Name of deponent: Meryn family of Bedzin
Pre-war residence: ul. Zawale 14
Zawale street in Bedzin:
Dates of Birth: All 6 members of the family, Bedzin
1. Estera Meryn
2. Rywka Meryn, born 11 June 1906
3. Izrael Dawid Meryn, born 1907
4. Lejzor Meryn, born 1909
5. Aron Meryn, born 1913
6. Mojzesz Meryn, born in 1914
Parents names: Tobiasz Hersz. Mother Brajndla b. Paryzer.
Father died at home before deportation.
Mother was deported on September 6, 1943.
Presently (in 1945) live in Bedzin, ul. Malachowskiego 3/4.
During the entire occupation I worked for firms which were
deemed to be "Heereswichtig" (vital to the military). In
various round-ups, two of my brothers and one sister were
already in the Sosnowiec Dulager (transient camp from which
persons were sent for slave labor in Germany). Thanks to
the intervention of the employer of my brothers and sister
and thanks to money paid as bribes, they were returned to
our home and remained until the final "Judenrein" Aktion.
On May 17, 1943 we were moved to the Srodula ghetto on Langerweg,
presently ul. Poprzeczna. Because there was insufficient
living space, our family could find no room, so we had to
rebuild an apartment. During this work we decided to build
a hiding place (bunker) at the same time because there were
continually round-ups and deportations.
We built two cellars, the second next the first, so as to
mislead the Germans. They would look in the first bunker
and find nothing. The second hiding place was in the corner
under a bed. To enter this bunker it was necessary to go
through a mattress. No one would notice that there was a
hiding place because, by a lucky chance, the floor wasn’t
made of long pieces of wood. Instead, by necessity, the
entire floor had to be made from small pieces of wood. The
hiding place was 1 m. 80 cm. (6 feet) long and 1 m. 20 cm.
(4 feet) wide and 90 cm. (3 feet) high. Inside was neither
floor nor windows. For an air supply, we could open a cover
made from 4 short boards at the entry to our cellar. If
we heard some one approaching, the cover was lowered. We
remained in that space in that fashion during the deportation
Aktions of 22 and 24 June 1943.
Our father was alive at this time, suffering constantly
from pains in his bladder. We suffered much in the bunker
because of our ill father (there was no medical help). Father
died 9 July 1943.
In our house, we had prepared turns of guard duty because
we were afraid of deportation. On the first of August in
the morning, the person on duty woke us with the news that
the ghetto was surrounded by members of the German Army.
Quickly we took valises, put a little food and clothing,
took our pre-prepared pail of water and placed it in the
bunker as a first need.
First to enter the bunker was our mother. When we heard
shots, we all entered the bunker. At the same time, a neighbor
turned to us with the request that we allow him also to
take shelter. We agreed and he entered the bunker. Before
entering the bunker we didn’t close the front door to our
apartment. On the contrary, we even left the window open
so that the Germans might think we had escaped to the garden
since the open window went out to the garden’s side.
At 6 o'clock in the morning we heard the Germans break down
our neighbor’s door. After that, they came to our house,
shouting "Juden raus." When they saw no one, they pounded
on the floor with their rifle butts to see if there were
any hollow places under the floor.
After that, they lay down and looked under our low beds.
We could feel the pounding of their rifle butts. When they
left without finding anyone, other soldiers, in turn, entered.
Thus, we counted on that first day of the Aktion eleven
groups of soldiers having been in our apartment. Each group
found the first empty hiding place. They were convinced
that prior soldiers had removed the residents from this
The first of August was a sweltering day. Due to horrible
thirst and nervousness we drank all water. We also gave
out much urine so the air became more and more heavy. Our
tenant, Bine Cukierman, was terribly nervous, because he
didn’t know where his wife was. Accordingly, he wanted to
light a cigarette but because of the lack of air, it proved
to be impossible. There was nothing he could do with his
Moreover, we craved water and it was also necessary to provide
water for tomorrow's hiding since there were signs the Aktion
was still ongoing. Due to the need to risk life to obtain
some water, Izrael Meryn went out through the window to
the next yard. There, he entered an apartment formerly the
home of Jews now, unfortunately, deported. Luckily, he found
a whole barrel of water in the attic, since there, too,
had been a bunker. He took from this barrel a full pail
of water and brought it to our bunker. During that time,
the bunker was kept open and boards were up. During the
first night, no one else left the bunker.
On the following day from a neighboring bunker, the Jewish
woman, Cesia Dunska, emerged, together with her daughters,
because of lack of air. Dunska knew we had a hiding place,
but didn’t know where it was. She came to our apartment
and called: "Meryn" several times. We felt sorry for her,
particularly because her voice was familiar. We opened the
boards and recognized her. It was necessary now to let her
enter our bunker. She herself couldn’t enter because she
wasn’t able to lift the heavy mattress. Because we understood
that Dunska and her children now knew where our bunker was
located, we decided to let them in even if the air was very
bad. Three of us removed the cover to the cellar. We then
lifted the whole bed. Dunska first gave the children to
us and after that she entered. From this moment, we were
11 persons in the bunker. Five minutes after this achievement,
we heard several Gestapo persons enter our apartment. They
began to pound the floor. This was their usual trick because
on such pounding on the floor children, if they were in
a bunker, would begin to cry. But our children behaved bravely
and again the Germans left with nothing.
In the evening, while providing water and food for the next
day, we made contact with a neighboring bunker. Since in
one of these bunkers were two Jews who had been managers
of Rosner's workshop, our tenant Bine Cukierman decided
to join them and to go to this workshop tomorrow evening.
They were certain because of previous discussions with Rosner
that there they would be able to survive a longer time.
And so it proved to be, though until now, unfortunately,
all trace of them is lost. We were now in 10 persons in
On the fourth day, Izrael Meryn left the bunker before noon,
because he was very nervous and, like all of us, wanted
to learn what was happening. Near the exit he found a girl
named Spigler who had escaped from a transport column which
was being driven from their bunkers to a Gathering Point.
She asked our brother for help. Our brother took her and
hid her in the attic bunker since it wasn’t possible to
take her to our bunker due to lack of air.
Anyway in the attic from this moment was Izrael Meryn with
his brother Mojzesz. From the attic, we came into contact
with members of the Jewish police who were very helpful
in providing us with food. For several evenings, Izrael
Meryn came into contact with the Jewish police. One person
from the police introduced him as his friend Majer Erlich.
He introduced him under the pretext that he belonged to
a group of people liquidating the ghetto since there were
about 400 persons involved with the liquidation of the ghetto.
There, he ate supper and took food and water to us. The
Jewish police accompanied him en route to the garden.
This situation couldn’t last long because the commander
of the police was afraid of betrayal from among his own
colleagues of the police. He was afraid that the Germans
would accuse him of giving us help.
So we had to provide ourselves with food. Izrael Meryn and
his brother Aron went at night into the apartments of deported
persons in nearby buildings.
On the first evening when we entered such a house, inside
was dark. Suddenly from another room an indistinct figure
approached us. We were very frightened and immediately began
to retreat toward the door. When this happened the figure
realized we weren’t Germans so that, with a quiet voice
he said "Juden". This calmed us and we approached him. It
turned out that the figure was a resident of Bedzin named
Josef Feldgajer, 64 years of age. He told us that the Germans
had deported his entire family. He had escaped on the way
to the Assembly Point. He told us, too, that the Germans
had badly beaten him. On the way he had lost his hat and,
without the hat had managed to escape he return to his own
This had occurred the previous day. Feldgajer had already
spent one night in his own bunker. He told us that he arose
at daybreak, about 3 AM and cooked with his stove potatoes
for the entire day. He intended to do this each day. He
wasn’t afraid that smoke escaping from the chimney would
betray him. He even offered to cook potatoes for us, if
we would give him raw potatoes. We agreed willingly. We
ran to our bunker and ordered our sisters to peel potatoes
in the darkness. Because of the lack of water, we wiped
them with a towel. Soon we carried these potatoes to Feldgajer.
In the morning, Feldgajer woke us because the potatoes were
already cooked. Aron Meryn went with him and brought potatoes
to his bunker. We divided them among all of us. Because
we were still hungry we decided that Feldgajer should heat
them in his stove in the evening and at daybreak. Anyway
he, too, wanted to do it that way.
We maintained this trade so that even in the evening we
baked wheat - cakes on sugar and ammoniac. This was all
we had in reserve in our apartment. These foodstuffs we
also sent to neighboring bunkers. Finally, Feldgajer’s stove
failed so we decided to go over to neighboring bunker. We
had learned that there was hidden there a certain woman
named Joskowicz with three children. We didn’t want to bake
in our room because our house was located on the way to
the German post.
Usually this woman Joskowicz cooked food in the evening
for all day. Because the weather was quite hot, the food
spoiled and became inedible. Because of that problem she
decided to cook at daybreak, asking Feldgajer to wake her.
However, in the morning, she arose earlier, had lit the
stove when Feldgajer went to wake her. In the meantime,
somewhat earlier guards from the German post noticed smoke
coming from a chimney. They quickly moved in the direction
of this house and saw Feldgajer on the doorstep of the apartment
who had gone to wake up the Joskowicz woman.
At the sight of the Germans, Feldgajer tried to escape by
hiding in his own bunker. The Germans in a fury and as a
deterrent began to shoot into the apartment. The shooting
woke us. We had lately slept in the apartment because in
the bunker because of the torrid heat and lack of space,
it was very stuffy in the bunker. On hearing the sound of
shots, we quickly dressed and entered our bunker. There
remained only brother Izrael Meryn. He concealed and observed
through a window what was happening outside.
What he observed was two Germans standing, not entering
the apartment of Feldgajer since they were afraid. They
shot unceasingly and shouted "Jude heraus". but Feldgajer
didn’t emerge. Then one of them went to the Jewish police
and returned with several of them. These entered and found
Feldgajer and led him out.
The Germans began to beat and kick him in a most horrible
manner. One even beat him with a board, continually asking
"Wo sind die Anderen Juden?" They assumed that there were
more Jews hidden because they had noticed our large pot
of potatoes intended for 11 persons for a whole day. However,
the courageous Feldgajer only replied: "Ich weisse nicht".
They still searched because, after all, at Feldgajer’s the
stove was cold and from somewhere smoke had emerged. Joskowicz’
apartment was adjacent to his apartment and Joskowicz, had
in the meanwhile escaped to her own well-prepared bunker.
Since in her apartment the stove still burnt and on the
stove stood a pot with potatoes, it was proof for them that
there was some one still hidden. The Jewish police were
forced by the Germans to continually pound on the walls
and floor until they detected the hiding place of the Joskowicz
woman. They led her out, together with her three children.
They also questioned her as to whether there were Jews still
hidden, but she answered that there were none else. The
police took them all away.
From that time forth, we did not heat a stove. Fortunately,
we received an electric stove from a Jewish policeman and
from this time we cooked in Feldgajer's apartment because
in our room there was no electricity. We cooked every day
from 8 to 9 in the evening at 3 o'clock in the morning.
This continued until 2 Sept. 1943.
We learned to use rain water. We had a cask intended for
rain water built in the ground near a certain house in a
garden. We hadn’t taken water from this cask until now because
was intended for a needy time. This needy period now occurred.
There was a lack of water in our bunker, so Lejzor and Aron
Meryn with a kettle and two pails went to this cask to retrieve
water. They went barefoot, so that one would not hear their
steps. They had to traverse three gardens to get to the
cask. In spite of their bare feet, because in the garden
were shrubs and they inadvertently struck these shrubs and
caused a rustle.
Across from the cask stood a policeman. He heard the rustle
and investigated our side of the cask. We didn’t try to
escape, but only went farther to the side of the cask. He
wanted to mislead us and began to pretend that he hadn’t
seen us. He turned round with crossed hands on his back.
Likely he wanted to observe to where we returned with the
water, to which bunker. We reached the cask silently, filled
our containers and noticed another exit. We turned aside
and escaped by using various streets which we could manage
because it wasn’t very dark. We went to Feldgajer's apartment
where brothers Izrael and Mojzesz Meryn fried potatoes.
We told to them all that had happened. Our brothers calmed
us, saying that perhaps the German hadn't seen us, but we
were convinced that he saw us, so we decided to escape from
here. Simultaneously we heard in our yard a German voice,
calling to a Jewish policeman. Several policemen responded
and looked in every cranny of the apartments. They passed
near our apartment and left. After this search, we decided
to escape from here in groups because we ascertained that
it was dangerous to remain here. First our sister Rywka
with brothers Aron and Mojzesz left. They went during the
dark of night to the city, crawling on all fours through
the ghetto to a field. Aron Meryn went in front. Suddenly
we heard some one cough. We guessed that this is German
guard. We stopped for a moment. After a quarter of an hour,
we crept farther. When we were about 500 meters away from
the ghetto, we cast away the rags which we had tied to our
knees so they would not hurt as we crept so far. All in
all, we had gone in this manner for one and half hours.
We directed our steps to the city and returned to our own
apartment which, unfortunately, now was devastated. We made
do on the floor. In the morning, we went to our former neighbor,
the Christian Piotr Czdesz who had lived across from us.
He had been a friend of our father. We asked him to hide
us but he was afraid and refused. So having no other ways
the brothers Aron and Mojzesz went into the garret while
our sister went to a friendly Polish person who lived far
enough from us. She was as far as ul. Jasna 16 while our
apartment was on ul Zawale 14. She left about 7 in the morning.
This friendly Polish person named Michalska also was afraid
to take us in. She did advise us to hide in the back annex,
a building completely devastated and uninhabited. She promised
to deliver food to us. Our sister returned to us with this
news. She brought half of her bread and a bottle of coffee.
We gathered major new strength from this because for five
weeks we hadn’t eaten any bread. This was also a good omen
for us for the future. In the evening we visited Michalska
because she had had a day to consider our request and would
give us an answer in the evening.
There in the apartment we found strangers who immediately
recognized us as Jews because we were dressed in extra winter
jackets and each of us carried a package of clothing. After
a long time, Michalska arrived but didn’t seem to recognize
us because she was afraid of the other people. Soon her
neighbor learned that we were present and warned her not
to take in any Jews because the Germans threatened to hang
anyone doing this.
Finally when her guests bid her goodbye, we began our negotiation
with her. The result was that she agreed to hide us. We
went to the third floor where there was a room and kitchen.
Her son brought us straw (with which to make mattresses)
and we lay down in our clothes to sleep. We had eaten supper
earlier in her apartment.
In the morning another three of our family visited Michalska.
They were to await a message from us, but because constable
Erlich told them that they were in danger (if they remained)
they soon left going into town for the evening. They, too,
were to be accommodated in our quarters in the attic. At
daybreak, they also came to visit Michalska. They understood
that we were in the building.
Unfortunately our mother still remained with Mrs. Dunska
and her children in the bunker since mother, as a weak 70
year old person, couldn’t proceed as had we. We had to consider
a method which would enable us to transfer mother and Mrs.
Dunska with her children from the bunker to us. At this
time, the Jewish police came to our former apartment in
the ghetto and informed mother that she must leave because
the building would soon be liquidated as a residence. Within
it would be a German Commission’s office.
Dunska came to Michalska that evening, but Michalska kept
her and her children in Michalska’s apartment and told her
nothing about us though Dunska asked about us. Michalska
also didn't tell us that Dunska was in her home. So we believed
our mother was still under the care of Dunska in the bunker.
Also other Jews from neighboring bunkers should have been
looking after mother because when we were leaving we had
given these persons a great deal of food. Only after two
weeks had passed, during which time we couldn’t manage to
return to the ghetto (because it was surrounded by armed
Germans), we learned from Mrs. Dunska that mother had remained
in the bunker. On this very day, that is the 6th of September
1943, the Jewish police had had to liquidate this hiding
place. There was now no reason to return to the ghetto because
mother on this very day was taken from the bunker and deported.
After a week of our stay with Michalska on ul Jasna 16,
we sent our brother Mojzesz and sister Rywka into the town
to contact Kazik Gruszczynski. Mr. G knew our brother who
had since been deported because the two of them had engaged
in business dealings since the outbreak of the war. Our
brother kept many items with Mr.G. and, at all times, Mr.G.
had behaved scrupulously honestly.
Brother and sister didn’t find Mr. G. at home, but his wife
said he was at work in a local factory. He always worked
night shift. So our brother Mojzesz went to find Mr. G.
at the factory where he was now a forced laborer.
At the first moment when Mr. G. saw brother Mojzesz he was
quite angry and told brother that by such a visit to his
work area, Mr. G. could have many problems. When brother
told that he had come only because he wanted to sell a few
gold coins, Mr. G. quieted down.
They arranged to meet the following Sunday, the 19th of
September, on Zawale Street at building # 37. When they
met it was dark and Mr. G. accompanied Mojzesz. Because
our brother knew Mr. G. to be an honest and dependable person,
he told him of the circumstances in which we now lives.
Mojzesz asked him if he could locate somewhere any good
apartment for us and help us.
Mr. G promised that he would try to do this. Our brother
gave him a gold coin, told him the number of zlotys wanted
for the coin and arranged to meet the following Sunday at
the same time and at the same place.
On Sunday Mr. G. arrived punctually, but declared that the
price asked for the coin was too high. So brother answered
that, in this case, he would have to talk with his brother
and sister. They arranged to meet the next Wednesday at
the factory at 10 o'clock in the evening. At that hour,
there would be no manager in the factory, The two could
converse and reach another agreement. .
Brother appeared and asked Mr. G. for 4,800 marks in currency.
On Sunday, Mr. G. brought the money to the prearranged place.
At the same time, our brother Mojzesz offered to sell a
gold man's watch for 8,500 marks. Our brother also mentioned
that a woman who lived with us would sell a diamond and
a man's gold watch. They arranged to meet again. Mr. G.
was to bring 8,500 RM and Mojzesz would deliver the diamond
and gold watch.
Because on the pre-arranged day it was raining and Mojzesz
felt poorly, brother Aron kept the appointment instead.
After greeting one another, they commenced to talk of the
political situation. Then Mr. G. asked if Aron had the diamond
because he had a good customer. Aron didn’t have the diamond
or watch because we were prudent. Then Mr. G told us he
didn’t bring our 8,500 marks. He calmed Aron who had become
angry saying that everything would would be carried out
as agreed. Mr. G. would deliver the money owed the next
week, Sunday, the 4th of October.
Mojzesz appeared on time at the pre-arranged place. After
greeting each other, they began to discuss business. However,
our brother noticed that on the opposite sidewalk an individual
seemed to be loitering. The individual seemed suspicious
to our brother so that he began to pull Mr. G. aside. The
suspicious individual now crossed over and approached them.
He grasped Mojzesz by the hand, put straight valve from
his jacket and introduced himself saying that that he is
from Kriminalpolizei. He demanded to see and Mojzesz’ "Ausweis".
To this demand, Mr. G. responded, “I have mine”.
Mojzesz suspected that this was a pre-arranged trick and
tore free and began to escape. The “Criminal Policeman”
didn’t pursue him, nor did he shoot at him from behind as
was normal for the German police in similar instances when
someone tried to escape. After a short while brother Mojzesz
emerged from his hiding place in a field because he wanted
to see what was happening behind him. He observed Mr. G.
walking with the second person and searching in the direction
from which he had escaped. This was proof to Mojzesz that
Mr. G. was a traitor. From the behavior of the two, he recognized
that they were good friends because if the second man were
really an official from the Kripo, then when Mojzesz escaped
the Kripo would have arrested Mr. G. and taken him to the
As it was, they quite calmly walked together smiling since
they believed they had succeeded in this "trick" and didn’t
have to pay Mojzesz the 8,500 marks.
Mojzesz, half alive, returned to our residence. Because
he had been injured, he fell several times further hurting
his hands and feet. When Mojzesz told us what had happened
we decided, in spite of all, to send Rywka at dawn to G’s
apartment to demand our money. Although we knew that this
would be futile, we wanted to accomplish something else.
Namely, we wanted in this fashion to show that we believed
him because we wanted that he should see us as not like
people who would be his accusers. G. knew where we hid,
so we were afraid that he would give us up to the police.