and warm milk. He returned in no time with the promised rags, old torn sandals, a can of warm milk and bread. We attacked the warm milk in order to heat ourselves a little. My friends put on the rags but I, unfortunately, could not wear anything because of my arm. I was dressed in a man’s shirt and the sleeve was stuck to my wound. I had to remove it from time to time because the arm was swollen and painful. I threw a torn coat over myself, covered my feet with rags and shoved them into a dilapidated old man’s shoe. It cost a fortune but I was eternally grateful to the kind man for bringing them to me. That day we continued on our journey; time was sparse and we had to get as far as possible from the camp. #We came across another village that prohibited our entrance. Because of our disheveled appearance we caused a commotion and drew attention to ourselves and our faces expressed terrible pain. Again we spent the night in a mound of straw. In the morning we went to the village. Tusia was still barefoot, and we wanted to find her a pair of sandals and to drink a pot of some hot coffee. We went to the poorest-looking cabins in order to be able to stay a few hours for a fee. Tusia bought sandals and torn stockings for each of us. Rozka bought a scarf for me to cover my rags with. We were cheated by one who didn’t have change. They threatened us and we had to leave the house quickly.

In order to speed up our journey to Warsaw, we decided to skip some of the villag. The village was so afraid of Ukrainian retribution that no amount of money could buy us respite in their homes. We stayed in only one village, Kowali. In its entrance was a store with a grocer. Roza took 500 zlotys from me and approached her. The woman sold us bread and salami and promised to hide us in the silo for a few days, maybe more. As I mentioned earlier, our appearance caused quite a commotion and children started following us. We decided to go in different directions. I found Tusia later. We sat and hid from the children beside a bale of hay; but to our dismay they spotted us and very quickly adults also surrounded us. They threatened to take us to the starosta (county supervisor) or the gendarmes. Pleading and crying I begged them to let us go. Finally after shamelessly and thoroughly searching us. Fortunately they didn’t find my hidden money. Pleading I convinced them to let us remain overnight by the haystack. It was raining. I believed that this was the last we were to see of them; but after a short while two of the farmers returned and ordered us to follow them to a safer place but would not tell us where they were taking us. We followed them a short distance, and I convinced them to let us continue on our own. When they were out of sight we sat down again to wait until they will get afar from us. It was raining harder now. Tusia wanted to follow the farmers but I refused.

Within a short time the farmers returned with their dogs. They brought us bread and commanded us to follow them and having no choice in the matter, we complied. They took us out of the village by a side road and showed us the way we were to continue. I inquired as to the name of the village we were going to but they refused to tell us. Instinctively I knew we must not go there. I was right, for later I found out that the road led straight back to the camp. As soon as they left we sat and waited till their footsteps had faded and the lights were out in the village. It was raining cats and dogs, the wind howled, and we were soaked to our bones. We sat leaning against each other in order to warm ourselves for at least three hours. Later in the silence of night, we returned to the village. In the darkness we found refuge in a bale of straw-covered hay where we lay till daylight came. It was Sunday and we did not want to move about for fear of being discovered. We remained in our hiding place till Monday morning. The idea of searching for Rozka was never brought up; we never saw her again. #On Monday morning we came to a village by the name of Huti. We entered a low and small cabin where we saw an eleven-year-old girl sorting tobacco leaves. I asked her if it would be all right with her and family if we kept her company for a while. She agreed. Her mother and grandmother returned about an hour later. We apologized for being there. They immediately understood who we were. I offered money to let us stay and rest our swollen wounded feet for a few days. The mother agreed, however her 13-year-old son refused. We had to leave the house and find refuge in the dark. During the day we went out of the hay and hid in the forests where the leaf piles gave us some warmth for the whole day. #At night when it was completely dark, we returned to that farmer in the cabin. We gave her money to purchase wooden clogs, stockings, skirts and scarves and we asked her to cook us some potatoes since we had not eaten warm food in two days. We were to come the next evening, Wednesday, to receive our things. Again we spent the day covered by leaves in the forest. To our delight we found the woman to be honest and indeed she bought us what we asked for. We washed, dressed and ate; then we returned to the leaves in the forest. My wound was getting worse from day to day and by now my arm was swollen to the fingertips. I had a constant high fever. I was afraid that I had sepsis; because of lack of medication I did not wash or dress my wound. On Thursday morning I decided that I have to see a doctor in Kuzmir. It was dangerous because of the station, which had been destroyed on Friday November 5th, but I was adamant to get emergency treatment for my arm. If I would have been told to amputate it, I probably would have poisoned myself-really there was no reason for me to remain alive alone and deformed. A car passed us when we approached Kuzmir. In fear, I backed up and entered a cabin at the side of the road. We lied that we were being transferred from the eastern territories and that I was injured on the way and needing medical treatment in Kuzmir. The farmer woman understood that not all was well with us and suggested that we keep away from Kuzmir because at the entrance of the town there is a roadblock, and papers were being checked. She told us to go to Manczaniez. There the fishermen could probably take us across the Wisla. I gave up on the idea of the doctor. In fact I was already incapable of any logical thought. Desperate without hope, we started wandering again.

On our way we met some women carrying baskets as if they were going to the market. I wanted to buy a scarf from one but she refused to sell one to me. I was running a fever. The other woman said, Tell me women, where are you walking from, do not be afraid, tell us from where are you? and added, If my sister were here she would certainly be interested in you! Upon hearing this we related our complete story. I grabbed her hand and asked about her sister. It turned out that her sister was visiting a church in Kuzmir and was due to return shortly. After a lot of pleading, the woman remained with us to wait for her sister. The sister arrived a while later. She burst out crying upon seeing us. She told us that, on Thursday, the miserable day that Poniatowa camp was destroyed, she had arranged to meet one of her pupils. She was to pick her up with her husband and child. On Thursday, she went as usual to the area near the wire fence, but only the thunder of shots met her ears. Death enveloped the entire neighborhood and only the wind moved the trees. Because she was so distraught by the death of these people she wanted to save us and she would take us to Warsaw with her. She inquired if we had some money for the trip. I answered that I have enough for the journey. She told us to stay in the forest, so as not to attract the attention of the neighbors. Afterwards she said, she would bring us warm soup to our hiding place. #We were to go to the ditch, which crossed the forest and gather firewood in order not to attract attention. Exhausted we sat down to rest but before long a man also collecting twigs came towards us. We quickly resumed our work but curious as to whether he was a danger to us or not I struck up a conversation with him and asked about the weather. It was a warm clear sunny day. The farmer immediately understood that we were Jewish. The village was small and everyone knew each other, so he realized that we were strangers. He calmed us and told us not to worry and that he would help us. He told us that he himself hid a boy for a long time, by the name of Abraham, from Kuzmir. He was wondering where he had disappeared lately. He related to us that he knew a woman who smuggled a number of Jews out of the camp to Warsaw. He told us that he would take us to his home overnight and that he would contact her…. According to his description we realized that Maria was the same woman whom we had met earlier. The farmer’s sister also came to fetch twigs but he sent her to inform his wife that he would be bringing two Jewesses home. In the evening, Maria came with hot soup. When she saw that we were conversing with that farmer she asked him to take us home with him for the night because her home was too crowded. He answered her that this was his decision anyhow, but he did not know that we knew each other. I was afraid to admit to him that we had met Maria before. At dusk we went to his one roomed hut where he lived with his wife and two children. In spiof the lack of space he kept us with him for two days. At some point we had to relate our story of survival to the farmer and his family.

We were very distrathat we had no iof whawaited us in Warsaw. We were friendless, penniless, and without papers. Stefan consoled us and said that there were rich Jews who could probably help us, and that he knew about relief organizations helping refugees. I laughed at his saying, because I could not believe that anyone would help us, the miserable, again. On Saturday the gendarmes came to take the forced laborers away, and we had to leave the village quickly. Stefan’s wife gave us clothes, helped us dress, and we were on our way to Kuzmir. Our first stop was at the doctor’s. I lied to him that some gang in some village attacked us and while was leaving the house I had been by a bullet. The doctor dressed my wound and ordered me to return daily for new dressings, since the arm was so neglected and the decay was spreading quickly. In the meantime the farmer’s wife had finished her errands and bought us bread and salami. Afterwards she took us to her acquaintances for supper, and we were taken later by carriage to the station. Another little incident awaited us in the train. Tusia was holding the farmer’s basket. The gendarmes, looking for contraband accosted her and searched the basket. Tusia faltered and lost her composure. The civilian who accompanied the gendarme flashed his flashlight on her and remarked, My, how you resemble a Jewess! She turned her head; luck was with her and everything went as planned. We arrived in Warsaw without further misadventures.” Ludwika Fiszer.

Mordechai Anielewicz

Uncategorised Posted on Thu, June 17, 2021 11:48:17

Mordechai Anielewicz (1919 – 1943)

“..most difficult struggle of all is within ourselves. Let us not get accustomed and adjusted to these conditions.”Mordechai Anielewicz.

History has been so written as to commend those who have passed from us, and in the context of The Final Solution of The Jewish Question, die Endlosung der Judenfrage has been a very detailed depiction of the horror for the Jewish People who are The Holocaust. The fact that the Jews are written into the pages of this particular history is for a very specific reasoning, and not least of all due to their losses of some 6,000,000 of their People who were torn from us. The Jews are even sewn into the very fabric of those states and nations they dwelled in, even when these states or nations did not serve their Jewish Community at all well.

That position of abandonment is to be so true of all those many individual Jews whose presence or even eminence emerges from the clouds of dust, smoke, flames and the ash of their destruction. For these many Jews, recalled in their absence, so as to become identified and thus recognised by us, has far too many still to be recognised. We do recognise many, and one such whose eminent presence in the very echoes of The Holocaust is the Jewish Fighter Mordechai Anielewicz. Mordechai was born into 1919’s Wyszkow, Poland and we learn of the Jewish Boy, Man, Fighter and we recognise in him the struggle within the Polish Community for Jewish existence. #For the urgent need to both Survive, and if not to Survive, then to leave a mark upon society that we can decipher and learn from. Mordechai was born into a poor family and into a poor neighborhood and after completion of his High School education, Mordechai joined the Youth Movement Hashomer Hatzair. It has been recognised that here he made himself useful both as an organiser of the movement, and then as a leader with such qualities that would eventually serve him well.

“..Whatever may happen to you ..remember always ..Don’t adjust.” Mordechai Anielewicz.

On September 7th. 1939, merely a week after Hitler’s forces had cross the Polish border, Mordechai and other mebers of the youth movement departed Warsaw further East. The Germans were fast rolling up Division after Division of the Polish Army and nothing was halting their massive and swift advance toward victory. On September 17th. as the Russian army occupies Eastern Poland, the escape route for Polish Jews has been closed. Here though, Mordechai attempted to open a passageway through Romania for his Youth Movement to get Polish Jews to safety and to Israel. #Detained by the Russians Mordechai he was sent to one of their jails before being released and returning to Warsaw and the Ghetto established there. Mordechai only stayed in Warsaw a short time and left for Vilna, Lithuania to meet up with like minded individuals, groups of Jewish refugees fleeing from German persecution. Mordechai was preparing for the fight back and he and his Girl Friend Mira Fukrer returned now to Warsaw to deliver an educational programme and add their political issuances to form a newer underground.

All of this effort fitted in well with the resolve of Emmanual Ringelblum and the building of the Onyeg Shabbes but from January 1940 the underground activist began to sense the sea change. Once the news of der Einsatzgruppe aktions, involving the amassed killings of the Jews to the East, trickled out, a newer resolve was brought into focus. Here, Mordechai abandoned all passive or artisitc efforts and prepared himself and those he surrounded himself with for an eventuual battle with the oppressor, occupier of all of Poland.

On July 7th. 1942, and with Dr. Irmfried Eberl, Death Camp Treblinka’s Commandant, notifies Dr. Heinz Auerswald, the Commissioner of the Warsaw Ghetto, of his readiness to receive the Jews of Warsaw, the terro of expulsion of the Jews from Warsaw approached. Mordechai was expanding his view and during these formative days, he was trying to orchestrate more fighting brigades throughout the South West regions of Poland. By Mordechai’s return to Warsaw and the Ghetto, Jewish Warsaw had been cleansed, resettlement trains from the Umschalgplatz has siphoned away almost 300,000 Jews toward Treblinka. #Immediately, Mordechai set about organising his response units and formed them into fighting brigades, ill equipped to respond significantly to the German threat. The immediate crisis for the formative Fighting Force was they were without weapons and though attempts wer made to gain any weapon at all, too great was the expence demanded. Such was the larcenous intention of local, partisan and military non-Jewish Poles, that too few weapons were received that were to prove effective in battle against the common enemy. #Here though, on October 20th 1942 the Coordinating Committee of the Resistance effort, representing all Jewsh factions and political entites was formed. When Abrasha Blum and Berek Sznajdmil of the Committee were made aware of the Command structure of the new Jewish Battle Organization, ZOB, it was unanimous in appointing Mordechai as its leader. It is a rather dark period in Poland’s history that such was their attitude toward Polish Jewry the effort to strike at the German occupier would not include arming Jewish resisters.

“..Mordecai made a second mistake that took its bitter revenge on ..history of Warsaw Jews and ..Polish Jews. ..youth paid too much attention to ..opinions of gneration ..experience ones ..wise ones ..those who weighed and considered and had a hand in 1,000 well reasoned arguments against fighting ..occupier. ..worried about surviving. ..adults dreamed about life. ..youth ..most beautiful ..noblest element that ..Jewish People possess ..spoke ..thought ..about an honourable death. They did not think about survivng ..they did not arrange aryan papers on ..other side. Their only worry was ..most honourable death ..a 2,000 year old People deserves.” Emmanuel Ringelblum.

Already there was a burgeoning growth in respect between Mordechai and Emmanuel Ringelblum, which turned into a warm friendship. Though disagreement lingered with how best to spend zloty, Emmanuel clearly pointed to the extortion being inflicted upon Mordechai for the few revolvers he was forced to pay exorbitant amounts for. However, the cultural integrity of Jewish Poland required a concerted effort which Mordechai reluctantly appreciated while forging attempts to gain ever more weapons. #As such, Emmanuel Ringelblum was not so short sighted to not see the conviction and deciation of Mordechai, so he was also hugely supportive of Mordechai’s efforts. As an educator he was especially proud of this Youth led resistance which offered barely any chance of survival for those involved. It was clearly recognised by them both of the losses that were to come, and it was certainly a given appreciation that there wouldn’t be any prospect victory.

“..Jews from all sorts of organisations ..approach ..ask for arms if we had an arsenal ..of weapons. ..I shall not give ..them weapons.” General Stefan Rowecki.

Nor would there be a chance of other than a crushing defeat for any of these Jewish Youth, and in the final attempt to strike a blow, the blow against them was crushing. Here though, and it is mutually recognised that an historic event was approaching and Judaism and the Jewish People would have much to praise. What further loss was soon to be exercised only added to the immeasurable grief that was permeating the entire area of Jewish Warsaw, as it was in Jewish quarters throughout the whole of Europe.

“..I don’t know what to write to you. Let’s dispense with personal details this time. I have only one expression to describe my feelings and ..feelings of my comrades ..things have surpassed our boldest dreams ..Germans ran away from us twice.” Mordechai Anielewicz.

Then, on January 9th. 1943 and with Himmler in Warsaw, this was all seen as a precursor to the final liquidation of the Ghetto of Warsaw’s Jews. The assembling of a Jewish Fighting Resistance however, spurred Himmler to act more swiftly against the ill equipped Jewish Resisters. As 8,000 more of Warsaw’s Jews are ordered toward the Umschlagplatz and their final resettlement, it is recognised that for Mordechai, the time is fast approaching to act. On January 18th. 1943, with 6,000 more of the Warsaw Ghetto’s Jews being murdered at Treblinka, the Warsaw Ghetto was surrounded for this 2nd. Liquidation, the Jewish fight was brought to the Nazi’s.

At 4 separate Battle Group Barricades, there was a concerted effort by the Jewish Resisters to strike and in some way, and with plans to to do so, to disrupt all future resettlement operations. Here, 1,000 of these Ghetto Fighting Jews are murdered after Resisting on this, the 1st. Jewish Fighting Resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto, a Resistance which lasted for 4 days. Mordechai, commanding the battles in the main streets, mingled with those Jews set for resettlement and the entire transport of Jews dispersed. The success of this foray was indeed realised with the very fact of the abandonment of the resettlement transports that were still unfinished.

“..One of our companies held out for 40 minutes ..other one for more than 6 hours. ..mine planted in ..Brushmakers’ area exploded. So far ..we have had only one casualty ..Yehiel who fell as a hero at ..machine gun.” Mordechai Anielewicz.

As I add my words, and in the following sections they are interlaced with the words from Mordechai’s last letter to his his Friend, they settle appropriately amongst my own words. Repeated, so as to do further honour to the Jewish Memory and pay especial tribute to those like Mordechai Anielewicz, who stood so tall against the Nazi rage, his words are worth more than the words they stand to represent. These are the last and final words Mordechai has gifted to us and it shares a belief that in their struggle to strike back, it has set a future precedent. In any future conflict, no Jew anywhere, should ever be presented with such a murderous intention without the ability and resource to strike back.

“..we got information that ..PPR attacked ..Germans and station Swit broadcast a wonderful bulletin about our self defense ..I had a feeling of fulfillment. Even though there’s still a lot of work ahead of us ..whatever has been done so far has been done perfectly.” Mordechai Anielewicz.

Following on from this first excustion into fighting the common enemy in Poland, the coming 3 month period of developed the air of urgency. What grew, as preparations further develeoped the reference point to fighing back and producing another blow against the occupiuers, Mordechai Anielewicz’s dream would emerge. There was, with renewed vigor, and as the last deportations of Warsaw’s Jews began Jewish Warsaw rose up again. The Jews of all of Europe, beginning with Poland, were hounded, demoralised, enclosed within Ghettos, denied assistance by their own states and presented with a hope that did not exist for them, now it was the turn of the Jewish People to strike further, deeper, stronger, wider.

“..From ..evening ..we are switching to a system of guerila action. At night ..3 of our units go out on 2 missions armed reconnaisance patrol and ..acquisition of weapons. Know that ..pistol has no value ..we practically don’t use it. We need grenades ..rifles ..machine guns ..explosives.” Mordechai Anielewicz.

All of this Jewish passivity changed with Bielski, Bialystok, Czestochowa, Koretz, Sachsenhausen, Sobibor, Treblinka, Tuczyn and of course, here in Warsaw. This is not to say, in the least that the Jews did not resist, but as has been identified, there are many forms of Resistance which do not always include physical responses. Here again though, with this, the recognisable Warsaw Ghetto Uprising beginning April 17th. 1943 and with the remnants of Warsaw’s Jews, some 70,000 Jews who were still alive, there was still this feeling for a freedom they had thought evaporated.

Friday April 23rd. 1943 “..I can’t describe to you ..conditions in which ..Jews are living. Only a few individuals will hold out. All will be killed sooner or later. ..die is cast. In all ..bunkers where our comrades are hiding can’t light a candle at night for lack of oxygen.” Mordechai Anielewicz.

At first the superiority of the weaponry of Nazi resistance was clear and yet, the Nazis suffered many consequential losses which prompted a more ferocious and escalating response. The Jews took the battle to the oppressor and for days on end, the Nazi terror was contained and it shrank back from contact. However, Hitler could not allow for a handful of Jews to resist what the forces of the Reich had marked in 1,000’s of waged War, without the cumulative effort of all that he could now throw at the Warsaw Ghetto and its Jews.

Friday April 23rd. 1943 “..Of all ..units in ..Ghetto ..only 1 man is missing ..Yehiel. That too is a victory. I don’t know what else to write you. I imagine you have many questions. But for now content with this.” Mordechai Anielewicz.

Being one of the few, Mordechai Anielewicz not only exemplifies what the Jews could do and should achieve, but given their opportunity to do so, they would achieve. Mordechai too lays down a marker to what the Polish state failed to do to save its own Jewish People. Throughout the history of the time, antisemitic hatred in many parts of Europe precluded the Jewish armed resistance from being properly assisted, armed and more resolutely established. Though there were indeed many armed insurrection, revolts and resistances, these were never coordinated enough to present a Jewish concerted effort.

Friday April 23rd. 1943 “..general situation ..all ..workshops in ..Ghetto and outside it were closed ..except for Werterfassung ..Transavia ..and Daring. I don’t have any information about ..situation in Schultz and Tobbens. Contact is cut off. ..Brushmakers’ workshop has been in flames for 3 days.” Mordechai Anielewicz.

From here on in, everything that could be thrown at the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, with blocks to any form of armed resistance, to any formal assitance, all of this was heightened by Polish military tardiness and obstruction. But once Battle commenced, the Jewish struggle from within the Ghetto itself gave these well outnumbered Jews a brief taste of the freedom they had sought. The poorly armed rebels knew that they could not defeat the Nazis but they managed to resist the Germans for a month.

Friday April 23rd. 1943 “..During ..e sit in hiding places. Be well my friend. Perhaps we shall meet again. ..main thing is ..dream of my ife has come true. I’ve lived to see a Jewish defense in ..Ghetto in all its Greatness and glory. Mordechai.” Mordechai Anielewicz.

The winds of change were in the air, and it was spreading like a brush fire and in what was the first major Jewish, or otherwise, uprising to be played out anywhere in occupied Europe, these Jewish Fighter set a future precedent. In the preceding months and in fact the months that would follow this Great Jewish Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, other groups followed there example. There were to be revolts in the Ghetto’s the length and breadth of Poland, Byelorussia, Ukraine and in the areas of Russia were Jewish Partisans now ranged. To counter this, Hitler obliged Himmler to seek ever more draconian methods and the application of brutal criminal and mercenary forces were encouraged into the fight.

Thursday April 29th. 1943 “..strength of ..German military and police machine ..being weakened daily. This strength broke near Stalingrad ..had to retreat from Tunis now stands powerless before a group of Jews who defend themselves in ..ghetto.” Polska.

Such was the ferocity of the destruction, artillery mounted from within range of all of Warsaw pounded the beleagured few, who still held out. The Nazi’s not only sought now to crush the Resistance, they fully sought to obliterate every trace of the Jewish presence within Warsaw and witnessed for themselves a Jewish resurgence that was to rage on every street defended by Warsaw’s Ghetto Jews. As this particular facet of the Uprising came to a head, Mordechai and his command were forced to move to their headquarters, a shelter of cover at Mila 18 street.

“..Contact is cut off. ..Brushmakers’ workshop has been in flames for 3 days. Yesterday burned. Blocks of buildings are in flames.” Mordechai Anielewicz.

Then, on May 8th. 1943 Mordechai Anielewicz, this acclaimed activist and well respected Commander of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, was shot and killed. Here, at the age of 23, still a relatively Young Man, he died fighting as he saw fit, fighting the very regime that had already so extinguished Jewish existence in Warsaw and Poland. For Polish Jewry, so arbitrarily attacked and so devastatingly destroyed, so that it would barely recover, that pain of recovery is an every day effort for Jews within Warsaw, let alone Poland.

Here, in the headquarters bunker Mordechai had managed to hold up in, and together with a few of those other youthful Jews, who had the same vision, they have stood before History and are recognised for what they achieved. The Nazi’s own forces of Waffen SS, Common Criminals and another array of collaborating non-Jewish Poles, together they sought to burn through all Jewish Resistance, house by house. Every shelter in the Ghetto was targetted and this handful of Jewish Men, Women, Boys and Girls did what the Polish Army did not do.

“..One by one ..factories were systematically cleared ..then destroyed by fire. Almost always ..Jews then emerged from their hiding places and bunkers. Not rarely ..Jews stayed in ..burning houses until ..heat and fear of being burned to death caused them to jump from ..upper floors after they had thrown mattresses and other upholstered objects from ..burning houses to ..street. With broken bones they would then try to crawl across ..street into buildings which were not yet flames. Often ..Jews changed their hiding places during ..night ..shifting into ..ruins of buildings already burned out and taking refuge there until they were found by ..shock troop units. ..Only as a result of ..unceasing and untiring efforts of all forces did we succeed in capturing altogether 56,065 Jews ..definitely destroying them. To this figure should be added Jews who lost their lives in explosions ..fires ..number of which could not be definitely established. Warsaw ..May 16th. 1943 ..SS und Police Leader ..Warsaw District ..Stroop ..SS Brigadefuhrer..Major General of Police. Jurgen Stroop.”

The Warsaw Ghetto Jews, fighting against a common enemy of Poland, and non-Jewish Poles also, defended the right of existence for those all of those Polish Citizens, particularly who were Polish Jews facing extinction. The battle itself lasted for some 4 weeks and on May 10th, 1943, with the Jewish Warsaw Ghetto Uprising collapsing under the rubble of Warsaw. When the end came, it wasn’t until a week later, on May 17th. 1943 that Stroop could then report back to Hitler that the Ghetto was no more and that Warsaw was now declared ‘Judenrein. #Mordechai Anielewicz’s Last Letter to His Friend and fellow Resistance Fighter Yizhak Zukerman.

Friday April 23rd. 1943

“..Dear Yitzhak

I don’t know what to write to you. Let’s dispense with personal details this time. I have only one expression to describe my feelings and the feelings of my comrades, things have surpassed our boldest dreams, the Germans ran away from us twice. One of our companies held out for 40 minutes, and the other one for more than 6 hours.The mine planted in the Brushmakers’ area exploded. So far, we have had only one casualty, Yehiel who fell as a hero at the machine gun.

Yesterday, when we got information that the PPR attacked the Germans and that the radio station Swit broadcast a wonderful bulletin about our self defense, I had a feeling of fulfillment. Even though there’s still a lot of work ahead of us, whatever has been done so far has been done perfectly.

From the evening, we are switching to a system of guerila action. At night, three of our units go out on two missions, an armed reconnaisance patrol and the acquisition of weapons. Know that the pistol has no value, we practically don’t use it. We need grenades, rifles, machine guns, and explosives.

I can’t describe to you the conditions in which the Jews are living. Only a few individuals will hold out. All the rest will be killed sooner or later. The die is cast. In all the bunkers where our comrades are hiding, you can’t light a candle at night for lack of oxygen.

Of all the units in the Ghetto, only one man is missing, Yehiel. That too is a victory. I don’t know what else to write you. I imagine you have many questions. But for now, be content with this.

The general situation, all the workshops in the Ghetto and outside it were closed, except for Werterfassung, Transavia, and Daring. I don’t have any information about the situation in Schultz and Tobbens. Contact is cut off. The Brushmakers’ workshop has been in flames for three days.

Yesterday, the hospital burned. Blocks of buildings are in flames. The police force was dismantled, except for the Werterfassung. Szmerling has surfaced again. Lichtenbaum has been released from the Umschlag. Not many people have been taken out of the Ghetto.

But that is diffrent in the shops. I don’t have the details. During the day, we sit in hiding places. Be well my friend. Perhaps we shall meet again. The main thing is the dream of my ife has come true. I’ve lived to see a Jewish defense in the Ghetto in all its Greatness and glory.


97 Jewish Resistance Fighters Died that Day and more than 80% of all those who threw themselves into the fight lost their lives doing so. With the Jewish refusal to succumb to the obvious technical, military and crushing weight of weaponry, which the Nazi’s qpply as they obviously possessed, the Resistance had very little other than a fighting chance at Resisting.

Amonsgt these Heroes are those of Mila 18 Street and some of these are, Chaim Akerman, Malka Alterman, Mordechaj Anielewicz, Nate Bartmeser, Heniek Bartowicz, Franka Berman, Tosia Berman, Icchak Blaustein, Melach Blones, Berl Braude, Icchak Chadasz, Nesia Cukier, Icchak Dembinski, Jozef Fass, Efraim Fondaminski, Towa Frenkel, Emus Frojnd, Mira Fuchrer, Wolf Gold, Miriam Hajnsdorf, Aron Halzband, Rut Hejman, Mira Izbicka, Salke Kamien, Ziuta Klejnman, Jaffa Lewender, Lolek, Sewek Nulman, Abraham Orwacz, Rywka Pasamonik, Majloch Perelman, Aron Rajzband, Lutek Rotblat, Miriam Rotblat, Jardena Rozenberg, Salka, Jerzy Sarnak, Szmuel Sobol, Basia Sylman, Szyja Szpancer, Moniek Sztengel, Szulamit Szuszkowska, Mojsze Waksfeld, Olek Wartowicz, Icchak Wichter, Arie Wilner, Zeew Wortman, Hirsz Wronski, Sara Zagiel, Rachelka Zylberberg and Moszek Zylbertszajn.

Today, and it is a prejudicial questioning, as far as I am concerned that it has always been asked of those 6,000,000 Slaughtered Jews, who had no reason to believe that the very devil was in the detail of the hatred spouted by Hitler. How could honestly civilised People see in such corruption of all morals and in a supposedly ethical community, a scene as has been sought from and deplorable destruction of 6,000,000 Jews The Holocaust presents. The question, why did these Jews not add to the resistance necessary to interrupt, slow down or even prevent the terms of The Holocaust from being enacted, is a question best left to the dignity of an innocent Jewish People so conflicted by the atrocity they were presented with.

“ died one of of ..noblest ..who had from ..beginning of his life dedicated himself to ..service of ..Jewish People protect its honour and dignity. ..working class will remember ..he was one of ..few.” Emmanuel Ringelblum.

Yoysef Vahnberg

Uncategorised Posted on Wed, June 16, 2021 10:08:13

Yoysef Vaynberg (1908 – )

Yoysef Vaynberg, later known as Joseph Weinberg, was born on September 5th. 1908 in Strzyzow, a part of Galicia, Poland. Yoysef’s life, born into a devout Jewish and prospering Family gave him a good start into a life that was to become severely threatened by Hitler’s penchant for anti-Jewish hatred. When Yoysef graduated from high school and went on to study philosophy at Lvov University, it becomes recognisable that his words became a philosophy he could live by.  

Eventually, confined into the Ghetto in Lvov, and on and into the Concentration Camp at Janowska, the trials for Yoysef during the entire period of World War II, was as traumatic as it was devastatingly brutal. However, Yoysef managed to escape and toward the end of 1942, he was living a freer life in the woods, hidden from Nazi view. This was not to last and Yoysef was caught in 1943 and he deported toward Auschwitz and Birkenau. Liberation finally for him came in 1945 and he returned to an unwelcoming Poland where he was active in the local Zionist movement in Lower Silesia. 

Finally unable to remain in the Country of his Birth, Yoysef left Poland for France and in 1947 he was living settling into life in Paris. Here he became a member of the central committee of the World Organization of General Zionists and was cofounder of the Free Association of Former Deportees. When he began writing about his experiences in the camps, about the forms of resistance that were open to many Jews, and while any form of resistance was punishable by Death, forms of resistance could be undertaken. 

While physical resistance was not a realistic prospect for most of the Jewish People during The Holocaust, and while many Jews fought back relentlessly, not all Jews could choose to do so. Family and circumstance dictated how little manouverability was available to the Jewish presence in all of Europe. But some Jews have seen within this preservation of religious practices, and in the most unimaginable of circumstances, it forms what has been termed ‘spiritual resistance’. 

This was a defiant defence of the Jewish Religious, Spiritual and Communal traditions which the Nazis were also seeking to destroy. With plunder on their minds, Hitler and his Nazi cohort not only resorted to plunering all or as many Jews as they could from all existence, the debris of their lives could be mocked, stolen and then profitted from With all else thrown at the Jews of Europe, hope remained the tangible link to their long suffering journey through our History alongside them.

“..After the evening roll call ..we go to Kol Nidre. For a long time already we have been promising each other to observe ..Kol Nidre service this year. A Jewish block elder has allowed us to pray in his block. Someone has brought a tallis ..from warehouse. ..seriousness of ..moment is felt in It seems that ..entire world is preparing for Kol Nidre. In ..morning ..entire sky was clouded over. At midday rose and it rained. ..sun hid somewhere behind ..clouds. Heaven wept for an entire afternoon. Now ..before Kol Nidre calmed itself a bit ..rain stopped. around lies desolate. ..sun feels guilty and doesn’t dare to show its face. From every block ..people assembled at ..barrack of ..Jewish block elder. People stretch out on ..pallets ..stand pressed next to one another. Everyone who feels a Jewish heart beating inside has come ..even ..block elders and kapos. They are always ..grand aristocrats. Now they are standing among ..ordinary prisoners. They are possessed by dread. Even ..German block elders and kapos ..those terrible murderers are silent. They avoid ..barrack ..moving in a large semicircle around it. Today ..they have somehow grown afraid of ..Jews. ..Rabbi prays.” Yoysef Vaynberg.

All too many Jews Jews had succumbed to the inordiante pressure of the destructive Nazi capacity to deliver them toward extinction. In the meantime, many Jews sought refuge in their belief system as they awaited their fate and many Jews found their hope for humanity tied up in the basics of a dignity they exemplified. For Yoysef, who gives us an insight into such spiritual resistance, as he recalls an occasion in Birkenau on Yom Kippur, 1944. For the Jewish People in their faith, the Kol Nidrei, All Vows is a religious prayer sung and performed as a part in the complete Yom Kippur service.

The Kol Nidrei.

#Light is sown for the righteous and for the upright in heart joy

With the consent of the Almighty,

With the consent of the Almighty,

With the consent of the Almighty,

and consent of this congregation,

in a convocation of the heavenly court,

and a convocation of the lower court,

we hereby grant permission to pray with transgressors

All vows, and things we have made forbidden on ourselves, and oaths,

and items we have consecrated to the Temple,

and vows issued with the expression “konum,”

and vows which are abbreviated,

and vows issued with the expression “kanos,”

that we have vowed, and sworn, and dedicated, and made forbidden upon ourselves;

from this Yom Kippur until next Yom Kippur

may it come to us at a good time

We regret having made them may they all be permitted forgiven, eradicated and nullified,

and may they not be valid or exist any longer.

Our vows shall no longer be vows, and our prohibitions shall no longer be prohibited, and our oaths are no longer oaths.

Forgive the entire congregation

Forgive the entire congregation

Forgive the entire congregation of the children of Yisrael

and the stranger amongst them for the entire people sin unintentionally.

Please pardon the sins of this nation in accordance with the greatness of Your loving kindness;

and as You forgave this people from when it left Egypt until now. And there it is said:

And Adonai said

And Adonai said

And Adonai said I have pardoned them as you have asked.”

For me, the principles recalled in The Kol Nidrei are such, and I have explore their words to find that common humanity can easily endorse all that is to be stated within it, as surely as light is sown for the righteous. For any Jew to have uphold any single principle open to thm, during this time of The Holocaust, during their most urgent need to seek and expect support, is a monumental ask for mere mortals But, and it must be true that for the upright in heart there will be joy, though I fear it is not in the remit of anyone other than the People themselves.

Crucially, all People, and no matter their religious or political views are avowed to deliver for all, even those things they have forbidden to themselves. We take oaths which are all too often shelved and ignored in favour of doing what it is that plaeased us most. We are either dedicated to the lives of others or we are inwardly seething at a selfishness or greed that will ultimately digest us from within. We live to regret having made the promises we no longer keep, or we step aside while another Human Being is forced to struggle, and this attaacks the conscience we either own or we disavow ourselves of. 

Though not born at the time, for me to state clearly what I would have done to assist any 1 of the 6,000,000 in need of our help, I cannot say equivocally. But what I can stress is in the knowledge that I would not have betrayed my fellow Man, Woman or Child simply because they were Jews. From such vantage point as History has given to me, I may be permitted to venture that no one shall be forgiven by anyone for those 6,000,000 Jews so clearly eradicated from all existence. 

What is a verifiable truth, forgiveness is totally nullified by the lack of a presence from those whose forgiveness must be sought, and their ashes have no space to utter words let alone the deed of forgiveness others too readily offer in their stead. It may that my words, contentious as they may be, they may not be valid in a spiritually religious setting, but for 6,000,000 Slaughter Jews who do Not exist any longer, surely it is their place to forgive what we witness as the unforgiveable.

For these all too many Jews, whose vows to live and to deliver life to others, these shall no longer be vows amidst our own prohibitions as to the sanctity of life. Wasted are the Children of Yisrael, and there are the strangers amongst them who add a further measure to the atrocity for the entire people, even when they are unintentionally the victims. It is abundantly clear that not all the victims were Jews, but those intentionally victimes and sought out for Slaughter were all Jews. So please, there can be pardon for the sins, transgressions and genocide of this German nation whose participation in The Holocaust is a perpetration that is abominable to all of mankind.

Paul Oppenheimer

Uncategorised Posted on Tue, June 15, 2021 15:01:35

Paul Oppenheimer (1928 – 2007)

Paul Oppenheimer was born in Berlin in September 20th. 1928 to Friederike and Johann Felix Robert Oppenheimer and he has 2 siblings, Eve and Rudi and together they lived in a typical middle class family of assimilated Jews who admit:

“..rarely ventured into a synagogue.”

However, under Nazi decree, this had little to do with how Jews were perceived as Jews and was more to do with their antecedence and historical 5,000 year connection to their Judaism. While recognising the perils of remaining as Jews within Germany, Hans moved his job and together they settled near Heemstede, Holland in 1936. Tragically, and with the Germans invading Holland and the Dutch capitulating in May 1940, all of Dutch Jewry, and particularly Foreign Jews were under threat.

“..Life was becoming distinctly uncofortable and there was a regular procession of more and more anti-Jewish decrees ..aimed to humiliate ..separate and isolate ..Jewish community from ..Dutch population and to restrict their freedom of movement.” Paul Oppenheimer.

For the Jewish People in Holland, and in preparations for their removal further East, the Dutch Jews were sent to the Camp at Westerbork. From there, on a staggeringly regular basis, these Jews were to be resettled to the Death Camps at Sobibor and Birkenau, Poland for elimination. History recalls that less than 1,000 of those Jews deemed fit for transport, that being All of Dutch Jewry and their other Country Cousins, managed to Survive. Paul Oppenheimer was one of those out of the more than 100,000 Jews removed from Holland and deposited in Poland.

“..if you survived Monday ..then you would be safe for another week.” Paul Oppenheimer.

For Paul and his Family, who were rounded up in Amsterdam in June 1943 and sent to the transit Camp at Westerbork, they were to become witness to the horrors of The Holocaust. As luck would have it though, they became pawns in a game of hostage to Allied measures for German POW’s, as the ‘Exchange Jews’. This was all because of Eve Oppenheimer, his Sister, having been born in Britain, she made their exemption from the resettlement deportations a reality.

“..We travelled by train in 3rd. class passenger coaches ..arrived early in ..morning at another camp ..Belsen. ..We had never heard this name before and had no idea what it was like. soon as we marched into ..we could see that it was even larger than Westerbork ..and much worse. ..barbed wire ..guard towers ..electrified fences ..SS ..with bloodhounds ..machine guns ..searchlights. ..a real concentration camp.” Paul Oppenheimer.

After 7 or so months in Westerbork, they were transferred to Belsen in January 1944 and were made to sit out the War in the brutal space of almost certain death for the all too many Jews encamped there. Paul’s Mother died of starvation sickness and exhaustion in the hospital barracks, even as liberation was assured, on January 17th. 1945. Paul’s Father died in hospital on March 20th. 1945, from typhus. The 3 Oppenheimer Children were now orphaned, and Paul, the eldest was 16, Rudi was 13 and Eve was 8.

On April 10th. 1945, the remnants of these ‘privileged’ Jews, some 2,500 out of a total of 4,000 Exchange Jews were driven to board a train for removal away from liberation. Heading toward Luneberg and then Berlin, the transport was playing a delaying game, keeping these Jews a step ahead of liberation but also ensuring their SS guard would not be forced into the War and captivity for their Crimes Against Humanity.

On April 23rd. 1945, having been on the transport for 2 weeks, they realised that the SS guard had merely melted away and liberation approached them upon horseback. These were the Cossacks members of the Russian Army who had been racing across Germany and who were now arriving to set them free. Eventually, Paul came to England and settled in Birmingham, gaining his degree in engineering. Paul Married his Wife Corinne in 1964 and they had 3 Children.

I met Paul in Birmingham, at an exhibition given over to the memory of Anne Frank and as I had previously bought his Book, From Belsen to Buckingham Palace, I sought for him to sign it for me. Paul had had Published by Beth Shalom in 1996. This then is how I remember that encounter, as I sought to add to the memory of his passing, and not so much as a Eulogy but more of a detail of a personal loss.

“..When I met Paul in Birmingham, I simply wished to inform him that I was one of those who knew the great wrong done to him and to the Jewish People of the Holocaust. I did not want to trivialise that encounter by mention of the work I had undertaken. My own personal concern over the indifference shown, which had so trained our very intolerance to become even more intolerable, was well known to Paul Oppenheimer. Also, I was not here to self publicise my own work! But now I wish I had been a little more forward about what I had started and what I had hoped to achieve. I had reached out a hand of friendship to a man who I felt needed an apology for all of those who have yet to acknowledge their own guilt. I was not of that time but they were supposedly of my moral and ethical belief?

So for what we allowed to happen to 6,000,000 of his fellow Jews, and regrettably there are few today who are eligible to offer that apology, mine is in their stead. Yet history might yet realise its own debt of complicity, and while this debt is yet to be repaid, in abstentia of those murdered we must acknowledge that it is long overdue for those Jews whose murder would demand it. For me also, I wanted Paul to know the strength of my own sorrow and grief for the Jews of the Holocaust. I still feel much like the intruder into a very Jewish catastrophe, a rather distant spectator to a disaster we could and should have prevented. Sadly I now wish I had been more outspoken about my need for him to know that there is one more Christian who knows the terrible wrong perpetrated against so many innocent Jewish lives.

Sadly too, few people realized the strength to be gained from living alongside the experience Paul gave to us. But he offered us more than words, he offered us a reason to hope and he has left us with a legacy that will undoubtedly extend beyond his immediate Family and into ours, for those of us who would wish to learn. His gift of human forgiveness, which few of us can accommodate, exemplifies for me the need for all to grasp the lessons of The Holocaust he managed to survive. So finally, and I borrow here from Paul’s own book.” Patrick Dempsey.

Paul Oppenheimer was taken from us on March 8th. 2007 and his words linger longer amongst us due to the fact that he managed to place his words on record. And perhaps indeed his book will help?

“..One cannot imagine ..filth ..fear ..horror of those years ..thankfully ..behind us. It is a world ..though we hope we will never witness again ..we must nevertheless try to understand.” Paul Oppenheimer (1996.)

Chaim Hirszman

Uncategorised Posted on Mon, June 14, 2021 11:32:14

Chaim Hirszman (1912 – 1946)

Chaim Yitzkhak Hirszman was born on October 24th. 1912 in Janow Lubelski, Poland to Chaia Hokhman Hirshman and Yaakov Arie Hirshman. Chaim was a mechanic and sheet metal worker by trade. As Chaim lived in Janow Lubelski he became a witness to the German occupation up until a point in September 1942, when he, his Wife and their 6 month old Child Chaim, went to Zalikow. From this place of supposed safety, Chaim and his Family were transported toward their destruction in the Death Camp at Belzec. 

“..A transport of children up to 3 years of age arrived. ..workers were told to dig a big hole into which the children were thrown and buried alive. I cannot forget how rose ..until ..children suffocated.” Chaim Hirszman.

Here too, and while Chaim’s qualification’s were recgnised, this is where Chaim’s Wife and their Child were Gassed immediately upon arrival. As Chaim had been selected for the Sonderkommando, as his skills became necessary to the Nazi intention there, hope grew in him that safety was at hand, hope was to be managed and somehow, Justice for the injustices done to His Family, and His Jewish People would be exercised.

“..We were entrained and taken to Belzec. ..train entered a small forest. ..entire crew of ..train was changed. SS men from ..death camp replaced ..railroad employees. We were not aware of this at that time. ..train entered Other SS men took us off ..train. ..led us altogether ..women ..children a barrack. We were told to undress before we go to ..bath. I understood immediately what that meant. After undressing we were told to form two groups one of men ..other of women and children. An SS man ..with ..strike of a horse whip ..sent men to ..right ..or to ..left death work. I was selected to death ..I didn’t know it then. Anyway ..I believed that both sides meant ..same death. But ..when I jumped in ..indicated direction SS man called me and said: You have a military bearing, we could use you. We ..who were selected for work ..were told to dress. I and some other men were appointed to take people to ..kiln. I was sent with ..women. ..Ukrainian ..Schmidt ..Ethnic German ..was standing at ..entrance to ..gas chamber ..hitting ..every entering woman. Before ..door was closed ..he fired a few shots from his revolver and then ..door closed automatically and 40 minutes later we went in and carried ..bodies out to a special ramp. We shaved of ..bodies ..which were afterwards packed into sacks and taken away by ..Germans. ..children were thrown into ..chamber simply on ..women’s heads. In one of ..transports taken out of ..gas chamber ..I found ..body of my wife and I had to shave her hair. ..bodies were not buried on ..Germans waited until more bodies were gathered. ..that day we did not bury.” Chaim Hirszman.

Toward the end of Belzec’s existence as a killing centre, and remember Belzec was a murderous undertaking for barely 10 months, March 17th. 1942 up until Friday December 11th. 1942. When the final Transport of Jews destined for destruction arrives at Belzec and the Belzec Death Camp Closes, we recognise that as many as 100,000 Jews were being Murdered in any given month. In 3 months alone, between August and November 1942 498,000 Jewish People were Slaughtered here.

December 20th. “..irrefutable news ..places of execution ..organised at Chelm(no) ..Belzec.” New York Times.

Chaim remained behind and was part of the Jewish detachment which dismantled the camps murderous capacity, a share of the spoils in the raw materilas gifted to locals. After completion of this exercise, those remaining Jews, Chaim included, were boarded a transport toward Sobibor Death Camp. Chaim had other ideas and managed to break through the boards of the transport and escaped to join nearby partisans who fought in the forests around his home Town of Janow Lubelski. Chaim fought with bravery and distinction.

“..Dubois ..Schwarz ..Tauscher were ..last SS to leave Belzec ..they departed on May 8th. 1943. Of ..SK1005 Belzec workers who were now being transferred out of these was Chaim Hirszman. Hirszman managed to jump from ..train enroute to Sobibor. He managed to then survive until he was liberated. But liberation would not save of Chaim Hirszman.” Patrick Dempsey.

Chaim gave evidence to The Jewish Historical Commission in Lublin on March 19th. 1946, which had been convened to learn more of the destruction of the Polish Jewish Community. That same evening Chaim was attacked and murdered by a team from the Narodowe Sily Zbrojne (NSZ) a National Armed Force of antisemitic Poles in Lublin, Poland. Chaim later died from these wounds on March 20th. 1946 in Lublin, Poland and this is the Testimony he sought to bring to the World. Polish history does not wish to be reminded of what it allowed to happen to the 3,000,000 of its Jewish Community within Poland, let alone the 884,7000 of Polish Jewry Slaughtered here at Belzec, Poland. #Testimony from Belzec of Chaim Yitzhak Hirszman before The Jewish Historical District Commission in Lublin, Poland on March 19th. 1946.

Previous to the war: lived in Janow Lubelski and in Stalowa Wola in C.O.P. (Central Industrial Region in the middle of Poland) In the year 1939, when the Germans entered Janow, there were about 4,000 Jews there. Most of the houses were destroyed as a result of hostilities. A few Jewish stores which had remained were crushed and robbed. There were constant street round-ups for labor. I used to escape or hide and never let them take me for labor. They used to beat men at work; once they even killed an elderly Jew.

At the beginning I lived with my Parents, Brothers and Sisters; afterwards I married and lived with my Wife. #Jews had to wear armband. There were several Germans whose treatment was particularly sadistic. Those were: Muller, a Gestapo-man of middle size, blond with evil blue eyes and blond hair; Derband, a tall gendarme, a very handsome brunette with blue eyes and one leg shorter; Zeis, the head of Arbeitsamt, who used to treat in a cruel way Jews that he met on the street.

I worked as a tinner in Engineer Ksiazek Ferdynand (volksdeutsch) building office. When I once didn’t appear to work, he reported me to the Arbeitsamt. Zeis called me to his office, and when I arrived he beat me. I never went back to the former firm, but worked in another building office. The worst devil was Leng, the last subprefect of Janow.

Up to September 42′ there was no special “action”. Then all the Jews were ordered to leave Janow. They were allowed to go either to Krasnik or to Zaklikow. I went with my family to Zaklikow. In Zaklikow a segregation took place. Men able to work formed one seperate group; women, children, old men and those considered unable to work formed another group. I was sent to the side of those selected for work. But since my wife and my half-a-year old son were sent to the opposite side, I asked to join them and was permitted to do so.

We were entrained and taken to Belzec. The train entered a small forest. Then the entire crew of the train was changed. SS-men from the death camp replaced the railroad employees. We were not aware of this at that time. The train entered the camp. Other SS-men took us off the train. They led us all together – women, men, children – to a barrack. We were told to undress before we go to the bath. I understood immediately what that meant. After undressing we were told to form two groups, one of men and the other of women with children. An SS-man, with the strike of a horsewhip, sent the men to the right or to the left, to death – to work. #I was selected to death, I didn’t know it then. Anyway, I believed that both sides meant the same – death. But when I jumped in the indicated direction, an SS-man called me and said: “Du bist ein Militarmensch, dich konnen wir brauchen” [You look like a military man, exactly what we need]. We, who were selected for work, were told to dress up. I and some other men were appointed to take the people to the kiln. I was sent with the women. The Ukrainian Schmidt, a volksdeutch, was standing at the entrance to the gas chamber and hitting with a knout every entering woman. Before the door was closed, he fired a few shots from his revolver and then the door was closed automatically. 40 minutes later we went in and carried the bodies out to a special (   ). We shaved the hair of the bodies, which were afterwards packed into sacks and taken away by Germans.

The children were not buried on the spot; The Germans waited until more bodies were gathered. So that day we did not bury. I am managed to observe there were many people in the camp, all of them Jews. There were so-called “clean” barracks and dirty barracks. I was directed to a “clean” one, where the barrack lockmaster gave me a plank bed.” Chaim Hirszman.

“..I wrote the protocol down on March 19, 1946 up to this point. Since the witness could not proceed with his testimony that day, he intended to do so the next day. That same evening he was murdered by 2 or 3 men from N.S.Z. (National Armed Forces). Now his wife, widow, whom he had told during their almost one year of marriage all the details of his stay in Belzec and later his escape, is following-up his testimony.” Irena Szajewicz.

“..For my murdered husband Chaim Hirszman.” Pola Hirszman.

“..Pola Kaminer Hirszman was born in Bilgoraj on May 30, 1923. She is deposing what she knows about Belzec from what her husband told her.” Irena Szajewicz.

I know, from what my husband told me, that the camp in Belzec constituted, together with the barracks for workers (who were recruited from the transports only), one unit. From the outside the camp was surrounded by a small forest, so that nothing could be noticed. There was one barrack into which all the people destined to death were driven, its door closed automatically and people were gased there. Jews-workers took the bodies out and burried them in the beginning, while later on they were burned.

My husband told me of a case when one of the workers was so hungry that while burning the bodies, he ate up a part of a dead man’s leg. One day a transport with children up to 3 years old arrived; I cannot tell their exact number, but I know they were many. The workers were told to dig one big hole into the children were thrown and burried alive. My husband recollected this with horror. He couldn’t forget how the earth was rising until the children suffocated.

From what he told me I conclude that there was no krematorium there, the bodies were burned at the stake. The camp was like a town. The streets had even names. The barracks were made of wood, except for the barrack that had contained the gas chamber. #The reveille took place at 4 o’clock at dawn and the prisoners turned out for roll-call. The Germans inspected them and if they did not like someone, or if someone looked sick, he would be selected for the Himmel Kommando [for death]. At the same time the Jews had to sing every day: “mountaineer, don’t you regreat…”, and then everybody went off to work. I only know there was a place for sorting out things where my husband worked for some time, searching clothes and arranging them. Several times he managed to “pinch” valuables, but he always threw it away in the toilet since it had no value to him: he was ready to die at any moment. Later on he worked for some time as a gardner, finally as a tinner.

Once he was repairing the roof of a barrack. The barrack was situated at the very end of the camp and the roof was pitched. My husband was calculating how to slip down the roof without being noticed and get out of the camp. In a distance he saw a farmer’s cottage and intended to get through to it. In the meantime the Germans discovered that one of the prisoners, a Czechoslovakian Jew, had been planning an escape. The SS-men ordered to build gallows. They gathered all the prisoners and ordered them to participate in the execution. My husband was told to fetch a rope and to tie the convict up. My husband managed somehow to get out of this, since there was one Jew there who was an expert in tying up and my husband somehow manipulated that Jew to do it also that time. Before he was hanged, the condemned said: “I am perishing, but Hitler will die and the Germans will lose the war”.

The prisoners were constantly beaten, and every day many of the workers from the regular staff were killed. Typhus was prevailing, but one had to avoid admitting the disease. The sick were murdered on the spot. Getting medical treatment or lying down was out of question. Sick with Typhus and with a fever of 40 Celsius degrees my husband worked and somehow managed to conceal his condition from the Germans.

He was one of the oldest prisoners. Nobody there succeeded in lasting out for such a long period like he did. Later on there wasn’t even such a great hunger. There was an Ukrainian who used to buy them food for valuables, and everyone in the camp had more than enough oppurtunities to get some valuables. They were also not badly clad, wearing of course the clothes of the dead. Transports arrived every day; Mainly from Poland, but also from other European countries – Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and other. In one of the transports there was an Ukrainian woman. She possessed document that proved she was a genuine Aryan and there was no doubt about it. And yet she went to the gas chamber.

Once you crossed the gate to the camp, there was no chance to get out of there alive. Not even any Germans, except for the camp staff, had access to the camp. About one kilometer far from the camp there was the camp office. The commander of the camp also lived in that house. The staff was residing in the camp. I remember only one name of an SS-mam, Feix. It stuck in my memory since he was previously the commander of the camp in Janow Lubelski. He was a tall slender blond, very handsome. In Belzec he was one of the cruelest. I do not know what was his position there.

Two Czechoslovakian Jewsses were working in the camp office. They too had never entered the camp. They even enjoyed a certain freedom of movement. They often went with the SS-men to town to arrange different matters. One day they were told that they would visit the camp. The SS-men showed them the camp around, and in a certain moment they led the women to the gas chamber. When they were inside, the door was closed behind them; they (The Germans) finished with then in spite of the promise that they would live.

The Germans ordered the prisoners to set up a football team and on Sundays games were being played. Jews played with SS-men, the same ones who tortured and murdered them. The SS-men treated this as a matter of sport, and when they lost a game they had no complaints. There wasn’t even one day without a transport. Mainly women and children were being conveyed. The Ukrainains employed in the camp treated people even more sadistically than the Germans. The Jews were planning a revolt and a general escape, but due to treason they had to abandon the plan.

There were also women employed in the camp, but their number was much smaller than the number of men. There were no children at all. Women worked. They were selected from the transports. One had always to look content, never to look sad; Because if an SS-man didn’t like the look on someone’s face, he would shoot him or send him to the chimney. At work they used to beat terribly. To turn around was forbidden, they shot for that. My husband was the chief tinner, and I think due to this he held out for such a long time there.

After 9 months of staying in Belzec the Germans liquidated the camp. Prisoners who had been working there were taken away, and all the workshops and the office were liquidated. In the last few weeks the transports stopped completely. The staff and the prisoners were taken by train right from the camp to the camp in Sobibor. The Germans told them they were going to work. But the prisoners, realizing they were being taken in the direction of Chelm, understood where they were going. My husband decided to escape. He agreed upon that with other two companions who were with him in the same car. They took a plank out of the car’s floor and then drew lots who was to escape first.

The lot fell upon my husband. He slipped out of the hole. First he put out the legs and then he slipped out. He had to lie still until the train passed, and even then he couldn’t get up because Germans with automatic guns were sitting on top of the train. The others were supposed to escape right after my husband. They agreed upon a certain place to meet. My husband waited there, but the others didn’t show up; they probably failed to escape. My husband was always certain that he was the only one who survived. #During his stay in Belzec, according to his and his companions’ estimation, 800,000 Jews were murdered there. After he escaped my husband reached a railway station, where he questioned a railroad worker about the road to Hrubieszow. After a short distance he realized that someone was following him. He understood that the man had reported him. He was actually round-up and was being chased by Ukrainians on bicycles. My husband managed to hide in the rye. From his hiding place he could observe the “black” ones (Ukrainians in black uniforms) searching in the roadside bushes, illuminating the area with reflectors and shooting from their automatic guns. Somehow, in spite of all, he was saved.

Then he got to Janow Lubelski, and from there to the forest – where he joined the Partisans of A.L. (People’s Army) at district no. 23, brigade (   ) named after W.Z. Grzybowski. He stayed there from March 1944 until the entrance of the Red Army. During that period he killed 29 Germans, which is acknowledged in the order and was awarded the Grunwald Cross.” Pola Hirszman.

History cannot be circumvented, the truth cannot be distorted in order to ensure the integrity of all of History. For Poland, the legacy is clear and again I defer to what Elie Wiesel has always insisted. While not all victims were Jews, All Jews were indeed Victims. None more so than within Poland were 3,000,000 of their Jewish Community was sought out for the unbridled atrocity we learn from today, is The Holcoaust. That being said, no one has ever stated that all non-Jewish Poles are guilty in regard to any or all of these crimes. But neither are all non-Jewish Poles innocent of the crimes we speak of.

Rudolf Reder

Uncategorised Posted on Sun, June 13, 2021 11:20:19

Rudolf Reder (1881 – 1977)

Rudolf Reder was born, Roman Robak on April 4th. 1881 in Debica, Poland to Parents, Fredericka Jortner Robak and Herman Robak. Times had their concerns but nothing was to prepare Rudolf for what he was to witness in the coming years under the yoke of Hitler’s hatred. In time, Rudolf was to be married to Feige ‘Fanny’ Felsenfeld Robak who came from the Town of Sokolow-Malopolski. They had 3 Children, Boruch Rubin or Bronislaw, Frieda known as Zofia and Maria. At some stage in 1910 the Family moved and settled in Lvov and Rudolf established a soap factory there. With the commencement of World War II, Septemeber 1st. 1939, life for Polish Jews, and then all the Jews of Europe changed. The Final Solution hounded Rudolf and his Family and without certainty, all were lost, almost certainly within Belzec itself for many of his extended Family, including Boruch.

“..chamber building was made of concrete and covered with a flat roof of tarpaper. It stood on a raised surface with steps leading into it from a reception yard. Along both sides of ..building was an unloading platform. ..small stairs ended with a door ..over which was a notice ..Bath and inhalation room ..and a big vase with flowers ..entrance. From ..entrance door ..a passage ran along ..length of ..building with 3 one wing doors on each side. ..doors led to rooms with no windows. Behind ..building was a small room ..which housed a petrol engine. ..gas chambers were camouflaged with a net interwoven with leaves and branches that stretched over the roof on high poles. A one inch diameter pipe led from ..engine room directly into ..windowless rooms.” Rudolf Reder.

On August 11th. 1942 Rudolf too was delivered to these gates of hell, known as Belzec, an Aktion Reinhard Death Camp. Rudolf was temporarily reprieved to the detail of the Sonderkommando whose task it was to do the Nazi’s bidding. While it is abundantly clear that Poland knew immediately of what the Polish Jews were enduring, and although a fuller awareness of the on going Slaughter of the Jews was an open secret, it was a supressed truth.

“..Belzec has lent me an articulation which I have used to add to a remembrance for those 884,700 Jews murdered here. I have borrowed ..words of those like Rudolf Reder and Chaim Hirszman ..both of whom managed to Survive all that Belzec delivered. Tragically for Hirszman ..that survival was a rather brief reprieve as a continued prejudice sought to stifle ..truth he had for us.” Patrick Dempsey.

But, and such was the hidden knowledge of The Holocaust that by the time Rudolf had entered Belzec during that August of 1942, the World was also more aware than it cared to acknowledge. As Rudolf now became a witness to the ferocity of the brutality and mass Murder, he became acutely aware of the daily routine the detailed Slaughter of the Jewish People had been a planned and systematic effort which Rudolf describes as he witnesses transports arriving.

“..12 or so SS ..drove ..Women along with whips and fixed bayonets all ..way to ..building and from there up 3 steps to a hall. They ..counted 750 People for each gas chamber. Those ..who tried to resist were bayoneted until ..blood was running. Eventually all ..Women were forced into ..chambers. I heard ..doors being shut ..I heard shrieks and cries ..I heard desperate calls for help. ..I heard ..blood curdling wails of Women ..squeals of Children ..after a short time this became one long ..horrifying scream. ..for 15 minutes. ..engine worked for 20 minutes. Afterwards silence.” Rudolf Reder.

For the Jewish People however, by now any escape for all too many Jews had evaporated and for them all within Jewish Poland, even 3 years prior to this realisation. Tragically too, for far too many of these Jews, who did not nor could accept this truth, they still harboured hopes that they could somehow survive and even up to the very doors of the Gas Chambers here in Belzec, that hope of belief prevailed.

“..Several dozen SS men yelling ..opened ..trucks ..chasing People out with whips and rifle butts. ..sick ..old ..small Children ..all those who could not walk on their own ..thrown onto stretchers and taken to pits. ..As soon as ..train was empty ..all ..victims were assembled in ..courtyard. ..a deathly silence. SS Irrmann stood close to ..crowd. Everybody wanted to hear him. We all suddenly hoped ..if we were spoken to ..then perhaps it meant that there would be work to do ..that we would live after all. ..Irrmann spoke loudly and clearly ..You are going to take a bath now ..afterwards you will be sent to work. ..That was all. ..crowd rejoiced ..people were relieved that they would be going to work. They applauded. I remember his words repeated day after day ..3 times on average ..during the time I was there. It was a moment of hope ..of illusion. ..crowd was peaceful. And in silence they all went forward.” Rudolf Reder.

Reder’s mention of SS Oberscharfuhrer Fritz Jirmann brings into focus those who stood on the crest of a wave of such hatred, Belzec ably and cynically lured and then consumed Jewish compliance, losing their lives without hindrance. For 6,000,000 Jews of Europe though, who were sytematically to be proven wrong, the World of knowledge all too well let them down.

“..We were made to pile ..corpses 1 metre above ..rim of ..already full grave ..then cover them with sand. Thick blood seeped from ..graves and poured over ..surface like a sea. We had to move from one side of ..grave to ..other in order to reach another grave. Our legs were immersed in ..blood of our Brothers. We stepped on mounds of corpses. That was ..worst ..most dreadful thing of all.” Rudolf Reder.

The emerging truth, which was clearly deciphered by allied intelligence agencies, and must have been deceminated by the August of 1941, the fact of truth, which should have saved ever more of the Jewish People from entering harm, was sealed from them for the wrong reasons. What Rudolf should have known, that would have better informed him of what was to come and being given the chance to alter the course taken, was in the gift of more than just Hitler, Himmler, Heydrich, Eichmann or any of the other Nazi’s.

“..Belzec acknowledges what Rudolf Reder notes ..was ..mangle of those Children pouring out from ..Transports ..Hirszman reminds us ..some of these children were simply thrown into ..Gas chamber atop of ..women’s heads. Like so much ballast these Children were murdered. use up every little bit of space they were crammed into an already tight space. ..reprehensible nature of such a crime suggest that if you are never going to read another book on The Holocaust ..account of Reder. His words in Belzec will allow you to know a little of what Belzec means in grossly atrocious terms.” Patrick Dempsey.

Also, for what remained of the still 5,000,000 of these expendable Jews, there should have been an afforded insight into what would give them a fighting opportunity. Upon arrival within the Death Camp at Belzec however, Rudolf was saved from immediate elimination due to his personal engineering qualification. Amazingly, it was this technical ability which managed to secure his eventual freedom as we see in November 1942 when he escaped in Lvov. Sent by the Belzec administration to the City, and while sourcing metal sheeting for the camp, he absconded.

“..Sealed in ..rolling coffins ..people driven by ..last scraps of ..instinct to live tore ..freight cars apart.” Rudolf Reder. #Here, he lived out the war years and thanks to both Anastasia Hawrylak, a former Employee and also to his future second Wife, Janina Borkowska, the time to mull over the desparate scenes he had become a witness to, have become his legacy on Belzec’s place in the infamy of the Death Camp system. Rudolf is recorded as the only Survivor of Belzec and as history alerts us to the fact, Chaim Hirszman was not allowed to survive the suvival of the Camp.

“..Belzec has recorded that just 3 inmates managed to escape from ..Death Camp itself. ..Rabbi of Blazowa Israel Szpira ..Chaim Hirszman and Rudolf Reder. ..just 2 of these Survivors ..Chaim Hirszman and Rudolf Reder managed to deliver their own Testimony.” Patrick Dempsey.

Chaim Hirszman was Murdered by non-Jewish Poles, who had no wish for the truth of Belzec to become more widespread and ahead of completing his testimony into the treatment of the Jews within Belzec, Chaim was Murdered. For Rudolf, liberation was a long time coming and when it did, in 1945, Rudolf and Janina moved to Krakow. In 1949 Rudolf Reder changed his surname to Roman Robak and married Janina Borkowska and in the early 1950s they left Poland for Haifa, Israel. Eventually they made their way to Canada and her in Toronto, Rudolf Reder was taken from us on October 6th. 1977.

“..legend of Belzec ..became a truth we knew about ..which made us quake in fear.” Rudolf Reder.

Kitty Hart

Uncategorised Posted on Sat, June 12, 2021 13:02:52

Kitty Hart-Moxon (1926 to This Day)

“..alone one could not possibly survive. ..necessary form little families ..2 ..3 ..we looked after one another.” Kitty Hart.

Kitty Felix was born in Bielsko, Southern Poland on December 1st. 1926 to Lola Rosa Felix, her Mother and Karol Felix her Father. She was the younger of 2 Children, her Brother Robert would later die in fighting the Nazi’s. Both Kitty’s Parents were liberal minded and swayed between the religious and secular beliefs in their Judaism. In no sense strict, Kitty was free to study and take her tentative steps into a World which grew more and more regressive for the Jewish People.

“..German population had ..pretended to be Polish ..but were ..a discontented minority for when they would be reunited with their fatherland.” Kitty Hart. #Prior to the German Invasion of Poland September 1st. 1939, Kitty’s Father had the foresight to heed the looming concerns and the warnings of a newer German effort and they moved to Lublin, Poland. Then, and prior to Hitler’s Barbarossa Campaign into Russia, June 22nd. 1941, the entire Family attempted to leave the Lublin Ghetto and escape to Russia but were dramatically turned back.

“..they were hunting ..for specimens from whom blood could be taken for wounded soldiers fighting for ..fatherland. ..they thought our Jewish blood good enough to be mixed with theirs.” Kitty Hart.

Forced to separate the Family, both Kitty and her Mother ended up at the I.G. Farben the aluminium works, in Bitterfeld, Germany as slave labourer’s. Kitty’s Father Karol was shot dead and as related, Robert fell fighting the Nazi’s. Their Grandmother was transported for resettlement within Belzec, and she was Gassed immediately upon entry into this Aktion Reinhard Death Camp.

“..I saw an iron gate ..Arbeit Macht Frei. ..Auschwitz. ..we passed by ..carried on for some distance. ..Women only ..passed through a gate. ..Birkenau.” Kitty Hart.

The fuller story of Kitty, and her sojourn into the Death Camp system is to be met, when at the age of 16, she is deported to Auschwitz. On March 13th. 1943, betrayed from within the factory where they had worked, both Kitty and Lola and 11 other Jews were charged as enemies of the Riech and interrogated by the Gestapo. They arrived in Auschwitz on April 6th. 1943 amongst a transport of 59, 9 of whom were Females, Kitty and Lola included.

“..Shifting shit was one of my happier jobs in It was a great step up in ..Auschwitz world when I was drafted into ..Scheisskommando. ..Each ..specially constructed lavatory blocks at ..rear of had a long row of slightly raised concrete with holes some sort of misshapen bagatelle board. They provided a wonderful new meeting-place. If you could find one of your friends during a roll call commotion could sit sharing a hole and talk for as long as you dared. As a matter of course there was a guard at ..door to hit you going in or out. But it was worth it. In ..Scheisskommando ..digging out ..mess from underneath and carrying it away in buckets on a yoke across my shoulders to be dumped in ..pits ..I had ..privilege of frequent access to ..toilets. This meant 20 times ..conversation and organising I’d been able to manage up till now.” Kitty Hart.

Eventually, of the many 1,000’s of Jews forced to leave Auschwitz, both Kitty and her Mother Lola, who had Survived with some 200 other Jews from this Forced March, all that Auschwitz had previously thrown at them. For nearly 2 years of incarceration in Auschwitz, Kitty and Lola now faced another uncertain future ahead. Having been evacuated to the Salzwedel Concentration Camp, Germany, via Belsen this tortuous route expanded Kitty’s insight into hatred.

“..trains stood waiting ..packed full ..with People from Hungary. ..All to be destroyed.” Kitty Hart. #This Salzwedel satellite camp of the Neuengamme Concentration Camp, Germany also proved deadly for many Jews but must not ever be considered a Death Camp. In terms of the intention for the 6 Death Camps Hitler had established in Poland, Death was a common denominator differing in systematic and intended Slaughter. Following their liberation by American troops on April 14th. 1945, and some 18 months later, in September 1946 Kitty and Lola emigrated to Birmingham, England.

“..After all has been said that can be said future generations run their own lives will be up to them. At least we will have done our duty.” Kitty Hart.

In March 1947 Kitty studied to become a Radiographer at the Birmingham Royal Orthopaedic Hospital and proved herself a very capable professional. Finally settled, Married and having 2 Children, Kitty set about informing on her experiences, imparting them to Students everywhere. In time, Kitty has written 2 Books, both Autobiographical acounts from her stay in Auschwitz.

“..those lost years were never fully compenated for.” Kitty Hart.

The first Book is an extraordinary candid account of what human descent sounds like, what hatred smells like and what brutal treatment, annihilation was intended for the Jewish People. This first Book, I am Alive was published in 1961 and the 2nd. Book which charts her return to the place of such ignominy and inhumanity is; Return to Auschwitz and this Book was published in 1981. Remembrance is important on many levels but there can be any level which has had to contemplate 6,000,000 Jews, Slaughtered for their Jewishness. Here is where The Holocaust remembrance memory is not only important, it is not ever enough to just Remember an absence which has so many missing.

“..Our fears ..confirmed ..1946 ..from a distant relative ..describing how my Father had met his death. Another letter came ..telling how my Brother died ..and further descriptions of how of our Family had perished. ..truth was ..we were quite alone.” Kitty Hart.

The exacting terms of The Holocaust will never deliver the 6,000,000 names essential in remembering them all as individuals. Alongside these are those Jewish Children, Infants, Toddlers, all consumed within the hatred and perhaps not even to be accounted for in the final analysis that has confined them. All of these lost, an account of such atrocity never to be repeated defies clearly what the past expects in learning the lessons from it. Tomorrow is out future in which their past must be remembered in order to preserve the humanity so clearly discarded. We have yet to learn what the Destruction of 6,000,000 Jews, The Holocaust should have taught us. Kitty Hart is Kitty Hart-Moxon.

“ can I help not looking back to remember.” Kitty Hart.

« PreviousNext »