Frank emailed me the other day, which was so perfect because I had just been talking with my Lopatka cousin, Debbie Dworski, about him and the work Frank and I had been doing.
It has been over six months since we have talked, which I feel terrible about. Sometimes genealogy work ebbs and flows. I don’t like this length of time having gone by, so I am going to work harder to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
Plus I miss talking with Frank.
Frank old website is down. which is okay because i grabbed the contents. it means i need to transfer everything onto his new website. yikes.
here is the text from Frank’s translation of the Golub-Dobryzn pages in the Ringelblum archives. links are not functional — just wanted text here for safekeeping.
A 10 WEEK JEWISH HISTORY IN DOBRZYN-GOLUB
FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE WAR 1 SEPTEMBER 1939 UNTIL 11 NOVEMBER 1939
It’s my opinion only, that all this that I document and write about now, will become believable when I get the documents that I have collected with great difficulty in Poland into some sort of routine. But by the time I do that I may not be about any longer. I must make it clear that this in not an aspiration that I have. I also know that the inevitable will happen so it is my goal now to record and get all the documents into order. I only try here to write down events that took place during the war. I am not sure whether my life, and part of my failures, anxieties, and successes is of any interest to anyone except my own family. In all the short testimonies that I’ve written, I was the victim or the witness to so many sufferings. Many other testimonies have been recorded. Many more books and stories were written. I was 13 years of age when the war broke out, and there will not be many more survivors left after me that would have lived through it that would remember much about it. As I get older I have reached an age now that I feel that I have a duty and an obligation to record the brutality that I’ve lived through. Some and only some of the experiences from Dobrzyn can be substantiated by documents.
The days of celebrations for me have long past so I rush to put down in the computer the memories and the life experiences that I’ve been through and remember. I am also sure that there is a spark of eternity in every human being. The building of a home, the planting of a shrub, a child, the drying of a tear will leave a mark on time. As our forefathers said every river flows to the sea. I start this data base document, with my own birth certificate.
My fathers signature on the handwritten Birth Certificate of mine brought tears to my eyes. I broke down completely when I’ve come across my parents wedding certificate. The only photograph I have of my father is from the Dobrzyn- Golub Yizkor book which I’ve copied from the book and is in this database under pictures of his birth certificate. I have not been able to find any other birth certificates of my brothers and sisters. The first born in our family were my twin sisters. The younger born sister, was killed by a lorry loaded with sugar, in front of the house we lived in, and was about to enter our yard with the load, that belonged to our uncle Boruch Kufeld (Idek’s Father). My older brother Kalman at 15 years of age, 2 years older then myself, was shot together with about 270 other Jews. It was only 2 weeks into the war on the 14th September 1939 that they were forcefully taken away. They were taken out from the synagogue and many prayer houses in Dobrzyn, and driven to Bydgoszcz (Bromberg) where they were all shot in groups of 30-40
Putting the few documents that I’ve been able to recover in Poland in order, will show how big our tragedy was. What has happened is incomprehensible. Whilst our roots in Dobrzyn go back for many many generations, the part that I am recording in this Dobrzyn hyperlink section is only the brief period from the outbreak of war 1 September 1939 until the 11 November 1939 when the remainder of the Jewish population was forcefully expelled from there. In those 10 weeks of the beginning of the war, the killings, the gruesome and brutal atrocities that took place, the cruelty that the Germans were capable of inflicting, in such a short period of time, is probably unbelievable for people that have not been through it. I lived there until the 11th of November 1939 when the last remnants of Jews from Golub and Dobrzyn were forcefully evacuated. The 6 million figure, a figure of men, women and children that have perished in the Holocaust is beyond understanding. But when one sees it in the few documents that I have about our little town Dobrzyn and Golub, that figure of 6 million becomes much much larger. The documents that I have only just recently recovered, have stirred up something in me and urged me on to record my experiences. I must be the only survivor from Dobrzyn that was there during the terrible 10 weeks. There is a lot more that I must write. Amongst the documents, I have 2 copies of letters of testimony and 2 lists of victims from Dobrzyn that were given to the Ringelblum archives in theWarsaw Ghetto in May 1941 by 2 witnesses. I have translated them from Yiddish into English for the St Kilda Hebrew Congregation on the occasion when I donated a rescued from after the Holocaust, a Torah mantle, Finials, Breastplate, Crown and pointer. All of the Torah dress and ornaments was from some place in Poland and was being hawked around in various flea market’s by Polish Judaica peddlars. I bought it and brought it with me home and Erev Yom-Kippur 1998 I presented it all to our shule ” The St. Kilda Hebrew Congregation” where it belongs. Copies of the documents will remain in the sanctum of the Ark, whilst the “Keilim” ( the Torah dress and ornaments) will be used for the service whenever Yizkor is recited, to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust..
2 copies of letters recorded by the Ringelblum Archives in Warsaw Poland by 2 eye witnesses from Dobrzyn and Golub now called Golub-Dobrzyn. The second letter was signed of ” to be continued” and was never finished.
I don’t delude myself and I am sure that the writers of the 2 letters did not survive to finish their story.
The dates are one letter is 2 May 1941, the second letter is the 11 May 1941
Following are the translations from Yiddish:
FIRST LETTER (dated 2 May 1941)
Dobrzyn on the Drvenza-Golub Pomerania
On the 6th September 1939 our town was occupied and straight away robberies of grocery and drapery stores began. 2 days after the occupation all businesses and houses without difference, were compulsorily requisitioned.
On Rosh-Hashana an order was issued that all men from 15 to 60 years of age to report to the market square. The order came with a threat that any man not reporting to the market square would be shot. Separately the Germans went from house to house dragging the men out from the Synagogue and prayer houses in their prayer shawls and in their yom-tov dress. They were loaded on to lorries and transported to Bydgoszcz (Bromberg), together about 230 men, among them some sick, paralysed and some suffering from tuberculosis. They were forced into horse stables and kept on the stable manure, maltreated, beaten and taken afterwards in an unknown direction. (K.L. Jasniec direction?) From that time on, no trace at all was ever found of them. In Dobrzyn searches were carried out and the best of what appealed to the Germans was taken away. People were taken into custody and monies extracted for their release. During the searches young girls between 18 and 20 years of age were forced to undress completely and forcing all present to leave the home. Whoever refused the order was terribly beaten. The Jewish Council was ordered to bring every day 50 young people for heavy work on the bridge and to cart away all the requisitioned Jewish goods from the stores. This work was undertaken by the local V.D. (Volksdeutsche). The 25th October the most honoured citizen of our town, the chemist Riesenfeld was arrested by the Gestapo as the leader of the Polish Jewry and all trace of him has disappeared.
The 8th of November 1939, 35 of the wealthiest families received an order to report to the market square with 35 kilogram of luggage per person. The luggage was taken away on a truck and the families were separated. The children were taken away, leaving some of the parents behind. The children were taken in an unknown direction and until today their tracks are lost.
3 days before this all Golub Jews were arrested. On the 9th of November 1939 at 8 am in the morning about 1500 Germans, some in civilian clothes, ordered that all Jews must leave their homes within 10 minutes and report to the market square. Having all of the population in the market, the “Landrat” Germans ordered that a contribution of 50,000 Zloty’s must be paid. Holding 4 Jews responsible, and promising that after the contribution was settled, everyone will be free to leave wherever they wish to go. The poor town collected 23,000 Zloty’s and 2 baskets of silver candlesticks, gold wedding rings, and various other stuff. After photographing the loot the order was given that the Jews must leave the town immediately and all the old and sick were forced out of town, forbidding even the farmers to use their carts for travel.
The howling and cries on the road are impossible to describe. People left everything behind that they carried with them not having the strength to carry it further. The town had 600 families, altogether 3000 people, and all of them were forced out of the town, being beaten with whips in the process.
2 May 1941
If you want to see the original please click here Letter 1
SECOND LETTER (dated 11th May 1941 )
Dobrzyn on the Drvenza and Golub Pomerania
About 2 days before Rosh-Hashana our town was occupied. When it was earlier overrun nobody was affected in town. The biggest part of the population ran away to the neighbouring towns and villages so that there was only a small Jewish population left. But most of them returned to their homes by erev Rosh-Hashana.
The first day of Rosh –Hashana all the prayer houses were surrounded. All private homes were searched, and all men from 14 years up to 65 years of age that were in town were taken away. Approximately 270 men in all were taken, loaded on trucks, and taken to Bydgoszcz (Bromberg). They were kept in stables under the worst conditions for 2 weeks. From there they were sent away again to somewhere unknown and the unfortunate families until today don’t know what has happened to them, in spite of great efforts that were made to find out about their whereabouts. All efforts to find traces of them, or any sign of life, were without success.
Shortly after this episode an 18 year old young man was shot in the street while returning from the baker with a loaf of bread. The reason for the shooting is unknown. After that many searches took place and various materials and goods from stores were requisitioned and taken away. The shops had to close. Searches for money then started and women in particular were treated in a very dirty way. Forced labour was introduced for the young people which had to be regulated by the Jewish Elders.
People were being arrested in town. Among them was the local chemist, a communal Zionist Public figure who took part in every Zionist Congress and was in our town among others one of the most outstanding citizens. He was held in the highest regard and looked up to by all philanthropic institutions to which he was always the biggest contributor. Unfortunately, until this day no trace has been found of his whereabouts or of what ever happened to him.
On the 8th of November 1939, 35 families consisting of 107 people received a written order to report with their families on the 9th of November 1939 with luggage of no more then 150 kilograms per family, for the purpose of being evacuated to an unknown destination. All property mobile or immobile had to be written down and recorded of what is left behind, and a copy had to be lodged with the Mayor of the town. All the families duly reported on time before the City Hall, altogether 107 persons (amongst them women, small children, and the old and sick). For whatever reason only 70 persons were sent away and 37 people were left behind. Where the 70 persons and their luggage were taken to is unknown until today. Great and various efforts were made to find out where they were taken to. No sign was ever received from them. On the 10th of November the whole Jewish community was called before the City Hall and was told that in a few hours the remainder of the community must leave the town and can move only in the direction of Warsaw. The community was forced to pay a contribution like gold and silver and most of the people were kept in place and not allowed to return home again. Everybody, including the wealthiest people in our town left their homes with a small hand carried parcel. Being forcefully expelled all of them left on foot. On the way out, there were several deaths. Some very sick people were left behind in town. What has happened to them is unknown. But what we heard was nothing good.
It can be said that our town was different from all the others, in that, that we
left (naked in borvess) naked and barefooted, and without any money to
live. Most of the people from Dobrzyn, about 800 persons, live in Warsaw
now in very bad and terrible conditions. The people from Dobrzyn that were once
the most dignified and most respectable people from our town are now
starving from hunger. From our town approximately 400 people were taken
away that we don’t know until this day what has ever happened to them. The
last news we had from our town is that the smaller Jewish homes were
demolished and the fence around the cemetery and all the places of worship
were torn down. That is the last information we have had till today. We
plead, and it is in the interest of all the Jewish people to intervene
energetically, and find out what happened to all the first, and the second
group of the above mentioned 400 people and where they have disappeared to.
The cries of help from the left behind and distressed families are terrible
To be continued 11th May 1941
If you want to see the original please click here Letter 2
FIRST LIST OF EXECUTED PEOPLE (all male)
14/9/ September 1939 Dobrzyn on the Drvenza and Golub
|1 Sztolcman Chiel (Aronek’s Father)2 Nowalski Szyja
3 Topol David
4 Kwiat Lajb
5 Flusberg Alje
6 Zaklikowski Luzer
7 Czarnolaski Nusen
8 Robak Chuna
9 Lewkowicz Chaim Josef
10 Gold Mordka
11 Kurczak Mordcha
12 Kozak Mojshe
13 Blauzajd Menashe
14 Wygdorasz Nusen
15 Szperling Wolf
16 Smuzyk Iser
17 Perkal Nuta
18 Knopf Szyja
19 Gurfinkiel Mojsze
20 Goldberg Majer
21 Lipka Zanwel
22 Lipka David
23 Zylberberg (ironmonger)
24 Frajlich (crockery shop)
25 Dzialdow Icek
26 Gurfinkel (fancy goods shop)
27 Kirszenbaum Chaskiel
28 Nowalski Abram Icek
29 Szajnbart Aron
30 Cudkiewicz Gershon (Briesen)
31 Cudkiewicz Moniek (Briesen)
32 Pzastkowski Mojsze (Briesen)
33 Pzastkowski David (Briesen)
34 Rodzynek Mojsze
35 Felczer from Ciechocinek
36 Kufeld Izrael
37 Lipski Ojzer
38 Kaczor Szewa
39 Kozak Abram
40 Sztetyn Ber
|41 Sztetyn young boy42 Sztetyn his brother
43 Szajnbart David
44 Kohn Ojzer
45 Pulwer Hersz
46 Lipsztadt Lajb
47 Makowski Abram
48 Pinczewski Pinkus (Briesen)
49 Florman Menasze
50 Szlachter (deaf)
51 Szlachter (his son)
52 Szlachter Josef Mendel
53 Szlachter Alje Ber
54 Szlachter (son)
55 Szlachter (son)
56 Ryzowa Abram
57 Ryzowa (son)
58 Nusbaum Zalman
59 Rotman Josef
60 Freiman (briesen)
61 Goldman Abram
62 Berkman Izrael Hersz
63 Berkman (son)
64 Skornik Jochanan
65 Burtka (shoemaker)
66 Burtka (son)
67 Kufeld Alje Beryl
68 Gutman Bienek
69 Plotniarz Szaja
70 Kwinter Chaskiel
71 Berkman Mojsze
72 Abramowicz Shulem
73 Poljer (baker)
74 Rujna (boy)
75 Rozental Szyja
76 Altyna Gedalje
77 Sowa Pinkus
78 Lipszyc Szoel Lajb
79 Lipszyc (son)
80 Lipszyc (son)
81 Minski Baruch
82 Olsztajn Abram
|83 Kaczor Abram84 Kaufman Abram
85 Gasior Mojsze Icie
86 Alterowicz Icek Lajb
87 Cetel tailor
88 Zak shoemaker
89 Cudkiewicz Abram Hersz
90 Bramzon Luzer
91 Bramzon son
92 Arfa Kalman barber
93 Arfa Kalman butcher
94 Felczer at Russaks Ciechocinek
95 Rokman Yosef
96 Rokman brother
97 Klein Mojsze Iser
98 Meinke Aron
99 Altman Lajb
100 Moszkiewicz Jakub
101 Holc Chiel
102 Piechotka Lajb
103 Piechotka brother
104 Lichtensztein Maurycy
105 Lipka Rachmiel
106 Watchmaker Goldberg son in law
107 Makowski Ephraim’s son
108 Kohn Mordcha
109 Horowicz Gecel
110 Horowicz son
111 Horowicz son
112 Szwarckop Ajzyk
113 Kadecki Jakob
114 Kadecki Symcha
115 Kadecki Lajb
116 Groner tailor
117 Frajlich bootmaker
118 Chomont Aron
119 Krajanek Gerszon
120 Krajanek son
121 Berkowicz barber
122 Hendel deli shop
123 Hendel Lejzor
|124 Piaskowski Szymon125 Hirszberg Burech
126 Podrygal David
127 Plockier Bynem
128 Arnow Benjamin
129 Arnow son
130 Dobraszklanka boy
131 Brodziak shop owner
132 Serko Wolf
133 Salomon Mordka
134 Salomon son
135 Plotniarz Chiel Majer
136 Nowalski Benjamin Iser
137 Makowski Abram
138 Frenkiel Izrael
139 Radowolczyk Tabiak
140 Radowolczyk Hiler
141 Fajersztajn L
142 Zylberberg Kantor
143 Krajanek Izrael
144 Krajanek son
145 Krajanek brother
146 Gurfinkiel Abram
147 Lewin Fiszel
148 Smuzyk Mordka
149 Meinka Icek ordka
150 Miller David
151 Rozenwaks Abram Jakob
152 Rozenwaks son
153 Frajlich Mechel
154 Ryz Lipman
155 Pozmanter Mojsze
156 Pozmanter Cudek
157 Pozmanter brother
158 Gasior tailor
159 Kruczyk Michal
160 Kruczyk son
161 Skornik Lipman
163 Studkiewicz fish distributor
164 Grinberg Szmul David
165 Altyna Mojsze
166 Memel Abram
167 Memel Szyja
168 Nowalski szmul
169 Gasior Yosef Benjamin
174 Groner Jakob
175 Anczolowski tailor
177 Grosman Abram
178 Grosman Chaskiel
179 Plockier Lajb
181 Mucha Lajb
182 Mucha brother
183 Golomb Mojsze
184 Dunn young
185 Cala Mechel
186 Szwarckopf Ajzyk
187 Szmiga Icek Jakob
188 Riesenfeld Adolf
If you want to see the original please click here List 1
My own comments
The last name Riesenfeld was not amongst this group. He was taken away a few days before and executed somewhere in the area. How soon the 2 lists of victims were written I am not sure. The first list is of all male victims (not complete) dated the 14/9/Wrzesnia (September) 1939. The second list is dated the 9th of November 1939 and is of 35 families, men, women and children. The original 2 lists of the victims are in the Ringelblum archives in Warsaw. The 2 original letters from the 2 unknown witnesses which I translated from Yiddish into English are also in the Ringelblum archives. The first letter is dated the second of May 1941, the second letter is dated the 11th May 1941. Not all the victims of the 2 groups are mentioned. It seems to me that the lists were done by memory only and some of the victims names were unknown to the writer or could not be remembered by him. At the bottom of the page of the last victim Riesenfeld no.188 is a handwritten footnote that says: that altogether were 260 persons. It was on the first day of Rosh-Hashana 1939, on the 8th day after the Germans occupied our town that this slaughter took place. I am the only survivor that was in town at the time when this happened. All of the victims in this group were male.
SECOND LIST OF EXECUTED PEOPLE
(35 families, men, women and children dated 9th November 1939)
|1 Kadecki Bronia2 Kadecki Mania
3 Kadecki Roza
4 Kadecki Laja
5 Kadecki Icek
6 Kadecki Chana
7 Kadecki Sala
8 Kadecki (another sister)
9 Kadecki Lejzer
10 Rojna Hiler
11 Rojna Rywka
12 Dobraszklanka Szmul My Grandfather
13 Dobraszklanka Rywka My Grandmother
14 Dobraszklanka Szaja My uncle
15 Pieniek Szmul Icek
16 Pieniek Bina
17 Cudkiewicz Bina
18 Cudkiewicz (daughter)
19 Cudkiewicz (daughter)
20 Cudkiewicz (daughter)
21 Cudkiewicz (daughter)
22 Cudkiewicz (daughter)
23 Cudkiewicz (daughter)
24 Cudkiewicz (son)
|25 Holc Szlojme26 Dzialdow Mayer
27 Dzialdow Eljasz (3 years old)
28 Ajzenberg (the daughter of Chaim)
29 Lipski Szlama
30 Lewin Lemel
31 Lewin (daughter)
32 Lewin (grandson 5 years old)
33 Muller Izrael
34 Muller Chana
35 Muller (son)
36 Muller (son)
37 Muller (daughter)
38 Fajersztajn Luzer
40 Smrodiny (wife of above)
41 Smrodiny (child)
42 Smrodiny (child)
43 Zyskind Chana
44 Zyskind (daughter)
45 Zyskind Abram Joel
46 Sapersztajn Chune Lemel
47 Lent Mendel
48 Lent Bala
49 Lent Judka
50 Lent Moniek
51 Kirszbaum Luzer from Golub
52 Kirszbaum (wife)
53 Kirszbaum (son)
54 Kirszbaum (son)
56 ” (2 sisters)
58 ” (3 brothers)
59 ” (14/9 they have taken the father and 4 brothers)
together were 79 persons
If you want to see the original please click here List 2
video for frank to watch.
Name: Report on The Living
Abstract: The Joint Distribution Committee rehabilitates Holocaust survivors in Europe.
The Spielberg Jewish Film Archive –
The 500 films, selected for the virtual cinema, reflect the vast scope of documentary material collected in the Spielberg Archive. The films range from 1911 to the present and include home movies, short films and full length features.
שם: דו”ח על החיים
תקציר: ארגון הג’וינט עוסק בשיקומם של ניצולי שואה באירופה.
ארכיון הסרטים היהודיים על שם סטיבן שפילברג –
חמש מאות הסרטים שנבחרו עבור הקולנוע הווירטואלי משקפים את ההיקף הנרחב של החומר התיעודי בארכיון שפילברג. באתר ישנם סרטים משנת 1911 ועד ימינו אלה ביתיים, קצרים ובאורך מלא.
couldn’t sleep so called frank and had a nice chat.
finally scanned frank’s documents this morning. will try viewmate.
found this photo on the USHMM’s website. never saw it before. very chilling. probably some of Frank’s family is here.
I met my friend Debbie DWORSKI at my first JewishGen conference in Salt Lake City (the 27th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy in 2007). Before the conference we had emailed a little bit back and forth as we shared a common surname (LOPTAKA) that seemed unusual.
It sort of seemed like I was stalking poor Debbie — I remember that I was so excited to finally track her down at one of the presentations I think she was a little freaked out at my enthusiasm to meet her. To me she seemed like instant mishpucha. Plus if you have been to these conferences, sometimes there aren’t that many people our age or younger — or at least it seemed like it back then.
At the Salt Lake conference, I think Debbie showed me documents relating to our common ancestor (Ester Sura LOPATKA). But the conference is crazy and although we kept in touch and saw each other at conferences, talked on the phone, corresponded via email, for some reason we never really focused on these documents.
Fast forward 4-5 years, during which time Frank and I have been working on trying to get his information organized. Over this time, despite my side-trip to graduate school which delayed / pushed the momentum down to zero, Frank consistently showed that he has this amazing ability to read and understand the nuances of Polish documents of Jewish relations.
See, Frank is special. He is one of the few people from our region who is able to understand the Polish, read the Hebrew, realize the nuances of our shared region, and get the underlying gist of the documents — especially the birth, marriage, and death vital records. Plus as a Holocaust survivor from a town not far from where my family came from, Frank was there. He knows the region better than most, and he knows the Jewish Poland of that region because he has had a passion for learning more about this region during all of these years after the war.
Frank is a pathway to the past. He is a teacher. He explains the inherent anti-semitism that may underpin the documents — as the documents were required by Polish law, but were not typically of concern to Jews, so details maybe were a bit slippery / imprecise.
In addition to a possibly unfriendly town clark, there were often significant language barriers, cultural barriers, etc. There could be a delay of years in reporting births, marriages, deaths. A regional rabbi may have not come to the local village recently, so the records may not have been made on the date they were recorded — probably they were often not.
I am taking the time to ruminate on all of this because Debbie asked me to see if Frank might be able to take a look at some of her LOPTAKA records because some of the town names seemed odd to her.
Now I guard Frank as a resource very carefully because I don’t want to overburden him. Plus I want to make sure he is focusing on his document translations, not on mine or anyone elses. So I hesitantly asked Frank to take a look at the documents for Debbie.
I was curious to see what Frank might find. It turns out that Debbie is a LOPATA, not a LOPATKA. From what Frank told me on prior occasions when we were going over documents with the LOPATA surname, these are two separate names, with different meanings in Polish. Not the same family.
I am going to get Frank’s clarification on this, but long story short, Debbie and I may or may not be mishpucha. It sort of doesn’t matter at this point — she feels like extended family and we have a lot in common beyond the genealogy and similar coloring. But it will be interesting to see what this treasure trove of Frank’s translations brings. A small thing maybe for him, but for us, it is huge. I am grateful, stunned, amazed at his gift and generosity.
A lot of odds and ends tonight, as I have been sort of scattered and busy — and found out tonight that my main website is down (aargh). thankfully Frank’s is fine.
finally found this PDF online, World War 2 European Theatre Sequence, which gives more details and dates and is the detailed background of this PowerPoint presentation Frank sent me a while ago. I used this in my Map Institute final project. there’s sound in the PowerPoint original — it’s very informative.
still haven’t coordinated Lodz Ghetto postcard images with Frank’s granddaughter — my fault because I haven’t followed up, so Frank is going to see her and talk to her this weekend.
tonight Frank and I were trying to figure out the dates for the Chmielnik yizkor book, the original of which is digitally available at the NYPL’s Dorot Division. i think Frank said he saw this before but it’s a little hard to navigate so he’s going to go over one of the sections that was relevant to him.
i sent a query to JewishGen’s Yizkor project leader to see if Frank might be able to donate any translation he does. they have done an amazing job of translating so many books. of course this one is not translated, but might be in progress.
the Polish book, Zarys krajobrazu : wieś polska wobec zagłady Żydów 1942-1945, is published, but i need to write to the publishers in Warsaw at The Polish Center for Holocaust Research asking when / if it will be published in English. it’s a very important book.
i want to go over submission guidelines for Yad Vashem Righteous to see if there’s documentation and/or help i can give Frank to maybe resubmit or strengthen his letter in regards to the guard who saved his life. need to focus on that as a top priority. Frank wants this done before he dies.
new website set up
got Polish book – 8 lines, but longer description / excerpt about man who saved Frank’s life, which Frank will photocopy and fax me
Keren will be sending photos. yay!!!
This post will be a lot of small items. Apologies, hope to have something a bit more substantive going forward.
It’s more than a little shameful I haven’t talked to Frank in a good long while. Between finishing graduate school (yay!) and some other home-unfriendly issues, then the post-grad school blues, I haven’t been working on much of anything (genealogical or otherwise).
But it is time to resume. The unintended break has re-energized me. Going forward I hope to be more focused and efficient in the work Frank and I are doing. I am trying to set up a plan with some achievable goals. And of course will be recording this process on the blog here.
This blog seems to have fulfilled at least a partial purpose. By documenting some of the work Frank is focused on here on the blog, it turns out the grandson of the man in Gmina Tuczępy who saved Frank’s life actually contacted Frank! Frank has been in touch with the grandson, which I know has meant a great deal to him.
Yad Vashem “Righteous Among the Nations” Award
Frank is now attempting to procure a posthumous Yad Vashem “Righteous Among the Nations” award. I hope that this will go through because although I have heard Frank tell the story numerous times, it never fails to touch me. The recognition that except for the bravery of this one Polish man, Frank would not be alive today, this was a huge act of bravery and kindness.
There is also a Polish language book that is going to be published that will have Frank’s story in it. I think it’s being released this week. Frank is on pins and needles waiting to see what is written. Assume he’ll do an English translation of the excerpt. When Frank does that I will post it here.
Yiddish Translations for Deakin University
Frank has been working on Yiddish translations for faculty members at the local Deakin University in Melbourne: Associate Professor Andrea Witcomb* and Honorary Fellow Pam Maclean. The documents are minutes from the Melbourne Jewish Holocaust Center that were handwritten in Yiddish. From Professor Witcomb’s bio, it looks like they are working on The History of the Jewish Holocaust Museum and Research Centre (JHMRC).
*Andrea is “an Associate Professor(Research)in the field of cultural heritage. She is the Director of the Cultural Heritage Centre for Asia and the Pacific and is on the Executive Committee of the newly established Centre for Memory, Imagination and Invention (CMII).”
Melbourne and the Holocaust
The Melbourne area has a huge concentration of Holocaust survivors, so this is very important work. The challenge, as Frank explains it, is that people alive today who know Yiddish mostly can read and write Yiddish, but only in its typed form. Handwritten Yiddish is something that was much more common in Frank’s generation. I can attest to this as I have come across a lot of family photographs of genealogical importance that have handwritten Yiddish on the back identifying the people in the photos. If you don’t know handwritten Yiddish it’s a real problem.
Additionally, Frank’s input on these translations is also very valuable as these are documents written by fellow survivors and Frank can make sure references to Jewish life and life abroad are as correct as possible.
Łódź Ghetto Postcards and ID Cards
Frank has had Łódź Ghetto postcards and ID cards up on his old website for a long time. We have been in touch with the awesome Nolan Altman to submit the data behind these cards to JewishGen but it will require preparing the metadata, which I have obviously dropped the ball on.
I was excited to hear that his daughter Keren Dobia, a very gifted photographer, photographed the items properly. I hope that I can help out with adding the metadata and hopefully getting translations of the different languages attached to each item, either by Frank or with the help of the invaluable JewishGen ViewMate program, where volunteers will translate images for you.
Frank said that a descendant of Emil ALTSCHUL had contacted him after finding the image on his website recently. More genealogy connections!
Frank Dobia Thu. Jun 18, 2009
The name above is my present name. My KLB number in Buchewald was 23730 which belonged to a Russian soldier previously. I unlike Mayer Schondorf was amongst a group selected from block 66 for the march out from Buchenwald. I was in the back of this column and for some reason close to the “appeal platz” dropped into the mud outside the French Block. When the column passed me I was dragged into one of the block in the “Big Camp” and the inmates saved me from the death march. I would not be here now if not for the inmates who saved my life.
Seventeenth century synagogue in Chmielnik
Synagoga z XVII w. w Chmielniku
Below is the English translation of the Polish email to Alina Skibińska about the article in the Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita, “Chłopi mordowali Żydów z chciwości” (“The Peasants Murdered Jews Because of Greed”).
Saturday, 22 January 2011 10:33 PM
I would like to thank you for the artcle in in the Rzeczpospolita, “The Peasants Murdered Jews Because of Greed“. Your replies to the directed questions was the reality and were truthfully expressed. I live in the hope that the research work by the historians will finally change the looney newspaper commentaries. I write directly to you because I am unable to take part in the comments about this article, knowing full well the moral character of the writers. How strange is Poland for me now, the country that I was born in, brought up in, reading such nonsense.
In 1942 I worked for a peasant in Kargów, in the parish of Tuczępy. After working there for some time the “soltys” [village elder] of Kargów gave me an order to leave immediately for Chmielnik because Jews were not allowed to be in the village. I walked through the night to Chmielnik and arrived there early in the morning. This was the day of the liquidation of the Jews in Chmielnik for Treblinka. The ghetto was already surrounded by the Germans and the Blue Polish Police when I tried with another Jew that I met up with on the way to Chmielnik to sneek into the ghetto. We moved back when the police started firing towards us. We did not know about Treblinka and what was going on there. At that time I was 14 years old and wanted so much to be with my family.
I went back to Kargów to the peasant where I worked. What happened to the other fellow I don’t know. I slept as usual in the barn and early in the morning the “soltys” was there and hollered for me to come out. I tried to run away but he caught me and gave me a decent hiding. He took me to his house, tied my hands and feet and threw me into a shed and locked the door on the outside. After he had his breakfast he carted me with on his harnessed horse and cart to the parish Tuczępy. There I was arrested and I was supposed to be handed over the next morning to the Gestapo the next day. My fate would’ve been then different.
I write about this and tell my children and grandchildren what has happened in the village Tuczępy. In the twilight of the night someone very quietly came with the key and opened the jail door and whispered “uciekaj synku” [“run son”]. I jumped out and I ran to Stopnica. My further experiences are now not important. I survived and that is important and only thanks to this man. Who was this and what was this man? I think that this was the man, the secretary of the parish Tuczępy, for whom I used to keep watch over his horse and cart when he came to Chmielnik on market days.
About 15 years ago when I was in Poland I was in Kargów and in the parish of Tuczępy. I was inside the jail that was still operating as a jail. Visiting the community office in Tuczępy I asked the mayor of the community to find out for me who was this man that opened the jail door and whispered “uciekaj synku.” After some time I returned again to Poland and saw the community mayor and asked him whether he has been able to find out for me who was the secretary of the Tuczępy parish. The mayor responded in the following manner. Mister, go home, because just the fact that you’ve come to find out who this man was, you’ve done enough. Asking around in the area about your case everyone says that this was him that helped you.
However, to you Madam I have a request. In the article “Chłopi mordowali Żydów z chciwości” you mention the Siudak brothers from Tuczępy and you must’ve done a very accurate research on this subject before you voiced your opinion about the Siudak brothers. Maybe you do know who was the secretary of Tuczępy parish at that time. This person is not with us any longer I believe, but there should be a family and may even still live in Tuczępy. I will be forever grateful in your assistance.
Chce Pani podziekowac za artykul w Rzeczpospolitej “Chlopi Mordowali Zydow z Chciwosci.” Pani odpowiedz na zadane pytania byly rzeczywiste i w prawdzie wyrazone. Zyje w nadzei ze usilowanie badan Holokaustu przez historykow, wreszcie moze zmieni sie te bzikowane komentarze. Pisze do Pani bezposrednio bo nie moge brac udzialu w watkach artykulu poznajac brak moralnego charekteru piszacych o historii holokaustu. Dziwny jest teraz ten Polski kraj dla mnie w ktorym sie urodzilem, wychowalem, czytajac takie bzdury.
W 1942r pracowalem u chlopa w Kargowie gmina Tuczepy. Po jakims czasie soltys Kargowa dal mi rozkaz natychmiastowego powrotu do Chmielnika. Nadeszlem do Chmielnika z samego rana a to byl dzien likwidacji Zydow Chmielnika wywiezionych do Treblinki. Getto bylo juz oblazone przez Niemcow i przez granatowa policje kiedy probowalem sie wkrasc do getta z jeszcze jednym Zydem ktorego sie napotkalem w drodze do Chmielnika. Wycofalismy sie jak zaczeto do nas strzelac. Nie wiedzielismy wtedy o Treblince i co sie tam dzieje. Mialem w tym czasie 14 lat i tak bardzo chcielismy byc razem z rodzina.
Ja wrocilem do Kargowa. Co sie stalo z drugim kumplem nie wiem. Spalem jak zawsze w stodole, a z samego rana soltys juz byl przy stodole i ryczal azebym wyszedl. Probowalem uciekac ale mnie zlapal i porzadnie mnie zbil. Zabral mnie do swego domu, spetal, i wrzocil mnie do komory i drzwi zaryglowal. Po swym sniadaniu zawiozl mnie na swej furmance, spetanego, z jeszcze jednym chlopem do Gminy Tuczepy. W Tuczepach zostalem aresztowany i mialem byc oddanym na Gestapo w nastepnym dniu moj dalszy los bylby juz inny.
Pisze o tym i opowiadam swym dzieciom i wnukom co sie stalo w wiosce Tuczepy. W zmierzchu tego samego dnia przyszedl ktos pocichu z kluczem i otworzyl drzwi wiezienne i szepnal “uciekaj synku”. Wyskoczylem i ucieklem do Stopnicy. Dalsze moje przezycia juz sa niewazne. Przezylem, i to jest wazne i tylko dzieki temu czlowiekowi. Kto to byl i kim ten czlowiek byl? Zdaje mi sie ze to byl sekretarz gminy Tuczepy, ktoremu pilnowalem furmanke w Chmielniku jak przyjezdzal na jarmark do Chmielnika raz w tygodniu.
Jakies 15 lat temu bedac w Polsce bylem w Kargowie i w gminie Tuczepy. Bylem wewnatrz wiezenia ktore jeszcze bylo uzywane jako wiezienie. Bedac w gminie prosilem Wojta azeby sie dowiedzial kim byl ten czlowiek co dla mnie otworzyl wiezienne drzwi i szepnal “uciekal synku”. Wrocilem po jakims czasie do Polski. Bylem u Wojta z pytaniem czy sie cos dowiedzial o sekretarzu gminy. Wojt odpowiedzial w ten sposob. Jedz Pan do domu, bo juz sam fakt ze Pan przyjechal w tej sprawie to juz Pan dosyc zrobil. Pytajac sie o panskiej sprawie to kazdy jeden mowi ze to On Panu pomogl.
Ale mam do Pani prosbe. W swoim artykule “Chlopi Mordowali Zydow z Chciwosci” Pani mowi o braci Siudakow z gminy Tuczepy i Pani napewno wszelkie badania zrobila przed swa wypowiedzia o braci Siudakow. Moze Pani wie kim byl sekretarzem Gminy w tym czasie. Juz ten czlowiek napewno nie zyje. Ale jest rodzina a moze nawet jeszcze w wiosce Tuczepy mieszkaja. Bardzo bym byl Pani wdzieczny za pomoc w tej sprawie.
On Friday I was at the Center for Jewish History doing a repository visit at the American Jewish Historical Society for one of my favorite classes this semester (Archives & Manuscripts with Mimi Bowling!).
After the visit, I was viewing the exhibit, “Heroes from Abroad: The Machal and/Aliyah Bet Legacy,” and struck up a conversation with a woman who was there. It turns out that this woman, Lea SIGIEL-WOLINETZ, is an incredible connection for two reasons. One, her maiden name (SIGIEL) is, in its original Polish form (SYGAL), my grandma Pearl HERZOG’s (nee SEGALL) same last name! It is even spelled the same way on her grandmother Sarah SEGALL’s Polish passport – SYGAL. Two, Lea’s father, David SIGIEL (ne Chaim Dovid SYGAL), was one of the children in Children’s Block 66 at Buchenwald. This is the same children’s block where Frank was held.
Lea told me about a movie that is being made about Kinderblock 66.
This is the trailer for Kinderblock 66.
Talked with Frank tonight.
Frank got the documents from Alina, the historian from Poland. He is going to work on doing Polish to English translations and will send those along. It’s very exciting because it turns out that the man who testified twice in court is most certainly the person who saved Frank’s life.
Frank would like to talk with his progeny to express his thanks at being saved. Hopefully a connection can be made.
Online Family Trees and Privacy
Frank has an extended Kufeld relation who has recently contacted him. Sharing information with fellow family members is a real blessing but there are issues of confidentiality and privacy inherent in sharing data. I am not a big fan of the online trees at places like ancestry.com, geni.com and myheritage.com. i don’t like the fact that you lose control over your tree (ancestry owns your data when you upload it). And it’s often difficult to pull your data off once it’s on there.
I guess I’m a big fan of being online and having a list of surnames associated with your family but not having the full tree up there. At least for Frank this seems to make sense.
Stuff to think about anyway….
Frank sent me a scan of a road map for the Kielce region. I’m glad that my final project (“Pathfinder”) for my Map class is going to be focused on developing the timeline of Frank’s time during WWII. Hopefully I can really develop it into something cool.
Skype with Frank
Talked with Frank last night for about two hours. Recorded our conversation using my iPhone (love the recording feature — it’s so easy!).
Rzeczpospolita article about Jan T. Gross’ Golden Harvest
I did a rough Google Translate of the article which I posted here on the blog. As another working / organizational note, I thought we could try using Google Translate so I could get the general gist of some of the Polish language items Frank is working on and sharing with me, without making Frank take the time to stop and do the Polish to English translations himself.
The article is about the reaction of Poles to Jan Tomasz Gross‘ upcoming book, Golden Harvest. Gross’ work has been met with a lot of hostility in Poland, and from the comments to this article and google searches, the response from Poles has been pretty negative.
Information about the book from its publisher:
Golden HarvestJan T. Gross
Contributions by Irena Grudzinska GrossISBN13: 9780199731671
Hardback, 144 pagesAug 2011, Not Yet Published
It seems at first commonplace: a photograph of peasants at harvest time, after work well done, resting contentedly with their tools, behind the fruits of their labor. But when one finally notices that what seemed innocent on first view becomes horrific: the crops scattered in front of the group are skulls and bones. Where are we? Who are the people in the photograph, and what are they doing?
The starting point of Jan Gross’s A Golden Harvest , this haunting photograph in fact depicts a group of peasants–“diggers” atop a mountain of ashes at Treblinka, where some 800,000 Jews were gassed and cremated. The diggers are hoping to find gold and precious stones that Nazi executioners may have overlooked. The story captured in this grainy black-and-white photograph symbolizes the vast, continent-wide plunder of Jewish wealth.
The seizure of Jewish assets during World War II occasionally generates widespread attention when Swiss banks are challenged to produce lists of dormant accounts, or national museums are forced to return stolen paintings. The theft of this wealth was not limited to conquering armies, leading banks, and museums, but to local populations such as those pictured in the photograph. Based upon a simple group shot, this moving book evokes the depth and range, as well as the intimacy, of the final solution.
• Author of NEIGHBORS, a National Book Award Finalist
• Short, moving, poignant exploration of a haunting image
144 pages; 5-1/2 x 8-1/4; ISBN13: 978-0-19-973167-1ISBN10: 0-19-973167-5
About the Author(s)
Jan Gross is Professor of Politics and European Studies at New York University. He is the author of Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland , a National Book Award finalist. Irena Grudzinska Gross is Associate Research Scholar in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, at Princeton University.
The article is an interview with a historian named Alina Skibińska. Skibińska, a historian who works with the USHMM and specializes in Polish-Jewish relations during World War II, supports Gross’ work. Gross’ writing has been extremely divisive in Poland because of the rampant antisemitism that continues to this day in Poland — as well as the fact that as a whole it appears Poland takes no responsibility for its treatment of Jews during WWII.
The more I learn about Poland, and the more vital records and information Frank shares with me, the fact that Poland has not come to terms with its history antisemitism and complicity in atrocities against Jews, especially during WWII, is just ridiculous and dumb. How can a country move into the future if it cannot accept responsibility for its past? It doesn’t make any logical sense, but then hatred and bigotry are at heart nonsensical, aren’t they.
So Frank and I talked about Gross, and how I need to read his books to learn more about WWII Poland. I will read them but I have really bad nightmares as it is just talking to Frank and dealing with some of the primary source records that I need to go slowly with material that I know will be upsetting.
The very cool thing is that Frank contacted the historian (Alina Skibińska) interviewed in the article and had a very positive email exchange with her. Frank was in Tuczępy during the war and wanted to find out is she knew who the person he talks about in his Warsaw speech was, the person who opened the jail cell so he could escape what would have been certain death in Treblinka. Alina has some pages of information that she will be sending Frank next week, documents that have information about the secretary from the borough who was probably the person who helped Frank.
Last time we talked, Frank sent me a link to an article called “Kałuszyn 1939. Polaków 3000, Żydów 6500,” which had a link at the end to the cemetery project run by Krzysztof Bielawski. Need to follow up to see if what Frank wrote is uploaded.
Dor – Dobraszklanka connection
Frank was contacted by a distant relative in Israel. Apparently a branch of the tree changed their original Dobraszklanka surname to Dor. I am going to email the person who contacted Frank to research this branch and put the gedcom file into a genealogy program so we can connect the dots. They are from Rypin and/or Lipno, where people in both Frank’s and my family come from. All the interconnectedness in this area of Poland — maybe at some point Frank and I can figure out how we are related!
Polish article translation
The peasants murdered Jews because of greed
I have to agree with Gross. Polish society is in some ways co-responsible for what happened on this earth. It is not we decided to exterminate the Jews, but to many murders have contributed to – he says historian Peter Zychowiczowi
Jan Tomasz Gross, “Golden harvest” wrote that the Poles could have murdered as many as 200 thousand Jews. Przeholował?
Skibińska Alina: Actually, at this stage of research would be difficult to defend such a number. Only a few years ago with colleagues from the Center for Holocaust Research we analyzed records of the so-called sierpniówek, a process brought to court after the war, among other crimes committed against the Jews. This material, however, is so huge that it requires a few more years of research before we can give a concrete figure.
So those 200,000 Gross himself invented?
No. It is based on a calculation. Indeed it is estimated that about 10 percent of Polish Jews held under the German occupation had fled before the German deportations. Or fled from the ghettos during the pacification of, or already transports to the camps themselves. So that gives you at least 250 thousand people. Of these, 250,000 after the war in the Central Committee of Jews in Poland, have registered more than 60,000.
What happened to the 190 thousand?
But whether they really were murdered by the Poles?
No. Many were wyłapanych in the first days or even hours after the escape of the German raid. These people were totally unprepared to escape, they had no hiding places, stores, often just wandering around the area. Concentrated in larger groups were an easy target for the Germans. Survived longer, only those who in the early days they managed to escape somewhere far from the site, or the pacification hid in their Polish neighbors. It was they who could later be killed at the hands of Poles or Polish as a result of denunciations.
How according to you could be such cases?
Tens of thousands. And rather more than less – certainly not 20,000. Moreover, even if in a few years will finish the examination of documents, and so did not we determine the exact number of Jews killed by Poles. It will only limit the minimum. Cause I do not after all the killings remained a trace archive. The killings may in fact occur in remote locations. The perpetrator or perpetrators buried the body and took the secret to the grave. In such cases, historians are helpless.
In what took place during the murders?
It began in 1942 when the Germans began to implement the “Final Solution of the Jewish question.”In the forests and villages came to Jewish refugees. This lasted until 1945. Apogee murders took place in 1943, that when the Jews already several months hiding in the Poles. In many cases, people who initially chose to help the Jews, after some time departed from this assistance. In general, threw the Jews from their hiding places and, in drastic cases, even kill them.
Between being righteous and the executioner was a fine line?
The human psyche is the carrying capacity. People took to the Jews themselves, thinking that all this will not last long, but with the prolonged war – and thus, the stress of the possibility of denunciation and fear of German reprisals – began to regret it. Besides the Jews ended funds, they became more and more weight. The most effective was to help with humanitarian motives. These incentives are in fact generally not exhausted. These people helped Jews unconditionally. Those who hoped that by adopting a Jewish home, earn, resigned after some time.
Examined the records of your processes from the area of post-war Kielce. How many were there such things?
In the three courts were held in Kielce, more than 450 cases of murder and denunciation of the Jews. The vast majority, 70 percent, concerned events in the country. It was even a few thousand were murdered, often because once killed a whole group of people. Though the matter of the crime committed by the brothers from the community Siudaków Tuczępy. One of them took to the basement cells of the Jewish family of four …
I immediately knew that their murder?
Probably yes, because the crime occurred a few days. Talked to the complicity of her brother, who was with the partisans and was armed. One of them started to shoot through the door of the cell.Jews could not kill in this way, but were heavily wounded. Then the second brother went inside and finished the work of an ax. Zarąbał all four, including two children. Bodies have been robbed, and the brothers filled the underground cell. Then lived with these corpses under one roof, and neighbors saw the family in clothes far Siudaków killed. Their children wore clothes of Jewish children.
Who were the perpetrators of murders? Degenerates, thieves, alcoholics?
Parish priests behaved towards Jews, killing and passively tracking
Unfortunately not. There were also people from the margins, but generally these were so-called ordinary, decent citizens. I shared Polish perpetrators – this applies to crimes committed in the provinces – the four categories. The first is called.functionaries: village administrators, mayors, gajowi, firefighters, forest ranger. The second is the ordinary peasants. The third category: granatowi policemen. Finally, the fourth partisans of all formations, the Peasant Battalions, the National Armed Forces, Army, and even members of the Communist guerrillas.
Let’s start with the first category …
It happened that the mayor, for example – at the direction of the German police or on its own initiative – organized the hunt for fugitives in the woods. First was to gather in the village, which had come to the task assigned to the peasants. If they disagreed, which was frequent, the elder blackmailed them that they denounce the Nazis. Then, armed with sticks and pitchforks men hunted Jews. Trapped escorted to the nearest German police station. There are also cases that the peasants were caught at night detained in custody municipal and – at times, that under the influence of alcohol – they killed themselves. This, however, in contrast to the transfer of Jews to Germany, there had already been done publicly, in the face of the whole village. It was a murder with criminal.
They took part in all of women?
In the murder does not. It was a guy thing. However, in donosicielstwie, denunciations – the most.
You mentioned the guerrillas. I understand that killing Jews was a grassroots initiative of degenerate men with guns, and not filling orders commanders.
The documents in this process could be inferred. In the courtroom, however, these people are often accused by their superiors to issue such orders. Commanders always denied this and claimed that it was the initiative of the soldiers. The scenario was similar to those murders. Jews – mostly tailors and shoemakers – begged the guerrillas, to accept them into the branch. They were ready to perform auxiliary functions: to sew, cook. But partisans murdered and robbed them.
But in such cases should be careful not to act post-war process? Why frame him for these people communists, tried to prove that the underground soldiers were “fascists”?
This fundamental question that we set ourselves when we analyze each case, each trial records.This is easily verified by a careful reading. In most cases of wrabianiu no way. If indeed it was a crackdown on the independence of the underworld, the effect would be severe. And these people were sentenced to the low penalty. Mountain a few years, many of acquittal. The judges did not want to become them hurt. Moreover, many processes were accompanied by the exhumation.Place of burial of the bodies indicated the defendants themselves.
So do not miss the degeneration of war, even underground.
Unfortunately. Interestingly, there were often arguments that Jews were murdered as a “German informers” or ordinary bandits.
As for the so-called survival of the forest group, which attacked the Polish villages?
But these groups have to somehow provide! The peasants were their only chance. Some nights they spent in the woods, and days worked for the Poles. Engaged in craft occupations in return for food. Some begged, or traded. Others, I do not deny, indeed, acquire the power supply. They were, however, people backs to the wall. In a hopeless situation. Condemned to death, outside the law.Members of the Polish underground should take this fact into account.
A navy-blue police?
Among the officers of that service also, unfortunately, there were torturers. And it’s not necessarily acting on the instructions of the Germans. Soltys, or mayor, when received a denunciation that hides within it a Jew, he could summon the German navy officer, or policeman. Often chose the former. Then, solving the problem among themselves. This policeman came to the same place and, somewhere off the beaten track, included a execution. After the death of the victim undressed.Clothes and shoes were given as payment to those who zakopywały body. Such matters are not informed of Germans and Poles who hid Jews, nothing happened.
But that’s not proof that Jews were hiding safe. Assuming a Jew, a Pole, he could not predict whether the mayor will call police or gendarme.
Agreed, but people who hid Jews really not so much afraid of the Germans as their neighbors. The military police arrived to the village, only a denunciation received. Germany came from a distant village for half an hour, an hour. Pulled out of hiding Jews, have made a short interview, then executed and returned to the station. It would not be that, if not denunciation Pole.
But this would not be denounced, if not for the German plan to murder Jews and introduced by the occupying Germans rules!
Of course, the Poles suddenly began to rob the Jews, because they reflected something. Before the war, this is not done, nay, did not do it even before the year 1942. This is a German occupation policy led to this situation. Destruction of the work is, after all the eyes of Polish peasants. They saw the pacification, killings, raids, often ordered them to supply the wagons, which were necessary for deportation. Received a clear message: the Jews can be murdered with impunity.
But why is it doing?
There are two main themes. First of all, fear – from the Germans and the secondary, resulting from orders of the occupation – from neighbors. Secondly, and probably the key to understanding this terrible phenomenon – the murderers led greed. Killing a Jew or denouncement was simply a way to get rich quick, improved financial situation. Participation in obławach, catching the Jews by the Germans were rewarded. Small amounts of money, alcohol, sugar, cigarettes. Hoped, however, primarily on the assumption that what the Jews had with him. Cash and jewelry. Even the clothes and shoes accounted for the valuable booty.
After the crisis of the 30s poverty in the countryside until it screamed.
Yes, they were poor, uneducated people. Please do not forget that a certain percentage of Jews living in the countryside. Then in Polish hands passed all of their homes with everything that was inside. The answer to the question why is this a sinister twist. German approval for the murder of a certain category of people, plus simple human greed. It was a temptation to which many people been able to resist.
So if the Indians, Negroes, Indians or anyone else hiding in the woods, part of the Polish peasants would retain the same?
If they have put those people outside the law – I have no doubt that it is. In certain extreme situations, people ruled by a primitive, primitive feelings. In the countryside, where education level was significantly lower, and people on a daily interacted with cruelty (even to animals), the occurrence of such phenomena is particularly likely.
So it’s no ecclesiastical anti-Judaism and the influence of the National Democratic Party, according to some historians, were the cause of these killings?
These arguments need to be considered. Currently available sources, that the parish priests behaved towards Jews, killing and passively tracking. But it is difficult to draw any conclusions until the church will not open their archives. However, I think the primary reason for killings that took place in the Polish countryside, was just the rudeness and greed murderers. They were often illiterate. The people who killed Jews at Treblinka, or digging around in search of gold teeth – as Gross writes – probably not read the books or pamphlets endeckich. They were not ideologically motivated, just wanted to get rich.
Do more Poles helped the Jews, whether they murdered?
I’m afraid that this balance is not positive for us.
It is easier to be a pig than a hero?
Probably yes. For hiding Jews was punishable by death, and their penalty killing was not any. Not only that, the murderer could expect rewards. Poles who chose to save the Jews, so they had to reckon with the fact that it will share their fate. Moreover, in small villages, there was social approval and denouncing the killing of Jews, and the rescue of such consent was not. After the arrival of the Red Army, the Poles asked Jews to leave their homes quietly, so that the neighbors have not figured out that I hid from them. Many people for many years afraid to admit that he helped.
And yet, among these simple people were Polish peasants, who in the name of Christian love of neighbor risked rescue.
And as a result of the relationship, some people engage in this assistance in a manner almost incredible. They did it with great determination and dedication, completely selfless, saving more and more people. I know of examples of people who helped during the occupation of dozens of Jews!Maria Szczecin with Staszow, a widow living with children, in the basement of his home for over two years kept the 14 people! The only money they przyjmowała were intended for food for them …
Such cases against the background of all these horrors permit unless the belief in man.
Oh, yes. This is proof that you have a moral backbone, which nothing can shatter. Another case: a Polish old man from Checiny, Charles Kicinski, he was completely deprived of his livelihood. And yet, he rescued two people … i going to beg. Also wandered through the fields, digging potatoes and beets. The situation was so dramatic that when the policemen shot and killed a dog one day this man, this dog was by him and hiding him Jews eaten. Once he even came to him, “the boys out of the woods” and tried to force the Jews to give a beating. But he is not bowed.
I guess that’s what I have the greatest claim to Gross, in his book that presented the relations between Poles and Jews in the countryside completely unilaterally. Only through the prism of murder. His book shows the Poles as antisemites wild tribe, which is jointly responsible for the Holocaust …
I’m afraid that I agree with Gross. Polish society really is because in some ways co-responsible for what happened on this earth. Of course, not for decision-making phase. Without the Germans and their plans, with no occupation and rights introduced by them this whole nightmare could not exist.It’s not about this we decided to exterminate the Jews, but unfortunately many have contributed to murder. We can not today, for patriotic reasons, close to the eye.
Such an approach is completely at odds with the current vision of the years of occupation …
I must say that I was very surprised by all this. The materials relating to crimes against Jews, the Poles made the province came into contact for the first time in 2002. Earlier papers on this subject were in the archives of the Central Commission for the Investigation of Crimes against the Polish Nation and were not available. Only when the IPN was, I got the briefcase in hand. When I read the file first case, I thought I was dealing with something completely unique. That I came to the event, that nobody knows that it’s a big sensation. Then, however, opened the briefcase and another one … I must admit that I was and am horrified by the contents. Human swamp … These securities have fundamentally changed my previous view on the German occupation.
But murderers were and are in every nation. Even now in Poland comes to robbery killings.
Agreed, but please remember that the crimes of which we speak, they had a mass character. Was not involved in a lot of people. So my fear is that we give up our well-being and verifiable assessment of their own nation and his attitude during the war. We must acknowledge that the Poles were subject to exactly the same processes of social psychology, like other nations. That war demoralize many of them missed. Human reactions in certain situations are exactly the same, regardless of what language is spoken. Among the Poles were the heroes, but they were also the bandits. The Polish people, unfortunately, nothing special, what would that distinguished us from other nations.
Is that what you say is true also of the Jewish people?
I suppose that if they switched roles, probably behave the same way as the Poles. But I want to be Stanley Milgram pointed out that what happened in the years 1933 – 1945, can be fully understood only as an expression of a unique historical process which will never be repeated with accuracy.
Jan Tomasz Gross Why can not talk about these things as you? Do not you think that doing a serious disservice to historians? It uses your research to draw exaggerated conclusions, which leads to the Poles only defense mechanism.
No, quite the contrary. We appreciate Gross. But thanks to him for the painful problems of society are discussed, they write about their high-volume newspaper, on television programs are made. It is due to Gross books on Polish-Jewish relations are not printed in 500 copies and are not subject to discussion only a narrow group of specialists. Gross impetus is much greater than the force ślęczących breakthrough year in the archives and writing a balanced work of historians.
I do not claim to Gross, that he ever said. I mean, he says. His radical thesis and generalizations rather not provoke the Poles for reflection. Only cause resentment.
This is a method to which he is fully entitled. Unfortunately, today only if it is controversial, but if it produces the emotions, can provoke a broad discussion. But if everything is niuansuje, raises question marks everywhere, it is doomed to be niche.
And it says the professional historian? But the most important thing should be true!
But what does Gross, is an entirely different type of writing. Gross himself has called his book an essay, not a scientific work. I wrote this essay in a way that all of us – regardless of the views – is moving. That he probably will not refuse you.
Alina Skibińska is a historian Center for Holocaust Research Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, also works as a Polish representative of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. Specializes in Polish-Jewish relations during World War II. Together with James Petelewicz investigated crimes committed against Jews by Poles in the region Swietokrzyskie Republic
Going to Australia!
Nuts and Bolts
It looks like I am really going to book a trip to Australia for either April or May or June of this year to visit my friend Frank and help him with his archive / treasure trove of documents. I don’t like traveling much but I am sort of getting excited about making the trip and meeting Frank in person after all this time.
I asked a couple of the bankers I work with who are Australians for advice on which airline to take and how to deal with the long flight. I’m thinking of taking New Zealand Air because it looks a bit cheaper and I thought at first it was the airline with the most options of connecting flights to Melbourne from LAX. One of the guys told me about Flight Stats, so I checked that out for all the <gasp!> direct flights LAX to Melbourne. I didn’t know about this website beforehand so that’s very good to know. These bankers travel so much / so often they probably have loads of helpful links like this.
I thought I should use a blog to keep track of some of the work we are doing. Now I think back on it I should have been documenting our work all along but I haven’t been that organized — and WordPress hasn’t been as easy to use as it is now. I had such a good time using WordPress for my internship blog using it again seems to make sense.
And as far as missed opportunities: oh well, at least going forward this blog can exist. I plan on using it as a record of our work together as well as an organizational tool to keep track of things — hopefully.
After talking with Frank tonight it also finally dawned on me that I needed to set up a domain and really get serious about his website.
So the Frank Dobia Archives now has a domain name home (under construction): www.frankdobia.com.
- Frank talked about a book that is coming out called Golden Harvest. It will be in Polish and will be about how Poles treated Jews in WWII. The real deal.
- Article on Frank on Bad Arolsen’s website, which I ran across tonight. Worth a read if you are interested
- Frank found this article in one of the major Polish newspapers he reads: Kałuszyn 1939. Polaków 3000, Żydów 6500
- The last page of the above article has a link to another website: Kirkuty – cmentarze żydowskie w Polsce – Jewish cemeteries in Poland
Frank contacted the webmaster of the Kirkuty website. They talked about the cemetery in Skarżysku-Kamiennej where Frank worked as a captured prisoner during the war, breaking apart Jewish headstones for use as road paving stones. The webmaster sent Frank a link to one of the headstones that remained because it was too thick and big to be broken apart. It’s one of those big tree ones.
I am not sure but I think Frank is going to share some of his information about the Golub-Dobrzyń cemetery. It would be a good thing to have as much information in one place as possible. All of these Polish websites, run oftentimes by non-Jews living in Poland, are a real blessing for those of us doing research online.
set up this blog (stole tree background from here: thank you!)
Frank visited ITS* last year. This is an article they wrote about his visit.
*The International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen serves victims of Nazi persecutions and their families by documenting their fate through the archives it manages. The ITS preserves these historic records and makes them available for research.
Frank Dobia had an instinct for the moment. He always managed to escape certain death during the Holocaust. The Australian is the sole survivor of a Jewish family from Pomerania. Yesterday he viewed original documents on his imprisonment in the concentration camp Buchenwald and on his family´s fate. “I had heard a lot about Bad Arolsen,” said Dobia. “Now I wanted to see the archive with my own eyes.”
The Buchenwald survivor has made it his mission to share his experiences with others. Knowledge of the destruction of European Jewry by the Nazis is a personal matter to him: “I could talk for hours,” said Dobia. “I want survivors to know what happened to their families.” He would also like Germans to grapple with “the deeds of their forefathers.”
Persecution of Jews in Dobia´s hometown of Dobrzyn (Dobrin) began shortly after the Wehrmacht invasion on September 11, 1939. Four days later the first 270 Jews were deported and shot, among them Dobia´s older brother Kalman. His grandparents suffered the same fate in November. The rest of his family was deported to the Plock Ghetto in 1939 and subsequently the Chielmnik Ghetto in 1941. Dobia managed to find shelter with a farmer nearby and worked in the farmyard. “That was dangerous as we were not allowed to leave the ghetto. But there was no fence,” reported Dobia.
He tried to reach his family when the ghetto was liquidated, but police had surrounded the area and no one was allowed in or out. Dobia´s parents and both his siblings were transported to the Treblinka death camp. Fifteen year old Frank, who was still known as Icek, was on his own. His family had ceased to exist.
Time and again Dobia managed to elude death. When the Stopnica Ghetto was liquidated, he hid in a shack and fled to the Polish part of town, where he posed as a farmhand. “I could speak Polish like the farmers and fluent German, which helped me,” said Dobia. He volunteered for work which was vital to the war effort and kept a low profile during raids. Dobia was forced to dig anti-tank barriers before he was sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp on December 24, 1944.
“I contracted typhus there and was not aware of much else,” he confessed. He was transferred to Block 66, which housed many Jewish children and youth from eastern Europe. The Communist resistance within the camp tried to save the youths, not least by organizing additional rations for them. Shortly before the approach of the American Army, Dobia was to go on a death march, yet he was once again able to hide.
Dobia the survivor was even able to elude the US Army immediately after the liberation. The concentration camp prisoners were not to leave the camp due to the risk of an epidemic. Dobia pretended that he and a friend had to dispose of some waste and slipped past the soldiers. “I struggled through the weeks ahead. Most of the Germans were a little afraid of me,” reports Dobia. After several stops along the way he found a temporary home in a Displaced Persons camp near Munich.
On December 31, 1948, Dobia landed in Australia, his new home. A distant cousin who had emigrated before the outbreak of the Second World War had read about Dobia in a Jewish newspaper and obtained immigration papers for him. “He had served in the Australian Army so there were no problems,” said Dobia. The young immigrant met his wife in Melbourne and they have been married for 57 years. They have three children. “In the meantime I have eleven grandchildren!” Despite his lack of school-leaving qualifications, Dobia succeeded in creating an immigrant´s dream career, from a simple worker in a meat factory to vegetable shop owner to a businessman. “My company tendered for the supply of various goods to the countries that had loans from the World Bank.”
Dobia has never forgotten his beginnings; the Australian is still retracing his history throughout Europe. The 84-year old came to Germany in order to attend the ceremony marking the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Buchenwald. “I will never stop looking for documents because they contain the undeniable truth.”
This is a translation of a speech Frank gave at the University of Warsaw in November 2001.
Dzieci Holocaustu Mówią (“Holocaust Children Speak”)
The book “Dzieci Holocaustu Mówią” I’ve received today the 17th of June 2008. The stories in this book, all written in Polish, are from children who survived the Holocaust. On page 265 is my homage to a woman (Magda’s mother, a partner in DBM who was supposed to have assisted Saba’s cousin to survive) who received this honor from Yad Vashem as a The Righteous Amongst the Nations due to my efforts in Jerusalem. Below is my translation of the story, as written in this book in Polish by Katarzyna Meloch. My homage is named “Uciekaj Synku.”
Run Son! (Uciekaj Synku!)
On the 28 November 2001, A Day of Young Israel was celebrated for the first time at the University of Warsaw. The patron for this celebration was the President of the University, the Honorable Professor Piotr Weglenski. In the University Hall, named after dJózef Brudziński and located inside the Kasimir Palace, M/S Bat Aden, the Charge D’Affaires of Israel presented Yad Vashem medals to a few Polish people who had rendered assistance in the rescue of Polish Jews during the Holocaust.
At this Yad Vashem medal presentation, a newcomer from far away Australia appeared amongst the Righteous. He spoke to us in the old Polish language. Frank Dobia, a Holocaust survivor, came to Poland to personally pay tribute to The Righteous Amongst the Nations.
Turning towards them directly, he said:
Words cannot express enough gratitude to you for your humanitarian acts and your behavior during these terrible times for us. The medals presented to you are insufficient. Your palms should carry sceptres and on your heads should be crowns, because this was not only a fight for a people’s rescue, but a fight for human dignity, for people believing in virtue over wrong. For us, the Polish and Jewish people, there is so much more that unites us than divides us.
And about himself he said:
I was orphaned at a very critical time in my youth. Instead of having a family upbringing, in a home with familiar surroundings, my upbringing was the street, the ghettos and concentration camps. This was my living experience, my living tutorial. But growing up in this way, very quickly taught me of how to differentiate between good from bad people.
Afterwards was the story of an Australian, about a thirteen year old Jewish boy during the war.
Two months into the war I was already doomed to roam around in unusual surroundings as an evicted and displaced person, being driven from my family home to Płock. The period after the second eviction from Płock into Chmielnik in 1941, was even a lot worse. The poverty was horrendous, the hunger, the filth is undescibable in the Chmielnik ghetto, and finally towards the end of it typhus broke out as well.
A villager offered me a job on his farm in Kargów. I agreed right there and then. One evening the village administrator came and delivered an order that I had to leave the village and go back to Chmielnik. Early in the morning I returned back to town and on this day there was a jarmark (the town market day). The peasants from around the villages were sitting on their horse drawn carts on the outside of town. They were not allowed into town because the ghetto was already surrounded and the deportation known as “action” under the German pretext of re-settlement to the East but in fact the deportation was to Treblinka was. We did not know at the time of Treblinka, nor what was going on in Treblinka.
My desire was to be together with my family. I did try to get into the ghetto. I was not successful. The guards surrounding the ghetto started shooting towards me. I moved back into the crowd of villagers, mixing again with the peasants on the outskirts of town. It was late at night when I got back to my village and slept as usual in the barn. Early in the morning the village administrator was on the outside of the barn and roared for me to come out. I jumped out of the barn and the village administrator ran after me. He caught me. Beaten and hobbled, I was taken to his house. He harnessed his horse to the cart and carried me all tied up to the village Tuczępy, the gmina shire, where I was thrown into the jail.
Does it make any sense remembering such an event that happened sixty years ago? Yes, it does. I keep telling and repeating this story, and not just in Poland, of what a The Righteous Amongst the Nations did for me during those terrible years. I tell my children and grandchildren, so that in future they shall tell to their children about this man in Tuczępy who is now deeply engraved in my memory. I tell the world about this gmina secretary, who on the day when I was thrown into the gmina jail, that in the evening twilight, drew the jail door open and whispered “Run Son, and may G-d’s mercy be with you.”
I apologize to you, my dear secretary, for not remembering your honorable name and for not bestowing you with the medal of The Righteous Amongst the Nations with which you also should be honored. I swear that I did try to find you, but could not trace you.
Your chest will not today wear the badge of the Righteous that you so fully deserve but I do fondly remember you and reminisce about you here, at this ceremony amongst the circle of the Righteous because you are now encircled by them.
I still think and meditate over whether there was someone else that may have talked you into this noble act or perhaps someone else closely involved in your decision to draw this iron jail door open, so that I could withstand the test of those years and survive to keep telling this story. This we will never find out now.
I know for sure that you waited until the twilight of the day so that nobody would notice you opening the jail door, because in the morning I was supposed to be handed over to the Gestapo and my fate would have been different.
I would also like you to know that present at this ceremony is the Chief Executive Official the “Wojt” Labecki from your shire. This Chief Executive did not know you but I told him about you a long time ago and about your noble act during my search for you.
Lay peacefully in your eternal sleep my dear secretary, in the knowledge that I do remember you and continue to think of you, though I am unable to bestow this The Righteous Amongst the Nations medal on you, my debt to you for saving my life. I beg of you, you present The Righteous Amongst the Nations, to let this noble man, this unknown secretary from the Tuczępy village shire, join with you in this ceremony today.
Frank heard back from Alina Skibińska. She sent Frank the documents he requested. The following is the deposition of the man that it is thought saved his life and freed him from jail and a most certain death at Treblinka.
The following is the Polish original and Frank’s translation of the deposition of Stefan Zarzycki:
Zeznanie Stefana Zarzyckiego, z dn. 10 X 1949 t.
Rozprawa glowna, Sad Apelacyjny w Kielcach:
W czasie okupacji pracowalem w Tuczepach jako sekretarz Zarzadu Gminnego.
Zajmowalem mieszkanie przy biurze. Pozna jesienia 1943 r. zobaczylem, ze wkierunku Zarzadu Gminnego ciagnie korowod ludzi. Poszedlem wtedy do izby biurowej, a za chwile weszla tam grupa ludzi mowiac, ze przyprowadzili Zyda celem osadzenia go w areszcie i wydania wladzom niemieckim.
Z kim wtedy rozmawialem nie moge sobie przypomniec. Czy byl tam Siudak nie wiem. Przedtem moglem powiedziec zle.
Siudak, ktorego tutaj teraz widze nie byl tym z ktorym wowczas rozmawialem gdy przyprowadzono mi Zyda, to nie byl on na pewno. Dawniej bylem pod psychoza. Ewentualnie mogl byc w grupie ludzi, lecz ja go nie zauwazylem, bo bylo duze zbiegowisko.
Odmowilem przyjecia Zyda i wyszedlemprzed budynek. Zobaczylem tam takze ludzi z Wierzbicy i przyprowadzonego Zyda. Zyd byl czlowiekiem przeszlo czterdziestoletnim, byl obdarty, boso, a naplecach mial worek. Mowiono, ze byl zebrakiem.
Poniewaz odmowielem przyjecia Zyda zaprowadzono go do soltysa Wierzbicy, a pozniej gdzies dalej.
W kilka dni po tym wypadku mowiono, ze jakis osobnik zostal zabity w lesie. Mowiono takze, ze Siudakowie brali udzial w tym zabojstwie. Pozniej dowiedzialem sie, ze zabojstwa dokonano jakoby z rozkazu Jana Furtaka z Wierzbicy. Komu Jan Furtak mial wydac ten rozkaz nie wiem. Gdy mowiono w zwiazku z zabojstwem o Siudakach, imion ich nie wymieniano. Ja znam dwoch Siudakow.
W kilka dni po zabojstwie 2 Zydowek chodzila pogloska, ze Stefan Borek dal rozkaz swym podwladnym aby je zlikwidowali. Slyszac te pogloske zapytalem Borka, czy to on dal taki rozkaz. Na to Borek odpowiedzial mi: ‘Niech pan nie bedzie taki madry, bo za 24 godziny moze pan byc krotszy o glowe’.
O rodzinie Strumpfow slyszalem, ze zostala wymordowana. O tym, ze Jozef Siudak przechowywal u siebie rodzine rydowska nie slyszalem.
Miejscowosc Tuczepy polozona jest w lasach, wiec na jej terenie i w okolicy przebywaly rozmaite grupy partyzanckie.
Wiem, ze Borek, ktory byl moim rowiesnikiem nalezal do jakiejs organizacji.
Mnie, ktory na terenie Tuczep mieszkalem od stycznia 1925 r. grozil na smao pytanie.
Takze rola soltysa Leona Krawczyka byla bardzo trudna. Jemu ze wszystkich stron rozkazywano i grozono. W gminie byly obwieszczenia, ze zaden Zyd pod grozba kary nie moze przebywac na terenie wsi. W tym czasie poczeto wlasnie robic poszukiwania za Zydami. Leon Krawczyk, ktory nie byl antysemita, lecz byl dobrym Polakiem i dbal o ludnosc byl pod naciskiem i musial sie z tym liczyc. Byly odprawy na ktorych rozkazywano pod grozba pozbawienia zycia i spalenia wsi wydac wszystkich Zydow.
Uwazam, ze na takiej odprawie byl i Krawczyk. Krawczyk zwracal sie nie raz o rady i korzystal z nich.
Gdy dowiedzialem sie o tym, ze straz szukala Zydow, zapytalem Leona Krawczykaczy to prawda. Krawczyk odpowiedzial mi, ze tak, ze mial takie polecenie, lecz nikomu przy tym krzywda sie nie stala, bo sam przy poszukiwaniach byl do konca i pilnowal, by jakis Zyd nie ucierpial.
Krawczyk mial na celu obrone ludznosci przed represjami ze strony Niemcow i nie powodowal sie niechecia do Zydow.
W powiecie buskim byl wypadek, o ktorym wiedzielismy, ze niemcy rozstrzelali czlowieka, ktory przechowywal Zyda. Mialo to miejsce w Zborowie.
Na terenie naszej gminy Niemcy rozstrzelali grupe Cyganow.
Komendantem strazy pozarnej byl dowodca NSZ organista Chlond i ten wydawal rozkazy strazy, a nie Krawczyk.
Strozowanie nocne bylo zarzadzone przez Niemcow i gdyby pelniacy warte nie wypelniali swoich obowiazkow, byliby odpowiedzialni przed Niemcami.
Gromada Tuczepy liczyla podczas okupacji okolo 500 mieszkancow.
Najblizszym miasteczkiem jest Szydlow oddalony o 7 km.
Akcje odstawiania Zydow do getta prowadzili na terenie gminy soltysi z rozkazu Niemcow, lecz bez ich udzialu. Zydow odstawiano podwodami do Olesnicy, a stamtad pozniej do Stopnicy.
Bylo zarzadzenie, ze jezeli okaze sie, ze jakis Zyd pozostal, to trzeba odstawic go do getta do Stopnicy.
This is Frank’s Polish to English translation:
The witness deposition of Stefan Zarzycki on the 10 October 1949. The main hearing in the Appeal Court in Kielce.
During the war I worked in Tuczępy as the secretary of the “gmina” [community parish office]. I lived in the quarters near the office. Late in the autumn in the year 1943 I noticed a procession of people coming towards the community office. I went into the office and a little while afterwards a group of people said that they brought with them a Jew for arrest and to hand him over to the German authorities. With whom I spoke at the time I do not remember. Whether Siudak was there I do not know. In the previous investigation I may have said wrong.
Siudak, the one I see here now, was not the one with whom I spoke with, at that time when the Jew was brought before me – that is for sure. At that time I was psychotic [under extreme stress]. He may have been in the group of people but I did not see him. This was a large group that convened. I refused to accept this Jew and walked out to be in front of the building. I saw there also people from Wierzbica and the Jew that was brought with them. The Jew was over forty years old, he was ragged, barefoot, carried a bag on his back. It was said that he was a beggar.
Because I refused to accept the Jew, he was taken to the “soltys” [the village elder] in Wierzbica and afterwards somewhere further. A few days after this event it was being said that some person was killed in the forrest. It was said also that the Siudaks took part in this manslaughter. Later on I learned that this murder was brought about on the orders of Jan Furtak from Wierzbica. Who received this order from Jan Furtak I don’t know. When there was talk connected to the murder about the Siudak brothers their names were not mentioned. I know only two Siudaks.
A few days after the murder of two Jewish women it was rumoured that Stefan Borek gave the order to his subordinates to liquidate the Jewesses. When I heard this rumour I asked Borek whether he issued such an order. To this Borek responded, “Dont be so smart because in 24 hours you can be shorter by a head.” About the family Sztrumpf I heard that they were murdered. That Jozef Siudak hid within his house a Jewish family I did not hear. The municipality of Tuczępy is in the forrested area, and in this area and in its surrounds were various groups of partisans. I know that Borek being of my age belonged to some organisation. I, who lived in the area of Tuczępy since January 1925, he treatened just because I asked a question.
The role of the “Soltys,” Leon Krawczyk, was a very difficult one. He was threatened and various orders were issued to him. In the “gmina” [community parish office] there were anouncements that no Jew is allowed to remain in the village area by order of severe punishment. At that time searches for Jews began to be carried out. Leon Krawczyk was not an anti-Semite, but was a good Pole and cared for the people was under pressure and had to take this into consideration. There were briefings and orders given: under punishment of death and burning down all of the village all Jews had to be handed over. I think that on such a briefing Krawczyk was there. Krawczyk not just once came for advice and acted according the advice.
When I learned that the Fire Brigade was searching for Jews, I asked Leon Krawczyk whether it is true. Krawczyk told me that he did have such an order but no harm occured to anybody, because he was there during the searches, and watched over them to make sure that no Jew suffered. Krawczyk’s aim was of caring for the people against the repressions of the Germans and he was not reluctant towards the Jews. In the district of Busko was a case of which we knew, that the Germans shot a Pole for hiding a Jew. This happened in Zborów.
In our area in the parish of Tuczępy the Germans shot a group of gypsies. The commandant of the Fire Brigade was the leader and organist named Chlond. It was him that issued the orders to the Fire Brigade and not Krawczyk.
The night watch was administered by the Germans and if the selected night watch would not fulfil their orders they were then responsible to the Germans. During the occupation the Tuczępy village consisted of 500 souls. The nearest little town was Szydłów, seven kilometeres away. The action of delivering Jews from a village to the ghetto was the responsibility of the “Soltys”on the order of the Germans without their participation. The Jews were transported by horse and cart to Oleśnica and afterwards to Stopnica. There was an order if a Jew remained somewhere he had to be delivered to the ghetto in Stopnica.
Frank received a second email from Alina Skibińska on the same day (23 January 2011). This email contained additional information. In the email, Alina sent the text of Stefan Zarzycki’s deposition, which he did as a witness in the court case against Jan Siudak and others. The evidence about the place of his residence and about his employment comes from the evidence when he submitted his deposition in August 1948:
Residing: Busko-Zdrój, M. Zymierskiego Street 4
Employment: Secretary of the Busko district
Education: secondary school, married, three persons [don’t know whether this means that he had three children or whether he and one child are the three persons]
Property owner: 1.5 hectare of land.
Text of the evidence presented 7 August 1948:
In the year 1942 being in the employment as a secretary of the Community Board in Tuczępy, district of Busko, at that time came the citizen Jan Siudak residing in Wierzbica, parish of Tuczępy, district of Busko and declared that they brought a Jew. I, knowing the torment the Germans inflict on the Jewish population I refused to accept the Jew. I went outside and saw next to the jail the Jew which his name was unknown to me [word unreadable] worn out, barefooted, crying over his misfortune. With this Jew, apart from Jan Siudak, was another person unknown to me and people observing this phenomenon. In the presence of all gathered I declared that I will not accept this Jew into arrest and carried this out. Afterwards, Jan Siudak together with others took the Jew to the Wierzbica village. What happened further I do not know.
Subsequently I heard from people in Tuczępy area that this mentioned Jew, that was brought here by Siudak was killed, but where or by whom I do not know. I also heard that, that apart from this case, the family Sztrumpf was also murdered whilst hiding from the Germans in the Zapusty village parish of Tuczępy.
Who were the murderers I don’t know and was very difficult to find out.
Alina said that Stefan Zarzycki testified again as witness in the main trial before the court. The text above is from the investigation. She sent this separately the next day.
Rodzice: Jozef i Waleria z Piotrkowskich ur. 30 sierpnia 1906 r. w Szydlowie pow
Busko miejsce zamieszkania: Busko-Zdroj, ul. M. Zymierskiej nr. 4
Praca: sekretarz wydzialu powiatowego w Busku wyksztalcenie srednie zonaty, 3 osoby [nie wiem, czy to znaczy,ze mial troje dzieci?, czy on, zona i jedno dziecko to te trzy osoby? – to jest niejednoznaczne]
Stan majatkowy: 1,5 ha ziemi
Tresc zeznania z 7 sierpnia 1948:
Wroku 1942 ja pracujac w charakterze sekretarza Zarzadu Gminnego w Tuczepach pow. Busko w czasie tym do kancelarii przyszedl ob. Siudak Jan zam. Wierzbica gm. Tuczepy pow. Busko ktory oswiadczyl mnie, ze przyprowadzil Zyda. Ja znajac znecanie sie przez Niemcow na osobach narodowosci zydowskiej odmowilem przyjecia takowego. Po wyjsciu ujrzalem obok aresztu tegoz Zyda ktorego nazwiska nie znam. [… – slowo nieczytelne] byl zniszczony i bosy, placzac nad swa niedola. Z Zydem tym oprocz Siudaka Jana byl takze nieznany mi osobnik jak rowniez im osoby przypatrywajace sie temu zjawisku. W obecnosci tychze oswiadczylem, ze Zyda tego do aresztu nie przyjme, co uczynilem. Nastepnie Siudak Jan wraz z innymi spowrotem tegoz Zyda zabrali do wsi Wierzbica i co dalej sie stalo nie jest mi dotychczas wiadomo. Nastepnie z odglosow ludzi na terenie Tuczep slyszalem, ze wspomniany Zyd ktory ktorego przyprowadzilow Siudak Jan zostal on zabity lecz gdzie i przez kogo nie jest mi wiadomym. Slyszalem takze, ze oprocz tego zostala wymordowana rodzina Sztrumpfow, ktora przechowywala sie przed wladzami niemieckimi we wsi Zapusty gm. Tuczepy. Mordercami tymi kto byl nie wiem, gdyz trudnym bylo to do zbadania.