Return to Home Page Torah Poems and reading Photos Calendar
Services Looking for people Polish Jews history Holocaust Contact
Click on icon above to go to ...    

Return to intro page


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
Occupation: Tailor

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 street.
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 this Aktion.

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 Sosnowiec Dulager.

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.