Name of deponent: Joel Grünkraut
Birth date: May 31, 1916
Birth place: Zawiercie
Parents: Nusyn and Malka (maiden name: Kac)
War-time Residence: Zawiercie, ul. Porebska 10
Present Residence: Katowice, ul. Pierackiego 5/3
The first Aktion for "Arbeitseinsatz" in Zawiercie
took place in October or November 1940. I don't remember
the exact date. All Jewish men of the ages 16 until 50 had
to appear for a medical examination at the offices of the
Jewish Community. There, they were examined by Jewish doctors.
A few days later, about 300 men received summonses from
the Judenrat to appear for transport to Germany for forced
labor. When only a small number of those summoned responded,
a group of German police, accompanied by "Ordners",
appeared at Jewish apartments with a list of names supplied
by the Dienststelle. About 200 men were taken away (for
forced labor) by train. I remember that those persons later
wrote that they were in the Auenrode camp and worked near
a R.A.B. (Reichsautobahn - highway). I remained in hiding.
The second Arbeitseinsatz in Zawiercie took place on March
26, 1941. The Aktion began at 5 a.m. For a long time, we
had expected an Arbeitseinsatz Aktion. The entire Aktion
was directed by Lindner. At this time, many policemen were
involved. The policemen went from house to house and took
away all the men - with no exceptions.
The men were brought to the Berent’s textile factory building.
Young boys as well as older men were held there. Underway,
they had been terribly beaten and mistreated. In the factory,
a representative of the Sonderbeauftragte selected people
for Arbeitseinsatz. A medical examination was carried out
by a Polish doctor. Those who were sick or older persons
and those who worked for German firms or firms under the
management of German commissioners (“Treuhändlers”)
were released. The remainder, numbering about 200-250 persons,
were taken away in vehicles by the Germans on the same day.
They were sent to various camps, though I don't remember
the camps’ names.
During the selection at Berent's factory, the police beat
Jews and cut off or tore out their beards. Each Jew who
was released had to exit from the factory past a gauntlet
of policemen. These beat the released Jews with clubs until
the Jews bled. This day was called by the Zawiercie Jews
"bloody Wednesday". In the evening after this
action, drunken policemen raped several Jewish women, including
one 65-year old lady in Targownik's house on Nowy Rynek
During the entire Aktion, I remained hidden.
The third Arbeitseinsatz Aktion took place in the early
morning from 1 to 2 May 1941. The Aktion was carried out
by German police. They entered homes with a list of names
and took away several dozen men.
The fourth Aktion took place in February 1942 and concerned
young women. The Judenrat was required by the Germans to
supply a quota of victims. Young women between the ages
of 16 and 25 received summonses to appear at the Judenrat
for Arbeitseinsatz (forced labor). Only a small number of
thse persons appeared. Then, the German police and "Ordners"
took the remainder by force. When they didn’t find a daughter,
they took her mother or father as hostages. In this Aktion,
they took to the Dulag about 100 young women. There were
no medical examinations carried out in Zawiercie during
The fifth Aktion for Arbeitseinsatz took place on March
12, 1942. Several weeks earlier, a Gestapo individual named
Messner had come from the Sosnowiec Dienststelle, together
with someone else whose name I don't remember, and registered
everyone who had a so-called private “Sonder’ (pink certificate).
On March 12, 1942 at 6:30 in the morning, three policemen
and Mertens, chief of the criminal police of Zawiercie,
arrived at my home. I was ill at this time. The previous
night I had drunk myself unconscious. As proof, I showed
them the empty bottle, but Mertens struck me with his riding-whip
and ordered me to accompany them. They took me to the synagogue
where were gathered all those young persons up to the age
of 40 who had private "Sonder" documents previously
registered. Older persons weren’t taken.
In a house close to the synagogue which was used as the
Judenrat office at this time (and which had a public kitchen),
we were examined by a doctor from Sosnowiec (whose name
I don't remember). I was released by the doctor as being
a sick person. Lindner and Kuczynski were present during
this Aktion in Zawiercie. In this Aktion, the Germans took
away about 200 young men. At 6 in the evening, they were
taken to the railway station and sent, by train, to the
The sixth Aktion took place in the winter at the end of
1942. A few days before this, the Judenrat had sent summonses
to young women to appear at the Judenrat office on the following
Sunday at 4 p.m. in order to be directed to work at the
Luftwaffe installation at Zawiercie. All the youngz women
reported as ordered by the Community.
When the girls were gathered in the Judenrat office, "Ordners"
from Sosnowiec arrived and surrounded the building, preparing
to take the girls. The girls broke windows, broke down the
doors and escaped. My sister-in-law was in the Judenrat
at that time. The Sosnowiec "Ordners" captured
only 30 of these young women. On that same day, they sent
them away by train to the Dulag in Sosnowiec.