Researched and Edited in Polish by Wojtek Mazan. Translated from Polish with assistance of Google translate.
The Polish article from Wojtek's blog can be found here.
Lea Balint, About the Authors
Chanina was born in Ostrowiec in 1918. His parents, Szmuel and Fajga Szermanowie, ran a textile warehouse and were quite wealthy. Chanina's father died of cancer in 1938, and her mother, nee Tanenbaum, died in the ghetto in 1942. The Szerman family had two daughters and five sons. The eldest daughter, Ita, who was a widow (her husband died a natural death in 1938), died in Treblinka with two children. Ester and her three children also died in Treblinka. Lejb Leon, his wife Rivka and their son Szmuel were murdered by Poles who hid them for money. Their daughter Pnina, hidden by the Polish family Krasa, survived the Holocaust. After the war, Pnina emigrated to Israel and was adopted by her family in a kibbutz. Chanina's next brother, Szaja, was accidentally killed by the Americans when firing on a train carrying prisoners from one camp to the next at the end of the war. His wife Dvora and their two daughters died in Treblinka. Chanina, the sixth brother, the author of the diary, was hidden for money in the Piskorski estate, and during the Warsaw Uprising he gave himself the Polish name Jan Wójcik. His wife Hinda, also the author of the diary, survived the occupation, hiding in Warsaw with Aryan papers. Shlomo, the youngest brother, was a bachelor. He was murdered by members of the Polish underground, drawn into a trap when a group of young Jews wanted to join the partisans.
Hinda's parents also ran a textile shop in Ostrowiec. They specialized in textiles and materials for home use. They both died in Treblinka.
Hinda had three sisters. The oldest, Frida, worked as a treasurer of the Keren Kayemet foundation before the war. Together with her son, she died in Treblinka. The second sister, Bluma, and her daughter, died in Treblinka. Her husband also survived Auschwitz, emigrated to the United States and died there. The third daughter, Hinda, and her husband Chanina, the authors of the diary, survived the Holocaust. Hinda was the most talented child in the family, especially in accounts. Her most beloved sister was Frida. It was she who won the Aryan papers for Hinda, thanks to which she managed to get out of the ghetto. Frida did not want to go with Hinda. She claimed that with a circumcised baby she had no chance of surviving outside the ghetto. The youngest sister was named Ester. She was unmarried. She survived the Holocaust thanks to Aryan documents in the name of Janina Sipińska. She hid in Warsaw with an Armenian family, the Dabadgans, who liked her very much and wanted her to stay with them after the war.
Chanina and Hinda met in a youth organization, at the age of fourteen. They got married during the war and although the Jewish estates were already confiscated at that time, they both had enough money to decorate the wedding. The wedding took place in the ghetto on February 14, 1941, and the wedding was organized next Friday in the community council room. On Saturday evening, all friends from the youth organization, family and friends danced the hora and sang Zionist songs. Sometime after the wedding, Chanina began to convince Hinda to escape from the ghetto, using fake papers in the name of Halina Stawiarska, that were acquired by her sister Frida. He understood that due to his Semitic appearance and accent, he himself had no chance of surviving outside the ghetto. Hinda hesitated, not wanting to part with her husband and family, and put off the escape for months. With the help of a Polish woman who promised to find her a hiding place in exchange for money, Hinda left the ghetto for the first time on October 9, 1942, just the day before the first deportation.
Hinda and Chanina Malachi
October 5, Tuesday 1943
[...] Before all, I will try to remember what happened from October 9, 1942, i.e. from the date of my departure into the unknown, to avoid being displaced.
It was on Friday, among cooking and baking, I was torn off abruptly and already by 4 pp thanks to Frania's efforts I went with Mrs. Bram as Halina Stawiarska to Ćmielów, from where we would continue by train to Skarżysko in the evening and from there to Czerniecka [Czarniecka] Góra. They will never forget my way out of my parents' apartment. Primo, that I wanted to say goodbye to them (only Heniek kissed me on the forehead so that I would not have tears on my face, but I felt that everyone cries and thinks at the moment the same as me: will we ever see each other again? - with Frania, Kubus, Blimta and Dorka, I will never see myself again ... For reasons unknown to me, Ms. Bram decided to leave the next morning, and for the night she put me in charge of the protection of her friend at one of the state on Sandomierska St. presenting me as a Warsaw woman, a runaway from round-ups. On the morning of the second day the dentist came for me, declaring that Ms Br [am] went to Ostrowiec to study, because she wants Frania and Kubus to take her here, so that we could go to Czerniecka Góra together.
I spent that Saturday's day with a smuggler who bent me and went to the countryside. I lay in bed all day, eating nothing and thinking about my sad fate, trying to justify myself, that I went to save myself, but then I had a crazy desire to come back. In the evening Mrs. Br [am] came for me, bringing me some apples from Ostrowiec. As it turned out later, her mother also gave her woolen briefs, a flexible set, a bath towel, etc. things that would be very useful to me, because I was going to a lukewarm, and it was starting to be cool. Bram did not tell me about all this, she complained that her mother did not trust her, because her husband wanted to give some material coupons, and she did not give. And this time I did not leave Ćmielów, she placed me again with one woman with a son, whose husband was in Germany on robots, on ul. Zamkowa 11. Then I lost all confidence in my guide, to whom I spoke as if to my mother, and she only wanted to know how much money I have with me. I was there until Thursday morning, it was the day before the deportation in Ćmielów and my hostess was afraid to keep me unregistered. During those few days, Ms. Bramowa came to me, postponing the trip from day to day and extracting from me for a trip to Ostrowiec, for the reconciliation of other small sums. The messages that came from Ostrowiec were very sad. The resettlement began on Sunday morning (footnote 2 - Ostrowiec was inhabited by about 10,000 Jews before the war, the influx of displaced persons and refugees caused that in the ghetto (closed in February 1941) there were about 16,000 people.) The deportation from the ghetto took place on October 11, 1942 year. Several hundred people remained in local enterprises and factories working for the Germans) and people were already sitting for 3 days in the "stalag" square without food or drink. I guessed that now there was no reason to expect Frania, because she had not made the necessary papers since Friday. As I mentioned, on Thursday morning I already had a flat. At that time, Mrs. Bram sent me with a dentist's assistant to a nearby village after the locum, but nobody wanted to accept me. We came back, finding the door at the Brams closed. At that time, I stayed at this charwoman. The next day, on Friday, there was a displacement in Ćmielów, and I had nowhere to be, because my mother-in-law called me, now dreading someone in the house and I was standing near the wagons where the unfortunates were being driven. Right after that I went to the city, meeting a few corpses on the streets and I saw Poles slip into gendarmes, give them something from Jewish houses, and on the sidewalks and roads, the power of torn prayer books. I went to one store to buy a thick burial, they told me that "all the dense rummage bought Jews for their lice into wagons" and that was said with such satisfaction.
When I finally met with Mrs. Bram, she advised me to go to Krakow for the time being, [...]
[...] From Radom, I went back to Ćmielów on Monday evening. I must add here that spending Monday day alone, because Marysia was at work, I thought about it, it would be good if I met (Semky?) (Very loyal SS man from Ostrowiec, he was moved here, I also have to confess the whole truth, maybe he would tell me something about Ostrowiec and advise me what to do. "Going to the station in the evening, I saw him, but I lacked the courage to come.
[...] I went to Skarżysko to rest, find out what was going on in Ostrowiec, and then I did not think about it. [...] Accidentally passing the bridge, I met Mr. Grosman from Ostrowiec. He met me and informed me that in Ostrowiec the action was not yet finished, but the next day he ordered his wife to come to the post, she would have the exact information because they sent a man. So on Friday morning I went to the appointed place and I learned that in Ostrowiec there was and is still terrible, that is the power of corpses, and among them and a few policemen. So I decided to return to Ostrowiec, to find out the whole truth and connect with Heńk as much as possible. I knew one thing that I hate Poles so much that I could stay among them. [...] On Monday morning, October 26, I came to Ostrowiec. At the corner of the street, I saw the police [Anta] Flajszer who was driving the workers to the factory. However, I could not reach it, because there was the workers' power in front of the factory. I went to Suniny. She was scared to see me, but she accepted me very well. From her I learned that not a single woman was left; that they are still pulling people out of the shelters; Jews have bunkers from the Market Square to the river, with large supplies inside, even a living cow. At my request she agreed to go to the city with a letter to give him back to the first [Jewish] policeman. She arranged for me, she came back to find out first of all that Heniek was alive, because the policeman who took the letter to him, he said. When [her] husband returned from the factory, he told that the workers of the factory were sleeping for two weeks in the factory square, three were shot on terror, that all will be given away and heavy fortunes collected; and the most important, Heniek lives. Mrs. Kr. she complained to her mother that she did not give her anything to keep, she would not take it, etc. It turned out later that not only her mother, but even Frania gave her underwear and other things. Unexpectedly, Mr. Głuchia came with a recommendation that I should be at 6 Polna Street. My joy had no limits. Immediately I set out on the road, and at Pola I saw a women's outpost run by Wilko. Dazed, with great joy I fell into their ranks, put on a handkerchief imitation band, [...] The group to which I joined was Jeger's post, only with them I went to the Cegielnia, I returned to the ghetto at 8, it was completely dark. The first encountered person was Pinek Alterman, with whom we kissed and we went to look for Heniek. When we finally came down with Heniek, with great joy he carried me home in his arms. Our new home was a flat shared with 7 policemen - Ber, Alkichen and Sz. Politański, Zyngier, Zajfman, Bronzajt. I did not meet anyone from friends, everyone had faces changed after these hard and horrible experiences. I felt that each of our married roommates was looking at Heniek's joy with envy, because they all lost their wives. I spent only one night in the ghetto, and despite my sincere intentions, I had to separate myself from Heniek again because he wanted so, afraid of further deportation. [...] So I went back to Ostrowiec on Wednesday morning, I decided to stay more out of place. Heniek got married for the institution with Estera at Mendy's. I had a very nice company of the Wajsblum sisters, and the victim was Miss Klajman, who entertained us with songs and humor. After returning from work, he was always cheerful at home, because everyone joked and tried to drown out not to remember what was. It consumed, drank and amused itself to debauchery, just like before death, to use all the good of this world before the end. I rarely visited my parents, which I cannot forgive myself. Always being with them, I had to cry, remembering our beloved ones. My father strongly believed that we would survive and our beloveds will return and then everyone will tell their experiences at the common table. Their only consolation was Abram, who looked after them and what he could do when he was a policeman. My mother always promised him to be a son, even if Blimek was not going to come back, because what a mother did not make her mistake like her father. My heart ached badly, when I saw my eternally ill mother going into frost and snow to work on the road. I remember once in the morning, when we were standing, our group separately and my dad separately at Sienkiewicz, my father suddenly came to me and started to just shower me with kisses. Later, my mother said that her father told her about it - it was a longing for lost children and a remembrance that he still has me.
Amidst this merry life and carousing, however, we began to whisper about the upcoming second deportation. Heniek already pre-arranged for me 2 places, so that in case of danger he could go there. On January 10, there was a second deportation, during which I lost my beloved Parents. [...] I was left with Edzia, whom Heniek saved with a miracle. Also, my father could stay, but he did not want to without his mother. Later, I learned about this tragic journey of my parents. Tochterman and Gertner escaped from the wagon and told us that the mother was terribly thirsty, she asked for some snow; all the time nothing to each other. The parents did not talk. Gutholec's mother also jumped out of the wagon, lay in the snow for a long time, and frosted both feet, which were later amputated. When we left Ostrowiec she was lying after surgery.
In the ghetto, we returned to our normal "life" again. I moved with Heniek to the second floor, we got a shared room with Marian Psajgielwan and his wife Hanka Wurman. Our neighbors, who passed by us, were Sztajnbaumowie with wives and Szlamek Rubinsztajn with Bronka Landau. I have not returned to work, so we had relatively clean and I cooked the best things myself, because that's all we have left. From time to time, I was seeing my friends and reading letters from Stefcia, who had been in Warsaw since October. The "attraction" was almost the daily victims of Peter and his colleagues, killed in the square next to the cemetery. The most of us were the fact of shooting Gutek Goldwasser with his wife and child who had been a victim of a good friend by a Pole. These scenes spoiled our mood only for a short time, later, again in the cards or restaurants, we tried to drown in it. But after the second displacement, they started whispering about the barrage, i.e. it was known that the factory and Jeger plant would be clothed in the factory square, which would lead to extinction, illness and hard work. So who could look for a way out.
[...] Before my trip to Warsaw was really up-to-date, I still experienced joy mixed with jealousy. It was when 100 messages from Palestine to Ostrowczyków came to the ghetto, among them many from people who had fled to Russia in their time. A larger number of messages came to families who had long since been burnt in Treblinka. [...]