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HOLOCAUST TESTIMONIES


Deponent #1: Dr. Samuel Mitelman
Birth date: August 20, 1895
Birth place: Dabrowa Gornicza
Parents: Mojzesz and Rozalia (maiden name: Siwek)

Deponent #2. Manek Szpigielman
Birth date: November 2, 1916
Birth place: Dabrowa Gornicza
Parents: Majer and Etla (maiden name: Rappaport)
Occupation: Merchant



In 1939, Dabrowa Gornicza counted 36,000 inhabitants. Among this number were 1,500 Jewish families, more or less 6,000 Jewish persons. From this number, in August 1939 about 500 men were drafted into the Polish Army. From 15% to 20% of population were indigenous people from Dabrowa and the rest were newcomers from Strzemieszyce, Slawkow, Olkusz, Miechow and other towns of the Kielce province. If we speak about occupations, the Jews were mostly merchants and the rest were craftsmen and traders. There were also people without a profession who, as illegal workers, worked in the Jewish factory "Bacia Klajn" in Dabrowa and in the Fürstenberg zinc-works in Bedzin. There was clearly a lack of intelligentsia in the area since among the 6,000 Jews, there were only 3 doctors, 1 attorney and 3 engineers. There were no Jewish schools. Young people attended schools in the neighboring towns.

On afternoon of September 4, 1939, the German Army entered the town. At first, there were no human victims, but the Germans set fire to the synagogue which was partly damaged as a result. Later, the synagogue was converted by the Germans into a storehouse which still stands today (1946). A few weeks after the entry of the Germans, there arrived in Dabrowa Gornicza 600-700 Jews from Austria, Germany and (Teschen) Silesia. They were refugees. At the same time, about 800 young people, male and female, fled to the Soviet Union. In October of that year, there was formed the Jewish Community Council (Judenrat) whose president was a man named Borensztajn. The Judenrat was located in an apartment on ul. Sienkiewicza #11.

At the beginning of November 1939, persecution of Jews began. Every Jew had to give money "per head" tax in amount of 10 Reich Marks. This is so called "Kopf-Steuer". At the same time, Jews were forced to make a community contribution of 25,000 Reich Marks. On November 9, 1939, two days before the Polish national holiday, fifteen Jewish persons were taken as hostages and held in prison in Katowice. In December 1939, it was required to wear arm bands made from white linen, 12 cm wide and embroidered or printed with a Star of David. These were to be worn on the left arm. The armbands made it easier for Germans to catch Jews in public places and streets for forced unpaid labor for the city.

At the beginning of 1940, Jews were forced to leave their apartments on the Third of May (3 maja) and Sobieskiego streets. It was forbidden to take any personal property from the apartments. It was also strictly forbidden for Jews to walk on the streets designated "emptied of Jews". An additional restriction for Jews was the curfew. It was permitted to be on the streets only from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. in the winter and until 9 p.m. in the summer. Another restriction was the special trams to be used only by Jews. These bore the inscription: "nur fur Juden". A further restriction was that it wasn’t permitted to use trains without special permission given by the German authorities.

In May 1940, Jewish residences were confiscated and in places of business and factories, so-called commissioners ("Treuhandlers") were installed. At first, they were Poles and then Germans or "Volksdeutsche" persons.

In October 1940, the first Arbeitseinsatz (forced labor) began. This was controlled by the Jewish Community (Judenrat), which was enlarged and re-organized with many uniformed Jewish constables. The Judenrat cooperated completely with the German authorities, following orders given them. Persons taken to forced work received an individual summons for departure for labor to be performed “for three months” in Germany. At first the summonses were mostly directed to the poor population, since wealthier persons could bribe themselves free of this obligation. The first cards appeared on the "Hoszane-Rabe" holiday; the first transport consisted of 300 men sent away on the last day of the "Sukot" holiday.
The year 1941 brought, with increasing rapidity, additional restrictions upon the Jewish people. Expropriations were carried forward. It wasn’t allowed for Jews to appear in public places and offices. Jews were limited to the use of several streets such as Fabryczna, Miejska, Stara Dabrowa, Szopena and Okrzeja. Related to those restrictions were penalties such as arrest and fines. A Volksdeutsch policemen named Kuczera developed special abilities in tyrannizing the Jewish population.

In September 1941, there appeared a new proclamation in which Zaglembie Dabrowskie was joined to Germany proper (“Alt Reich”). In connection with this, the white band armband was replaced by a yellow Star of David. On the first day of the "Rosz-Haszana" holiday we saw Jewish people wearing the yellow star and its inscription: "Jude" on their left chest. More often, we encountered the sending away of young women to forced labor in Germany. Exempted from deportation were pregnant women and mothers. As a result, there were more marriages and childbirths.

At this time, there were organized the so- called workshops ("szops") such as Rossner's and Braun's factories. They were large work institutions, where some 2,000 Jews, male and female, gave their strength for the benefit of the Wehrmacht while receiving paltry earnings. Nonetheless, young people en masse sought to obtain these positions since possession from this work was a paper called a “Sonder" (a special) which, for a time, saved the bearer from deportation to forced labor in Germany.

The skilled managers of the workshops were Jews who operated under strict control of the Germans. The manager of Rossner's workshop was a Mr. Lewensohn. For young people, there were created, by the Judenrat, professional courses at which various craftsmen gave instructions. At the end of 1941, there appeared an order requiring the immediate donating to the Judenrat of all kinds of fur-clothing as well as woolen and partly-woolen garments. This clothing were destined for the German Army in the Eastern front.

In the spring 1942, the entire Jewish population of Golonog and Zabkowice were transferred to Dabrowa Gornicza. This displacment action was managed by the Dabrowa Judenrat which moved, on carts, entire families with the remnants of their miserable property. In May 1942, there occurred the first deportation of Jews. On the list were the poorest persons, mostly those who depended upon Social Welfare assistance, old people and children. Before the displacement, they were given a deportation card with the date on which they must report to the Gathering Point and a description of items which were allowed to be taken, to a maximum weight 10 kg.

In the square adjoining the Community Council, that is, Szopena #8, were assembled about 700 Jews who, as it was later known, were sent to Oswiecim (Auschwitz) for extermina- tion. After this first transport, other transports went out regularly.

For the least offence, such as not properly maintaining blackout, walking about after curfew, not properly crossing a street, tearing away the mandatory "Jude" insignia, possessing forbidden food (eggs, meat, herring, fruits), etc., entire families were sent to the Bedzin Orphanage. From there, a black vehicle regularly took the victims , "criminals" as the Germans referred to them, to death in Oswiecim (Auschwitz).

In July 1942, the Centrale Judenrat from its headquarters in Sosnowiec and by its "Leiter" Moniek Meryn as its head, devised a ruse by which a mass deportation of Jews from the entire Zaglebie region was carried out. As in other towns of the region, including Dabrowa Gornicza, the Judenrat organized meetings and speeches calling upon all Jews, without exception, to appear on August 12, 1942 on the square near the Community Council for the purpose of re-certifying personal identity papers.

The speakers emphasized that nothing bad would befall the people. They urged the populace to appear in their best clothes at the appointed time. On the appointed day, at 7 a.m., the entire Jewish population, from infants to old persons, appeared at the Gathering Point. Only 45 persons failed to appear. At 8 a.m., there appeared in the square representatives of the German authorities and began their bloodcurdling spectacle.

They began first to organize the mass of people in alphabetical order, forcing the populace with flailing whips from one side of the square to the other. The assembled people began to panic. They understood that they had been deceived and had fallen into a trap. They realized now that they had accepted the nice words of the Jewish "führer" (Merin) who, in this manner, had hastened the tragic end of Jewry in Dabrowa Gornicza. The Nazi torturers were insensible to the groans of the older people and children, the sick and the screaming of babies and lamentations of mothers.

2,500 victims were transported to the Orphanage in Bedzin from where they were transported to death in the Oswiecim (Auschwitz) gas chambers. The right to return unharmed to their homes was given only to the privileged clique of officials from the Judenrat and some of the working population who were employed in workshops and German firms. Thus, of the total number of 7,000 Jews (of local origin and newcomers), there remained only some 2,000.

At the beginning of 1943, the Dabrowa Gornicza ghetto was closed. People were crowded into houses on a few streets such as Lukasinskiego, Szopena, Okrzei, Pierackiego, Polna and Stara Bedzinska where, in one room, there were 6 to 7 persons. In July 1943, Dabrowa Gornicza was without Jews (Judenfrei). Some of these persons went to (Kamionka near Bedzin) and some to Srodula (near Sosnowiec). On August 1, 1943, all the Jews of Dabrowa Gornicza shared the fate of the Bedzin and Sosnowiec Jews. They went, together, to deportation to Oswiecim (Auschwitz).

Of the total number of Jews from Dabrowa Gornicza, there survived the war only 300 persons. From these, one person had worked, with Aryan papers, in "Huta Bankowa" in Dabrowa, 14 had survived in various hiding places (among them, three children) and the remaining persons returned from concentration camps.
Today (the year 1946), in Dabrowa Gornicza live only 30 to 40 Jews.





 
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