Rosner's workshop in Bedzin
Witness: Ilza Kupfermuntz,
Born: 23 March 1922 in Chemnitz, Saksonia (Saxony).
Parents: Salomon and Rachela (maiden name: Zmigrod, from
Pre-war residence: Chemnitz.
Current residence (1945): Katowice, ul. Pawla 6.
Occupation: Shorthand typist.
The German man, Alfred Rosner, came to Bedzin in January
1940. The government "Treuhandstelle" Trustee
Office (of confiscated Jewish properties) gave him several
clothing firms to manage.
That summer a proposal from the Judenrat was put forward
to create in Bedzin workshops which would save Jews from
deportation to labor camps to Germany. Rosner learned of
this and became interested in this project. Tailoring workshops
were created under the aegis of the Judenrat in connection
with the German concern, Grunther und Schwarz of the Litzmannstadt
Rosner became the head of this Bedzin affiliate. In this
workshop were employed 300 persons, all Jewish men and women.
In November 1940, this workshop was taken over by Rosner
under his name and he became its owner. Now he employed
more people and gave professional management to Jews - specialists
and persons familiar with the trade - namely to a Mr. Ferleger,
Arie Kaminski, Moses Wolf and a certain Goldsztejn. Ferleger
was a friend of Rosner from before the war, since he had
lived and was brought up in Falkensztein, Germany from where
Rosner also originated.
Rosner was not a party (NSDAP) member. On the contrary,
he was an adherent of the communists. He became "Treuhandler"
in Bedzin only because of efforts of Jews and of the main
Treuhandler - the German Braune. Braune was a General Commissioner
of Textile and Metal concerns.
This workshop produced solely for the Wehrmacht. The factory
produced underwear and work clothes. The Jewish workers
believed they were protected from deportation to camps in
Germany because the output was important to the German war
effort. Rosner wanted to be friendly to the Jews and this
is why he developed the workshop.
Each month there were more employees, but orders still originated
from the Wehrmacht through the agency of the Gunther und
Schwarz, Litzmannstadt concern. In 1942, this concern stopped
its orders and there was no work for the Jewish employees.
Rosner, to continue protecting Jews, didn't liquidate the
workshop, but instead gave it to the German concern "Held",
headquartered in Sosnowiec. In this fashion, the workshop
worked for two months as "Held", managed by Rosner.
During this time, the German authorities declined to permit
Rosner to remain longer in Bedzin because of Rosner's political
convictions. However, because the Special Emissary (of Himmler),
SS General Albrecht Schmelt, in Sosnowiec derived great
financial benefits from this workshop, as did the Chief
Inspector of the Special Emissary Hentschel, they were favorable
to Rosner. These persons wished to maintain the workshop
and Rosner, so that an agreement was reached with Rosner.
Now the workshop’s ownership was the Special Emissary and
Rosner continued as manager.
In this manner, Rosner received permission to remain longer
in Bedzin. After this (change in ownership), the workshop
became very important and expanded greatly. Thanks to the
Jew, Ferleger, pre-war relations were renewed with various
German private concerns, which gave orders to the workshop
for different kinds of clothing. A relationship also developed
with the German concern Rüstungsbetriebe.
The Bedzin workshop in 1942 received so many orders that
it was necessary to open a separate division on Kollataja
Street #45 in Bedzin. In the meantime, more employees were
needed. Many Jewish woman and men applied for work with
Rosner’s firm. The employees in this workshop were considered
to be in the category of Forced Laborers for the Special
Emissary. The employees worked on piece-work system, paid
for their output.
In May 1942 there began the first deportation Aktions against
the Jews of Bedzin. Rosner’s firm protected his workers
from this Aktion so that not one of them, male or female,
was selected for deportation.
In the cellar of the tailoring workshop were the so-called
Zuschneiderei (cutting room) where the patterns were produced
by the "Bandmessermaschinen” (powered textile cutting
tools). About 50-100 layers of textile were stacked one
upon the other. On the top layer was drawn a rather complicated
pattern and the entire stack of cloth was cut with the hand
cutting machine. It was very difficult work because it was
necessary to hold all this material and to move the cutting
machine according to the pattern on the top layer until
all the cloth was cut. The cutter was an electric machine.
Later, in the same cellar, the parts of the cut material
were sorted, bound and packed for delivery to the sewing
workshops. There was also much work concerning receipt and
sending out of the production of the firm. It was all heavy
work on which worked especially strong Jews. A great deal
of dust in the factory also bothered the Jewish employees,
many of whom developed lung diseases.
Some of the Jewish workers and the management created the
concept of social care in the factory. They organized an
out-patient department where first-aid concerning factory
accidents was dispensed. Treatment of sick persons was also
available there. There was a doctor, 3 to 4 nurses and a
Later a kitchen was organized. A bitter black coffee was
dispensed during rest breaks or interruptions caused by
changes in machine settings. Bread and sometimes a piece
of sausage and bit of margarine were also dispensed. It
was given to hard-working people. There were also barbers
who cut and shaved, supposedly for free at the expense of
workshop, but each person treated paid a small sum.
There were two shifts - the day and the night shifts. It
required an hour to travel to the factory from the ghetto
and an hour to return. When the workers of the ghetto had
assembled at the appointed time, the Jewish Industrial Police
escorted them to the factory and later returned them to
the ghetto. It was forbidden for any one to travel without
a police escort. The Jewish managers had special passes
which allowed them to go on the streets of the town and
they had night passes which allowed them to go during the
night so as to control work in the factoryu at different
times. They controlled attendance of the workers and all
affairs concerning them from the Germans’ offices.
The factory buildings were located in four places in Aryan
districts plus one building on Fabrikstr. #37, opposite
the railway station. In the ground floor of this building
were located all bureaus, cash office and offices of chief
Rosner and his vice chief. In the cellar under the office
was the "Zuschneiderei" and warehouse of heavy
material. On this street farther into the building in three
big areas on the ground floor and second floor were located
the sewing factory. Located there was Abteilung (Division)
U and part of Z (K.W. Kleider, Wäsche) i.e., Clothing
Other sewing factories were located on Kollataja 45 in the
whole building - with four floors and two annexes. The fifth
floor, attic and cellar were alsoused there. There was also
a "Ziwil" (civilian) section and there were also
more workshops - mechanical, electrical, and a kitchen.
However, in this kitchen there wasn’t time enough to prepare
Other workshops were on ul. Malobadzka at # 7 and # 9.,
though only sewing workshops. In the courtyards of these
two buildings and nearby piled in square was a heap of old
shoes formerly belonging to deported persons (once, forty
wagonloads of such boots were brought at one time). There
were men’s and women’s shoes, but mostly there were children’s
shoes. The Germans told us that the shoes came from collections,
but the Jewish managers knew from where they came because
there were some transports from Oswiecim. From those used
shoes the better parts were cut for production of new shoes.
The Jews worked hard in the workshops, usually quietly,
because although the Germans told us that it’s not necessary
to be afraid now of Germans, it is necessary to be afraid
of the partisans. These could attack the factory and set
fire to it. In such an instance, the Germans would take
advantage of this and say that it was Jewish sabotage. As
a punishment they would deport all Jews. So the manager
ordered night tours of watch duty.
On the night in which the (Kamionka and Srodula) ghettos
were surrounded by Gestapo and SS-men and the great deportation
began, the older people usually hid in bunkers and the young
people, mainly from Rosner, went quietly to the Assembly
Point in the square. At that time almost all the young Jewish
people of Bedzin were deported. On that day they were loaded
into train freight cars and sent directly to the gas chambers
at (Oswiecim) Auschwitz. At that time, there were sent about
According to later information from people working in Oswiecim
(Auschwitz) it is known that from this transport the Germans
left only about 22 persons….. 14 boys 13 to14 years old
and 8 young women for experiments. This deportation disturbed
existence of the workshop, There still remained about 3,000
workers, but there were not coming to work the specialists
who had been deported. None of us wanted to work. We were
completely resigned. We felt that our end would soon come.
We couldn’t sleep peaceably calmly even for a single night.
During this deportation Rosner couldn't save a single person.
The work lasted until the end of July. Rosner however wanted
to house several hundred persons in a single barrack. This
was done by registration People couldn't decide anything.
The Judenrat accepted volunteers to go to the labor camps
in Germany. Everywhere, there was general chaos. Rosner
slowed everything down.
Then, on the night of 31 July to 1 August 1943, the entire
ghetto was surrounded at night and the general deportation
of all Jews from Zaglebie began. In the first days of the
following week several transports of trains to Oswiecim
(Auschwitz) were dispatched. On some days people were even
sent by passenger cars. At this time, Jews were still being
caught in discovered bunkers or Jews surrendered because
of lack of air, food, or water, mostly for lack of air.
Some became ill in the bunkers.
Until the liquidation of Rosner's factory, there were left
about 400 young persons. There were left also few hundred
young people in Kamionka until the liquidation of that ghetto.
The 400 people at Rosner worked on liquidating the workshop.
First, they sent a few hundred of sewing machines to Birkenau.
Later, there was sent by freight cars raw materials, textiles,
semi-finished products, and finished clothes to military
storehouses. Orders from various firms and goods were returned.
Some orders were finished and the rest was sorted according
to sequence of orders and were sent back by train.
At this time it was a closed camp. We weren’t permitted
to go to the town. There were guards from the Schmelt Organization
who watched us. It took quite long time. In the meantime
there were selections from among the 400 persons and groups
were sent to labor camps or to Oswiecim (Auschwitz).
On 19 January 1944 there were only 50 persons left and these
remained until July 1944. The "Office of the Special
Emissary” took them to Annaberg in Lower Silesia where the
liquidation of entire Special Emissary’s Group took place.
All forced labor camps under jurisdiction of the Special
Emissary were ended and the camps changed to auxiliary camps
of the main concentration camps, Auschwitz and Gross Rosen.
In September 1943 the police arrested Rosner. Rosner had
often sent packages to his home in Falkensztejn. One such
a package was confiscated and it appeared that it was a
very valuable package. Immediately a search of his house
was undertaken and many such valuable packages as well as
valuable items were discovered. On this basis, he was immediately
arrested. He was accused of acquiring those valuables from
Jews. He was imprisoned in the Sosnowiec prison until December
1944. He died in the prison.