Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Neuman Building

These pictures of the Neuman's building were taken in the 1980s by Lenny Marcus. The building is a two story structure with an attic and basement. It is a relatively large building located next to the market square. There is an entrance in the front and side and presumably the back. The front part of the building was used for the Neuman's business. The family enterprise sold leather for shoes, shoes, and findings. The leather was sold to local shoe makers. Those same shoemakers helped my father to survive the Holocaust. Behind the store on the first floor was a storage room, kitchen and living area. The family spent most of there time in the kitchen. All the bedrooms were located on the second floor. As per the custom of that time, the children slept two to a bed.
In that building, my father lived with his mother, Hinda and his father, Shimon, and his siblings, Harry, Max, Shmeil, Michal, Azriel, Masha, Rivka, Gucha , Ruta, and Malka. They spent every Sabbath together. On Saturday mornings, upon returning from shul, the Neuman's sat around the table and ate hot chulant. If the walls could only talk to me and tell of all the laughter and joy that took place there before the Nazis.
The long street view is the street which the Jews of Radziejow were forced to walk until reaching the church. At the church, the Jews were placed into gas vans and murdered.

Monday, March 23, 2009

How did the Nazis Murder the Jews of Radziejow

While reviewing Lenny Marcus's documentary he gives a different version than the one found by researching the matter of the liquidation of the Radziejow Ghetto.
Marcus states in his documentary film that the Jews of Radziejow were taken from the town square and forced to walk passed the Neuman building and continue to the church. Marcus followed the route with his camera showing the same buildings that the Jews passed. The Jews were then assembled and taken from the church in sealed trucks that killed the Jews by pumping carbon monoxide into the passenger area. The trucks drove to Kolo where they were buried. Marcus actually drives along the route, filming the way, and spiritually relived the events. The place of burial has a large memorial, a concrete roof that is supported by two pillars. On the side of the memorial, in Polish, it states "Remember". I believe that the other writings on the sides of this concrete roof are the names of the communities where the murdered Jews come from. Tragically, Marcus mentions, that there is a cross at the entrance of this memorial for Jews.
When searching the Internet for an account of what happened on that tragic day it appears that another version is recorded to that of Lenny Marcus. The internet version states that the liquidation of the Ghetto was done by shipping the Jews by rail to Chelmo. In Chelmo they were murdered by being given a "death ride" in the Chelmo gas trucks.
One may ask: "So which version is correct?" " Does it matter how they were killed? " "Is Chelmo and Kolo the same? " "Did the gas trucks originally come from Chelmo so the statistics are attributed to the extermination camp of Chelmo?" "Where did the information about the slaughter of our people come from?"
One thing is for sure, none of the Jews that were in those trucks survived to tell the story. The Poles of Radziejow did not follow the trucks. The drivers of the trucks aren't about to confess this information.

The images are Holocaust victims from the city of Lodz and the gas van is not necessarily the same one that was used to murder the Jews of Radziejow. The pictures portray the same thing that happened in Radziejow the Jews were either placed in gas vans as Mr. Marcus stated or transported to Chelmo by truck and then possibly train as the Internet research seems to indicate. Either way, the Jews were led on a journey to be slaughtered.
Yetka Wagner, in her definitive account of Radziejow and the Holocaust, states that the Jews were rounded up and then taken to the Church. They spent the night in the Church without either food and water. The next day they were transported by trucks to Chelmo. There they were stripped and placed in the back of gas vans. They died from the piped in exhaust from the motor of the vehicles.
I believe the version of Yeka Wagner is the correct version because she was actually present in the town at the time of the liquidation of the Ghetto. Her information was given to her by a Pole that visited the Chelmo area at the time of the liquidation. The sources on the Internet may or may not be reliable. It is now your turn to decide how the Nazis murdered the Jews of Radziejow!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Radziejow Today

What Does Radziejow Look Like Today!

Some of my readers have expressed interest in what does Radziejow look like today. Well, there are no synagogues, no kosher bakeries, no kosher butchers, no Jewish day schools, no stores owned by Jews, no Jewish cemetery, no yeshivas, no rabbis, no yiddish, etc... . In my opinion, it must look and sound very boring.
The video made by Lenny Marcus back about 25 years ago showed a town that didn't progress since World War II, save a much nicer town square. A reader of this blog has sent me a series of photographs of modern Radziejow of today. For those who are interested it is my pleasure to show you the streets of Radziejow today.
I included a picture of what the area around Radziejow looks like in the winter to give the reader an understanding of the extreme weather my father had to endure WITHOUT shelter!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Radziejow - Post World War II

In what can only be described as an amazing video made by my cousin, Lenny Marcus, in 1987, returned to Radziejow. One apparent purpose of this pilgrimage was to document what happened to the town, once loved by his parents. He followed his parents hand made map of the streets where the Jews lived. The buildings were basically unchanged from the time of the Holocaust. The people looked poor and seemed to have the same look as one would expect of townspeople during the early part of the twentieth century. Two things were different, a "modern" building was built on the site of the dynamited synagogue and the town square was turned into a garden with a new monument in the middle.
Marcus was accompanied by a former Jew, now turned Catholic, by the name, I believe, Fischel Granowski. Granowski married a woman that saved him during the Holocaust. In 1987 he was a normal resident of the town, with his childrend and grandchildren. One of his grandson's is named Arik Granowki. Before the Holocaust, Fischel lived on a street with his fellow Jews. In the 1980s he lived in a small house near his son's store. However, he was still known as the "town Jew."
Marcus filmed, among other buildings, the Neuman Building. The building looked to be in terrible condition. The facade of the two story building, didn't even look like a storefront. The building looked more residential in nature. The structure of the building looked dilapidated. The beige paint was old and peeling.
Radziejow looked frozen in time. No progress, only deterioration of the town. This is similar to the fate of Israel after the second exile. From the video it appeared that the little gain achieved by taking over all the Jewish property did not equal the loss of this once vibrant business community of Jews.
Just think what Radziejow would have been like if the Jews remained. I know from the survivors children the success and wealth they were able to achieve. Doctors, lawyers, successful businessmen, professors, to name just a few.
Radziejow's website of today tells a new story. The town looks like the town has recovered. The Neuman Building appears to have been painted with a bright facade with a large green awning. The townspeople look happy and prosperous.
It is time to close the chapter of the Holocaust and Radziejow. Return the Neuman's property, build a memorial to the Jews of Radziejow that died during the war, and finally restore the cemetery. This is something that Radziejow needs to do in order to proudly face the coming generations.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Close Encounters with a German Officer

Readers may remember that my father was ultimately sheltered by the "Polish Princess". The Princess was married to a German and they lived on a large estate outside Radziejow. For about a year my was sheltered in a gigantic barn that was filled with hay. The polish workers on the estate were told not to enter the barn because the hay was property of the German Army. My father was supplied with a large barrel for his bodily waste. The barrel was removed once a week. Every evening he was served a meal by either the Princess or her Coachman. The Coachman was the brother of Marta, my father's school classmate that made it her business to find a way to save my father. My father requested asked for either garlic or onions to be added to keep him healthy. During the days he would walk around the giant barn to keep in shape. To protect my father, the door was locked from the inside of the barn. In order for his protectors to enter they devised a code consisting of a series of raps on the door was the code.

One evening the my father heard the code and opened the door. Delivering his meal that evening was a German Officer. My father was shocked. Would he kill my father or turn him in? Instead, he offered by father a drink of whiskey. My father was perplexed and frightened.

The German Officer said that my father need not worry. He was the son of the "Polish Princess". His father was German. The German Officer said that he was on home for his "last Leave". The German Officer was serving on the Russian Front and things were very bad for Germany. He asked my father to protect his parents. My father was dumbfounded, how could a lowly Jew protect them. So my father asked him, how could he help? The Officer said that it is known that many of the 0fficers in the Russian Army are Jews so he should tell these officers how his father saved him. My father felt awkward having a German Officer begging to him. But my father felt that he owed the "Polish Princess" his life so he said, "I can't promise, but I will do my best." I will tell what happened in my next blog.