Still, Shimon did not neglect his community obligations. According to several Holocaust survivors from Radziejow now living in Canada, Shimon was the head of Radziejow's Chevre Kadishe. The Chevre Kadishe was in charge of ritually preparing the dead for burial. In Judaism the care for the dead is considered to be man's greatest kindness to his fellow man. For tradition teaches us that a dead person cannot show gratitude nor can a dead person return the favor. Jewish laws concerning this ritual are complex and require a scholar to ensure that all aspects are properly carried out. Moreover, it is preferred that the man in charge of the Chevre Kadishe also be pure in his devotion to the tenets of Judaism.
Shimon's reputation as a pious G-d fearing man was such that he was held in high esteem by not only the Jews of Radziejow but also the Poles. The Gentiles living near Market Square were delighted as they watched Shimon walk to Shul every Friday Evening. All the shops had already closed for the coming Sabbath. When Shimon emerged from the Najman building on his way to Shul, he was dressed in his best clothes in order to honor G-d’s day of rest. Since Shimon was a wealthy man that spent his money freely to perform mitzvot (G-d's commandments), his best clothes were likely the finest available in Poland.
Shimon's daily routine was set in stone. No matter what the season he would wake up promptly at five in the morning. He would ritually wash his hands then dress making sure that his tallit katan (undershirt tallit) four corner fringes were hanging freely at his sides. He then would descend the stairs to the main floor and walk directly to the kitchen to prepare a cup of tea. Armed with his tea cup he would move to the parlor to continue studying the Gemora from the place he left off the previous night. He knew where he stopped by the bookmark he placed between the two portfolio pages of the tractate book of the Talmud he was studying. A portfolio page consists of both sides of a page, The layout of the typical page is that the main text is in bold lettering of large type and it is surrounded by smaller type that makes up the commentaries of different sages that have been included as references over the centuries. For the next few hours he would study without interruption. At a few minutes before seven a.m. he would replace the bookmark to indicate his exact place and then close the book. This was in keeping with the mystical belief that if you leave a book open you will forget what he had just learned. He would then put on his coat say goodbye to anyone in earshot and then walk directly to the Shul.
|Najman Building located at 5 Rynke Street|
The upper floor of the building consisted of several bedrooms. Shimon’s children slept two to a bedroom. The brothers and sisters slept according to their gender, two to a bed. Binem shared his bed with his brother, Azriel, who was a few years older then him. The two slept in the same bed together for over twenty years.
|Binem - bottom right|
Malka - bottom left
Top row from left to right - Azriel - Shmeil- Masha
|Uncle Israel - first row second on left|
One day he decided that because Binem was a frail child it was his responsibility to "put some meat on his body". As a result, Uncle Israel insisted that Binem accompany him on his pickup and delivery route. As Binem grew older the tradition continued during Binem’s school vacations. Binem continued to ride shotgun on Uncle Israel’s horse drawn vehicle. He rode with him during his daily flour purchases from the farms surrounding Radziejow. Uncle Israel always made sure that there was a big bag of rolls on the buggy seat for the two of them nosh on. He was constantly urging Binem, all in good fun, to gorge on them. He would laugh and say in his jolly tone, "[e]at, eat." When Binem felt too full to eat even one more mouthful Uncle Israel would chime in saying that "fat is healthy".
As a boy, just about every day, Binem would steal time away to play soccer with his friends. His father was against all sports because he felt that it was a complete waste of time. He would admonish Binem by patiently explaining that his time would be better spent in pursuit of his Torah studies and not by running around and trying to kick a ball. He repeatedly told Binem, "[w]hen you grow up you would be sorry for not studying harder."
I asked my Father, starting with the Yiddish word “Nu” meaning was he right?"
After school Binem would hurriedly walk home with his friends. Always on guard for ambushes by Polish youth gangs, the Jewish boys walked together because they felt there was strength and security in numbers. And this security was needed for good reason. The Polish boys seemed to enjoy fighting and especially fighting with the Jewish boys.
When I asked him to explain, Binem said that the Polish farm boys were mostly anti-Semitic because they came from Jew hating parents. These youths were constantly looking to cause trouble with the Jewish kids. Ironically, Binem reflected on this and then stated that from his personal experience during the dark years of the Holocaust many of these same “bad apples” matured and seemed almost sympathetic to his plight and actually helped him to survive.
|Radziejow's Boy School|
|Binem as a teenager - top right|
Shimon - bottom left
Things changed when Binem reached his early teen years. With the same precision that his older brothers experienced at about the same time in their lives he started to rebel. This rebellion was a slow and painful process because of his deep respect for Shimon. Binem began to complain in a roundabout way.
He would sometime speak to himself in a whisper in front of his father, "[w]hy do my friends have more free time then I do? Why, don't my friends have to study after dinner like me?"
The Jews of Radziejow were close knit, like a family. In fact, many residents were in some way related to the others. Those that were not blood related and were in fact only Jewish neighbors were still deemed to be a kind of distant relative. Everyone knew each other’s name and along with that they knew a great deal about their private lives. Religiously, while it was true that the elders of the community were for the most part strictly observant, the majority of young people were already straying away from the traditional bonds of Judaism that had held Jewish communities together for hundreds of years. Like the young non-Jews, Jewish youth was drawn to the several "isms" that were replacing the old traditional views of government throughout Europe. One major difference for the Jews was they were not only restricted from joining many of the popular "isms' but were in fact the scapegoat for the problems in the world. These "isms" were Fascism and Nazism. Therefore, Jews straying from Judaism either embraced exclusively Jewish "isms" such as secular Zionism and Bundism or universal "isms" such as Communism.
Other Zionists helped to establish the Jewish Public Library and Reading Room in 1929. The literature was, of course, of the kind that encouraged the philosophy a building a Jewish State in Palestine.
|Radziejow Shomer Hatair Scouts|
Jews that adhered to communist philosophy believed that if everyone is equal then it stands to reason that anti-Semitism would end. This pie in the sky approach fooled many Jewish youth while most of their parents practically assumed that if it sounds too good to be true then it follows that it is not true.
The pious Jews of Europe were soon to discover that G-d's protection was about to be temporarily removed. Once removed, the hounds of Hell were about to be released on the Jewish people As stated in Psalms 18, "the pains of death encircled me, and torrents of godless men would frighten me. The pains of the grave surrounded me, the snare of death confronted me."
The Board was responsible for administrating the community budget. Revenues were collected in the form of taxes from the Jews residing in Radziejow. The amount collected was based on a careful consideration of each individual family's ability to pay. Still, often when a Jew would receive his bill, he would contact the Board to try as my father aptly put it "chew down" the assessment. The Board of the Kehila (community) used the funds collected to maintain the various Jewish institutions, fund holiday parties, and, of course, pay the Rabbi's salary. Also, the Board had the most important job of representing the Jews of Radziejow in just about all dealings with the local Polish government officials.
In the 1900s the majority of trade in goods and services in Radziejow was controlled by Jews. A virtual monopoly was held on certain goods, For example, leather was essential in the production of many products such as shoes, belts, overcoats, purses, wallets, etc… . Shimon built the business to be the largest of such enterprises in the Radziejow area. After he retired his son Shmeil took over and continued as one of the main players in the wholesale leather trade.
Jews were also bakers, tailors, glass makers, shoemakers, and painters. Survivor Roman Roger’s family sold bicycles, bicycle parts, sewing machines, farm equipment and cow milking machines. Other Jews owned a variety of stores including shoes, general merchandise, food, and hardware stores. Also, there were tailors, barbers, watchmakers, silversmiths as well as other types of artisans. The town's only doctor was Jewish, Doctor Paniski.
|Radziejow's Jewish Mikva. Used for ritual immersion.|
Prior to the promulgation of laws that led to the boycotting of Jewish business in the the 1930s, the government policy was one of tolerance towards the Jews. This position, which was out of step with mainstream thought was often tricky. Despite these government efforts the prevailing wisdom of the typical Pole’s attitude towards the Jews was that Poland would be better off without the Jews.
The Synagogue was the official place where Jewish males bonded. There they prayed together three times a day. Before services and after, the less pious among the participants would kibbitz (talk) with one another about their lives, both their triumphs and failures. During times of illness and tragedy they would console one another. When a death occured in the community the Shul members would rally behind the bereaved bringing the family of the deceased meals and whatever else was needed to help lessen the burden such as cash and free loans.
Just as importantly the Jews would genuinely celebrate together during their simchas (events of happiness) such as when one experienced nachas (pride and joy) from family member or friends. All would attend the many engagements, weddings, births, bar mitzahs. Gifts were generously given to make sure that the recipient understood that the invitee was truly thankful to be included in the celebration. Survivor Heinich Gronow remarked that the celebrants often had to restrict the list of invitees to close relatives lest the event would become too crowded.
The Jews in Poland were on the constant lookout for zealous Polish Jew haters. Although small in numbers this didn’t make them any less dangerous. These anti-Semites lived everywhere including the small town of Radziejow. They would parrot the international watchwords of hate.
A favorite invective was that Jews were parasites proven by the fact there were no Jewish farmers in the surrounding area of Radziejow. They contended that the reason Jews were not farmers was because they looked down on people that engaged in hard labor. These anti-Semites simply ignored the reasons behind the lack of Jewish farmers.The first being that only recently were Jews allowed to own land and work as farmers. Second, as stated earlier, Jewish Law made it difficult to be a farmer and a practicing Jew. Finally, Jews contributed to Poland in other ways. Jews provided services for the Poles. All members of society need goods and services. Productivity in society is achieved by many different means that compliment and strengthen the work of others. Jews played a vital role in Poland in the manufacturing and distribution of goods and vital services . Without the Jewish businessmen that sold products to the general populous, production would have been far less effective for the distribution of manufactured goods.
Likewise the Synagogue in Radziejow was the binding force for Jewish social life. Jews would socialize with one another as the Christians did. The Synagogue and the Church never planned joint activities. Thus, it was near impossible for a Jew to socially mingle with Poles. Moreover, many priests not only encouraged separation, but also taught suspicion and even hatred of the Jews. Likewise Rabbis discouraged interaction lest that lead to assimilation.
The history of the two people living in one land tells that the vast majority of Jews and Poles viewed the separation of the two peoples as a preferred mutual accommodation. Both sides understood that living and interacting with one another may encourage Jewish children and Polish children to create bonds with their peers. As the children mature into adulthood these relationships could latter develop into love and then possibly marriage. "Ethnocentrism in Poland was a two way street." Poland's Holocaust, p.38.
After Shimon finished the thirty day mourning period someone asked him when he planned on remarrying. Shimon answered him, "I have only one wife."
In accordance to his faithful love for Hinda, Shimon never remarried. Her grave and its monument stood as what Shimon wanted to proclaim as eternal testimony of his devotion and love for her. (Some years later as a direct result of the Nazis and Polish anti-Semitism, not only the monument but even her actual body was desecrated and destroyed.)
When a Jew in Radziejow died he or she was taken to the Jewish cemetery. It was located south of the town in the countryside near the road to the nearby town of Pitrokow. The cemetery was located on a large parcel of land. It consisted of a graveyard and a large building. Later a chain link fence was added that was topped off with two to three strands of barb wire. Over the years dozens of Jews had been buried in the graveyard. The graveyard consisted of graves marked with Motzevot (grave markers with Hebrew). They were made of wood, granite or marble that ranged in height between three and six feet. Since the Jewish population was small, anyone visiting a beloved one's grave was comforted when he glanced at the adjacent graves and read the names on the headstones of the deceased that were once their Jewish neighbors.
|First row right - Binem holding hands with Malka|
I asked my father, "Didn't your older brothers come to your aid?"
He smiled, "They had their own problems."
As a result, the younger Jewish classmates learned how to hold their own and if need be to face an additional onslaught of older Polish pupils. This is not to say that this strategy caused the Jewish pupils to become despondent with their inability to win. Instead, the boys understood that there was no such thing as victory, the main strategy was survival.
The one exception was the community's ability to bribe the constables for protection. The Jewish shopkeepers were very liberal in showering gifts and money on the policemen when they entered their establishments. This curried favor causing the constables to always be prepared to intervene and protect the Jews.
The Zionist differed in that their ultimate goal was to establish a country for the Jews as soon as possible. Orthodox Jews were not against this concept, but they worried that these Zionists were not G-d fearing Jews. Shimon's position was that when the Mesiah comes he would bring the Jews back to Israel with the in-gathering of the exiled Jews from Gallos (Diaspora). When the Messiah would actually come was beyond man’s ability to predict. Complicating this concept is that one of the thirteen principles of faith composed my Moshe Ben Maimon, better known as Maimonides (Rambam) was that Jews recited daily in their morning prayers was to believe that one must believe that the Messiah was coming this very day and even if he delays you must still wait.
The compromise position for some believing Jews was that articulated by Rav Abraham Issac Cook (1865-1935), the first Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi during the British Mandate, was that the Zionist movement was part of G-d's plan in bringing about the messianic era. Of course he would prefer that this be done in a way that honored G-d and in accordance to G-d's commandments. Still, he honored the Hatutzim (Zionist pioneers) for reclaiming the land in order to set the groundwork that in the future the spiritual redemption would take place.
Binem procrastinated telling Shimon until he was faced with the inevitable. That being all his friends signed up for camp and the final date for applying was growing dangerously near. Then, feeling he had no alternative, decided he would tell his father that in no uncertain terms that he was going to the Shomer Hatzair camp. After listening to Binem's reasons he responded that he would not be allowed to attend, period.
Shimon became so worried about the health of his youngest son that he began to waiver. He reasoned that according to the Jewish Law the concept of Pekuach Nefesh ( danger to life), required him to act. So he consulted the town Rabbi, Chaim Platkewicz. After a scholarly discussion, the Rabbi decided to get involved. Acting as a kind of arbitrator, and known for his own leaning towards religious Zionist philosophy, the Rabbi met with Binem. When he was done, the Rabbi told Shimon that he believed that Binem was so determined to attend the summer camp that he would continue his hunger strike and thereby run the risk of ruining his health. He continued to explain that while Shomer Hatzair was a secular group with a strange approach to traditional Jewish values, its members were Jews and definitely not Goyim (Gentiles). Therefore it was his opinion that Shimon might consider allowing his son to attend the camp as long as Binem did so under two conditions. Those conditions were that Binem pledge that while attending he must eat strictly kosher and he must also daven (pray) three times a day as required by Jewish Law.
Binem's experiences at the camp and as a member of the Shomer Hatzair had a profound effect on his adolescent years. Interestingly, when discussing the camp with my father's first cousin, Joyce Wagner, I had the feeling that she likewise felt that the camp was a turning point in her life.
He summed it up, "[i]t was my best experience in Poland."
The Yishuv, the central Zionist authority headed by David Ben Gurion had contingency plans to organize resistance against the Germans in the event that the Germans made its way through the Sinai Peninsula to attack the British who were in control of Palestine. When it became clear that the Jew of Palestine were safe from Hitler’s armies, many demanded that they be allowed to enlist and fight the Germans. Only after a great deal of pressure did the British authorities permit the forming of a Jewish Brigade from Palestine comprised of volunteers. These Jews were trained to fight and participated in several battles against Nazi Germany.
My father told me of his idyllic life growing up in Radziejow. As he spoke it was clear that he was reliving the rhythm and flow of his life in the Jewish community as he related to other Jews and Poles around them. Of course life itself for all Jews in Radziejow revolved around being Jewish. This was true even among the secular non practicing Jews. For most Poles were not interested in how religious a Jew was. In their minds, all Jews were at best second class citizens. As result an invisible barrier separated Jews from the dominant Catholic community of Radziejow. Most Jews actually the preferred relationship. Jews themselves were focused like a laser on being successful in business. Being successful meant food on the table, a roof over one’s head, and gave a Jew a sense of security against the hostile world.
For example, I overheard my father telling some of his fellow greeners (newcomers) a joke in Shul.
|Radziejow Church - steep roof on left side|
Hirsh braved the weather and went to work. Unfortunately, while in the midst of the repair he slipped and slid from the apex of the roof landing head first on the ground below. He was terribly injured but eventually he recovered. As a result of the fall he lost his ability to hear. Thus he received the nick name, Tover Guluf (Tover the Deaf Guy). Of course a few of the Jewish wise crackers said that he was deaf, because G-d punished him.
I asked my father were they right. He answered that “a Jew should not have anything to do with fixing a church."
Perhaps, these anti-Semitic acts were instrumental in the Rabbi’s embrace of the philosophy of Religious Zionism. To the Orthodox community the movement known as Religious Zionism focused on the return of all Jews to the land of Israel in order to fulfill G-d’s of promise of the redemption of the Jewish people from exile. The dominant Zionist movement was that of Secular Zionism. emphasized that it was essential for Jews to live in their own county in order to become a normal people like the the people of other nations. Both movements agreed that the Jews of Poland needed their own country where Jews could feel safe and secure based on their own mutual security and not dependent on the good will of others in their host nations.
|Dyngus Day Celebrated in a Polish Village|
Upon hearing the crowd in the room unanimously nodded in agreement. Likewise, the Mazur brothers embraced the suggestion. What better tribute to their father who was once the Rabbi of Radziejow then for their sons to build a grand Shul as a memorial. It was immediately decided to go forward with the project. The sons said that they would gladly pay the entire bill for the Shul's construction.
No one could conceive that just a few years later the Nazis would order that the German occupiers burn down all the local synagogues in Watherland, which the part of Poland that was annexed to Germany. In Radziejow the fireproof construction of the Shul caused a hiccup in this ruthless Nazi plan. However, fireproofing would not be enough to stop the Nazi's evil plan. To finish off the the destruction after fire the Nazis in charge of its destruction used dynamite.
|Polish Propoganda Poster. Soiviet-Polish War 1920-1921|
"Jewish Paws Again? Never!
|Najman Family Photo Taken in the Mid 1930s|
Corresponding with the period just after Hitler took control of Germany, the United States began to tighten immigration rules to the point where a very limited amount of immigrants were admitted under a strictly enforced quota system. The Najman brothers living in North America, Harry and Max, watched in horror the plight of European Jewry. Together, they made a concerted effort to bring the family to safety in the United States. They filled out the required complex immigration forms and collected the complicated set of corresponding documents necessary to satisfy the requirements for sponsoring a family to immigrate to the United States. They even sent money to Poland to pay for the family’s transportation expenses. However, all was for naught. Because of the strict quota at the time Hitler invaded Poland, the Najmans were still on the long waiting list for the issuance of visas.
Binem remembered a group of Jews in Radziejow discussing the event. He remembered that some commented that even if the Police didn't intervene the march was doomed from the beginning. It was completely disorganized. Such basic requirements as food, portable housing, medical supplies and other provisions were not prepared for the long journey. Others commented that even if they did have everything necessary to complete such a treacherous journey it would have made little difference. Palestine was completely surrounded by hostile neighbors that would never had allowed to pass through Muslim controlled lands in order to reach Palestine. The Arab mentality at the time of the March was to stop the expansion of Jewish settlements in Palestine. It was obvious that the marchers would have evoked a violent response that would have inevitably would have ended in tragedy.
Just about all Jewish families living in Radziejow were having the same discussion. A general consensus emerged that there were no real options so therefore the Jews of Radziejow would wait to see if the machinations of the anti-Semites would come to fruition and thereby give them cart-blanch to attack the Jews.
Since graduating high school I have always considered myself a believing Jew. So one day asked him, “[d]on’t you have any faith in G-d?”
More ominous was the prophetic visions of Binem's older sister, Masha. Masha was married. She was known as the family's poet because she was always writing poetry. One Shabbat, three years before the war broke out, the family was gathered at the Shabbat dinner table. Masha suddenly, without provocation, shouted out a bone chilling screamed. The Najmans were startled. Her face was drained white as if she had been terrorized. She then tried to vocalize her thoughts but all that could be heard from her lips was a whisper saying, "I smelled gas, poison gas."
Instead of placating Hitler’s obsession to for expansionism it only acted as a catalyst. The more he saw weakness in the European nations resolve the greater his appetite to control all of Europe. Hitler professed that he was now satisfied. But his thoughts and actions were the exact opposite from his true motives. Hitler’s eyes turned towards its peaceful neighbor Poland.
Hitler in his lust for power set out to conquer both Europe and Asia. He did this because he was a meglomaniac. But he hid his true motive from the German masses. Instead he announced that the military was being used in order to supply the Fatherland with the natural resources and manpower required to fulfill Germany's destiny of becoming the most powerful nation on earth.Moreover, Germany itself was too small and therefore the German people needed space to grow to fulfill the national aspiration of creating a "Thousand Year Reich". The Nazis euphemistically referred to this fundamental German manifest destiny as Lebensraum. But what the term in actuality meant was a "racist ideology that proposed [the] aggressive, territorial expansion." Wikipedia.
|Polish Map - German Invasion of Poland September, 1939- Arrow on top left indicates German Army Thrust in in the direction of Radziejow|
|Polish Infantry, 1939|
|Germany Invades Poland - September, 1939|
|A German Army unit occupying a Polish village |
The clandestine implementation of Hitler’s secret policy was in keeping with Hitler's ominous public declaration that if war broke out "[t]he result will not be the Bolshevization of the earth, and thus the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe." ibid, p.6. Even during the early stages of the invasion it became clear that Hitler's secret plan was being implemented with unimaginable cruelty. "Within two weeks, the Brandenburg (Death Head) Division had left a trail of murder in more than thirteen Polish towns and villages." ibid, p.8.
|1939 German Invasion of Poland - Germans Burning a Town in Poland|
The Wehrmacht was nearly twice as large as the Poland's army and several times more organized. Germany fielded over 60 divisions and dominated the air with approximately two thousand aircraft. The German land forces constituted five armies making up a total of 1.5 million soldiers. The Luftwaffe, Germany’s air force, was made up of hundreds of the latest attack planes and bombers. The Wermacht was a professional army commanded by capable Generals. Thus making the German Army the most powerful fighting force in Europe.
|1939 German Invasion of Poland|
On September 1, 1939 at the famous battle referred to as the Charge at Krjanty, Polish cavalry attacked a dispersed German infantry battalion only to end up fighting against German armoured cars firing machine guns. The cavalry retreated losing about a third of the 250 cavalry soldiers along with its commander, Swiesciak. Still the battle was considered a victory of sorts because it temporarily delayed the German advance. A myth was created about this battle in which the Polish Cavalry charged German Panzer tanks with the soldiers wielding lances and sabres Regardless, just about all efforts by the Polish Army were tragic regardless of the brave efforts to defend the Polish homeland from the invading Huns. Internet, BBC, September 1, 1939, On This Day, Germany Invades Poland.
|Fast Moving German tanks Invade Poland|
Radziejow Survivor Henry Gronow was a Jewish soldier in the Polish cavalry at the time of the invasion. He was drafted into the Polish Army in 1934. He served in a Polish cavalry unit. Three years later, in 1937, he received his discharge. When Germany entered the Sudetenland located in Czechoslovakia in 1938 he was recalled for reserve duty. A few months later he was again discharged. He was on the front line with orders to repel the German invasion force. He and his fellow soldiers witnessed the Germans new tactic in war strategy called blitzkrieg. First came wave after wave of fast moving tanks supported by hundreds of Luftwaffe bombers along with supporting massive artillery support. The attack was then followed by tens of thousands of infantry troops and their support units. Gronow and his fellow soldiers were never prepared to stop such a massive display of firepower. After three weeks of Poland's brave but fruitless resistance, Henry Gronow along with the brave Poles he fought with ceased to be able to defend Poland. He along with tens of thousands of troops were either killed, wounded, or captured.
The Najman family huddled in the basement and listened in silent terror as they heard the whistling of artillery shells then bursting and small arms fire. The sounds were constant, but most frightening of all was the sounds from bombing raids of the Luftwaffe as they bombed and destroyed fortifications and installations and then followed up by strafing the soldiers as they sought cover.
|Poles and Jews Fleeing the Nazi Blitzkrieg 1939|
|Polish Refugees fleeing the German Onslaught of Watheland, September, 1939|
When they reached the main highway the road was jammed with a mass of humanity made up of thousands of refugees fleeing from the front. A several mile long caravan of escaping refugees was heading towards the capitol and largest city in Poland, Warsaw. Traffic moved at a snail’s pace, and at times not at all.
As he sat perched on the seat next to wagon driver he was quiet, appearing lost in his thoughts. Family members were worried about him. They all had heard stories about German soldiers that took pleasure in haranguing frum (orthodox) looking Jews. That included cutting off their beards. One look at Shimon and you knew that he would soon be subject to the cruelty of the anti-Semitic invaders.So fearing for Shimon's safety they urged him to change his clothes and shave off his beard. Shimon adamantly refused.He understood that his future and his family's future as well was not dependent on whether he had a beard or not. His refusal did not deter his family to continue to pressure him. They said that if he didn't it could endanger the little ones that were with them. Eventually he buckled, at least in his own mind but not in anyone elses, that he would cover his beard with a handkerchief. Of course, the Najmans knew that this was nothing better than a bad joke often told by people in a time of danger. They asked themselves, "[h]ow could a handkerchief around his face fool the Germans?" But the family was resigned to the fact that it was useless to further protest. So Shimon wore a handkerchief around the lbeower part of his face thus covering his beard.
One Jew asked another, “[a]re not the Germans the enemy of the Poles as well as the Jews?”
The Jews quickly learned that the Poles, for whatever reason, could not to be counted on for help. It didn't matter whether the reason for pointing out Jews was that a Pole was an anti-Semite or just someone looking out for himself. The results for the Jews were ultimately the same.
|Map of German Invasion Armies - Poland's Army Pomeranian Defended Radziejow|
When the Najmans arrived back in town they were both physically and mentally spent. As they drove through the town they immediately saw that many of the stores and homes owned by Jews had been ransacked. They later learned that when the Jews fled Radziejow Poles began looting the unguarded properties. Fortunately, the Najmans found that the looters had not completely cleaned out their storeroom. There remained some precious merchandise mainly because the Najmans were among the first Jews to return. Apparently, the looters were planning to finish stealing the remainder the next day.
The British and French ambassadors in Berlin met with the Germany's Foreign Minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop. The ambassadors presented a united front and told the Foreign Minister in no uncertain terms that absent a complete withdrawal of German troops from Poland, both France and England would support Poland.