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HOLOCAUST TESTIMONIES


Name of deponent: Abraham Krakowski
Birth date: September 9, 1918
Birth place: Katowice
Parents: Szymon and Gina Goldberg.
Occupation: Official
Current address: Katowice, ul. Mlynska 17



At the outbreak of the war in 1939, I was living in Sosnowiec. My parents left their business, fully equipped, and their apartment to the mercy of Fate and moved to his sister in Sosnowiec. On "Hoszana-Raba" holiday in 1940, there was the first Arbeitseinsatz in Sosnowiec as well as at the same time in different towns of "Ostoberschlesien". This Arbeitseinsatz Aktion in "Ostoberschlesien" was directed by the Dienststelle „des Sonderbeauftragten des Reichsfuehrers SS und Chef der Deutschen Polizei für Fremdvölkischen Arbeitseinsatz". This institution was headed by SS General Schmelt. The most active individuals who were particularly bad for the Jewish population were: SS Obersturmbahnführer Heinrich Lindner, Official for Jewish Affairs Friedrich Kuczynski, Sturmführer Bruno Ludwig, an SS-man Messner, Ludwig Knoll and Oberinspektor Hentschel. Kuczynski always wore civilian clothes, while the others were in uniform either SS, SA or military uniforms.

The first president of the Jewish Community in Katowice after the outbreak of the war in 1939 was Bertold Kochmann, a long-standing member of the Jewish Community board in Katowice. Kochmann took steps at the end of 1939 and beginning of 1940 to the end that the Jewish communities in Upper Silesia wouldn’t be subordinate to Mr. Merin. Kochmann was a friend of my father and he came to us and told us that he was involved with this affair with persons in Berlin. He criticized Merin and accused him of taking too much control upon himself.
In 1940, Kochmann emigrated through Berlin to Bolivia with all his family. During the first Arbeitseinsatz there was no roundup. The Jewish Community received an order from the Dienststelle to deliver a certain number of young men of the ages 18 to 30. The Judenrat sent summonses to persons ordering them to report to a medical board for the purpose of going to a labor camp in the Silesia-Opole district. There was mentioned at this time, the Gross Strehlitz camp and one other, but I don't remember its name. At this time the Community sent out several hundred summonses. Not everyone so summoned appeared. Only "average" people, i.e. poor persons who received financial aid from the Ältestenrat were summoned at first. The medical board was located in the out-patients' clinic on ul Targowa 7. There, Jewish doctors made a medical evaluation and their decision was very important.

Persons qualified to be sent were still released to their homes. After a few days, Jewish police took them in groups of about 70 to the railway station. There, Germans took control of them and they were deported to the labor camp. Two months later, there took place a second Arbeitseinsatz on a larger scale. By the order of the Dienststelle, the Judenrat sent summonses to young men to the age of 30 who were still unemployed in Sosnowiec. They were summoned to report to the medical board. There, Jewish doctors examined them. I also received a summons and reported to the medical board.

I knew the doctors and this is why I was released. They reported that I appeared to have asthma which I never had. In the board were doctors from Sosnowiec; the leader was a doctor from Bedzin. People found to be healthy and capable of working weren’t released. At this time, there were deported to the labor camps about 500 persons. All of them were held in the out-patients' clinic. Later, the Jewish police drove them in groups to the railway station and handed them over to the hands of the Germans, officers of the Dienststelle.

Active at this time were the SS-men Knoll and Lindner. During examination by the board, Knoll and Lindner, with whips in hand, entered and watched to see how the examinations went. Their mere appearance brought fear and panic among the Jews present. The random arresting of Jews made chaos in town among the Jewish population who didn't expect to see again their relatives. The Jewish population brought clothes and food to those arrested.

At this time, people were sent to the following camps: Brande, Bunzlau, Göppersdorf, Annaberg, Johannesdorf, Ottmund and Sakrau. At the same time, transports of unfortunates from Bedzin were sent to work. To save themselves before deportation to labor camps, people tried to find job work locally and tried to obtain work certificates called "Sonders" (specials).

Persons working for Jewish firms carried red certificates, known as a “red Sonder", issued by the office of the Sonderbeauftragte. Such persons paid 50 marks per month to the Dienststelle for this. People employed in German shops received green "Sonders". The Jewish and German employer had to pay for these certificates. A Jewish employer paid 50 marks (paid by employer, not by worker).
At the beginning of 1941, there began roundups prepared by the Dienststelle. There were roundups of young Jewish persons to work in Germany. Those first roundups were done in this manner: Lindner would appear in an automobile, stop it and begin to check papers of individuals found on the street. He carried a revolver in one hand and a whip in his other hand while he shouted: "Stehen bleiben, Ausweise!" (“Stand where you are….your passport!”)

If someone didn't have a "Sonder" document with him at that moment, Lindner arrested the individual at once. He often rushed into one Jewish cafe which existed in 1941 and behaved in the same fashion. Knoll and Ludwig behaved in a similar manner.




 
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