Circumstances of the Jews of Bedzin during the German occupation
Another of the early orders were the regulations relating
to Jewish properties. Specifically, it was forbidden to
sell property which one owned, particularly items relating
to homes. In spite of this, Jews traded secretly because
they had no other means by which to live. Such orders restricting
the freedom of Jews were sent out one after one in extraordinary
pace. Then the authorities began an extraordinary battle
against "profiteering" - i.e. secret trading - but in this
contest, the Germans' efforts came to naught, even though
it was forbidden to possess more than 1000 marks and though
it wasn't allowed to have in one's living space more items
than one could purchase with a ration card. For example,
if the authorities found in someone's apartment an egg this
could result in catastrophic consequences, even deportation
At the end of 1940 the Germans issued special orders relating
to cleaning streets in the so-called "Judenraum" (Jewish
Area). Although they had begun to create a Jewish district,
the plan failed because the layout of the city of Bedzin
didn't permit an easy definition of such an area. Moreover,
the local authorities, partly bribed by Jews, didn't hurry
to develop the plan and more importantly the plan itself
hadn't originated with the Gestapo. The end of the effort
was that Jewish living quarters were relegated to back streets
and alleys. Jewish residence on the main streets was ended.
If someone had to go onto a main street to his place of
work, this was only possible under escort of the Jewish
Police who in such cases stood on the street corners and
controlled this order. The result was that all Jewish life
in Bedzin was perforce concentrated on Modrzejowska, Old
Market, Podzamcze, Czeladzka, and nearby-streets.
By order of the German authorities all Jewish persons had
to add their own name the second name of Israel in the case
of males and Sara in the case of females. Such designation
was to apply to all correspondence official as well as private.
Failure to obey of this order was severe punishment, including
deportation. If somebody expiated punishment of prison and
of arrest or generally if somebody was noted in police,
even for not correctly walking on the street, he was threatened
with the same punishment.
An event which occurred in mid-morning of a sunny day in
June is worth relating. At about 10 in the morning, the
entire area near the stores on Modrzejowska street was surrounded
by German police. The men stopped a few dozen of Jews, mostly
with beards and dressed in their traditional caftans. Under
threat of drawn revolvers they were forced to simulate an
armed attack with rifles and bayonets on the German police,
who for this purpose lay down on the ground. Jews with bayonets
and weapons in hand had to simulate an attack upon the supine
Germans. From above, photographs were taken of the scene
and sent to "der Sturmer" newspaper. At about
the same time, there was published in "der Sturmer"
a photo of old Jew who had suffered from a disfiguring sciatica
for many years. He was photographed with residents of Bedzin,
who, in the caption of the photo pointed out the unfortunate
man as the ringleader of a band of smugglers.
The Germans delighted in this kind of ploys such as photographing
all sorts of handicapped Jewish persons and presenting the
caricatures to their own readership in all sorts of poses
as typical representatives of Jewish race.
On 5 April 1941 there arrived in Bedzin Jewish persons who
had been deported from the city Oswiecim (Auschwitz). The
Jewish residents of Bedzin accepted them very hospitably.
At first, because there wasn't housing available, they were
placed in the Jewish Orphanage building, where they received
On 9 April a second transport of deportees arrived. These,
too, were placed in the Orphanage since the first group
had been re-located in private apartments. In June, 1940
came there arrived in Bedzin a transport of Jews from the
countryside of Zaglebie, who were accepted and all were
In 1942, Jews generally were not allowed to leave their
areas of residence, except with the individual permission
of the Gestapo and the Police headquarters. It was mostly
the higher officials of the Jewish Committees Judenrate
and some workers for German firms who received such passes.
Also during this time, the Jewish tram service was canceled.
The only means of transport was the horse-drawn carriage.
Every Judenrat had a horse and carriage, but there was no
fodder for the horses. Early in the occupation, the head
of the Central Judenrat Moses Merin was the only Jew in
the entire area occupied by the Germans to possess a car
for his own use.
In October 1941 an order was issued mandating that any Jew
found in possession of any kind of fur or woolen articles
would be punished by the by-now well-known threat - deportation
to Oswiecim (Auschwitz). 95% Jews complied with this order
by giving the articles to the Judenrat; the remaining 5%
gave these articles to Christian friends for safekeeping
since to sell was also punishable. Soon after this there
appeared similar orders concerning all types of electrical
devices, such as electric stoves, irons, etc. This order
wasn't complied with as strictly since these were small
items which could be hidden. Moreover these were indispensable
to everyday living.
Then an order was issued by the municipality requiring every
Jew to give 3 days of (unpaid) work for the benefit of the
city. However, it was possible to pay a sum of money so
as to avoid this work. Then it was forbidden for any Jewish
person to possess a telephone, radio, photographic devices
or even a gramophone. It wasn't even allowed to own a bicycle.
All Jewish craftsmen had to specially register with the
Judenrate and to perform (unpaid) work for it. It was forbidden
for Jews to correspond with any German firm even by identifying
his race with the added name of "Israel". Jewish
establishments and craftsmen had only the right to serve
Jewish customers. For the entire area of Upper and Lower
Silesia and Zaglebie, there were only two Jewish lawyers,
one in Gliwice and the other in Bytom. This had the effect
of reducing the possibility of court judgments to zero.
Further, it was prohibited to teach in Bedzin Jewish children
either in lay or religious subjects. This is why there were
no schools during the entire time of the German occupation.
This prohibition was overcome by private teaching in secret.
Other harassments included the forbidding of Jews to attend
cinema or other entertainment.
After some time, the Jewish armbands were required to be
replaced with a yellow Star of David bearing in its center
the black inscription "Jude". This badge of shame
had to be worn sewn exactly on the center of the left breast.
Such a badge had to be sewn on every article of clothing
worn in one' s residence and place of work.
Almost daily, there appeared new instruction of general
character, all of which had the purpose of increasing the
difficulty, and making impossible, normal life for Jews.
The city hospitals had no right to accept Jewish patients.
Only the institution for the mentally ill at Brzozowice,
near Bedzin, accepted Jews after numerous efforts by the
Judenrat. But there, Jewish patients, in a brief time, were
Because until 1943, in our area, there were no Jewish surgeon
permitted, in the events an operation were necessary, the
patient was sentenced to death in advance. At the end of
1942 participation in a Jewish funeral was restricted to
only the nearest of kin. The funeral procession was required
to pass quickly on the street to the cemetery.
It was forbidden also for Jews to be married in a civil
service. However, for Jews it was sufficient to have a religious
marriage. For the minor financial crime of dealing in foreign
currency, the Germans in 1942 held a public execution by
hanging. For this purpose there were placed in the most
visible points within the cities a number of gallows conforming
to the number of victims. Then the entire population was
required to assemble and view the execution.
Those individuals who didn't want to witness such scenes
were brought by under compulsion by the police. Executions
such as these were solemn spectacles to the German authorities.
At such times, their mendacity was so apparent that, before
the execution, they read the judgment in the German and
Polish languages, using the words "in the name of German
law". The hanged victims were left on the gallows for
several hours with the purpose of frightening the populace.
Similar executions took place not only in Bedzin, but in
all the cities of Zaglebie.
The executions were not only for "criminal" acts,
but also for political crimes. Next to the punishment of
deportation to Oswiecim (Auschwitz),
the punishment of hanging was the only alternate deterrent
in the Germans' relation to Jews until the liquidation of
the Srodula and Kamionka ghettoes in August 1943.
In May 1942, by order of the Gestapo, there began the system
of mass- deportation of Jews from Zaglebie. Such operations
took place in the following manner: the Judenrat sent a
written summons to various individuals of the city ordering
them to appear at the Jewish Orphanage building together
with packed hand luggage and food for several days. Persons
receiving such summonses became part of a deportation group.
It wasn't clear under whose influence there spread the rumor
that, for 100% certain, these persons were definitely to
be sent to a destination at which Jews were to be resettled.
However, the Jewish residents of the city, having had unpleasant
experiences didn't believe the Germans' promises of new
Jewish settlements being formed. As a result only a very
small percentage of those being summoned actually appeared.
The fate of those who reported was fore-ordained. They were
sent away and nothing more was heard from them. The Gestapo
understanding that this voluntary reporting method was not
efficient, in the following month (June 1942) used another
method. With participation of the Jewish police, they surrounded
at night large apartment blocks occupied solely by Jews
and emptied all inhabitants from the selected dwellings.
Once surrounded on the street, the Jewish persons were escorted
under guard of the German police to the Assembly Point (Umschlagplatz).
From there, at daybreak, they were packed into box cars
like cattle and sent to Oswiecim (Auschwitz). Only a meager
percentage of those apprehended in this manner was able
to survive by escaping or bribing. In such a fashion several
thousand captured Jewish persons were sent from Bedzin.
In August 1942 when it seemed that the wave of deportations
had lessened, the news was spread that on the 12th of the
month, all Jewish inhabitants of Sosnowiec, Bedzin and Dabrowa
Gornicza had to appear, entirely without regard to sex or
age. There even had to appear at the Assembly Points new-born
infants and cripples. All must wear their best clothing
and have with them food for one day.
The purpose of the gathering was given as a reconfirmation
of photo identity cards "Lichtbild auisweis" by
Gestapo. The Judenrate, in their own announcements assured
the populace of calm and of a definite return, on the same
day, to their residences. They explained that the purpose
of the assembly was that the Gestapo had to have an exact
record of number of Jewish population.
In calls and announcements the Judenrat also emphasized
that, if after the 12th of August, anyone didn't have on
his or her identity card a stamp from the Gestapo, that
person would be immediately deported. It must be admitted
for exculpation of the activists within the Judenrat that
they acted in good faith, though having cooperated with
German authorities from the beginning and knowing their
falseness and hypocrisy, the Judenrat could expect from
them only the worst outcome. However, there was no alternative
but to comply.
On 12 August 1942 at 5 in the morning on a beautiful summer
day, crowds of men, of old men, of women and of children
proceeded to one of two points, one being located on the
sports-field "Hakoach" on ulica Kosciuszki, and
the second on the sports-field "Sarmacja" on ulica
Malobadz. It would not be an exaggeration to report that
more than 99% of Jewish population appeared in response
to the order of the Judenrat since I can personally testify
to this. All the streets of the Jewish area were completely
empty and as were innumerable homes the entire day of the
"Aktion". Indeed, all attics and cellars were
completely empty. From among 28,000 Jews in the Community,
I knew of only one man left at home and he was completely
paralyzed. He, upon seeing me, asked that I carry him to
the Assembly Point.
At 7 in the morning, the gates of the Assembly Points were
closed and at 8 AM the area was surrounded by gendarmerie
and German police. On seeing this, the mood of the populace
soon began changing. The people now understood that they
had surrendered into a tragic trap. The heat became terrible,
the sun burnt mercilessly. The crying of babies and torments
of the ill and old people and complaints of thirsty people
were heard everywhere.
At 10, the Gestapo and members of the Schmelt Organization
arrived. The people were gathered at one end of the assembly
area and, like cattle, each had to pass through an inspection
of "buyers and butchers".
Older people, handicapped people, children and young persons
who had children were classed as group #3. They were sent
to a designated area where they were under guard so that
no one from among them would disappear. Young persons healthy,
of both sexes, who weren’t workers in large workshops or
in the Judenrat were classed as group #2. They were designated
to be sent for forced work to Germany.
Finally, those remaining i.e. people working in large workshops
and in the Judenrat were classified as group #1. These were
to remain at work in Bedzin. The “Aktion” lasted the entire
day and all torrentially-rainy night and into the next day.
It is hard to imagine the entire of the situation which
came into being on the assembly points during and after
segregation. Children were separated from parents, husbands
from wives, brothers from sisters. Screams and weeping was
heard over a radius of several kilometers as the horror
of the situation was increased by the torrential rain which
lasted the whole night of 12/13 August. People dropped from
fatigue because the ground was too wet to permit sitting.
Children fainted on the shoulders of their mothers. Older
people resignedly sat down in puddles of mud and prayed,
bidding farewell to their dearest persons. Every0where people
fell unconscious like flies.
Above the weeping and screaming, there dominated the bestial
screams of the Gestapo who, with whips and rifle butts "kept
order" among the Jewish mass. Countless was number
of victims this night in this place, and on the following
day began the real tragedy.
About 11 in the morning, men from Gestapo with large numbers
of police then began a true pageant of death. People from
group #3 were placed in rows and these who couldn’t stand
on legs were dragged or supported on the shoulders of stronger
victims. They began to rush these unfortunates in the direction
of Orphanage of sad memories. It should be added that, group
#2 was liquidated by being divided between groups #1 and
Group #1 had their documents stamped and were released to
return home. There, they were to spend several more months
of work and suffering. Then they, too, would be sent away
as those before them.
During this time, the Orphanage was filled with unfortunate
people. People were held there for several days. It should
be noted that both the Jewish police as well as officials
of the Judenrat performed miracles in effecting assistance
often at risk of their own lives. Here and there, it was
possible to encounter different rotten tricks on the part
of the Jewish police, but the truth be said that a considerable
number of those scheduled for deportation were saved.
The result of the “Aktion” of August 1942 in Bedzin was
that some dozens died at the Assembly Point and about 5,000
victims were sent to their deaths.
It must be added that identical operations were undertaken
simultaneously on the same day in Sosnowiec and in Dabrowa.
This was the purpose in confusing the Jewish population
and making it impossible to move during the day of the Aktion
to other towns. It must be admitted that deportation Aktions
in the Generale Gouvernement had already existed some time
earlier. Actually, Zaglebie Dabrowskie had been, until now,
an asylum to which remaining Jews who had survived within
the various towns of the Generale Gouvernement had fled.
Those persons, without Jewish armbands and disguised as
Aryans got through mostly at night usually under great danger.
They were smuggled out of the Generale Gouvernement either
by relatives or friends or by completely unknown people.
The fugitives hid as long as they could, trying to save
their lives often in cold and hunger all the while being
set upon like animals.
In case such an unfortunate person from the Generale Gouvernement
was caught without a proper "Lichtausweis" (photo
identity card), his fate was known in advance. The Judenrat
did much to help such fugitives. At the beginning it was
possible to have them to go to labor camps in Germany where
a man ceased being human and became only a number.
Not infrequently there took place events which produced
for these fugitives false documents, making it possible
for them stay on in the area of Zaglebie.
After some time, our "Leiter" (sarcastic for “leader”
as in Führer) Moses Merin succeeded in legalizing with
the authorities the so-called “A.K.” (Arbeits Kommando =
work groups), recruited solely from such fugitives. They
were quartered in barracks under supervision of Jewish police.
They performed work in different tasks for authorities.
These people fared comparatively well -- they were held
at the cost of the Judenrat and the housing and health conditions
Because the A.K. was recruited mostly from young, healthy,
clever and “prepared for everything” type individuals, they
became close to our people. They organized trade unions
and, living on a communal agricultural Jewish farm, became
the nucleus of a revolutionary movement which illegally
began to organize within the Jewish society. The movement
grew from day to day. It had its own envoys in the entire
country as well as in foreign lands such as Hungary and
Czechoslovakia. Secret meetings were held at night in Kamionka
bunkers became the embers of a movement whose task was first
to organize young people and mobilize of all kinds of weapons.
And if it weren’t short period of time, during which, to
save the lives of one’s own family, denunciations were made
betraying the conspiracy and led to deportation by the Germans,
who knows whether this movement would not have played a
serious role in the history of Zaglebie Dabrowskie during
the German occupation.
The authorities began to arrest and deport many young persons.
The Jewish Centrale (Merin) entered into the matter and
called public meetings in which they called upon the youth
to be loyal and obedient to the authority of Merin’s Centrale.
These meetings did not achieve the desired result, but the
movement within our area became stifled. The only uprising
in our region occurred in August 1943 when a group of young
people under the leadership of comrade Frumka, hidden in
a bunker in Kamionka defended itself to the last. There
were many killed on the German side as well. Unfortunately,
the reserve of ammunition was too small and a large number
of the defending youths were killed.
A portion of the youth did escape and found its way to the
underground army. The remainder were taken into the hands
of Nazi thugs. The Germans, furious at this resistance,
took revenge in the following manner: the entire Monday
transport consisting of 6,000 persons was sent without selection
to the gas chambers of Oswiecim (Auschwitz).
To return, however, to the end of 1942 when the influx of
persons from the Generale Gouvernement was large enough
so that the authorities made constant night-time searches,
harrying these unfortunate persons and pursuing them from
place to place. Some of these persons often became weary
and despaired of life so that they surrendered to the authorities
by themselves. The authorities sent these unfortunates according
to their momentary whim either to Oswiecim (Auschwitz) or
to labor camps.
In November of 1942 a wide-scale action plan was conceived.
All men 17 to 50 years of age and all women 16 to 45 years,
who were not workers in Rossner's workshop were required
to appear before the Judenrat’s medical board where, after
a perfunctory examination, they were classified as capable
of being sent to Germany for forced labor.
Since no one voluntarily appeared for these examinations,
there began a systematic Aktion lasting several days and
nights with the object of finding persons intended for "Arbeitseinsatz"
(forced labor). Jewish police with participation of "Schupos"
made day and night roundups of those designated by the Judenrat.
When they didn’t find the specified individual whose name
was on a list they took "substitute" for the missing
person, a so-called "Ersatz". The Ersatz were
often the wife, the children or even elderly parents who
were held and tormented until the person who was sought
surrendered. When this form of hostage-taking didn’t succeed,
there appeared announcements advising all those who had
failed to report as ordered that should they fail to surrender
by a set time, then in their stead members of their family
would be deported to Auschwitz.
A very meager percentage of the missing persons appeared
because they thought that this threat is yet another trick
of Merin’s Centrale Judenrat. Unfortunately, this time the
ruse proved to be true. Dozens of unfortunate persons were
sent to Oswiecim (Auschwitz) and all trace of them disappeared.
Furthermore, the deportation of innocents did not affect
in any way the continuing search for persons who were recorded
on the Arbeiteinsatz lists and had failed to report.
Now people began to build bunkers (hiding places) in attics
and cellars. At night they found refuge in firms belonging
to Germans. Many times they spent nights in the open air.
No one slept in his own residence. It was no longer possible
to meet some one at his/her own address.
Because the Aktions didn’t deliver the desirable results,
the German authorities tried other means. Namely, on a certain
night about 2 AM summonses were delivered by a policeman
to various individuals throughout the community. The individual
was told that he/she must immediately appear at the Judenrat.
When the summoned person arrived, he found already present
a large assembly of people gathered in the President’s office.
It was a meeting of the most important citizens of the city
including doctors and in general the so called "opinion
of the city" individuals.
In a grave mood, the president read a letter sent by Merin’s
Centrale Judenrat in Sosnowiec which, in turn, had received
it from the Gestapo. In the letter, the Gestapo demanded
the delivery on the following at 10 a.m. 100 persons from
a list for Arbeitseinsatz, with this following addition:
that this number of 100 persons must be delivered each day
for a long period of time. If the group failed to furnish
the Gestapo within the set time-limit i.e. 10 o'clock in
the morning then it had to furnish a list of names of 10
citizens of the city of Bedzin, who would be publicly hanged.
The Judenrat’s President appealed to the assembled persons
to each express his own opinion in this matter. Of course,
the second alternative did not enter into consideration.
Discussion was limited only to advising the manner in which
the persons would be set on the list for deportation each
day. After a few hours discussion, it was decided by the
people assembled, without excepting of Rabbis, that they
should go at once to the city and present to the populace
the threat of the situation and urge the populace to have
volunteers to serve in the Arbeitseinsatz. But this urging
didn't solve the problem. Although on the following day
the group of people was found, on the following days thee
weren’t volunteers to be found. Among those holding back
were the Jews employed in Rossner's workshop who were happy
with their good fortune.
Soon afterwards, on a day in April 1942, several hundred
employees of Rossner's workshop being entirely from the
richest Jews of Bedzin who contributed to the German authorities
many tens of thousand marks to be employed in the supposed
safety of Rossner’s Bautrupp (construction crew) were surrounded
by German Police. No intervention was of avail. The entire
group of men and women were sent to work to Germany and
only small part of them survived to the end of the war.
From this moment when the supposed safety of working in
Rossner's workshop disintegrated, Jewish life in Zaglebie
Dabrowskie vanished as though impacted by a volcano. Henceforth,
there wasn’t a peaceful moment for the Jewish inhabitants
either by day or night. There were continuous roundups and
new pronouncements. The frantic youth saw their only salvation
to lie in the production of Aryan papers and their eing
accepted asacting as Aryans.
It should be stressed that that there were many cases in
which parents gave their children, their own babies, to
Aryans who took them either for money or for altruism. Thus,
there began an existence without any illusions. All were
prepared for extermination and death.
Then, like a ray of light shining on these gloomy and drab
days a new flicker of hope dawned on the horizon of Jewish
life. Some families began to receive passports to Switzerland
thereby qualifying for assignment to an Internment Camp
(I-Lager) with the status of “foreign nationals”. It should
be admitted that the foreign countries involved made great
efforts in this matter with the aim of saving those or similar
people, but unfortunately... as a consequence of dark machination
of the Centrale Judenrat in Sosnowiec headed by Monic Merin
as leader, this action which could have saved large number
of persons from death did not achieve its intended result.
Only a first transport of twenty or so persons arrived at
the intended destination of the Du-lag and all internees
from this transport remained alive. The second and third
transports, as a result of the false ambition and social
deficient of the Jewish management ended in the main Nazi
Concentration Camp ("Lager") of Oswiecim (Auschwitz),
where they were murdered. There were no further transports
despite the fact that many families possessed legal documents
authorizing them to be interned as foreigners.
This was probably the most disgraceful and most unscrupulous
act of the Centrale Judenrat and its leaders who, by placing
their own private ambitions over the public welfare signed
with their own hands the judgments of death on many important
citizens of the town.
But history claims its revenge. The same persons who prepared
extermination for others and who each had taken the opportunity
to save their own lives and who, as rumor tells it, were
in possession of these foreign documents, several days later
shared the fate of their own people. Moses Merin, his assistant
and right hand Franya Czarna, Doctor Löwenstein and
Merin's brother, Chaim Merin, were insidiously called to
the Gestapo, allegedly for a meeting.
They then disappeared, being sent to an unknown direction
(most likely to Auschwitz). After the arrest and deportation
of the leaders of the Zaglebie Jews, the remaining Jewish
people became as a ship in turbulent waters without a captain.
Their successors weren’t competent enough to control such
an administrative machine as was the Centrale. The new leaders
were helpless in the face of constant persecution and orders
from the German authorities. The administration of the Centrale
Judenrat which, until now, had worked efficiently now became
completely disorganized. There was a lack of authority.
No one was able to accept the burden of management. Any
remaining optimists now lost heart. It was an open secret
that the last chapter of Jewish life in Zaglebie was drawing
to an end.
On the night of 19 May 1943 in Srodula i.e. the Sosnowiec
ghetto and part of the Bedzin ghetto, the street named "Steingasse"
was surrounded by German Police and Gestapo. With no selection
or regard as to where and who was working and what functions
were involved, victims were seized and taken to the former
Orphanage where they were held several hours. These persons
were then loaded in freight wagons much like cattle and
sent to Oswiecim (Auschwitz). From this group of several
thousand persons, no one survived.
On 22 June about 3-4 o'clock in the morning, the entire
Kamionka Ghetto was surrounded by “Schupos” and Gestapo.
The entire Jewish population, amidst a hail of blows, shots
and grenades from the furious German soldiers were driven
out to the Assembly Point in a large square in Kamionka.
Every dwelling was searched in detail. All cellars and attics
were searched in the same manner so that it was difficult
for anyone to hide. In this way there were driven to the
Assembly Point twelve or so thousand Jews with children,
old men and cripples. All people had to pass selection,
but there were no criteria. It wasn’t known basically what
decided deportation -- whether age, employment, or even
one’s appearance - everything depended upon the whim of
a Nazi thug, who with riding-whip in hand and with the most
indifferent expression, sent thousands of human beings,
young and healthy to their deaths.
Here children were separated from parents and wives from
husbands. After every effort at resistance, the survivors
were tortured in terrible ways. The Aktion lasted through
the whole day and the result was deportation of several
hundred persons to Oswiecim (Auschwitz), a lesser number
sent to Arbeitseinsatz in Germany and a few dozen dead people
who remained where they fell. It should be stressed that
all workers of Rossner's workshop, no matter the age or
sex were immediately sent to Oswiecim (Auschwitz) and this
transport went directly to the gas chambers and crematorium.
Persons remaining alive were sent home there to remain to
enjoy the “delights of life” for the ten weeks remaining
until the first of August when the final liquidation of
Zaglebie Dabrowskie Jews occurred.
On Saturday after noon on 31 July, rumors began about the
possibility of an Aktion again, but no one believed this.
At night, as later it was told, the Germans brought wagons,
but as yet there was heard no shot. At 3 in the morning,
it turned out that entire ghetto had been surrounded. Now,
no one could escape.
German police (Ordners) walked about and shouted, “Out,
onto the the streets!” Jewish police walked about shouting
to the sleeping residents to awaken and prepare for transport
because the area will be made "Judenrein" (cleansed
of Jews). There appeared squads of Germans in battle dress.
They were armed as though they were about to enter a heavy
battle. Still, no one believed that this would be the final
deportation of Jews.
There had been so many lies ‘til now that people thought
that at this time the Judenrat’s officials continued to
lie. In spite of this belief, people began to enter their
hiding places. An order was given for Jews to gather near
the Judenrat building. Those persons who voluntarily appeared
were sent with the first transport at 8.30 in the morning.
The second transport left at 11.30, and a third at 3.00
in the afternoon.
It wasn’t known to where these transports went. It was said
that they went to Annaberg in Silesia, a long-standing labor
camp. In this manner, several transports left daily from
Bedzin for a period of 3 or 4 days. After that, it transpired
that a number of Jews had to be left alive in order to properly
close down the ghetto. Here was yet another opportunity
to squeeze from the Jews a little money. This is the reason
that Liquidating Camps were organized in Srodula for the
Sosnowice liquidation and at Rossner's workshop for the
Bedzin area. Using the enticement of work (and living) in
the Liquidation camps, it was easier to draw Jews from their
Within the ghetto, firing lasted for some four weeks. People
were shot and hurriedly buried where they fell. Later, the
bodies were exhumed and taken to Oswiecim (Auschwitz). This
work was done by the Jewish police.
During the first days of the "Judenrein" Aktion,
some 2,000 Jewish persons were shot. There were two attempts
of resistance among the Jews, but the only result was that
those transports went directly to the gas chambers at Auschwitz.
In order to extract the rest of the people from their bunkers,
the Germans shut off the water supply. This had the effect
of forcing a part of the Jews to leave their bunkers and
apply for work in the Liquidating Camps.