Late 1943

Historical Events from the Holocaust

(Excerpted from Ostrowiec; A Monument on the Ruins of an Annihilated Jewish Community (Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski, Poland, translation of  Sefer Ostrovtsah: le-zikaron ule-'edut, Editor: Gershon Silberberg, Meir Shimon Geshuri, Tel Aviv 1971

Giving Help in the Camp

In June 1943, 150 Jews were brought into the camp from Piotrkow and some from Strachowice. In autumn 540 Jews were brought – this time from Plaszow. Along with the growing population in the camp, the situation of the inmates became much worse, also the sanitary conditions worsened. The newcomers were naked and barefooted and did not have a shirt to call their own.

Shortly after the arrival of the Plaszow Jews (whom we called ‘the Krakowiaks’), an epidemic of typhoid broke out. A committee was created to help the poor with bread and food cards of those who did not need the food of the general kitchen. The committee was established by Moshe Arnstein and Leibl Blumenfeld. They succeeded in getting from the camp store underwear and winter coasts and thereby help the needy. Most difficult was the shoe problem; shoes wee unobtainable regardless of price, and the newcomers must walk in the heavy snows of the winter in wooden clogs, without socks and even without a rag to their feet. At that time also a number of Radom Jews arrived, amongst whom was Dr. Kleinberger, who at once took over the management of the hospital.

The Situation Worsens

Later on, the Werkschutz-Fuehrer, Goldsitz, was removed from office, and in his stead came Radie, who then was put in charge of the entire camp and who played a very sad role in our future fate. His coming signaled tragic days for the camp, in which many victims fell.

Frequently the camp had visitors: they were the Chief of the S.S. of Radom and the two Jew-haters Peter and Brune from Ostrowiec. They used to select many people amidst the employed ones, and sent them away, without any reason.

In the end of 1943, 38 people – who were not at work – were deported from the camp to Pirlej, near Radom, where they were gassed. The original number was 60, but after an intervention was reduced to 38.

A most depressing act for the camp people was the detention of the 2 camp leaders Shafir and Blumenfeld, who were in contact with the factory management. Eight days after their arrest, it became known that they were shot dead. Together with them some other people were deported. The post of Shafir was given to Abraham Seifman; Blumenfeld's place took Moshe Puczyc.

Soon thereafter the situation in the camp worsened considerably. Various intrigues began to be carried on between the two new camp managers and the German authority. They have limited the activity of the other employees. The kitchen was deprived of the right to give additional bread rations without a special permission of the Jewish Bureau. They also prohibited the allocation of even the tiniest thing from the clothes store without a note from the Bureau; while in order to reach the two 'important personalities' one had to line up for hours on end.

The Werkschutz-Fuehrer resumed the raids on the return from the Jeger workshops, and he took away whatever he found. The work itself got harder too.

One day the order came not to go to work. The Stabskapitan arranged for a thorough revision of all of us, and we were also required to surrender our money, foreign currency, jewels and all valuables. Also the bunks on which we slept wee thoroughly searched. When they found in the bunks of the brothers Israel-Leib and Yeremiah Zachcinski 75 dollars, Zwierzyna ordered them shot. The two brothers fell to their knees asking for pity and for their lives, but the beastly murderer shot them dead in front of all the people present. Later a song was written about this tragic day.

A few days later Brune arrested his best friend Finschel Hofman who was the go-between of the Jews and the S.S. He explained that Hofman was about to escape, and he conducted him to the Jewish cemetery and shot him dead there.