Thursday, May 1, 2014

Part 3 - Page 129-275 The Holocaust Effect - The Saga of a Survivor and His Influence On His Descendants - PART THREE


Survivor Henry Gronow was one of several Jewish soldiers from Radziejow.  He was drafted into the Polish Army in 1934.  He served in a Polish cavalry unit. In 1937 he was discharged.  After Germany annexed Austria in 1938, Hitler turned his megalomaniac thoughts  towards peaceful Czechoslovakia.  Soon thereafter,  after purporting that Germans living there were in some sort of danger, the German army occupied the Sudetenland, located in Western Czechoslovakia. It became clear to the government of Poland that Hitler's megalomania was focused on their country. As a result,  Gronow was recalled to active duty.  Within a few months he was again discharged from service.  On the day of the German invasion of Poland he was recalled yet again to serve in the reserves.  After three weeks of combat he was captured by the Germans.  He spent six months at the POW Camp Stalag 2A  that was located near Brandenburg, Germany.  In March 1940 he was taken to Lublin, Poland and released. When he made his way back to Radziejow he first learned that the beloved long serving mayor was removed from office and replaced by a German Burgermeister.  He remembered his first impression of the town after arriving.  He aptly described the town as “dead”. He observed that his fellow Jews who many were his relatives were fearful and fearfully awaited the unspoken inevitable. 
Radziejow was now completely subjugated to a German administration.  All the village's officials and police were disbanded.  Strict martial law was enforced.  A series of devastating edicts were announced to the townspeople.  One of the first was the confiscation of all Jewish merchandise under a general  order  called Beshlachman.  That order requisitioned anything the German Army deemed "vital" to the war effort. The Germans used this order not only to provide provisions for the troops but for their own personal gain.
  The Najmans soon learned that the German war effort demanded enormous quantities of  leather for the manufacturing and repair of boots and coats.  The Najmans possessed a large quantity of different grades of leather.  These precious materials were  kept in their storeroom secured by a simple lock.  The Germans knew that shoe stores in general probably had quantities of leather.  Thus, upon their return to the village they were greeted by a stern looking German policeman who entered the Najman store and demanded their cooperation as he placed  wax seals both on the front entrance to the store and the storeroom's back door that separated the store and the  Najman’s living quarters.  A stern warning sign was placed adjacent to the wax seals that declared that anyone tampering or breaking the seals and entering the restricted area was subject to the punishment of death. 
The Najmans were now officially out of business. Even worse, they were not allowed to even enter the store. One conciliation for the family was they still were permitted to remain in the living quarters located behind and above the store.  The Najmans spent the first few days back discussing the War and how they were to cope with the dramatic changes. The family members understood that they were in a struggle that posed an immediate and serious life and death dilemma.  They understood that soon they would run out of food.  The only way to get food was either to buy it or trade for it.  Since the zloty was now worthless one needed foreign currency to buy it.  Those who grew the food were simple peasants that were wary of accepting payment in currency that they never saw.  Thus, realistically, the only way to get food was to trade for it.  Aside from personal belongings the wealth of the Najmans came from the money generated from the sale of shoes and leather.  Since the store was officially closed the only wealth that remained was the actual merchandise located in the storeroom.  It was clear, survival was premised on removing the leather in the storeroom. On the other hand, they all understood that if they were caught removing the leather then  they would be collectively subject to the death penalty.
The family hesitated for a few days. During that time they watched the remainder of their food supplies dwindle. They realized that continued inaction would mean certain starvation.  The temptation to remove the leather from the storeroom was too great, regardless of the danger.  Moreover, time was of the essence.  The Germans could at any moment enter the storeroom and remove all the merchandise. Or the Germans simply could do an inventory of the merchandise and leave the items in the storeroom.  Either way the merchandise would no longer be the lifeline needed for survival.  
Once again the adult members of the family met.  They discussed the pros and cons of breaking the law. After much debate and heart wrenching soul searching the family decided that they must choose life regardless of the the possible fatal consequences.
Shimon did not take part in the discussion.  He sat in the other room studying Torah.   He divorced himself from the reality of Poland now being controlled by world’s biggest anti-Semite, Adolf Hitler. Years earlier, Shimon saw the writing on the wall.  Now that Satan had conquered Poland, he would leave his family to deal with reality while he completely lose himself in his beloved world of Torah. For in his mind without G-d's protection they were all ultimately doomed.
That very night at the meeting the crucial decision to act was made the brothers.  Immediately they implemented their carefully designed ten step plan that they had worked out over the last few days. Step one, water was boiled in a kettle.  Step two, The steaming kettle was brought to the storeroom door.  Step three, the steam was released on the wax seal.  Step four, the wax seal was carefully removed as to leave the integrity of the seal symbols untouched
As my father explained step four, I asked myself, "[w]hich brother worked on the removal seal?"  Then I remembered that when I was a boy my father once used steam to reopen a letter that he had accidentally sealed.  As he worked on the letter he said to me that he was an expert in these things.  So assumed that my father was one that removed the seal but just to make sure  I asked my father, was he the brother that removed the seal.  He responded with the look of pride on his face that he removed the seal.
Step five, when the seal was removed all the brothers entered the storeroom and removed the majority of the merchandise. Some merchandise was left behind and distributed throughout the room to give the appearance that nothing was disturbed.  After the brothers were satisfied with the room's appearance they exited. Step six, my father then worked his magic by artfully returning the seal in a manner that made it near impossible to detect that it was tampered with.  Step seven, all the merchandise was taken to the small basement  underneath the living quarters.  The basement's floor was not concrete rather it consisted of packed dirt.  Step eight, the merchandise was organized and divided it into several separate caches then placed into several metal canisters.  Step nine, the merchandise was placed into a score or more of metal canisters then the canister was sealed.  Step nine, the brothers proceeded to dig deep holes in the basement floor.  Step ten, the canisters were placed into the holes and the removed dirt was used to completely cover the canisters.  
Upon finishing the brothers as well as the rest of the family all felt a sigh of relief.  It gave the family the feeling that together they could overcome any adversity.  In fact, the Germans never discovered the tampered wax seal nor did they realize that the majority of items in the storeroom were taken. 
 From then on when they needed to trade for food they simply went down to the basement and dug up one of the caches and then exchanged the leather or merchandise contained in the canister  for food and other vital necessities. The brothers developed a rule that to minimize the danger of being found out, they restricted all sales to only those Polish shoemakers that they had done business with for many years and thus were considered trusted customers.
The invasion of Poland was complete by October 6, 1939.  Poland had approximately 200,000 war casualties along with nearly 700,000 soldiers in captivity.  On October 8, 1939 Germany officially annexed the western part of Poland where Radziejow was located.  This area was no longer Poland it was now renamed  Wartheland.  As for the rest of Poland Germany considered the conquered area east of Wartheland as an administrative area that was under occupation.  That area was called the General Government of Poland. 
The Najmans along with the rest of the Jews of Radziejow now understood that they were no longer living in Poland.  Rather they were now unwanted refugees that were living in Greater Germany.  It was no secret to them or anyone else that after the way Germany treated their own Jewish citizens now Polish Jewry was now realistically in danger of being utterly annihilated. 
     Binem had several cousins that had served in the now defunct Polish Army.  Unfortunately none survived.  Rumors about the Jewish soldiers imprisoned by the Germans reached Radziejow.  The rumors told that all Jewish prisoners of war were either immediately killed or the more “lucky” were incarcerated in specially designated POW camps for Jewish soldiers.  One particular camp, the subject of many rumors, was located outside of Kelz-Lublin area.
          The Germans demanded a ransom of gold from the Jewish townspeople living in the city of Lublin which was located next to the POW camp.  The ransom was to save the Jewish soldiers.  The Jews were told in no uncertain terms that if the ransom, which was an astronomical amount was not paid, then the soldiers would be killed.  The Jews did not have that much gold to pay the ransom. As a result the German guards executed 40 to fifty prisoners a day.
       The Whermact occupied Radziejow on sometime between September 9, 1937 to September 17, 2015 after one Germany infantry division that was marching from Greater Poland towards the Bzura region where Radziejow was located. Soon thereafter a garrison force of approximately thirty uniformed soldiers replaced the front line combat troops.  At the time many of the occupation forces was made up of members of the Gendarmeries (Rural Police).  They comprised one company from the seven police battalions stationed in Wartheland.    The garrisoned forces were headed by the most famous rabid anti-Semites, the notorious Heinrich Himmler.  Many of the Gendarmeries were once members of the German police. Helping in the administration and the policing of the Wartheland was the Volksdeutsche (ethnic Germans) citizens of Poland before the War and now drafted into the Wehrmacht and its auxiliary branches.  It is estimated that approximately 6,000 Volksdeutsche were recruited from the Polish and Czech Republic border region with Germany.  (Hitler's Green Army, page 19.) The majority of these draftee were integrated into the Gendarmeries. Their main duty was to supplement regular forces that were occupying the hundreds of towns throughout the Wartheland.  The Gendarmeries were eventually supplemented then replaced by Wehrmacht (German Armed Forces) soldiers, most were from units of the motorized and transport units.  Ibid.
Barracks of  German occupation forces in Radziejow.  Sign above the doorway
indicates that the  forces were controlled by the motorized and transport branch of the Wehrmacht

One of the first laws against the townspeople of Radziejow wast that whenever a Pole passed a German soldier the person was required to give the Nazi one arm salute and shout Heil Hitler.  In a silent protest some Jews and Poles would say “pol litrea” very fast in such a manner that the German soldier would think that he heard Heil Hitler. But in fact that was an insult because in Polish pol litrea literally  means “half a leader”.  This law lasted only a short period of time.  The German occupiers then decided that Poles and Jews were not worthy of giving the Nazi salute.  So the practice stopped.
Radziejow Survivor Joyce Wagner stated that the Germans would beat Jews in the streets.  She likewise remembered that at times Germans would enter her store and took whatever they wanted without paying.  She noted that the Germans especially liked cigarettes.
However bad it was for a Jew to be abused by the Germans, it felt so much more worse  when Poles  joined in. Radziejow Survivor Joyce Wagner recalled that soon after the occupation began she heard an old Pole shouting in Polish, “nasha olitza vasha kamanista”,  meaning the streets are ours and the buildings are yours.  Meaning what value is it that you live in these buildings when such ownership is only by our permission which we will now remove. She added that the Poles began looting and openly robbing Jewish stores.  She remembered watching a Jewish shoe store burn to the ground by looting arsonists.

The Najmans soon learn that the bartering method with trusted Poles worked most of the time; however, some Poles learned to take advantage of the Jews precarious predicament.  Since the Germans occupied Radziejow, they enforced the law, and Jews had no protections under German law.  One of the many laws was that the Germans do not protect the Jews.  As time went on some of the Poles took advantage of this.  Even some those considered friends of the Jews began to take advantage of this impunity. 
The Najmans learned this the hard way.  One day, a Polish shoemaker who was loyal customer before the War came to the Najmans to purchase some leather products saying that he heard that leather and findings still could be had by the Najmans. The Najmans asked him what did he need?  He produced a list.  The Najmans did not hesitate in bringing him all the items he requested. They laid the merchandise out on the kitchen table.  The Pole smiled, gathered them all up put it in his bag and walked away without paying.

As he left he turned and said, "[i]f you say one word I  will report you to the Germans for hiding the leather, which, if you hadn't heard,  is punishable by death."
As a result of the invasion the Polish monetary system no longer existed. Polish currency, known as the zloty,  was now worthless resulting in the Zloty were no longer accepted to transact business. While some foreign currencies were accepted by a small minority of Polish farmers, the bartering of goods and services was the main way to acquire needed items. 
During the first stage of the German occupation, the Najmans were relatively free to travel within Radziejow and the surrounding countryside. After the terrible experience they had with the crooked Polish shoemakers Shmeil and the rest of the brothers decided that in order to hedge their bets they should use some of their leather to produce the finish product being shoes.  Once the shoes were produced they would sell the shoes to the local farmers by traveling to the farms surrounding surrounding Radziejow.  There they would barter the shoes for food.  
The Najmans employed a Jewish shoemaker who specialized as a top maker of shoes.  He moved in with the family and with his expertise and a combined effort of all the family members on the production line  they soon were able to manufacture men, women and children shoes. This proved to be highly successful.  Notwithstanding the bad experience with friendly shoemakers, the Najman still continued to sell leather and findings to trusted Polish shoemakers.    





Radziejow Ghetto Jews standing on Jewish Street in the heart of the
Ghetto in front of the closed Shul, Beit Rachel


Within a few months of the invasions the Jews in Radziejow were ordered by the Gendarmeries to wear on their clothing yellow Jewish stars, one on the front of and the other one's  back.  Any Jew found without the stars prominently displayed was punished.  The malfeasant was physically beaten and publicly humiliated.  It did not matter if the Jew was young or old, a good person or a bad person, healthy or ill or rich or poor.  It did not matter if the Jew was accompanied by his young children. The Nazis, the enforcers of the law, took great pride and appeared to enjoy in carrying out the law.
Today, living in free society,  it is difficult to understand the ramifications of living under a set of draconian laws.  Yes, we can understand how a person physically abused whether in public or in private experiences both pain from the act itself then depression in its aftermath. What is more difficult to grasp is when a member of the society has no recourse of protection by the law.   Jews under the boot of the Nazis were beaten and killed for breaking nonsensical laws enacted by evil men who were now elevated to glorified status as the rulers of the land.  These laws against the Jews continued to spiral to the breaking point. That point being that all Jews must die, period.
Still, despite the danger, some Jews refused to obey the evil men or their nefarious laws.  In Radziejow, for the most part, they were elderly Jews.  They would avoid confrontation by either remaining at home or staying away from places that the police and soldiers patrolled.  Shimon was a prime example.  He never wore the yellow Star of David.  He made it a point to always stay indoors and study Torah day and night.

German Occupation Forces attend an unknown ceremony in Market Square
The next few months the occupiers slowly began to ratchet up the pressure on the Jewish community.  Every day a new order was handed to the head of the Judenrat, the Jewish Council,  that was designed to harass the community.  As a result, all Jews suffered and became more and more despondent. 

Despite it all there were a few that remained cautiously optimistic. Some would say, "[a]s bad as things are, it is still bearable.  The main priority was to stay alive, and hope for a miracle."

With all the danger and chaos Jewish life continued. Radziejow Survivor George Gronjnowski remembered that his family celebrated a Bar Mitzvah ceremony for him.  It took place on his birthday, January 14, 1940.  The religious service was held in a small room attended by relatives.  The Parsha, weekly portion of the Torah, was read along with the reciting of traditional prayers.  After the service a spartan reception took place.

Despite the fact that the practice of Judaism in any form was prohibited and punishable by death, Jewish life went on.  In fact three times a day Jewish religious services were secretly held in private homes.   Kosher food was still obtainable.  All holidays were celebrated.  Woman lit the Shabbos candles just prior to Friday night. Even Kosher meat was available. One survivor described how meat was ritually slaughtered clandestinely at night.     

Even more surprising, despite the dangers involved, Jews were still getting married.  For example, Ms. Kazin Fox and Radziejow Survivor Henry Gronow courted during the occupation. Fox then insisted on the marriage because the courting period was over.  So an informal ceremony was performed by Meir Levine, who was a religious Jew but he was not an ordained rabbi.  Unfortunately their marriage was short lived for within four years Fox was murdered at the extermination camp infamously known as Auschwitz.

As time passed , Jews suffered new indignities every day. There was an infamous Gendarme in Radziejow which all the Jews referred to him as "the Pacher".  He terrorized all the Jews in town.  
My father said of him, "he was a real sadist."

The Pacher was considered to be the most cruel Nazi terrorizing Radziejow Jews and that in itself was an achievement of sorts.   He was infamously called the Pacher because in Yiddish it means "the slapper". Whenever he saw a Jew, young or old, male or female, he would slap him or her across the face, often times repeatedly.  When the Pacher walked the streets on his daily patrol he was constantly on the look out for any Jew so as to mete  out his sadism.  As a result, a Jew seeing him would without hesitation take off in a run and seek the nearest hiding place.
 As a result of this Jewish counter-measure his pool of victims quickly dried up.  Not willing to give up his favorite sport, he changed his tactics.  He began entering Jewish dwelling at random, unannounced.  He searched room by room until he found a Jew in the home.  Then he would proceed with his dirty work.  His new slapping tactic was so outlandish that caused many Jews to conclude that no place was safe and therefore their situation was hopeless. 

One day, the Pacher, on random patrol, entered the living quarters of the Najmans.  This was completely unexpected because Shimon's building house was outside of the Pacher's hunting grounds because it was located near the Church far outside the Jewish neighborhood.  As the Pacher searched the lower level, room by room, he spotted his helpless prey, Shimon.  Shimon was sitting in the parlor oblivious of the real danger he was in.  He was unaware because at the time the  Pacher stood only a few feet from him, Shimon was deeply engrossed in trying to understand a particular concept in a section of the Talmud.  For Shimon had elevated himself to an existence of pure thought that was divorced from the present realities of this world that was dominated by War and Nazis.  The Pacher moved closer to Shimon and then for no reason stopped right at the entrance of the parlor. The Pacher appeared transfixed as he stared at Shimon who sat next to a large table, his head seemingly buried in the overside book in front of him.  
 Binem had heard the Pacher's entrance.    The Pacher was not shy.  His modus operandi was to make noises of an intruder to frighten the inhabitants. As a result, Binem had been watching the Pacher from the shadows from the moment the Pacher entered the house. Now, Binem was also was transfixed as he stared at the Pacher from his perch at the top of the stairs. He had a clear view of the downstairs hallway.  Binem was scared as he helplessly watched as the Pacher start into the parlor. He knew that his father was in the parlor so it must be that the Pacher was about to attack him.  Binem felt confused because the Pacher stopped and stood frozen at the Parlor's entrance.   After a long moment, that seemed to Binem to be an eternity, the Pacher, completely out of character, turned around and left the building.  Binem was greatly relieved he went down the stairs and looked into the parlor.  It was obvious to him that Shimon did not know of the presence of the Pacher and likewise Shimon was completely oblivious of the danger that just passed.

I asked my Father what he have done if the Pacher attacked my grandfather.

  My Father answered, "[w]hat could I do, he had a gun."

  I pressed,  "[d]id it cross your mind, to do something, anything?"

  He replied, "[t]he reason that it didn't cross my mind was that if a Jew would kill a German, then they would kill all the Jews in town.  Everybody had a responsibility not only to his family but to other Jews."

I continued to press for a satisfactory answer, "[w]hat if he attacked your father."

He answered, "I was watching,  "I didn't make up my mind what to do, I don't know what my reaction would be."

That night, as the brothers were eating a sparse dinner, they discussed the incident with the Pacher.  They concluded that only an act of G-d prevented the Pacher from striking Shimon, tearing up the Talmud, and who knows what else.  The Najmans were well aware of the law that banned the possession of  Jewish religious books and any religious items.  Anyone caught in possession of these items was to be severely punished. items as per the German occupation orders.  Even knowing of the danger, the Najmans did not have the heart to deprive their father of his most sacred possessions.  They loved their father more than they feared the Germans.
A new order was issued. Jews were now forced to work as slave labor for the Nazis.  In the beginning work assignments were managed according to a list prepared by the Judenrat a council made up of fellow Jews.  Its actual name was "Judiyche Germeinde Radziejow".  The President of the Judenrat, known as Judenkommisser, was Manes Szejman.  Members of the Judenrat board included Jakub Laski and Szmul Burstyn.  
Manes was a fair minded family man. His position of authority made his life for a daily living hell. He had to deal with the complaints and requests from his fellow Jews and at the same time work at the direction of the Nazi scum that constantly harangued him.   Each day he was ordered to physically appear in front of the German authorities.  There he would receive new insane demands for that day. With each new directive to perform some meaningless task or new restriction to burden the Jewish community, Manes had to implement these outrages and at the same time find solutions to mitigate the impact.  For he had one goal, that was to protect as much as possible his lantzman.


German occupation soldier standing in store front,
possibly the "Pacher"

 With this slave order now in place, Manes and his fellow board members did their best to assign their fellow Jews to work assignments that they were capable of performing.  So the older Jews were assigned lighter tasks while the younger Jews were assigned to do the heavy pulling. The work consisted of mainly busywork such as cleaning the streets with brooms, working for German farmers in their fields, or cleaning the houses of the Volksdeutche.  The pious Jews understood that like their ancestors the Jews of Radziejow were now experiencing the same misery that the Jews had to endure as slave laborers in Egypt. The secular Jews looked tried to rationalize their predicament as a temporary political problem that must be endured until the forces of government change.
General orders issued by the Nazi occupiers required all the Jews of Radziejow to submit to a daily routine of abuse. It started early in the morning when all Jews were required to assemble at Market Square for roll call.  Many of the town Poles gathered and watched.  Apparently, to these Poles it was their morning entertainment to watch the Germans ridicule their "Jewish brothers".
 It began when the Jews were ordered to line up.  Then the Overyeuda, a member of the Judenrat,  would call off each name from the the official list of Jews living in Radziejow. When the name was called that person was required to shout out that he was present.  This was taking place whether the weather was good or bad, sunny or raining, warm or cold, snowing or hailing.  After going through the hundreds of names, the Overyeuda would turn to the German officer in charge and certify to him that all the Jews in the town were present.  
The board member knew that this certification was a lie.  For all the Jews in Radziejow knew that some of their friends and relatives were not present. A perfect example to the untruthfulness of the board member’s certification was my grandfather, Shimon.  He never attended even though everyone knew he lived in the town.  The board member would never even contemplate the thought of turning Shimon in to save his own hide.  He did this even though it was no secret to the Germans that Shimon  lived in the town. Shimon's name was on the Jewish List that was compiled in April of 1940. What is even more interesting that although his name was on this list it is not clear whether Shimon was still alive at the time of the list's creation.  In any event, the Germans never learned that from day one Shimon was not present at the daily roll call.
After the certification ceremony was completed a German soldier or policeman would then order the Jews to form one line.The Jews were now to put through physical denigration called Eintraining. It always started by the Jews being ordered to run in line the four corners of Market Square. No one was exempt from running. It did not matter if the Jew was young or very old, sick or healthy.  For the older Jews it was physically difficult. They would slow up the line even with others helping them along.  
Regardless, whether one was young or old this activity was demeaning.   Next the Jews were told to do random calisthenics such as push ups, jumping jacks or running in place.  As the German in charge racked his brain to come up with new ways of demeaning the Jews the Polish spectators watched in fascination.  Sometimes they would laugh as they watched the Jews suffer some new form of abuse.  After more than an hour of continued debasement the Jews the entraining ended.  The Jews were then ordered to go to their respective work assignments.
Market Square - Pre World War II photo highlighting the Statute of  Kazejesko
One day those Poles that were up to now enjoyed watching the abuse of the Jews woke up to find the Germans no longer funny.   A replacement unit of the Wermacht took control over the town.  The first act of the new garrison officers was to teach the Poles of Radziejow just who was in charge.  They did so by an act that destroyed the town’s pride and joy.   
A monument stood proudly in Market Square of the legendary Polish war hero Kazejeskow.  In an official ceremony the Germans tore down the statue as the Poles watched in horror.  Then the Nazis  mounted on the same marble pedestal a toilet.
I asked my father did he feel a sense of revenge or find humor watching the Poles suffer like the Jews.
He replied, “[n]o  I didn’t laugh.  I found no pleasure in this insult.  Even though I knew it was aimed directly at the Poles, I also felt insulted because I was a citizen of Poland.”
  Still, a few Jews thought it was good that the Goyim now lost something, too.  What was clear, even those Poles that were anti-Semitic were now very angry with the Germans.  They now knew, like the Jews,  the evil sadistic nature of the Nazis.
As bad as conditions were the Jews of Radziejow understood that they were faring better than most Jews living in the surrounding towns.  Ironically, they attributed this fact to the several Volksdeutche, Poles of German extraction, many of whom owned estates and large farms surrounding the town. The Jews of Radziejow had developed good relations with the Volksdeutche through years of mutually beneficial daily commerce. 
The Volksdeutche, like the Jews,  were a minority group living in Poland and sometimes suffered prejudice against them by Poles. During the period leading up to the German invasion, some Poles targeted the Volksdeutche with malicious acts justifying their bad behavior as needed punishment for Volkseutch fifth columnists.  During the invasion over five thousand Volksdeutche were killed as a result of this kind of persecution with another forty-five thousand listed as missing. ( Generalgouvernement, Internal Security in the Eastern Occupied Polish Territories, 1939-1945, by Antonio J. Munoz, p 19).
When Hitler received the news of the treatment of the Polish Volksdeutche  this infuriated him and he demanded from the Army to punish all Poles.  Units under Himmler's command committed  reprisal shootings throughout Poland.  This action resulted in many thousands of Poles indiscriminately murdered.  ibid.
  Approximately 400,000 Volksdeutche that were “liberated” by the German conquests of Poland and neighboring countries were subsequently recruited into the Wermacht, the German Armed Forces. All Volksdeutche were registered on official Volkslists and given special German status.  They were accorded many of the benefits offered to all  German citizens.  As a result, the Volksdeutche were catapulted to the top of the socio-economic ladder with the Nazi invasion.   ibid.
From the beginning of the occupation the Germans requisitioned several buildings in town.  Beit Rachel the main Shul of Radziejow was defiled and was used as a storehouse.  Radziejow’s main Church in the town center was taken over, the Polish congregants were expelled and it became a Volksdeutche church. The former clergy of the church along with all the Polish Catholics were forced to pray in  a small wooden church on the outskirts of Radziejow. In the beautiful newly commerated Volksdeuthce church the garrison soldiers, In this church the German occupiers and the local Volksdeutche worshiped  their G-d.  Apparently their  G-d agreed with these haters of the weak as they glorified and justified their rabid hatred and cruelty especially towards Jews but also anyone that was not of the Aryan race. 
 The Volksdeutche of Radziejow were now elevated to the level of German racial superiority over the Poles.  Meaning, that the occupiers considered the Volkdeutche as fellow Germans while they viewed the Jews as subhuman vermin.  Just a tad above the Jews were the Poles The Nazi  perverse racial stereotyping dictated that as part of the grand German plan for world domination the Poles were to be lumped together with the racially inferior Slavs.  These two groups were earmarked to be slaves of the master Aryan race.  The children of these slaves were to be afforded only a rudimentary education that would be just enough so they could serve the German people as future productive slave laborers.  
Not all the Volksdeutche were on board with Hitler's ravings.  Some Volksdeutche did not let this new founded position of privilege to change their character.  They too had no choice but to go along to get along.  These good people even tried to alleviate the suffering of the Jews.  For example, when they would learn that a bad decree was about to be issued against the Jews, they used their connections with the German Police to mitigate the harshness of the implementation.
Radziejow Survivor Joyce Wagner, the author of her autobiography entitled A Promise Kept, had a mixed feelings concerning the Volksdeutche.  She recalled one incident involving a bad Volksdeutche during the occupation.  
"One day we went to pick up some flour for the bakery.  I went to a Polish man who owned a mill.  Driving back home we passed a German Volksdeutsche a German national who was living in Poland, who also owned a flour mill.  He reported me to the Gestapo because I had conducted business with the Pole instead of him." p.23.  
In another similar incident of Volksdeutsche abuse she tells that a “Volksdeutsche came to her store, selected merchandise and told us to deliver it to their home without paying for it! The Germans now felt that everything that the Jews of Poland possessed belonged to them." p.23-24.  
On the other hand she tells how a Volksdeutche couple that were friends of the family before the War hid her when she made her way back to Radziejow soon after the liquidation of the Ghetto,   "I went to the home of a former customer of ours a German Volksdeutsche named Lange.  She cried with me over the tragedy of what had happened to my family, as well as the sad fate of other Jews from the Radziejow ghetto who had been sent to Chelmo to be gassed.  Her husband arrived, and he was so surprised and happy to see me.  He openly encouraged his wife to help me."  P.47.
When Radziejow was annexed by Germany and incorporated into Wartheland it was administered by the  Military District XXI.  Its provisional capitol was located in the city of Pozsen.  Although a military district, the entire Wartheland was now incorporated into Greater Germany.  The Polish occupied territory outside of Wartheland was referred to as the Generalgouvernement.  Its administration was controlled from Poland's largest city, Warsaw.
Radziejow and its surrounding countryside was controlled by Himmler's General SS, known as Allgemeine-SS, specifically regiments 109 and 110.  These troops were augmented in Radziejow by a garrisoned army and police force.  For most of the occupation the daily administration within Radziejow  was controlled by soldiers known as Gendarmerie, German rural police.  My father frequently pointed out that  the Gendarmerie were responsible for the daily routine oppression of  Radziejow Jews. 

In order to implement Nazi plans for Polish Jewry the Germans needed collaborators. These collaborators consisted of both the willing or unwilling. The Nazis preferred using the willing so they recruited those Jews that were considered by their own lanzman to be  criminals and bums.  These bad Jews were made the overseers of their fellow Jews.  Many of these overseers did not hesitate to use this opportunity as revenge against their fellow Jews that shunned them before the war.  Sztel.org.
Binem was aware that the Nazis had installed in other Jewish communities Jews that were criminals before the War. The abuses by these criminals as well as the plethora of Nazi atrocities in towns across Poland spread from mouth to mouth, even reaching the isolated community of Radziejow.. 
My father said that he was told that in other towns “the foremen and policemen were Jewish bums and Jewish criminals.”
These Jewish overseers were delighted in the power form their new found higher status in the community along with the abusive power over their fellow Jews.  It should be noted that not all of these “bums and criminals” abused their power.  In fact, some exercised restraint.  Still for the most part, these outlaws wielded power with a vengeance against their fellow Jews.
In contrast, the Judenrat of Radziejow was controlled by the unwilling.  The Nazis forced members of the community to serve on the Board.  These members tried their best to ease the suffering of the Jewish community.
Binem praised Manes and the Board. "In Radziejow, there were no Jewish criminals.  In fact, there was not a single Jew that could even be classified as a bum..   Just the opposite, all the Jews were lantzmen, like one family.   Anyone appointed to the Judenrat would treat their fellow Jews with respect."
This stems from the fact that many of the Jews of Radziejow were blood relatives.  Gronowskis  made up nearly a quarter of Jews living in Radziejow. Henry Gronow stated that before the War it was necessary to limit the number of invitees to weddings and other affairs to close blood relatives because otherwise it would be necessary to invite all the town Jews to every affair.
Thus, those appointed to the Judenrat took their jobs seriously as being servants to the people.  They did so with the perspective that it was up to them to bring stability to their fellow Jews from the evil maelstrom created the the Nazi devils.  They succeeded in this impossible task for nearly two years.  They were able to ease the burden of their fellow Jews as each member of the community tried to survive an additional day.
Survivor Geoge Gronjnowski remembered that at one time the head of the Judenrat was his Hebrew school teacher named (Manes) Sheinman.  It was George’s understanding that he was placed in that position because he was a university graduate and served in the Polish Army as an officer.  What made him even further qualified for this thankless job was that he was also of German origins.    He spoke fluent German.  So it was believed by the Jews of Radziejow that he would be the best “go-between” with German occupation authorities.
In one example of Shieman’s unique ability to deal with the Germans, a sixteen year old boy named Gronjnowski (not the Survivor Gronjnowski), got in trouble with the Germans.  It was alleged that the boy called a Polish woman a Kurvah. Kurvah means prostitute. The woman was known for consorting with a German.  The woman was outraged and told her boyfriend.  That caused the Gendemaries to go looking for the boy.  All knew that if he would be found it was virtually a death sentence.  When the boy’s family found out they hid their son and then beseeched Sheiman to intervene with the Germans on their behalf.  Sheinman made his was to the German in charge of finding the boy and explained that the boy didn’t mean prostitute but rather he actually meant that she was “curved”. The two words sound alike in Polish.  By adding a bribe with this creative excuse, Sheinman was able to save the boy’s life.  The boy survived the War and eventually emigrated to the United States making his home in California.
Likewise, Survivor George Gronjinowski remembered a most serious incident that involved his father.  A swastika wearing Volksdeutche started a heated argument with his father.  George’s father lost his cool and called the man a “Hitlerite”. The Volksdeutcher was outraged over what he conceived as proof that George’s father was impudent and did not respect Hitler or Germans. The Volksdeutcher was so insulted that he sought revenge against the Jew by reporting him to the German authorities.  Upon finding out that he was being sought by the Germans George’s father went into hiding.  Again, Sheinman was asked to intervene.  Sheinman was able to placate the man and the authorities and the charges were dropped.



Radziejow Ghetto Jews lined up for unknown reason

Each passing day brought new indignities to the Jews of Radziejow. One day an order was issued from the authorities in Pozen in which the occupying forces was to begin "aktion campaign".  Among the earliest aktions was the destruction of all synagogues located within the boundaries of the Watheland.  Jews in town after town watched in horror as their beloved houses of worship went up in flames. German soldiers became arsonist sanctioned by law as they burned synagogues in Piotrkow, Aleksandrow, Zgierz, Bielsko and Bydgoszcz all villages and towns near Radziejow.




Destroyed Radziejow Synagogue, Beit Rachel
On the night of  August 11, 1939, the Jews of Radziejow awoke to the sound of conflagration then a terrifying explosion.  Since there was a strict curfew in place no one dared to go outside to investigate. All they could do was wait until morning to find out what new tragedy they would have to deal with.  The next morning the townspeople both  Jews and Poles, learned that the Nazis blew up the newly constructed and dedicated Beit Rachel Synagogue and  the  old smaller shul.   sztel.org. 
Binem remembered that night and the following day vividly.  He said that he learned from friendly Volksdeutche that the Nazis encountered a problem on their first attempt to destroy the Shul. They first simply set fire to the building. However although the old shul was completely burned down Beit Rachel was merely damaged because the structure of the synagogue was made of fireproof materials.  This only made the Nazis more determined, as if it was a challenge.So it was decided to use an alternative method to mere fire..  That method was to use explosives and blow up the synagogue..The charges  were set throughout the building. The subsequent explosion did the trick and left only theshell of the original magnificent structure.
My father then described what happened next.  The following morning during the routine roll call in Market Square a German officer asked, "Does anyone have a box of matches?"  
A few Jews innocently raised their hands.  Those that did were quickly plucked from the line and then surrounded by gendameires.  These Jews were hauled in front and presented to the German officer.  The officer with a devious glee of satisfaction on his face proceeded to confiscate the match boxes from these clueless volunteers. He then triumphantly proclaimed to all present that he has succeeded in apprehending the arsonists that burned down the Jewish house of worship.   He prominently held up the damning  evidence consisting of several match boxes and declared that this evidence proves that it was your fellow Jews that burned down your own house of worship.
As this nightmarish event took place, seemingly every Jew present in Market Square fell into a horrible spell of despair.  Many thought that it was bad enough that the Germans just destroyed our holy synagogue, the center of Jewish life, in Radziejow, but now they have the chutzpah (audacity) to place this evil crime on innocent G-d fearing Jews.  This Ghenna was just too much for the human psyche to absorb. (German Crimes in Poland, Volume 1, Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland, Warsaw, 1946.  Extermination of the Polish Jews in the Years 1939-1941, part 1.)
Radziejow Survivor Jack Marcus had a slightly different version of the destruction of Beit Rachel and the aftermath.  He stated that he lived on the outer edge of the Jewish Ghetto between Marketplace Square and Beit Rachel, the Jewish synagogue. In the middle of the night he woke up. He looked out the window and saw a the blaze of a fire raging.  He remembered that several people were standing in the street watching the inferno. 
The next day a German officer shouted out to the Jews, “Which one of you burned the synagogue?”
On hearing this accusation by this Nazi, the personification of evil,  many of the Jews standing in the vicinity of Marcus tossed away any matches in their possession so as not to be accused of starting the fire. 
It is unclear which version is a more accurate portrayal of the events on this terrible day.  One thing  is for sure, the Jews listened in terror to the officer’s absurd cynical accusations.  The older pious Jews reacted the hardest.  They couldn't bear the pain of such an evil act against G-d and his chosen people. G-d had truly hidden his face from the Jewish people.  Their spirits, were completely broken.  They knew that without G-d's protection the Jewish people were now lambs for the slaughter of  the demagogue, Adolf Hitler and his cohorts.  On that day they lost the pious lost their will to live. To the Jews of Radziejow as a direct consequence of this horrendous act,  in relatively short period of time approximately ten of these righteous Jews. It is to be noted that all of these old pious Jews died of natural causes.  
Among the first to succumb was my grandfather, Shimon.  Just a few months later, my Great-Grandmother, Miriam, also died of natural causes. When the Jews of Radziejow discussed this rash of deaths among the pious, no one actually stated what many had thought in silence that was their deaths actually G-d's way, in his infinite mercy, not turn his face away from the pious.  Rather, G-d brought them to him without waiting for the real horror of the Holocaust that was about to take place. Instead most of the Jews of Radziejow just accepted that it was a coincidence that they all died at the same time of old age.
Shimon did not die of old age. The manner of his death was shrouded in mystery.  A few weeks after the destruction of the Beit Rachel Synagogue, Shimon without any warning became seriously ill.  Apparently Shimon had a premonition that he was going to die because he gathered his sons around his bed and ordered them to bury his most treasured possessions. Those items were  his holy books and cherished religious items such as menorahs, spice boxes, silver Shabbos (Sabbatj) candelabra and his grand Shabbos kiddush cup .  He instructed them to dig a deep hole inside the the woodshed located in the backyard and place the objects within. The books were part of Shimons extensive library of Jewish holy books that included a complete set of the Talmud, often referred to as Gemmorah.  . Shimon’s Talmud was comprised of dozens of  portfolio size volumes that were covered with the finest leather, elaborately embossed.  
The sons having the greatest love and respect for their father obediently followed to the letter his instructions.  While preparing the hidden treasure trove one brother commented to the others that he was relieved that the Jewish books and religious objects were now being hidden away because the possession of these items was considered a crime by the Germans. Another brother answered saying that he was terribly distraught for Tatte (father).  he explained that Tatte would never part with his Gemoras  unless he was sure that his end was near.  All knew in their heart that the latter was correct.  Because if they were sure of anything it was that Shimon was unflinching devoted to be faithful to G-d and his commandments. Therefore it must follow that if Shimon was ordering us to take such drastic action it must be because this is his last request as a dying man. 
A few days later, Shimon's physical condition further deteriorated.  His skin color turned a sickish pale white and his breathing was forced and appeared to be painful.  Shimon called his sons together again and made the unusual requested that they move the recently buried holy items.  He wanted them to exhume his treasure from the woodshed and bury the items in the basement where the hidden leather caches were located.  
When one of his son’s sheepishly asked why, he replied,  "I suddenly realized that the location was too close to the outhouse."
I asked my father if my grandfather's second request was complied with.   My Father hesitated and said, "[w]e thought that there would be time later to move them A little while later we were ordered to relocate into the ghetto. Thern there was no time to move the books."
Binem explained that his failure to comply with his dying father caused him great anguish.  After Shimon died, he was so distraught that he went to the Shamas (assistant rabbi) of the destroyed Beit Rachel Synagogue, who was a scholar and friend of Shimon, and asked him what he should do about the promise he made to his father. The Shamas showed little patience with this shilah (question involving Jewish law).  
He answered impatiently, "[y]our worrying about books!  Books can be replaced. You should worry  about the Jewish people. The people cannot be replaced." 
After Shimon's second request to move the treasure his physical condition went from bad to worse.  The family was at a loss as to how to help their father. There wasn't a Jewish doctor to treat him because when the Germans invaded Poland the town's doctor, Mr. Peninski, fled and never returned.  The only doctor in town was a German physician assigned to the German military forces in Radziejow.  He treated German soldiers, Volkesdeutche and on occasion, Poles.  He was under strict orders not to render any medical assistance to Jews.
Despite this fact, one of the brother’s had an idea as to how to get medical treatment for Shimon. A few months earlier, Binem, who spoke some German was assigned by the Judenrat to the task of being the doctor's valet.  Binem's primary duty was to guide the doctor around the town for home visits for sick Volksdeutche.  Also, he served as a translator for the doctor when he treated Poles.  His other duties included being the doctor's shlepper (valet) and car washer.  
The brother demanded of Binem,  "[w]hy don't you go ask the German doctor to see Tatte."   
Binem knew that the doctor was forbidden to treat Jews. For a moment Binem contemplated his brother's demand.  Binem thought that from all indications the doctor appeared to be a well meaning person.  For sure he never degraded Binem like the other Germans.  So despite this obvious violation of the Doctor's protocols, Binem thought that perhaps the doctor may be open to the idea of making exception for me.
  Binem replied, "I'll give it a try."
The following day, Binem waited for an opportunity to approach the doctor. Near the end of his shift he requested his assistance. The doctor looked Binem in the eye and agreed without comment.  He only said to  Binem that it would have to be done at night because treating his father was forbidden.  Binem’s face shined he was relieved and very grateful.  He knew that if the doctor was caught treating a Jew he would be severely punished.  That night, despite the nightly curfew, Binem made his way to the German doctor's house.  True to his word the doctor was ready and without hesitation accompanied Binem to the Najman dwelling.
  Binem's brothers watched the doctor supiciously as he carefully and thoroughly  examine Shimon. They were relieved that the doctor conducted himself in a respectful manner towards Shimon.   Judging by Shimon's face and body movements, it was obvious that he didn't trust this German doctor.  After completing the physical examination the doctor told the brothers that it was his opinion that Shimon had pneumonia.   He explained that Shimon’s condition was grave and the only course of treatment was a certain powerful medication. Having no alternative the brothers agreed that the doctor proceed. Then the doctor prepared an injection.  He first set up his equipment on the nightstand adjacent to Shimon’s bed.  The doctor then proceeded to sterilize a long needle that was attached to a syringe.  He did this by passing the needle within the bluish white flame that was produced by a special alcohol lamp that the doctor had brought with him and had laid it on the nightstand besides Shimon's bed..  Shimon stared at the blazing flame and the now red hot needle.  He became terrified.  His fear grew worse as the doctor approached him with the syringe.  The doctor in a very professional manner managed to overcome Shimon's futile effort to grab his arm in an effort to prevent the injection.  The doctor told then told the brothers that he had done all that he could do.  With that the brothers thanked the doctor and Binem escorted the Doctor to his home.
When Binem returned he immediately went to Shimon’s bedroom.  Shimon was asleep in his bed. Binem with consumed with worry for his beloved father.  As he watched his father sleeping peacefully for a few minutes Binem decided that it would be best to bed down just outside of Shimon's bedroom door. 
Binem fell into a deep asleep.  Three hours later, at around four in the morning, Binem suddenly awoke.  He decided to check on his father.  He quietly opened the bedroom door.  When he approached Shimon he immediately noticed something was wrong.   Shimon appeared not to be breathing.  Binem called out to his father.  There was no reply. Then Binem reached down and touched his father’s feet.  He discovered that they were still warm.  Binem then cried out to his brothers to quickly come.  Within seconds all the brothers entered the bedroom. The brothers circled the bed.  They stared at Shimon’s body.  Then they discussed what they saw.  They concluded that their father had died in his sleep. With that all that was left to do was send word to the members of the Chevra Kadishe, Jewish Burial Society, to come.

Radziejow Jewish Cemetery - Shimon was
most likely buried next to his wife's grave, Hinda,
tall marker near back right


As my Father related this story to Speilberg's interview, he became quite emotional. Tears streamed down his face when he explained the moment he discovered that Shimon had passed away.

I asked my Father, "Do you think the German doctor killed your father?'

  He replied, "I don't know. I do know that my Father was very scared of the needle. "

 I wasn’t satisfied with the response so I pressed my Father one more time,
"[w]hat does that mean?"

 He replied, "[m]y Father was scared of the fire and the needle."

  I then asked, "[w]hat was in the syringe that the doctor injected."  

He said, The doctor told me that it was medicine used in the treatment of pneumonia."

  Still not satisfied with my Father's answer, I decided to continue to press him.  "Do you think that the doctor might have poisoned him?" 

My father finally admitted, that "I had some suspicions, but those suspicions faded as I watched what was happening to the Jews." 
Using their connections with the Volksdeutche, the Najmans petitioned the German authorities to allow for a burial to take place at the town's Jewish cemetery.  The friendly Volksdeutche approached the administering Nazi occupation authorities and successfully procured the necessary burial permits for Shimon.  According to Jewish law the dead must be buried as soon as possible.  Thu the Chevra Kadishah, the Jewish burial society, ritually prepared Shimon’s body so it complied with the strict rules of Jewish law concerning the burial of the dead. 
Just about the entire Jewish population living in Radziejow attended Shimon's burial.  Many commented to one another that they wished for themselves to be lucky enough to die like Shimon did.  That being, to die with dignity in one's own house and surrounded by his children.  
Its hard for us today to gauge such a reaction.  Perhaps these attendees were musing about their own future or perhaps they were jealous, in a good way,  of Shimon because he cheated the German devils.  Most likely they were purely joyful that Shimon died in such an honorable manner.  Whatever the motivation for the comment, the words alone reveal then spoken truth that plagued the Jews of Radziejow. That truth was the knowledge of impending doom.  These voices understood that when their time comes as it had for Shimon,  only then will they be put out of their daily torment.  However they understood that there will be little chance that they will be given a proper burial      
     Shimon was laid to rest at age 69 surrounded by his sons, daughters, relatives, and the Jewish community. The funeral service concluded with the Mourner’s Kaddish.  The sons recited the prayer, “[m]ay His great Name grow exalted and sanctified.” Despite all the suffering of the Jewish community under the Nazis the entire Jewish community that was standing around graveside responded to the sons by saying Amen, meaning that is the truth.
As per the custom the family sat the traditional seven days of morning, called Shiva.  During the Shiva period visitors were encouraged to visit the house of Shiva in order to comfort the mourners.  Many visitors came and told the Najmans that while death is something to be avoided, in Shimon's case it was a gift from G-d.  Binem, sitting on the traditional low chair for mourners, in his heart had to agree.  He was relieved that Tatte no longer had to suffer any further.   Binem had long concluded that the only reason why he and his fellow Jews were still alive was that the Germans needed them as slave laborers.  As a result of this logic, Binem knew that even if his father had recovered from his illness he would have been too feeble to work.  Therefore he would have served no purpose in the minds of the Nazi murderers.  History was to prove Binem’s prediction to be correct.  Soon thereafter, Binem became a slave laborer for the Germans doing work that his father, in his old age, could never do. After the mourning period ended the Najmans emerged from the shelter of the Shiva house and returned to the dreaded reality created by the Germans. 
Now the family thought about the comments.  For the family members themselves now understood that they would not die of natural causes.  They would not be given a proper burial.  There would not be a Shiva house for them. And most dreaded was that no one will be left to say Kaddish for them.   
Soon thereafter the Germans accelerated the tightening of the screws on the lives of the Jews.  An order was issued requiring that all Jews register with the office of Burgermeister. Then it became law that they must carry at all times on their person identification documents stamped with the word Juden on it.  Failure to present these documents when demanded by any German would result in  severe punishment.


German Troops in Radziejow's Market Square

On November 18, 1939, the Nazis issued a new directive ordering all Jews to leave Radziejow within eight days.  After about half the Jewish population had left leaving behind most of their assets, for some unknown reason, the Germans rescinded the order.  The remaining Jews were ordered to leave their homes and move into the area located between Torunska Street and Szewka Street.  This designated area was the Jewish Ghetto.  Along with the Jews of Radziejow, additional Jews from outlying towns were relocated to the the Ghetto.  It is estimated that there were approximately 800 Jews moved to this designated area. sztel.org There was no fence or wall enclosing the Ghetto. Its designation was an open Ghetto.  But like all designated German Ghettos the same rules applied.  Including the rule if one was caught outside the Ghetto without written permission that person was subject to the most severe punishment, that being death.
The Najman's building was not within the Ghetto area.  Therefore the family had no alternative but to make arrangement for living quarters inside the Ghetto area.  By using their connections the Najmans created their own luck.  They were able to bribe a Polish couple that was living within the Ghetto to turn their house over to the Najmans. The house itself was much smaller than Najman building. But that fact did not much matter.  According to the Nazi order the Poles living within the area designated as the Jewish ghetto were permitted to take all their belongings with them when relocating. On the other hand, Jews relocating to the Ghetto were restricted to bringing only those possessions that they could physically carry on their person. Thus the Najmans could not bring with them even basic furniture and other essential household goods.  Thus there was plenty of room for them in the small Polish house.
The Najmans new residence was located on Turonska Street, the main street. Living in the house was Binem, Azriel, Shmiel, Macho, Masha her husband and children, and Malka.   Also, a Jewish leather cutter, moved into the house with them.  He brought with him his precious sewing machine. The Najmans provided the cutter with leather that they periodically smuggled into the Jewish area from their hidden leather stashes.  The cutter would then form the leather into shoe uppers.  The family would help him attach the uppers to the soles.  Then the finished product was  traded for food.  Although this was illegal and if caught both the Najmans and the buyers  would suffer unspeakable punishment, the trading went on because the Najmans needed food and the buyers needed shoes. There was no choice but to take a chance. 
The Najmans continued to sell leather and findings to trusted Polish shoemakers.  These shoemakers were always poor but honest. Once the bad ones were weeded out, the remaining shoemakers never took advantage of the weak position that the Jews had found themselves in. 
All this trading was made possible because the Radziejow Ghetto was an open ghetto, meaning that there was no wall surrounding its perimeter. Thus despite the real threat of severe punishment of unauthorized movements outside of the Ghetto, many Jews decided to risk it because it was easy for them to leave the ghetto and bring back with them food.  For the Germans had put the Jews on starvation rations.  Eating only the food provided by the Germans meant that one die the painfully  by starvation.






Official Radziejow list of all Jews residing in the Ghetto, dated 1940.

Partial List of Jews in Radziejow compiled by German Authorities 1940 Compiled from the Original List by the Radziejow Library  - Collumn 2 - Najman Family - Shimon the father and seven brothers and sisters - missing 2 sisters- Masha and Rivka,  they were married and 2 brothers- Max and Harry, living in America

In 1940 my great grandmother on my grandmother's side, Miriam Pocziwy, died of natural causes.  Her husband, and my great grandfather, Baer, died around 1935.  According to Joyce Wagner in her book A Promise Kept, Miriam was a very charitable woman.  Moreover, not only would she generously contribute to various Jewish charities but she also had created one. She would collect funds for indigent girls.  The funds were used to provide for them a dowry and help to pay for weddings.  
Miriam could have avoided the the Holocaust altogether. When her husband died after much cajoling by her children she moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin .  There a number of her children and grandchildren resided.. After two years of being pampered and spoiled in Milwaukee she shocked her family when she told them, in no uncertain words, that she was returning to Radziejow.  Her family was dumbfounded. They knew the dangers facing Jews in Poland at the time. When they tried to convince her to stay she responded by saying that she had three reasons for returning.  First, America was not kosher enough for her.  Second, she wanted to help her granddaughter in Radziejow that was having a difficult time raising her children.  Finally, she stated that she wanted to buried next to her husband in the Radziejow Jewish Cemetery. Once Miriam made up her mind there was no dissuading her.  She moved back to Poland and experienced the German invasion and the persecution of the Jews of Radziejow.  When she died,at the same time other pious Jews of Radziejow also passed away, she was  buried alongside her husband, Baer Pocziwy.
The Jews of Radziejow were faring better then their Lantzmen in other towns and nearby hamlets.  Survivor Gabriel Brzustwski-Bross was living in a small town named Babrowice when the Germans occupied the town on Rosh HaShana Eve. The soldiers brutally entered the small synagogue hauled out the Rabbi during the sacred prayer service.  They proceeded to humiliate the rabbi by forcing him to pull a wagon while dressed in his white ceremonial robe called a Kittel.  Appropriately a Kittel is symbolic of a burial shroud.  The kittel became soiled as the Germans laughed. Soon thereafter some of the local Poles, for either pay or favor, would inform the Germans who were the Jews in the community.  For Bross, this disgusting act of betrayal both to Poland and as well as their Jewish neighbors remained a sore point.  For only with this type of collaboration and  treachery that the Germans were able to identify the Jews of Poland and thereby allow the Nazis to succeed in their Holocaust crusade against the Jews.  
Bross managed to escape from his town and then searched for a better place to live.  He made his way to the Kutno Ghetto and later the Ghiskin Ghetto.  During his travels he survived by stealing potatoes and other food from Polish farmers.   When he reached the Ghiskin Ghetto he found that the Jews were treated just as cruelly there as in his own town, so he decided to move on.  He finally made his way to the Radziejow Ghetto
Radziejow Jews being sent out on a work detail led by 2 mounted German Gendarmaries
He immediately noticed that conditions in the Radziejow Ghetto were better than the other two ghettos.  He stayed there with his cousins and then later his mother and sister arrived.  He described the German occupation of the Radziejow Ghetto as “[The Germans] didn’t bother us only they had us go to work every day."
In January of 1940 scores of German civilians arrived in Radziejow.  They were mainly businessmen and their staffs. These businessmen had procured different contracts with the German government.  In order to fulfill these contracts they needed manpower. So they had arrived to enlist Jews to work for them doing various projects that were considered part of the German war effort.  They hired Jewish workers ranging in ages from thirteen years of age to men and women up to the age of fifty years old.  In Radziejow they hired around 450 Jews. The work was done at rural sites throughout Wartheland.  Most of these sites was a long distance from Radziejow.  As a result,  those that were enlisted were relocated from the Ghetto to live in arbitserzienungslager, work camps.
The workers recruited in Radziejow were divided into three groups of between  between fifty and one hundred workers.   Each  group was sent to a different arbitserzienungslager located near different rural villages.  One work camp was made up of all males.  A second was made up of female workers.  And the third work camp was mixed.  All three were within a hundred miles of Radziejow.
Survivor George Gronjnowski remembers the morning he was sent to to the  Arbitserzienungslager Lojewo.  It was located twenty miles northwest of Radziejow in Inwroclaw County. He was then a boy of only thirteen.  Still, like the adults, he was ordered by the Germans to report to Market Square so he could “volunteer” to engage in slave labor. Against the advice of his parents, George went to Market Square willingly. His father who was also ordered to report had already went into hiding. When George arrived at Market Square he then understood the gravity of the situation. Security was very tight.  Armed German soldiers were checking the identity papers of the Jews that reported.  Many of the Jews were accompanied by their wives, mothers, fathers and children.  Several of the women and children were crying.  Some of the men had the look of impending doom on their faces.  After registering, George knew that he had made a huge mistake.   So he decided to run away. He went directly to the dwelling of a polish family that were friends of his family.  There he hid.
When the Germans finished their paperwork, the Jews were separated into three groups.  When the groups were ready for departure, disaster struck. The German police officer assigned to George's group notice that his group was short one worker.  That worker was George. The German cussed at the group stating that they would just have to stand in place until the missing Jew was found.
      From George’s hiding place he could hear the German police officer ranting at his assigned group.  A thought entered George’s mind, what if the German would hurt someone because of his running away. That fear was bolstered when he heard the German threatening to shoot Jews at random until the missing worker appeared.  Binem was likely in this group that the German was threatening to randomly shoot.         

George could not withstand the pressure. He decided that he would sneak back into his group’s line. In the confusion he was successful.  Soon thereafter, the raging German conducted another count.  To his surprise, this time the count was correct.  The German concluded that the Jews were playing him a fool.  Therefore, he demanded that the Jew that the once missing worker present himself to him.  George was never so scared in his life. He knew that this German was capable of murdering him.  Still, he found the courage to step forward.

          George remembered the confrontation with great clarity.  He said that he walked up and faced “this big fat German.”  The police officer began by denigrating him along with Jews in general.  He uttered these ravings in the most vile language that George had ever heard.  The German repeated a series of derogatory terms such as Shesten, Shvinehoont and Fafucta Yudah. Then the German physically attacked George by slapping him hard across his face.   The slapping continued from side to side.  George refused to given in and cry, for he instinctively knew that his mother was watching. Without any apparent reason, the German’s temper suddenly cooled and he behaved as if nothing had occurred. He then calmly led the group as they marched out of town.  All the workers were singing Jewish and Polish songs.







Binem remembered the day that he became a “volunteer” hired worker. As instructed, he reported to Market Place at 8:00.  His group marched from Radziejow to his arbitserzienungslager located about fifteen miles away.  The camp was first named Lojewo which was its Polish name.  Later the camp was given a German name, Lodoff.   Likewise his cousin, Joyce Wagner, was assigned to the Lojewo work camp.  Other family members such as Radziejow survivor Jack Marcus and his father Lieb were sent to a different arbitserzienungslager that were farther away named Strakoda. Strakoda.  That camp  was a three hour train trip from Radziejow.

 Lodoff was approximately fifteen miles from Radziejow.  In Lodoff, Binem worked there with his older brothers, Shmiel and Azriel.  A few of the Najman sisters were most likely assigned to the female lager.


The USC Shoah Foundation describes it as a forced labor camp for Jews located in Inowcrclaw County, Pozan Vododship, Poland.  According to survivors it was opened no later than August of 1941 and closed no earlier than August of 1943. The prisoners did construction work for a civilian contractor known as P. Gratz.  The arbitserzienungslager was located on a farm that had been confiscated from its Polish owners.  The lager consisted of an administration building that was located in the family’s farm house.  Jews were housed in one of the barn.  The workers slept in bunks.  Binem explained that some time after he arrived the lager was expanded to allow for female workers.  They were boarded in a separated barn. 
     The Lager was loosely guarded by gendarmeries, German police officers that were a separate government unit but now incorporated into the German Army.  Wermacht soldiers were not assigned to the lager because both the Germans and the Jews knew there was nowhere to escape to. More importantly there was no reason for escape. The camps were liberally administered.  The actual work was hard to the point as being described as back-breaking, but still the overseers were not overly oppressive.  Jews were fed regularly.  Moreover, the constant degradation of living in the Radziejow Ghetto was behind them. Many of the workers felt that the hard labor caused time to pass quickly. 
          The Jews were assigned several different types of work.  They cleaned the canals surrounding the lager, build barracks for soldiers in nearby camps, repair railroad tracks, and build roads.  During the winter, when outside work was not practical, the Jewish workers made straw doormats for the German army and the German home-front.  All in all the work was hard but not impossible.
The camp environment encouraged camaraderie that naturally developed between the workers. Strong friendships were made.  Laughter was not uncommon because humor was a way of dealing with the foreboding future.  
Binem joked with his friends, "[i]f we live over the War it was a good lesson.  We now know how to do things for ourselves. Before the War we would hire gentiles to do manual labor tasks.  Now we can do it ourselves."
  Binem always added the caveat, "[t]hat is, of course, if we actually live over the War."
 In the beginning, the Jews were paid a small wage and provided with room and board.  Food rations were adequate consisting of plenty of bread and potatoes. Moreover the rations were supplemented by buying and bartering with the local polish farmers.  Then a few months later, without notice, the wages stopped and the food rations were cut back.  Life in the lager became progressively worse.  Still, in the minds of many of the workers, the camp was a safer place to be then anywhere else for a Jew in Poland. They reasoned that the Germans need them to do these dirty jobs.
Radziejow Survivor Ann Goldman Kumer told of her life at Lojewo.  She commented that meals consisted of bread in the morning and soup when the workers returned from work.  They also received a coffee ration. There was no work on Sunday.  She also recalled that in spite of the hardship the Jews in the camp continued to have faith and a strong belief in G-d.  She fondly remembers a Yom Kippur service at the lager that was held by the light of one candle.  One of the young men served as cantor and chanted by memory the moving Kol Nidre prayer.  She added that despite the near daily starving conditions, all the Jewish workers that attended the service fasted the following day.
In the beginning the camp authorities liberally gave out passes to the Jewish workers to return to Radziejow for a day or two during the week.  In order to get permission to leave the work camp a worker would ask the foreman of their work crew for a pass.  This open policy did not last for long. 
Moreover, some Jews did not follow the strict conditions involved in home visits.   Binem related on one dismal day five Jewish boys returned late to the camp.  Upon arrival they were detained by the guards.  Binem knew that trouble would soon follow.  Soon thereafter the guards received orders from the camp administrator.  With that one guard picked out three strong Jewish workers to grab hold of one of the tardy boys. 
The German guard then announced,  "[w]e we will teach you how to obey."
The boy received 25 brutal lashes from the whip.  Then, each in turn, the other four boys were unmercifully whipped in the same manner.
 From that day on, Binem no longer trusted the German civilian administrator. 
Binem said of the administration, "Their promises didn't live up to their actions."
Another policy that, at first, favored the workers was that of home convalescence.  When a worker became ill he was allowed to return home to recuperate.  Binem's two brothers, Shmiel and Azriel, took advantage of this policy.  They both feigned illness which resulted in them being able to return to Radziejow. The two brothers remained and thus never returned to the work camp. As more and more workers became suddenly ill the policy of returning home to rest was later severely restricted.
      Binem's work crew was always escorted by a guard that he described as being "a nice German watchman".  As the Jews worked the watchman would lounge around barely paying attention. The watchman would talk with Binem who was the only one in the crew that spoke German.  He told Binem that before Hitler's rise to power he was a member of a German communist organization.  As a result, he confessed that he felt sorry for the Jews.  He was serious about this feeling so his words of comfort for the Jews often translated into action. He never was abusive.  He was always civil and polite.  In fact, he was constantly helping the Jews of his crew.  As an example, for any reason whatsoever,  he was authorizing passes for Jews to return to Radziejow. Binem and the others often took advantage of this nice German's goodwill, so they frequently traveled back and forth to Radziejow for no other reasons than to rest and visit with their families. 
The precious pass allowed Binem to travel both outside the camp and outside Ghetto.   So, before entering the Ghetto, Binem would regularly sneak back into the unoccupied Najman building and dig up one of the smaller caches of leather goods still hidden under the basement dirt floor. With the leather concealed under his clothes he would pass through the Ghetto's entrance without incident.  
He would go directly to the Najman's assigned house.  There he would be greeted by his brothers Shmiel, Azriel, and Macho and his sisters, Malka and Masha.  He would remove the leather goods and give them to  his brothers so they could barter for food and other needed items.  The system worked so well that often  the Najmans had so much food that Binem was able to bring some back with him to the lager.
At the end of the summer of 1940,  Radziejow Survivor George Gronjnowski and many others were released from forced labor at Lojewo.  George returned to Radziejow and moved back in with his mother and father.  He described the situation in Radziejow as grim.  German soldiers periodically would attack the helpless Jews during authorized mission called aktions or obravai.  German soldiers, needing no justification or warning would spring to action attacking Jews in the open ghetto. During these aktions men were literally kidnapped from their homes so as to be placed in forced labor battalions.  George remembered that before one scheduled aktion the word spread from mouth to mouth.  Many used this advanced warning to hide. George ran to the end of his backyard and jumped a fence. That area was outside the Ghetto boundaries.  He then made his way deep into the adjacent field where he hid for several hours.  He then surreptitiously made his way back to his house.  By then the aktion was over and it was now temporarily safe to stay.
In spite of the German laws prohibiting contact between Poles and Jews they still managed to maintain continuous contact for purposes of trade. The Jews were able to purchase and barter for food with the Poles by parting with their precious possessions. So no matter how bad the constant administrative edicts restricting food and caloric intake the Jews managed to have enough food and clothing to survive.   
The period following the German invasion of Poland through the period of the Radziejow Ghetto could only be described as a nightmarish existence for the Jews.  Life was literally like living in a real house of horror.  Even more bizarre was that the Jewish psyche was able to adapt quickly which protected the sanity of the Jews trying to survive this insane normalcy. The average Jew clung to the hope that if this is as bad as it gets then it is possible to survive.  So for many of the Ghetto Jews these terrible hardships became a passable existence.
German atrocities continued to escalate both in Radziejow and the surrounding area.  For example, in a nearby field several German soldiers, apparently in effort to amuse themselves, escorted a group of defenseless Jews from the Radziejow Ghetto out into a nearby field.  There they forced the Jews to dig deep holes and then buried them up to their neck. The Germans found this quite funny and continued to laugh as the soldiers returned to Radziejow, leaving the buried Jews to their fate.  Luckily for the Jews, hours later a few Polish peasants were walking in the field when they heard the cries of the buried men.  Endangering their own lives, the peasants broke the law and rescued the Jews.  (Internet).
Identity Card of Binem Najman
Issued by German Authority in  1942
States that Binem is a Jew.
His occupation is a maker of uppers for shoes
The year 1942 proved to be the most deadly for the Jews of Poland. Prior to March 1942, about 80 percent of Polish Jewry had managed to survive the inhumanity of the Nazi occupation.  The other twenty percent were murdered.  But starting in March and ending in February of 1943 close to 60 percent of those remaining Jews were rounded up and transported to the extermination camps of  Chelmo, Treblinka and Auschwitz. (Ordinary Men, by Christopher Browning, 1998, page xv.)
The mind boggling part of this was that the slaughter of innocent men, women and children was considered the sacred duty of the Germans.  The banality of Hitler’s and his cohorts dreams of racial purity had reached the level of realization.  In the Nazi scheme of things success was defined as the murder of hundreds of thousands of defenseless Jews.  To the vast majority of  Nazi fanatics the importance of destroying Jews was of more importance than the Germans failure to successfully prosecute the War.  In fact during this period of catastrophe for the Jews of Poland the German Army was subject to defeat after defeat in Crimea, the Caucasus and finally the death blow that took place at Stalingrad.(ibid, xvi.)
Even before March of 1942 the Jews of Radziejow knew that their doom was soon forthcoming.   Starting on January 26 the Germans raided the Radziejow Ghetto and plundered any remaining wealth and possessions of the Jewish inhabitants.   The stolen items were stored at the local firehouse.  This heinous act did not end the confiscations. Just to make sure nothing remained the German Police made periodic inspections. The inspections had the added significance of constantly terrorizing the defenseless Jews barely hanging on to life.  During these so called inspections the Germans removed any item that caught their fancy. Simultaneously, the Jewish food ration was reduced from a starvation diet to a one hundred percent guaranteed death by starvation diet.  Jew were prohibited from owning any personal hygiene items such as soap or sanitary items. The little electricity that had been provided to the ghetto was shut off.  Jews were forced to use whatever fuels that could be found.  When lucky they were able to obtain meager supplies of kerosene for lighting and heating.  If these hardships were not enough, the local Volksdeutche, once the neighbors of the Jews, were now regularly entering the ghetto to find and exploit free workers for farm work or just for free labor. This included forcing Jewish tailors to mend clothing and Jewish craftsmen to make a variety of items that met their fancy. 
A strict five o'clock curfew was imposed. Collective punishments became the norm for the Ghetto residents.  The Jews would be assembled in Market Square where the gendarmeries would experiment with new techniques of sadism to dehumanize and degrade the Jews. Often times they rationalized their bad behavior by inventing  imaginary crimes that the Jews must be punished for. 
As bad as things were it soon became much worse.  On March 2, 1942 through June 23, 1942 the German occupiers implemented the aktion called “Operation Field Worker.”  During this period of time the Nazis murdered 171,947 Poles, most of whom were Jews. (Generalgovernment –Internal Security in the Eastern Occupied Polish Territories 1939-1945, by Antonio J. Munoz.)
 One of the goals of this operation was the complete liquidation of all Jews still living in Watheland.  This unimaginable crime was to be accomplished by the systematic destruction of all existing Jewish Ghettos. Specialized Nazi military units moved from town to town carrying out the goals in blitzkrieg like attacks. The plan was grotesque in in planning and implementation.  These specially trained units would liquidate a ghetto within a set twenty-four hour or less. The actual raid always took place under the cover of darkness.
The first step was to set up an impregnable perimeter around the designated Jewish ghetto so the Jews would be unable to flee from the impending doom.  Then a force would be sent into the ghetto area to to brutally gather the Jews.  They would shoot Jews randomly and set vicious dogs upon the defenseless Jews in order to force the Jews to a collection point.  Then special units that included trained dogs that would mop up the remaining Jews that had the audacity to hide.  The dogs used their accute sense of smell to search the now vacant houses and buildings for any remaining Jews. Once the commander was assured that the Ghetto was cleansed of Jews the next step, which usually took place the morning after the aktion, was to transport all the trapped Jews to a designated killing zone.

Near the end of May 1942 a friendly Volksdeutche man endangered his life by telling the Najman brothers living in Radziejow that their Ghetto was soon to be liquidated.   He told the Najmans, in no uncertain terms, that they must flee for their lives. So the family consisting of Azriel, Shmiel, Macho, Masha, and Malka had to escape.  The first question was how could they leave the Ghetto? The second question was if they managed to escape where would they go?
Shmiel, the oldest son, took charge.  The first step was to obtain official travel papers.  All Jews were well aware of the law that stated that a Jew found outside of the Ghetto would be subject to immediate and severe punishment that included execution without trial.  Luckily there was a township official, Walter Foretsch, that was susceptible to bribes. So the Najmans along with other Jews bribed this city official in order to be issued travel papers.  Walter Foretsch was eventually caught by the Germans.  He was tried and found guilty of issuing illegal documents.  He was sentenced to four years in prison.  
With travel papers in hand The Najmans fled eastward, the direction leading away from Germany.  They were misled by other Jews who maintained that safer conditions existed in the occupied territory of the Generalgovernment in the Polish Protectorate of Czestochowa.  Little did they know that they know that the Jews of Czestochowa were facing the same life and death struggle of the Jews of the Radziejow Ghetto.
     Upon arriving in Czestochowa the family was happy to learn that they were being detained by the Polish authorities. But soon thereafter the Poles turned the Najmans over to the Nazi occupiers who immediately imprisoned all of them in a walled Jewish Ghetto that was established  April 9, 1941.  The Najmans were aghast when they entered. The Ghetto was jammed with Jewish refugees from all parts of Poland.  The Ghetto had long ago reached its  maximum capacity.  Many of the Jews looked famished and half crazed.
The Nazis had a solution to the crowding problem.  That was roundups. The Najmans immediately joined there fellow Jews as prey for the daily German roundups.  The Najmans were mere numbers to the besieged Judenrat to fill the daily roundup quotas.  The Najmans quickly realized there they were now cornered in a death trap where there was no possibility of escape.






Radziejow Jews on Jewish Street

       In Radziejow word spread throughout the Ghetto that a another friendly Volksdeutche told of an impending final aktion.  This caused panic among those residing in the Ghetto. More and more Jews fled. By the time that the final Radziejow aktion took place most of the of the pre-war Jewish residents of the town had escaped to other parts of Poland.   Those that remained were either Jews that did not have the resources or the strength to go on.   By and large the remainder were Jews from surrounding towns that were forced to move to the Radziejow Ghetto.  On the day of the action, the exact number of Jews living in the Ghetto is unclear.  The aktion took place either April 1, 1942 or June 10, 1942.  Coincidentally, June 10 was my Father's birthday.  In June of 1942 he was 23 years old.
The reason for the controversy concerning the date of the aktion is that there are several different accounts by Jews and Poles.  Radziejow Survivors were asked by interviewers years later to recall the date of the final aktion after the War. For them, exact dates had long ago lost relevance.  So for most they were hard pressed to remember any precise dates.  Accurate dating was only to be found on official documents.  The typical Holocaust survivor used referenced points such as birthdays or holidays to approximate dates. Most if not all dates of events during the Holocaust were based on conjecture. Often Holocaust survivors would say when asked about the date of a particular event during the War that it took place in the beginning, middle, or end of a particular season.  
Additionally, most accounts of the Radziejow final aktion are from second hand sources since most of the Jews present at the time of the liquidation of the Radziejow Ghetto were sent to the Chelmo Extermination Camp.  Of those sent to Chelmo there were only two or three survivors of the hundreds of thousands of Jews sent there.  Just about all were murdered.  
What remains are the memories of Poles and Jews that either escaped prior to the transport, or their retelling of unreliable hearsay. Some of the memories they purport are not comple memories but rather a jigsaw collection of partial recollections that over the space of time that formed into a narrative of the witness. 
There is no exact number of how many Jews were living in the Radziejow Ghetto at the time of the action.  One source, Chelmo and the Holocaust published in 2012 contains a specific reference to the Jews of Radziejow. The author states that "[t]he problem of the decomposing corpses was so acute that all transports to Chelmo were stopped.  The last known transport, with 630 Jews, arrived from Radziejow Kujawski on June 11." ibid, p. 114, While another source, the website deathcamps.org states that the deportation from Radziejow along with its sister town, Piotrkow Kujawski, took place between April 1, 1942 and April 10, 1942.  The author approximates the number of Jews from Radziejow was 600.  
Holocaust Survivor Jack Marcus was with Binem at Lowjewo starting in June 1941.  He returned to Radzieow two months before to the liquidation of the Ghetto.  He remembered that a volksdeutche  told several  Jews just prior to the liquidation of the Radziejow Ghetto that "the whole city" was to be "taken away".  Later, the Nazi occupiers hinted that something big was about to occur. They told the  Jews that the time will soon come when the Ghetto will be closed.  The Nazi assured the Jews that they will be able to "take with you whatever you want, the best you have, and we will resettle you to a different part of the country."  
Upon hearing these pronouncement Jack's mother knew that the Nazis were planning to kill all of them.  She told Jack to run away.  He did so and made his way back to Lojewo and was there with Binem until August of 1943.   



Joyce Wagner speaking of her experiences during the Holocaust

Joyce Wagner in her autobiography wrote a stirring heart wrenching account of what happened the day of the Nazi Aktion in the Radziejow Ghetto.

Photograph Taken Just Prior to theAktion that Liquidated the Radziejow Ghetto

"At daybreak the ghetto was awakened by the voices of the Gestapo screaming, "UDEN RAUS! JEWS OUT OF YOUR HOUSES NOW! There were the loud barks of vicious dogs, and there was pounding on doors. With this raid at early dawn the Gestapo caught everyone in the Radziejow ghetto completely by surprise.  Whole families were captured.  No one was prepared. All were herded by the Gestapo into a church overnight. The conditions were unbelievable. People received nothing in the way of food or water. People had been evicted from their homes so swiftly by the Gestapo raid that none had time to take along provisions.  Some Jews watched as family members who tried to flee were gunned down.  People were crying. So the Jews of the Radziejow ghetto stayed locked in that church for a day and a night."
She vividly remembered that the liquidation of the Ghetto started with shooting and screaming.  Prior to the aktion she had devised a plan of action in the event that the Nazis invaded the Ghetto to take her and her family away.  The plan was to hide in her neighbor's attic.  When the aktion began she and her three siblings executed the plan. They ran to the attic.  Unfortunately, because of the chaos, her younger brother panicked.  After they were well hidden in the attic, her brother got up and  ran out shouting that he was not safe there.  He ended up hiding in the building's basement.


Photograph sent to my Blog
stating that this was taken when
the Radziejow Ghetto was liquidated
That night, at the height of the aktion, a German Gestapo agent named Bropkowski discovered Joyce and the her two siblings hiding in the attic.  Fortunately, the Gestapo agent was friendly with the neighbor that owned the attic.  When the neighbor heard the commotion, the neighbor ran to the agent and pleaded with him.   When the neighbor was done the agent shouted down to the German raiders that there was no one there.  Unfortunately,  the agent then checked the basement and found Joyce's brother.  The brother was forced to join the other Jews that were being marched off to the nearby Church.  
There the Jews awaited their fate. The conditions inside the Church was deplorable. It was stifling, near impossible to breathe. There was no food and water.   The depressing sound of hundreds of people moaning was amplified by the accustics inside the Church. The next day the Jews were forced  out of the church and ordered to climb  onto trucks.  The Jews were  then transported to the Chelmo Extermination Camp. There they were processed then murdered by carbon monoxide gas.  Joyce Wagner estimated that there were over six hundred victims.   
Binem was not in Radziejow when the aktion took place.  He stated that on the day of the liquidation he procured a pass to go back to Radziejow.  During this visit he was planning  to access one of the hidden stashes of leather.  When he arrived he found that the Ghetto was empty, there were no Jews. Perplexed, he decided that he would ask his Polish neighbors what happened.  The Poles told him that many armed Germans entered the Ghetto in the middle of the night and rounded up all the Jews.  The Jews were marched to the nearby church and held inside overnight.  The next day, trucks arrived and the Jews were packed into them. A Poles stated that  the truck was looked unusual because of the configuration of the exhaust pipe. He stated that the truck bed itself was covered by a tarp that appeared to be some kind of oil cloth. 
I asked my Father, what the Poles did when they saw the Nazis violently liquidating the Ghetto. 
He replied, "[t]he Poles didn't do anything." He paused then added, "they were probably happy that it wasn't them."
 Lenny Marcus, son of Holocaust survivor Jack Marcus, visited Radziejow during the 1980s.  Armed with a map that his parents provided for him he rented a car and arrived in Radziejow.  Upon arriving his camera equipment was stolen from his car.  Undaunted he found a lantzman named Gronjnowski.  He was the sole surviving Jew that remained in  Radziejow since the end of the War.  After the War he converted to Catholicism.  Gronjnowski was able to use his connections to get Lenny's camera equipment back. That was important.   For the equpment was used to film a documentary that was shown on PBS Boston.
During Lenny's interview of Gronjnowski he learned from him that the Jews were taken from the Church along with Polish criminals that were incarcerated in the town jail and all were loaded onto death trucks.  Once all were packed inside the trucks, they were murdered by carbon monoxide poisoning.  The bodies were buried between Kolo and Sluko in a large forest.   Marcus and Gronjowski later made a kind of pilgrimage to the large Holocaust memorial located in the very forest where the Jews of the Radziejow Ghetto were buried.  The center of the memorial is a large concrete edifice that is surrounded by a garden.  Buried beneath the garden and the surrounding area are the remains of hundreds of thousand murdered Jewish victims of the Nazis.


Memorial for Holocaust victims located in the the forest near Kolo
I researched the background of Chelmo to determine how the Jews of Radziejow were selected to be murdered there. I found that Chelmo was the prototype for other death camps.  Chelmo was designed for the specific purpose of quickly liquidating the Polish Jews in Wartheland by using poison gas. The initial step, the gathering of Jews into ghettos was complete. The Chelmo extermination facilities was integral component of the next step, the liquidation of Polish Jewry. Chelmo was but one, albeit one of the first, of the Nazi murder factories. The progression to Chelmo was first murder by shooting and starvation.  These methods were found to be inefficient by German standards. Further, the psychological effect on the executioners forced the Germans to look in different directions.  
The Germans looked to find more efficient ways in exterminating "undesirables". In the beginning Jews were murdered with conventional weapons such as handguns, rifles and machine guns.  This method was considered inefficient for the purpose of killing extremely large numbers of Jews.  In fact, some of the German executioners were having psychological problems that resulted from them being "too involved" in the actual murder.  So the Germans turned to experimenting with more detached methods of killing.  One of the first of these experiments was the use of explosives in simply blowing up large numbers of Jews at one time. The trials were most dissapointing to the Nazi inventors trying to perfect mass murder.  Explosives only killed some of the victims with the majority only maimed. 
The Germans then turned to poison gas.   The idea for gas vans originated with SS Brigadefuhrer Arthur Nebe, commander of Einsatgruppen B.  Nebe was a former leader of the Reich's Criminal Police Department (Kripo) where he became familiar with the euthanasia program that utilized poison gas that was being implemented against the mentally handicapped of Germany. Nebe and a Dr. Widman in Mogilev conducted an experiment with thirty mentally disabled placed into a sealed room. Two cars operated simultaneously pumped its exhaust fumes into the room.  After a few minutes the thirty were dead. A proposal was brought before Heydrich to use this method to kill Jews.  Heydrich adopted it.  As a result, SS Obersturmbannfuhrer Walter Rauff, of the Reich Security Main office, designed a vehicle to utilize exhaust fumes to kill Jews. The vehicle was made to resemble an ambulance or refrigerator truck.  The back cabin was sealed.  The exhaust pipe was channeled into the sealed back cabin.  "The gassing process took between fifteen and thirty minutes.  During this time the van was driven from the loading site to prepared graves. The vans came in tow sizes.  The larger one could kill between 130 and 150 Jews, the smaller van killed between 80 and 100 Jews.(Internet, Jewish Virtual Library, Einsatgruppen.)
Interestingly, Hitler had first hand of the terrible death that resulted from the inhalation.  During his World War I poison gas was used extensively by both sides.  During that War Hitler one of the most dangerous duties, he was a messenger.  He was responsible for carrying messages between the trenches. Messenger were often killed by snipers when the messenger left the protection of cover in one set of  trenches to deliver the message to another set of trenches. During one of these runs Hitler was subjected to a poison gas attack that killed many of his fellow soldiers while he himself was severely injured. So when Obergruppenfuhrer Reinhart Heydrich, head of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (Reich's Main Security Office) advocated for the use of poison gas, it is no surprise that Hitler gave his approval to its use.


The liquidation of the Radziejow Ghetto was part of  the overall plan for the liquidation of Jews located in Wartheland known as"Operation Reinhart". Reichsfuhrer SS Heinrich Himmler was directly in charge.  Himmler appointed  SS-Obergruppenfuhrer, Odio Globocnik to implement the operation. WP.   During the operation the prototype death camp named Chelmo, which was  name after its location in Poland, was one of the keys for the operation's success.
 Chelmo  was built just a few months before the Wanessee Conference that took place on January 20, 1942.  Fifteen high ranking Germans attended this secreet conference that took place in a large villa located in a Berlin suburb.  The topic was how to implement the final solution for the Jews.  Which actually meant the drafting of the plan of action for for the total destruction of European Jewry.

Chelmo is located approximately 40 miles south of Radziejow.

The death camp, Chelmo, was the first operational camp that utilized poison gas, that being carbon monoxide, to kill Jews in vast numbers. Less than two hundred Germans participated in the operation of the camp.  Supplementing the Germans were selected Jewish slaves gleaned from the Jews shipped there to be murdered.   These Jewish slaves were kept under horrendous conditions.  They soon learned that their life expectancy was extremely short. The slaves were forced to remove the dead bodies of the Jews that were gassed from the vans' exhaust fumes.  During the removal process all hidden valuables were removed and gold dental work was extracted.  Then the cadavers were thrown into a mass grave.   
The Jewish slaves were so overworked that they had little time to ponder their fate. As they worked they were constantly terrorized by the guards.  For example, it was common for a German guard to torment the Jewish workers  by picking one out and shooting him. The other Jews took no solace in the fact that they were spared for all knew that their fate was to soon join him. 
        I utilized two resources in researching Chelmo. One a recently written book, and the second a commission report. The First was a scholarly book written by historian Patrick Montague, entitled Chelmo and the Holocaust.  The author stated that there were no more than three survivors of the killing machine known as Chelmo.  Two managed to escape in the forest.  As a result of the escape, all Jews working there were subsequently forced to do the already impossible backbreaking work now further tortured by painful leg irons. 
The author reviewed eye witness testimony given by Heinz May who was a civilian German employed as a consultant to the Chelmo Extermination camp. He never entered the main facility of the camp processing center.  Rather he worked in the forest where the victims were buried. May was a German forester. His employment overlapped the transport of the  the Jews from Radziejow.  He was tasked in the concealment of the mass graves.  The decomposing bodies emitted a terrible sickening odor.  The stench permeated the air for miles.  That odor threatened to expose the extermination process. The solution was the planting of trees to mask the smell.    During May's time working in the forest outside of the Chelmo Extermination Camp he was told by by the unit commander the  Chelmo  Sonderkommandos, SS Captain Hans Bothmann, that as of May 1942 there were nearly 250,000 corpses were buried in the forest where Heinz May worked. Bothmann was new.  He recently took command, replacing SS Captain Herbert Lange, in April of 1942.  
Chelmo was administered and guarded by a Sonderkommando unit which was comprised of about one hundred soldiers.  The two assistants to the Commandant were Otto Platte and Willie Hiller.  All activities in the camp were managed by Untersturmfuhrer Heffele.  The majority, about 80 of the guards, were German Police.  The remaining contingent was made up of Gestapo agents, Criminal Police agents and Order Police.
The second of source was an official commission report by the "Central Commission for Investigation of German Crimes in Poland".  The findings of the investigators confirmed the killing method at Chelmo was indeed by gas vans.  Jews were, for the most part,  transported by train to the town of Kolo, about 9 miles from Chelmo.  After disembarking the trains they were transferred to cattle cars located on a separate track.  The Jews and their guards rode the short distance to Powicic, the location of the rail head.  From there the Jews were forced to walkto a large grain building in the village of Zawadki.  The Jew would spend the night in the dilapidated building.  The next morning the Jews were transported in separate groups of 120 to 150, three times a day.


Granary located a few miles from Chelmo.  Jews were held in this building waiting transportation to the Chelmo Extermination Camp.
Chelmo, also known as Kulmhof  was located in the center of  a forest.  The isolated location made this an ideal location for a extermination camp.  The camp's location was also convenient since it was approximately 50 miles away from the City of Lodz, where over 200,000 Jews were confined to its Ghetto.  
Chelmo itself was completely off limits to all Germans and Poles, save the actual staff.  The camp was located in a small park that already had two structures, a manor house and a granary. The Germans added a few wooden huts.  The entire area, approximately 5 acres, was enclosed by a high wooden fence.  The forest surrounding Chelmo is called the Rzuchow Forest.  To maximize secrecy, he nearest town to Chelmo underwent a complete evacuation by the Germans.   (Extermination Camp Chelmo (Kulmhof), Central Commision for Investigation of German Crimes in Poland, (Warsaw 1946, 1947).
       The extermination schedule took place according to a strict time table. Early each morning the guards of Chelmo, approximately 80 to 100 members of the Schutzpolizei, would receive truck transports from the granary.  Once the Jews were terrorized off the trucks they were lined up in the large courtyard of the manor house.  After standing there for a few minutes, a camp officer would make a short speech usually promising them that they were to be sent to Germany as laborers. An alternative speech by the officer would state that they were to be sent to the Eastern front to build fortifications for the German Army.  In both versions the officer closed his speech by stating that in order to prevent the spread of typhus they would be  first deloused and have their clothes disinfected.




Only known photograph of Chelmo victims waiting
in courtyard in front of processing building
 
Immediately after the speech ended, the Jews were double timed marched inside the manor building.  There a menacing Nazi shouted orders for them to completely undress.  Once they were all standing naked he then barked out that they should  hand over any valuable items.   Then he shouted that they were to be transported by trucks to the nearby bathhouse. The now terrorized naked Jews were force separated into groups of seventy.  The first group was led down a set of stairs that led to the lower level.  The stairs led to a dark corridor that led to a loading ramp.  The Jews were then forced into the open back of a truck parked at the the ramp’s entrance.  The truck was one of the three gas vans used at Chelmo.                       
After the approximately seventy Jews were packed inside the truck, the door was closed and the vehicle's engine was started. The Jews in the truck were unaware that they were in a death chamber.  According to one of the United States Holocaust Museum's articles concerning Chelmo, "[w]hen the back of the van was full the doors were closed and sealed.  The mechanic on duty attached a tube to the van's exhaust pipe and then started the engine, pumping carbon monoxide gas into where the prisoners were crowded, killing them by asphyxiation.'  
The gas that entered the truck came to the cargo area by way of a screened floorboard. The Jews now packed into the small confines of the cabin most likely didn't even notice the  gas seeping into the near pitch dark van.  “Because carbon monoxide is odorless and otherwise undetectable to the human senses, people may not know that they are being exposed.  The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning start with headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness.  The high levels of carbon monoxide result in progressively more severe symptoms  including: mental confusion, vomiting, loss of muscular coordination, loss of consciousness, and then ultimately death.” Internet, Consumer Product Safety Commission.
After several minutes all the Jews inside the cabin were dead.  Then the van was driven to the nearby forest for burial.  Upon the truck departing, a second truck backed into the loading ramp then the next group of 70 Jews were sent down the stairs and rushed through the hallway that lead to the awaiting  gas van.
 There were three main drivers of the the three gas vans.  Their names were Hauptscharfuhrer Gustav Laps,  Hautscharfuhrer Burstinge and a soldier named Gilow.  (Holocaust Museum Article).
The extermination camp of Chelmo was but a short drive, less than 9 miles, to the town of Kolo.  The burial forest was between the two locations.  The bodies were dumped into prepared mass graves.  Any victim that managed to survive the gassing was shot by the SS and the Police stationed in the forest burial area.   Jewish slave laborers scavenged the bodies looking for any remaining valuables which included the necessity of inspecting each body’s mouth for gold teeth.  If a gold tooth was found the Jewish slave laborer would yank it out and then handed over to his Nazi guards. (Holocaust Museum Article).
 A thousand Jews a day were murdered in this manner.  In charge of the burial process was a German known as Wachmeister Lenz.  The decaying bodies gave off a revolting stench that was so pungent that the Germans temporarily stopped operations to find a solution to the problem of how to hide their hideous crime.  It was decided that the bodies should first be cremated and the ashes buried.  A crematoria was then constructed in the forest. That crematoria was built during time that the Jews of Radziejow were processed.  The crematoria, which replaced direct burial, was under construction in April of 1942 and became fully operational by the middle to end of the summer in  1942.  The supervisor for the construction of the crematoria was Haptscharfuhrer Johann Runge. He was assisted by Unterscharfuhrer Kretschmer.  Ibid 
 Joyce Wagner account of the events that took place during the liquidation of the Ghetto in her book, A Promised Kept, published in 2007 appears to be supported by the scholarly work, Chelmo and the Holocaust, published in 2012.    Surprisingly in the latter although the Radziejow Ghetto was an extremely small insignificant open ghetto, the author references a transport from Radziejow to Chelmo.  It is cited because it was the last transport accepted by Chelmo because of the odor of the decomposing corpses.  Chelmo remained closed for some months until  the opening of the crematory was operational.   The book states that the last known transport, with 630 Jews, arrived from Radziejow Kujawski on June 11. (p. 114). 
So what actually happened to the Jews of the Radziejow Ghetto?  When I started my research it soon became clear that the names of Polish towns and cities are confusing. This is due to the actual names of the towns.  For example just north of Radziejow, less than an hour drive- time, is  a town named Chelmo.  At first, I assumed that the extermination camp was located there.  Later I learned that the Chelmo Extermination Camp was located south of Radziejow in the vicinity of a town named Kolo.  A transport leaving Radziejow travelling around 50 miles an hour would arrive at the forest near Kolo in approximately one hour.  The Chelmo Extermination Camp was an additional fifteen minute drive.



Gas Van

Chelmo extermination process used a total of three gas vans. These gas vans were designed to murder seventy individuals at a time. Thus when all the gas vans were in operations a maximum total capacity of 210 people could be processed at one time.   Based on this hypothesis if the three gas vans were used both to transport and murder the over 630 Jews it would have required three roundtrips to Radziejow. Unfortunately, there is no direct testimonial evidence of how many trips were made.  
Under this hypothesis, the Jews would be killed during the hour long drive.  The bodies would be removed while the driver has a short rest.  Then the return trip to Radziejow would take place.    While the gas vans returned the dead were either buried fully dressed or their bodies were stripped of their clothes and valuables. However, at Chelmo some accounts state that the carbon monoxide poisoning took place while the gas van was stationary at the loading ramp.  I found no reference whether the Chelmo gas vans allowed for the poisoning to take place during transit. 
 On the other hand, according to the website stetl.org there were only 100 Jews in the church that morning.  Only two gas vans would have been needed to complete the process in only one trip.  Further, the trucks could have been used for transport then parked in the forest to operate the carbon monoxide killing machine apparatus. 
Confusing the controversy is the fact that Binem was told just after the liquidation of the ghetto, that the trucks used to transport the Jews from the Church were covered with oil soaked tarp.  In fact, the Chelmo gas vans cargo area where the poison gas was piped into an enclosed metal cabin constructed in the rear of the van. So the transport truck described to my father was not a Chelmo's  gas van.  Rather the canvas oil tarp indicates a normal truck transport. Perhaps the story told to my father was basically correct but over time became embellished with imaginary details.  
To conclude, if the administrators of Chelmo had planned to close down operations until the crematoria became operational then it would seem logical that all three gas vans were actually sent to Radziejow for transport and murder of the Jews of Radziejow. Therefore, the Jews of Radziejow were taken directly to the forest, stripped of their valuables and gold teeth then buried in the mass grave. 
On the other hand, if normal procedure followed, the Radziejow Jews were transported to Powerierce, Poland located a few miles from the Chelmo Extermination Camp.  There they were held overnight and then processed for murder the following day, as all other Jews that were sent to Chelmo
In deciding what actually took place it is important to note that there was no eye witness testimony that stated that there was three transports. Meaning, if there was 630 Jews interred overnight at the Radziejow Church then it would have taken three transports occurring at different times throughout the day. If there was a mere one hundred Jews then all could have been sent during one transport. To conclude, regardless, of which version of the events actually took place, what is consistent is that all versions agree that the Ghetto was liquidated, the Jews were transported, murdered and buried close to Kolo.
I have two reasons for this analysis.  First, to honor the victims requires us to pursue the truth.  As time goes on, evidence is lost, eye witnesses die or forget with age and there are those who attempt to change history.  By my recording the available evidence after over seventy years has past, this short analysis can be used as a starting point for anyone who may wish to research this issue further.  And secondly, it is my intention to show that although one can find what appears to be a great deal of evidence and material on events that took place during the Holocaust, those explanations of the events are not complete.
Holocaust Survivor Jack Marcus recalled that during his time At Lojewo Lagger two couples secretly arrived at the camp.  They had fled Radziejow with their children to Chestokowa only two have escaped a liquidation aktion that took place.  The couples plight caused the Jews of Lojewo to hide the families. Unfortunately, the couples presence became known to the regional Gestapo.  Within days of the families arrival the Gestapo raided Lowjewo bringing with them a transport truck.  One Gestapo agent announced that they had information that there were children in the camp.  He menaced that this was against the law.  He threatened the workers that they must turn over the children to them.  He gave the workers one hour.  He said that if the children were not turned over then ten workers would be shot.  The Jews of Lojewo were frightened and trapped.  They were at a loss as to what to do.  Some of the Jews reflected, "[i]t is bad enough that the Nazi murderers are torturing and killing us now they want us to help them kill children!"  Other Jews pointed out that the Gestapo didn't need a reason to kill any Jew.  Some of the Jews searched out the children that were hiding.  Marcus stated that the children and their parents were arrested and the Gestapo put the families onto the transport trucks and drove away.

Roundup of Jews in Czestochowa Ghetto
Radziejow Survivor Sally Klingbaum and her husband along with their son and daughter arrived at Czestochowa around the same time that the Najmans were interned in the same ghetto.   She described the dismal conditions of the ghetto as being of a nature that drained the Jews of all hope.  When the Klingbaums were processed they were  told that there was no place for them  to sleep and there was no rations of food for them to eat.  They left the processing center and searched for a place to rest.  They founded a crowded corner next to a dilapidated building where hundreds of Jews sought shelter.  They settled in only to find that when night fell rats by the thousands were running rampant around them.  The next day they found a space in a building. Again, come night rats were everywhere. They soon concluded that rats flourished while Jews had become an endangered species.   Eventually her family found a place in the kitchen of a small apartment. They spent three months in that kitchen.
 Klingbaum remembered that during Pesach the only kosher food available was potatoes.  Although the corner of the kitchen that her family occupied was cramped it was livable. Then the Germans forced the Jews out the building and relocated them to a part of the Ghetto that Klingbaum described as three times worse.


Czestochowa  Aktion

   Soon thereafter, fate had an even more terrible situation in store for her and her children.  Rumors abounded that the large ghetto where she now lived was to be liquidated. The aktion finally occurred a day before Yom Kippur.  She and forty eight others living in her dilapidated building hid in the attic.  There they remained for thirty days.  Not even the cries of her starving children pleading for a morsel of bread justified risking one's life to search of food..
    Radziejow Survivor George Gronjnowski described the Czestochowa aktion to liquidate the large ghetto as taking place just before dawn, between three and four in the morning.  The ghetto literally was transformed to a living hell on earth that even Dante could not have imagined. The defenseless Jews were assaulted in a military fashion by units of the S.S., Sonderkommandos along with various “ad hoc military unit.  Added to the attack were units from the Polish Police along with vicious dogs. Flares lit up the sky while individual buildings were lit up by powerful spotlights.  The ghetto Jews were accosted with a cacophony of menacing sounds that permeated the air.  All one could hear were the screams of people, gunfire, dogs growling and barking seemingly out of control, and the sounds of  children crying along with their parents.   During all of this chaos the Nazis in a systematic method scoured the ghetto finding and rounding up all the panic stricken Jews. Then the Jews were forced marched like cattle to a collection area that was located near the railway station.  There the men, women, the elderly and children were forcibly separated.  When it was over the men and women went through a selection process. An S.S. officer with his hands on a baton walked down the line of Jews.  When he saw someone that he determined to be unfit for work he would point his baton at him and said “Roust”. Everyone in line knew that the person selected was as good as dead.
Those that were "lucky" to "pass" selection were conscripted as slave labor. These Jews were relocated into the small ghetto located next to the large ghetto that was in the process of total evacuation and liquidation of the Jews living there.  The small ghetto's living conditions were slightly more bearable than the hellish conditions of the large ghetto, mainly because there was no longer the constant cries of the starving homeless.  These Jews selected to live a little longer than those being sent to an extermination camp were now forced to do back breaking labor that included working in the boiler factory and welding.  The food rations for these workers although better than when they lived in the large ghetto were still meager.  The workers were quite aware that there days were numbered.
Reinforcing this feeling of inevitable death was the never ending almost daily random selections. If the officer in charge for any reason picked a worker that worker was evacuated to an extermination camp.  In the beginning the weaker ones were sent to death while the stronger ones earned yet another short reprieve to the next selection.  When there were no longer any weak ones then able body workers were selected to maintain the demanded daily quota of Jews to be sent to extermination camps  by the insatiable Nazi murderers.
Radziejow Survivor Sally Klingbaum and her family managed to find their way to the small ghetto.  They remained there for ten months.  Sally and her husband were constantly haunted by the knowledge that it would be impossible for them to save their children. They did their best, keeping them hidden while they worked.  One day they returned from work to find out that their daughter was caught and shot.  Some time later they learned that  their son was caught and sent to the Tschenstocohau-Pelzery Concentration Camp.
During these most desperate times things went from bad to unimaginably worse. Just after Rosh Hashana in 1942 Binem received a letter from his older brother Shmiel  that contained horrific news. He wrote that Azriel was killed by the Germans for a curfew violation.  Machal  and Azriel as well as three of their sisters were dead.  Shmiel appealed to Binem to save him.  He emphatically wrote that his only means of survival was for Binem to obtain for him official papers that would transfer him back to Binem's lager.  He emphasized in blood chilling words that without the transfer papers it would be only a short time before he would be selected.  Meaning he would be sent to certain death. 
Czetochowa Aktion - Jews being rounded up for deportation  to extermination camps
Shmiel's desperate cry for help completely devastated Binem who was still psychologically reeling from the news of the liquidation of the Radziejow Ghetto.  As bad as life was for him he was accustomed to be a slave laborer.  Now to learn that all his brothers and sisters, save Shmeil, were murdered, was just too much.  Over and over he thought that his father, sisters, brothers, cousins, parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents were all either dead or soon to be murdered.  All that was left was Binem’s brothers and relatives that were living in America and Shmiel.
Binem decided that no matter how dangerous he must save his older brother.  Shmiel, his older brother, took over as the de-facto family leader when Shimon retired. He was the most capable to run the family business.  Up until this letter, Binem always went to Shmiel whenever he needed help. Now the roles were reversed, Shmiel was turning to his little brother for salvation. Binem, he himself helpless, felt he must find a solution. His mind was tormented, “[h]ow could he save his only remaining brother?” Binem was well aware that he had absolutely no connections with the authorities at Lowjewo.  He was to them a mere slave.  After racking his brain for some time he developed an angle. Binem figured that he had nothing to lose to try this ideas since for some time he had been contemplating his own demise as the Nazi’s implemented their nefarious plans against the Jews.  
So he boldly decided to approach his lager supervisor, a German national.  Binem had never personally spoken to him.  In public, at least from a distance, he did not seem too unreasonable.
  With much trepidation Binem went to the supervisor’s office located in the farm house.  The supervisor was alone behind his desk when Binem entered his office.  The supervisor looked mildly surprised to see a Jew approach him.
The supervisor in a superior tone  inquired, "What do you want?"
Binem, stuttered out his answer.  “My b-brother is now living in the Jewish Ghetto located in Czestochowa.  He w-wrote me that he would like to w-work with me at this camp. Could you m-make arrangements for him?"
Binem stared at the supervisor.  His face revealed that he probably knew what was going on in Czestochowa.  So with only a slight  hesitation he replied, " [y]es, but it would cost."
Binem, after being tutored by his father and brothers how to deal with the gentile community understood that this meant that the supervisor was receptive of a bribe.  The problem was that Binem did not have a German mark to his name. 
Still, he asked, "[h]ow much?"
The Supervisor answered, "[w]hat do you have?"
Binem thought fast.  Again an idea shot into his mind, "I have no money but I have first rate processed leather back in Radziejow."
          Binem watched the supervisor’s facial expressions.  He could see that he was interested.  Binem thought to himself, “[g]ood processed leather was a hard commodity to come by.”
The supervisor finally decided,  "I could use some leather so I can have a pair of boots made. Is the leather boot quality?”                      
Binem knew that the family had stash excellent boot leather with an honest Polish shoemaker. 
Binem said, "[y]es it is.  But for me to get the leather I need a travel pass to Radziejow."
The Supervisor reached into a desk drawer and pulled out an official looking pad.  It contained a number of blanked passes, known to the workers as  shines.
He pulled one off the pad and wrote out a pass.  He then handed it to Binem. The supervisor then returned to his paperwork not even acknowledging that Binem was still in the room.  Binem turned and left the farmhouse, pass in hand. He was on his way to shoemaker.
  Binem had no intention of actually going to Radziejow.  There was nothing there for him.  But he told the supervisor that the leather was in Radziejow just in case the supervisor would have turned him over to the Gestapo for possessing illegally essential materials for the German war effort. Binem stopped in a small village that was in the same direction to Radziejow.  There he went directly to the shoemaker's hut. During his journey Binem was praying that the shoemaker was as honest as he remembered him. Upon arriving at the shack which was both his workshop and where lived, he was greeted by the shoemaker in a most pleasant manner. Binem asked the poor Pole for the leather. The shoemaker without hesitation went to his hiding place and produced the large piece of soft leather. 
Binem sat for a while with the shoemaker and talked as they shared a piece of bread and some tea.  Then Binem got up, thanked the shoemaker, and wrapped the leather around his body under his shirt. He then waled back to the Lager and when he arrived he went directly to the administration building. The supervisor saw Binem approaching and ushered him into his office.  Binem then removed the leather from his body and handed it over to the supervisor. The supervisor examined the leather and stated he was quite pleased.
True to his word, the supervisor then asked Binem a number of questions concerning Shmiel.  As Binem gave him the information he observed that the supervisor was incorporating Binem's answers  into a letter. The letter was addressed to the Administrator of the Jewish Ghetto of Czestochowa . He requested that Shmiel Najman, was a former worker at the Lager, his skills were now needed back at the Lager so he asked that the Administrator assist him in transferring Shmiel to the Lodoff Lager.  The letter was promptly mailed.  A few weeks later Shmiel had the appropriate transfer papers and a shine to travel to Binem's Lager.
When Shmiel arrived, Binem was overjoyed. After exchanging hugs and kisses they talked.  Binem observed that his brother speech and appearance was not the same.  Shmiel appeared to be a beaten man.  It was as if he had given up hope on life.  Binem had observed this in many other Jews over the past three years.  These Jews spoke and displayed a psychological state of a loss of confidence and replaced it with abandonment of any hope.  These people seemed to succumb to fear of everyone and everything. Shmiel had clearly joined those ranks and now merely existed as a condemn man awaiting certain death that could come at any time. 
I asked my father, "[d]id you ask Shmiel know how his brothers and sisters were killed?"
He answered, "Azriel was out during a curfew and he was arrested.  The Germans killed him."
I asked, "[w]hat about Machal and your sisters?"
He replied, Shmiel said that they seized during the rounded ups and transported to, what he feared, to certain death."
After researching the matter I determined that the majority of Jews that were rounded up in  Czestochowa were sent to the Treblinka Extermination Camp.  According to the historians at Israel's main Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem, between September 22, 1942 and October 8 1942, a total of 39,000 Jews from Czestochowa were sent to the Treblinka extermination camp."  (internet, Yad Vashem). Estimates reveal that during the years of operation, around 800,000 Jews were murdered at Treblinka. (internet).
  Based on documentation obtained by the United States Holocaust Museum on Holocaust Survivor Jack Marcus, around August of 1943 Binem and his fellow workers at the were assembled for an important announcement. The Supervisor of Lager told them that the Lager was to be closed.  All the Jewish workers were to be reassigned to a bigger camp named Auschwitz.  As the announcement continued, the Jews stood there aghast.  All the Jews were well aware that they were now surrounded by a  large numbers of Gestapo, Police and German troops standing near the perimeter of the camp.  When the Supervisor finished his announcement he was followed by a German officer with yet another announcement.  The Jews of the camp had never seen this German before.  With a devilish smile he declared that "[i]n Auschwitz you will continue the same way as you are living here.  They will treat you very nice if you work nice." The Jews were incredulous about the announcement.  Most were thinking, "[w]ho are they kidding? We know we are all doomed!"
This was not the first time that Binem and the other Jews have heard about a camp called Auschwitz.  In fact, all the Jewish workers knew that being sent to Auschwitz meant that "you were being sent to your end." It was no secret.  For many months German guards threatened the workers with Auschwitz stating that that if they did not perform as required, then you would be sent there.  Moreover, the Jews of Lowjewo, used to joke about Auschwitz in a type of black humor coined concentration camp humor.  The unfunny joke was that  "once a Jew enter Auschwitz through the door he leave through the chimney."
  Despite the ominous ring of armed troops that encircled the camp, some of the Jewish workers naively believed the pronouncement.  Some even deluded themselves into believing that  “maybe Auschwitz was bad, but one can still survive there.”  But for the most part the majority of Jews knew what was in store for them and were now so resigned to their fate.  For sadly many Jews had long ago lost the drive to survive as a result of the Nazis constant program of degrading Jews.  Now, these Jewish workers were  physically and mentally unable to find the super human strength required to defy the Nazi juggernaut by taking their destiny into their own hands.  For those few that still had some gumption remaining they were convinced that because death was at hand they had nothing to lose. "So why not escape the Lager."  
Indeed, several tried. Most of them were almost immediately caught and killed.  Observing these failures to escape caused the remaining Jews in the Lager, still awaiting transport to Auschwitz,  to be now even less inclined to make a mad dash for freedom.  Many justified their inaction by saying that even if one successfully escaped then the escapee would face the insurmountable reality of  "what comes next?”
In other words, the big question was where to go, hide, flee?  How to find food?. Where, if they did escape,  in which direction it was best  to run.  The Jews were so isolated and engrossed with the requirements of sure to seek shelter? The slave laborers of Lowjewo knew of no underground or partisan bands.  They were not even survival were oblivious to the current military situation.   Compounding this was that even assuming there were some Poles out there that might assist, in their hearts they knew that  “for every one Pole that might help them, there were two Poles that would turn them in for the reward.”
      Binem was faced with  the most important choice of his life.  He had no idea what he should do. He knew that Shmiel had been making decisions for the family since his father retired. Shmiel was a leader.  He was older, and wiser then Binem.  So Binem looked for him and found him laying on his bunk.  
Binem approached him and asked "[w]hat should we do?  Then Binem spontaneously blurted out, "[l]ets run."
Shmiel hesitated to answer.  He stared at Binem with wide eyes."I cannot run any more, you run."
Binem thought to himself that he couldn’t leave his brother. How could he bare the dismal future of being alone, a fugitive on the run.  He assumed that just about every Jew that he knew was either dead or soon would be dead.  For Binem, life had reached that point of pure panic.  He thought to himself, "[h]ow can I possibly survive this hell?"
  But Shmiel was insistent, he stood up from his bed and physically pushed Binem out of the bunkhouse,  all the time assuring Binem," [i]ts okay.  You go. You are going to live over the War."
At this point during the Spielberg interview, Binem's eyes swelled with tears.  
He continued, "I told Shmiel,  I don't want to go."  
My Father's tears and feeling of helplessness bore witness that the same emotions still haunt his psyche to this very day.  
     Shmiel said to Binem, "[i]f you live over the war tell what happened."  He then  added, trying to give Binem a reason to go it alone. "We can’t put all our eggs in one basket. Maybe I too will live over the War."
Binem parted from Shmiel thinking to himself, "[w]hat's the difference. Either staying or leaving means death, so why not,  I will run!"
          As Binem made his way to the perimeter of the camp he kept repeating to himself, "[i]t doesn't matter, I'm going to be killed anyway."           
Shmiel returned to the barn.  Binem assumed that he didn't want to see what was most likely going to happen.  Binem never saw or heard from  Shmiel again. After the War Binem learned from some friends that survived Auschwitz that Shmiel was murdered soon after he arrived at Auschwitz.
As incredulous as it sounds today, Binem's plan for escape was to simply walk out of the main gate!  In his heart he knew that this was foolhardy, “but he thought, “what’s the difference, I’m going to be killed anyway." 
He shortened his stride  as he approached the main gate.  He was very mucha aware but surprisingly at peace with himself as he neared the gate.  His mind became indifferent to the likely outcome but much aware of the obvious danger of the next few seconds.   He reconciled with himself that he was soon to be murdered.  Trying to find something positive in his actions he thought, it makes no difference, why prolong the suffering." 
      He promised his older brother that he would try and escape, so there was no retreat.  He would keep his word.  For Binem it was not a question of success rather this entire escape boiled down to the effort, the fact that he had to at least try.  This was his small statement his protest to the Nazis for the indignities he had suffered, his family had suffered, and the Jewish people have suffered under the evil rule of the Nazis.  This walk was to say to himself and the Germans, despite everything you have done to me and my people, I still had free will.   
        As he entered the threshold of the gate he found himself walking into the middle of a pack of Germans and Polish guards.  It  looked and felt to him that he voluntarily placed himself in the middle of a pack of killers. 
Binem, in Holocaust humor, weakly smiled to himself after thinking, "[t]hese Poles and Germans have at least one thing in common, they all want to kill me!"
As he continued to walk at a snail's pace he passed right through the "heart of a hurricane" continually repeating in his mind as if he was reciting a montra,  ""if they are going to kill me, let them kill me right here."
In seconds, which felt to Binem like a lifetime,  he passed the guards and exited by way of the gate. Not one guard said a word to him.  It was as if  he was invisible. They had been oblivious to his presence.
 He thought, "did they think that no one would be that stupid to escape through the main gate?" 
Looking back on the incident, my Father commented, "It must have looked to them like I was leaving because someone had ordered me to do so."
  My Father confessed,   "I was praying they would stop me." Then he added, "I couldn't believe it, nobody stopped me."
There is no logical explanation why Binem was not stop.  In my mind, a miracle took place.  Binem, like the famous Shadow of radio lore, invisibly passed guards that were in the process of capturing and killing escaping Jews like himself.
Once he was some distance outside of the Lager grounds, Binem, now 22 years old, quickly realized that he hadn't a clue of what he should do next.
Binem said to himself, "I have nowhere to go." 
Binem now had second thoughts about his "success".  He regretted leaving his brother. He thought, “If I stayed, we could have met our fate together."  [m]aybe I would have been better off going to Auschwitz, at least I would have a roof over my head.  Here, I am like a dog  living in the streets."
      Since Binem never contemplated that his plan for escape would actually work, he didn’t bother taking with him those essential items needed to stay alive.  Those items include food, water, and adequate clothing.  As he was stood in the field within sight of the Lager he suddenly became aware that he was cold.  As he shivered he contemplated how could he possibly survive when winter came.  Binem remembered that winters in the Radziejow were said to be mild with temperatures averaging around zero degree Celsius which is 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
 Still he thought, “I can’t survive even a mild winter outside in the cold.”  
Binem then realized that his prospects for even making it to winter were slim.  Binem and the rest of the Jews knew the law concerning Polish assitance to Jews. Throughout Poland it was forbidden to aid a Jew on the run.  Hans Frank, the German Governor of Poland's occupied area proclaimed in November 10, 1941 that any Pole who helped Jews "in any way by taking them in for the night, giving them a lift in a vehicle of any kind or feed[ing] runaway Jews or sell[ing] them foods, was guilty of a capital offense that the sentence for such a crime was death." And in fact, "[t]housands of Poles were executed by the Nazis for aiding Jews."(Internet research, Wikipedia)
Binem knew that he had to find a hiding place. Once he was hidden he could decide on what he must do in order to survive.  He spotted a small stone culvert only a few hundred yards from the lager's perimeter. He ran to the opening and saw that there was adequate space for him to hide in it.
The area was crawling with uniformed soldiers and plainclothes Gestapo agents all hard at work looking for the escapees.  He watched with trepidation as the German police and soldiers searched.  Binem became extremely frightened when he felt the vibrations of the soldiers' footsteps as they walked above him.  His fear turned to complete panic as he overheard the soldiers brag to one another about the number of Jews they caught.  Also, Binem cringed as he heard only a short distance away the sounds of shouts, gunfire and screams.


Binem Najman's Identity Pamphlet - See Top - Juden (Jew)
See line four - Scheftenmacher (maker of shoe uppers)

As twilight set in Binem decided to evaluate his situation.  He took an inventory of what he possessed.  The mental list included the clothes on his back, a pair of work shoes, a belt, a shaving soap bar and a German issued identification card.  The card was issued in 1942. It indicated that he lived in Radziejow.  The card stated that his religion was “Jude:” (Jewish). It listed his profession as sheftenmacher ( a maker of the tops of shoes, uppers). Interestingly, that card remained in my Father’s possession throughout the War.  His retention of the card throughout the War remains a mystery. Unfortunately, I never asked him why he would keep such an item that identified him as a Jew.  The only plausible explanation was that hoped that by having proof of a profession it might somehow help him in the event he would be captured.  Another question is why did have an identification card dated 1942 list his residence as being Radziejow when for the past two years he lived in the Lejewo Lager.

Ledjewo was not the only labor camp being liquidated.  In fact the Nazi murderers had already been in the process of executing a plan to kill all the Jews of Poland. In the seminal book on the War by Martin Gilbert entitled World War II he states that on March 23, 1943 Richard Korherr a German statistician for Hitler stated in his report that 145, 301 Jews in Watheland had already been killed. Gilbert added that "[t]he remnants of Jewish communities throughout Poland, most of whom had been deported to their deaths six months or a year earlier were now being searched out, or taken from the labor camps to which they had been sent in 1942, and killed.(Second World War, 414-415).

Binem’s quickly learned that darkness was his ally.  As soon as darkness set in the Germans ceased their aggressive searching for Jews.  Binem knew he could not stay under the bridge.  He felt that it was only because of sheer luck that he was not discovered. Binem assumed that there may be soldiers laying in ambush in the fields surrrounding the culvert.  Still, if he was ever going to get away, the time was now.

 This area, like much of Poland, the terrain is mainly flat that consists of  fields, villages, farms and forests.  Much of the land around Lowjewo was cultivated.After  two years living in the lager Binem knew that the beautiful landscape of August would soon transform into the lifeless wasteland of winter.  
Binem walked for several hours.  During that time he did not see either Pole nor Nazi. Binem began to realize that as long as it remained dark there was little chance that he would be discovered. 



Fields Surrounding Radziejow
He found a sense of freedom in the solitude of his thoughts.  He decided that his goal was to  somehow survive the War.  He made this decision not out of sense of self preservation but rather as an act of defiance against these Nazi murderers.  
But in order to survive he needed a plan. That plan would be his blueprint for survival.  He thought that the first rule of survival was to stay hidden by day from the Germans and the anti-Semitic Poles.  Next to survive he would need food and shelter.    Binem did not possess skills necessary to survive off the land. After thinking about it for some time he concluded that it would be impossible for him to survive.  Still, he thought that he could try day by day to see what happens.
So he changed the subject of his own future and thought about his Jewish brethren. "Was there anything I can do."
He had relatives in a women’s lager not to far away. He thought that perhaps he could warn them. So, despite the danger, he made up his mind to go there.  He knew the general direction of their camp and estimated it was about seven kilometers away. He thought that by warning these helpless Jewish women that they were going to be sent to an extermination camp his escape would have some value.  
   As he walked through the fields, he continuously repeated in his mind,              "[w]hoever runs away will have a chance to live over the War."
After a few hours of walking he was pleased with himself that he actually found the women’s lager.  He stealthily approached the perimeter and quietly entered the women's lager compound.  He immediately sensed something was wrong.  A chill ran down his spine.  It was too eerily dead silent.  "No Germans""
  He quickly came to the conclusion that this camp had already been completely liquidated.  Binem knew that meant the women were on their way to Auschwitz.  And everyone knew that death awaited Jews at Auschwitz.
Binem stood there motionless contemplating his complete isolation from society.  As he thought his eyes focused on a dim light coming from a building.  He crept closer to the light. He then observed a lamp burning in what appeared to be the administration building.  As quiet as possible Binem stealthily approached the window from which he had spotted the light.  He glanced inside and saw three Poles, presumably guards, sitting around a rectangular makeshift wooden table.  As he watched, the three were dividing up a number of items laying on the table.  It suddenly dawned on him that these must be crooked guards that were dividing up stolen loot.  That loot must be the possessions left behind by the Jewish women that were shipped out to the death camp. 
One of the guards instinctively glanced up and noticed Binem at the window.  He quickly alerted the others.  In a flash, the group of thieving guards went outside to investigate who was this witness to their crimes?
One of the guards spoke up in a very menacing voice, "Yid, What are you doing here?"
Binem answered in a subservient manner, "I came to see some people here.”  He then quickly added, "[b]y the way, where is everyone?"
 One of the other guards answered, "[t]hey are not here anymore, and they are already dead."
The, apparent leader, thus far silent, spoke up and ordered Binem to, "[g]o over to the barn there and sleep, while we figure out how to show you how to go home." 
Binem didn’t believe that these thieves would go out of their way to help him.  He knew he was in mortal danger. Having no choice, he walked slowly towards the barn.  One of the guards was just a few steps behind him.  When he finally made his way into the barn the guard quickly bolted the outside lock on the barn door  
Binem looked around the empty barn.  The first thing he noticed that there were no animals only straw. The barn had no exits except the door he had entered and a small window located in the rear of the barn. Binem checked the door and concluded that it was locked tight.  So he made his way to the back of the barn to examine the window.  After staring at the window for a few minutes he had an idea.  It seemed that the window’s frame was not securely attached to the wall.  Binem figured that he probably could remove the window frame and make his escape. 
He had no tools so he searched the barn and found a piece of metal on the barn's floor. Using it as a makeshift crowbar he managed to pry the frame completely off from the wall. He did this without making too much noise.  When he was done he calculated that the hole in the wall was just big enough for him to crawl through.  So Binem boosted himself up and made his way through the hole unnoticed by the guards.
Once outside, he ran as fast as he could.  He escaped into a field just outside of the camp.  As he was running, he heard noises from the direction of the camp.  He turned and saw several armed German soldiers exiting from a truck as motorcycles drove around the compound.  
He said to himself,  "I can't believe it, They are actually looking for me."
Binem ran and ran between the high standing stalks..  He finally stopped when he could run no more.  He was now hidden deep within the field. He felt relatively safe being guarded by these plants that stood as taller than him.   He remembered that remarkably a feeling of calm enveloped him. He thought that this sense of peace and well being was a result of his earlier decision to accept whatever fate head in store for him.  
For Binem knew that the Nazi murderers would eventually catch him.  "When they catch me, they catch me, so what.  Am I any better than other Jews?"
          Binem kept repeating in his mind an old saying of the Jews of Radziejow, "[w]hat will happen to Kol Yisrael (all of the Jews) will happen to Reb Yisrael ( a simple Jew)."
After thinking long and hard about his next move Binem decided that his best bet for survival was to make his way back to the only place in Poland that he was very familiar with,  Radziejow.  The town was some distance away.  There, he thought, he knew the land and the people.  He figured that there he may find someone here that might help him. So the following night after a long rest he set off in the general direction of Radziejow.
Around midnight Binem came upon a very small village named Brinevo, located a little more than 4 miles from Radziejow. By then, Binem was starving.  Surveying the town he picked out a very poor looking house with a lamp shining through the window. Binem assumed that a Pole lived there. For Binem knew that when the Nazis invaded Poland one of their first acts was to requisition the big houses and estates from the Poles leaving the peasants to live in their rickety huts.  Binem cautiously approached the hovel. He spied through the dirty window and saw sitting next to a workbench a tall and lanky man.  He was repairing shoes.
Binem thought to himself, "[p]erhaps he was a customer of ours."
So he gently knocked on the window. The Polish shoemaker appeared startled. He did not entertain customers or visitors at this late hour. Regardless, he cheerfully came to the door and opened it. To Binem's amazement Binem recognized the elderly Pole.  It was none other than a shoemaker named Aleso Kaminski, a loyal longtime customer of the Najmans. Binem recalled that Kaminski liked to imbibe in large quantities of alcohol. He was such a good customer that whenever he came to the Najman store for supplies, the brothers made sure that they had an ample supply of whisky on hand.  After a few shots Kaminski would tell the same story.  That being he was a strict Catholic and as a result he was an avid reader of the Bible.  He emphasized that every night he studied the Old Testament. A few years before the outbreak of World War II, on one of his visits, he predicted that the upcoming war with the Germans will be a religious war against the Jews.  At first, the Najmans listening to this prophesy thought that it was the alcohol talking.  But later, after discussing it among the brothers, they concluded that Kaminski might be indeed predicting the future of the Jewish people. 
Binem now looked at the shoemaker, he recalled the day of the shoemaker's prediction, "[t]hat Kaminski was right, this is a war against the Jews."
  Kaminski recognized Binem.  He even remembered his name, "Binem, what are you doing here. There are no more Jews around."
Binem was invited in.  He was instructed to sit in the seat facing Kaminski's work bench.  Kaminski sat down at his workplace. Like water springing from a waterfall, Binem spoke non-stop telling the shoemaker his ordeal. The shoemaker, as a Bible believer listened patiently. He said to Binem that he was very sympathetic with the plight of the Jews and would like to help. 
Then after a second thought he became remembered his own problems. “I'm so sorry but you cannot stay here.  I only have one room and an attic.  Every day Germans are constantly coming into my house to have their shoes and boots repaired."
 The shoemaker lived with his wife and two daughters. On the main floor was the repair shop that also served as kitchen and the main bedroom.  His daughters ages 18 and 14 slept in the attic. The only entrance to the attic was by way of a stepladder located on the outside of the house.
The shoemaker sympathized deeply with Binem's plight.  He had an idea, "I can keep you a couple of days, upstairs in the attic."
He warned Binem,"[d]on't come down, we will bring you your food.  And be very quiet.  Every movement from above is heard in the room below."
 He then added, "[w]e will see how long we can keep you."
           Binem was boarded in the attic with Kaminski daughters. They were very nice and polite. During the day Binem would hear customers speaking German going in and out of the shoemaker's shop. Binem understood from his broken German that they were either ordering shoes to be made or bringing shoes in to be repaired.  He eavesdropped on conversations between German soldiers. More often then not they would discuss the War.  By and large the Germans constantly boasted to one another that they were victorious in just about every battle. 
As Binem listened to the braggadocio he thought, "[a]German victory is a Jewish defeat."  Based on the way they described the progress in the War he realized that his chances of surviving were slim to none.
Binem described the living arrangement as tight but tolerable.  In the beginning Binem was embarrassed to be sleeping in the room with these young women. He knew he had no choice.  For their part, the teens were very polite to him but distant.  They had little in common with a Jewish young man on the run.    
Binem settled in to a daily routine.  Every morning he was given sufficient food for his daily needs. The daughters would descend the ladder and eat breakfast with their parents.  When they finished they would dress in the workshop and go to work.  Kaminski would remove the ladder to the attic for the day. 
After eating breakfast, Binem spent much of the day reading different German newspapers.  Kaminski provided these newspapers to him from soldiers that would leave them in his shop. In the evening Kaminski would replace the ladder to the attic for the daughters returning from their jobs.  When it was night, Binem could descend the ladder in order to relieve himself. 
The fatal flaw in this arrangement was that nature required Binem to leave the attic at night. So even if the call of nature occurred during the day, Binem had to struggle to hold himself back until it was dark.  He did his best to adjust his water intake in order to reduce the urge to urinate.  However, just the knowledge that he must wait until dark in order to relieve himself caused him to constantly think about this basic need.
One day was particularly difficult to hold back the urge.  As soon as Binem thought it was dark enough he quickly descended from the attic.  Unfortunately, while he was urinating he saw a Polish man approaching him.  Binem panicked, he ran back to the Kaminski's cottage and quickly made his way back up the ladder and hid in the attic. When the Pole continued down the road Binem again descended from his attic hideaway and evacuated himself.
The next day the Pole from the night before came to the shoemaker and accused him of hiding someone in the village. 
The shoemaker played dumb, "[h]ow do you know?"
The Pole replied, "[e]very day I walk pass a certain area.  But lately, I see piles of human feces.  Nobody in our village would do such a thing."
The shoemaker knew that his neighbor was warning him that he must rid himself of this liability to the village.  Kaminski felt pity for Binem. "[w]hat should I do? I warned him." Kaminski did not have the heart to throw Binem out.
Kaminski soon learned that the problem did not end.  Other villagers approached the shoemaker giving a similar warning.
One Pole said it bluntly, "[b]ecause you are hiding a Jew, the entire village will suffer."
Still Kaminski held out.  He knew how helpless Binem was. 
Finally, the first Pole came back and told the shoemaker that he called the Police and told them that there was a Russian prisoner of war was hiding in the village.  He emphasized that the Police told him that they would come tomorrow to investigate. 
The shoemaker was most distraught. He was cornered. Knowing that he had no options, in the middle of the day, he ascended the ladder and entered the attic.  He told Binem all that transpired.  Binem understood that Kaminski was truly heartbroken as he told him that he would like to keep him longer, however, he just couldn’t endanger his family and the entire village. 
He continued, "[y]ou made a mistake. You shouldn’t have run back to my house, you should have run to the fields. Now, the townsfolk know about you. I'm sorry, but I have no choice. You must leave.  If you stay the Germans will find you and kill my family."
Binem knew that Kaminski was a good person and would not have told him to leave unless he had no alternative. Binem wanted to stay, but he understood that if he tried to convince Kaminski to allow him to stay, Kaminski, his family, and the whole village would suffer.  Moreover, if that evil Pole that warned Kaminski was telling the truth, the Germans would be searching the village tomorrow.
So Binem answered, "Don't worry, I will leave.  I don't want to endanger your life.  My life is already over, but you should live because you are a nice man."
So Kaminski gave Binem some food and said to him, "G-d bless you."
He then added, "[a]s bad as things look to you, there are some nice people around.  You only find them."
During the Spielberg interview, Kaminski's parting words brought tears to my father's eyes. 
That night Binem for the last time descended from the attic, till now his only refuge of safety since September, 1939.  He left the village with great uncertainty.  He had no idea in what direction he should walk let alone where he should go. 
Binem remembered the words of Kaminski, and thought to himself, "[h]ow do I find nice people?"
It seemed like hours as Binem trudged aimlessly through a deserted field.  It was near morning when he saw in the distance what looked like a haystack. He decided that it may be good place to hide. He dug himself deep inside turning only to cover his path to the center of the haystack.  He cleared out some space in this pitch black environment. When he finished he noticed that the temperature inside was much warmer than outside. Surprisingly, it was easy to breath in this tomb made of hay.  It didn’t take more than a few minutes and he was fast asleep.
Binem described sleep as a G-d given blessing.  By sleeping he had a blissful break  from his troubles.  Sometimes he had bad dreams, but for the most part, he dreamed of life without war.  He found that time passed quickly when asleep.  That was fine because Binem knew that if Hitler was to be defeated it would take a long time. So the faster time went by the better. For time held the key for  his chances of surviving the War.
On the other hand, when he was asleep, he was vulnerable.  He was not on guard for potential danger.  The primary danger was that of being discovered.  Binem knew that the Germans paid a reward for every Jew that the Poles turned in.   So some Poles searched for stray Jews that escaped the German web.  He also knew that the Germans themselves were constantly patrolling for stray Jews as well as Russian escapees from POW camps. 
Binem spend two days inside the haystack.  Then his bread and water ran out. Binem had no choice but to leave the relative safety of the haystack and start searching for food.  That same night he cautiously left behind his haven.  Again he  walked aimlessly.  After several hours Binem saw in the distance a small remote village.
It took an additional two hours before he arrived.  It was still dark. As he entered the village out of the blue a dog began to bark. Within seconds all the dogs of the village were  barking.  The cacophony was anathema to a Jew on the run. The noise caused the inhabitants of this sleepy village to light lamps and candles then look out their windows.  Binem knew that if he was discovered there was a good chance that the townsfolk would turn him over to the Germans.  Having no other options,  he ran out of the village and back into the fields.  It was nearly dawn when he found another haystack.   This time when Binem dug himself into the center of the haystack he was extremely hungry and thirsty.
The next night he left the safety of the haystack.  By now he was suffering pians of starvation.  He knew he couldn't return to the same village of the previous night because of the tumult he caused.  With that in mind he had no choice but to wander in a different direction. Within a few hours he found a different village.  He entered the village by stealth but just like the night before the same thing occurred.  One dog barked, then the entire canine population in that village followed.  Within seconds it appeared as if every shack was lit up.
Binem said to himself, "I'm just too hungry, I have to take a chance." 
In spite of  the dangers of remaining in the village Binem spied a poor house.  Without even peeking inside he simply knocked on the window.  The door opened and an obviously poor man opened the door. Binem  immediately asked for food. 
The sleepy man without hesitation answered, "I would like to give you food for the road, but if you get caught, the Germans will beat you.  Then the Germans will ask you who gave you the food.  So come in, eat as much as you like now, but you can’t take any food with you."
Binem's eyes teared up with gratitude.  This poor man, completely aware of the dangers, often him something more precious then gold and jewels, he gave Binem food.       While Binem gorged on the simple peasant fare he told the man about his struggle and  his most immediate problem. "Every time I approach a village, dogs start barking, and that's not good for me because it alerts the entire village and possibly a German going by."
The man contemplated the problem and then spoke up.  He offered a simple solution.   "From now on when you approach a village don't go with the wind, go against the wind.  When a dog smells a strange person causing the dog to bark and that in turn causes the rest of the dogs in the village to bark.  So when you approach against the wind a dog will not smell you."
Binem thought to himself, "[t]hat sounds true.  Why didn't I think of it?"
Binem thanked the Pole for his sharing of his food and practical advice. Binem then returned to the field and found the same haystack he slept in the previous day.  Binem was satiated.  With the problem of hunger out of the way, he spend the next two nights in the protection of the haystack.
On the third night again Binem felt the early stages of hunger pains but his initial reaction was to stay put and continue to sleep in the safety of his hiding place.  So he slept and dreamed of his childhood and the delicious foods his sisters would prepare for him.  He dreamed of their kugels, cholent, briskets, and the so sweet and tasty pastries. He then dreamed of his warm bed, the heating stoves, the warm boots, and his thick wool coat.  He dreamed of good times where he laughed with his friends at the delicatessen and the Shul.   He dreamed and dreamed to avoid reality.  No matter what, he did not want to wake up.  All he wanted was to continue to sleep and dream.  For even while sleeping his mind knew that when he awoke he would be hungry, thirsty, and in deadly danger.  For hunger meant searching for food.  And searching for food meant leaving the imagine safety of his fortress of straw.  For outside the haystack he would face countless enemies.
The followng night, armed with the old peasant's advice, Binem approached a small village.  It was the first time in his life that Binem determined wind direction.  He licked a finger and stuck it in the air.  Then he positioned his approach to enter the village against the wind.  Binem stealthily entered the village.  He managed to make it half way into the village undetected when suddenly his best laid plans turned to chaos. It started when he tripped on something and fell. As he recovered from his fall he saw that he was only a few meters away from a rickety doghouse. Alarm bells starting ringing in his head.  A doghouse meant there might be a dog.  He turned around quickly and saw a dog.  Not just any dog but  a huge vicious looking dog.  Then mongrel was staring at him. Binem put two and two together and realized that he had in fact tripped on this very dog.  As Binem stared back at the dog in utter terror he discerned  from  the dog’s face that the dog too was  puzzled. Apparently the dog was not alerted by human smell and thus when Binem tripped the dog became just as startled as Binem. The dog was now deciding what it should do. 
A few seconds elapsed before Binem's adrenaline kicked in demanding that he must run like the wind.   At the same time the dog was released from the fog of uncertainty and did what it instincts told him.  That being to first bark loudly, then give chase, then catch, and finally bite.   So without delay the dog was in hot pursuit of the hapless running Jew. Binem thought that any second he would be finished, but for no apparent reason the dog just stopped the chase and turned around to returned to its house.
Binem realizing that the danger had passed came to an abrupt stop.  He quickly evaluated the situation.  He was trembling from fear caused by the pursuit.  Still, he thought to himself with a smile of satisfaction, “It worked! I can enter villages without being discovered by dogs.”
          He continued his train of thought, "I have learned a valuable lesson. Now all I have to do is be more careful.”   
As important as the lesson was the reality was that it was getting close to daylight and he had found no food.  He saw an abandoned shack and decided to hold up in it until the next evening.  Binem knew that regardless of the real pains being caused by his being hungry was priority but did not override the actual life threatening danger of being seen during the day. 
I asked my Father.  "Couldn't you find food in the fields and forests he wandered?"
  He replied that "[t]he only thing I saw in the fields was straw and dirt."
Then I asked, '[w]hy didn't you hunt for some animals?"
"For what animals?", he smiled. 
I said, "I don't know maybe rabbit or dog."
  He politely responded to me as if he was talking to someone that didn't have a clue, "[t]o hunt you need something to hunt with."
He was probably thinking I would be completely helpless if I was forced to survive in nature.
For the next several months the pattern of hiding and begging continued.  Three seasons passed.  As the winter of 1943 approached the storage shacks in the field were emptied.  The contents were moved into the barns located next to the homes of the farmers. Binem found himself to constantly shivering from the cold.  His only recourse was to find a haystack and dig himself deep within. Unfortunately the colder it got the number of  haystacks in the field dwindled to none. When winter began there were no more haystacks in the fields to dig into and the empty field shacks did not afford any relief from the cold. 
 With no choice Binem decided that to survive he must alter his routine and find shelter in barns located next to the homes of the farmers. Only there could he find the warmth of large amounts of straw. Just about all the barns were locked.  So out of necessity  he developed methods for opening undetected the locks on barn doors.  After a while Binem pride himself in the ability to open and close the lock on every barn door.   
This essential skill allowed him to access the life sustaining straw that was stored within the barn.  Upon entering a barn and locking it behind him, Binem would hide deep within the straw piles.  There he would sleep as long he could.  For his greatest solace was to hope to dream of all the food and delicacies he was pampered with by his sisters as he grew up.  When hunger pains caused him to awake, he would not only be hungry but also depressed. So he would make every effort to force his body to go back to sleep so he could continue his favorite dream.  

It seemed that every day on the run Binem encountered new dangers.  In order to face these dangers in a methodical way he created in his mind a set of rules to survive by.  The first rule was to avoid being exposed.  That meant that he must stay where he was hidden until he could no longer stand the hunger pains.  His second rule was that if he had to leave his hiding place to find food then leave and return during the night.  Binem was acutely aware that each time he begged for food he was vulnerable and in real danger of being caught.  Still darkness was his ally. For darkness itself was a kind of hiding place in that even with moonlight a pursuer could not follow him from a distance and when it was pitch black the hunter could not see him even if he was standing next to him.
   I asked my Father, "[w]ere you afraid of moving around in the dark?"
 He replied, "[j]ust the opposite, darkness was my friend."
I then followed up the question, "[w]ere you afraid of wild animals like wolves?"
 Binem replied, "I didn't care. Whether I was caught by an animal or a human, made no difference, it just didn't matter."
Binem employed many tricks in order to minimize his chances of being caught. His favorite was to beg food from an unknowing farmer that owned the barn where Binem  hid. Binem would knock on the door of the farmer, then ask for food, usually the farmer agreed with the proviso that Binem eat the food in the farmer's presence. When Binem finished he thanked the farmer and then pretend to walk away from the farm. But after some distance, without the farmer realizing, Binem would backtrack and return to the farmer's barn.  He would again sleep in the barn for the next few days then return to the unknowing farmer to beg for food.  This method worked most of the time.  
Binem used this trick one time to many. One day after the farmer fed Binem the farmer became suspicious.    He farmer followed Binem leaving the farm. 
When Binem returned to enter the farmer’s barn the farmer confronted Binem.   "You cannot continue doing this. If you would be caught by the Germans then my entire family would be killed!"
Binem apologized and immediately left.
Late in January 1944 the real cold days of winter descended on Poland. Even inside the straw Binem felt as if his body was frozen.  His extremities ached.  He knew that frostbite was a real danger.  His main problem was lack of proper clothing. He had only one thin jacket, one shirt, and pair of pants that was threadbare.His face was relatively warm because his beard had grown thick and wild. 
Binem was surprised that even suffering from the cold did not suppress his growing belief that he would survive. For Binem has grown true to the adage that if it doesn't kill you then it will make you stronger. He reason that since there was no alternative that he must overcome all obstacles in his path.
 So he travelled from village to village in a repeating loop.  This cycle of hiding and waiting to the point of his stomach demanding to be fed followed by a quest for a benefactor repeated itself time and time again. This was not by any stretch of the imagination that his survival be construed as heroic behavior. The truth was that he had no noble cause other than to stay alive. He had no concrete plans of violence against these Nazi Amalekites, seeking to kill every Jew in the world.  Instead his behavior was was in itself an act of rebellion against these Nazi monsters.  Binem limited his hatred of this enemy to cursing them in his mind ad-nausea.
Like the Jews Polish peasants understood hardship and the fear of the Nazi menace.  They too were terrorized by the Nazis.  Binem represented to many of them a way, albeit a small way, as a means to rebel against the invaders.  So, for the most part, they were generous to Binem; their only demand was that after eating  as much as he desired that he not take any food with him.  This was in understood contemplation between the Jew and the peasant that Binem would eventually be caught by the Nazis then tortured  in order that he would reveal the source of the found “bounty” on his person.   
Thus, Binem slowly learned to admire this downtrodden lower class of Polish society.  There simplicity was their greatest attribute. For the most part there was no issue that he was the same Jew that many of the Catholic Churches preached hatred.  Those theological issues were irrelevant when it came down to the basic need of nourishment.  The peasant knew that Binem, the human being standing before them was begging for assistance, and few peasants faced with this decision was going to deny Binem.   Those who helped him taught Binem that even in the darkest hour of humanity many downtrodden humans possessed the capacity to overcome their own interests and understand and offer a helping hand to the plight of fellow humans that were even worse off. 
Not that Binem became a great lover of all Poles.  In his mind the Polish peasants and farmers were different, a cut above, then the many Poles that remained hard core anti-Semitic during and even after the War.  These Poles were in so many ways no different to the Jews than the Nazi oppressors. For many believed after the War that Hitler did the Poles a favor in ridding the land of Jews.
On a nightly outing in search of food Binem fell into some good luck when he knocked on the door of a poor single woman.  Binem immediately sensed that this middle aged peasant had a good soul.  As Binem gave his routine short version of his plight, it appeared to him that she honestly felt sorry for him.  When he was finished she not only fed him but she also invited Binem into her house.  That night he slept in warm surroundings.  The next day she allowed him to stay with her.  Binem felt that he finally found a secure place. This arrangement continued for about a week.
      Then things changed dramatically when the woman's   brother suddenly appeared.  He is best described as a thug.  He was tall and wide. He spoke in such a manner that it appeared he  hated everyone and everything.   What made matters even worse was that he was obviously drunk. One glance at Binem and he demanded from his sister to explain who this "freeloader" was. She patiently and calmly explained to her brother, using the  most sympathetic terms, Binem’s plight.  He listen with a look on his face that revealed he did not have a sympathetic bone in his body.  When she mentioned that he was a Jew the brother's pink face turned red lie a ripen tomato and he shouted at her to stop. He started swinging his arms from side to side as if he was preparing for a brawl.  
          Binem sat in complete horror as he watched and listen from his seat at the kitchen table less than a dozen feet away.  Finally, the brother gained control of himself  and told his kindly sister in no uncertain terms "[y]ou know we wanted to get rid of the Jews and now you’re helping them."
She calmly replied, "[d]on't be silly, he is a nice guy."
The brother angrily retorted, "I don't care if he is a nice guy, he is a Jew."
He then turned to Binem and shouted, "[w]hy are you trying to live over the War?  Even if you live over the War we are going to kill you anyway.  And the fact is I don"t want to wait so long, so I am going to kill you right now."
The brother's bright red anger face took on a look as if he was under an evil compelling spell that demanded that he kill Binem. Suddenly, without further warning, he pounced on Binem with the full force of his over two hundred pound body.  Binem was hurled to the floor with the man sitting on his chest.  Within seconds the Pole was choking the very life out of Binem. 
The sister, seeing this, grabbed a hard object.  She then attacked her brother with the object repeatedly pounding him with it against his head using every ounce of her strength. After several stinging blows, he released his death grip around Binem's neck. 
She then shouted at her brother, "[g]et out of here."
Then she grabbed him and forcibly by grasping the shoulder part of his coat and led him out the front door.  
The brother seemed resigned to the fact that he was not going to be allowed to kill Binem.  As he left, the women looking obviously distressed regrettably called  Binem over and said to him,  "[y]ou better leave before my brother sobers up and comes back with the Germans."
Binem left that night in a state of anxiety.  I t was a terrible cold winter night. Binem thought to himself that he much preferred the freezing winds and blowing snow to the sting of the repeated blows inflicted on him by the kind lady's brother.  Binem trudged through the snow storm walking with the wind since it was easier and he was not going anywhere in particular.  Eventually he found shelter in a dilapidated barn.
A few days later Binem mentioned his confrontation with the brother of a woman during a conversation with a farmer.  The farmer told Binem that he knew both the brother and his kindly sister.   He then shocked Binem by saying that the brother was found dead three days ago.  His body was frozen in the sitting position on a large bolder located near the side of the road to the village.  The farmer said he was told that the brother died of a heart attack.  As the farmer talked Binem calculated that the Brother died on the very night that he attacked Binem.
Binem parted with the farmer and pressed on.  A few hours later he found a barn located near a small hamlet.  Binem entered the barn using his recently developed locksmith-like skills that enabled him to enter any barn without a trace of evidence that the lock was tampered with. He got his bearings inside the light starved barn and finally settled in a hay pile located near the back and started to fall asleep. About a half hour after he awoke to the sound of someone jimmying the barn door. Binem's eyes now accustomed to the dark was able to  track the shadowy figure as he closed the barn door. Binem was surprise that he was able to latch the outside door lock using the the very same technique that Binem thought he invented! Binem continued to observe the the man as he dug himself into to the straw right next to Binem.
To Binem’s astonishment the shadow started to talk to himself in Yiddish.  He was mumbling. "In my old age, I am sick, I don't feel good, and I have no home where to go. I don't know what to do."
     Binem immediately recognized the voice. It was none other than his favorite neighbor from Radziejow, Moshe Frankenberg.   Although Moshe was now in his sixties, Binem remembered him in heroic terms as the toughest and strongest Jew that on one occasion saved Binem's family.  In fact, Frankenberg was a legend among all the Jews in Radziejow.  He was known as a man who never shied away from the use of force when it came to standing up against Polish ruffians. 
       As Binem thought about the many of exploits told about Frankenberg his mind wandered back to one incident that made Frankenberg forever a hero for Binem.   It happened one terrible night.  A monster of a Pole broke into the living quarters of the Najman building. He was drunk and brandishing a large carving knife.  He waved the menacing blade at the frightened members of the Najman family. While the brute was busy terrorizing his family  Binem then just a small boy in grammar school saw an opportunity for escape and  managed to slip out the back door.   Once outside he ran as fast as he could directly to the police station for help.  When he arrived Binem found that the station was closed. 
Binem was taken aback but knowing his family was in peril he quickly mustered his witts, "[w]here can I get help?"  
 In a flash, Binem thought of the legend, the hero of the Jewish community, Moshe Frankenberg.  Binem thought to himself,
 "[s]urely Mr. Frankenberg will save us."  
That caused Binem to race back in the direction of the Najman’s store.  He went directly to Moshe's house.  Moshe was preparing to go to sleep when Binem frantically pounded on the door.
 Frankenberg answered the door and looked down at the obviously frightened boy.  “Binem, what’s a matter?”
 Binem replied, “My family is about to be killed!”  
He then explained the family’s dire straits in a shrill voice that one would expect from a small boy who felt the weight of responsibility to save his loved ones. 
Moshe listened carefully to the boy’s rants. Then he cut Binem short and responded without a second thought, "[d]on't worry, I'll take care of it."   
Moshe then eased Binem to the side and proceeded out of his house at double time walking speed and thus quickly arrived at the back entrance of the Najman Building.  Binem followed, running at full speed trying to keep up with Frankenberg.  He noted that when Frankenberg open the door he was cool and calm, completely fearless, oblivious to the real present danger.   The Polish attacker saw Frankenberg rushing in his direction.  The Pole lift up the large knife and prepared to stab Frankenberg.  Without any fear of being harmed, Frankenberg, in stride, made a fist and charged the attacker punching him with tremendous force to the Pole's head.  The Pole collapsed like a dropped bag of potatoes and appeared to be unconscious.  Binem couldn't believe it, Frankenberg knocked this thug out with one punch.  Frankenberg was silent as  passed the Najmans as he dragged the unconscious attacker by his collar out the side door and tossed him into the street like a pile of garbage.
He did not return to discuss the events with the Najmans, rather he started waling home. Binem caught up to him and it was then that Frankenberg said, "go home and lock the door." 
Binem wanted to follow Frankenberg and express his gratitude, but thought it was better to follow Frankenberg’s order.
Binem’s thoughts about the incident ended and he returned to reality. He thought to himself, “I must not burst out and greet Frankenberg less he become startled and attack me or worse yet he may be shocked and have a heart attack.”
 So Binem spoke softly with a soft an angelic tone to his voice, "Moshe, Moshe."
Upon hearing these words Frankenberg sat up and looked confused. He later confessed to Binem that for a second he thought that just like when G-d spoke to a different Moshe at the burning bush, now the the Lord almighty was trying to communicate with him. Frankenberg quickly allowed his common sense to dismiss that thought for it couldn’t be a voice from heaven, so he started to scanning in all directions of the barn.  Frankenberg saw that he was alone in the barn. So Frankenberg chalked it up as a mistake and proceeded to grab some shuteye.
A few moments later, Binem repeated in an angel like tone, "Moshe, Moshe."
This time Frankenberg recognized Binem's voice. He called out, "Binem, where are you?"
         Binem answered with a laugh, "I am right behind you." 
Binem and Frankenberg dug themselves out of the straw.  They then stood face to face in the middle of the barn. There was a look of joy on both faces.  It was to my father a  miracle from G-d to reveal that there were other Jews from Radziejow that were still alive. They proceeded to embrace each other warmly as if they were brothers. Both reacted to this surreal encounter as if this might be the last Jew that they would ever meet.
Moshe, the giant, the legend, the hero who feared no Jew hater next displayed an unlikely emotion. Tears of both joy and sadness fell down his cheek. 
 In a broken voice he said, "[l]ook at you. You are young, you can take it. I cannot take it anymore."
Moshe proceeded to explain his plight from the day he ran away from his Lager.  Just like Binem he explained that from the day of his escape he had been wandering aimlessly from one barn to another.  
As Binem listened to this person that he admired so much his entire life transformed into a broken shell of his former self, Binem asked himself,  “[i]f Frankenberg cant take it, how can I?”
Binem hoped that Frankenberg was just in the midst of the same mental crisis that Binem periodically had.  So he tried to comfort his hero.
"Don't worry, maybe not too long from now we will both be free."
Frankenburg was silent for a long moment then with a disbelieving look on his face, he replied, "I hope so, G-d willing." 
 Moshe told Binem that tomorrow he planned on visiting a farmer that he entrusted merchandise  before the war.  He was hoping that this farmer might give him some food and shelter.
It suddenly dawned on each other that they were conversing out loud during the night when the slightest sound seemed to carry much father. Perhaps the farmer might hear them.  So they gave each other one last hug and then they both dug themselves back into the hay in separate spots.  Minutes later they were both fast  asleep.
They both slept in there dugouts in the hay until the next night. All the while the farmer didn’t  have a clue that he was harboring two fugitive Jews in his barn. That night, they both left the barn at different times, not even giving each other a last goodbye.   The two wanted Jews walked unknowingly in basically the same direction.  Binem's main goat was to find food.  Frankenberg's destination was the farmer that was holding the entrusted merchandise.  The reason that they did not travel together was that both knew that that it would be impossible to survive together.  A peasant might find it in his heart to share his meager rations with one Jew but almost never with two.
That was the last time Binem ever saw Moshe.  Three nights later Binem was begging food from a Polish farmer.  The farmer told him that he had heard that last night a farmer turned a Jew into the German Police.
Binem asked, "[d]o you recall the name of the Jew?"
The farmer surprisingly answered, "I believe the name Frankenberg was mentioned."
During that interview I asked my father, "[w]as Moshe Frankenberg was religious?"
  My father answered, "[t]hat was his downfall.  When I used to go into a farmer's house I would talk about the Bible.  The farmer thought I was a rabbi, especially because I had a beard.”
        In contrast, my father explained, Frankenberg had a bad habit of playing cards with the farmers that helped him.  The problem with doing this is that sometimes Frankenberg would win. "Farmers probably don’t like Jews winning money from them. That must have been the reason for the farmer turned him in to the Germans."
Unlike Frankenberg, Binem based his survival on evaluating the mindset of the average Polish peasant. By doing this he approached a peasant in manner that would most likely lead to eliciting sympathy.  Sympathy was the key for in order for Binem to receive a handout in the form of food he had to generate enought sympathy in the peasant to override his fear of endangering himself and his family.For the German occupiers had made it abundantly clear to all Poles that if one helped a Jew the penalty was death.
   As a general rule most farmers were good practicing Catholics.  Most read the Bible on a regular basis.  The trick of survival was trying to choose the right farmer or peasant.  The general rule was the poorer the Pole the more likely was Binem's chances for help.  Binem learned that religious Poles enjoyed discussing the Old Testament, even with a Jew.  Thanks to Binem’s father Shimon, Binem had learned many insights in the interpretation of biblical passages found in the Old Testament. Often during these discussions the farmer or peasant was so pleased with Binem's knowledge of the scriptures that he would volunteer the name and location of another similar believing farmer.   The farmer would then give Binem permission to tell the other farmer that he was sent by him.
Another method of survival that Binem employed was to conduct himself according a ridged set of rules in order to avoid life endangering mistakes.  He figured that proven rules of success was better than constantly making on the spot decisions. For such last minute decision would inevitably lead to possible fatal errors in judgment.  Binem followed these rules for a period of months and found that this method had saved him in several tight situations.  However, just about the time that he felt that he had the right set of rules down to science,  disaster struck.

Binem had left one hideout and that dark evening searched out a new barn in a different town.  After a long trek he arrived at a remote tiny village.  After surveying the buildings on the perimeter of the village he picked out a large barn.  Based on Binem's experience, larger barns meant that it probably held large quantity an abundance of hay.  Binem knew that deep piles of hay provided warm insulation to shield him from the frosty weather. As per his personal protocols, he entered the barn by expertly picking the lock. Once inside he used his trick that allowed him to lock the door behind him. Binem then groped his way in pitch black darkness until he found a straw pile. Then he dug himself deep into the pile making sure that the tunnel he created behind him collapsed leaving him undetectable from the outside. As he settled down to start sleeping he thought that this time proven method was effective and therefore he can considered himself to being as safe as he possibly could be.     
As events would soon transpire he would learn that he could not have been more wrong. For Binem didn’t realize that when he entered the pitch black barn his movements upset a certain order.  The farmer had placed tobacco leaves to dry in a neat arrangement on top of the very straw where Binem dug himself in. Binem couldn't see them and since the leaves were along the top he didn't feel them when he burrowed into the pile. Thus, without knowing, Binem's movements scattered the leaves. In the morning the farmer entered the barn. As soon as he entered he was perplexed as to wny his tobacco leaves were scattered and damaged..  At first the farmer thought that perhaps a large animal had entered the barn that night. He quickly dismissed the thought knowing that the barn was in good condition and locked. The farmer then called out to his wife to come to the barn.  He confronted her and irrationally blamed her saying that she was in the barn last night and destroyed his leaves.  She adamantly denied it.  The farmer chose not to believe her pleas of innocence.  The farmer, known for his violent temper, shouted at her calling her a liar. He then beat her mercilessly.  This lasted for quite a number of minutes.  He declared that he would only stop if she confessed.  In anguish she tearfully maintained her innocence.
He eventually realized that this approach was getting him nowhere.  So he shouted, "If it wasn't you it must have been our lousy kids!"
  So he called his young children into the barn and turned his wrath on them as he yelled, chased and clearly his intent was to beat them when he caught them.  Luckily the children were skilled in evading the ranting father's charges.
Binem, buried only a few steps away from the onslaught remained still.  He was in complete abject fear as to what the farmer would do next.  He was at a loss what to do. He felt that the only course was not to move. He listened helplessly as the children pleaded for mercy tearfully repeating that they did not go into the barn the previous evening. 
The farmer eventually grew tired of the chase and stopped.  He was silent for a long moment. His next thought was that  perhaps some stranger had broken in the barn the previous night. He then realized that it was possible that the same crook was still in his barn.
       He went to the barn door and saw a few of his neighbors walking on the public road that was located only a few meters from his barn. 
He shouted out, "[s]omeone broke into my shed!" 
One of the men replied, "[w]hat happened?"
The farmer ran to the road leaving his family behind in the barn. He explained the situation to the neighbor.  
After listening to the Farmer's story the neighbor said,  "[i]t was probably some of those Russian P.O.W.s.  I heard a number escaped from the camps a few days ago and have been caught hiding in barns.  I bet you there are a few hiding in your barn."
       The farmer agreed, he told his neighbor, "[g]ather everyone and bring them here."
       In less than a half hour over 25 farmers and villagers assembled in front of the barn.  The majority were armed with axes and machetes.  These Poles had no sympathy for the POWs.  In fact, they had a long history of hating Russians.  Moreover, some of the farmers that showed up were seeking revenge for their own miseries from when these P.O.W.s stole their chickens and crops.
Now that the farmer standing at the head of the mob shouted in the direction of the straw pile that Binem had buried himself in, "[c]ome out with your hands up; otherwise we will call the Germans."
Binem figured this situation had now deteriorated from terribly bad to completely hopeless.  The last thing Binem wanted to hear was that the Germans would come. While Binem was considering what he should do, a neighbor riding a bicycle rode up to the Farmer and shouted out so the entire mob could hear that he had already inform the Germans that there were some Russians in the barn.
          Binem felt he had run out of options.  With no alternatives he decided to extricate himself out of the straw and surrender.
          When he stood before the angry mob he noticed that all all the Poles including the farmer looked puzzled. 
Binem thought to himself,  "[t]hey must have been ready to do battle with five or six dangerous Russians and instead out of the pile came one skinny, dried up, Jew."
        All the excitement of the mob had dissipated like air released from a popped balloon.  No one knew what to say or what to do. Binem observed that it was not in the hearts of these kindly peasants to get involved in the killing of a poor defenseless Jew.
The village leader who had lived in the United States and before the War came back to Poland step up to the front of the mob and told his fellow farmers, "Go home, I'l handle it."
The Poles hearing the village leader let out a silent sigh of relief. They were only too happy to leave. They quickly returned to their daily tasks.
When the mayor was finally alone with Binem he told him,    "I know you are Jewish.  The Germans will soon be here, you must run away right away."
The man then pointed to a bridge.   "[h]ide yourself over there." He pointed to a bridge that spanned a small creek.  "Hide yourself under the bridge and I will come to you later and tell you where you should go."
Binem followed the village leader' instructions.  From Binem’s hiding place he watched a truck arrive and saw several German soldiers descend from the back of it.  They scattered searching the farm and the surrounding area.  After a few hours the Germans gave up their fruitless search.
The village leader had problems of his own.  He told Binem that "Smalcowinicy" blackmailers were common throughout Poland.  “One Pole could literally could blackmail an entire village for helping a Jew.” 
Of this the famous Nazi hunter, Simon Wiesnthal stated, "[i]t is in times like these that the lowest elements in society surface.The szmacownicy (blackmailers) would betray Jews for a bottle of vodka or a pair of shoes."  Poland's Holocaust, p.142.
The mayor continued, "I would like to hide you, but my farm is too close to the highway."
          The leader then handed Binem a piece of paper with a name on it. He said that Binem should go to this woman. Her husband is in jail for selling black market chickens. She hates the Germans. 
The mayor then added the magic words, "[t]ell her I sent you."
He walked alongside Binem assuring him that, like himself, "[t]his woman is like me she returned to Poland from America." He added, "[s]he was able to save enough money to buy a small farm. I’m sure she will hide you for a couple of days." 
           He gave him directions how to reach her farm by way of the back roads. When he was finished, he wished Binem good luck. Binem walked that evening with the thought that G-d must have intervened on his behalf.  He thought to himself that even in this crazy evil world there were some people that despite the difficulties remained true to their moral compass.
It was quite a distance to walk but eventually Binem located the woman's farm.  He knocked on her door.  When she opened the door she looked at Binem saying "look what the cat brought in." She was polite and asked him what did he want. Without even answering he handed her the note of introduction written by the village leader. 
After she appeared to have read it, Binem explained, "[t]he man said you were his friend and that you would help me."
 She stared at Binem. She looked him up and down.  Then after seemingly making a lightning evaluation in her mind she spoke up. "O.K. you can stay a couple of days."
      The women showed Binem around her house.  Binem now a sort of expert in evaluating hideouts quickly determined that there was a likely problem with this arrangement. The woman lived in a small farmhouse with her three school age children.   As a result of the cramped conditions Binem could only conclude that there was no place to hide him.  But he was wrong.  The woman led him to the kitchen door.  She opened it and pointed to an area that was adjacent to the outside wall of the kitchen.  It was a fenced in area that was the location of her pigpen.  
She said to Binem, "[h]ere you can stay."
 Binem thought it almost laughable that what she proposed is that she room with these tref (unkosher)pigs. He thought of what his father might have said if he was alive.  Still it was something.  So having no other recourse Binem gratefully accepted the modest accommodations.
Binem entered the sty and as he walked he found himself up to his ankles in mud.  The woman instructed him to wait for her in the corner of the pen.  Binem was relieved to find that the corner was elevated and thus was dry. He stood there staring at the pigs.   Moments later she returned and handed him a blanket and some fresh straw. 
She said, "[w]hile you stay here I will bring you some food every morning."
She must have felt sorry for Binem for instead of just feeding him in the morning each night she would call Binem into the house and fed him at the kitchen table.  Binem soon became quite satisfied with the arrangement. He thought to himself that "I have a good place."  The farm's location was relatively safely located being a good distance from the main road.  Moreover,  He would jest to himself, it would take a pretty sharp Nazi to look for a Jew in a pigpen!
Still Binem had reservations.   Her kids became an issue.  They would stand next to the pigpen and stare at him as one views animals in a zoo.  They would take turns pointing at him and saying, "[t]here is a Jew." The pointer then would start laughing followed by a chorus of laughter from the other two children. 
       Binem didn't mind the ridicule.  Rather, he had a realistic fear that it was dangerous that these children knew that he was a Jew.  He thought to himself that such knowledge “[c]ould lead to a catastrophe.”  For it was not speculative for him to presume that one day that one of the children would tell a friend or relative.
          It didn’t take long before that same fear manifested itself with the mother. Particularly, because the children’s’ school vacation had just ended. Despite acknowledging this problem to Binem she didn't have the heart to tell him to leave.
Four nights later when Binem entered the house for dinner when he saw a large Polish man sitting at the kitchen table. Binem had a premonition that this was going to be a bad evening. As Binem looked at the Pole he immediately felt a chill from a face that emenated familiar Polish anti-Semitic hatred that Binem has grown familiar with since the mid-1930s. 
The Pole then turned to the woman that was putting the final touches said in a loud and seemingly angry tone, "[y]ou are hiding a Jew here?"
She said to the man as if not even paying attention, "[l]eave him alone he is O.K.” 
The meal was served in cold silence.  Binem knew trouble was brewing and tried to figure a way to stop  it.  So, after eating, Binem tried to placate the man by telling him interesting stories from the Bible.  
Suddenly the man spoke up, "[y]ou ate, now go. Get the hell out of here."
Binem knew that there was no reasoning with this man. He didn't want to have a recurrence of the physical confrontation that he had with a woman's brother.  So Binem politely thanked the kind women and promptly left the house by way of the kitchen door.  The time was around 10 a.m.
Binem was apprehensive about the encounter.  Perhaps the man would turn him in. So after walking in one direction for some time he turned to walk in a different direction.  It was getting close to sun rise and he still hadn't found shelter. Luckily as he exited one field and was about to walk through another he spotted a shabby farmhouse in the distance. He rushed there and made it just before sunrise.  It was a very poor farm. 
There was a small barn next to the house and Binem entered it undetected.  He spent the day sleeping under some straw.
When evening arrived Binem left the barn and knocked on the flimsy farmhouse door.  After a short delay a disheveled groggy peasant opened it. 
He stared at Binem.  The peasant focused on Binem's beard.  After a moment of staring the peasant stated as a matter of fact, "[y]ou must be a Rabbi."
Binem, a trained salesman knew that the main rule is that the customer is always right. So if the farmer thought he was a rabbi , declared without reservation,  "Yes, I am a Rabbi."
Upon hearing that Binem was a "holy man" the peasant was delighted.  He immediately indicated to Binem that he would help him.
He said to Binem, "I have a great deal of respect for Jewish rabbis.  Still with Germans around you cannot walk around looking the way you look.  Anyone with eyes can see that you are Jewish."
Before Binem could respond the poor but good hearted Pole sat Binem down in his own chair.  He took from a drawer in the kitchen a pair of scissors  and a razor. The the Peasant proceeded to shave off Binem’s beard and when he was done he gave Binem a haircut. When he was done the peasant took a step back to evaluate his work.  By the look on the Peasant's face Binem surmised that the results were satisfactory. 
The peasant was not done. He searched through his meager belongings and found a warm pair of black pants and a thick wool jacket.  He said, “[p]ut them on it is cold outside.”
He then went to the stove and cooked a hearty meal.  The two sat and talked about religion and the dreadful state of affairs in Poland. That night a simple man had triggered an old memory that Binem once had.  That being that Binem was a human being and not a life form that the World had no use for.  The following night, after dinner,  Binem said his final goodbye.   As Binem walked towards the open field the Pole stood by his open door and watched.  Binem heard the Pole say, "G-d bless you."
The man's selfless humanity lifted Binem's spirit.  As he walked he felt refreshed. He reviewed his experiences over the past few days.  He thought to himself, "I guess for every bad one there is a saint." 
       Along his trek he happened to pass an obviously rich farm.  Binem had a standing rule to steer clear of the larger farms because there was a better than even chance that it was owned by either Polish volksdeutche or a German settler.  Binem took a chance.  He decided after some bad experiences with his "furcocked of rules" (useless rules) to create a new rule.  The rule stated that he did not necessarily have to abide by his rule when by following them it would result in too great an inconvenience.  Unfortunately this was the time when he should have followed his rules.  For unbeknownst to him, the owner of the farm had set up an ambush in the field.  He was armed with a powerful shotgun and he was primed to use it. 
The owner was on the hunt.  Not for Jews, but for theives that had been regularly stealing his pigs. He waited for Binem to pass his hiding place and then silently came up behind Binem.  Binem felt the barrel of the gun in his back.  He stopped and waited for instructions.  The owner then told Binem to turn around.  Binem saw a large man with an Aryan looking face. Judging by the menacing expression on the mans face he meant business.
He ordered Binem, "Hands up". He finished his command by stating, "[f]inally I got you!"
Binem thought to himself, "[t]his guy was looking for me? Well then I guess he got me."
  The German then grabbed Binem by the neck and started to shake him. In the process of the assault Binem's hat fell off. 
When the German finally stopped Binem meekly asked him a question in broken German. "Can I pick up my hat?"
The German didn’t directly answer instead he finally replied by stating, "Where you’re going, you won’t need a hat anymore."
In almost a military fashion He marched Binem to the front of his large farmhouse. He then called out to one of his workers, "Hitch up the horses, and take this guy to the Asandalamilita."
Binem knew exactly what that meant; the farmer was going to turn him over to the Gestapo.  Binem knew he had to try something now or he was doomed.  Binem couldn't comprehend why this German farmer was hunting for Jews.  With that question in mind, he boldly spoke up.
Binem inquired, "[e]xactly who were you waiting for?" 
                The German couldn’t believe that this thief would address him like he was innocent so he replied with a tone of disgust. "I was waiting for the guy who has been stealing my pigs."               
With that answer Binem understood that he might have some hope. Binem said in stern voice, "[i]f you were waiting for a thief, you got the wrong man."
He asked. "If you are not a thief, Then who are you?"
Binem told him, "I am a Jew."
           The German looked dumbfounded.  Binem thought to himself judging by the look on his face this German probably was thinking that Jews could not pig thieves! 
The German then responded, "[y]ou can't be a Jew, that's impossible. I heard that for a long time there were no Jews around here."
The German was trying to convince himself that Binem was probably just a Pole trying to weasel his way out of this bad predicament. However, Binem continued to protest insisting that he was a Jew. 
Binem knew that he was condemning himself to death by asserting a defense to theft by admitting a status that required the death penalty.  But Binem had a plan. As the farmer looked confused, Binem decided that now was the time to spring a bluff on this farmer. 
Binem spoke up in a commanding voice. "I am not an ordinary Jew for I am also a partisans.  We are more than fifty fighters.  We have made camp near here.  My comrades know exactly where I am.  So I’m warning you that if I don't return within fifteen minutes then they will come looking for me here and they most assuredly will kill you and your whole family."
     This German was among the first settlers that were sent to set up farms in the Russian territories.   Later, the German government transferred him to Poland.  The Nazis confiscated this farm from Poles and put it under his control. The farmer knew from personal experience in Russia what partisans were capable of doing.  So he became frightened.  Not knowing what to do he asked Binem nicely to wait for him while he went into his house, Binem watched him as he conversed with his wife near an open window.   
     Binem overheard him saying, "I was waiting to catch the thief that was stealing our pigs and now I am in big trouble.  Instead I caught a Jew that is with the partisans.  What should I do?"
     She quickly answered. “Well you better let him go."
After hearing those words the big German rushed outside.  He said to Binem, "Go, and don't look back."         
Binem figured that this German was no better than the Nazis.  And this German was armed with a shotgun that was pointed at him.  Binem hesitated to turn his back to the German but knowing that this was the only way to make his escape he took a chance and start walking, knowing that this farmer could at any moment shoot him in the back. Binem walked slowly pretending that he did not fear the farmer. After walking a few hundred meters Binem thanked G-d that no shots were fired.  Binem chalked it up to nothing less than a miracle. 
Binem thought to himself,  "[w]hy would this German believe he was partisan when there was no partisan activity in this annexed  area of Poland.
Binem knew that he was extremely lucky to get away.  This incident was a stark reminder that the days of his life were numbered.  He continued to walk deep in thought contemplating what he could do in order to remain alive.   
Binem spotted a small hamlet so he returned to the reality of immediate survival techniques.  As per his standing rule, Binem positioned himself so as to enter the hamlet with the wind to his face.  He surveyed the area and noted that there were only about a dozen dwellings, all in ramshackle condition.  As a result of this evaluation Binem surmised that it didn't matter which house was better to approach. So Binem knocked on the first front door he came upon.   To Binem's surprise the woman that answered was an old neighbor from Radziejow. 
She immediately recognized him and so bursted out with a glowing smile.  “Binem, you’re alive!”
 She continued, "[d]on't worry about a thing, I’m going to take care of you, nothing will happen to you anymore." 
Binem thought to himself, "Good, if it will be so."
            He stayed with her for two weeks.  The woman told all her neighbors about the nice young man from Radziejow that was now staying with her.  She did not hide the fact that he was a Jew. The neighbors were likewise very hospitable and all wanted to help him out.  So each night Binem was invited by a different neighbor for dinner. Binem could not believe that his mazel (luck) had changed so quickly and completely for the good.  He truly he felt that this small village was a safe place to stay. 
One particular female neighbor, a widow was extremely nice to him. She made sure that she served him the best food out of all the neighbors.  Her son earned his living as a shepherd.  Unfortunately he supplemented his earnings by way of his second way of making money, that being stealing.   
He was not the only person that made money in such a manner. In fact The farmers in the area were plagued by thieves contsantly stealing their livestock.  One local farmer had recently reported to the Gendarmeries that several sheep were stolen from his flock. A few days later during dinner a different neighbor  told Binem that this farmer suspected the widow’s son. Binem had a feeling that this was going to cause him trouble.
 Another couple days passed and nothing happened. Binem began to think that the danger was over.  Then, that evening it was Binem’s turn to have his dinner at the widow’s house. No word was mentioned by the widow concerning the rumor. So Binem didn't think it was appropriate to bring up the subject.   In the middle of the main course there was a knock on the door.  Binem stood up and from a hidden position glanced out the window.  He spotted three men in uniforms.  He promptly fled out the back and found a hiding place near the side of the house. The widow then answered the door. Binem could hear shouting as the police overpowered the widow’s son and placed him under arrest.  Binem watched in terror when the Gendarmeries dragged him out the front door beating him senselessly while his mother was watched mortified. 
When the police left, Binem returned to the house of his neighbor from Radziejow.  He told her all that transpired.  The next night Binem, as scheduled, went to eat at a different neighbor's house.  When he arrived he was immediately told by the kindly woman that the shepherd that was arrested the night before was scheduled to be executed for stealing sheep.  If that was not bad enough she then said that his mother proposed a deal with the police. "Give me back my son and I will give you a Jew."  And as far as she understood the police agreed.  
The kindly women then advised, "[s]o you better not go back to that woman's house.” 
Binem was distraught. He thought to himself, "[j]ust my luck, I have to run from this great village because a women's son was stealing sheep! How sad."
           
So with the kindly woman's words he left her house to return to the house of his neighbor from Radziejow.  He told her all that transpired and told her that he must go.  She understood and sadly said goodbye.    
Binem did not have the mental resolve necessary to take to the road again. It was now much harder for him to live a life on the run after the pampering he had received. He tried to think of ways to return himself to the proper mindset.
He would repeat to himself optimistically.  "I’m still alive. I just have to keep it up."
As he was walking he found himself returning to the weakening thought that no matter what he would do he could never find a better arrangement than he had in that small village.  Eventually he came upon another hamlet. He found a barn just outside the town, jimmied the lock,  and set up temporary residence in a pile of hay.
The next evening he set out to beg for food.  He took a wind reading by holding up his hand.  He then approached the village as dictated by the wind direction, that being with the wind blowing into his face.  He spotted a modest house.   Binem knocked on the flimsy window.  Upon hearing the knock a young women opened the front door. "Who are you?"
Binem replied, "I want something to eat."
         The owner invited Binem in and gave him some food. While Binem was eating, the young woman stared and Binem.
Finally it dawned on her, "I know you."
Binem was taken by surprise with those words. So he made actual eye contact with her. 
Binem  scrutinized her face and then replied, "I know you, too. We went to the same school."
      Binem remembered that more than ten years ago the two were classmates in the Radziejow Public School. She would constantly follow Binem around. In fact,  she always made sure that she would sit next to him in the classroom.  Binem recalled that he regularly assisting her with class projects.  He fondly recalled the time they spent together creating a topographical relief map using flour and water. Binem prided himself that their map was recognized as the best map.  From then on he had a reputation as being the best in his class in creating these types of maps.
 I closely questioned my Father about his relationship with this girl.  He confessed that he always believed that she had a crush on him. Of course, nothing could ever come of it.  She was Polish and he was Jewish.  So, after the two graduated from public school, they never saw each other again.
 The young woman’s face was flushed when she suddenly blurted out, "I'm going to help you."
Binem was both shocked and pleasantly surprised that she would say these words knowing that such an act would put her and her family in danger.  He respectfully asked, "[y]ou are going to help me? How are you going to help me?  How can you help me?"
 She answered as if she had half a plan in mind. "My brother works for a rich German that owns an estate.  The German's wife happens to be Polish.  He will talk with the German's wife to see whether she can do something for you."
It seemed to Binem that her answer was too specific for someone to just blurt out.  He thought that perhaps her family had once discussed the theoretical situation on how they would respond to a Jew asking for help.
Binem was skeptical but hopeful, "O.K."
She replied, "[n]ow eat as much as you want, then go hide somewhere and come back tomorrow night."
As Binem ate the two, now in their twenties,  discussed their experiences in Radzijow Grammer School as if it occurred only yesterday. As they talked it dawned on him that now not only religion made it impossible for the two to ever contemplate a relationship but now it was even more taboo with Hitler and his cohorts killing not only Jews but anyone that attempts to assist them.  
Late that night he left. As he searched for a hiding place he concluded that his friend’s plan was just words and wasn't practicable. Still he had a sliver of hope.  He thought to himself why would she say such a thing if she didn't think it was possible.  Since he had no better option, he decided that he would return to her house the following evening and hope for the best. He eventually found a barn some distance from the hamlet. 
The next evening when he set forth to find his way back to the young woman's house.  For some inexplicable reason he failed. Instead he ended up wandering into a nearby field. He was caught by a giant Pole that happened be the manager for a big German owned farm that Binem was tresspassing on.
The manager asked, "[w]ho are you."
Binem answered, "I am a Jew and I have no place to go."
The manager stared at Binem as he decided how he should he handle this situation.
Binem's luck was still holding, the manager proved to be a nice guy.   
He said, "[y]ou can stay in the horse barn. Yeah, you can stay with the horses.  Every night I will bring you something to eat." Binem thought this was a good arrangement much more practicable than his former classmate's proposal.  
My father remembered his thought, "[t]his offer was concrete, not pie in the sky."
The arrangement proved to be satisfactory from all aspects save one.  Staying in the barn proved to be a living hell. The problem centered on the barn being infested with lice. The lice crawled everywhere including onto Binem.  Binem described the lice as being "the size of a finger." The parisites were all over Binem's body and clothes.  At night they would incessantly bite him. The bites were deep and painful.  Binem tried to alleviate the constant pain by smashing them as they did their dirty deed.His usual method was slamming  the lice with his open hand.  At times he would study the dead louse lying in his palm.  He was always aghast to see that the act of smashing them released blood.  Binem wasn't sure if it was his blood or a horse’s blood. Binem concluded that where it came from really didn't matter. What did matter was that “the pain was terrible, beyond description.” 
Binem ordeal lasted a week in the horse barn. On the eighth day the manager came to Binem and stated that  "[t]here is something wrong with the horses."
He accused  Binem of being the one that brought the lice into the barn. The manager concluded, “I’m sorry, but you must go”.
I asked my father, "[w]as that an excuse to get rid of you."
My father conceded, "[t]here were lice."  His answer seemingly gave me the impression that he was implying that he did have lice prior to entering the barn.
My father saw the look on my face so he then added, "[i]t’s hard to believe that I could infect the horses."
Binem remembered telling the manager, "Sure, I had a few lice, but in the horse barn there are millions of them."
The manager felt bad.  He told Binem, "[l]ook, I am a nice man.  I used to hide Jews during the First War. But the Jews left for America. Not one ever wrote me a letter.  Still, I don’t bear you Jews any hard feelings. In fact, I'm still helping out you Jews."
As a side note, I once viewed a documentary about a son of a Holocaust survivor who decided to travel to Poland and find the people who rescued his Father.  After he made the arrangements to travel to Poland he told his father.  His Father, who was then a very old man living in a home for the aged told his son not to go.  His son didn’t follow his father’s advice.  Not only did he go to Poland but he dragged his teenage children with him. He searched for his Father's rescuers.  Against all odds, he actually found them.  They were still alive living on the same farm where they hid his father.  When he introduced himself the rescuers, these Poles proved to be very gracious.  They then told him that his father assured them that he was very rich and made them a promise that if they would hide and feed him after the War he would give them a great reward. When the War was over, he left, and never even sent a postcard. When the son of the survivor returned to the United States he asked his father if the story told by his rescuers was true?  The father remorsefully admitted that it was.  He then explained that he would have promised anything in order to survive. Still, there was a happy ending for the Polish rescuers.  The survivor’s son and family returned to Poland and made good on his father's promise by setting up a college fund for the rescuers' grandchildren.
As Binem began searching for a new hiding place he remembered his former classmate's offer. He was now determined to find her house to see if she indeed made arrangements.  So he again set out for the remote village she lived in. After several directional errors he was able to locate her house.
He approached the house with a  great deal of hesitation. It just didn't make any sense to him that any Pole would go out of their way and personally contact other Poles to help him.  For by doing so they would be breaking the Law layed down by the Nazi occupiers.  And the punishment for such behavior included execution. Still, Binem had no other options so he decided to take a chance. He knocked on the door.
After a momentary pause, Wanda opened the door.  She looked at Binem with beaming eyes and said, “What happened to you?” Her tone was admonishing but caring.
He didn’t want to go into the details of finding another place so he simply replied by avoiding the question completely. "Listen, you promised me you were going to do something for me." 
She answered, "Yes I’ll help. Stay overnight somewhere and tomorrow the wife of German farm owner will come here and talk to you."
After Wanda fed Binem, they parted.  Binem found a hiding place close to her house. He bedded down for the remainder of the night and the day.  Binem was encouraged.  Wanda seemed truly concerned with his welfare.
So the next night Binem returned in a hopeful mood.  When he almost immediately got the sense that something had gone wrong.  The look on his former classmate's crestfallen face told it all. After explaining to him that there were some problems that needed to resolved, she told him to come back in another couple days. 
When she finished Binem fell into a depression. He replied to her that he was "completely beat".  He continued, "[t]he only choice I have is to give myself up."
His classmate was taken aback by Binem's response.  She responded,  "Don't do it, if you come tomorrow night she will come to take you and save you."
So Binem again left dejected.  Mentally, he was so depressed that he didn't have enough strength to return to his hiding place of the previous night. Instead, he looked around and saw a patch of dense overgrowth that consisted of trees, bushes, shrubs, and high grass. He decided that he would hide there. He made his way to the center and quickly went to sleep.  He forced himself not to open his eyes until the following night. When he awoke he actually  remembered the name of his classmate Wanda. Up until that moment he had forgotten her name from the time of their first encounter at her house when she mentioned it.  Since then he had been embarrassed to ask her to tell him her name for he didn't want to insult her! 
Binem stood up and brushed himself off.  He walked directly to Wanda’s house.  He knocked on the door and Wanda opened the door.  She told him to go directly to the parlor which was the only room on that floor except for the kitchen.  Binem looked into the room and saw an obviously rich woman dressed in a full length mink coat.  She wore a diamond necklace.  On her wrist was a matching diamond bracelet. She was sitting in the obviously best chair that Wanda’s family owned. One thought came to Binem’s mind, “she must be a Polish Princess!”
The Princess looked at Binem with a penetrating gaze.  Noticing that Binem was hesitant she invited him to join her.  She spoke in a most refined manner.  A brief "feeling out" discussion followed.  Binem learned that she wasn’t actually a princess but still she could be rightly considered the next best thing.  Binem noted that she was extremely pleasant to look at, perhaps stunning was a better word.  Her age was around forty.  She was around five foot five inches.  She weighed approximately 120 pounds. Her hair was silky black worn long but the ends were curled as it reached the top of her back. Her facial color was a radiant off white that contained a tinge of healthy blush.  Her nose formed a perfect small triangle. Her dress was black velvet with design patterns protruding from it.
Binem learned that she was married to a most prominent Volksdeutche.  He owned the largest estate in the same county where Radziejow was located. She assured Binem that she was 100% Polish.  She explained that she met her husband just after World War I.  Her last name was Austinsacken.  My father could not remember her first name.  She and husband had two sons.  One was serving as an officer in the Wehrmacht.  She nearly broke into tears as she explained that her younger son died in a drowning accident in the Vistula River just days before Germany invaded Poland in 1939. Judging by her voice and her facial expression, Binem got the distinct feeling that she never recovered from this tragic loss.
Binem’s mind began to race.  He never spoke to an aristocratic woman in his life.  "When I saw her I couldn’t believe my eyes. I couldn’t't believe that she was going to save me. For what reason would she want to save me?"
           When she was done telling about herself, Binem told her capsuled version of his entire life story leading up to this meeting. She patiently listened, looking sincerely interested.
Binem was now even more confused.  First he never saw such a woman so close up to him.  She was part of the Polish aristocracy that had no contact with the Jewish community. But what was more curious was why she would go out of her way to meet a Jew.
So when Binem was finished he couldn’t help but say the following to her. "I have read in books about noble people that tried to save people, but I never believed it would happen to me.  Why are you doing this?"
          She answered in a kind voice.  "The reason I want to do this is because I have two sons close to your age.  Sadly, one is dead.  His room is now empty and I feel it would be only right to use it to do some good."
Binem concluded that she was sincere.  Still, the question was why would a privileged person that had most likely greatly benefited by the Nazi occupation risk putting in danger her life as well as her German husband for the sake of an ordinary flee ridden Jew.  As incredulous as it sounded to Binem he decided to take a chance.  
As he agreed he thought to herself, “[h]er German husband would either shoot me or turn me in to the Nazis.”
          In the background Binem heard the sound of a carriage wheels approaching Wanda's house. It sounded as if it stopped near the front door.  He glanced out thru a small pane of glass that was the essential part making up a  poor excuse for a window and saw a magnificent large ornately decorated coach.  When Wanda opened the front door she pointed to the driver and told Binem that he was her brother.  She explained that he had a very important position on the Austensaken Estate.  He was the watchman.
Binem was told to enter the carriage.  He sat very still seated on a velvet cushion. Next, the Princess gracefully boarded the carriage and sat next to Binem.  They both sat silently as the carriage drove to her estate.  During the ride Binem could not dismiss from his thoughts that it was too suspicious that both the Princess and her driver would risking their lives to help him.  He thought that even if they were sincere there was a possibility  that the carriage might be stopped at  a randomly erected roadblock that was a frequently used security measure utilized by the Nazi occupation army. In such an event all three were doomed. All Poles knew that the punishment for assisting Jews was harsh which included summary execution.  Luckily this did not happen.
        About an hour later they  arrived at the entrance of a sprawling estate. It took an additional fifteen minutes to arrive at the destination, that being the mansion. During the ride Binemm was struck by the staggering size of the estate.  He played with the idea that the Princess and husband must be the wealthiest people in Poland. The mansion was enormous. It was surrounded by now winter dormant gardens along with a large number of other structures including bunk houses, granaries, and barns. 
Binem thought that it would take nothing less than an army of workers to maintain such an estate. As he glanced out the carriage window with amazement it dawned on him that not only there was not a single worker to be seen but even more strangely there was not even a sound of any kind to be heard.  It was as if the estate had been abandoned.  Binem later learned that the Princess had made arrangement that all workers were given the night off.    
When the carriage finally came to stop the Princess instructed Binem as to where he was to go.  She pointed to a window located near the massive wooden front door of the mansion. She said that the window was unlatched.  Binem exited the carriage and made his way to the window. He opened it and climbed  inside finding himself in a foyer that was three stories in height. 
As his eyes adjusted he realized that he was actually standing in an opulent palace. Never in his life has he ever witnessed such luxury.  He noted that even the temperature of the room  was perfect. The lighting in the room was such that it was relaxing to the eye. He could see that each room connected to the foyer had at least one magnificent crystal chandelier and a fireplace the size of which he had never seen.  He thought to himself that one could set up a room inside the fireplace.  
He next noticed that the furniture be it a sofa, table, or chair was not normal furniture that he experienced in his life but rather each piece looked like a piece of art of remarkable craftsmanship. His eyes then focused on the rich wooden floors. The wood was of kind he had never seen. The floors were polished to such a shine that the light from the fireplaces reflected off the floor.  If that lavishness was not enough to impress,  parts of the floor were covered with obviously handmade wool carpets adorned the polished wood.  Each of these carpet was a work of art, magnificent in size and appropriate patterns in colors.  Binem thought that the carpets were individually woven to match the room surroundings.   Binem was so overwhelmed by the mansion that he felt that he was transitioning from the bleakness of Hell and stepping into nothing less than the beautiful  Garden of Eden. 
Binem proceeded cautiously in the mansion being sure to follow the instructions of the princess.  He passed the entrances to a few rooms on the main floor until he actually reached the large foyer that opened onto grand staircase.  The magnificent ornate staircase was nothing less than one built for a king.  The walls on the three sides of the staircase were covered with dozens of paintings with several being large oil paintings enclosed in rich wood frames that were gilded with gold gilt.  It dawned on Binem that the mansion must contain at least twenty rooms.   With each room meticulously decorated to meet what could only be described as a standard of royal standard of opulence. 
Binem felt completely out of his environment as he ascended the grand staircase. He thought to himself that before entering the mansion the most grand staircase he ever ascended was that in the living quarters located in the back half of the Najman building in Radziejow. Eventually he made it to the top floor where the stairs ended.  There he was told would be the attic.  
His first impression was the word attic did not describe this floor. First, the “attic” was not an attic but another floor that could hardly be distinguished from the other floors of this mansion.  It was similarly decorated with paintings on the wall and hand made carpets on parts of the rich grain wood floors.  He proceeded until he reached a set of double doors.  The princess told him that behind those doors he would live in her deceased son's bedroom. When he opened the doors he was astonished to see that this was not any bedroom that he had ever even imagined but rather he could only describe it as a museum with as much space as the largest house in Radziejow. According to the princess this room was the bedroom of the son that drowned a few weeks before the outbreak of the War.  He fondly remembered “that the room was so fixed up it was like in a fairy tale."

Binem sat on a wooden chair next to the canopy bed and waited. He was flabbergasted by his plush surroundings. He raddled off in his mind the things around him: a true size wooden horse, an army of lead soldiers, more than enough different stuffed animals to make up a stuffed animal zoo and every kind of balls imaginable that were neatly displayed in shelving unit in the room.  Every item seemed to blend with the next as if to create a time line of the history of a child growing up to be a man.   Binem thought to himself that the princess must have loved her son very much to preserve the room as it was. Then he cringed,  “[n]ow the princess wants to honor his memory by saving a Jew her son’s age. One can never understand how people think.”
An hour later, the Princess and the driver entered the room.  The Princess graciously handed Binem the room key.  The Princess then asked him if the accommodations were acceptable. Binem nodded in the affirmative.  She then instructed Binem that under on circumstances to open the door for anyone, “unless you hear my signal of three raps in a row.”
To make it absolutely clear she stated the rule again, "When you hear three knocks, then you may open the door.  Otherwise, don't open the door for anyone."
She then exited the room leaving Binem alone with his thoughts. Binem could not believe this amazing stroke of luck.  After all the tragedies that had befallen him in the last few years he was now in a position to live out the war like a king.
He said to himself, "[i]mpossible! Too good to be true.  Either I am dreaming or this won't last very long!"
  He decided to enjoy the moment and then face the absolutely predictable inevitable downfall.   He glanced at the magnificent bed and his eyes focused on the arrangement of clothes and pajamas.  He assumed that these were left for him.  Since he was sleepy he decided to don one exceptionally luxuriously soft pair of pajamas. He literally had to peal off of his body the clothing he had been wearing for ever so long.  His tattered clothes were so impregnated with dirt that he could not distinguish the cloth from the filth.  When he was done undressing, he placed them on a large cushioned chair next to the bed.  He then carefully put on the pajamas. He joked with himself saying that with these pajamas I am truely a new man (Naijman).
 With the preliminaries now completed he decided to stretch out on the bed that was the size of a boat.  He observed that the bed was not only ornate but more importantly it was soft and comfortable to the extreme.  Binem had been sleeping on the ground or on top of hay for some time.  Before that he slept in a bunk with a thin mattress. But before the Nazis he had a comfortable bed that shared for many years with his murdered brother, Azriel.  
Binem said to himself, "[w]hat fun Azriel and I could have had playing games in this bed. Why it is big enough to play football in it."
He glanced around the room absorbing from his prone position a room that had an almost mystical aura of peace and tranquility that could be only be explained by understanding that the room designed was carefully planed by loving parents.  He watched the crackle of the burning logs on the  large fireplace located near the bed.  The warmth it gave off was a true pleasure.  Finally he took account of the extensive library only a few feet from the stool of the bed. He saw books of all kinds, fiction and non fiction, novels, science and math, etc... .  
Binem again thought that this new found situation could not possibly be real.  His only explanation  was that he must be dreaming in one of his forsaken haystacks.  He just couldn't accept the reality that after all he had experienced in the last three years that such a situation could possibly exist in Poland.
Binem reflected on the situation, asking himnself the question, "[w]hy am I so lucky when my fellow Jews were literally living like dogs?"
As he thought about possible answers he fell asleep.
The next day he awoke to three raps on the door.  When he opened the door he saw the princess holding a tray.  She had personally brought Binem a hot meal. She watched as he started to eat.  Based on her facial expressions Binem assumed that she had never seen a Jew eat.  She politely waited as Binem gorged himself on the several delicacies set before him.  When he finished she asked him if he needed anything.  Binem thought for a moment and requested a newspaper.  The next day when she brought him his meal on the tray there was a German newspaper.  As soon as she left he began to peruse the paper scrutinizing each article. When he was done he chuckled to himself.  "[a]t least I now know what news the Germans were being told about the War."
Despite all this luxury, Binem continued to feel depressed.  He thought about his dead and missing brothers and sisters.  He knew that even if he survived the War he would remain completely alone. Trying to put his morose on the side, he began planning on what to do to avoid becoming completely bored. He decided that he would read every book  on the shelves.  For breaks he would gaze out of the window at the picturesque view of the estate.  He watched the gentle soft snow falling onto the magnificent surrounding trees.  He would observe the servants cheerfully scurrying from one place tanother as they did their outdoor choirs. He would try to figure out what there occupations were. Sometimes he would marvel that he was watching a world which from all appearances seemed to be exempt from the hatred and fighting of World War II. For brief moments he felt that he was in a safe zone and the War for him was now over. He envisioned that one day he would be able to step out of the confines of this safe haven when the time finally arrives when the forces of good subdue the Nazis and their allies.
Then his depression would return. He knew none of his machinations mattered.  For no matter what the situation was still everyone he knew was now probably dead or about to be murdered.  His world of Radziejow and the beautiful community that he grew up in will never return.  He was truly alone.  He knew that no matter what his future might bring he would always be haunted by the terrible memories. 
           He would say to himself, “How can I think that I should survive when both Nazis and some Poles had looked me in the face and said that because I am a Jew I am an evil that needs to be destroyed for the sake of mankind.”
            Sometimes Binem’s thoughts would drift into the realm of curiosity.  He was puzzled that he never saw the husband of the Princess.  "Why hasn’t anyone but the Princess even approach the door? "  These questions triggered Binem’s internal survival warning signs.  “It is too good here. It couldn’t be that all the Jews are suffering is going on around me and I am safe living in luxury."

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