Name of deponent: Estera Krell
Birth date: 1922
Birth place: Warszawa
Parents: Mendel and Felicja (maiden name: Politanska)
War-time residence: Bedzin, ul. Modrzejowska 44
Current residence: Katowice, ul. Mlynska 17/2
When the war started, I was living in Bedzin. My father
had a wholesale shop and retail-articles gallery there.
Several weeks after the Germans had come, there was organized
a supervision of all Jewish shops. Each such shop was assigned
a “Treuhander” (Trustee). My father’s Treuhander was Pawel
Scholtz, a Polish man from Bedzin. In Bedzin, an office
for the administration of the Trustees. (Treuhandstelle)
was established. This office had general supervision authority
over all Jewish firms. The director of the Treuhändlerstelle
was a Dr. Braune.
Scholtz was our Treuhändler for only a short time.
After him, our shop’s Treuhändler was Michatz, a German
who quickly liquidated the business. Michatz was, at the
same time, Treuhändler for many shops. Articles from
our store and those from Lask’s shop were moved to Unger’s
store, which was also under his management. No one from
among us was taken to work in this last store. The liquidation
of our business took place in June 1940.
Later, my father obtained a permit for the opening of a
small business of fancy goods; we managed this shop from
our apartment. We were permitted to buy and sell the following
notions: yarn, combs, needles, locks, toothbrushes, shoelaces.
It was forbidden to trade in any other articles. Every month,
we received goods from merchants in the place. We dealt
with a German firm which didn’t know we were a Jewish firm.
When the firm asked if our firm is "rein arisch"
(purely Aryan), we lost the contract. Persons who had valid
trade certificates were given pink Sonders. For such business
people, there no Treuhändler was required.
I was employed by my father and possessed a pink Sonder.
People working in factories which were under management
of a Treuhändler had blue cards (Sonders). When Aktions
for Arbeitseinsatz became more frequent, the pink Sonders
began to lose value as protection against deportation. Some
times, the certificates still protected its owner, but not
an employed person.
In the summer of 1941, I found a work in Braune's Dabrowa
Gornicza factory. I lived in Bedzin and traveled to work
daily by tram. At this time, there wasn’t a Braune's workshop
in Bedzin, just in Dabrowa Gornicza. Braune's workshop in
Dabrowa Gornicza was located on ul Okrzei and occupied the
entire building. In the Braune's factory, people worked
for the German Army. The main work was the repairing old
military shoes. There, tops for wooden shoes worn by prisoners
of war were manufactured. Also, civilian sandals were made
there from waste leather.
The owner of the factory was a man named Braune. Office
personnel consisted of 2 Polish persons. The remainder were
Jews. Specialists and assistants were only Jews. The errand
boy was Volksdeutsch. The workshop was located in district
where Jews were forbidden to walk (Judenbann). Our work
card served as a pass. Jews who didn't work at Braune’s
were forbidden to walk in that area. When we arrived by
tram in Dabrowa Gornicza, a Jewish "Ordner" awaited
us. He marched us, in column formation, to work. We returned
from work in the same manner. At this time, there was a
special wagon in the tram reserved only for Jews. It was
forbidden to go by train for any reason.
Every day, a special tram went from Bedzin to Dabrowa Gornicza
with about 60 persons, almost only men. In general, in Braune's
Dabrowa Gornicza factory, there worked about 200-250 persons.
The work hours in the factory were from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m.,
with 30 minutes of break for lunch. Some times, at work,
we were given soup which was brought from the Dabrowa Gornicza
At the end of 1941, the factory had grown so large that
it was moved to a new building located in an area where
Jews were allowed to walk. At the beginning of 1942, I changed
work to Rossner's factory in Bedzin. While I worked at Braune’s,
there was an inspection by the Heeresbekleidungsamt (Army
clothing Office) in Dabrowa Gornicza. Our factory received
orders from this Office from both Fürth and Berlin.
In 1942, a Braune's factory was established in the Ksawera
district of Bedzin. In the Rossner's Bedzin workshop, I
worked from the beginning of 1942 until May 1943. About
8,000 Jewish men and women worked in Rossner’s factory in
Bedzin. In effect, it was a factory which belonged to the
Sonderbeauftragte (the Schmelt Organization). It consisted
of various divisions such as, for example, the Schneidersammelwerkstätte
(Tailoring Division), Schusterwerkstätte, (Shoe Repair
Division), KW (Kleider u. Wäsche), (Underwear and Clothing
Division), Kürschnerei (Furrier Division).
The best Sonder, from the point of view of a Jewish worker,
was one from Rossner’s. From the Braune's workshop, the
Sonderbeauftragte personnel sometimes took a number of people
for Arbeitseinsatz in Germany. From Rossner’s, the first
time employees were taken for Arbeitseinsatz was on May
29, 1943. Other workshops had to relinquish a percentage
of their workers whenever there was an Aktion for deportation
In the second half of 1942, the Sonderbeauftragte’s Dienststelle
organized an inspection of all Jews. The inspecting commission
was located in the Bedzin Orphanage. Representing the Sonderbeauf-
tragte was Kuczynski and others whose names I didn't know.
There was, if a medical examination was to be held, a Polish
Doctor present. In reality, such an inspection was very
superficial, being comprised of answering certain questions
put forth by the Polish person, Mr. Zarzycki. The doctor
qualified people as: “T” - (tauglich=fit for labor) or “U”
- (untauglich=unfit for labor). Later, people appeared before
the commission as an entire family.
It was necessary to appear before this commission according
to the alphabetical letter of the family’s last name. The
Judenrat sent summonses, by order of the Sonderbeauftragte,
to families to appear before the commission. As said earlier,
the best certificate to have was the blue Rossner card.
There were also green cards given to children and older
persons. For Jews, this inspection was very important. It
seemed that our very lives depended on it, though, later,
it was apparent that, during deportations, they weren’t
at all important. During the examination by the commission,
Jews paid large sums of money to various agents. Gold and
diamonds were given merely to obtain a Rossner's Sonder.
I worked in the Schneiderwerkstatte on ul. Kollataja. The
managers of the division were Alter Brukner from Bedzin
and Maks Brzeski from Sosnowiec, both of whom were very
respectable people. Earlier, Brzeski had worked in the Judenrat’s
Arbeitseinsatz division in Sosnowiec. He had relinquished
this work because he didn't want to work any longer with
the deportation of fellow Jews to forced labor in Germany.
In March 1943, Rossner's workshop released several hundred
young persons to work in the construction of barracks. The
Community Council had caused barracks to be built on Langerweg
(a street) in the Kamionka ghetto for Jews displaced from
Bedzin. The Community organized special "Bautrupp"
(construction company) which built barracks. Working for
the "Bautrupp" protected those involved from deportation.
In April, I, together with a group of about 100 persons,
also was assigned by Rossner's factory to work on the barracks.
On the “Bautrupp” working list were the richest Jews of
Bedzin. On the morning of Saturday, May 22, 1943, while
we were at work, Germans from the Sosnowiec Dulager surrounded
us. Suddenly, Lindner arrived by taxi and demanded a list
of those present. He ordered all newly-assigned workers
be sent home while the remainder of us were taken by tram
to the Sosnowiec Dulager. I was in the Dulager five days
and then taken, with a group of 21 girls from Bedzin and
Modrzejow, to a camp in Bolkenhain (Bolkowo) near Jelena
When I arrived in the Dulager, I found girls taken from
Gogolin who told us that the camp there had been liquidated.
According to the Arbeitseinsatz Aktion of May 29, 1943,
the Jews were told that “a million had been paid" At
this time, people said it was a ruse because, up to this
time, no one had been taken to Germany from Rossner’s.