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HOLOCAUST TESTIMONIES


Deponent: Neufeld Jakob
Birth Date: December 8, 1904
Birth Place: Jaworzno
Parents: Majloch and Szajndla (maiden name: Witelsohn)
War-time Residence: Jaworzno, Chrzanow and in Srodula in Sosnowiec
Current Residence: At present (1947) living in Sosnowiec, ul. Sadowa 2/14
Occupation: Official


On September 4, 1939, the Germans invaded Jaworzno. On September 1, 1939, there lived, in Jaworzno, about 1,800 Jews among a total number of 23,000 inhabitants. The Jewish residents of Jaworzno worked, until the war, in small trade, handcrafts and office-work. A few worked in the near-by mines. There were in Jaworzno only a few Jewish doctors, lawyers, and dentists. Jaworzno belonged to Chrzanow district.

In Chrzanow there were, on September 1, 1939, about 8,000 Jews and, in Trzebinia, about 1,200-1,300 Jews. Those towns belonged, until September 1, 1939, to the Krakow province. The following towns of Krakow province in which Jews lived were joined, administratively, to Ostoberschlesien at the end of 1939: Chrzanow, Jaworzno, Trzebinia, Szczakowa - about 600 Jews (towns), village Ciezkowice - about 40 Jews, Jezor near Jaworzno - about 70 Jews, village Alwernia-Regulice - about 40 Jews, village Libiaz - about 40 Jews, village Chelmek - about 20 Jews.

When the Germans invaded Jaworzno, there were about 400 Jews in the town; the remainder had fled. One evening in November 1939 at about 4 p.m., several Germans in dark uniforms came to Jaworzno and asked a Polish woman where Jewish synagogues were located. When she showed them the synagogue, they went there and found many Jews. It was a Friday evening. They ordered the people to finish their prayers and then disperse.

When all the people had left, the Germans placed dynamite in the "Aron Hakodesh" and detonated it. In consequence of this, windows were broken and the interior was completely destroyed. They did the same in two other houses of prayer. In October 1939, it was ordered that armbands be worn on the left arm. In 1941, a day before Rosh Hashanah, these armbands were changed to Juden- stern (Star of David).

Immediately after the German invasion, an Assistance Committee for Jews was formed, which, later in 1940, was changed to the Äeltestenrat and was subordinated to the control of the Jewish Centrale in Sosnowiec.

The first Arbeitseinsatz in Jaworzno took place in the time of "Simchat Torah" in 1940. When the Jewish Community (Judenrat) of Jaworzno was subordinated to the Centrale by order of Merin who, in turn, referred to an order of the Gestapo, an exact census of the Jewish population was made. One copy of the census was located in the Jewish Centrale in Sosnowitz where a card index of all Jews of Zaglebie was created. During the first Aktion for Arbeitseinsatz, a representative of the Sosnowiec Centrale, Mr. Minc, came to Jaworzno. He brought with him printed announcements which said that all unemployed men, bachelors and married men without children, were required to appear for a medical examination. This would take place in the clinic of the Jewish Community on Market street 1172 and would be done in connection with sending them for forced labor in Germany. On the following day, Dr. Mittelman from Dabrowa Gornicza and Dr. Aspis arrived from Sosnowiec to carry out the medical examination.

Many persons reported to the clinic. A part of the people, mainly from Jezor, applied voluntarily to the doctor and said that they wanted to report for work. At this time, there were taken about 20 persons. They went, together with Minc, to Chrzanow. From there, together with local persons from Chrzanow, they were taken away to the first camps in Silesia: Sakrau, Otmuth and Gogolin.

After this first Aktion for Arbeitseinsatz, the Dienststelle in Sosnowiec issued the order that every Jew employed in a working place or trade firm must have the permission of the Dienststelle to perform that certain job. Each Jew received an "Ausweiskarte" which, for a moment, protected the holder from forced Arbeits- einsatz.

On this permit was written the word "Sonder". There were three types of Sonders, designated by color: pink, blue, green. Blue cards were given persons employed by the "Stadt- verwaltung" (city administration). Green cards were given persons employed in German firms. Pink cards were given persons employed in Jewish firms or by owners of Jewish firms.

Owners of Jewish shops and craftsmen's workshops paid 50 RM (Reich Marks) per month to the Gestapo’s Sosnowiec Dienst-stelle. Working people paid 30% of their income gross to the Dienststelle. In Jaworzno, Jews had shops and workshops without Treuhander's until the final deportation of July 9, 1942.

At the beginning of 1941, Lindner, Ludwig, Knoll and Kuczynski as well as a German doctor and a group of SA-men came to Jaworzno. They arrested, on the streets, Jewish men of various ages and took them to the Workers Council building on Stara Huta street. Representatives of the Dienststelle checked the arrested men to learn who held Sonderkarte. Those people with such cards were released. People who didn't have these cards were examined by the doctor and considered as capable of working. They were held and immediately taken away in vehicles, under German guard, to the Dulag in Sosnowiec. From there, they were sent to forced labor camps in Germany.

In the summer 1941 (June, July), Kuczynski and Messner came to Jaworzno and ordered all Jews who held pink “Sonders” to appear in the yard near the Judenrat in order to change the “Sonder” cards. Every such person appeared. The same action had been done in other towns before, the “Sonders” were taken and the people were released. In the yard were set two tables. Kuczynski sat next to one Messner sat at the other. Messner took cards from A to M letters and Kuczynski from N to Z. They had exact lists of people and they watched carefully each man, taking some notes. They took the Sonder cards and left.

In the autumn - probably in November - at night, German police came with lists from the office of the Sonderbeauftragte (Schmelt) to those persons from whom the pink cards had been taken. In all, they arrested about 80 persons, only men, holding them in a school building. On the following day, in the morning, Lindner, Kuczynski, Knoll with others and a German doctor. All the men held in the school were examined and some of them released. The remainder - about 70 persons - were taken away to the Dulag in Sosnowiec. The list of persons had been brought one day before this roundup by Kuczynski to the police.

At the end of 1941, because of the fear of the Arbeitseinsatz, Jews sought protection from this by seeking work which deemed important for the German military economy. Jewish men, about 250, and Jewish women, about 70 worked for the local mines. The women worked in agricultural units near th eforest. About 100 Jewish men worked for the City Government (Stadtverwaltung). This work was on road construction and in agriculture.

On February 26, 1942, there was an Aktion for Arbeitseinsatz for young women. Dr. Wilhelm, a worker for the Jewish Centrale arrived on Feb 25 girls with a list about 60 employed girls, given by Dienststelle and called upon these women to appear on February 26 at the Community building. Only a few of the summoned persons responded. At the same time, there was similar Aktion summons for Arbeitseinsatz in Szczakowa.

In the morning, Kuczynski, Knoll, Ludwig and doctor Zarzycki. arrived. When they saw that only a small group had appeared, they ordered 25 "Geisel" (hostages), members of the summoned families. In this action several Jewish constables were present who had arrived with Dr. Wilhelm from Sosnowiec.

In Jaworzno were three Jewish "Ordner's", working as care takers. When the local Jewish "Ordner's" didn’t bring the proper number of "Geisel's", the Germans themselves - Kuczynski, Ludwig and Knoll took from shops and from the street about 20 Jews and took them away to Dulag, together with those girls who responded.

At this time, I was also caught as a "Geisel" by Ludwig. The Sonderbeauftragte made strong representations to the Centrale for the non-compliance with their instruction. On Friday, there arrived a group of Jewish Constabulary from Sosnowiec under control of Goldminc and succeeded in apprehending the missing girls, who hadn’t resonded to the summonses. They took the girls or "Geisel" (hostage) from family. Again, on this day, there arrived representatives of the Sonderbeauftragte with a doctor and carried out examinations. Girls not capable of working were released and the healthy girls were taken away by train to the (Sosnowitz) Dulag and from there to camp. In general, there were taken about 50 girls. On Thursday, February 26, 1942, about 30 girls were brought from Szczakowa, These, too, were deported to the Dulag, together with the girls from Jaworzno.

From 1941 it was forbidden for Jews to walk on the main street Jagiellonska street (Kattowitzer strasse) in Jaworzno, although Jews owned shops on this street. There wasn’t Jewish disctrict in Jaworzno. In May and June there were displaced to Jaworzno part of Jews from Katowice, Chorzow, Siemianowice, all together about 180-200 people. Displacement action from former Silesia was done by order of Gestapo. It was organized and done on the cost the Jewish Centrale. Jews took with them clothes and even furniture. They took this by vehicles paid by the Centrale. Those Jews were placed among Jews of Jaworzno.

The Aeltestenrat in Jaworzno organized a kitchen, which gave about 200 dinners daily for a little money. There was active also kindergarten for 40-50 Jewish children.

In 1942, there was organized by the Centrale a course for teaching trades to Jewish youth (with the aim of diversification). It was the work of the division Umschiechtung, a part the Centrale, which was directed by Jozef Kozuch. The courses included ironwork and a fancy goods course. About 25 boys and girls attended the classes.

On May 30, 1942, there occurred the first deportation from Jaworzno. One or two weeks earlier, the Centrale had sent circular notices to the Äeltestenrat in Jaworzno stating that, within the area of Ostoberschlesien, a certain portion of the Jewish population would be deportated. The notices told exactly what every person should take with himself. There were mentioned: clothes, underwear, bedding, soap, flash-lights, hammers, nails, utensils, candles, pails and other things.

On Saturday, May 30, 1942 at 10 o'clock, while Jews were praying, there arrived about 8-10 large vehicles with German police in helmets and full armament. They stayed in the middle of the square. On the way, they set guards on the all exit points of the town. There were among them Gestapo civilians. The Aktion was directed by the Gestapo person - Kroszan - wearing civilian clothes.

The Germans surrounded the town. They separated into groups and began the Aktion. Each group had own area. They stopped and took Jews whom they met on the street and directed to an Assembly Point, which was located in the middle of the market square (Rynek). Then the police went from house to house, from apartment to apartment and ordered all Jewish residents to come to the market square with baggage. Within an hour, there were already on the market square about 600-700 persons. Some of the people were at work and some remained hidden. There wasn’t an exact search at this time. On this day, there was also a deportation in Chrzanow and Trzebinia.

At 2 p.m., Merin and Czarna arrived by car. The Gestapo set all the deportees into a column and led them to Sadowa 15 in front of the House of Prayer. Together with Merin, there had come more than a dozen "Ordners" from Sosnowiec.
The Gestapo divided the people into two groups; Merin remained near the first group and Czarna near the second group. I was also among the assembled Jews. Each person came before the Commission in which were the Gestapo people. Merin asked each person if he/she were employed and the Gestapo people then directed that person to a designated group.

There were three groups: nr 1 - for deportation, nr 2 - for qualification by Sonderbeauftragte, nr 3 - remained in home. If a husband were working and there were no small children, then that person went to number 3. Young people and healthy went to the #2 point. Old people and families with children were sent tothe point 1.

In the group nr 1 were 400 Jews. In the group nr 2, Kuczynski, who in the meantime had arrived, checked the group and took about 20-25 men and women for Arbeitseinsatz. The rest, he directed to the point nr 1. In all, there were 412 persons deported.

Those people destined for deportation were locked in the House of Prayer. Later, Freytag arrived and took the report. He gave over the Jews locked in the House of Prayer to the custody of the Jewish "Ordner" people from Sosnowiec under management of Moszkowicz and made him responsible for the total number of the persons. Those people were confined until Monday, 5 a.m. On Monday, Merin came again and arranged to hear complaints. He was able to free several women, whose husbands were in camp.

On Monday, there arrived twenty-plus carts and wagons on which old people and children had to ride. The rest of people, the Gestapo set in a column and they were taken, in terrible heat, on foot to Chrzanow -- a distance of 12 km. During the transport, Kommissioner Dreier and other Gestapo people were present. In Chrzanow, they were loaded into train wagons, together with Jews deported from Chrzanow. In all, this transport numbered about 3,000 Jews from Jaworzno and Chrzanow. After this deportation, there remained about 1,200 Jews in Jaworzno.
In Szczakowa, there was only a liquidation deportation in June 1942. After this deportation, it was planned to create the ghetto, but in the meantime, a general deportation took place on July 9, 1942. The action was done on Thursday. On July 8, 1942, Wednesday, Merin arrived through Jaworzno and ordered the preparation of a ghetto. He said that all Jews had to appear tomorrow at the school square on Mickiewicza street. He said that Jews in Jaworzno would remain and they would work in the mines.

On July 8, the Jewish people of Jaworzno learned that, in Chrzanow, an Aktion had taken place and many people had been arrested. They were now afraid to appear at the designated Assembly Point. On the following day, there appeared at the Assembly Point in Jaworzno about 200 people.

When the Gestapo arrived, with Dreier as its head, and saw that people hadn’t appeared, he asked the reason. Merin said that people were certainly working. Dreier went to the mine and it appeared that Jews on this day hadn’t come to work. Then Dreier, after contacting Mayor Reder gave the order that Jaworzno will now become Judenrein. He ordered every one taken away.

Kuczynski selected about 20 people for Arbeitseinsatz and the rest were taken by train to Chrzanow where they were joined to the transport from there. There remained about 1,000 hidden Jews who, by themselves, moved to Chrzanow and Sosnowiec. In Jaworzno, from July 9, 1942, there remained two Jewish families at request of Director of the mine. In all, these numbered 12 persons. One was was the only glazier in the mine. They remained in Jaworzno until August 1943. Then they were joined to a Bedzin transport. They were taken by wagon to Bedzin and deported.

When the Germans first invaded Jaworzno in 1939 military authorities immediately put a forced contribution to the Jewish population in amount of 30,000 zlotych. Upon the request of the Jewish delegation, the sum was lowered to 10,000 zlotych because small number of Jewish population was in the place.




 
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