Deponent: Jerzy Olszewski
Birth Date: March 31, 1900
Birth Place: Kalnik
Parents: Lucjan and Maria (maiden name: Wadecka).
War-time Residence: Sosnowiec
Current Residence: Sosnowiec, ul. Modrzejowska 18/29.
Occupation: Teacher in high school
In the middle of September 1939, a Mr. Majtlis and Mr. Oliner
approached me with the request that I assume a position
of department head in the local Judenrat (Jewish Community
Council). At the time, there existed a Committee of the
Jewish Community created by the Germans. Merin was given
full powers by the Germans to create the Committee. He had
already found several persons within the Jewish society
who were trusted by the Jewish people.
Members of the first Committee were: Moniek Merin, Majtlis,
Lewartowski, Lejzerowicz, Birman, Klajnberg. There were
also other persons whose names I don't remember. Majtlis
and Oliner came to me as representatives of the Committee
and asked that I accept a position as a member of the Jewish
Community in Sosnowiec, giving the following reasons: the
German mayor of Sosnowiec, Dr. Kirchner, did not want to
be in direct contact with either the Jewish population or
its representatives, but wanted to separate the Jewish residents
from the general Sosnowiec population. He had decided to
appoint a representative to the Committee as his agent from
among the city’s Aryan citizens. He wanted to organize the
Jewish Community Council and maintain contact with both
the Jewish community and German authorities.
Dr. Kirchner had communicated his decision to Merin and
given him the opportunity to appoint a candidate. Merin
had communicated this proposal to members of the Jewish
Committee. The result was that Majtlis and Oliner were authorized
to communicate the matter to me and to elicit my agreement.
After long conversations, Majtlis and Oliner convinced me
of the benefit to the Jewish society in these difficult
times if I were to accept the position of a Commissioner
of the Jewish community Council. I agreed to accept the
After I had agreed to accept the nomination, Merin presented
my candidature. Thereupon, Dr. Kirchner called me and, in
the presence of Michla (Michel), a Polish citizen who was
Commander of the Civil Guard, announced that I had been
delegated by the Town Board for a one month’s period to
be a Commissioner in order to organize the administrative
machinery for Jewish people. My counterpart from the German
authorities’ side was the Volksdeutsch citizen, Walter Milke.
My appointment as a Commissioner and as a Polish citizen
was closely connected with the German political aim of advancing
for this purpose Polish persons who were well-informed in
local matters. Mr. Michel was the translator between Dr.
Kirchner and myself since I didn’t speak German.
Accordingly, I was apponted „Kommissioner der Jüdischen
Kultusgemeinde“. Dr. Kirchner, at the above-mentioned meeting,
declared that I would be involved in organizing life in
the Jewish Community while financial and trading matters
would be the responsibility of Milke. Communication between
the Committee Board and the City’s Town Board would be carried
out by Milke as the only authorized representative.
I contacted the Community on October 1, 1939 and met with
Merin, Lejzerowicz, Majtlis and Lewartowski in the Judenrat’s
office at Modrzejowska 22. In the middle of October 1939,
the Judenrat was moved to Targowa 12, formerly the Chief
Rabbi's house. Other members of the Jewish Community Council
attended this meeting.
In the first phase, the Jewish Committee with Moniek Merin
as a head (president), there was a Commissioner seated next
to the Advisory Body. The group operated in this fashion
until the end of November 1939. The second phase lasted
from December 1939 until the liquidation of the entire Jewish
population of Sosnowiec. In this second phase, specifically
in December 1939, Merin was appointed by the Gestapo office
in Katowice to be Leiter (Leader) of all the Jewish Communities
in the entire area of Ostoberschlesien (East Upper Silesia).
As President of the Jewish Community in Sosnowiec in the
place of Merin, Wladyslaw Bohm, the former Manager of the
Department of Provisions for the Jewish Community, was selected.
In the beginning of this second phase, I was still the Commissioner
to the Jewish Community of Sosnowiec and still responsible
for organizing the life of the Jewish population. The Committee
of the Community was still an advisory body.
I received instructions from two sources: from the Town
Board and from Moniek Merin. Merin was given orders by the
Gestapo office in Katowice for all the Jewish Communities
in Ostoberschlesien. At the Kattowitz Gestapo office, there
was a Department for Religious Affairs, which department
also oversaw Jewish matters. The head of this department
was Kommissioner Hans Dreier. I don't remember his SS rank,
though his uniform carried two stars.
The Office of the Commissioner of the Jewish Community in
Sosnowiec existed from October 1, 1939 until the end of
July 1940. By order of the Gestapo office in Katowice, it
was liquidated on that date. After that date, the Jewish
Community Council in Sosnowitz existed as an independent
I worked in the office in the Community Council (Judenrat)
until the end of 1940.
The following departments comprised the Sosnowitz Jewish
1. Social Welfare - Manager: Majtlis
2. Financial - Manager: Birman
3. Tax Collections - Manager: Lejzerowicz
4. Schools - Manager: Dr. Widermann
5. Health - Manager: Dr. Wolkowicz
6. Work - Manager: Wulkan
7. Marital Status - Manager: Lewartowski
8. Provisions - ???
9. Inspection - Managers: Reiner, Diogot,
10. Secretariat - Manager: Mrs. Czarna
11. Cashier - ???
12. Housing - ???
The hospital, headed by Dr. Liberman, was also subordinate
to the Sosnowiec Community (i.e.the Judenrat). In all, the
Sosnowiec Judenrat employed about 260 persons during my
term of work in the office. The Social Department distributed
clothing, shoes and food for the poor people from funds
supplied by the Judenrat. Further, it provided two free
kitchens which furnished, at first, about 500 dinners and
by the time of final work for the Judenrat, over 7,000 dinners
daily for free. The manager of the kitchens was a Smietana.
The Tax Department collected taxes from the Jewish Community.
Taxes were set extemporaneously; that is, according to the
needs as they appeared to be. The Financial and Tax Departments
were later consolidated.
The Schools Department began a kindergarten for children
on Pilsudskiego Street, a basic school on Skladowa Street
(which was later transformed into the Dulag) and offered
various vocational courses. Organization of Jewish educational
system was planned to begin with kindergartens and progress
to basic and vocational schools. After the elimination of
Jewish children from Polish schools was begun by the Germans,
the organization of Jewish educational system was begun
in 1940. I myself visited a school on Skladowa street and
a kindergarten on Pilsudskiego street.
The Health Department opened a clinic for poor Jewish people
on Targowa street 7 or 5. The clinic was managed by Dr.
Wolkowicz. The Health Department carried out a precautionary
vaccination of the entire Jewish population against typhoid
fever. Administratively, the hospital was subordinated to
the Health Department. In the hospital were the following
divisions: surgical, obstetrical and internal. Later there
was also an Infectious Disease department, located in a
The Employment Department registered unemployed people and
delivered workers - Jews - to the Town Board and other German
The Department of Marital Status performed the registration
of births, marriages, deaths and cemetery matters.
The Provisions Department distributed food for the entire
Jewish population on the basis of ration cards. Distribution
was made through food shops which were the property of the
Judenrat (the Community). Officials of the Judenrat worked
in those shops. The Community had one wholesale firm, which
distributed goods to the Community’s retail shops.
The Inspection Department improved management and inspected
preventively to protect against abuses.
The Housing Department had the most work to do because of
constant shrinkage of the living space allotted for the
Jews. During my work at the Judenrat, letters and telephone
calls continually arrived concerning the forced removal
of Jews from apartments or from entire apartment buildings.
On Pilsudskiego street, for example, Jews were allowed to
live in certain buildings, but were forbidden to walk on
the street. This is why Jews had to frequently break exits
from buildings onto side-streets. The Housing Department
had to find lodgings for Jews forcibly removed from apartments.
Now, in each apartment, there lived several families.
In 1940, the Town Board announced that Jews would have to
perform farming tasks and, for this purpose, gave on Jagiellonska
Street an area of 20-plus morgs (a unit of land measure)
on which the Judenrat organized allotments. The manager
of this department was Oliner. Those who received allotments
paid the Community for the lease and the Community paid
the Town Board.
In the spring of 1940, the Sosnowiec Town Board set a forced
contribution of 200,000 RM (Reich Marks) for the Jewish
Community . The Finance Office called me and announced that
the Jewish Community would have to pay 200,000 RM (Reich
Marks) as a contribution. I asked him where would I find
such a sum money for this purpose. He replied that I would
have to set a tax upon the Jewish citizens. When I returned
to the Community Office, I found a letter concerning this
matter already awaiting me.
I contacted Merin, who had bribed Dreier. Dreier annulled
the decision of the Town Board. When an official from "Magistrat"
(Town Hall) ccalled up9on me for the money, I called Merin,
who was, at that moment, with Commissioner Dreier. Dreier
arrived immediately and with raised voice told the official:
"Sie haben hier nichts zu sagen" (You have nothing
to say (no authority) here) and that the Town Board couldn’t
set contributions without agreement with Gestapo.
In February or March 1940, Merin told me that he had been
ordered by the Gestapo that all the Jewish Communities should
collect a certain amount (I don't remember the exact amount)
of gold and silver. Because of that, Merin, as Leiter, formed
in every town a Collecting Commission. In Sosnowiec, he
collected at this time 2 kg of gold and 117 kg of silver.
All of this material was taken by the Gestapo. The Community
still had the warehouse, in which it possessed different
articles (drinks, coffee, tea, cameras, suitcases, furs,
textile materials and leather) destined for bribes for Germans.
During my work at the Judenrat, orders were received by
the Community that Jews weren’t allowed to possess cameras,
binoculars, irons, stoves and electric heaters.
By order of Dreier, there was formed Jewish Order Service
(Jewish Police force) during my work in the spring 1940.
It was headed solely by Merin.
Beginning October 1, 1939, Jews could not leave Sosnowiec.
There were posters with announcements forbidding Jews to
leave the town under threat of death. After I was given
work with the Judenrat, certificates were issued, confirmed
by the Mayor, which served as passes. Jews from Sosnowiec
could go with the passes only to other Zaglebie towns.
The bridge over the Brynica river, (the Szopienice Bridge)
was the border with the Old Reich. This wasn’t allowed to
be crossed by the Jews of Zaglebie, only officially by the
Judenrat officials. When I came with Bohm to confer with
German department managers, they shook my hand, but not
his hand. Those Germans who were given bribes when they
met representatives of the Community, without witnesses,
were greeted by them by a shaking of hands. In the middle
of September 1939, there was given to the Civil Guard working
in Town Hall, a list of persons killed by the Germans in
a street skirmish on Modrzejowska street. The list contained
70 descriptions. There were no names given. At this time,
I worked with the Civil Guard and had the list in my hand.
It was a paper on which were given 70 consecutive numbers.
Near each number was a more or less detailed description
of the dead person and his clothing. They were Jewish victims
killed by the Germans during their arrival in Sosnowiec.
There were no papers found near the dead persons. Later,
members of families who tried to recognize in their relatives
from these descriptions came to me.
At the beginning of the German occupation, there were no
Jewish barbers. After much effort during my work in the
Community, permission was given to open four Jewish clients.
For their services, they took money according to a price
list set by the Community. They had to shave poor people
on the basis of Communtiy-set pricing - free of charge for
In addition, the Germans collected past-due taxes from Jews
- even up to ten years backwards.