Henryk Lewandowski

Henryk Lewandowski
Interviewer: Anna Szyba
Date of interview: October-November 2005

I met with Mr. Lewandowski at the Schorr Foundation on Twarda Street in Warsaw, at the heart of what once was the Jewish quarter, bustling with life. He's still very active in spite of his age, and hardly ever found at home. He's very witty and always has a joke handy. He gets serious when starting to talk about his past. He's proud of his family and of his life. Mr. Lewandowski, like many Polish Jews, does not fully appreciate the Jewish tradition and religion. He stresses his Polish identity, which he associates with education, progress, a higher social status. In his language 'assimilated' means first of all not so religious, non- traditional, progressive.

My family history
Growing up
During the war
The ghetto and the deportations
After the war
Family life
Recent years

My family history

I was born on 10th September 1929 in Zamosc [a town ca. 260 km south-east of Warsaw]. I was an only child. My parents were from Zamosc, both from Father's and Mother's side. My paternal grandfather, Sanel Garfinkiel, was born in 1875 already in Zamosc, but his whole family came from Ukraine, from a place called Nezhin [ca. 130 km north-east of Kiev], it's somewhere near Chernobyl. He died in 1940 of natural causes. Grandpa was an industrialist and a landowner. He owned a brewery [Livonia] in Zamosc, had an estate in Danczypol, in the Grabowiec commune [20 km east of Zamosc], a brickyard outside Zamosc - he was a wealthy man. He used to dress the European way, didn't have a beard, didn't have payes, he did have a moustache though. His Polish was not very good, not that he had a Jewish accent, but simply a peasant's manner of speaking.

When Grandpa was younger, he devoted more time to his land than to the brewery. He simply knew more of farming; he was particularly interested in horse breeding. In pre-war Poland horse breeding was an important branch of agriculture since the army used mostly horse transport. Grandpa had a good reputation as a horse-breeder. I remember he could spend all day in the stable, shouting at the stable-boys for not grooming a horse thoroughly enough, or because the manure had not been removed. I didn't know the names of my grandparents' brothers and sisters.

I remember my great-grandmother, too, the mother of my paternal grandpa, but I don't remember her name. She wore a wig [sheitl], she was very pious and wanted me badly to be very pious, too. We lived in the same house, on the premises of the brewery in Zamosc. Every morning, as I didn't wear a kippah, she would put her hand on my head so that it would be covered, and recite the prayer in Hebrew or Yiddish. I don't recall how she spoke to me, I didn't know Yiddish so she had to use Polish I suppose, but it wasn't good Polish, that's for sure. She died in 1940 of natural causes.

We had three funerals in the course of three months that year. First Grandpa Sanel died, and then both my great-grandmothers, one after another. Those were regular funerals, Jewish, with rabbis, with the so-called Chevra. The Chevra in Zamosc was headed by a Jew called Abus Frydling. They're all buried in Zamosc, in the old Jewish cemetery, upon which a housing quarter was built in the 1950s.

Grandpa Sanel's wife, Blima Wislicka, born in 1875 as well, was killed - almost before my eyes - during the liquidation of the Izbica ghetto [1] in 1942. She was from Lodz, from a Jewish patrician family, sort of. They were in the textile industry, there was the Wislicki & Rozen factory, not quite like Szeibler [1820-1881, one of the biggest textile industrialists in Lodz], but a medium-sized factory. The family was Polonized, assimilated to a large degree, there were converts among them. I have a portrait of my great-grandmother at home, she's wearing something you won't see nowadays. Frills and so on. She didn't wear a wig, she had regular hair.

I don't know how my grandparents [the Garfinkiel grandparents] met. They were not very religious, they only went to the synagogue on high holidays, for example Pesach. I don't remember them going there every Saturday. I would ask the four questions over the seder supper and Grandpa would answer them. It so happened I was the only grandson for both my paternal and maternal grandparents, so on one seder I went to the first Grandpa, and on the second to the other. The food at my grandparents' house was kosher, yet nobody made a fuss if you ate something that was not. Well, on Pesach there would be no bread in the house, of course, but I know Grandpa used to have a piece of sausage every day, or some bacon, things that couldn't have been kosher by definition.

Grandpa Sanel had four sons. One died of scarlet fever at the age of eight or ten maybe, I don't know. I didn't even know his name. Matjas was the eldest son, born in 1897, then Mieczyslaw-Mendel, born in 1899, and finally Dawid, my father, born in 1908. None of them had any religious education, I don't know if they went to a cheder, but anyway they all completed public schools, non-religious, and were religiously indifferent, they were all assimilated [without any ties to religion], and as far as I remember they spoke nice Polish.

Matjas had agricultural education, not a university degree, he completed agricultural high school. He worked in farming for a short time, then switched to journalism and writing. Because he was a well-known hunting activist, he was in the editorial staff of the 'Lowca Polski' [Polish Hunter] magazine in Warsaw. In the 1930s he was sent to Canada with a group of Polish journalists to write reportages; the outcome of that trip were books by Arkady Fiedler [1894-1985, Polish journalist, writer, naturalist, and traveler], 'Ryby spiewaja w Ukajali' [The River of Singing Fish, 1935; Mr. Lewandowski actually refers to a different book by the author, Kanada pachnaca zywica (Canada Smelling of Pine) of the same year], and a less known one by my uncle - under the name Matgarf - 'Losie i lososie' [Moose and Salmons].

His wife Maria was a daughter of Abraham Sojka, one of the wealthiest men in Poland at the time. They had one daughter, Noemi, or Nina, my age, she lives in Canada, we keep in touch. It wasn't a happy marriage, they split up in 1937 and he went to Rhodesia [today Zimbabwe]. Matjas' wife was deported with Nina to Russia, to the polar bears [that is, sent into exile to Siberia]. They came back after the war and moved to Rhodesia; Uncle had them come there, even though they were divorced, and she lived there separately, working as a shop-assistant in a department store.

There used to be this 'fashion' in Poland that we should have colonies, and possible locations were debated. There was this state official, Mieczyslaw Lepecki [1897-1969, journalist and traveler], he was a writer and also Pilsudski's [2] aide-de-camp, and he came up with the idea that vast expanses of land could be cheaply acquired in Rhodesia, so he persuaded people to go there and settle. My uncle was among those persuaded so he moved to Rhodesia. After the divorce Matjas remarried, his second wife was an English Jewish woman, they had a son, his name is Rodes; I've never met him. He's a PE teacher, he lives in Australia nowadays.

Grandpa Sanel's second son was called Mieczyslaw, he was the greatest intellectual in the family. A lawyer, he started his legal studies at Kiev University during World War I, but graduated from Warsaw University. I have his free tramway pass from 1922 with his photo on it. He was an attorney [attorney-at-law] before the war. He had a practice in Zamosc, Tomaszow Lubelski [a town ca. 40 km south of Zamosc], and for some time also in Warsaw. During the war he was the chairman of the Jewish community council in Zamosc, the so-called Judenrat [3]. As far as I know, he was the only Judenrat chair to survive the war. He survived in hiding on the 'Aryan side' in Warsaw [i.e. beyond the ghetto].

He had no children, even though he was married four times. I only met his third and fourth wives. His third wife, Estera, or Tusia, was killed on the 'Aryan side' in Warsaw; Irena, the fourth one, he married after the war, she died in London. After the war he lived in Zamosc, then in Warsaw for some time, and then he remarried and immigrated [to London in 1949].

The youngest was Dawid, my father, born in 1908. He completed some kind of vocational high school, somewhere near Czestochowa [ca. 250 km south-west of Warsaw]. Grandpa had him go there, wanting him to work in the brewery and at the estate, and that was how it turned out. Except that Father and Mother generally worked only in the brewery - Grandpa advanced in years. There was also a brewer employed.

The founder of Mom's side of the family was her grandfather Psachje Jungman, born sometime between 1865 and 1870, he died around 1928-1930. He lived in Zamosc, but came probably from Krasnystaw [30 km east of Zamosc]. He spoke rather fluent Polish - he traded with the Poles, he used to sell shoe leather, among other things, so he often dealt with shoemakers.

Great-grandpa Psachje's wife was called Sura, I remember her. She died in 1940 of natural causes, before the ghetto in Zamosc [4] was created. She didn't live with Grandpa [her son], I'd never been at her apartment. I know she visited grandparents on all major holidays, and for example used to have the Saturday dinner with them. I don't remember if we exchanged at least one word. She probably had big trouble with Polish. She was very religious too, as Great-grandpa Psachje was a very religious man.

Great-grandpa Psachje had seven children. Four sons and three daughters, and all of them had their own families. Three of them left the country back before the war. They went to Argentina, for economic reasons, and to Palestine. Many members of that family survived the war.

One of the seven children of Psachje was my Grandpa, he was called Nuta. He was born in 1886 or 1887, and in 1942 they took him to Belzec [5]. He used to dress the traditional Jewish way, had a little beard, wore a gabardine and that sort of a Jewish cap. Grandpa's wife, Rajzla, was born in 1890 and was murdered in 1942 [in Belzec] as well. She came from a village in the Krasnobrod commune [27 km south of Zamosc]. She spoke Polish with a peasant's accent. She had a little store in Zamosc before the war, she sold fabrics. She was religious, like every elderly woman.

They had four children. My mother, Maria, was the eldest daughter, she was born in 1908. Uncle Izaak was second, he was born in 1911. There was also the other daughter, Rachela, nicknamed Halina, of 1917 I guess, she survived the war, she even was a runner at Zegota [6], in Warsaw, she had a very 'good,' 'Aryan' appearance. She also left for Argentina after the war and died there. The youngest son, my uncle Mojzesz, or Moniek, born in 1921 or 1922, was killed in 1941 in Zamosc.

Mom's parents [Grandpa Nuta and Grandma Rajzla] had an apartment downtown, on Staszica Street, a large room and a large kitchen. The room was divided by sort of a wooden wall. The kitchen was partly divided, too, because a section of it was Grandpa's leather business, as he also traded in leather. It was a small apartment for six people.

In the 1970s my cousin and Grandpa's grandson, Adam Jungman, the son of Uncle [Izaak] Jungman from Argentina, came to Poland; we went to Zamosc and he wanted to visit his grandparents' apartment very much. I walked him there and said, 'Know what, it's awkward for me to go there, you go, introduce yourself as a son of so-and-so, say you want to take a look, I'll take a walk.' He came downstairs afterwards and said, 'Heniek, who used to live here?', so I said 'Six people lived here.' 'How did they coop up here, we have a bathroom that's only a bit smaller than this whole apartment.' 'That's how you lived before the war,' I said. But I remember they always had space there.

From the time I was born until sometime in 1935 or 1936 my parents and I lived downtown, right in front of the town hall. Later we moved to a company apartment on the brewery's premises. It was a two-story building: we lived on the first floor, the grandparents - Father's parents - on the second. Because the brewery was somewhat on the outskirts I sometimes stayed the night at Mom's parents; I liked it, I always slept in Grandma's room.

I was the fruit of a puppy love, so to speak. My parents were very close to each other, my mother was a very pretty girl, a petite brunette, my father was a well-built, tall, broad-shouldered redhead. Because there were differences between their financial standings - my mother's parents were not really well-off, my father's parents were considered the more affluent Jewish class - so as far as I remember the relationship was without the parents' acceptance, and the marriage took place because I was already on the way.

Mom completed a Polish gymnasium in Zamosc with the lower standard exams and she worked hard all her life. Our apartment neighbored the office and Mom sat at the papers often as early as 5am. The reason was that the food industry before the war was in constant crisis. There was overproduction and all companies in the business were on their last legs, and my mother worked so that increasing employment could be avoided and the salary money saved. Plus you know, 'the master's eye makes the horse fat.'

My father worked less, because he was also active in public life. Father was a Jabotinist [7]. Jabotinsky's [8] movement had a nationalist-fascist slant, meaning they did not believe in the possibility of gaining the Jewish statehood in Palestine through negotiations, or thanks to the mercy of the British. Jabotinists believed independence could be won by means of armed struggle with not just the Brits, but the Arab movement as well. So they looked for allies. One of those allies was Mussolini [9]. Italians were elbowing around in the colonies and always looking for a chance to mess up the British. They felt Palestine was one such chance.

For what I know, Jews selected by Jabotinsky [members of the Revisionist Zionists Union] were admitted to the navy military school in Civitavecchia, in Italy. It was a secular organization and, as far as I remember, well developed in Zamosc. At the 3rd May [10] and 11th November [11] parades, the military units were always followed by the Jabotinists, in their uniforms. I didn't attend the demonstrations, I was a child, but my father did, he used to lead that column of the Zamosc Jabotinists. As far as I remember, no-one had beards there, or payes, they were all dressed the secular, European fashion. You can't say the organization had a particular social class prevalence. The members were both sons of the rich families and the extremely poor ones.

I remember that because there was this Palestine emigration thing, they wanted to prepare people here in Poland for working in the kibbutzim, as farmers. My father wanted to move to Palestine, too, although in the more distant future I guess. In the meantime he organized trainings for future kibbutzim members, some of them at Grandpa's estate in Danczypol.

As I was eight or nine, Father took me with him to a training like this, to a village called Kolki, between Volodymir-Volyns'kyy and Kowel [today Ukraine]. The village administrator was a Jew, he had that 'horse tooth' [underbite, malocclusion] - as he closed his mouth, a tooth stuck out. Father had his meetings all day long and I played with the kids. It was a big training for a crowd of Jewish farmers who would become kibbutzim members.

I remember an autographed portrait of Jabotinsky hanging in my father's office. Father was a member of the national executive of the Revisionist Zionists Union, I don't remember if it was on the central level, but I know he knew Jabotinsky personally. I know that when they held the last Jabotinist congress before the war, in Vienna, in 1937 I think, my father went there. I remember exactly, because as he came back from Vienna and was driving from the railway station in Zamosc to the brewery he realized he hadn't bought any presents for us, so he stopped downtown, went to a shop owner he knew who sold toys and that sort of things, and he bought me some kind of a motorbike, which I was very proud of. A couple of days later I saw he'd bought it in a shop in Zamosc.

Jabotinsky was very popular. There was this tradition that when Jabotinsky came to a town somewhere in Poland, the organization members would unharness a horse from a cab and pull the vehicle themselves, as a way of showing appreciation for their boss. Jabotinsky died in 1940 during a sea travel, he was going from England to the United States to organize a Jewish legion to fight the Germans.

You have to admit Jabotinsky's idea has been in some way realized, because Haganah [12] and all the other organizations in Israel actually started armed struggle, even though they consisted of people who were Jabotinsky's enemies, Ben Gurion [13] was the Jewish Left after all. It turned out, however, that we need to fight, that you can't gain independence with just a bunch of agreements on paper; it has to cost you some blood.

My father was religiously indifferent. For example: he didn't like it when my maternal Grandpa Nuta took me to prayers on the Jewish holidays. He couldn't really say 'no,' but he wasn't pleased, you know, so he said to me once: 'Listen, as you're in the synagogue with Grandpa, take off your cap.' It caused a great fuss, everyone was all over Grandpa: 'How have you raised your grandson!' And it was effective: Grandpa gave me a break for a few weeks, he wasn't taking me anywhere.

The synagogue I went to with Grandpa survived, it's an architectural monument nowadays [14], it hosts a public library. As far as I remember, Mother used to go with her mother Rajzla to the women's part of that synagogue on the Jewish New Year. I'd never seen my father in a synagogue. The food we ate at home wasn't kosher. We had a maid, a Ukrainian girl, called Anna Woloszyn, I remember she used to take me to the Orthodox church every Sunday, I loved to go there, because a male church choir sang there at service.

Religious holidays were treated just like nowadays: I'm a non-believer after all, nonobservant, but we all gather as a family on Christmas. Father was a non-believer, there was always bread in the house, and I remember once during Pesach, when it's forbidden to eat bread, I helped myself to a slice and went to play outside. Father really gave me hell back then, you know, because the others saw me eating bread, and he respected their observing the rule.

From the visits at Grandma and Grandpa I remember the dishes. I sometimes had dinner at my maternal grandparents'. I still recall it, the chulent above all. I've had chulent a few times after the war on different occasions; maybe I did idealize the taste of that pre-war chulent, but everything I've eaten since, even in Israel, was not even in the same league. I also remember kugel, it was sort of a bun, and chicken broth, THE Jewish dinner dish. Another dish was what's now called the 'Jewish caviar,' a salad made of poultry liver, onion, and egg.

My parents spoke Polish at home, they switched to Yiddish only when they didn't want me to understand. They knew Yiddish, of course, Yiddish was spoken at both Grandpa Nuta's and Sanel's. I only learned to speak Yiddish during the war, as I was working at the German commandant's office with a group of Jewish workers. I can't write, I can't read in Yiddish, but as I compare it today, I'm one of the very few in the Warsaw community who understand Yiddish. Well, anyway, I don't need to put on the headphones when I'm at the Jewish Theater.

I used to see Zamosc as a beautiful, bustling city. The surroundings of Mickiewicza Square, the main [Great Market Square] and the adjoining streets of the Old Town, the Zamosc city park, one of the most beautiful parks in Poland, they were always full of people.

I remember sometime in the 1960s or 1970s I was on a business trip in the Zamosc area and had to spend a night in a hotel. And so I took a walk downtown. Deserted streets, not a person in sight. The town had a lot less inhabitants than before the war; 32,000-33,000 people lived in pre-war Zamosc, including about 14,000 Jews [Editor's note: in 1939 there were 12,000 Jews in Zamosc], very few Ukrainians, some German families, the rest were Polish families. It was a very pleasant town.

We had a military parade every year; Zamosc had a big garrison, in two barracks: the Pilsudski barracks and the Lukasinski barracks. I remember there were parades each year on 3rd May and 11th November, it was always fun for the children.

I remember the ceremonies after Pilsudski's death, they lasted several days. They transmitted it all on the radio, the burial Mass, transporting the body from Warsaw to Krakow, and later there was a newsreel devoted entirely to Pilsudski's death, I remember going to the cinema with Moniek, my youngest uncle [my mother's brother], it was overcrowded, we had to stand, I didn't see too much.

I know some of Mother's side of the family had Communist sympathies. Uncle Izaak was somewhat involved in Communism, he spent some time in prison, in Warsaw, there was also mother's cousin Jozek Jungman, who lived in Lublin, and the police were after him so he came to Grandpa and Grandma Jungman, to Zamosc, for a few days.

A story comes to my mind: there was a rabbi in Zamosc, one I would now call a patriot-rabbi. Each 3rd May and 11th November he held a service for the motherland. Jozek Jungman conspired with some other young Communists and they entered the synagogue during a service with two pigeons, with a banner attached to their tails saying 'Away with the government', or something to that effect, anti-State anyway, and then let the birds out inside. The banner unfurled and the caption was to be seen, there was a great stir of course, the service was interrupted; as far as I know nobody was proven guilty, so Jozek Jungman got away with it.

Growing up

I went to elementary school in Nowa Osada [a Zamosc suburb, founded in the 19th century], where I lived. It was a Polish elementary school. I don't recall there being a Jewish elementary school in Zamosc, there were cheders, for the little children. There was also a Jewish gymnasium, one of the very few; that uncle of mine, Izaak Jungman, completed a Jewish gymnasium. Because we lived on the outskirts, there were some Ukrainians in the neighborhood, and so the classes were mixed, Polish, Jewish, and Ukrainian. [In pre-war Poland the Ukrainian national minority dwelled mostly in the villages].

As for the school's quality, well, obviously many of the Jewish children had trouble with the Polish language since they didn't use it at home, they had that accent, and had trouble writing. Village children, not necessarily Ukrainians, but the Polish ones as well found it hard to express themselves, or to spell. There were very few white-collar children at the school, so I was one of the best as far as Polish was concerned, I spoke well and could write rather well, too. I was even elected the class president.

There were no 'Jews' and 'Poles' at school. The divide was a religious one. You'd say Jews, Catholics, and the Orthodox or Ruthenians. As we played soccer during the breaks, it was Jews versus Catholics. I don't know the origins of that, the divide dated back to the distant times when the nationality issues were not so clearly defined, and people were identified based on their denomination. For example, the Treaty of Versailles determined the Curzon Line [a 1920 projected demarcation between Poland and Soviet Russia] based not on the ethnic criterion, but the religious records. The Orthodox or Uniates were Ruthenians, the Catholics were Poles.

I'm not saying there was no anti-Semitism, but it occurred in the older grades, in gymnasium. Among these 10-, 11-, 12-year-old brats there was no such thing. Everyone attended religion classes, either Catholic or Jewish. We had a female teacher. I don't remember a thing of these classes. Maybe it's because my parents didn't really urge me to learn religion that hard.

As for the friendships, neighborhood was everything. I mean, if someone lived nearby, you hung out with him. I had some buddies living downtown, their parents were friends of my parents. They were mostly Jewish, but that was downtown, and I didn't go downtown much, once a week maybe, because it was quite a distance. I played with the Polish children on a daily basis, they lived two houses down the street, we played palant and kitschka [Editor's note: tipcat, sometimes simply called kitschka. Palant is also a different children's game, similar to cricket]. Palant [Editor's note: also called palestra] was a long wooden bat, perhaps a meter long, and kitschka was a 20 cm piece of wood. You put the kitschka on the ground, dug a little hole for the palant to be put underneath it, and then threw the kitschka in the air [and quickly hit it again]. The point was to send the kitschka flying as far as possible.

Where I lived, in Nowa Osada, in the brewery's surroundings, there were roughly 50 per cent Jews and 50 per cent Poles. I didn't have contact with the orthodox Jews, as they didn't really speak any Polish and kept to themselves. Their outfits were very dignified, the beards, the payes.

I remember a story: I was on a train with my mother, going from Zamosc to Lwow. And in Rawa Ruska [60 km north-west of Lwow, presently Ukraine], well, if you know Israel, if you've seen Mea Shearim [an ultra orthodox quarter of Jerusalem] - Rawa Ruska looked exactly like Mea Shearim. Anyway, a Jew walked into the compartment in Rawa Ruska, carrying a huge scarf, which he then wrapped a bottle of water with, put the whole thing on his seat and sat on it. I burst out laughing. Mother took me out to the aisle and told me he was a very religious Jew. It was Sabbath and Jews are not allowed to travel on Sabbath, unless they travel on water, since a sea journey could last more than a week. So he traveled on water, without breaching the religious law. I found it very funny, but that's what the tradition was.

I also remember another story: we still lived downtown, I must've been five or so, I had a big argument with my parents, I don't remember what about. I started to call them 'Jews.' I was being really rude, really anti-Semitic. I guess I'd overheard 'You Jew!' somewhere in the street and just caught on. When I calmed down, Mother started to explain to me it's bad to say such things, and that they were Jews, and that I was a Jew, too. And because I liked my uncles so much, both from Mother's and Father's side, I asked her if Uncle Mietek was a Jew, and if Uncle Iciu was a Jew, and was relieved to hear that they were. And I was an anti-Semite no more.

In 1937 or 1938 I was in the Stanislawow region [today Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine] with Mom and we were riding in a horse cab with some married couple to Yaremcha [ca. 200 km south of Lwow, Ukraine] I think, as we came across a group of people walking down the road, university students, young people, with staves, and they started to threaten the cabman [15]. We were not hurt in any way, but Mother wanted to report it to the police anyway, which she eventually didn't.

And I remember people picketing a Jewish store a couple of times. There was this self-taught painter in Zamosc, very talented supposedly, his name was Szum, and he organized those pickets. The picketing took place a few times a year, there were no brawls, just some boys, Endek [16] paramilitaries, stood in front of the Jewish stores and wouldn't let the Poles in. They had these slogans, 'Don't shop at a Jew,' 'Poles buy Polish stuff from Poles, let that be your motto.' My parents subscribed to a Jewish magazine in Polish, 'Nasz Przeglad' [17], and in 1937 or 1938 there was some brawl at the Lwow Polytechnic [18], a Jewish student got killed. I remember his photo on the magazine cover, and an account of the events.

Of course you heard about Hitlerism from the table talks. My parents would discuss it, especially at the time of the Zbaszyn incident, in 1938, when Hitler deported to Poland all the Jews with Polish citizenship living in Germany and the Polish authorities wouldn't admit them, and so they spent a couple of days waiting in Zbaszyn [19]. There were demonstrations, parliamentary interpellations as to why they were being held at the border.

Oh and I remember the table discussions about a possible Bolshevik invasion [20]. I didn't even know who those Bolsheviks were. I know that at the time of the German annexation of Austria [21], or Mussolini's attack on Albania [annexation of Albania by Italy, April 1939], or even prior to that on Abyssinia [the Italian invasion of Abyssinia, 1935-1936], it was all discussed a lot at home.

For the summer I always went to Grandpa Sanel's estate in Danczypol. In later years, apart from that, I was in Yaremcha once with Mother, then in Skole [ca. 100 km south of Lwow, today Ukraine], also with her, and finally in 1939, just before the war, at the Betar [22] summer camp in Hrebenow outside Skole [10 km south of Skol]. The camp ended on 25th or maybe 26th August 1939.

The boys and girls at the camp were generally from the Lwow region, there were just the four of us from Zamosc: me, Jurek Goldwag, the other boy [Marek Perczuk], and Romcia [or Romka, diminutive for Romana Inlender] I think, I'm not sure. The camp was organized by Betar, some Jewish university students had stayed there before and left the tents; the boys slept in the tents, they were quite big - I don't remember exactly, but eight beds each I think. There was also a house, a villa, the canteen was there, and also the girls stayed at the building.

We had some organized activities, and the reveille everyday. We used to sing the Hatikvah [23], although nobody knew the song, just a few of us actually sang and the rest just pretended and lip-synched. I didn't know it, either. We also sang Polish songs, we had physical education lessons, lots of outings. I remember we went to see the Hungarian border. There were evening gatherings and campfires, one or another of the campers would recite something. We from Zamosc were the youngest participants. I've never met any of my friends from the camp again, I don't know who's made it through the war. As for us from Zamosc, that Jurek survived, and also Joram Golan; Romka was killed, and Marek was killed as well.

We went back to Zamosc via Lwow. We stayed with our friend's family for the night. We left by train, and I remember the Lwow railway station, the atmosphere was already very tense, people were leaving, arriving. I'll never forget one sight, a very dignified rabbi stood there with all his family, dressed so elegant; I used to see Jews in gabardines every day, but as we stood there I kept staring at him, he looked like some sort of a saint. Then we took the train to Zamosc. We were already on the outskirts of Zamosc when we saw an ammunition depot not far from the station, I remember the military vehicles being loaded with crates of ammunition, you could smell the war in the air. I remember it was on Friday the war broke out, 1st September [24].

In the spring of 1939 part of the Danczypol estate was to be transferred to the Landless Fund. The Land Bestowal Act was in force in pre-war times, establishing that every now and then a part of the big estates would be transferred to the Landless Fund. We went to Hrubieszow [50 km east of Zamosc] - me, Uncle Mietek [short for Mieczyslaw], my father, and a certified land-surveyor from Zamosc, Mr. Piotr Pawel Lucht. They dealt with all the official business in Hrubieszow and then we went to have lunch. They ordered a glass of wine each and water for me, I stood up and proposed a toast 'to Hitler's death.' That Lucht guy went: 'Bravo, my boy, well done!' When the war broke out and the Germans marched in, Lucht signed the Volksliste and became a Volksdeutscher [25], and he was no longer Piotr Pawel Lucht but rather Peter Paul Lucht, and he wore a badge with a 'Hakenkreuz' [German for swastika]. I always crossed the street when I saw him ahead.

During the war

Zamosc was bombed on the sixth day of war and the next day Mother and I - Father was in the army - and some other members of our family got on a wagon and went to Danczypol. A well-known Polish poet Wlodzimierz Slobodnik [1900-1991, poet, satirist], a Jew, was in Zamosc at that time and he went along with us. We rode on two wagons, and I was on the one with Slobodnik. You could hear the German planes all the time, dropping bombs somewhere far away. Each time he heard the humming above, he jumped off the wagon and ran to lie down in a ditch. Some witty soul told me to make an 'oooooo' sound, and every time I did Slobodnik jumped off the wagon and ran for cover.

So we were in Danczypol, and Father's unit was stationed somewhere east of the river Bug, he was a corporal in the artillery. I remember it when the Russians entered, on 17th September [26], and how Mother and the others commented on Molotov's [27] speech, which was very anti-Polish.

One day, around 22nd or 23rd September, we heard a cannonade, the shelling of the surrounding area lasted about an hour, and then they marched in, the Bolshevik [here derogatory for Soviet] army for all I knew. And so they came, a cavalry troop; we were all in the manor house, in the hall, and they came in, I still remember the commander saying 'Kapitalisty' [Russian for capitalists]. The Ukrainian servants were also in the house, the Soviets sat for a while and leaving, that officer said to the servants, 'It's going to be your turn now to live in these chambers.'

And they went to Grabowiec. That was the place they had been shelling, Grabowiec, a small Jewish town. Some two hours later someone came in running to my Mother to tell her that among the killed Polish soldiers was Captain Wislicki [Henryk Wislicki, Grandma Blima's brother]. Mom took the chaise [a sort of small horse carriage] and we went to Grabowiec. I didn't see the corpse, I was still a child. Mom arranged all the different funeral issues, as he had converted [to the Catholic faith].

The Germans withdrew, the Bolsheviks entered, and we went back to Zamosc. There was already a militia keeping order, mostly the Jewish and Ukrainian youth, the dregs of Zamosc, very few Poles. The Bolsheviks stayed in Zamosc for another ten days or so, after that those agreements [Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact] [28] took place and they withdrew. At that time most of the Jews fled from Zamosc, following the Russians [29].

Mother's brothers and sister, Rozia, Moniek, and Izaak, left for Lwow, most of my schoolmates left, too [at the end of September 1939 about 5,000 out of 13,000 Jews living in Zamosc left the city with the Russian army]. My father's brother Mieczyslaw stayed in Zamosc, and we stayed as well, for all sorts of reasons: there was the brewery, the estate, no-one knew what was going to happen in the Soviet Union, besides, my parents were not Communists. They didn't trust the Soviets, and most of the people who fled had left-wing sympathies and believed Hitler would try to carry out his most terrible plans. My parents were being a bit naive perhaps as far as this was concerned.

Father returned to Zamosc on 24th, maybe 25th September; when the Bolsheviks entered, his commander disbanded the regiment and everyone tried to get back home on his own. The brewery was still in my parents' hands at the time, we didn't live in it anymore, though, it would have been dangerous. We lived downtown, in a building belonging to Uncle Mieczyslaw.

When the Germans took Zamosc over for the second time, this time bringing their administration with them, they immediately set up the Jewish community council - the Judenrat. The mayor of Zamosc suggested candidates for the Judenrat, the Germans wanted it to represent all the social classes. The big capitalists, the middle class, the intellectuals, the merchants, the craftsmen. When I read through the list after the war and recalled each person's profession, I had to admit they'd been successful in achieving the goal. The council was set up right away, sometime in October, and my uncle [Mieczyslaw Garfinkiel] was appointed the chair; my father was also a member, his initial task was to create a charity kitchen, and afterwards a Jewish police force [30]. [Editor's note: Dawid Garfinkiel was the chief of the Jewish police in Zamosc until May 1942].

The ghetto was not yet established, the Jews, however, were being expelled from all the better apartments. We were expelled, too, we moved to Lwowska Street, on the premises of the future ghetto. They began to pick people for drying up the swamps outside Zamosc, for some cleaning works. The Judenrat was to provide people for those tasks, and many volunteered, because the council gave them food in exchange. The Germans started to take away the Jewish stores. They put contributions on the communities, meaning they announced the community had to collect a certain amount of money, and the council divided that sum according to wealth.

Foodstuffs shortages began, there was no more tea for example, no imported goods. The Bug river was the borderline, there was a ford crossing near Rawa Ruska; it was an illegal crossing, but lots of people were using it, commuting between Lwow and Zamosc. They carried sugar there, bringing tea in exchange. I wasn't doing anything at that time, because the school was closed. There was this professor from the gymnasium in Zamosc, Professor Szumer, he taught us, the children, German; Mother gave me some textbooks to read and used to test what progress I'd made.

They introduced the armbands [31] as early as 1940, although at first for the 13-year-olds and older; I began to wear one in 1942. It was supposed to be a yellow patch initially, but they gave us the blue David stars.

In the spring of 1941 people were gradually expelled from downtown and moved to the Nowa Osada suburb, where the ghetto was to be situated. [All Jews from Zamosc were to be moved to Nowa Osada by 1st May 1941]. We had already lived there before. Of course the living conditions were worse this time, because we were placed in the apartment of a Mr. Robinson, a pharmacist. We were given one big room. There was the charity kitchen, people still had some supplies left, the black market was functioning, the craftsmen worked as before. You could still think it was all going to be bearable.

The ghetto and the deportations

The ghetto wasn't established until after the attack on the Soviet Union, in the fall of 1941 [32]. As half of the Zamosc Jews had left with the Russians there was plenty of space, and so Jews from the territories annexed to the Reich started to be deported to Zamosc. That included Wloclawek and the surrounding area [ca. 150 km north-west of Warsaw], but also the Czech and German Jews began to flow in. They were secular intellectuals, not one of them spoke a word in Yiddish, they felt really alien among us. And quite so, it was a different culture, a different civilization, they knew German well.

Just before the invasion on the Soviet Union the Germans started to construct a network of field airstrips outside Zamosc, and all the back- breaking works were assigned to the Jews from Zamosc, while the Czech and German Jews were given administration tasks. Lots of totally Germanized Jews came, ones who learned about their Jewishness from Hitler. Among them was a World War I air force captain, decorated with every single medal possible, and they made him the chief of the Jewish police. His name was Hoffman [Editor's note: Mr. Lewandowski is referring to Alwin Lippmann, a high ranking German officer, during World War I a pilot in the famous Manfred 'The Red Baron' von Richthofen's squadron]. He had the typical appearance of a German officer. He was killed later on. There were also doctors, and the health administration posts at the Judenrat were given to the German doctors, or the Czech ones. In those early times they believed they were of a higher category than the locals.

Th ere were more and more [German and Czech Jews] coming. The first arrivals took place before there were any transports to the gas chambers, but not the later ones. I remember the first transport of the Jews from Theresienstadt [33], already after the first deportation action. The first action, to Belzec, was in April 1942. We tried to explain to those Jews, that they came here and the same journey awaits them, but they would say, 'No, you'll maybe go, we're going to be left here.' I'll never forget my Mother explaining to a Czech or German Jewish woman what this whole gas thing was, and the boy of my age who was with her said, 'Mama, das ist ein Quatsch!' [German for 'Mom, that's nonsense!']. They simply wouldn't believe it.

There were four massive deportations in Zamosc. I remember them all. The first took place on 12th April 1942 I think, I'd reached the official age [of 13] on 10th April and a job at the German commandant's office had been arranged for me. Now, that gave you two advantages: documents that could prevent you from being expelled after a round-up, and the meals they served there. You could work as a bootblack, a runner, or chop wood.

There was another deportation in June and yet another in August. I remember very well the August transport, because my maternal grandpa, Nuta, went to Belzec. [Editor's note: The first deportation from Zamosc took place on 11th April 1942, the second one on 24th May the third one on 11th August, and the fourth one at the beginning of September. The final liquidation of the Zamosc ghetto took place in October 1942.]

Back before that, at the turn of 1941, Moniek, Mother's youngest brother, was killed. After Lwow and Ukraine had been taken by the Germans [as a result of the German-Soviet war in June 1941] Mom's brothers and sister returned, Uncle Izaak, however, immediately left for some place in the Krasnobrod area. Aunt Rozia and Uncle Moniek stayed in Zamosc.

As the deportations began, everyone tried to figure something out. Aunt Rozia had a 'good' appearance. A schoolmate of her from Zamosc looked a bit alike and she gave her her ID [in the name Halina Nowosadowicz], and so Rozia left for Warsaw; she later assumed the name Halina Skalska and sent the ID back to her schoolmate. 'Halina' worked for Zegota, she was a runner there.

Moniek was a young, handsome boy, popular with the girls. He was arrested by the Gestapo. It was said they sent him to Majdanek [34], but as it later turned out they did him in at the Rotunda in Zamosc. [At the Rotunda in the fall of 1941, the Gestapo shot about 30 people who had escaped in 1939 and returned to Zamosc in 1941.] That was the first victim in our family, even before the deportations, and the second one was Grandpa Nuta in August.

When Belzec [death camp] was created, everyone knew what was going to happen, but people were fooling themselves the Germans were not planning a total annihilation, that they would keep those useful for them, those working, those in the productive age. Sometime in September 1942, after the fourth expulsion, a 'J-Karte' was introduced, a 'Judenkarte' [German for 'Jewish card']. It was made of cardboard, it said the issuing authority was the police and security commandant of the Lublin district, and that the Jew so-and-so was essential for the German economy. Everyone fought to get the card, you even had to get it illegally.

But at the end of September 1942 the deportation was ordered anyway. All the Jews were herded into the market square, and only a few were released, some craftsmen - tailors, shoemakers - who worked, and so they were released but not free to go home; a building was prepared for them to live in. Just before setting off some Judenrat members were released [along with their families], they told us to go home and wait for further instructions. The rest was sent on foot to Izbica. It's 21 kilometers away, and everyone had their best clothes on.

A friend of mine, Romka Inlender, was among them, and she had a new pair of boots that were grazing her legs as she walked, so she left the column to take them off, and they shot her. Her mother went after her, and they shot the mother, too. On that way from Zamosc to Izbica more or less 70 people got killed.

We stayed in Zamosc for another four or five days, and one afternoon a Gestapo man came and told us all to get moving, we were to go to the Gestapo headquarters. So they put us all on two wagons. Nobody knew why. Someone said we would be going to Izbica. We got to the Gestapo just before the night. They transported us to Izbica the next day.

The Jews no longer hoped Izbica is here to stay, that it was going to be the ghetto for the southern part of the Lublin region. Those who had Polish friends and a chance to get a phony ID, started to look for a way out. My uncle [Mieczyslaw] already had his documents and he left for Warsaw one day with his wife, and we stayed, waiting for ours - the hideout in Warsaw was ready.

It was then that the deportations and liquidation of the Izbica ghetto took place [4th November, 1942]. Everyone ran for their lives. There was a grove in the middle of a clearing, and we ran there, Grandma Blima, Father's mother, was with us but she was an elderly woman - she simply couldn't run anymore. It was a meadow where cattle used to graze. There was a cabin of sorts, a shelter for the herdsmen, the size of a privy. And Father put his mother in there. He still didn't believe it was the liquidation of the ghetto, he thought we'll take her with us on our way back. Father went one way, and Mother, Grandma Rajzla, and I went the other.

At night we heard a train arriving at the station to take the people to Belzec; it turned out the transport headed to Sobibor [35], not Belzec. All the Jews from Zamosc had been killed in Belzec, and the last transport went to Sobibor. And so we went back to Izbica the following morning, still not knowing if it was a liquidation. We saw a couple of Jewish policemen hanging around, some other people, not a German in sight. We got in the building we lived in and saw Father in tears, because he went to take Grandma back and saw somebody had shot her.

Seeing how things were, my parents decided to go to Warsaw. There were six of us: my parents, Grandma, me, and Mr. Rozen, a friend of my parents. We decided to walk apart from each other, so that if one of us got caught it wouldn't cause us all to be killed, but still close enough to see the others. We were supposed to meet at the railway station in Krasnystaw, in the house of a railway worker, whom Grandma knew. We got on a train and got as far Rejowiec, when I saw my mother and Grandma being escorted by two 'Bahnschützer' [German for 'railway guards'] to the guardhouse. We saw them being arrested. And so we kept on our way to Warsaw - Father and I in one compartment, Mr. Rozen in the next.

We got off the train at the Dworzec Glowny station in Warsaw; it used to be where the Warszawa Srodmiescie station is located today. Father had the address of a hotel on Widok Street, where they in turn had the address of the place my mother's sister, Rachela, stayed at. We stepped out on the platform and saw at least ten people from the Zamosc ghetto had been on the same train. One of them, a very pushy gentleman, didn't know Warsaw at all and started to shout to my father, 'Where's Zlota Street?' Father wanted to leave him behind, he was afraid we'd get caught, because the man had a Jewish appearance. We started to walk away fast, he ran after us and, forgetting himself, shouted, 'Garfinkel, where's Zlota Street?'

The Warsaw police probably knew there were going to be some Jews on that train, they had some operatives at the station, some navy-blue policemen [36], anyway - they caught us all that day. The precinct was just opposite the station, on the other side of Jerozolimskie Avenue. They dragged us all there. The navy-blue policemen were questioning us: 'We're going to take you to the ghetto' [37]. It was already after the main July-August deportation action [38], of course, but several tens of thousands of people still lived in the Warsaw ghetto. We started to speak with the policemen to make them let us free, and in the afternoon they eventually agreed, letting us go in groups of two or three every couple of minutes, without informing the Germans.

A characteristic thing: when we discussed with the policemen why they were persecuting us, one of them said, 'And what have your people done to our soldiers in the East in 1940, 1941?' [39]. Apparently, it was an already widespread rumor that many Jews had collaborated with the Soviet authorities on the occupied territories over the Bug river. It was partly true, naturally, but that behavior wasn't as prevailing as the rumor in the General Government had it.

[Soon after that] Halina Skalska, or Rachela, contacted Rejowiec via the Home Army [40] to find out what had happened with Mom and Grandma. A 'Bahnschützer' named Lenart said he can arrange their release - for a price. She contacted him by phone, and then wrote him I think. Someone from the Home Army warned her he was not a man to be trusted, but Halina wanted to save her mother and sister. She was to meet him on neutral ground to give him the money. Meanwhile, she was told they were already dead, they had been shot. The bastard not only had murdered them, but he also wanted to make some money off it. They were buried in the Jewish cemetery in Rejowiec, the exact spot is unknown. After the war I've bumped that guy off with a friend of mine.

Right after the arrival in Warsaw I got a birth certificate in the name Czeslaw Waclaw Lewandowski. After a short stay with Mr. and Ms. Janowski Halina found us a new hideout, on Jerozolimskie Avenue, and so me, Father, and two more people from Zamosc were transported there, each one separately. I was ill with measles at that time; the man who was supposed to take me to the apartment said we were going to go by tram, in the 'Nur für Deutsche' [German for 'For Germans only'] compartment - he had a Nazi pin on his lapel. He was the future Attorney General, Professor Marian Rybicki [1915-1987, state official, politician]. He was a member of the Home Army and Zegota. It was thanks to the Home Army and Zegota that we later had a permanent hideout, on Krzyckiego Street; I lived there, with some breaks, until the Warsaw uprising [41].

In the meantime Mrs. Wolska [owner of the apartment] took in another lodger, Mr. Edward Lewandowski. He looked hundred per cent 'Aryan,' he shared the room with me. I was afraid, I didn't know how to explain to him my staying at home all the time. He had a regular job. It turned out he was a Jew as well. He came from Lubien near Wloclawek, his real name was Burak. His brother was in a Jewish labor camp in Piotrkow Trybunalski, and his sister, a pretty blonde, stayed outside Warsaw with a Polish family. Edward Lewandowski was arrested one day, they put him in the Pawiak prison [42] and later shot him. They didn't recognize him as a Jew.

I remember the ghetto uprising [43]. There were inscriptions on the walls, and songs like this: 'One ax, one hoe, nail, stiletto/Jews with courage fight in the ghetto.' [Editor's note: 'One ax, one hoe' was a popular anti- Nazi song of the war years, a 'singable newsreel,' with new lines being added to comment on the most recent events.] You have to admit the ghetto uprising increased the respect for Jews by an order of magnitude, even for those hiding on the 'Aryan side.' It was a tragic event, no doubt. From where I lived on Krzyckiego Street you could see the glow of the blazes.

One night, 12th September, or maybe 13th, 1943, there was a massive Soviet air raid on Warsaw, they dropped lots of bombs, a few people were breaking away from the ghetto; lots of bombs fell on our neighborhood, but they also dropped leaflets signed by Wanda Wasilewska [44]. I saw one, it read: 'Dear Polish brothers, Stalin declared that Poland is to be independent.'

And so I made it to the Warsaw uprising, it broke out on 1st August, I felt an absolutely free man by then. My whole involvement in the uprising was that on the second day of it the commander of my outpost sent a messenger on Sucha Street, presently Krzewickiego Street, with a report. That guy was from a different part of the city, he didn't know where Sucha Street was, plus two people were needed for the assignment, so that in case one got shot, the other would deliver the message. We reached our goal, Sucha Street, but there were no headquarters there. My comrade told me to destroy the document and we went back to Krzyckiego Street.

On 8th August the RONA [Russkaya Osvoboditelnaya Narodnaya Armiya, Russian National Liberation Army, a Waffen-SS division consisting of Red Army deserters, commanded by SS-General Major Mieczyslaw Kaminski] came. They stormed, taking over all the buildings on Krzyckiego Street, drove the people out on the street and set fire to the houses. They herded everyone on Raszynska Street and then to the so-called Zieleniak square [a groceries market], at the end of Grojecka Street.

Some terrible, tragic events took place at the Zieleniak: the RONA soldiers hung around and pulled the young women out of the crowd, there were many rapes; somehow we made it through the night and the next morning some high ranking officer appeared, it turned out to be Kaminski himself. A group of men went up to him to complain about the behavior of his subordinates. Apparently, it was effective, because their conduct was later quite acceptable. [Editor's note: Actually the scale of RONA's ongoing atrocities against civilians shocked the German commanders; the unit was withdrawn from the battle and its commander, Kaminski, court-martialed and shot - for the looting, not for the murders and rapes.]


In the afternoon the evacuation of civilians was ordered, we went to Szczesliwice, where they put us on a commuter train and transported us to Pruszkow [45]. In Pruszkow they told us to get off and herded us to a former rail yard, we were all crammed into a huge hall; they gave us something to drink but no food, we sat there all night. The Poles from the Red Cross and the RGO [Rada Glowna Opiekuncza, Central Custodiary Council, a charity organization active during WWI and WWII] told us there was going to be a selection, some would be taken to Germany, some would stay here. But even they didn't know anything for sure, because that transit camp had just been created and there was no established practice regarding the treatment of the Warsaw civilians.

After some time they told us to get moving and led us to the train. They loaded us into the cars and the train pulled out. There were lots of locals standing along the tracks, throwing us food, fruits. The train halted every few kilometers to let the military transports going to the eastern front pass. We didn't see where we were going, but after a few hours travel we reached Lowicz [80 km west of Warsaw]; it's less than 60 kilometers from Pruszkow to Lowicz, but there were so many stops.

Lots of wagons awaited at the Lowicz station, many Germans, but also the Red Cross workers and, as it turned out, people from the surrounding villages who were to host the expelled Warsaw citizens. We stood alongside the cars, while the farmers were walking up and down the train and picking. You know, they were looking for people who could be of any help. I was a young boy, physically fit, and so a farmer asked me right away if I knew the farm work. I said my Grandpa had some land, and that my aunt was with me. 'Then bring her, too.' And so Mrs. Wolska and I went with this farmer. Everyone from Krzyckiego Street ended up there, in Rozyce, or Stara Wies [10 km east of Lowicz] - a village with two names. It was a good place to be.

I have to stress it: for me it was the most pleasant time during the occupation. First of all, what all the other people from Warsaw had just lost at that time, I had already lost in 1942: my family and my property. No-one in the village knew of my Jewish identity - I'd all but forgotten I was a Jew. Everybody, even the potential anti-Semites, had their own trouble in mind, and they weren't nosy about other people.

I attended the church. It used to look like that: the boys would hang around in front of the church, waiting for all the girls to show up, and then go in last, and after the service they'd be first to go outside to see all the girls again, leaving. It was sort of a tradition before the war, I guess it's still like that in the country. I led a normal life, anyway.

The Polish Red Cross organized the relocation of the refugees very effectively. To give an example: my aunt, Halina [Rachela], was brought to Sochaczew [25 km east of Lowicz] after the fall of the uprising, and after a couple of days she found out where I lived and contacted me. And so I went on foot to Sochaczew a few times. It was 15-16 kilometers in one direction, about 30 there and back, but I was young, I'd set out in the morning and come back in the evening, not a bit of a problem.

After the war

Time passed slowly and it was the turn of 1944, you could hear the cannonade, see the German units fleeing in panic, and two days later the Red Army marched in; I went to Sochaczew right away and Halina and I agreed I'd come back to Sochaczew in two or three days and we'd set off to Zamosc.

As I came back to Rozyce, it turned out some Russians stayed with my host. I noticed they addressed one of them 'Moyseyevich.' In Russian you use a person's first name and his or her father's name with the '-ich' ending. I figured out Moyseyevich meant Moses [son]. One of the soldiers, the commander's aide-de-camp, asked if anybody spoke German. I told him I did. He started to speak to me, but I heard he was speaking Yiddish rather than German; I winked to go outside, and told him I was a 'yevrey' [Russian for Jew]. He gave me a hug, said he was a 'yevrey' from Moldova, and that the commander is 'tozhe yevrey' [Russian for 'Jewish as well'].

Two days later I thanked my hosts for their hospitality and left. All the Warsaw citizens were heading for Sochaczew, because it was said the army will provide transport from Sochaczew to Warsaw. As we arrived in Warsaw we went to the Praga quarter right away and started to ask around about the Jewish Council [46] there, we were told it was somewhere on Jagiellonska Street; we went there, they gave us something to eat and some money, and we left for Zamosc. It was January. In a week we got on foot as far as Lublin.

From Lublin we took a train to Rejowiec, and then had to wait for a train to Zamosc. It was night, the station building was crowded with people, winter, and I suddenly heard someone's voice and said to Halina, 'Listen, I think it's my father.' And it was him alright, with Wanda [whose place he hid at after moving from Mrs. Wolska]. During the uprising my father had been transported to Warka [about 50 km south of Warsaw], and he was going to Zamosc via Warsaw just like us. He went to the house on Krzyckiego Street in Warsaw where I'd lived and they told him the Germans had shot everybody. Fearing the worst, he kept on walking to Zamosc. In 1942 I lost my mother in Rejowiec, and in 1945 I found my father there.

And so we returned to Zamosc, Uncle Izaak [my mother's brother] was already there, he worked in the municipality. Father took over the brewery. I was 16 at the time. I started to think about school. I felt bad in Zamosc, walking the streets; none of my friends survived, the few who were in Russia were not to return until later, and back then, in 1945, there was no- one around.

I wanted to become politically active, but didn't want to stay in Zamosc, I didn't get along well with my father, which was my fault. He lived with Wanda, and I was angry at him for finding someone so quickly. I only understood years later my reproaches had been unfair - he was only 37, he was a young man. One factor might have been the rumor I heard, that he'd been fooling around with that Wanda woman back before the war. Never mind. She did help him survive the war.

I decided to leave the house in the end, moved to Lublin and became a member of the Fighting Youth Union [47]. I stayed with Halina for some time, she was finishing her studies at the Lublin Polytechnic, she was 27. Her second husband, Stach Rozen, lost his wife and daughter in Majdanek and he desperately wanted a daughter, eventually they adopted a girl and she got her first name after Stach's daughter - Ania, Anita. Halina and Stach left in 1948. They moved to Argentina, because some of the pre-war emigrants from the family were still there, so they had a starting point. Anita didn't even know she was an adopted child. She's coming to Poland for a longer stay next year. That Anita is pretty, very pretty, I like her very much.

At the turn of 1956 Uncle Izaak moved to Argentina as well. He was a confirmed bachelor, he didn't get married until 1952 I think, when he was about 40. His wife still lives in Argentina, she's Jewish, from Poland, her name's Zosia. They have a son and a daughter. Adam was born in 1953, he has two daughters, he works in Ukraine and visits Poland sometimes. Ewa was born in 1957, she's very pretty, she used to be a model in Argentina for quite some time. She's married, has two sons.

I started an evening school in Lublin. I completed four grades of elementary school before the war. Here you completed two grades in one year, I finished the third and the fourth and passed the lower standard exams. I went to the gymnasium ran by the Workers Universities Society in the Staszic Gymnasium building, on Raclawickie Avenue in Lublin.

I worked in the youth movement, we were creating sort of a paramilitary self-defense force; I completed a non-commissioned officer's course, I was an instructor for some time, and later the chairman of the Municipal Board of the Fighting Youth Union in Lublin. At the end of 1947, after passing my exams, I decided to move to Warsaw, to work in the National Board of the Union and to study on.

I became a student of the Political Science Academy. The course lasted three years, I got my under-graduate degree there and then they transferred me to Zielona Gora, I was made the deputy district commandant of the Sluzba Polsce organization [Duty to Poland, a paramilitary youth organization founded in January 1948, under political control of the Fighting Youth Union]. In 1951 I was transferred back to the Warsaw branch of Sluzba Polsce, and in 1952 SP spun off a new organization, the Village Sports Clubs Association. I was there, I've brought the association into being, I'd worked there for 15 years, until 1967, when I started to work for Gromada [a hotel operator and tourist agency]; in Gromada I spent 25 years short one month.

Family life

In 1954, the National Youth Olympics were held in Lublin to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the People's Republic of Poland. I was one of the organizers. There weren't so many referees in Lublin, so a group of additional track and field referees was sent in from Warsaw, including two women referees. I didn't even notice them, I didn't have time, but a colleague, who was taking care of the track and field events, said to me over dinner, 'Listen, there are these two cute referees from Warsaw, let's have them come over.' And so we had the dinner together, and that's how I met my wife.

She was born in 1933 in Chylice, near Warsaw [35 km south]. She was called Maria, her maiden name was Anusik, we called her Lusia. We met in September and got married in February 1955. In 1956 our son, Ryszard, was born, and in 1957 a daughter, Jolanta.

My mother-in-law was Polish, a simple village woman, her husband worked in a mill, he was killed in Mauthausen [48]. She was left with two daughters, Jadwiga, my age, and Lusia. They lived outside Warsaw, in Chylice, in pretty hard conditions, both girls worked and studied in Warsaw. I didn't keep it a secret from Lusia I was a Jew, a few months earlier my future sister-in-law, Jadwiga, had married a Jew as well. Both sisters were Catholics, but my wife hardly ever went to church. We did celebrate all the Catholic holidays, though.

These were both civil marriages and no-one had any complaints, but with the Millennium of the Baptism of Poland celebrations [1966] my mother-in-law started to insist on baptizing the children. Okay, they were baptized; I didn't attend the ceremony, I was on a business trip. I didn't object. My father was hostile towards religion, and I'm not religious either, but I'm tolerant, I do go to church at least twice a year, to attend the services for my wife and my mother-in-law. My father was more aggressive in these matters, I'm rather passive.

My son is a construction engineer, he works at the Municipal Road Department, in the road building section, and he also works as the district road inspector in Piaseczno. He's got a wife and two girls, Agnieszka, 18 years old, and Joanna, 15 years old. They live in Warsaw.

My daughter lives in Chylice, she took over her Grandma's - my mother-in- law's - house, she's remodeled it. She graduated from the Central School of Planning and Statistics, nowadays the Warsaw School of Economics. She worked in the tourist business for a long time, for Orbis [travel agency, founded in Lwow in 1920], she was a guide, and later worked at a bank, she still does. She's single.

Recent years

I've told my children about the war, I've written my memoirs especially for them, so that they know the life's dark side, so to speak. My son is very religious [Catholic], he sometimes even gets angry at me for telling all this to my granddaughters. I always say, 'Remember, it's better that they learn certain things from me or you, than from some "kind heart" on the street.' My daughter's more interested in that story. She keeps in touch with our family in Argentina. First of all, she's met them personally, and secondly, there's no language barrier as she speaks Spanish fluently.

My elder granddaughter [Agnieszka] is interested [in Jewish culture], she even goes to the Jewish Theater to see all those special events, sometimes with me, sometimes on her own, my younger granddaughter [Joanna] is still too young.

I've never hidden [my identity], well, neither did I write 'Caution, Jew!' on my forehead. A friend of mine told me once I did a wise thing keeping the false name, so that you can't tell I'm a Jew. That way people get to know me first and only afterwards find out I'm a Jew. I think it did the trick a couple of times.

My father took over the brewery and managed it for a few years. After the nationalization he applied to immigrate to Israel but they weren't giving permissions anymore, he didn't leave until after October 1956 [49], when it became legal again. He left with Wanda, but she broke up with him and later returned to Poland. Wanda was Polish, yet she settled in [in Israel] better than he did. He had big trouble with the Hebrew language, the alphabet.

In Israel my father was not politically active anymore, I know he met with Begin [50], who was not Prime Minister yet, but the opposition leader, although everyone knew he would take the power eventually. Father was angry with Begin, he didn't like that the ever so secular party was so amicable towards the religious [Jews]. Begin explained to him that they needed the American money, and that the American Jews would donate it only if the party was religious. And so my father ended up not joining the party, he was a blue-collar worker, a night guard at the Haifa harbor; later he had some health problems, he had the Buerger disease in one leg, then also in the other, and so he retired and lived off his disability pension.

I went to see Father in 1967, it was my first trip to Israel. I stayed for more than a month. I went through Greece on my way there and through Italy on the way back, so I did some sightseeing. Father lived outside Haifa at the time, in Kiriat Yam, a lot of Jews from the African and Asian countries lived there. The living conditions were rather harsh.

I've seen my father twice more, on neutral ground, in Romania [in 1967 Poland broke the diplomatic relations with Israel] [51] - first time in 1969, and then in 1983, on his 75th birthday. I wanted him to meet my son, I wanted my daughter to come, too, but she couldn't, she was the Orbis [Polish tourist operator] resident in Spain, but my son came. I worked for Gromada at that time, I could arrange a foreign trip for me and my son. He's met his Grandpa. I remember when we met for the second time, it was also our last time, in Constanta [Romania], I told him I'd been wrong holding it against him that he'd married Wanda. Although they were already divorced, I could feel he'd really hoped to hear such a statement from me, we hadn't spoken about it before but it had always been there between us.

In 1968 [52] I was the deputy manager of the Dom Chlopa Hotel and was responsible for its remodeling. It was a good thing, because I was working 18-20 hours a day during the March events. Of course I knew something was going to happen, but the crew liked me, they saw my commitment with the remodeling. There were all those party meetings those days, and the party secretary came up to me and said, 'Mr. Director, there's going to be a party meeting, on that and that day, you know what gives.'

Lots of friends would come up and say, 'Heniek, take it easy, they're doing this campaign, it's going to be over in no time, it'll be quiet again.' A friend, a former Home Army soldier, said, 'Heniek [from Henryk], it's just what they did to us, they had a problem with the Home Army but they don't anymore, and it's alright now.' [Editor's note: The Home Army soldiers were persecuted by the Communist authorities after the war, about 5,000 of them were sentenced to death or many years in prison.]

All of my Jewish friends or remote relatives who had still been in Poland at that time emigrated. Only my brother-in-law and his wife stayed. My children were still very small, but my wife told me many years later she had to bring our son's birth certificate to school, he went to elementary at that time, he was eleven.

I don't regret staying in Poland. March 1968 was the last chance for me to emigrate. I was 40. If they'd fire me then, I would've gone perhaps, I even had some family abroad. I had an uncle [Mieczyslaw] in London, my other uncle [Matjas] lived in Africa, the third one lived in Argentina with his wife [Halina and Izaak]. But I felt bound with the country. I knew Poland well, I worked in tourism, there was no part of Poland I didn't know, I was in love with the country.

I retired when I was 63, I could have stayed a bit longer, but some people started to plot against me, and my wife was already in bad shape, so she needed me in the house. I retired in 1992 and she died in 1993. I remarried in December 1996.

My second wife, Maryla, birth name Kelber, is Jewish, she was born in 1942. She was adopted by a Polish family and she got her name from them: Przytula. She's from Tarnopol [today Ukraine, 250 km east of the Polish border]. She's an art historian. We've met thanks to the [Maksymilian] Kolbe Foundation, because it organized package holidays in Germany for the former concentration camps inmates, they organized the first vacation for the Children of the Holocaust [53] in 1996 and that's where we've met.

She was divorced. Her husband was Polish, they have a daughter. They split up, he was killed in a car accident in Warsaw three years ago. Her daughter lives in France, she has two sons, naughty little urchins, but actually good boys. She's a high school teacher, she teaches French, she's got a degree in French philology from Wroclaw University. I was afraid there were going to be conflicts [in the family] when I remarried after my wife's death, but I was wrong. My [second] wife settled in nicely, she gets along with my granddaughters.

I've never been a member of any Jewish organization until my retirement. I didn't want to be a fictitious member, and I didn't have the time. Only after I'd retired did I join the Children of the Holocaust; I didn't even know such an association existed, I came to join the Jewish veterans organization [54] that was being formed. I try to be as active as I can. After becoming a member of the Children of the Holocaust, I've organized two trips to Israel, in 1994 and 1998.

I speak Yiddish a little, sometimes I meet with a couple of others and we tell jokes, or we do exactly what my parents used to before the war: there's Professor Poznanska who speaks Yiddish very well, and when we wanted to discuss something just between us, we used Yiddish and no-one could understand a word.

As for other languages, I'm not really good at learning them. For example, I swotted up English many times, to no particular effect. I don't speak German well, but I can communicate. I was in Germany this year, I had a few meetings with young Germans, and I asked for an interpreter, just in case. Sometimes I needed him, sometimes not. I speak Russian rather well, and I've caught on some Ukrainian while on a post in Ukraine.

I'm a happy man today, I've got a nice pension, I'm married, I've had some health problems this year, but I'm still doing alright, I have a great family. I'd like to say one thing - I've had a tough life, but my old age is quite pleasant indeed.


[1] Ghetto in Izbica

In December 1939 the Germans turned Izbica into a concentration place for the Jews expelled from western Poland; about 3,000 people from Kolo and Lodz arrived in the town. In the spring of 1942 the Czech and German Jews were also transported there, and the number of the ghetto's inhabitants grew to 6,500. On 24th March 1942 2,200 Jews were deported to the death camp in Belzec, and on 1st May another 500 to Sobibor. Izbica became the so-called 'secondary ghetto:' a few thousand Jews arrived, mainly from Zamosc. In October and November most of them were deported to Belzec and Sobibor, with only a thousand workers left. They were transported to Sobibor and killed in April 1943.

[2] Pilsudski, Jozef (1867-1935)

Polish activist in the independence cause, politician, statesman, marshal. With regard to the cause of Polish independence he represented the pro-Austrian current, which believed that the Polish state would be reconstructed with the assistance of Austria- Hungary. When Poland regained its independence in January 1919, he was elected Head of State by the Legislative Sejm. In March 1920 he was nominated marshal, and until December 1922 he held the positions of Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Army. After the murder of the president, Gabriel Narutowicz, he resigned from all his posts and withdrew from politics. He returned in 1926 in a political coup. He refused the presidency offered to him, and in the new government held the posts of war minister and general inspector of the armed forces. He was prime minister twice, from 1926-1928 and in 1930. He worked to create a system of national security by concluding bilateral non-aggression pacts with the USSR (1932) and Germany (1934). He sought opportunities to conclude firm alliances with France and Britain. In 1932, owing to his deteriorating health, Pilsudski resigned from his functions. He was buried in the Crypt of Honor in the Wawel Cathedral of the Royal Castle in Cracow.

[3] Judenrat

Jewish councils appointed by German occupying authorities to carry out Nazi orders in the Jewish communities of occupied Europe. After the establishment of the ghettos they were responsible for everything that happened within them. They controlled all institutions operating in the ghettos, the police, the employment agency, food supplies, housing, health, social work, education, religion, etc. Germans also made them responsible for selecting people for the work camps, and, in the end, choosing those to be sent to camps that were in reality death camps. It is hard to judge their actions due to the abnormal circumstances. Some believe they betrayed Jews by obeying orders, and others think they were trying to gain time and save as many people as possible.

[4] Ghetto in Zamosc

It was created in April 1941. There were 7,000 inhabitants, not only from Zamosc and the surrounding area, but also from western Poland (Wloclawek and Kolo), Czechoslovakia, and Germany. The local Judenrat ran a number of welfare institutions: charity kitchens, schools, and a hospital. Many inhabitants of the ghetto were expelled to the labor camps, numerous in the Lublin region, including Izbica. The first extermination operation took place in April 1942; 3,000 people were deported to the death camp in Belzec. The second operation took place in May, the third in August and September 1942. The ghetto was finally liquidated on 16th October 1942, the few left were transferred to the Izbica ghetto. One more selection was conducted there, and most of those transferred were killed still in October and November 1942 in the death camps in Belzec and Sobibor.

[5] Belzec

Village in Lublin region of Poland (Tomaszow district). In 1940 the Germans created a forced labor camp there for 2,500 Jews and Roma. In November 1941 it was transformed into an extermination camp (SS Sonderkommando Belzec or Dienststelle Belzec der Waffen SS) under the 'Reinhard-Aktion,' in which the Germans murdered around 600,000 people (chiefly in gas chambers), including approximately 550,000 Polish Jews (approx. 300,000 from the province of Galicia) and Jews from the USSR, Austria, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Holland, Germany, Norway and Hungary; many Poles from surrounding towns and villages and from Lwow also died here, mostly for helping Jews. In November 1942 the Nazis began liquidating the camp. In the spring of 1943 the camp was demolished and the corpses of the gassed victims exhumed from their mass graves and burned. The last 600 Jews employed in this work were then sent to the Sobibor camp, where they died in the gas chambers.

[6] Zegota

Code name of the Provisional Committee for Aid to Jews, and later of the Council for Aid to Jews, underground organizations the aim of which was to help Jews in various ways. The Council was founded on 4th December 1942 in Warsaw as a branch of the Government Delegate's Office at Home, the commanding body of the civilian underground. It consisted of delegates of three Polish and two Jewish political parties (Jewish National Committee and Bund). Help provided included giving financial aid to those in hiding, finding safe houses and hideouts for them, providing them with false documents, putting the Jewish children in Polish orphanages and with Polish families. The organization's headquarters was located in Warsaw, later the Krakow and Lwow branches were created; also the pre-existing Zamosc and Lublin Aid Committee was incorporated into Zegota. The Council was headed by Julian Grobelny of the Polish Socialist Party (PPS), after his arrest in May 1944 - by Roman Jablowski, of PPS as well, and from July 1944 by Leon Feiner of Bund. The Council operated almost exclusively in the abovementioned cities, it rarely reached into the country. It was financed mainly by the Delegate's Office. In the summer of 1944 an estimated 4,000 people benefited from the Council's financial help. Approximately 50,000 false documents were issued by Zegota, and as a result of its intermediation 2,500 Jewish children were saved.

[7] Revisionist Zionism

The movement founded in 1925 and led by Vladimir Jabotinsky advocated the revision of the principles of Political Zionism developed by Theodor Herzl, the father of Zionism. The main goals of the Revisionists was to put pressure on Great Britain for a Jewish statehood on both banks of the Jordan River, a Jewish majority in Palestine, the reestablishment of the Jewish regiments, and military training for the youth. The Revisionist Zionists formed the core of what became the Herut (Freedom) Party after the Israeli independence. This party subsequently became the central component of the Likud Party, the largest right-wing Israeli party since the 1970s.

[8] Jabotinsky, Vladimir (1880-1940)

Founder and leader of the Revisionist Zionist movement; soldier, orator and a prolific author writing in Hebrew, Russian, and English. During World War I he established and served as an officer in the Jewish Legion, which fought in the British army for the liberation of the Land of Israel from Turkish rule. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the Keren Hayesod, the financial arm of the World Zionist Organization, founded in London in 1920, and was later elected to the Zionist Executive. He resigned in 1923 in protest over Chaim Weizmann's pro-British policy and founded the Revisionist Zionist movement and the Betar youth movement two years later. Jabotinsky also founded the ETZEL (National Military Organization) during the 1936-39 Arab rebellion in Palestine.

[9] Mussolini, Benito (1883-1945)

Italian political and state activist, leader (duce) of the Italian fascist party and of the Italian government from October 1922 until June 1943. After 1943 he was the head of a puppet government in the part of Italy that was occupied by the Germans. He was captured and executed by Italian partisans.

[10] 3rd May Constitution

Constitutional treaty from 1791, adopted during the four-year Sejm by the patriotic party as a result of a compromise with the royalist party. The constitution was an attempt to redress the internal relations in Poland after the first partition (1772). It created the basis of the structure of modern Poland as a constitutional monarchy. In the first article the constitution guaranteed freedom of conscience and religion, although Catholicism remained the ruling religion. Members of other religions were assured 'governmental care.' The constitution instituted the division of powers, restricted the privileges of the nobility, granted far-ranging rights to townspeople and assured governmental protection to peasants. Four years later, in 1795, Poland finally lost its independence and was fully divided up between its three powerful neighbors: Russia, Prussia and Austria.

[11] Poland's independence, 1918

In 1918 Poland regained its independence after over 100 years under the partitions, when it was divided up between Russia, Austria and Prussia. World War I ended with the defeat of all three partitioning powers, which made the liberation of Poland possible. On 8 January 1918 the president of the USA, Woodrow Wilson, declaimed his 14 points, the 13th of which dealt with Poland's independence. In the spring of the same year, the Triple Entente was in secret negotiations with Austria-Hungary, offering them integrity and some of Poland in exchange for parting company with their German ally, but the talks were a fiasco and in June the Entente reverted to its original demands of full independence for Poland. In the face of the defeat of the Central Powers, on 7 October 1918 the Regency Council issued a statement to the Polish nation proclaiming its independence and the reunion of Poland. Institutions representing the Polish nation on the international arena began to spring up, as did units disarming the partitioning powers' armed forces and others organizing a system of authority for the needs of the future state. In the night of 6-7 November 1918, in Lublin, a Provisional Government of the Republic of Poland was formed under Ignacy Daszynski. Its core comprised supporters of Pilsudski. On 11 November 1918 the armistice was signed on the western front, and the Regency Council entrusted Pilsudski with the supreme command of the nascent army. On 14 November the Regency Council dissolved, handing all civilian power to Pilsudski; the Lublin government also submitted to his rule. On 17 November Pilsudski appointed a government, which on 21 November issued a manifesto promising agricultural reforms and the nationalization of certain branches of industry. It also introduced labor legislation that strongly favored the workers, and announced parliamentary elections. On 22 November Pilsudski announced himself Head of State and signed a decree on the provisional authorities in the Republic of Poland. The revolutionary left, from December 1918 united in the Communist Workers' Party of Poland, came out against the government and independence, but the program of Pilsudski's government satisfied the expectations of the majority of society and emboldened it to fight for its goals within the parliamentary democracy of the independent Polish state. In January and June 1919 the first elections to the Legislative Sejm were held. On 20 February 1919 the Legislative Sejm passed the 'small constitution'; Pilsudski remained Head of State. The first stage of establishing statehood was completed, despite the fact that the issue of Poland's borders had not yet been resolved.

[12] Haganah (Heb

: Defense): Jewish armed organization formed in 1920 in Palestine and grew rapidly during the Arab uprisings (1936-39). Haganah also organized illegal immigration of Jews to Palestine. In 1941 illegal stormtroops were created, which after World War II fought against the army and the British Police in Palestine. In 1948-1949 Haganah soldiers were trained in Poland and Czechoslovakia.

[13] Ben Gurion Dawid (real name Dawid Grin, 1886-1973)

Zionist leader, Israeli politician, and the first Prime Minister of the state. He was born in Poland. Since 1906 he lived in Palestine. He was the leader of the Poalei Zion party, co-founder of the He-Chalutz youth organization, founder of the Achdut ha-Awoda party and the Histadrut trade union congress. Since 1933 he was a member of the Jewish Agency executive committee (in the British mandate Palestine), and since 1935-1948 its chair. He opposed the Revisionist movement within Zionists. After the 1939 announcement of the so- called White Book by the British authorities, limiting the Jewish immigration to Palestine, he supported the development of the Jewish self- defense forces Haganah and illegal immigration. He fought in the 1948 war. On May 14, 1948 he proclaimed the creation of the state Israel. He was Prime Minister and Defense Minister until 1953. After a two-year withdrawal from politics he returned and became Prime Minister once more. In 1965 he became the leader of the new party Rafi (Israeli Labor List) but lost the elections. In 1969 he retired from politics.

[14] Synagogue in Zamosc

A brick synagogue on the corner of Zamenhofa and Bazylianska Streets. One of the most precious monuments of Jewish art in Poland. It was built in 1610-1618 in the Polish late Renaissance style; it's close to cubical in shape and is surmounted by a high attic. A stone portal and a vestibule lead to the main prayer hall. The ceiling of the hall has been lowered. A stone Aron ha-Kodesh is situated opposite the entrance. The walls and the ceiling of the hall are covered with rich adornments. There are some preserved traces of wall paintings and Hebrew inscriptions. During World War II the Germans converted the building into a joinery. The renovation works commenced in the 1960s. From 1967 to 2005 the synagogue hosted the municipal library. In May 2005 the building was taken over by the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage. Museum of Jews from Zamosc and the Zamosc Area is to be located in the building.

[15] Anti-Semitism in Poland in the 1930s

From 1935-39 the activities of Polish anti-Semitic propaganda intensified. The Sejm introduced barriers to ritual slaughter, restrictions of Jews' access to education and certain professions. Nationalistic factions postulated the removal of Jews from political, social and cultural life, and agitated for economic boycotts to persuade all the country's Jews to emigrate. Nationalist activists took up posts outside Jewish shops and stalls, attempting to prevent Poles from patronizing them. Such campaigns were often combined with damage and looting of shops and beatings, sometimes with fatal consequences. From June 1935 until 1937 there were over a dozen pogroms, the most publicized of which was the pogrom in Przytyk in 1936. The Catholic Church also contributed to the rise of anti-Semitism.

[16] Endeks

Name formed from the initials of a right-wing party active in Poland during the inter-war period (ND - 'en-de'). Narodowa Demokracja [National Democracy] was founded by Roman Dmowski. Its members and supporters, known as 'Endeks,' often held anti-Semitic views.

[17] Nasz Przeglad

Jewish daily published in Polish in Warsaw during the period 1923-39, with a print run of 45,000 copies. Addressed to the intelligentsia, it had an important opinion-forming role.

[18] The killings of Jewish students in Lwow in 1938-1939

The "desk- ghetto" was introduced at Lwow University in 1937. Jewish students refused to observe it and some of the Polish students supported them. Nationalist squads tried to impose the ghetto by force: they coerced Jews to occupy specified seats. On 24th October 1938 the Jewish students of the Department of Pharmacology were attacked with knives. Two of them-Karol Zellermayer and Samuel Proweller-died as a result of wounds. Police investigation demonstrated that the perpetrators were members of a squad belonging to the National Democratic Party; some of them were arrested. Zellermayer's funeral turned into a demonstration against violence at the university, attended by Jews, members of various organizations, students and part of the faculty, including the rector. On 24th May 1939 another Jewish student was killed during riots, Markus Landsberg. He was a first-year student at the Lwow Polytechnic. The Senate at the Polytechnic demanded that student organizations condemn that crime. 18 refused. 16 professors wrote a memorandum to the Prime Minister demanding steps to be taken in order to curb the destructive elements among the students.

[19] Zbaszyn Camp

From October 1938 until the spring of 1939 there was a camp in Zbaszyn for Polish Jews resettled from the Third Reich. The German government, anticipating the act passed by the Polish Sejm (Parliament) depriving people who had been out of the country for more than 5 years of their citizenship, deported over 20,000 Polish Jews, some 6,000 of whom were sent to Zbaszyn. As the Polish border police did not want to let them into Poland, these people were trapped in the strip of no-man's land, without shelter, water or food. After a few days they were resettled to a temporary camp on the Polish side, where they spent several months. Jewish communities in Poland organized aid for the victims; families took in relatives, and Joint also provided assistance.

[20] Bolsheviks

Members of the movement led by Lenin. The name 'Bolshevik' was coined in 1903 and denoted the group that emerged in elections to the key bodies in the Social Democratic Party (SDPRR) considering itself in the majority (Rus. bolshynstvo) within the party. It dubbed its opponents the minority (Rus. menshynstvo, the Mensheviks). Until 1906 the two groups formed one party. The Bolsheviks first gained popularity and support in society during the 1905-07 Revolution. During the February Revolution in 1917 the Bolsheviks were initially in the opposition to the Menshevik and SR ('Sotsialrevolyutsionyery', Socialist Revolutionaries) delegates who controlled the Soviets (councils). When Lenin returned from emigration (16th April) they proclaimed his program of action (the April theses) and under the slogan 'All power to the Soviets' began to Bolshevize the Soviets and prepare for a proletariat revolution. Agitation proceeded on a vast scale, especially in the army. The Bolsheviks set about creating their own armed forces, the Red Guard. Having overthrown the Provisional Government, they created a government with the support of the II Congress of Soviets (the October Revolution), to which they admitted some left-wing SRs in order to gain the support of the peasantry. In 1952 the Bolshevik party was renamed the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

[21] Anschluss

The German term "Anschluss" (literally: connection) refers to the inclusion of Austria in a "Greater Germany" in 1938. In February 1938, Austrian Chancellor Schuschnigg had been invited to visit Hitler at his mountain retreat at Berchtesgaden. A two-hour tirade against Schuschnigg and his government followed, ending with an ultimatum, which Schuschnigg signed. On his return to Vienna, Schuschnigg proved both courageous and foolhardy. He decided to reaffirm Austria's independence, and scheduled a plebiscite for Sunday, 13th March, to determine whether Austrians wanted a "free, independent, social, Christian and united Austria." Hitler' protégé, Seyss-Inquart, presented Schuschnigg with another ultimatum: Postpone the plebiscite or face a German invasion. On 11th March Schuschnigg gave in and canceled the plebiscite. On 12th March 1938 Hitler announced the annexation of Austria. When German troops crossed into Austria, they were welcomed with flowers and Nazi flags. Hitler arrived later that day to a rapturous reception in his hometown of Linz. Less well disposed Austrians soon learned what the "Anschluss" held in store for them. Known Socialists and Communists were stripped to the waist and flogged. Jews were forced to scrub streets and public latrines. Schuschnigg ended up in a concentration camp and was only freed in 1945 by American troops.

[22] Betar

Brith Trumpledor (Hebrew) meaning Trumpledor Society; right- wing Revisionist Jewish youth movement. It was founded in 1923 in Riga by Vladimir Jabotinsky, in memory of J. Trumpledor, one of the first fighters to be killed in Palestine, and the fortress Betar, which was heroically defended for many months during the Bar Kohba uprising. Its aim was to propagate the program of the revisionists and prepare young people to fight and live in Palestine. It organized emigration through both legal and illegal channels. It was a paramilitary organization; its members wore uniforms. They supported the idea to create a Jewish legion in order to liberate Palestine. From 1936-39 the popularity of Betar diminished. During WWII many of its members formed guerrilla groups.

[23] Hatikvah

Anthem of the Zionist movement, and national anthem of the State of Israel. The word 'ha-tikvah' means 'the hope'. The anthem was written by Naftali Herz Imber (1856-1909), who moved to Palestine from Galicia in 1882. The melody was arranged by Samuel Cohen, an immigrant from Moldavia, from a musical theme of Smetana's Moldau (Vltava), which is based on an Eastern European folk song.

[24] German Invasion of Poland

The German attack of Poland on 1st September 1939 is widely considered the date in the West for the start of World War II. After having gained both Austria and the Bohemian and Moravian parts of Czechoslovakia, Hitler was confident that he could acquire Poland without having to fight Britain and France. (To eliminate the possibility of the Soviet Union fighting if Poland were attacked, Hitler made a pact with the Soviet Union, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.) On the morning of 1st September 1939, German troops entered Poland. The German air attack hit so quickly that most of Poland's air force was destroyed while still on the ground. To hinder Polish mobilization, the Germans bombed bridges and roads. Groups of marching soldiers were machine-gunned from the air, and they also aimed at civilians. On 1st September, the beginning of the attack, Great Britain and France sent Hitler an ultimatum - withdraw German forces from Poland or Great Britain and France would go to war against Germany. On 3rd September, with Germany's forces penetrating deeper into Poland, Great Britain and France both declared war on Germany.

[25] Volksdeutscher in Poland

A person who was entered (usually voluntarily, more rarely compulsorily) on a list of people of ethnic German origin during the German occupation was called Volksdeutscher and had various privileges in the occupied territories.

[26] Annexation of Eastern Poland

According to a secret clause in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact defining Soviet and German territorial spheres of influence in Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union occupied Eastern Poland in September 1939. In early November the newly annexed lands were divided up between the Ukrainian and the Belarusian Soviet Republics.

[27] Molotov, V

P. (1890-1986): Statesman and member of the Communist Party leadership. From 1939, Minister of Foreign Affairs. On June 22, 1941 he announced the German attack on the USSR on the radio. He and Eden also worked out the percentages agreement after the war, about Soviet and western spheres of influence in the new Europe.

[28] Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact

Non-aggression pact between Germany and the Soviet Union, which became known under the name of Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Engaged in a border war with Japan in the Far East and fearing the German advance in the west, the Soviet government began secret negotiations for a non-aggression pact with Germany in 1939. In August 1939 it suddenly announced the conclusion of a Soviet-German agreement of friendship and non- aggression. The Pact contained a secret clause providing for the partition of Poland and for Soviet and German spheres of influence in Eastern Europe.

[29] Flight eastwards, 1939

From the moment of the German attack on Poland on 1st September 1939, Poles began to flee from areas in immediate danger of invasion to the eastern territories, which gave the impression of being safer. When in the wake of the Soviet aggression (17th September) Poland was divided into Soviet and German-occupied zones, hundreds of thousands of refugees from central and western Poland found themselves in the Soviet zone, and more continued to arrive, often waiting weeks for permits to cross the border. The majority of those fleeing the German occupation were Jews. The status of the refugees was different to that of locals: they were treated as dubious elements. During the passport campaign (the issue of passports, i.e. ID, to the new USSR - formerly Polish - citizens) of spring 1940, refugees were issued with documents bearing the proviso that they were prohibited from settling within 100 km of the border. At the end of June 1940 the Soviet authorities launched a vast deportation campaign, during which 82,000 refugees were transported deep into the Soviet Union, mainly to the Novosibirsk and Archangelsk districts. 84% of those deported in that campaign were Jews, and 11% Poles. The deportees were subjected to harsh physical labor. Paradoxically, for the Jews, exile proved their salvation: a year later, when the Soviet Union's western border areas were occupied by the Germans, those Jews who had managed to stay put, perished in the Holocaust.

[30] Jewish police

Carrying out their will the German authorities appointed a Jewish police in the ghettos. Besides maintaining order in general in the territory of the ghetto the Jewish police was also responsible for guarding the ghetto gates. During liquidation campaigns most of them collaborated with the Nazis; in the Warsaw ghetto each policeman had to supply at least five people to the Umschlagplatz every day. The reason for joining the Jewish police, first of all, was based on the false promises of the Germans that policemen and their families would be saved. In the Warsaw ghetto the Jewish police was headed by Jakub Szerynski; during the 'Grossaktion' (the main liquidation campaign in the summer of 1942), the Jewish Fighting Organization issued a death warrant on him, and he was to be executed on 20th August 1942 by Izrael Kanal. The attack failed, Szerynski was only wounded, and in January 1943 he committed suicide.

[31] Armbands

From the beginning of the occupation, the German authorities issued all kinds of decrees discriminating against the civilian population, in particular the Jews. On 1st December 1939 the Germans ordered all Jews over the age of 12 to wear a distinguishing emblem. In Warsaw it was a white armband with a blue star of David, to be worn on the right sleeve of the outer garment. In some towns Jews were forced to sew yellow stars onto their clothes. Not wearing the armband was punishable - initially with a beating, later with a fine or imprisonment, and from 15th October 1941 with the death penalty (decree issued by Governor Hans Frank).

[32] Great Patriotic War

On 22nd June 1941 at 5 o'clock in the morning Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union without declaring war. This was the beginning of the so-called Great Patriotic War. The German blitzkrieg, known as Operation Barbarossa, nearly succeeded in breaking the Soviet Union in the months that followed. Caught unprepared, the Soviet forces lost whole armies and vast quantities of equipment to the German onslaught in the first weeks of the war. By November 1941 the German army had seized the Ukrainian Republic, besieged Leningrad, the Soviet Union's second largest city, and threatened Moscow itself. The war ended for the Soviet Union on 9th May 1945.

[33] Theresienstadt/Terezin

A ghetto in the Czech Republic, run by the SS. Jews were transferred from there to various extermination camps. The Nazis, who presented Theresienstadt as a 'model Jewish settlement,' used it to camouflage the extermination of European Jews. Czech gendarmes served as ghetto guards, and with their help the Jews were able to maintain contact with the outside world. Although education was prohibited, regular classes were held, clandestinely. Thanks to the large number of artists, writers, and scholars in the ghetto, there was an intensive program of cultural activities. At the end of 1943, when word spread of what was happening in the Nazi camps, the Germans decided to allow an International Red Cross investigation committee to visit Theresienstadt. In preparation, more prisoners were deported to Auschwitz, in order to reduce congestion in the ghetto. Dummy stores, a café, a bank, kindergartens, a school, and flower gardens were put up to deceive the committee.

[34] Majdanek concentration camp

Situated five kilometers from the city center of Lublin, Poland, originally established as a labor camp in October 1941. It was officially called Prisoner of War Camp of the Waffen-SS Lublin until 16th February 1943, when the name was changed to Concentration Camp of the Waffen-SS Lublin. Unlike most other Nazi death camps, Majdanek, located in a completely open field, was not hidden from view. About 130,000 Jews were deported there during 1942-43 as part of the 'Final Solution.'. Initially there were two gas chambers housed in a wooden building, which were later replaced by gas chambers in a brick building. The estimated number of deaths is 360,000, including Jews, Soviets POWs and Poles. The camp was liquidated in July 1944, but by the time the Red Army arrived the camp was only partially destroyed. Although approximately 1,000 inmates were executed on a death march, the Red Army found thousand of prisoners still in the camp, an evidence of the mass murder that had occurred in Majdanek.

[35] Sobibor

A Nazi death camp located in the Lublin district of the General Government. It operated since May 1942. Jews from the Lublin region and eastern Galicia were transported here, as well as from Lithuania, Belarus, Czechoslovakia, and Western Europe. The victims were killed in gas chambers with carbon monoxide from exhaust fumes and later buried in mass graves; at the end of 1942 the bodies were exhumed and incinerated. The commandant of the camp was Franz Stangl. The permanent crew consisted of 30 SS-men and 120 guards, members of the German and Ukrainian auxiliary forces. Approximately 1,000 Jewish inmates were kept for maintenance works in the camp: operating the gas chambers and crematoria, sorting the property of the victims. An estimated 250,000 Jews were murdered in Sobibor. In the summer of 1943 an underground organization was founded among the functional inmates, led by Leon Feldhandler and Aleksander Peczerski. They organized a rebellion which broke out on 14th October 1943. Killing a number of guards enabled 300 (out of the total 600) prisoners to escape. About 50 of them survived the war. Soon after the rebellion the Germans liquidated the camp.

[36] Navy-Blue Police, or Polish Police of the General Governorship

The name of the communal police which operated between 1939 and 1945 in the districts of the General Governorship. Navy-Blue police was subordinate to the order police (so-called Orpo, Ordnungpolizei). Members were forcibly employed officers of the pre-war Polish state police. Navy-Blue Policemen participated, for example, in deportations of residents, in suppressing the 'black market,' in isolating Jews in ghettoes. Some members participated in cells of the underground state and passed on information about the functioning of the German forces.

[37] Warsaw Ghetto

A separate residential district for Jews in Warsaw created over several months in 1940. On 16th November 1940 138,000 people were enclosed behind its walls. Over the following months the population of the ghetto increased as more people were relocated from the small towns surrounding the city. By March 1941 445,000 people were living in the ghetto. Subsequently, the number of the ghetto's inhabitants began to fall sharply as a result of disease, hunger, deportation, persecution and liquidation. The ghetto was also systematically reduced in size. The internal administrative body was the Jewish Council (Judenrat). The Warsaw ghetto ceased to exist on 15th May 1943, when the Germans pronounced the failure of the uprising, staged by the Jewish soldiers, and razed the area to the ground.

[38] Great Action (Grossaktion)

July-September 1942, mass deportations from the Warsaw ghetto to Treblinka extermination camp. This was the first liquidation campaign, during which around 265,000 of 355,000 Jews living in the ghetto were deported, and a further 10,000 were murdered on the spot. About 70,000 people remained inside the ghetto walls (the majority of them, as unemployed, were there illegally).

[39] Jews welcoming the Red Army

Poles often accuse the Jews of enthusiastically welcoming the Soviet occupiers, treating it as treason against the Polish state. In reality welcoming committees were formed not only by Jews, but also by Poles, Lithuanians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians. Some Jews active in left-wing organizations took literally the slogans promising that Soviet rule would bring equality, liberty and justice. Of course not all Jews were uncritical with regard to Soviet promises. Older people remembered the Russian pogroms of the Tsarist period (before the 1917 revolution), the wealthy feared for their property, and religious people were afraid of repression. But information relayed back by those who had fled to central and western provinces of the ruthless treatment of the Jews by the Germans made the Jews pleased at the halt of the German advance eastward.

[40] Home Army (Armia Krajowa - AK)

Conspiratorial military organization, part of the Polish armed forces operating within Polish territory (within pre-1st September 1939 borders) during World War II. Created on 14th February 1942, subordinate to the Supreme Commander and the Polish Government in Exile. Its mission was to regain Poland's sovereignty through armed combat and inciting to a national uprising. In 1943 the AK had over 300,000 members. AK units organized diversion, sabotage, revenge and partisan campaigns. Its military intelligence was highly successful. On 19th January 1945 the AK was disbanded on the order of its commander, but some of its members continued their independence activities throughout 1945- 47. In 1944-45 tens of thousands of AK soldiers were exiled and interned in the USSR, in places such as Ryazan, Borovichi and Ostashkov. Soldiers of the AK continued to suffer repression in Poland until 1956; many were sentenced to death or long-term imprisonment on trumped-up charges. Right after the war, official propaganda accused the Home Army of murdering Jews who were hiding in the forests. There is no doubt that certain AK units as well as some individuals tied to AK were in fact guilty of such acts. The scale of this phenomenon is very difficult to determine, and has been the object of debates among historians.

[41] Warsaw Uprising 1944

The term refers to the Polish uprising between 1st August and 2nd October 1944, an armed uprising orchestrated by the underground Home Army and supported by the civilian population of Warsaw. It was justified by political motives: the calculation that if the domestic arm of the Polish government in exile took possession of the city, the USSR would be forced to recognize Polish sovereignty. The Allies rebuffed requests for support for the campaign. The Polish underground state failed to achieve its aim. Losses were vast: around 20,000 insurrectionists and 200,000 civilians were killed and 70% of the city destroyed.

[42] Pawiak

Prison in Warsaw, which opened in 1829, between Dzielna and Pawia Streets (hence the name Pawiak). During the German occupation it was one of the main custodial prisons used by the German security forces in the General Governorship. Of the approximately 100,000 prisoners (80 percent men, 20 percent women), some 37,000 were murdered, and over 60,000 were sent to concentration camps and for forced labor to the Reich. Pawiak was demolished by the Germans in August 1944. At present there is the Pawiak Prison Museum on the site.

[43] Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (or April Uprising)

On 19th April 1943 the Germans undertook their third deportation campaign to transport the last inhabitants of the ghetto, approximately 60,000 people, to labor camps. An armed resistance broke out in the ghetto, led by the Jewish Fighting Organization (ZOB) and the Jewish Military Union (ZZW) - all in all several hundred armed fighters. The Germans attacked with 2,000 men, tanks and artillery. The insurrectionists were on the attack for the first few days, and subsequently carried out their defense from bunkers and ruins, supported by the civilian population of the ghetto, who contributed with passive resistance. The Germans razed the Warsaw ghetto to the ground on 15th May 1943. Around 13,000 Jews perished in the Uprising, and around 50,000 were deported to Treblinka extermination camp. About 100 of the resistance fighters managed to escape from the ghetto via the sewers.

[44] Wasilewska, Wanda (1905-64)

From 1934-37 she was a member of the Supreme Council of the Polish Socialist Party (PPS). In 1940 she became a deputy to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. From 1941-43 she was a political commissary in the Red Army and editor of 'Nowe Widnokregi.' In 1943 she helped to organize the Union of Polish Patriots and the Polish armed forces in the USSR. In 1944 she became a member of the Central Bureau of Polish Communists in the USSR and vice-chairperson of the Polish Committee for National Liberation. After the war she remained in the USSR. Author of the social propaganda novels 'Oblicze Dnia' (The Face of the Day, 1934), 'Ojczyzna' (Fatherland, 1935) and 'Ziemia w Jarzmie' (Earth under the Yoke, 1938), and the war novel 'Tecza' (Rainbow, 1944).

[45] Pruszkow transit camp

From the start of the Warsaw Uprising in August 1944 the civilian population of Warsaw was evacuated to a camp in Pruszkow, a small town in the vicinity of Warsaw. From there they were deported to various labor or concentration camps in Germany. The Pruszkow camp remained in existence until January 1945. Over this period around 650,000 people were imprisoned there.

[46] Central Committee of Polish Jews

Founded in 1944, with the aim of representing Jews in dealings with the state authorities and organizing and co-coordinating aid and community care for Holocaust survivors. Initially it operated from Lublin as part of the Polish Committee of National Liberation. The CCPJ's activities were subsidized by the Joint, and in time began to cover all areas of the reviving Jewish life. In 1950 the CCPJ merged with the Jewish Cultural Society to form the Social and Cultural Society of Polish Jews.

[47] Fighting Youth Union (ZWM)

Communist youth organization founded in 1943. The ZWM was subordinate to the Polish Workers' Party (PPR). In 1943- 44 it participated in battles against the Germans, and hit squads carried out diversion and retaliation campaigns, mainly in Warsaw, one of which was the attack on the Café Club in October 1943. In 1944 the ZWM was involved in the creation and defense of a system of authority organized by the PPR; the battle against the underground independence movement; the rebuilding of the economy from the ravages of war; and social and economic transformations. The ZWM also organized sports, cultural and educational clubs. The main ZWM paper was 'Walka Mlodych.' In July 1944 ZWM had a few hundred members, but by 1948 it counted some 250,000. Leading activists: H. Szapiro ('Hanka Sawicka'), J. Krasicki, Z. Jaworska and A. Kowalski. In July 1948 it merged with three other youth organizations to become the Polish Youth Union.

[48] Mauthausen

a town in Austria where a Nazi concentration camp with extremely difficult conditions existed between 1938 and 1945. The prisoners were forced to toil in rock quarries. Some 335,000 people passed through the camp, 123,000 died. On 5th May 1945 the prisoners took over the camp and then the American forces entered it.

[49] Polish October 1956

The culmination of the political, social and economic transformations that brought about the collapse of the dictatorial regime after the death of Stalin (1953). From 1954 the political system in Poland gradually thawed (censorship was scaled down, for instance, and political prisoners were slowly released - in April and May 1956 some 35,000 people were let out of prison). But the economic situation was deteriorating and the social and political crisis mounting. On 28th June a strike and demonstration on the streets of Poznan escalated into an armed revolt, which was suppressed by police and army units. From 19th to 21st October 1956 a political breakthrough occurred, the 8th Plenum of the PZPR Central Committee met under social pressure (rallies in factories and universities), and there was the threat of intervention by Soviet troops. Gomulka was appointed First Secretary of the PZPR Central Committee, and won the support of many groups, including a rally numbering hundreds of thousands of people in Warsaw on 24th October. From 15th to 18th November the terms on which Soviet troops were stationed in Poland were agreed, a proportion of Poland's debt was annulled, the resettlement of Poles back from the USSR was resumed, and by the end of 1956 a large number of people found guilty in political trials were rehabilitated. There were changes at the top in the Polish Army: Marshal Rokossowski and the Soviet generals went back to the USSR, and changes also to the civilian authorities and the programs of political factions. In November 1956 permission was granted for the creation of workers' councils in state enterprises, and the management of the economy was improved somewhat. In subsequent months, however, the process of partial democratization was halted, and supporters of continuing change ('revisionists') were censured.

[50] Begin Menahem (1913-1992)

Israeli politician, activist in right-wing Zionist parties. Born in Brest-Litovsk, he graduated in law from Warsaw University. He was a Betar activist (and in 1938 became commander of the movement). He spent World War II in Soviet occupied territory, and was sent to the camps. In 1941 he joined Anders' Army, with which he reached Palestine in 1942, and stayed there. In Palestine he was a member of the armed organization Irgun Zeva'i Le'ummi [Hebr. name of the National Military Organization]. In 1973 he took over the leadership of the right- wing party Likud, and from 1977-83 he was prime minister of Israel. His greatest achievement was the signing of the Camp David Agreement with Egypt in 1978, for which he (and the president of Egypt, Anwar Sadat) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

[51] Severing the diplomatic ties between the Eastern Block and Israel

After the 1967 Six-Day-War, the Soviet Union cut all diplomatic ties with Israel, under the pretext of Israel being the aggressor and the neighboring Arab states the victims of Israeli imperialism. The Soviet-occupied Eastern European countries (Eastern Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Bulgaria) conformed to the verdict of the Kremlin and followed the Soviet example. Diplomatic relations between Israel and the ex-Communist countries resumed after the fall of communism.

[52] Anti-Zionist campaign in Poland

From 1962-1967 a campaign got underway to sack Jews employed in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the army and the central administration. The background to this anti-Semitic campaign was the involvement of the Socialist Bloc countries on the Arab side in the Middle East conflict, in connection with which Moscow ordered purges in state institutions. On 19th June 1967 at a trade union congress the then First Secretary of the Polish United Workers' Party [PZPR], Wladyslaw Gomulka, accused the Jews of a lack of loyalty to the state and of publicly demonstrating their enthusiasm for Israel's victory in the Six- Day-War. This address marked the start of purges among journalists and creative professions. Poland also severed diplomatic relations with Israel. On 8th March 1968 there was a protest at Warsaw University. The Ministry of Internal Affairs responded by launching a press campaign and organizing mass demonstrations in factories and workplaces during which 'Zionists' and 'trouble-makers' were indicted and anti-Semitic and anti-intelligentsia slogans shouted. After the events of March, purges were also staged in all state institutions, from factories to universities, on criteria of nationality and race. 'Family liability' was also introduced (e.g. with respect to people whose spouses were Jewish). Jews were forced to emigrate. From 1968-1971 15,000-30,000 people left Poland. They were stripped of their citizenship and right of return.

[53] Children of the Holocaust Association

A social organization whose members were persecuted during the Nazi occupation due to their Jewish identity, and who were no more than 13 years old in 1939, or were born during the war. The Association was founded in 1991. Its purpose is to provide mutual support (psychological assistance; help in searching for family members), and to educate the public. The group organizes seminars, publishes a bulletin as well as books (several volumes of memoirs: "Children of the Holocaust Speak..."). The Association has now almost 800 members; there are sections in Warsaw, Wroclaw, Cracow and Gdansk.

[54] The Association of Jewish War Veterans and Victims of Persecutions during World War II (Stowarzyszenie Zydow Kombatantow i Poszkodowanych w II Wojnie)

An organization of Jewish war veterans, who had taken part in armed struggle against Nazi Germany, and were victims of Holocaust persecution. The organization was founded in 1991. It has 13 sections throughout Poland, and 150 members. Its aims include providing help to Jews who were victimized during the war and spreading knowledge about the struggle and victimization of Jews during WWII. The Association established the Medal of the 50th Anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, which is granted to persons who have made important contributions to Polish-Jewish life and dialogue.

Biography details

Person Details

Henryk Lewandowski

Former Family Names
Hiding Jewish identity/nationality
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After WW II