The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Subject: Life and Fall of Wlodowa: Untitled Rememberance of Life in Wlodowa     
Summary: from the Yizkor book of Wlodawa
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Organization: The Nizkor Project (CANADA)
Keywords: Wlodowa

Archive/File: places/poland/wlodawa/wlodawa.011
Last-modified: 1993/03/19

              The Life and Fall of Wlodawa and Surroundings
                   Translated by Shoshana Leszczynski
             (Transcribed by Ken McVay, kmcvay@nizkor.org)

        [Please refer to Wlodawa.001 for transcription comments]

                              (Untitled)
                            Sara Omolinski

One winter day at the end of 1939 some months after the outburst of
World War II some farmers from the village Sobibor told us that they had
found some corpses and it was very likely that they were Jews. They had
also found some people who, although still alive, were unable to walk.

The town was terrified by these  news and the leaders of the
community immediately started the rescue operation. Sheets were
collected for the shrouds, wagons were hired to bring the corpses and
the farmers were paid to help find the corpses in the forest.

All day long the wagons came back loaded with the dead. Some were in the
uniforms of the Polish army and some were civilian clothes. Among the
dead were some who were still breathing but their bodies were frozen.

It was an extremely cold winter and it was no wonder that people were
freezing and dying. These were prisoners whom the Germans had taken
while conquering the environments of Tuzin near Bialistok. They had been
transported for days in unheated wagons to the valley of the Sobibor
forest and then shot there. Even those who were lucky and escaped from
the Germans in the forest could not defy the severity of the frost and
froze. We succeeded in saving only a small part of those that were
brought to the town.

Two small houses on Blotna Street were turned into temporary hospitals
where the frozen were operated on amputating fingers, hands and legs.
Many girls without the slightest knowledge in medicine volunteered to
serve as nurses. They devotedly sat up with the sick working day and
night. The convalescents were lodged in private houses and there they
were provided with money and food.

This had been the first action the Germans had executed in our
environment but then the Germans did not yet dare to display their
ruthlessness in public and so this one was carried out scretly.

In the year 1940 the Germans ordered the "Judenrat" to open a Jewish
co-operative, where the Jews could buy their food, as it was forbidden
for Polish shops to sell or to deal with Jews. Generally it contained a
very small quantity of food. It happened very often that you could get
nothing there. The ration of 100 gr. bread for every person was provided
by the two Jewish bakeries.

Hunger and poverty increase from day to day. Those possessing goods for
sale, sold them and bought some flour, potatoes and wood on the black
market. You could only obtain these goods in return for clothes in
excellent condition, linen and gold. But not everyone possessed these
items. Even those who were well-off could not bear up to this kind of
exchanges for long, as the Germans had forbidden the Jews to go to the
villages and buy food from the farmers. Later on it was forbidden to
bake in private houses at the risk of being shot.

                            THE COOPERATIVE

In the beginning of 1940 the Germans confiscated Jewish shops, mills and
workshops and handed them over to the Ukrainians who were rushed to our
town. The Germans expelled the Jews from their houses and settled
themselves in them or distributed them to the Ukrainians.

The situation of the Jews became worse and worse. The confiscation of
the shops and workshops deprived other Jews as well from their
livelihoods. These Jews had been agents and traders. And now there was
no longer a possibility to earn money especially when the trade with the
farmers of the environments was stopped.  The Jews were starving
especially the families of the labourers who always had lived from hand
to mouth.

The rich Jews had something to sell and so bought food. But hundreds of
working families and just poor pople did not possess anything to sell...
the situation grew worse from day to day. True, one somehow tried to
help -- but no help could alleviate the poverty. The Germans captured
Jews for forced labour and compelled the "Judenrat" to place at their
disposition labourers for different kind of work. In the year 1941 the
Germans once again confiscated the houses where few Jews were still
living and handed them over to Ukrainians just arriving to town. The
Jews were gathered together in a special area -- the ghetto, where they
lived crowded together. A law was passed forbidding Jews to buy food
from the farmers and from the shops of the Ukrainians which once had
belonged to the Jews. This law also saddened those who had something to
sell... They, too had to live from 100 grammes of bread a day according
to a ration card the Germans distributed and the bread was only
available in two Jewish bakeries.

The situation became terrible. Now all were starving. The Judenrat
succeded  in its efforst to receive permission from the Germans to
open a shop in the ghetto, in order to appease the terrible hunger a
little. This shop we called the cooperative. Here you could get without
a card: Salt, matches, candles, shoe-laces and all kinds of other
articles that could not appease the hunger even one percent.

From time to time, actually every few months the Germans rationed to the
cooperative some black sugar or some rotten potatoes, which the
Christian inhabitants did not want to take and not even those with
cards.

This was more or less the financial situation of the Jews of Wlodowa
until the blood-shedding actions which brought the Jews to Sobibor. And
as much as we would not like to describe this terrible situation that
lasted 4 years, we would not thing that it would came  out pale and
untrue. The cooperative where my sisters Nechama Lustigmann and Elka
Reichmann were working existed until the third action on October 29,
1942, the day when 8000 until  10,000 Jews were transported to
Sobibor.

                         THE ATTACK ON RUSSIA

The year 1941. Two weeks before attacking Russia our surroundings were
filled with swarms of German soldiers. They were located in the barracks
and they crowded the whole town. A certain restlessness was felt all
over. My grandfather Jeshajahu Zerwenagora who had been the former owner
of the power station and was working now as woodcutter in the camp of
Falkenberg Bernard, the supervisor of the plumping  who enployed
about 2000 labourers, came home once and told us that Falkenberg had
secretly decealed  to him the important information that that night
the Germans would march upon the Russians. This was the evening before
June 21. This concealed secret spread immediately to all houses of the
town. Throughout this hystoric  night the Jews did not sleep.
Everyone was afraid of new and terrible events. Some thought that if the
Germans were distraced by war with the Russians they would not have time
to care for the Jews and we would be enabled  to breath freely
again.

In the morning we saw German squads approaching lowering boats into the
Bug crossing the river.

It seemed as if the Russians neither opposed them nor defended
themselves at all.
 
                             THE GREAT ACTION

On Saturday Octorber 24th, 1942 we got up as usual at 6.00 o'clock in
the morning in order to go to work. I together with 29 girls worked in
the gardens. We planted germbuds and little trees at the Pole's
Antonowitz, who was the inspector of the forests. Outside it was
pouring, our clothes got soaked and the cold penetrated to our bones but
obtaining from work was out of question since it was too dangerous.
Gradually the heavy rain let up and it continued a drizzling for the
rest of the day. The whole time we were oppressed by restlessness and
fear. We instinctively felt that some thing was going on. Some days
before Jews from the villages were brought to us and this was not a good
sign. There were obstinate rumours that an action would take place that
day.

People were running like mad not knowing what to do, whether to attend
work or not and hid  instead. We had already experienced earlier
actions, in which thousands of adults and children had been massacred.
Everyone knew what "Action" meant and made efforts to look for ways to
avoid being captured by the bloodthirsty murderers.

My younger sister Nechama and I, were already outside, we were as
confused as the others. According to the directive all the Hews were to
report on the ground next to the grammarschool. There numbers would be
distributed among those capable of working and those would be sent back
to work, on the other hand those not appearing would be deported to
Sobibor. This name filled young and old with horror. When we heard this
we quickly ran home and after a short consultation we decided; as we are
young we culd allow ourselves to report and they would choose us again
for work.

Our oldest sister Jehudit who just now was recovering from a second
attack of Typhus and who still was very pale was to stay at home
together with the parents and the grandmother, father's mother who lived
with us. We prepared a hiding place for them in the cellar and hoped
that we would succeed in rescuing our family that was still whole. We
believed that our fortunate luck would not leave us also in the future.
On a regular working day we brought with us a parcel of food. By the way
we were among those lucky ones who did not exist only on 100 gr. bread a
day because our grandfather could still sell some objects from time to
time and bring a little bit of flour which, although, forbidden to be
baked into bread home, was, nevertheless used to prepare other sorts of
meals and thus diminish the hunger.

Special rows were already standing in the ground. At one place we saw
those who had been brought from the camps Ossobi and Kricha. They were
barefooted and with torn clothes nearly naked. Wet from the rain and
trembling from cold they stood unsteadily on their weakened legs. They
looked like skeletons having lost the least resemblance to humans,
appearing to be shaing shadows before death.

Those assembled from the villages were standing close together. Here and
there we saw children clinging to their mothers. The Ukrainian and
Letvian murderers wandered about looking for an excuse to attack the
defenceless people. Adults as well as children were trembling from cold
and fear. The murderer Lotar and his dog had not yet arrived and the
SS-men ran to and fro like angry killers waiting for the order.

A huge queue of 2000 people of Falkenberg's labourers was standing
apart. They were the select of the camp, envied by everyone thinking
their lives were safe. Even now Falkenberg promised them that he would
take them back to work.

At the same moment everyone was thinking the same thing. My sister and I
too were sure that the lines would be surveyed soon and would be among
those lucky enough to be sent back to work and to life. Therefore
everyone tried to lift their heads in order not to appear weak or ill
but to look capable of work. 

Freezing and frightened we waited until two or three o'clock until the
Head of the SD Nitschke with two of his assistants arrived. The rain had
not yet stopped but we were more afraid of the "Akzia" than of the rain
and cold.

Each time a new group of Jews was brought to the lot eveyrone was afraid
to find among them a relative, father, mother, brother or sister who had
remained in a hiding-place. They passed indifferently the lines with
blood-shot eyes and from the thin lips of their murderous faces you did
not hear a sound. At the end Nitschke chose some craftsmen to whom the
watchmaker Abraham Lerer with his wife and daughter Batsheva belonged,
Lerer fixed watches and ornamented jewels from the plundered gold which
were sent to the wives and msitresses, Motel Ben Sische Silberstein who
was known as a skillful locksmith, as well as Nechama Adler an
embroiderer of linen.

Falkenberg too chose some tens of craftsmen so that together they were
50 men. They were removed across the fence to the court of the SD. All
the time were were enclosed by SD-men and the "Blacks", Ukrainians and
Letvians. Most sriking was Lotar with his dog and some of his assistants
walking around like beasts. Woe the one who did not seem to stand
straight or who they believed was moving. At the end the men were
separated from the women. The murderers snatched children from the arms
of their mothers and a bitter fight developed between armed killers and
weak mothers. I do not find the words to describe the horrible
performance going on there on the lot. With truncheons, guns and daggers
they thrashed the women and mothers who refused to give their children
from their ams . Many assualted the Germans like wounded tigers and
tried to push them away while they pressed their children closer to
their hearts.

Heartbreaking was the spectacle of the men being separated form 
their wives and children. The shouts and howling rose until heaven. The
Germans struck right and left over the heads of those pressed together
in the last moments before their separation.

Two huge lines. One of women and one of men, started moving towards the
railway station. More than 10,000 people, old men, women and children
dragging their feet in mud and puddles on the way to Sobibor.

We passed the yard where the 50 craftsmen were standing - chosen to
live. They recognized their relatives among those going to Sobibor and
broke out into terrible shouts pulling their hair and beating their
heads. Among those lucky was also our uncle Abrehmel Zarnwanagore, and
when he saw us he fell down on earth tearing out pieces of his skin.

We went silently, depressed, many did not even pay attention to the
shouts, as if they did not even reach their ears. Gradually we were all
seized by depression which did not leave us until their  arrival at
Sobibor.

All the time the voices which had accompanied us to the train echoed in
my ears. We were surrounded by the SS-men and their assistants the
"Blacks" who even surmounted their masters the Germans. The dogs they
brought with them, only waited to hear the word "Jude" in order to
attack their poor victim.

Because of the narrowness of the street, we were devided  into 2
groups. One passed through Seminowastreet, and one the market. My sister
and I passed through the market as we were part of the last group.

In the corner, next to the pharmacy of Grinstein stood 2 Germans and one
of them shouted: He, 2 Junge, kommt her! (You two young ones come here).
We left the line and approached them. One of them was pointing out two
corpses and ordered us to load them on the nearby carriages. For a
moment I hesitated but immediately I realized the folly of my doubts and
bent down to the dead lying down with.

My sister too bowed down and our tear-wet eyes met. We started to drag
away the corpses, but it surmounted our strengths. The farmer standing
at the carriage pitied us and helped us load the bodies. Among the
corpses lying was one still living. Apparently he belonged to the Jews
from abroad from Czechoslovakia who stayed in the camp Ossobi. When we
dragged him as we believed him dead, but we heard him whispering in
German "Oh, mein Gott, meing Holzschuhe" (Oh, my God, my clogs).

The clogs had fallen from his feet while being dragged. The carriages
loaded with corpses followed the poor Jews to Sobibor.

The two Germans withdrew and we remained standing helplessly. We were so
filled with resignation and despair and were so depressed that the
possibility to flee the death waiting everywhere did not enter my mind.
I told my sister that.

In joining I saw only our rescue. I felt only the need to be with these
pitiful damned though we knew that this way led to our death. The
feeling of keeping together with our equals and not remaining alone drew
us to them.

With disordered hair we ran down the slopes rebelliously until we
reached the people treading in the mire and squeezed into the mass until
we found our line.

The road formed by the dry river was now a real swamp and we could
hardly tread on it; the murderers drove us with whips, guns and dogs. If
someone fell down he did not get up any more, he was run over or town
about by the dogs. Now we no longer walked but run , nobody wanted
to be slow, the fear of the dogs and the fear to be run over made us
hurry.

                         AT THE RAILWAY STATION

When we arrived at the railwaystation we were told to sit down on the
rails in order that we would be more easily supervised. Suddenly our
eyes were drawn to the other end where something was going on. We saw an
unexplicable movement there. And suddenly a line of young men in
rubberboots appeared before us. We whispered among us that Falkenberg
was choosing his labourers. From far you heard the shouts. "Herr Chef"
(Mr. Boss).

They came from the girls who had previously worked with him and now were
asking to be taken back while they were waving with their labourcards,
but he did not even look at them and chose other girls.

My sister said: You see he is taking labourers who did not work with
him, lets  try to rescue our lives. She pulled me towards her and
we moved toward. A German guard shouted "Get back". A policeman one who
knew my sister from the Jewish cooperative told her to pass and me he
sent back.

I stopped confused not here and not there. The German who told us to
return asked me: Why don't you pass? The policeman does not allow it, I
answered. Hearing this he took me and let me pass. On our way back to
Wlodowa we did not feel the rain and the mire but run and fled from the
death.

When we were already in town our elder sister came towards us and then
mother. It is difficult to describe our meeting. 

When I arrived home I fell down on the bed to sleep, only to sleep. I
wanted to forget the fear and everything. When I woke up I did not know
where I was.

My younger sister Nechama had a terrible nervous breakdown and was
forced to stay at home. Mother took care of her. One day our father,
David Lustigmann divided all his belongings to the poor saying that he
no longer needed anything. Soon he would go to SOBIBOR. As much as we
tried to console him and to persuade and to persuade  him that he
was wrong it was all in vain. These two cases badly influenced my mother
and the cup of our family sorrows was filled.

At this time it was impossible to be inactive to even a moment as
otherwise you fell into an abyss of despair and to leave it was very
difficult. My sister Jehudith and I who was still weak after the Typhus
went to the camp. After the "action" Falkenberg fenced in the camp as he
wanted to be sure that his Jewish labourers would not be captured and
that he could rule over someone.

The camp, though it was enclosed was still open. The labourers could go
home after the work. They took their working permit with them and
returned the next day to work in the camp. There the different groups
stood forming a square. The supervisor took the roll and then every
labourer went to his work. The work usually consisted of: Drying swamps
and cutting down trees in the woods. In the evening on their return to
the camp they were once more counted before going home to sleep.

Once we were standing for the evening check Falkenberg appeared with 2
SD-men something that had never happened before. When Falkenberg called
the name of Paul Shakad of Kalish, a handsome young and strong lad came
and placed himself in front of them. One of the SD-men or the
"Schwabga"nse" ordered him to turn around putting a gun to his neck, one
shot was heard and he fell down to the earth.

After this cold-blooded murder Falkenberg told us: From today we are no
longer free labourers but we live in a closed camp. Those who will not
heed the discipline will die like this young man who has stolen
something. Naturally this was only an excuse justifying this cruel
murder which was the preparation of the next "Aktzia". At the end of
1942 the last extermination actions started on the other side of the
Bug. From there the Germans did not transport the Jews to Sobibor or to
other camps but shot them in masses where they lived and then buried
them in mass graves together with living people. Wlodowa was the store
supplying victims to Sobibor. Since the whole area of the "Se-Bugem"
(beyond the Bug) was "Judenrein", a small part of the remnants escaped
into the woods.

On November 6th we got up as usual for work when we presented ourselves
for the roll-call we noticed that the camp was surrounded by Germans and
"Blacks". The leader of the SD Nitschke came with his assistants
followed by the campleader Falkenberg. Nitschke declared to us that the
camp was closed and everyone trying to leave would be shot on the spot.
Today everyone would receive a working number and anyone hiding someone
without a working number would risk the life of all the inhabitants of
this house, because they would be killed.

Now we felt the approach of an action. Now ww were not even sure with a
working number and there was no longer the possibility of meeting one's
parents or our little sister.

On that same day we were not led to work signifying that the action
would take place. We wandered around like mad though we knew that our
relatives had a sure hiding-place in the ghetto. We were seized by a big
restlessness.

The hidingplace of our relatives in the house of Moshe Mendel was a
cellar whose door was next to the kitchen leading to the stable that
served as a storehouse for wood and used objects. It was difficult to
find the cellar because its opening was covered by a heavy cardboard my
father and Moshe Mendel would move over the entrance when my mother,
sister and grandmother Chaja-Ita Seligman and the family of Moshe Mendel
entered the cellar. We ascended into the loft and a horrible spectacle
of the action at its peak beheld our eyes. Here and there the Ukrainian
policemen and the SD-men were pushing men, women and children. The echos
of the shots were intermingled with the screaming and yelling of women
and children. These were the remnants of the survivors of the great
action and now they were with out any hope of escape.

The searching and capturing lasted 3 days and was accompanied by screams
and hawls . Already on the first day of the action I heard from a
guard, Jewish policemen that they had captured my father. I felt that I
had been struck with an axe on my head and I could hardly remain
standing. We lost our father and there was nobody who would move the
cupboard and all those in the cellar would die of starvation and thurst
.

For 3 days we looked for a plan how to leave the camp, to move the
cupboard and to liberate those in the cellar from a sure death. I
finally succeeded in persuading a Jewish guard and he helped us leave
the camp. At midnight we crawled along the walls of the houses until we
reached the house of M. Mendel. In the hall of the stairs we saw a
corpse and we recognized the shoemaker from vis-avis. We entered the
room where a terrible silence prevailed. I lay down on the earth
speaking in a whisper in order not to frighten them explaining them that
we were there.

With our last strenght  we succeeded in moving the cupboard. Until
today we cannot explain how we managed. With great difficulties they
crawled out of the cellar, the sight of their faces was terrible. For
three days they had not eaten nor drunk.

Withour regard to the fact that they could not walk but whispering we
encouraged them to walk and finally we reached the gate. Luckily for us
the same guard was watching and let us enter the camp.

At the same night another surprise took place: grandfather Jeshaju
Zerwangore came running having escaped from his capturers. The SD-man
had sent his dog after him and he tore off his coat from him. Grandpa
did not lose his head. He left his coat in the mouth of the dog and he
himself escaped. He decided to enter the house of a Christian neighbor
where he waited two days before he came to Falkenberg and here he was
let into the camp.

At the morning roll-call half of the family stood in the line. In this
action the whole "Judenrat" was killed as it was no longer needed. On
the third day the action was over. Here and there the Jews left their
hiding-places. The Germans did not bother them as they were sure of them
for the next time. Now the ghetto was enclosed with barbed wire in order
to collect the remaining Jews.

                            IN THE CLOSED CAMP

In the camp there were 500 young people and two old men: My grandfather
Jeshajahu Zerwangore and Benni Barnholz. We were kept like real
prisoners. It was forbidden to leave the place, there we ate, slept and
worked. A working day lasted from 7.00 o'clock in the morning until 7.00
o'clock in the evening. The labourers were divided into groups and every
group had a leader. Every group had different work. Every labourer had
his own working number. We were not paid for and the meals were
tasteless. The camp was closed for about half a year. During this time
we prepared ourselves for what we had been throughout expecting. Now we
knew that the Germans were keeping us as long as they neede our work and
when they would no longer have use of us they would kill us.

We started to think how we could save ourselves when the time of
extermination arrived. At night we began building underground shelters
and tunnels, where we could hide when the attack would start. There were
some who prepared a hiding-place in their houses and some who buildt a
double wall in the loft between which they could hide.

At the end of April 1943 the landlord of our house, the Pole Antowitz
told us he had seen hair-raising things. The ghetto was rebelling and
the Germans were attacking them with planes and bombs and tanks,
bombarding them.

We knew that the whole district of Wlodowa and Mesritz that were thought
to be "Judenstaaten" were empty of Jews. Day by day we saw the black
smoke rising over Sobibor which did not allow us to forget what was
awaiting us. Every moment we were in danger and therefore, we were
always ready to hide.

At the same time we heard that a group of 15 people led by Moshe
Lichtenberg succeeded in escaping into the forest as partisans. When
this was verified we did not stop talking about it. On May 1st the day
after Pessach, on our way to work in the morning we felt that something
was going on. My uncle, Abraham Zerwangure slipped away into one of the
camp alleys and immediately he returned announcing: action.

We did not have a hiding-place of our own because our house did not have
the conditions for it. I agreed with Jechaskel Hubermann that in the
shelter he was building in the house of the sisters Ledermann, would
also be our place.

I had also a promise for another shelter. I was running home along the
alleys and when I reached the crossing of Wirka Street the "Blacks" were
already there and one of them was shooting at me. I succeeded in
entering the alley where the other shelter was situated but it was piled
up with trees so I continued. On the way I met Jechaskel who told me to
hurry up because they were going to close the shelter.

People were standing on the plot for the roll-call. I crept along the
walls in order to slip away home.

Together with my mother and my sisters (grandpa and my uncle were
looking for another hiding-place) we ran to Jechaskel. On the way we
were shot at and by wonder we reached him and together we entered the
shelter where other young people were staying and the sisters Ledermann
(one of them is living today in Venezuela) and after us the shelter was
closed.

The entrance was through the floor of the kitchen under the basin a plate
of metal was lying on the floor to prevent the planks from being
ignited by a bullet. Under this place was the cover of the shelter.

This shelter was destined  but when we joined there were 40 in it.
There was food for several days for ten people as well as two
waterboilers, filled with water.

Because of the big crowd the air grew hot and we felt that we were
broiled. We were wet and had to strip off the upper garments. But even
this we did not touch the food and wanted only to drink. We moistened
only the lips as we had to spare the water. We knew that it would be
very difficult to bring new water. Even if we dared fetch water at night
the noise of the water-pump could bring disaster upon us. But as much as
we tried to save the water the boilers became empty. We tried to set a
turn for each of us to fetch water but in vain, everyone was afraid of
failure and all of us were afraid that the cellar would be closed off.

Once Jachaskel took the risk and left to bring water and when he had
already filled half of the bucket they started to shoot, he escaped -
but the half-filled bucket he brought.

To describe the feeling of fear in the packed full cellar is impossible.
I already emphasized several times that to tell about or to describe
such a feeling is impossible. Generally, all the adventures that we the
Jews of the camps and ghettos went through at this time exceeded all
human agonies. Not only one of the survivors nor those of following
generations will believe what I am telling. We sat packed in the cellar
and heard over us the nailed steps and it seemed as if now they would
find our hiding place. The cellar was very well concealed and there was
a double ceiling so that one walking above could not feel that there is
a hollow space below it. The cellar was built in zigzag-from . But
in spite of all the precautions our hearts were nearly jumped from their
places each time we heard the smallest noise above us.

After a three day stay in the cellar when the steps over us stopped some
of the young people ascended into the loft to see what was going on in
the camp. The air in the cellar was so stuffy that the only opening at
the base of the house could not supply enough air for forty people.

The youngsters returned announcing that it was quiet outside and there
was no further purpose in staying longer, we should flee into the
forest.  We got dressed and set off into the night and the fresh air
that we had not been breathing for three days animated us.  During thas
 night people appeared in the alleys who had previously looked for
a hiding-place and now they were looking for an opportunity to leave
creeping silently towards the gate. Neither a German nor a "Black" was
to be seen in this silence only the noise of the steps of intimated
 people treading softly was heard. The gate of the ghetto was open.

About 1000 shadows tread through the open gate. We all passed in one
breath as if we were being pursued from behind, and silence prevailed.
Only after we had run for about 100 meters did we decrease our pace. We
walked throughout the night on the way leading to Wirk. At sunrise we
found a thicket and as we were afraid of continuing in the day time and
lay down on our backs and waited until nightfall. Afterwards we were to
learn that the day before the Germans had killed a great group of Jews
in this thicket.

In the night some of the young men advanced into the middle of the
forest to scout around and returned telling us that in Adampol in the
estate of the Earl of Samoiski Jews were living and working. We went to
the camp Adampol and while we were there SS-men invaded the place
capturing Jews. Some of us succeeded in slipping away from the camp and
entered fields of corn the stalks of which were quite high. The smell of
the ripe harvest filled the air and gave one the feeling of vacation. My
sister and I ran deep into the corn and seated ourselves separately. The
shots were terrible and the screaming and shouting which were heard from
the camp and the first rows of the cornfield were deafening. I was lying
motionlessly and here I heard the steps of heavy boots, I held my breath
grinding my teeth. The boots were now approaching - I tried not to
breathe even slightly. He illuminated the area around me with a torch
and my heart was nearly broke  of fear but he did not see me.
Suddenly he turned around and went away.

In the morning all those captured in the night were executed and among
them also my ill mother.

At about ten o'clock people came out of the camp to the field crying
that it was possible to leave the corn as silence had returned. When we
left we beheld a terrible sight: In the first lines many dead and
wounded were lying.

Again we stayed in Adampol: working, starving and waiting for death.

Suddenly a sparkle of hope flared up: We started talking about the
partisans... and many of us were thinking earnestly of joining them.
After several attempts we also left.

                           I AND THE DEER

Once at twilight while returning to the camp as we did not find the
partisans my friend and I suddenly saw to shadows with guns. Without
saying a word we separated and started to run in different direction. I
threw off my torn shoes to be able to run easier and set off without
knowing where. Suddenly a bare patch of the forest appeared and blinded
me. I stopped without breath and the fear of being discovered made me
tremble. At the same moment there appeared across from me, on the other
side of the patch a deer who like me was breathing heavily looking
attentively around him with anxious eyes, he looked at me and like the
arrow of an archer he returned to the forest and disappeared - I
returned into the forest.

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