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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)

Roza Symchowicz

Uncategorised Posted on Thu, June 24, 2021 14:52:36

Roza Symchowicz (1887 – 1941)

Dr. Roza Symchowicz was born in Slutsk, in the Minsk District of Byelorussia to Parents Shmuel and Zysl Slutsker and in 1896, after her Father’s death, she and her family moved to Minsk. In 1904 at the age of 17, Roza joined the young socialist movement and was soon arrested for seditious tendencies and was released on condition that she leave the Country. This Roza did, and she went to Switzerland and joined the Jean-Jacques Rousseau Pedagogical Institute in Geneva, also enrolling in the Philosophy course at the University of Geneva.

During the period of World War I, 1914 till 1918, Roza spent much of that time in Vienna working with the Children of Jewish refugees. Then in 1919, when she moved to Vilna, Lithuania, Roza began establishing courses that were organized by the Society for the Protection of the Health of the Jewish Community in Poland. Roza began running them also and she was the first manager of the Frebel course to ensure eucation reached more and more. Roza was heavily involved with the Local Lithuanian Jewish Committee for Aid for the Victims of War in Vilna.

 “..I met Roza Simkhovitsh ..first time in 1921 ..when I arrived as a pupil at ..Vilna Jewish teachers’ seminary. I noticed a slender ..young Woman ..with an oblong face ..a proud head ..short cut hair ..a pair of flaming ..large ..wise eyes. I have never once in this life forgotten those eyes. ..Each time when I would enter her room heart beat with a special impetuousness. It was not fear. It was ..sense of reverence ..feeling of solemnity that you experienced every time when you met eye to eye with Roza Simkhovits.” Feyge Barakin-Melamdovitsh.

Again we see Roza immersing herself in the needs of their refugee Children and here in 1921 she took over the leadership of the Jewish Teacher seminary in Vilna. Roza now played a more prominent role in the establishment of the Yiddisher school movement. Generally though, as she reported upon the essentials of Pedagogical and Historical lessons to be had at the Vilna People’s Auditorium, she was more keenly interested in all aspects of Children’s Education. In this, Roza sought how best to deliver to all Children their essential needs in education. #Roza was an active participant in the many Teaching Conferences and Educational programmes set to establish good practice amongst all independent Schools. In 1923 she had to leave Vilna in part due to her apparent brush with Minsk sensitivities over her Social concerns and for some time she lived in Vienna, later moving to Berlin. Roza was offering assistance to the Pedagogical Section of the YIVO Institute.

This is when Roza came into contact with the more secular of Jewish Schools, introducing them to educating in Warsaw, Poland taking charge of the Pedagogy and Psychology Department of the Ciszo, the Central Jewish School Organization. Here, Roza developed a fondness for Warsaw itself and was to become the co-editor of 2 Papers, the Pedagogical Monthly, The New School and another was the School and Home. Amongst her essays written for these Publications are Jan Amos Komenski, Definitions of Things for Children and Thoughts on the Publications of our Kindergarten.

In 1926, Roza’s Brother Jakub died, while Teaching at the Jewish Gymnasium School in Lodz, Poland and Roza settled into life Educating and delivering future prospects to her Students. At an International Pedagogical Congress, held in Paris in 1937, Roza representing Ciszo, was presenting her report on the new Yiddish School system. Roza was also assisting in organizing the Jewish pavilion at the World’s Fair in Paris. For whatever reason, losing faith in teaching, as she felt the underfunding hampered Children’s futures, she approached a period of impoverishment, giving tuitions privately to language students.

“..Officials ..are setting up barriers in offices in order to stay separated from ..Street Children and to avoid dangerous lice ..carriers of typhus. ..great friend of Children angel of Earth ..compassionate in suffering ..Roza Symchowicz doesn’t understand how one could ..from human ..pedagogical point of view ..separate themselves from Children ..these poor lambs seeking support from Centos. She does not agree to install a barrier between her and ..Street Children. When these heartbroken Children were coming to Roza ..she was stroking their heads ..supporting them and helping to ..extent she could.” Emanuel Ringelblum.

Then, at the time of the Nazi occupation of Poland, September 1st. 1939, Roza was contributing to an under ground network educating Jewish Children who were now removed from the School environment. When Roza moved into the Warsaw Ghetto she once again became a huge contributer to the illegal schooling taking place. Roza became the leader of the Teacher Seminary and was active in the Jewish Social self help community, returning to what everyone considered was her main focus in life, the Jewish Children in need of her.

“..We had been living at 33 ..Chlodna Street. ..One night 11:00 o’clock. ..A ring at ..doorbell. ..releieved to see Korczak. ..he wanted me to help him organise a series of lectures for ..Children. He produced a list ..of well known People who had agreed to give talks ..Dr. Schiper ..historian ..Stein ..philosopher ..Rosa Simchowitch ..educationalist ..Emanuel Ringelblum ..future brilliant founder of ..Warsaw Ghetto archives.” Michael Zylberberg.

It has been so well articulated and expressed that Roza Symchowicz was ‘the closest friend of a Jewish Child’ and at a time when Jewish Children needed a friend. Then, when we accept that some 1,500,000 Jewish Children were taken out of their Homes and Murdered, Jewish Children were in greater need of a friend than we’d imagine. For Roza, a Teacher of implacable diligence, it was not enough that she tutored and educated, but that she used her position to be actively concerned, and this is where she becomes the socially minded member of her community we come to recognise.

“..despite suffering from hunger ..she was giving her breakfast to ..Children. She has a special love for them ..talks to them like a loving Mother.” Lea Rotkop.

Roza dedicated her entire life to Jewish Children and in the Warsaw Ghetto, this is where she helped the Jewish Orphan Children, and all of those living off of the streets, to feel a little less alone. But Roza soon descended to that same street level of the poverty that engulfed her Children, even refusing the food she was delivered in order to feed the Children in her charge. The Children’s Library at 67 Leszno Street, Warsaw, Poland was dedicated to Roza and named after her during the Autumn of 1941.

It was often suggested that Roza must separate herself from her charges, in order for her to avoid the debilitating illnesses that were squashing these Young lives out of all existence. It is a sickening state of affairs for those Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto that since the beginning of the year 1941, some 13,000 Jews had starved to Death and this was barely 6 months into the year in the Warsaw Ghetto. It is difficult to imagine that on any given month 2,000 Jews in the Ghetto would expire due to lack of Food, and many of these were Children.

“..Tall ..slim ..with a kind ..friendly face ..silver dusted hair ..about 50 years old. Thanks to her Teaching skills ..she was working for a longtime for Ciszo. ..travelling between Cities ..Towns ..telling Jewish Teachers how to love Jewish Children and bring them up in ..spirit of secularism and humanism. Deeply in love with Jewish past ..she wanted to link it with present day. Humble ..quiet like a mouse ..she walked around lost in thought a human being from another planet. It’s impossible to describe directly how much secular Jewish Education in Poland owes to her ..especially in ..countryside ..where Teachers drew so much from her rich experience ..her exceptional knowledge in ..field of upringing problems ..but above all ..from her vast intuition. She was a born Teacher. ..she dedicated herself completely to ..World of Children.” Emanuel Ringelblum.

But Roza was not in the least bit amiable to the suggestion of being helped or fed ahead of those who needed to be helped more than she felt she was and so she stuck rigidly to the model of Educating and Social Concern she had set for herself. Roza was responsible in securing for so many Children of the Warsaw Ghetto at least a hope that they were not really alone. Sadly, Roza soon became infected with typhus and even now refused assistance from Jewish organisations, and in favour of other’s more worthy than herself, as she perceived things, placed herself at the back of the queue.

“..Symchowicz is qualifying candidates ..hearing every Child separately ..getting to know them ..eventually she directs them to boarding houses. Children of ..Street are dirty ..infected with lice ..most of them suffer from typhus.” Emanuel Ringelblum.

Roza died on November 30th. 1941, with typhus taking her in the midst of the worsening conditions for all the Jews within the Warsaw Ghetto. Roza was buried on December 2nd. 1941 in the Jewish Warsaw Cemetery. Children, sitting in the Library named after her could be audibly heard sobbing, crying over her loss, long after Roza had been taken from us. Here, with the obituary to Roza Symchowicz we read:

“..With deep sadness ..we inform you about ..premature death of Roza Symchowicz. With her departure ..contemporary Jewish culture had lost one of its greatest contributors. May we honor her memory. ..funeral will take place on Tuesday December 2nd. 1941 beginning from her home ..Grzybowski square 10.” Her Family and Friends.

100’s of friends and acquaintances came to give ..last goodbyes. Due to strange chance ..hearse with ..body escaped us. ..humble Roza was embarrassed with ..impressive funeral we organized for her ..and ran away. This is how it happened ..we have gathered in ..small Ghetto front of her house ..and walked along with ..hearse. ..small Ghetto ..was linked to ..large Ghetto 2 places. ..pedestrian path led through a wooden bridge over ..Chlodna Street ..which was aryan and divided ..small and ..large Ghetto. Carriages were going down ..aryan side ..on Chlodna Street. We have agreed with driver that he will wait with us on ..other side of Chlodna. It happened differently. He went directly to ..cemetery ..not waiting for us in ..agreed place. He went directly to ..cemetery ..not waiting for us. Roza’s funeral was probably ..last one with a speech. A small group of friends passed through ..border at ..cemetery ..which was located on ..aryan side. ..JIKOR society published a hectograph paper dedicated to Roza.” Emanuel Ringelblum.

Following on from that there was an announcement about a memorial event that would be dedicated to her and this stated:

“..Dear Colleague ..we would like to invite you to participate in shloshim dedicated to ..memory of Roza Symchowicz ..on Sunday ..January 4th. 1942 5:00pm at ..ZSS hall ..Tlomackie 5. From the The Ringelblum Archive.

Roza Symchowicz
Roza’s Children
Roza’s Pupils
Roza’s Students

Vitka Kempner

Uncategorised Posted on Wed, June 23, 2021 13:58:17

Vitka Kempner (1922 – 2012)

Vitka (Witka) Kempner was born in Kalisz, Poland, on March 14th. 1922 to Parents, Hayyah and Zevi, who owned a retail business. There is much to be learned from the life that Vitka brought forward, and to those whose study is The Holocaust which has presented the Jewish People with many heroes, amongst these were many Women and one of those was Vitka Kempner. In 1939, at the age of just 17, Kalisz fell into Nazi hands on September 4th., the day following Britain and France’s declaration of War upon Germany. Here, with the Wehrmacht immediately provoking assaults upon the Jewish residents, and a formative Einsatz formation roaming freely and attacking and killing Polish Jews, wherever they found them, Vitka realised the serious predicament for All of Polish Jewry.

Vitka then escaped from certain assault and even death as a Jew in Kalisz and trudged her way to Vilna, Lithuania where Jews were more freely enabled by a more Soviet oriented outlook. However, when Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa, and attacked Russia, June 22nd. 1941, Vilna too was now under occupation. Two days later, on June 24th. 1941 and the position of the Jews, some 57,000 Jewish People were living in Vilna, became more and more intense and then violently deadly. It didn’t take long for the Jews here, Vitka included, to realise what was coming for the Jews being shipped out toward Ponary Woods.

Friday July 11th. 1941 “..already know what was going on. ..3 pm ..large group of Jews ..taken ..300 people. ..hour later ..volleys began. Ten ..shot at a time.” Kazimierz Sakowicz.

What this witness, Kazimierz Sakowicz, notes in his Diary entry is the graduating procession of Vilna’s Jews toward Ponary and their destruction at the hands of the Einsatzkommando 9 and then Einsatzkommando 3. This was not entirely accomplished by the Nazi’s alone as other’s, Lithuanian and Ukrainian collaborative Kommando’s assisted. These formations were lined up to resolve the Vilna Jewish Question on behalf of Hitler’s demands for the Final Solution of the entire Jewish Question for all of European Jewry. On September 3rd. 1941 the Vilna Ghetto was established as one of the 9 Major Ghetto’s and with still over 55,000 Jews enclosed, was strictly administered.

A Ghetto Judenrate was forced to come to terms with what the Nazi’s would demand and with Shaul Trotzki and Anatole Fried, and eventually Jakob Gens becoming its Chairman, the reach of Hitler’s hatred was given to a Jewish distribution. On September 4th. 1941, when 10 Jewish Females who had been transported away from Vilna and toward the confines of Ponary Woods, returned to Vilna, their evidence was both incredulous and understood. With Judith Trojak amongst the escapees, their escape from Ponary alerted many within the Vilna Jewish Community, not least of these Abba Kovner. This report back to Vilna with the evidence of what Ponary meant for the Jews enraged and armed a Jewish Resistance that was to exemplify the coming fight back from Jewish Europe.

Wednesday December 31st. 1941 “..Ponar is not a ..Camp. Jews ..shot there. Hitler plans to destroy all ..Jews of Europe ..Jews of Lithuania ..first in line. ..We must not go like sheep to ..slaughter!” Abba Kovner.

In the Vilna Ghetto, Vitka joined the unit of the Hashomer Hatzair, a Zionist Youth Group being led by Abba Kovner and they soon transformed this into The Avengers, with Vitka as one of Abba’s ablest Chief Lieutenants. This Partisan Resistance Fighter Group, sought to bring the fight to the Nazi’s, their collaborator’s and any of those who would collude with the actions being taken against Lithuanian Jewry. By this time, Ponary was no longer recognised only as an isolated series of incidents, nor as a vague rumour of supposed atrocity. As the bold facts were now being laid out for the World, the Jews of Vilna and of all of Lithuania, it was evident that this was a coordinated and systematic approach to destroy all and any Jew the Nazis’ sought to annihilate.

Tuesday June 30th. 1942 “..Jewish population under ..impact of news from London. has been stirred by ..reports of ..slaughter in Poland ..aroused ..deepest emotions in all of us. Formany ..many months ..endured ..most terrible sufferings ..asking ourselves ..Does know about our sufferings ..if it knows ..why is it silent. Why was not outraged 10’s of 1,000’s of Jews ..shot Ponary. ..10’s of 1,000’s of Jews poisoned in Chelmno. 100’s of 1,000’s of Jews ..slaughtered in Galicia. ..slaughter in Vilna. ..180,000 Rostov ..Jews ..murdered Kiev. ..blood is flowing in rivers. Is ..blood of ..Jews more precious…Only now have we come to understand ..cause of this silence. ..Polish government ..its own radio station .knew nothing about it. ..if London knew day 100 people ..shot ..Pawiak prison ..why ..did it take many months before they learned of ..100’s of 1,000’s murdered Jews…a question which cannot be turned away by excuses!” Emanuel Ringelblum.

With Vitka fully ensconced as a fighting member of The Avengers, she also became an immense force in her own right dealing with the Nazi threat on her doorstep. While it is true that most of the Jews in the Vilna Ghetto still believed, hopefully, that within Ponary Woods there was a Labour Camp, Vitka and Abba Kovner grew to appreciate the overwhelming evidence of the concerted effort being undertaken to destroy all of Lithuanian Jewry. The Nakam force set in motion every effort to ensure the fight back would save more and more Jews from being annihilated in Ponary.

“..only reply to a murderer is resistance. Brothers is better to die as free fighters than to live at ..mercy of killers. Resist ..resist our last breath.” Abba Kovner. #The truth for the Nakam, as it became the truth for 6,000,000 Jews of Europe, the Slaughter mounted would not be derailed, detained or stopped. Hirsh Glik, more famous for his Partisan bravery and the Song he wrote that commemorates their heroism in Vilna in particular and Ponary and Rudnicka Forests, also wrote a song of Vitka Kempner, Die Shtil, Di Nacht Iz Oysgeshternt, The Silent Night is Filled with Stars. This reminisces over what Vitka and Moyshe Brause with Itzik Matskevitsch achieved when they destroyed a German military transport with 200 German troops aboard.

The Quiet Night is Full of Stars

The quiet night is full of stars

And the frost has strongly burned;

Do you remember how I have taught you

To hold a gun in the hand?

A girl, a fur coat and a beret

And holds in her hand tightly a Nagant

A girl with a face as smooth as velvet

Holds up the enemy’s caravan.

Aimed, fired and hit its target

Has her tiny pistol.

A vehicle filled with weapons

She has stopped with a bullet.

Before daybreak, she comes out of the forest

With snow garlands on her hair,

Encouraged by a minuscule victory

For our new, free generation.” Hirsh Glik.

The wreckage caused by the Nakam was the first known Jewish assault upon the German logistical lines of both supply and communication. The very detail of the account has been much comented upon and none less so than that of Abba Kovner, who as the combative leader of one of The Holocaust’s most recognised Resistance fighter’s knew of Vitka’s leadership qualities as he relates to her:

“..Lithuanians did not do it ..nor Poles ..nor Russians. A Jewish Woman did it ..a Woman who ..after she did this ..had no base to return to. She had to walk 3 days and nights with wounded legs and feet. She had to go back to ..Ghetto. Were she to have been captured ..whole Ghetto might have been held responsible.” Abba Kovner.

A mine, constructed in the Vilna Ghetto was placed by Vitka on a train line on July 8th. 1942 and an immediate dent was made against the Reich’s entire War effort, the first of the many made by Jews, just like Vitka. As it was not believed feasible that the Jews could have done this, there were no reprisals against the Jews conducted at the time. It was to be the first of many acts of resistance in which Vitka Kempner was to be no ordinary Partisan, nor was she an ordinary Jewish Woman. Vitka was to prove an exemplary focus for all physical assaults, retaliations and retributions exerted against the Nazi’s and their Collaborators.

“..Jews ..Prepare for Armed Resistance. ..German and Lithuanian hangmen have reached ..gates of ..Ghetto. They will murder us all. They will take us by group, through the gates.” Vilna FPO.

On September 1st. 1943, the FPO called for an uprising in the Vilna Ghetto and while the call went largely unheeded, Vitka sought to extricate as many Jews as was possible from the noose that surrounded their necks within the Vilna Ghetto. Here, the sewer system provided the perfect place for Vitka and her teams of fighters to deliver more and more Jews from Vilna to the Forests.

“..October 29th. 1943 Sabotage operation ..Vilna ..4 transformers ..mechanical water conveyor ..destroyed. ..sabotage party ..Witka Kempner ..Matys Lewin ..Rozow ..Chajele Szapiro.” Rudniki Forest Partisan Unit.

There they harried and pressed the Germans until the Russian Army was close enough for them to join forces and assist in the final Liberation of Vilna. From their positions in these Forests, Vitka and the members of the FPO returned repeatedly to Vilna to destroy the infrastructure of the City and therefore deny the Germans any of the amenities they had need of. All the while, raiding parties entered the Ghetto to extract more and more Jews, to become liberated and then Fighters against the Nazis.

“..November 2nd. 1943 ..60 People were brought to ..partisans from Vilna. Witka Kempner and Chajele. ..safely.” Rudniki Forest Partisan Unit. #Continually in hiding in the Rudniki Forest and around Ponar Woods, the Nakem ventured further and deeper with their sabotage operations against the Nazis. Whether they were killing Nazi’s or their Collaborators, they also set about destroying both the power plant and the waterworks of the City of Vilna. This made life challenging both for the remaining Jews in the Ghetto, thought their lives were in excess of the challenge that met the residents outside the Ghetto, but it was enough for the Nazi’s to know, The Jews Fought Back.

“..December 31st. 1943 Discovery of Gestapo agent Andriuszkiewicz from Dajnowa village. Those who took part ..Lipenhole and Witka Kempner.” Rudniki Forest Partisan Unit. #On July 13th. 1944 Vitka, alongside her FPO units, with Abba Kovner, marched with other Jewish partisans to help liberate Vilna. More than 55,000 Vilna Jews were Murdered and barely 2,500 of Vilna’s Jews had survived Hitler’s fuller intention for them all. The cost of liberation of Vilna and Lithuania came at too hefty a price and amidst the sought after German defeat, the loss and grief over so many Jewish lives, literally torn from all existence, tormented many like Vitka to act punitively. Their operational command Nakam, the Hebrew reference to their Avengers Partisan group, was not yet finished with the Nazi’s, and more particularly, their SS.

“..We did not want to come back to Palestine without having done something ..and that is why we were keen. kill Germans. ..As many as possible.” Joseph Harmatz.

On April 13th.1946 Vitka got a position within the bakery at the Stalag 13-D POW Camp at Langwasser, near Nuremberg alongside fellow FPO Fighter, Joseph Harmatz and Leipke Distal. This Allied run camp, which detained nearly 15,000 members of the SS was an obvious choice for the Nakam to act against those whose ideological remit was the destruction of All Jews, everywhere. Here though, this Jewish contingent sought to lace over 3,000 loaves of bread with arsenic and Murder as many of them as possible. This however, only subsequently resulted in more than 2,200 of these Criminals being sick. The Nakam Team made their escape toward the Czechoslovakian border where an Auschwitz Survivor, Yehuda Maimon extricated them and ensured their safe passage to Eretz Israel. With Vitka Kempner and Abba Kovner Married, they brought about the increased smuggling of Jewish Survivors to Eretz Israel.

They themselves settled into Israel to raise their 2 Children. Vitka was widowed with the passing of her Husband Abba, in 1987, and Vitka herself passed from us on February 15th. 2012 at their home in Israel. For me, it is essential that for Justice to be recognised, and in doing so it has to be recognised that retribution is Not justice, Justice must serve all those in need of it. But, and while 6,000,000 Slaughtered Jews seek some form of a Just response, the lack of any Justice seethes with the Jewish demand for it. That said, and it is fully understood, who am I in this civilised World to deny the Nakam, the Jewish Survivor, 6,000,000 Revenges.

“..I lived life fully ..actively ..without dragging grievances and offenses behind me.” Vitka Kempner Kovner.

Jewish Fighters Zelda Vitka Kempner, Nisanilevich Treger, Rozka Korczak-Marla
Jewish Fighters Rozka Korczak, Abba Kovner, Vitka Kempner.

Hirsh Glik

Uncategorised Posted on Tue, June 22, 2021 15:02:25

Hirsh Glik (1922 – 1944)

Hirsh Glik was born on April 24th. 1922, in the area of Shnipeshok, Lithuania where his Father Velvl dealing in second hand clothing. The nature of poverty ensured Hirsh was unable to finish his formal education earlier than he had hoped and he began a career as an apprentice in the paper business. He was wholly unsuited to such a discipline, which offered him no vision or outlook however, and he then began work as a clerk in a hardware store. The word outstanding is often used to describe Hirsh when, as a 13 year old in 1935, this young writer began writing his own Poetry, usually in Hebrew. 

“..Never say this is road for you ..though leadened skies may cover over skies of blue ..As ..hour that we longed for is so near ..Our step beats out ..message we are here.” Hirsh Glik.

The switch to writing in other disciplines evolved till he was more frequently writing in Yiddish as a way of preserving his words in the discipline of a language that was more widespread. Here, Hirsh became well known amongst his peers of poets and fellow writer’s and we have to recognise, in the literary integrity of the Jewish People, that this was still a push back against everything that the Nazi’s demanded from the Jews. Anything outside what the forces of Hitler’s Final Solution required of the Jewish People under duress and suppression would be an instant death sentence for any Jew contradicting these intentions.

“..From lands so green with palms to lands all white with snow ..We shall be coming with our anguish and our woe ..And where a spurt of our blood fell on ..There our courage and our spirit have rebirth.” Hirsh Glik.

On May 1st. 1943 there was such a literary gathering in the Vilna Ghetto with a group of Jewish poets, thinkers, writers all meetting for the Spring in Yiddish Literature. This was such an Evening for an expression of the freedom to be afforded by the composition of words that those like Hirsh and his fellow poet Szmerke Kaczerginski issued and which could be momentarily uplifting. Outside, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was being waged and Jews everywhere were awakening to the very sense of opposition to the barbarism that they had encountered.

“..early morning sun will brighten our day ..And yesterday with our foe will fade away. But if ..time is long before ..sun appears ..Then let this song go like a signal through ..years.” Hirsh Glik.

While being somehow free to challenge edicts and decrees to slightly subvert the Nazi intention to crush all Jewish Culture. On this particular occasion, where Hirsh presented his Song of the Partsans, the Zog nit Keynmol, Never Say, we owe to the recollection of his Friend Szmerke, who recollects in these terms what Hirsh sought to deliver, the pertinence of his symbolic Poem. Also, the words are brought back to the Vilna Ghetto by Joseph Glazman who met Hirsh in the Rzesza Labour Camp.

“..listen carefully ..I’ll sing it for you. He began to sing it softly ..full of excitement. His eyes glowed with little sparks. ..hour for which we yearned will come anew. Where did he get his faith. His voice became firmer. He tapped out ..rhythm with his foot if he was marching.” Szmerke (Shmaryahu) Kaczerginski.

The clear Jewishness of Civilisation was to be maintained in the jaws of an immeasureable atrocity that was slaughtering the Jewish People. In effect though, that challenge not to conform, but to express the validity of words and expression, which came in many forms, grew in both popularity and resonance with the Jews of Lithuania. Hirsh was well acquainted with stalwarts of the literary elite of Vilna, Avraham Sutzkever and Leah Rudnitski and these wrote and used words that were issued both literally and, raised in the voices of those like Hirsh declared them in Poems and the narrative of a defiant hope that was forever springing eternal.

“..This song was written with our blood and not with lead ..It’s not a song that summer birds sing overhead ..This is a song a people sang amid collapsing walls ..With guns in hand they heeded to” Hirsh Glik.

As the Wehrmacht occupied Vilna on June 24th. 1941, Hirsh and his Father were among the Jews taken into forced Labour units to work in the peat bogs at the Labour Camps of Biala Waka and Rzesza. Then, in early 1943, with the Biala Waka Camp being liquidated, and this is where Hirsh wrote The Cornstalk or Dos Zangl, before he was returned to the Vilna Ghetto. Here, Hirsh joined the FPO, the United Partisan Organization or Fareynegte Partizaner Organitzatsye. On September 1 st. 1943, Hirsh was captured along with his FPO unit and was transported to the Estonian Campa at Narva and then Goldfilz.

“..So never say ..road now ends for you ..Though leadened skies may cover over skies of blue ..As ..hour that we longed for is so near ..Our step beats out ..message we are here!” Hirsh Glik.

At sometime during the Summer of 1944 Hirsh, together with another 40 interned and some fellow fighters of the FPO escaped from the Camp at Goldfilz. The Russian Army was in the vicinity and liberation was imminent and the group sought to enjoin further elements of the Russian Partisan groups operating in the area. However, this is where the life of Hirsh ad his fellow Partisans was ended with the likelihood beeing they were trapped by German skirmishers and were killed in action.

“..At most Holocaust commemorations we sing ..Partisans’ Song ..Zog Nit Kein’mol Hirsh Glick. Hirsh Glick was my Friend ..and I was privileged to be ..first ..together with 2 others whom Hirsh read ..words of” Phillip Maisel.

Added to memory are Hisrsh’s works, as they were distributed aurily and thanks to much of this effort, his work is remembered. It is feared that most of his written words were buried in a safe space somewhere within the Vilna Ghetto and are all now lost to posterity. All the while as Hirsh wrote and produced works befitting an artiste of his literary quality his efforts were uplifting as they became framed by his growing skills as a Partisan Fighter.

Song of the Partsans, the Zog nit Keynmol, Never Say.

“..Never say this is the final road for you,

Though leadened skies may cover over skies of blue,

As the hour that we longed for is so near,

Our step beats out the message we are here!

From lands so green with palms to lands all white with snow,

We shall be coming with our anguish and our woe,

And where a spurt of our blood fell on the earth,

There our courage and our spirit have rebirth.

The early morning sun will brighten our day,

And yesterday with our foe will fade away.

But if the time is long before the sun appears,

Then let this song go like a signal through the years.

This song was written with our blood and not with lead,

It’s not a song that summer birds sing overhead,

This is a song a people sang amid collapsing walls,

With guns in hand they heeded to the call.

So never say the road now ends for you,

Though leadened skies may cover over skies of blue,

As the hour that we longed for is so near,

Our step beats out the message we are here!” Hirsh Glik.

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.)

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