Birth date and place: 9 March 1913, Dabrowa Gornicza
Education: High School
Pre-war occupation: Worked in father's wholesale tobacco
War-time occupation: "Bantrup" - A construction
Pre-war residence: Dabrowa Gornicza
War-time residences: Dabrowa Gornicza, Sosnowiec, Oswiecim
Dabrowa Gornicza 1939-1943
the deportations began we lived more or less quietly. Later
the forced labor requirements (Arbeitseinsatz) began in
the autumn 1941. The Germans began to send young people
to labor camps.
On May 2, 1942 the Germans began the program of sending
people away from our city by "deportation" Aktions.
The procedure by which this was done was that the Judenrat
(Jewish Community Council) sent summonses to persons deemed
to be a burden upon the Community's social welfare program.
Those summoned had to report to a specific place from where
they were sent to an unknown destination. On May 2, 1942,
650 persons were deported.
here had been 4,500 Jews in Dabrowa when the Germans invaded.
For various trivial offenses, such as an incorrect blackout
or for buying bread from a private person without ration
stamps, the Gestapo arrested and held the victims in the
building of the Orphanage in Bedzin. This was the Umschlagplatz
(the Gathering Point) for Jewish victims for the entire
Zaglebie region. The people were held there and then transported
to an unknown location. The third deportation took place
on August 12, 1942. In the various communities of Zaglembie,
60,000 Jews were gathered on that day and at the same hour,
at 7 in the morning. This Aktion, too, took place in Dabrowa.
A representative of the Special Emissary (SS General Albrecht
Schmelt) whose name was Kuczynski arrived and began a "selection"
of the persons gathered. He divided the people into three
categories. The first category designated those persons
capable of working. The second category were persons called
"indefinite". The third category was for those persons selected
for "deportation". However, in the end, those
of the second category were joined to the third group. They
were all deported to an unknown destination. After that,
until the middle of 1943 there was quiet.
June 6, 1943 another Aktion occurred. On that day, 6,000
persons were deported from Bedzin and 2,000 others from
Sosnowiec. There was no Aktion in Dabrowa on that day. On
June 22, 1943 another deportation Aktion began in Bedzin
and Sosnowiec. During this Aktion old people and children
hid in bunkers. Because of this, the Germans seized 8,000
healthy people, persons who were usually left to continue
working. In the meantime the "Bantrup" company sent me and
20 other workers to the city of Oswiecim (Auschwitz) to
perform construction and general carpentry work. As a result,
we learned what the Germans were doing in the concentration
camp at Auschwitz. Our knowledge happened because, since
we had no place to stay for the night, we reported to the
Gendarmerie (Shutzpolizei) jail to find accommodations.
When we went to wash, we saw there torn Jewish prayer shawls
("taleses"), instead of towels, with which to wipe.
Later, in Oswiecim, I met civilians who worked with häftlinge
(prisoners) in the near-by camp. They told us that in the
concentration camp there they didn't see old people and
children in the camp, only young persons.
About this time, from the three ghettos in Dabrowa, Bedzin
and Sosnowiec - and several other towns in Zaglebie - there
was created a single ghetto in Srodula, a district of Sosnowiec.
There, 50,000 Jews were concentrated.
n August 1, 1943, after concentrating all these people,
the Gestapo with German police and SS, at 4 o'clock in the
morning surrounded us. No one could escape. Then the deportation
Aktion began. People were taken from the streets and houses,
at first 2,000 to 2,500 persons, and loaded in cattle cars.
A large number of trains were sent.
The Aktion lasted eight days during which time 45,000 persons
were deported. Some people hid in bunkers, some were permitted
to remain with the Liquidation Committee of the Judenrat.
Many Judenrat officials and members of the Jewish police
were most evil. They collaborated with the German authorities
Merin was the head of the Central Office of all the Judenräte
in East Upper Silesia. The office was located in Sosnowiec.
During the final deportation members of the Judenrat and
Jewish police were also deported.
here was present, during the first deportation, a certain
Gestapo police officer, Peikert by name. I worked for him
and, because he was pleased with my work, he promised that
nothing bad would happen to me. He promised me that he would
look for me in the camp. I went with the transport and we
arrived in Auschwitz on August 1, 1943. When we arrived
there and left the train, we heard shouts: "Put down
your belongings, put them down… you won't need them any
more". The shouts came from the so-called "Kanada Kommando"
- a group of prisoners who helped with unloading of wagons.
Infants of 3 to 4 weeks were taken from their mothers pulled
from their baby carriages and all were thrown into prepared
bags. The bags were loaded onto trucks waiting there. Then,
on the unloading platform nearest the camp, "selection"
begun. To the left and to the right, women where separated
from man. Later, from among them were selected those deemed
capable of work generally those 20-30 years of age. The
portion of those selected for work amounted to 18 to 20
percent of the persons who had arrived. Those selected as
being incapable of work were loaded onto trucks and taken
to a place then unknown to us. People capable of work, such
as I, were taken to a so-called "Sauna" for bathing, disinfection
and photographing. We were undressed and all our personal
belongings taken from us: jewelry, money, even bread. Other
prisoners cut our hair, tattooed an identifying number on
our arm, registered us into files of the Political Department
of the camp. We took a bath and were given a pair of pants
and a jacket. Tall persons got a small size and short persons
received a big size so to make us look funny. Barefoot and
without hats, we were driven to Block "A" where the quarantine
came to a barrack. The person in charge, the Blockältester
- a Jew - told us of regulations which were impossible to
endure. Among them were the requirement that all the persons
within a barrack (500-600 prisoners) had to move silently,
they must lie without moving on beds made out of cement
and boards. The punishment for spitting was 25 strokes with
a club, for failing to hear one's called number 25 strokes
plus breast-stroke exercises. After 5 minutes of breast-stroke
exercise a person would be exhausted for several days. There
were also other exercises held in mud. After two days in
quarantine, we received our first food; bread, though not
the 300 grams which we should have received, but only 150-160
grams. Margarine and jam we didn't get, because the block-guards
and kapos stole this. At 4 in the morning, a gong sounded
from assembly square. Within 3 minutes all prisoners had
to be ready and lined up. Then an SS-man named Perszel arrived.
If someone weren't standing exactly in the line, then Perszel
shot the person. People stood 4 to 5 hours on the rollcall
square ("Apelplatz"), barefoot in the mud. Prisoners
caught a cold, they were exhausted. Many people had cut
on their legs and heads. It wasn't possible to heal injuries
as there was no medical help. For an entire day, regardless
of the weather, all prisoners had to walk and lie on the
Apelplatz. There was no water in the camp. More than 50%
of people had swollen heads because of the heat. Some people
use their pulled-out pockets to soak them in the dirty,
clay-filled water to soak their heads. Because of that their
heads swelled so that their eyes were hard to see.
the third day we were taken to the unloading ramp to carry
stones. We had to carry the stones 30-35 km each day. A
vicious dog was set upon anyone who didn't keep in line.
After three weeks of work in the quarantine a camp official
named Fischer and the Camp Commander ("Lagerfuhrer")
Schwartzhuter appeared. They shouted: "All blocks assemble
at the Apelplatz". Again, a selection began. They noted
the prisoner numbers of those persons who appeared incapable
of work, the rest were left for the time being. Of the 9,000
prisoners who had arrived, 700 were left who were capable
After two days camp-guard Dr. Fischer appeared again to
make a selection. Weak and injured prisoners were selected,
in all up to 3,000 persons. We were convinced that they
were selected to be gassed because in the quarantine we
had received information from old prisoners about gas chambers
and crematoria. Moreover, we saw smoke from chimneys day
and night; we were aware of the stench of burning hair and
fter the fourth week in quarantine, we were to be deloused.
When we were marched between the men's and women's camps,
we saw through the barbed wire about 10,000 women standing
on the apelplatz, all naked. The camp's chief doctor (Standarzt)
and Lagerfuhrer Schwartzhuter were selecting for gassing
from among the women prisoners. Before evening we saw about
4,000 women in shirts being transported in trucks. Terrible
screams came from the vehicles. Having been some long time
in quarantine I began to be sent out to another area to
work, passing every day near the crematoria and thereby
coming into contact with prisoners who had been in the camp
earlier. I learned unbelievable things. There existed a
Special Work Group called the ("Sonderkommando"),
consisting only of Jews and only they worked in the crematoria.
Their task was to gas and burn their fellow Jews. The Sonderkommando
was completely isolated from all other commandos and was
guarded specially by SS-men. Every member of the Sonderkommando,
after three to four weeks of work, was gassed and cremated.
In their stead, another group of Jewish men were selected.
n order that the victims would go calmly into the gas chambers,
the ante-rooms of the gas chambers were prepared to look
like shower-baths. The SS ordered the victims to undress
there. There were separate ante-rooms for men and women.
From the undressing ante-rooms the victims were driven downwards,
to dimmed cellars. These were, in reality, the gas chambers.
In these chambers the nude men and women came together.
When chambers were filled, an SS-man poured through a little
opening in the roof a powder which produced the gas. After
ten minutes, adults were already dead, but small children
were still half alive. I learned this from Sonder-kommando
members who, despite their isolation, were in contact with
I saw through a window of a bath, which was situated a distance
of 100 meters away, how the victims were driven to their
deaths. Once, I witnessed a group of Italian Jews being
rom time to time, selections took place in the main camp
("Stammlager") at the point from which people
left for work. Prisoners with a high temperature were sent
to "Krankenban" (hospital), supposedly to be cured.
In practice, during selections these persons were added
to the group to be gassed. To deceive persons being sent
to their deaths, Doctor Fischer would order those who were
poorly dressed to be given a coat, "so that they wouldn't
catch cold". However, this ruse by now didn't mislead
the victims. Several times I witnessed the farewells of
selected fathers or sons.
One person so selected had been (the father of) the Director
of the hospital in Sosnowiec, Doctor Liberman. He took leave
of his own father, who was then led away. Also a man named
Miodownik from Dabrowa took leave of his own two sons. From
our transports after three of four months I had to look
carefully and long to meet familiar faces from Zaglembie.
I personally, succeeded in being saved thanks to this following
event: the police officer of the Gestapo, Peikert, arrived
and used his influence to have me sent to construction work
in the camp.
was in Auschwitz 1 year and 3 months; that is, from 1 August
1943 to 9 November 1944. At the beginning of summer 1944
there arrived in Auschwitz gigantic transports of Hungarian
Jews. From these transports about 35% were selected as capable
of working. The remainder was gassed. Even so, the Germans
couldn't burn the huge number of the bodies in the crematoria
ovens alone so they burnt many bodies in three pits in a
wooded area. These fires in the wooded areas were visible
for tens of kilometers away. To save time, the Germans threw
little children alive into these flaming pits. One of these
killers was SS Hauptscharfuhrer Moll, a sadist, who seized
little children by the hair and, with his pistol, shot the
child. During this time, I came by chance into the "Gypsy
Camp", which was situated nearest to the crematoria.
From there, I saw with my own eyes the incineration of Hungarian
Jews in the open air.
left Auschwitz in November 1944 and was sent to Gintergrub
- a camp in the vicinity of Ledzin, not far from Auschwitz.
Here conditions were not as bad as in Auschwitz. This was
a labor camp. We had better rations, even underwear. We
heard that that the gassing in Auschwitz had in general
(November 1944) stopped. I was in this camp until January
18, 1945. The Germans began to evacuate us deep into Germany,
near the border with Czechoslovakia. We were rushed on without
bread and or any food for 6 to 7 days, without suitable
places to sleep. The temperature was minus 25 Celsius (13
below zero F.). Daily, we were pressed to march 40 to 45
kilometers. Anyone who fell behind was shot. We left Gintergrub
in a column of 1,200. Only 650 of us arrived in Landeshut.
At Landeshut, there were no barracks. We were pushed into
a mine, from which minerals were taken from mineral waters.
After an hour of being in this mine, the conditions became
unbearably humid. Each of us experienced a rapid beating
of our hearts. We had to escape from there, but we were
beaten by back by SS men with clubs. We were threatened
by mass executions if anyone would approach the nearest
exit. Paying no attention to these threats and realizing
that death awaited us in either direction, so as to end
the torment we began to break the chain of SS-men so as
to escape outside.
The stronger among us trampled the weaker and reached the
nearest exit, where they could have a breath of fresh air.
In this stampede, 69 persons were killed and more than 300
were badly injured. We tried to rescue these victims since
among us prisoners were several doctors.
fter several days, 150 persons of those died. Next day we
were rushed on farther until on May 8, 1945 we arrived in
the community of Raspinau in the Sudetenland. Those who
arrived in Raspinau were only 150 of the 1,200 who left
Gintergrube. The largest number of those murdered had been
shot by the SS on the way. Among those who died was Doctor
Kobacz from Slovakia. He had been a doctor in Auschwitz
and had saved many people from selection. He was trampled
under foot in the mine. On the 9th day of May, at 4:30 o'clock
in the morning, the SS woke us up. One of them shouted that
we must be ready to march. We went out, convinced that we
would be further rushed away, but when we saw that there
was great confusion among the SS-men, we began to try to
escape. The SS-men killed another 10 persons. The rest of
In this manner, I was saved.