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HOLOCAUST TESTIMONIES


Name of deponent: Klajman Izaak
Date of birth: 10 June 1934
Birthplace: Bedzin
Father's name: Bencion (occupation: an official)
Mother's name: Chana, born Süskind
Pre-war residence: Bedzin, ul. Malachowskiego 38
Education: Schoolboy in 5th grade, General School #3 (Szkola Powszechna nr 3), Bedzin

We lived in the ghetto. There we built, together with some neighbors, a bunker in the building’s cellar. On 1 August 1943, when we learned that the Germans had surrounded the ghetto, we went down into the bunker That is: we and all our neighbors being a total of 50 persons. The bunker was large: 5x5x3 meters. (16’x16’x10’) We remained there from 12 at night to 12 at noon. Germans soldiers continually passed close to us, but we were undetected. However, with us in the bunker was small one year-old child. The child cried and the crying was heard passing Germans who thereupon shouted: "Juden heraus!".

Because entry to our bunker was covered by with large stones, we weren’t able to exit quickly. As a result, the Germans shot and killed one of us. Finally some of our men were able to remove the stones. When we were finally able to leave, the last to exit was my grandmamma. One of the Gestapo beat her terribly with a rubber baton.

The Germans ordered us to stand facing a wall. My fourteen-year old sister asked one of the helmeted Germans to let her go. Instead, he threatened to shoot her. After this, they ordered us to draw together. They demanded to know how many there were of us. We answered that there had been 50, but one had been shot so that now there were 49 persons. The Germans then ordered us to go to Umschlagplatz, the Gathering Place. They drove us in that direction, beating us badly with clubs.

The Germans gathered together a great many other Jews from different bunkers and formed us into a large column. They drove us toward the rail station. Near the building, they ordered us to remain in column. My sister detached the Jewish star from her dress and left her group of prisoners. She and a friend, who did the same, approached a Gestapo soldier and said that they were Christian women who had been in the ghetto with some dairy products when the raid had begun. They should be released on that account. The Gestapo man believed them and released them. In this manner, my sister escaped.

When my mother saw this, she turned to me and ordered me also to escape. There was a change of guards at this moment and I pushed by some riflemen in helmets. An S.A. man, in yellow uniform, noticed me and struck me with long bayonet. He wanted to kill me, but I dodged and that’s why he only wounded me. I escaped and soon came to some nearby apartment buildings. Within these apartments there lived a person friendly with my father. I knocked on his apartment door, but unfortunately no one was at home. I waited a long there until this person finally came.

He took me into his apartment, tended my wound, and allowed me to remain and go to sleep. As I lay down to sleep, the man went into the city to get clothes for me since I was wearing only a brief bathing trunk. It had been very hot in the bunker and I had dressed accordingly.

That evening, my sister came to the apartment. She was extremely nervous, as if half-mad. She kept asking me where our mother was. I replied that Mother had been deported. All night long, she didn’t sleep and kept waking me.

In the morning, we ate breakfast. The friendly man ordered me to go to the Malobadz meadows. He gave me a large scout's jacket belonging to his own 18 year-old son. He gave me some food and coffee in a bottle. He said I should await him there until he comes. I went as directed and I sat down on a small rise. At noon, my sister joined me. I drank all the coffee as I had a terrible thirst from the strong heat. I was so thirsty that I went to a dirty pool where frogs and worms were to found. I drank a little of this dirty water and cured my thirst.

My sister didn't speak to me at all and in a short time, she left. I waited until evening and at 6 pm the man returned. I asked him to give me something to drink. He had bought for me a bottle of beer. He took me to a second pond and washed me with soap, He gave me bread with a spread.

He took me to a small sheaf of wheat in the field and covered me with straw. In this fashion, I slept through all night.

In the morning, just as the sun rose I awoke and left the small sheaf. I wandered over to the meadow because I didn’t want to sit in one place. About 9 in the morning the daughter of this friendly man came and brought me food and a blanket. She tried to reassure me and told me to be careful.

I wandered so all that day and in the evening, I again went to the small sheaf and fell asleep. That night some Germans came and searched among the sheaves, but didn’t find me. Finally, they left. I was now terribly afraid and dozed on and off the whole night.

In the morning I saw from afar a policeman with a dog. I understood that the dog would locate me so I jumped into a small brook nearby. I knew that, in water, the dog wouldn’t scent me. After the policeman had gone, I left the water. I had hardly held out under the water. Once again, the day had passed. I had had nothing to eat that day because of fear and excitement I wasn’t able to eat. Again that night, I entered the small sheaf to sleep.

In the morning the friendly man came again and brought me food. He promised that he would take me there as soon as things would quiet down. He told me to wash in the river so as to keep clean.

When he left, I went to the river. Just as I stood on the bank, some boys came. Somehow they recognized me as a Jew. In order to be certain of this, the three bounders ran to me, pulled down my pants and began to shout aloud: "Jew, Jew, Jew!" Thereupon, they grabbed me, bent my arms behind me and began to discuss whether to drown me or hand me over to the German police. I profited from moment when one from them loosened his grip a little. I kicked him strongly, tore myself free and escaped. I ran to the Malobadz road and on to the Czeladz bridge. In this way, I disappeared from their sight.

Nearby, I saw some destroyed buildings. I sat in one of them about two hours and again returned on meadows because there I had to wait for this friendly man. When I came there a Christian woman saw me and called to me. As soon as she found out who I was, she said she knew my dad. Thereupon she went to the parents of the boys who had beaten me and told them of the situation. As a result, the boys received a hiding and left me now in peace.

The woman took me to her home where I slept the night. At this woman’s house, I recognized a boy, Leszek - a Polish boy. He was very smart, knew all about me. We quickly became friends. We played together near the houses. At night they ordered to sleep me in a summer-house. There, it was very cold, gnats bit me terribly, I no longer had blanket or jacket because I had lost them when those bounders threw me into the water.

I slept only in a little shirt. For the next nights I slept in the small sheaf. Then the friendly man came and took me to his home. I stayed with him one day. He gave me underwear, clothes, boots and took me by train to his female cousin in the village of Pustkowie near Klobuck.

He agreed to pay her 50 marks a week. He paid one week in advance and I remained with her. He hadn’t confided to this cousin that I was a Jew. He merely said to her that I was the son of a professor friend of his whom the Germans had taken away to Dachau and that my mother had died before the war. Because of these circumstances, I didn’t have a place to live. As the lady was a naive country-woman she didn’t imagine that she was deceived..

I remained with this women in the village for 9 months. I did all kinds of work there. At five in the morning I had to get up, I drove the cows to the pasture, cleared out the dung. All that is necessary on a farm I did as a farmhand. There, I was called “Jasio”. For food, they gave me the same as they ate.

There were just so much lice, bed-bugs and fleas which bit terribly. I was full of lice even though every Saturday afternoon the housekeeper woman washed my sole undershirt, so as to have it clean for Sunday. Several weeks later, the man from Bedzin brought me an undershirt so that now I had more underwear. Thus, time passed for me in the country.

After nine months, the man took me to his own daughter who lived in a large house in a village. She accepted me gladly. Here, too, I worked for her as a farmhand. At her home, I had to arise very early to feed the chickens and to feel the hens so as to learn how many eggs there will be on this day. She gave me very little food and I was often hungry, but this woman did clear me of lice, bathed me often so that I was clean.

I was there for 4 months. After those four months, the woman moved to her parents in Bedzin and I came there with her. Since I was already at home on a farm, I worked in the place of a servant. I lit the fire in the kitchen, washed the dishes and floor, swept…. I did everything. They even gave me enough food. Here I remained until I was liberated by the Russians.

I didn’t leave the apartment to go out to the public the whole time I was there. None of the neighbors saw me. When some friends of theirs visited, I hid under a bed or behind a rocking-chair.

I was very glad and I wept when, on the first day of liberation, my cousin came to learn if, by chance, there was some one alive from my family. I heard in the second room the voice of my cousin. I sprang out and fell in his arms.




 
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