Name of deponent: Mrs. Auerbach
Present residence (1946): Katowice, ul. Warszawska 11
Before the war there lived in Olkusz 6,000 persons of whom
3,000 were Jews. The Jewish population of Olkusz worked
in crafts and small trade. The Jewish population was mainly
of local origin. People from Olkusz, unlike other towns,
stayed mostly in place and didn't try to escape when the
German-Polish war began. When the Germans came and the front
moved farther to the east, Olkusz was a scene of great vexations
and persecution of the refugees from Bedzin and Sosnowiec
who attempted to return to their homes. On the bridge leading
from Olkusz to Slawkow terrible events took place. The Germans
plundered and beat Jewish refugees who attempted to return
to their homes.
In 1939, a forced contribution was levied upon the Jewish
population and Jews were ordered to give up all their gold
to the Germans. In December 1939, the “Judenrat” was created.
In 1940 Jews were required to wear armbands.
In June 1940 a German gendarme was killed in the house of
an Aryan doctor by unknown persons. In that instance, the
home was burnt down and 17 persons were killed. In July
1940 the Germans surrounded the town and all men (without
regard for ethnicity) were forced from their homes and beaten.
The victims were forced to do strenuous exercises. Two of
the men were killed. The Germans searched nearby houses
on the pretext of arresting and sending to "Lager" (concentration
camp). In the house of one accused person, the Germans found
carpets and accused the resident’s father of illegally trading.
The Germans beat him and took to the "Du-Lager" (transient
camp) to Sosnowiec from where after intervention he was
released after 3 weeks.
In the spring of 1941, the ghetto was established. It was
situated at the end of city. It wasn’t fenced, but nonetheless
the Jews carefully complied with the order of not leaving
the ghetto because of the rigorous penalties for any small
offence. In the winter 1939/1940, the Germans forced Jewish
people to clear streets of snow. In 1941, they sent young
men and women to labor camps on the province of Silesia.
Before the outbreak of the war about 400 Germans lived in
Olkusz. They were Nazi sympathizers. In the first days of
the war they helped the German air force by giving signals.
As it was stated later, in Westen's factory was there was
a transmitter station from which local Nazis sent secret
messages. Olkusz was situated on the border of the Reich
and the Generale Gouvernement which is why the Germans were
especially strict. At the same time that Jews from other
towns could still travel by train, Jews from Olkusz had
to use other means of travel (carts, going on foot) because
of the strictness of the German customs officials.
In June 1942, there was a complete deportation of Jews from
Olkusz. The Aktion lasted three days. At 5 o'clock in the
morning, the Germans surrounded the ghetto. Police and the
military forced all Jewish men, women, children, old persons
and even the severely ill and drove them all to the local
high school and the adjoining square. There, a selection
was held. The Jews deluded themselves by believing that
if there were a selection then not all the people would
be deported. The ill and elderly were placed separately.
When a group from the Jewish Central Judenrat in Sosnowiec
with Merin as a chief arrived, the Jews plucked up their
courage. Then the separations began. First the young men
and women were selected and sent away. Then, the craftsmen
were sent to Sosnowiec. On the third day at 6 o'clock, an
entire transport of Jews from Olkusz went to the extermination
camp. Only 160 Jews, among them some members of the Judenrat
and their families, members of O.D. and their families and
some specialists were sent to Sosnowiec.