Dziadki-dziatkom 07/15 "Sara, Lejbuś, Dufcie"

Uploaded by stukpukradz on 23.12.2010

Sara, Lejbuś and Dufcie
The ghetto was just behind the elementary school.
There were one-storey wooden houses in poor condition everywhere
and only one multistorey building of Heder - the Jewish school.
Close to AK Street there was another one.
You could also see one or maybe two such little brick buildings there.
How big was this place? As far as I remember,
it was about 300 by 300/400 square metres.
And all the Jews from the area were brought to this place,
which was already inhabited by about 3 thousand of them.
They were coming from all the neighbouring villages,
from Kock, etc.
So it said that there were about 6 thousand people altogether.
What living conditions they had, I'm even afraid to think of.
One person living on another one…
At first, we lived in a house in Gubernia in Radzyń.
Later on, when my father died we didn't lived in this mansion
and moved to my granparents' house in Ostrowiecka Street.
At the back of this house there were some back-premises put together
in a shape of a horseshoe.
You could enter them from the backyard,
and to one of them - from Dąbrowskiego Street.
There were about two or three rooms and three or four families
were living there, each of them separately.
Dąbrowskiego Street was called a Jewish street
because almost all the inhabitants were Jews there.
Rather poor houses, just hovels, nothing was there,
all of them made of wood.
There was a Jewish cinema in Ostrowiecka street.
There were shops and lots of tailors,
who were doing quite well.
Yes, they were wealthy Jews.
In my house, in those back-premises, Jews were living, too.
My mum was a housekeeper there
and she would always say, “I prefer Jews than Poles
because they tend to be obedient more.
If you say - not to do this here and there - they just understand”.
And there were lots of Jews in the area, too.
We lived in a flat “at the gate”
and on each side of it there were little flats resided by them.
Our flat was previously resided by a Jewess, a dressmaker,
but they had moved out earlier and left an empty place.
Still there was a lot of Jews and Jewish kids, of course.
We used to buy Passover bread from them in exchange for sweets
- just a trade like that.
And Jewish kids were trading along with adults,
there was simply no other option for them.
Jews made their living mainly from trade and craft.
They were wealthy.
One Jew was really rich.
He lived at the former bus station here,
you can still see this building.
His name was Fishel, I guess.
He provided local farmers with machines, tools
and all the equipment which was available at that time.
Obviously, no tractors.
Later on, the Pejsakowicz family came here, very rich Jews,
and they started fabric shops instead.
Almost all the trade was in Jewish hands.
All those tenement houses in Ostrowiecka Street were Jewish.
“Your streets, our houses”, Jews used to say.
And it really used to be like that.
But there were all kinds of shops there,
fabric and grocer's shops,
and people simply had to buy there.
There was one Jewess there,
Nóżkowa was her name,
everyone in Radzyń knew her,
and she would visit all those manor houses
and fetch butter from there.
Next, she would go around the neighbourhood and sell this butter to the locals.
At the corner, where the shop of Szabrański is located now,
there used to be a restaurant - at Chaim's.
Vodka was there,
and they owned such inns in the countryside, too.
Jews were warm-hearted people in general.
There was one Jew I particularly remember,
Klejman, as they called him.
He used to live where the Bukowski chemist's is located nowadays.
He would say, “Don't worry, if you can't afford something,
I will give it out on credit”.
We used to live in a Jewish cottage.
It wasn't a nice place
because Jews liked to eat a lot of onions
and apparently, they stored them there.
You could hardly bear this onion smell.
At that time I used to live
at my grandma's house in Warszawska Street,
former Piłsudskiego Street.
And later on, my granny came up with an idea.
She owned a huge square, like 1000 square metres,
so she decided to give it to my father,
and he built a bakery there.
It was in 1935-1936.
I think it was kind of a partnership business
and he ran this bakery together with his brother-in-law.
But my father was actually managing all of this
cause his brother-in-law was constantly busy with working on his 20 hectares of land.
Germans took over the bakery
but they let my father bake things from bread coupons
twice or three times a day.
The rest was being baked by people employed by Germans.
But it happened that once,
those bakers, who came to us from nowhere during the war,
suddenly left the bakery.
So there was a shortage of workers.
My father asked Germans if they were willing
to employ any Jews instead.
And he went to the ghetto.
He got a permit to enter the place
and recruited two people named Kaweblum,
a father and son.
The father was an elderly person, he could hardly walk,
and the son was perfect to labour.
Later on, Lejbuś and Dufcie joined them.
Lejbuś wasn't a surname, only a nickname,
but everyone called him like that.
And Dufcie was still able to do physical work.
And my dear listeners,
they worked together instead of this old man,
and he was helping them as much as he could.
It was a common rule in all bakeries at that time
that the labourers were paid a few groshes for every baked bread
and they got a certain amount of bread at the end of the day, too.
And the same did Germans.
Those Jews agreed to work
only because they could get a few loaves of bread there.
It was very interesting dough
as it was very heavy, about two kilos.
At first, Germans didn't want to employ Jews
cause two of them were wearing beards,
so they had to shave them.
I used to hang around there
and once I saw two old Jews being shaven by my father and neighbours.
And all those Jews were crying.
Dufcie had a pitch-black beard
and Mr Kaweblum, a very old man,
had a much longer white beard.
Anyway, he wouldn't work normally,
but it turned out that it could be some bread out of it
and he decided it was worth it…
I used to have a friend,
we called her Lila, Sara Lila.
A very pretty girl.
But Jews in general were good-looking, such Semitic types.
We were both really good friends.
She showed me a Jewish wedding.
It is true what they say
that the bride is sitting alone in the corner,
old women and wives are lined together
and there's so called crying, they're howling.
It's kind of despair that she's ending her “maiden career”.
Then she's taken by the groom from there
and when they come back
they actually break the glass on the doorstep.
It's a superstition
- if the glass gets broken finely,
it means a good luck.
If not, you've got a bad luck.
Later on, they finally sit down at the tables
to eat the first course.
The seniors and all of them,
very interesting Hasidim as well, are sitting there.
They start from eating a kind of roll.
It looked nice but I didn't try it.
Those rolls are served on tables.
Jews keep praying, take a bite of this roll,
and only after some time they start to have really great fun.
There was a Jew, Śnieżek, living opposite our house.
He was a shoemaker or a tailor, I'm not sure now,
and he had three little girls.
I remember that one evening he came up to our mum.
He got out from there somehow
and asked if she had any bread left
because they were starving.
But we all didn't have any more bread.
Still, mum managed to get it out from somewhere
and she gave it to this Jew.
She felt pity for his children.
Once, I went to a funeral ceremony with her.
Kirkut, their graveyard, is located here next to our new cemetery.
They bury the dead not in coffins, just in white shroud,
but I'm not sure if the bodies are facing the east,
but I think they put them in a vertical position.
There was a special cart with two big wheels, too.
I don't know how they bury those rich ones,
but there were crying women
following this cart all the way to the cemetery.
So they started crying here, in Kaleń,
and they were crying all that time, for money,
it was their funeral ritual.
So I was with her there…
and I've missed her a lot since then.
And it was like that as long as the ghetto existed.
Once at dawn they say,
later my friend told me so,
they came there silently and drag people out of the ghetto.
Everything was ready,
those ones who couldn't fit in carts
had to walk all this way to Międzyrzec Podlaski.
There was a collective point for the whole province there.
And from there they were taken
straight to a concentration camp in Treblinka.
And they dealt with them in a Nazi manner there…
I also kept visiting one of my friend there,
her house is still there.
Once, Germans conducted a manhunt.
They dragged Jews out of there,
twenty carts on steel wheels were already waiting for them.
They shot them to death
and ordered Poles to put all the bodies in carts.
Suddenly, I looked at one cart…
there was Sara lying dead.
Horses took off
and I saw her head kept bumping against the ground.
It's been a horrible memory for me,
even till this day.
It was the last time I saw her…
What a nice girl she was.