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Name of deponent: Meryn family of Bedzin

When Rywka entered Gís apartment, he pretended to be asleep and unable to recognize her. Her coming to him made a great impression on him since he didnít expect this. He thought we would be afraid to come to him. When Rywka asked for our money, Mr. G. answered that the police had taken everything from him. He said that, thanks only to the intervention of his factory manager, had it been possible to have him released from custody the following day.

Our sister pretended to believe him and as proof of her belief in him, she suggested a further sale of currency since German money was necessary for us in our move to Grodziec. But G. said he no longer wanted to do business with us because he was under observation by the police. He understood that we at this time wouldnít yield our business of trading, but from that time on we feared that G. would turn us over to the police.

During that same time, there occurred another event: on that day, October 6, 1943, about 3 o'clock in the afternoon we heard youths from the Hitler Jugend enter the ramshackle house where we lived. They passed close to our apartment which was closed and without door handles. They went into the attic and on returning began to try our door. They succeeded in opening it and entered the kitchen.

We tried to prevent their entry into our room. We all stood by our door and held it so that they couldnít enter. They perhaps heard some of our movements or a sigh. They took fright and ran away. After that, they looked from the yard at our windows because they were interested to learn who was in the apartment. They even threw stones at our window. After several minutes they left, but soon returned with other people. They came immediately up the stairs to our apartment. They found a door handle and began to pound the door, shouting: "Juden heraus!"

We understood now that they knew what was up. Our neighbor, Mrs. Michalska, had. noticed them entering our ramshackle house. She ran to her husband Michalski and told him about all that was happening. Michalski ran up the stairs quite out of breath and began to drive the boys away with a broom. The boys retreated, shouting: "Hier sind Juden!" To this, Mrs. Michalska replied "Heraus, hier sind keine Juden".

Now we feared that these Hitler Jugend would go to the police. We decided to escape to the attic of our house on ul Zawale 14. We put our belongings in a nearby closet, dressed in winter clothing and in this fashion went into the street. Because my sister wore a winter-coat a Polish boy began to observe her and followed behind her step by step.

Our sister Estera tried to mislead him going to other doors from which one can also enter our house. When he lost sight of her, the boy began to look around and saw Mojzesz who also was dressed in a winter overcoat.

The boy assumed that a person so dressed must be a Jewish refugee. He began again to follow our brother, but Mojzesz wasnít afraid of him since he knew all the alleys of our city and so he, too, lost him. This had taken, however, a very long time because the boy followed through every twist and turn. It was only by chance that Mojzesz was able to lose the boy. The worst of this episode was that we others were made terribly nervous because of the long absence of our brother.

We settled ourselves in the attic, butt we werenít able to remain there because there were no conditions for long-term dwelling. In the evening brother Aron with sister Rywka planned to go by foot to Strzemieszyce, which is about 17 km distant from Bedzin. There, we had good Polish friends. However, because there were just too many German gendarmes about, those friends didnít even want to put us up for an evening. We managed to reach the rail station so as to return in this fashion to Bedzin. The train was an hour late causing us to walk around the station, but fortunately the time passed safely. We arrived about 11.30 o'clock at night back to Bedzin.

The next day in our attic was quite sad for us because we hadnít decided anything. Moreover, Polish boys in these houses went around to empty apartments. On the third day of our stay in the attic, the beginning of our doomsday 6 October1943, some Polish boys came to our area to play.

One bragged to his friends of his agility and ability saying that he could get up to an attic and be able to enter one and to leave from a second. This had to be a kind of magic trick. In this event, he had to enter first our attic. We decided that if he really attempted to climb, we would frighten him and he would certainly run away. Our sister soon noticed that he had begun to ascend. She mewed as a cat.

The youngster then shouted: "Listen, here in the attic are Jews. Let's go to the police".

Then we were frightened. We dressed quickly and succeeded again in reaching Michalska. We went through a field to get there. Leading us was brother Lejzor who went directly to Michalskaís apartment since there was no alternative. Lajzor entered her apartment and began to weep so that Michalska allowed him into the room. Then Estera, Rywka and Mojzesz followed.

They werenít able to go in, however, because someone, a girl this time, recognized the trio as Jews. Somehow, though, they were finally able to get past the door. But once again, on the stairs, they met two Poles, neighbors of Michalska. One of them recognized our family. At the same moment, the young girl who had been watching the trio, came in and asked the neighbor if she hadnít noticed that some Jews just enter. The neighbor replied that they must have gone somewhere else. We werenít able to enter however, because these neighbors remained to talk. Suddenly our brothers Aron and Izrael entered. Michalska gave them a signal from afar so that they went into the nearest apartment.

The doors inside the apartment were locked so they didnít know where the rest were. After some time they returned to us, but without brother Lejzor. Only in the evening did we learn that he was at Michalska. During Michalskaís absence, Lejzor had come to the room where Dunska and her children were hidden. He asked her to put in a good word for us should Michalska refuse to hide us. Still hiding in this room were two Jewesses and a child, all from Sosnowiec.

Michalska had forbidden them to let Lejzor into the room, but Dunska because she was our close friend from the Srodula bunker, didnít take heed of this order and admitted him. The women and child hid behind the wardrobe and Lejzor didnít see them. In the evening, Lejzor came to us.

The following day, Michalska didnít visit us for the entire day. Only in the evening, the Jewesses with her induced her so that she brought us food consisting of bread and a pail of water She did light the stove again. In this, her neighbor who already knew of our presence, helped Michalska. Michalska had promised the woman that we would pay her some money. We agreed to this promise.

On the 11th of October, about 4.30 in the morning, we heard knocking. It proved to be Michalska who had brought from among her own tenants the old woman Herszkowicz. Later, one after another, all her tenants came to our hiding place so there was now in our apartment 12 persons. Michalska explained us why she had removed from her own apartment these Jewesses. Namely, her married daughter had learned that her mother kept Jews. The Daughter threatened to denounce her to the police.

Now, out of necessity, we all lived in the one room. Each family cooked on the single kitchen since the stove was very small. This was dangerous because we were obliged to cook only at daybreak so that later in the day there would be no smoke visible. In the beginning, when we used the stove a long time, we were afraid. Then our sister got the idea to overheat a little coal at night. This glowing-hot coal was extinguished with water so that the gases in the coal escaped. Then it was possible to burn it as coke. A test succeeded so that now it was possible to cook during the day. Only the stoveís burning needed to be done before sunrise.

Now the household got along better together. On the 17th of December the Herszkowicz womanís son and daughter Hamburger, the mother of little Natek arrived. Until now, they had been hidden in Silesia, but because there was threat of exposure, they came to their mother. There was now with us 14 persons. In a small apartment, this condition was more and more dangerous. The newcomers quarreled with their own mother, often in loud screams. In this fashion, we survived to 23rd of January.1944. On that day there occurred again an unpleasant ordeal. Namely the German policeman, the infamous Micke, came to Michalska and made an inspection of her apartment, finding there a great deal of food which she prepared for us that evening. He also found the underwear which Michalskaís son had removed from the ghetto.

He thereupon arrested the entire family. When Michalska didn't come to us either in the evening or at daybreak, we understood that something serious had happened. Herszlewic had brought the news to us. She had learned about it from Michalskaís neighbor.

We were afraid that Michalska might reveal everything. So the men among us went to hide in the attic at Zawale 14 while the women remained here. Now there was a lack of water because there was no one who could bring it. After supper Rywka and Estera went to look for a source of water.

We went to a former friend named Walerian Karcz. He was a very decent Polish man of strong character. When we entered his apartment he was very glad to see us. Because he was living with his family in a single room, we werenít able to hide at his place but we asked him to find a shelter for us at one of his friends. Karcz promised to do this for us. We arranged to met the following day near a tram-stop.

He came with a friend named Michal Wlodaszczyk and promised to look for a bigger apartment with cellar where he could hide us. He would give us a definite answer the next day.

When he didnít appear the following day we decided to go to his apartment. However, he wasnít there so we left a note asking inquiring him where apartments with cellars could be found which were for rent. We asked him to come to ul Zawale on Sunday at 6 p.m. He appeared punctually at the specified time. He had nothing to offer us, but asked us to come the following week for an answer.

In the apartment in which we hid, there began to be a lack of water and food because there was no one who would bring it to us. Herszkowicz managed to bring us bread. Her son had gotten German ration cards and could buy bread. However, he didnít have whole cards, only sections of the cards for bread. He lied as only he could. He acted as though he were the runner for a group of friends who bought the bread for his group. Since he spoke German very well, the merchants didnít refuse him. Karcz, too, brought us bread. It was a problem because it was necessary to feed 14 persons.

On the fourth day, Michalskaís younger son and a friend of the older boy were released. The little boy came to us and told us everything. We calmed down because, according to the boyís story concerning the policeís evidence, no one had mentioned anything about us. However, in the evening, the older son came and said we must leave the apartment. He did agree that we could stay until the time we found a new place.

We remained there until the 17th of March. We prepared a ladder which was necessary to exit our attic. On the 17th of March, Izrael and Mojzesz carried the ladder to our attic. Earlier, we had a premonition that something would happen. When our brothers returned from the attic, they saw that our building was lit with flashlights. The brothers stood to a side and waited. For the moment we didnít know who had surrounded us. We heard only as they broke down all the doors though they knocked on ours and when the door wasnít opened, they broke it down.

We overheard, one of them speak in Polish and the second spoke German. We understood that they werenít the Germans authorities, but merely a band of robbers who wanted to steal. We had to leave the apartment immediately. During this time, robbers surprised us from behind, beat us, took our backpacks and clothes as well as all our reserves of food. Only the backpack of Lejzor remained thanks to the brothers who stood in the yard and fought courageous with the Aryans. They frightened the robbers away and the thieves escaped. We were safe and managed one by one to come to our attic.

The next day when it was clear we lacked bread and there wasnít any warm food to be had, Rywka and Izrael went down into the city with the aim of making contact with a certain German woman named Elsner whose husband was Jewish. Izrael knew Elsnerís 14 year-old son quite well. In her apartment we met her sub-tenant, a German woman named Weissmann. This second woman was also married to a Jewish man, but her husband had been deported. We were hospitably by them. The young boy went to the city and bought food for us. The women offered us a little of their own food, too, for which they didnít want to be paid. Izrael proposed repaying them by suggesting that they could sell currency for us and in this manner earn a profit. They agreed do to this.

The following day our sisters went to them with currency to be sold. After several days Izrael went to stay with them. In the meantime, we tried to get in contact with Wlodarczyk. He took Rywka and Mojzesz, who were recovering from sicknesses into his own apartment during a particularly cold period.

We, not wanting to expose the German women to unnecessary danger, thanked them for their kindness. Sister Rywka provided us in food. However, after two weeks they left W3odarczyk because for him it was dangerous to allow Jews t be hidden in his one-room apartment. However, he introduced us to a woman of his family who lived nearby. She now bought food for us.

In this attic, we remained until the 17th of April 1944. Again with the coming of spring, young boys started to walk on roofs and to play "fire guard". We were again subject to being accidentally found. It was necessary to find another attic. On the 15th of April, Mojzesz and Aron went down during the evening when it was still dark trying to find another attic I which to hide. We returned with nothing.

When we went down the following day, we saw our roommate Natek Fryszman. He told us that his mother had been arrested. He had been taken by some Poles, for a payment of money, to some friendly Germans. With them he had spent three weeks. They had brought to him a doctor because he had broken leg. The doctor, Stach, knew Natek and recognized him. He bandaged his leg. The Germans didnít want to keep Natek long, so, on crutches, he managed to reach Michalskaís apartment.

In the same house, there also lived some Jews in the attic. Probably somebody denounced them because at night there German police arrived and arrested them. We went into the city and found a more or less suitable attic. All that day, we prepared for the move. We were very afraid because some boys were playing on the nearby roof. In the evening, we went to the attic of the building at ul Zawale 23. There were two entries to that attic.

There we remained until the 8th of May. On that day, there occurred the following event. One boy started to lift a second boy so that the second could look into the attic. Suddenly from the side of attic there appeared the head of this boy. About an hour later, they returned. We were busy cutting hair and werenít able to move immediately so that they wouldnít hear a sound. They approached the opening, made a scaffolding so that they could look into the interior. We heard the words: "Did you see that?"

They escaped and began to throw stones. Now it wasnít possible to hide. The boys left some time later. We decided to send two persons away so that they would take some money to Mrs. Elsner and thereby might remain with her. After half of hour, Estera and Lejzor left. The rest of us remained in the attic.

Shortly after their departure, a group of boys came. Without a ladder they couldnít get into our attic, but they saw some stairs in the next ramshackle house. They all carried away the stairs which could serve as a ladder. When our brother saw this, he understood that things are now going badly.

While the boys were busy, he jumped down and came to a pre-arranged place within our attic. Our first group, Regina and Mojzesz, had gone to Mrs. Elsner. While en route, they met her young son to whom they gave the money so that he would hide it for them. From there, they proceeded to the prearranged attic which was to serve as a temporary shelter. Lejzor, Aron and Estera proceeded to the second attic.

We entered our attic, but no one answered us so we went down to the vacant apartment. We noticed a door with plywood attached. This aroused our interest. We began to detach the board when we heard the scream of a child: "Zosia, run to the police. Thieves are trying to break in."

We noticed that the apartment from which the childís shouts came was closed. That seemed suspicious to us. We went down to first story of the ramshackle house because it wasnít possible to go anywhere else.

Aron went into the city and looked for an attic. He found one and returned for the rest of us. During that time Izrael upon returning to our garret noticed the boys and was certain that the police had arrested his dearest relatives and told us of his observation.

In the evening Aron came to see our sister when he suddenly saw two German policemen with two boys from the group which had earlier frightened us. He remained in the doorway opposite and watched. He saw the police enter our attic. He feared that our sister would now appear and hence fall into their hands. To prevent this, he went to Mrs. Elsner and asked that her daughter would stand on one approach to our former garret and he would remain on the second route and await our sister. Luckily, however, our sister didn't appear because, in the meanwhile, she had met the brother of a neighbor and learned from him that our attic was being searched by the police. Accordingly, she didnít attempt to enter our former attic. As we stood watching the police, our second sister approached and we were able to have her go to another place. We decided that brother Lejzor should go to Michalska and ask for refuge. After the departure of the police, I waited another half hour. Later, using signals I found our family.

Only then did I learn that Izrael was safe. Itís difficult to imagine how our greeting one another appeared. We decided that Izrael and Rywka must go to Michalska where Lejzor, too, had gone. Aron, Mojzesz and I would go to Mrs. Elsner to retrieve the money which Rywka had given Elsnerís son for safe keeping.

Mrs. Elsner invited us in to supper. After supper, I asked for our hidden money. The son returned it to us, but I considered from Mojzeszí opinion, that perhaps it would be better if the funds remained with them. We took only jewels and left 4,000 marks in cash. We returned to our attic, but found no one there. We didnít know what had happened to those who hadnít returned. We lay down with heavy hearts and, because of worry that they werenít here, we werenít able to to sleep. I was also uneasy about the 4,000 marks which I had left with Mrs. Elsner.

We remained until morning. We had eaten nothing that entire day because our sister who had gone to Michalska had taken the supply of bread with her. In the evening Mojzesz went to Michalska. He learned that our family was in the attic where we all met. We were again all together.

In the evening, I went to Mrs. Elsner to retrieve our money. The door to her apartment was now locked with a padlock. I waited a long time, but finally went home empty handed. On the following day the door was again locked. However, I rang incessantly. Through door the 13 years old daughter of Mrs. Weissmann answered : "Die Frau Elsner und die Mutti und Ruti sind in die Partei vorgeladen warenď (Mrs. Elsner and Mother and Ruthie have been called to the (NSDAP) party.) When I asked her what's the matter, she answered: "Wir wissen nicht; wir haben selbst Angst". (We donít know; we ourselves are fearful.)

I then asked the child, if she would throw down from the balcony the little parcel with money which we had left. I told the child where the parcel lay, but after searching she said: "Es liegt schon nicht" (It isnít any longer here).

I said that I would return the following day at 8.30 in the evening to be certain that Mrs. Elsner would be at home.

Two days later, Mrs. Elsner herself opened her door for me. She took me to a darkened room and told me that she couldnít take me farther: "Weil bei der Frau Weissmann eine Parteigenossin da ist". (Because there is a lady (NSDAP) member visiting Mrs. Weissmann). We went close to the windows and spoke. At this point, Mrs. Elsner declared that there happened some bad luck for her today. In the meantime the "Parteigenossin" (lady Party member) had departed so that Mrs. Elsner invited me into the sitting room.

She told me exactly the circumstances by which the money had been consumed. Her story didnít make much of an impression on me so that I was very worried. Then Mrs. Weissmann began helping Mrs. Elsner in telling the story. They two ladies talked so long that they said too much and it appeared that the money had been taken by them. They assured me that they would go to some of their relatives and would repay me at the rate of 100 marks per month. She gave me, as though it were as much as she had, 50 marks. I accepted that sum and arranged that later in the evening I would send our sister to retrieve our belongings.

On the return walk to our home, I noticed that a round-up was in process, but fortunately I returned home safe, but broken hearted. When I told the family that we donít have any more money, Lejzor burst into tears because he was afraid that without money he would be killed.

In the morning Rywka went to the Elsner womanís house to retrieve out things. She had to remain all day at Mrs. Elsnerís, because she couldnít go out on the street. She returned in the evening and she told us of the insolent manner the two ladies wanted to be rid of her.

We considered in what manner we could recover our money from them. We couldnít forgive this sum because we were completely without cash and who knew how long the war would last? To be sure every day we read newspapers, but there was no information about the channel invasion or any war-related announcements. We had three days to think about a plan to recover the money because by Monday we had to go to her for our money. Izrael and Aron decided that they would go to her and tell her that they wonít leave her apartment until she returns our money. We were able to carry out such a ruse with them because they were afraid of us, too, since they both were "Halbjudinnen" (half Jewesses).

So we carried out that plan. Mrs. Elsner even greeted us heartily upon our arrival. When she replied to Izrael that she would repay 100 marks monthly, he answered that he wouldnít leave the apartment until she had returned all our money. He told her she could even go to the police. In that case we would go together to Auschwitz.

Then the ladies were very much afraid. The daughter of Mrs. Elsner began to weep and reproach her mother saying that she (the mother) had started (trouble) with us. Then Izrael said that he was convinced that mother still had the money.

Mrs. Elsner tried to explain. My brother repeated that he wouldnít leave here without our money. He took off his jacket and hung it on a hook to prove to her that he would do as he said. Then Mrs. Elsner put on her coat and Mrs. Weissmann did the same. With the words: "Iíll go to those who believe me" she, Mrs. Weissmann and the children left the apartment.

Brother Izrael wasnít frightened by this. After a half hour, the ladies returned and Mrs. Elsner declared that she was helpless in the face of our blackmail. She would have to sell all that she possessed in order to repay the money. Izrael was only silent and prepared to remain with them.

When it became dark, Mrs. Weissmann reached into a sideboard and took out money. In the morning she took a valise with clothes as though to sell them, but instead she went to exchange (to replace) this money so that we wouldnít recognize that she was repaying us with our same banknotes.

Later, at dinner she said that she had only 2,000 marks, but when Izrael replied that he would wait in their apartment for a couple more days, the ladies left once again to the city and brought back 3,950 marks. Izrael was satisfied with this and left. We couldnít believe that he had been successful in his ruse.

We remained longer in the attic of Michalís friends and, on the evening of 5 June 1944, we heard that there will be an invasion (of France). We found ourselves in a critical situation because our housekeeper, without telling us, had moved and we remained without assistance.

On the 6th of June, Michal came to our attic and promised that he would never leave, that against his will his wife had rented for herself another apartment without a cellar. However, Izrael asked to see the apartment and Michal took us to his cellar. After negotiating an agreement with his second friend, we agreed on the following plan: First Izrael and Rywka would go there. We wanted to talk to another friend, Bronka. Bronka, after discussions, agreed to take us in but not very soon. Finally, she sent by Michal a message that that we could come. Michal also brought us a newspaper with the news that the invasion had begun. This was a good omen for our survival. Now, we hoped, we could await an early liberation. Michal was very good to us. In the day, we couldnít go with him, so we went in the evening.

We wanted very much that the friend of Michal, with whom Michal was angry, wouldnít assume that Michal had taken us in. Finally, after many unpleasantries en route, we came to Michal. The first night we were accommodated in a bunker where we could only sit. We lived in this hiding place until the 27th of January 1945; that is, until the of entry of Russian soldiers. The cell was 90 cm (3 ft.) wide, 2 meters 40 cm (8 ft) long, 1 meter 50 cm (6ft) high. There were 6 persons in this hiding place. It was located in a field. Our life was subject to forfeit at any moment.

We were enormously nervous. Brother coughed frequently so that we were afraid someone would hear him. On 24 June we had an occurrence when the owner of a house, who in a second bunker produced vodka, discovered us. When the woman who brought us food, left in the morning, this person noticed that she carried a pot within the pail. He assumed that in the dugout, there some one was there. He went to the entrance of our bunker and looked in through a crack to the inside. He saw Mojzesz and left.

We were afraid that he would tell this to some of his friends and then we would be lost. When Bronka visited us in the evening, we tactfully asked her if any one in the vicinity had seen us. She answered that the person we had observed had questioned her as to who was the guest wearing a blue jacket with white stripes he had seen yesterday in the dugout.

We decided to go to him and to talk so that he wouldnít discuss us with any one. But we soon changed this decision, deciding instead to wait for Michal. He was due to return soon from work. We would ask him to do this for us. Luck was with us because Bronka came to us again to deliver some needed coal. Normally, she never came to us so often. We asked her to have Michal come to us on a very important matter.

When Michal came, we told him everything. We gave him advice as to how to settle the matter. We recommended that he should appeal to the person's conscience, that he shouldnít admit that we are Jews, but are partisans who have escaped from the General Gouvernement area. He should say that there are only two persons hidden there.

Most importantly, he should tell him: "Youíve produced vodka for a long time and I have seen nothing because I donít want to see anything. Then, I ask you to copy me so that you, too, can say you see no one with me because you donít want to see anything". As we had advised, so Michal handled this. He repeated to us later the content of his conversation with the owner. We were now a little bit calmed.

Mice and bugs were a terrible calamity for us in this cell. To wash our underwear, we had to use cold water with little soap so that our underwear was dirty and not washed clean. This is also why lice and fleas began to multiply. It was caused also by this fact that during nine months we hadnít changed clothing. We slept on towels and everywhere it was very dirty. Also in this cell we had 40 loaves of bread, 15 kg. cereal and a bushel of potatoes. Frogs came by openings in the walls to our cell. The problem with mice began after the harvest. Mice began to eat our supply and continually jumped at us. At night, mice came down to us through holes in the ceiling. The roof was devastated and when it rained, there was a flood in the cell.

At this time there was difficulty in exchanging money. We decided to turn to Mr. Szulc from Bedzin. Rywka went to him in the evening with the proposal whether he would buy gold coins. He wasnít able to buy, but he accepted the agency to sell them. We gave him a low enough price. He, however, replied that Rywka clearly had made a mistake because the price was higher. He asked her to come the next day. At a prearranged time, handed her money and advised her not exchange much because perhaps soon there would be the end of the war.

The Soviet Army was then at the Vistula River. Accordingly, it was necessary to hope for the best and keep up our courage. This was for us good cheer, because our capital was already captured. Unfortunately as yet there wasnít an end to the war because the Soviet Army remained near Warsaw and didnít advance.

Each month Rywka gave Mr. Scholz gold coins to exchange and he altruistically exchanged them for her. But once, when Rywka went to him to exchange coins for currency his wife said desperately that her husband had been arrested by the Germans. She contacted Mr. Marian Stanek and instructed him in our arrangement so that he took care of us. Mr. Stanek agreed to this. He took coins and exchanged them for her.

In January, we were still able to buy a little supply of food. We learned of the political situation and that the winter-offensive had begun. In the newspapers we read about bridges being blown up, but the paper didnít give the information as to where this occurred.

On the 14th of January we got a newspaper from Michal from which we learned that the Russian winter offensive had begun. We began to limit our eating because already it wasnít possible to get bread. Every day we examined the newspapers. On the day the time the Russians occupied Czestochowa, we received our last newspaper. This was for us evidence that the end of German control of our area was close.

Then there was a report that Germans, in their retreat would take Poles to Germany. We were in horrible fear. On the morning of 27 January we heard shots and screams. We were very afraid. At that time, three Germans hid in some houses and from there shot at the Russian troops.

After a time, our brother noticed people running with joy to the shed from which there appeared soldiers of the Russian Army. We began to weep with joy. It was then 6.30 in the morning we could go out just about 12 noon.

We carried out from our hiding place 15 loaves of bread, 20 kg of rye cereal and potatoes. With great joy and full satisfaction that we had survived, we returned liberated to the town.