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HOLOCAUST TESTIMONIES


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
Occupation: Administrator


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 Judenrat.

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 to Germany.

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 Gora.

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.




 
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