The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Subject: Life and Fall of Wlodowa: Nearly a Legend
Summary: from the Yizkor book of Wlodawa
Organization: The Nizkor Project (CANADA)
Keywords: Wlodowa

Archive/File: places/poland/wlodawa/wlodawa.017
Last-modified: 1993/03/24

              The Life and Fall of Wlodawa and Surroundings
                   Translated by Shoshana Leszczynski
             (Transcribed by Ken McVay,

        [Please refer to Wlodawa.001 for transcription comments]

                          NEARLY A LEGEND 
                            Misha Lew 

   We the organisation of the survivors of Wlodlowa in Israel, together
   with the survivors of the death camp Sobibor, declare herewith our
   recognition and our thankfulness to the Jewish Russian officer
   Alexander Zerski the courageous hero, the organizer of the revolt in
   Sobibor, and his three friends of the mutiny survived: Arkadi
   Weispapir, Simion Rosenfeld and Ipis Litbonowski.  God bless also
   the memory of those who fell in the battle during the revolt!  

   In this death camp, 6-8 km away from Wlodowa, all the Jews of the
   town and its surroundings were suffocated and burnt.  Thank to the
   heroism of the organizer and participants of the revolt the honour of
   the Jews was saved and their revolt against the forces of their
   torturers marks the courage and heroism of the Jews.  May the
   shortened fragments of the essay of Misha Lew about the four heroes
   and the description of the course of the battle, that we bring on our
   memory book, be a document for the generations of the Jewish history.

   Alexander Kazarski, Lieutenant of the Soviet army, captured by the
   German army near Viasma in the year 1941.  

   Arkadi Weispapir, was imprisoned near Lazernigow.  

   Simion Rosenfeld, not yet l9 years old bombed together with Soviet
   soldiers vans loaded with weapons, he was wounded and was imprisoned
   near the border.  

   Ipis Litwinowski was also wounded and captured.  

   For two years they were dragged from one camp to the other until they
   arrived to Minsk.  There they were shut up in a cellar together with
   the other Jewish prisoners.  Every day corpses were taken out of the
   cellar and the guard would ask: "Do we have still to wait a long
   until all of you die?" and a voice always answered: "Yes you will
   have to wait a long time!" 

   Together with them was a Jewish Communist from Poland, Shlomo
   Leitmann and someone from Sowjet Union, Boris Zibolski.  

   On September l9, all those were taken away from Minsk who declared
   that they were craftsmen, carpenters, constructors and others.  They
   were loaded on 25 wagons, always 70 in a wagon.  For 4 days and
   nights the train crawled to Sobibor.  During this time they did not
   taste a slice of bread or a drop of water.  

   The Oberscharfu"hrer ordered the craftsmen without family to leave.
   Among those Pazarski Leitmann, Rosenfeld, Weispapir, Litwinowski,
   Schubejew and others descended.  They were led to a enclosed area
   with barbed wire, where the people of the camp were arranging logs of
   wood.  Suddenly it became so difficult so breathe that one nearly
   could suffocate.  In the area of about half a kilometer a dense smoke
   dispersed and you could see flames of fire and a terrible noise was
   heard: Hundreds of geese were making noise.  When they were already
   in the barrack someone entered and told them to stand with their
   backs to the train.  He asked: "From where are the Jews coming?"
   "From Minsk".  He was answered and was also asked why nobody had
   answered their greeting.  "This is an order because not all the
   people of our train have been burnt yet.  You were left to finish the
   northern camp".  

   That same evening they learnt that the camp was built according to
   the order of Himmler.  this plan was worked out by the SS-engineer
   Tomol.  The supervision of the construction was in the hands of the
   chief supervisor of the death camp Holdheimer and the engineer
   Maser.  Himmler himself visited the camp in July 1943, and after
   his visit they started to burn 15,000 Jews per day.

   Sobibor consisted of three camps actually.  In the first the
   workshops of the shoemakers, tailors, carpenters and two officer
   domiciles were situated.

   From there was a passageway to the second camp, there the belongings
   of those who were moved over to the third camp through the
   "Himmelsstrasse" (sky street) were classified and packed.  There
   already half a million Jews were exterminated.  1500-20000 Jews a day
   arrived to Sobibor from Poland, Czechoslowakia, Holland, France,
   Austria and others  countries.  From the Sovjet Union this was the
   first train.  

   Baruch who had already been in the camp for a year and a half told
   us: "In the spring a couple tried to escape.  They were seized and
   killed together with another 150 people.  Two communists who worked
   with some of the camp inhabitants in town, suffocated the guard and
   escaped, the others were brought back and shot, But Pazarski acted
   towards him with suspicion.

   In the northern camp there was work for a month only.  On the same
   day 25 men who had approached were beaten.  They were beaten with a
   whip coated with rubber and the one being hit had to count in a loud
   voice and if he made a mistake the beating started from the beginning
   again.  The next day 25 others were beaten.  

   On the third day Franz, the camp leader shot the cook because he did
   not succeed in distributing the water soup within the time alotted
    to him, 10 minutes.

   On the fourth day Pazarski was lucky and escaped from sure death.  He
   stood with other camp inhabitants and was cutting woodblocks with an
   unsharpened axe.  His working partner a Dutch notary, was cleaning
   his glasses and was contemplating how to cut the block Franz
   approached him and with all his strength struck his head.  The
   glasses of the Dutchman fell down and broke into thousand pieces,
   strewn with blood he started hacking with his axe on the tree and
   Franz was hacking on his head with his stick until he collapsed on
   the earth drawning  in his blood.

   Pazarski stood looking on both until his glance met with the glance
   of the murderer and this one shouted: "Russ, komm her (Russian come
   here!)" Baserski, the Kapo told him that the Oberscharfu"hrer gave
   him 5 minutes to cut the piece of wood and he would get a pack of
   cigarettes and if not, he would be beaten until death.  Alexander
   spread out his legs rubbed his hands, lifted the axe and turned his
   head towards the German, who had drawn his gun and quickly put it

   After four and a half minutes the block was cut.  

   When he gave him the cigarette he refused to accept them: "I do not
   smoke" -- he said.  Franz said something to the Kapo and he went and
   returned with bread and a package of margarine.  This Pazarski
   refused to accept: "I am not hungry", he said.  

   And, oh, wonder, the Oberscharfu"hrer put his gun back into his case
   and went away.  In the course of the time Baruch gained the trust of
   Pazarski and one day he told Baruch about the underground group
   existing in the camp to which the following belonged.  

   Leon Feldhendler, who worked together with Baruch in the second camp,
   the manager of the tailor workshops, Jusek the shoemaker Jacob and
   the carpenter Janek.  

   "Do you know in which places the field is mined?" Alexander asked
   him.  "Yes", answered Baruch, "it is like a chessboard for me, I
   myself dug the holes for the mines." Afterwards Baruch was brought to
   the women's camp where he was introduced to some girls and one of
   them Lioka who was breeding rabbits told him that from her place of
   work she could see through cracks in the wood, how about 300 geese
   where moved to the third camp and behind the geese followed for hours
   black naked people.  They were driven to the brick structure then
   passed through the metal gate, then the Disel  was operated,
   infusing the poison into the cells.

   Pazarski and Leitmann came frequently to the locksmiths and the
   smith.  Once they met Basatzki there.  Leitmann pulled Alexander
   away: "let's go!  "go alone", said the Kapo, "I have to clear
   something up with Sasha".  After Leitmann had gone Basatzki said:
   "You are not careful at all.  The event with Franz, your frequent
   visits in the women's camp.  You think I do not understand that Loika
   is nothing but an excuse.  Your right hand is Leitmann.  I only want
   to tell you, if I were a dog I would have handed you over long since,
   but I understand that I too will be burnt, they don't want to leave

   "It's good that you understand.  But why do you tell me all this?
   Sasha why should we loose time in vain?  remember that together with
   us you can gain a lot.  Let us join you: Me and the Kapo Zapik from
   the train headquarters, of the Kapo Schmidt I myself am afraid.
   Think it over and the sooner the better for all of us." 

   On October 12th in the evening not only the Fashists  but also
   the Russian prisoners were standing on guard: Arkadi Weispapir
   inspected the ground and Simion Rosenfeld did not stop watching the
   gate.  They had received the order to announce immediately if they
   had seen something suspicious.

   But they did not know that when the guard beat 9 times with his
   ironstick on the railway.  nine people gathered in the
   carpenterworkship  to discuss whether to invite a tenth man or
   not.  What would have Arkadi Weispapir said if he had known that this
   tenth was the Kapo Basetzki.

   Sasha sent for Basetzki and when he appeared he said: "We are
   starting with consultations.  "What, Sasha, you want to try me or to
   warn me?"

   "There is no time for reproaches now, you are really ought to be
   judged and nevertheless we are entrusting you with lives of 600 Jews,
   and why should we warn you?  You know yourself quite well what is
   expecting  you if you betray us." 

   The next morning Basetzki came to the carpentery  workshop and
   shouted at Janek that the doors in Kasrektin do not close and open as
   they should.  "How should I know this?" Janek replied, "I never go
   there".  "You always have an excuse ready.  Give me someone from the
   workers and I will bring him there".  

   The labourer who took the tool-box was naturally Pazarski, He acted
   as if he tried out the locks in the empty rooms of Kasrektin, closed
   the doors and quickly opened the closets and saw for himself that the
   gun magazines and the girdles were empty.  In the afternoon he and
   Shlomo ascended up the loft observing for a long time the forest to
   the right of the gate.  

   They decided to cut the barbed wire next to the officer's house, they
   knew that the mines around it were only warning mines and it was
   possible to explode them with stones they had long since prepared...
   Ready was also the dry sand to throw into the eyes of the guards.  

   On the loft it was also finally decided what everyone had to do the
   next day, Thursday, October 14th, at 4.00 o'clock in the afternoon
   when the officers would come to try on their suits.  Everything had
   to be ready until 5.00 o'clock, the hour of the roll-call.  Tonight
   70 men had to be equipped with arms, sharp knives and axes that the
   locksmiths and smiths had secretly prepared for them.  

   "Rest a little bit, Sasha," "Immediately, but I am contemplating the
   advise  I am going to propose to Finkewitz, who will lead the
   line, after all he is a lieutenant in the army and experienced."
   "Don't dare, he is frightened".  A few days ago I hinted to him that
   he has to do something -- he answered that he would not participate in
   adventures".  "Perhaps he does not trust you?" 

   "Nonsense, in Minsk he had already said: "Under Pilsudski it was
   still possible to be a Communist but under Hitler it is impossible".
   Very rarely has this region experienced in October such a warm and
   beautiful day.  Basetzki burst out coarsely and let to the rubber
   hose run freely in his hands.  The supervisor Greischutz called him
   and gave him a package of cigarettes for his nice work.  

   Basarski went with 7 men to the little carpentery  workshop.
   From there you could look at the first camp hand as if it were on the
   palm of your hand.  The head of the great workshop was Lettmann that
   day and not Janek.  With him there were 20 men of the Red Army and
   under their shirts there were hammers and knives.  

   At 3.30 o'clock Basetzki had to lead Zibolski and two others to the
   second camp and to kill the four Faschists  there.  But at 2.00
   o'clock an SS-man came and ordered Basetzki and three others to come
   with him.  Bazarski's face was bathed in cold sweat...  He went to
   the great workshop of the carpenters and told Janek and the Kapo
   Zepik to go and see where they were being led.  They were only taken
   to arrange the wood logs in the northern camp.  

   Bazarski called Zibulski and told him: "Zapek will bring you to the
   second camp".  "This does not come into account!" Shouted Sapek,
   "without a permit I am not allowed to go there.  We have to postpone
   everything to tomorrow".  

   "What, you refuse?" Zibulski answered: "Everything will be alright".

   The Germans officers were told to come at a fixed time for the try-on
   of the suits or boots.  The executioner Neumann had to be the first
   to come to the workshop of the tailors.  At 4.00 o'clock.  

   He came ridding  20 minutes before the time.  The main tailor
   Jusek and the "Tailors" Shubajew and Rosenfeld asked him to take off
   the coat.  He took off the coat together with the girdle and the gun
   and put it on the table.  

   "Please" gave him Jusek a new coat, please turn to the light." 

   At the same moment Rosenfeld seized the weapon of Neumann Schubajew
   took I he axe which was hidden near to the table...  

   The corpse they covered with rags and the blood stains with sand they
   dispered on them.  Schubajew went to Bazarski to tell him the
   news.  At 4.05 o'clock came to take his boots the responsible for the
   "Himmelstrasse" the Vicehead of the camp, Go"ttinger.  He was killed
   by Arkadi Weispapir.  

   At 4.10 o'clock the head of the Police Greischutz opened the door, he
   opened and fell down on the earth...  he was killed by Simion.  

   From far the SS-man Gaulstick was seen going to the second camp, of
   which Bazarski did not know what was going on.  Leitmann came towards
   him: "Mister officer, we were ordered to finish the bed planks and we
   don't have exact instructions, the carpenters don't do anything,
   perhaps you come in for a moment".  Shlomo made the way free for him
   to the beds and from the first hit he was dead.  

   At 4.20 Zibulski came to Bazarski and told him: "The four officers
   are dead their weapons taken, the telephone connection cut.  The
   leaders Or the second camp are now Lion and Baruch." To the courtyard
   came some tinsmiths with zinc cones in their hands and brought 6
   German guns with bullets.  

   At 4.30 Basetzki returned with his group and told that the smith from
   Lodz Henrik Hengel had killed on the lamp shade with an iron bar the
   Unterscharfu"hrer Beckman and had taken his machine gun.

   It was time to give the sign for the general action but Bazarski is
   waiting.  Franz the supervisor of the camps is still living.  It was
   promised that he would come to the little carpenter workshop to see
   the new closets.  Why did not he come?  Nevertheless they had to
   start.  Bazarski told Basetski to give the sign and to stand them all
   in a line.  In the first line stood 70 war prisoners of the Russian
   war who had to attack the weapon storehouse.  Lion brought from the
   second camp 150 men.  It became noisy, crowded and everyone guessed
   that something was going on and wanted to be near to the gate.  

   At the same moment appeared like from the earth the supervisor of the
   guards.  He did not understand what this noise meant before the
   roll-on and his whip started to work at its right and at its left.
   He succeeded in standing up all in lines of 5.  And he turned around
   and saw that not only Basetzki as usual was going after him but also
   other camp inhabitants.  

   "Look Kapo that they should stand immediately." He shouted and drew
   out his gun.  Rosenfeld and some others drew their axes.  It was
   now impossible to stop the mass.  And suddenly Bazarski's order was
   heard: "Friends to the house of the officers to cut off the wires!" 

   Now those in the watch towers understood that there is something
   going on and opened the fire.  Pinkewitz and others werc running to
   the main gate.  But they did not reach the forest, they were bombed
   on the mines.  The Russian prisoners with Bazarski ran to the
   weaponmagazine, but the fireshots laid them down on the ground.  Also
   the Faschists set off for the storehouse.  The uprising had only a
   few rifles and guns, but nevertheless they were enough to force the
   Germans to creep on four, but not enough to conquer a weapon

   Bazarski saw Franz arriving almost at the gate of the storehouse and
   when he tried to get up, he shot him.  

   "One after one to the house of the officers".  Bazarski ordered,
   "Tear the wires and quickly to the forest".  He himself would remain
   with some men with arms in order to prevent the enemy from pursuing
   the unarmed rebels.  

   "Commander" someone addressed him, "it is time to withdraw".  

   "Commander" his heart fluttered, it was the first time in 2 years he
   was thus addressed, although he was still in the death camp he was no
   longer its inhabitant.  

   He stood at the edge of the forest to get a breath of fresh air and
   he saw some more people running.  Bullets whistling, fell one here,
   another tread on a mine, and there fell a woman who was already near
   to the forest.  

   They were going one after the other, at the head Bazarski, after him
   Zibulski and the last Weispapir.  

   To leave the forst  was like to abandon a fortress, behind which
   was on open field with a moat full of water.

   Weispapir had heard something and one transmitted to the next
   -- "Beware".  There is still someone here.  They heard Kaukasian -- it
   was Schubejew with his group.  All had already passed to the second
   bank of the moat and again the forest is spread out before them only
   Bazarski is sad.  Schubejew had told kin that Leitmann is seriously
   wounded.  Schlomo, Leon and Baruch had to find the Polish partisans,
   now he was Iying on the stretcher seriously wounded.  Who could tell
   if he'd live until the morning.  

   Pazarski was walking and thinking of those days when he had been
   together with Leitmann and he had never realized how he loved him.
   It was enough that Leitmann would lay down his head and Bazarski
   would know that he could not live without him.  Shlomo sent his last
   farewell and thanks with Schubejew...  whom had he to thank first
   if not Shlomo that they were free now.  Bazarski would never forget

   But to further entertain sentimental thoughts he was not allowed he
   had to take care of 60 men following him.  He knew that it would be
   difficult to hide with such a great group and impossible to escape
   without it being realized.  

   A rustle -- and all held their breaths, again silence.  Good that it
   had been a false alarm.  They continued and there a women was crying:
   "Moishe, wo bist du?" (Moshe where are you).  True no one heard
   Moshe's answer, but it seem- ed as if her voice did not spread only
   in the forest, but "Moishe, wo bist du?" she cried again.  

   What were they to do?  To send her away?  Shlomo would have shaken
   his head: "No!" The scouts went, returned announcing: "Sparse woods,
   field, railway.  What should we do?  Should we stay in the forest?
   Here they would certainly look for us.  They crept to the railway and
   hid between the bushes.  Lucky for them, the wind did not disperse
   the clouds and a dull thin drizzle trickled since the morning.

   Only in the afternoon some planes were to be seen.  And from the
   surrounding forests shots and the barking of dogs were heard, the
   Germans and the police were searching there.  At night they crept
   across the railway and they continued.  

   In the forest they met other escapers from Sobibor.

   "Are you going to the Bug?", Return, it is full of Germans there".
   Bazarski and 8 others decided not to deviate from their course.  In a
   little cave in the forest all gathered for the last time.  Bazarski
   said: "Friends, we will divide into 6 groups, I wish you all a good
   journey succeed and revenge~"

   They hugged him, kissed him and whispered: "Many thanks to you,
   Sasha, we will never forget you."

   After 4 days 9 men sneaked into a yard of a farm and they waited
   some hours until the evening.

   Alexander knocked at the window.  Someone moved the curtain and the
   door was opened.  Bazarski, Zibulski, Schubejew and Weispapir
   entered.  The rest stood outside guarding.  Here in thc farm far
   from the border of Poland and White Russia you heard that there in
   Chelm or Maidanek a miracle had taken place.

   "They say" -- said the farmer -- "that from the ovens where the Fashists
    were burning people, the dead-living had suddenly started to
   jump seizing the Germans at their necks, suffocating them.  They say
   that not far was situated a division of Germans who at first grabbed
   their guns and then threw them away from fear and escaped."

   "Help us to cross the Bug", whispered Bazarski.  The owner adjusted
   the wick of the burner covered the window with a coverr and said: God
   himself helps you, how can I refuse?" addressed his children: "Adja,
   serve to eat and you Tadek, slip into your boots and prepare for the

   In the night of October 20th, they already stepped on earth of White
   Russia.  And after 2 days not far from Brisk they met the first
   partisans.  8 men were accepted in the Kotowski division.  Bazarski
   went to another camp called Shazar, because there he was promised to
   be put with a group of saboteurs who were due to bomb a train.

   Boris Zibulski and Alexander Schubejew fell as heroes.  

   Alexander Bazarski and Arkadi Weispapir succeeded in joining the Red
   Army.  The red ribbons on their hats were changed into stars and
   again battles.

   At the end of August Bazarski was seriously wounded and Waispapir
   rushed to the West.  Bazarski did not cease to inquire of the fate
   of his friends the rebels, during the 4 months that he stayed in the
   division hospital and later as a citizen in Rostow.

   He learnt that on the same evening they escaped, the Germans sounded
   the alarm.  And on October 16, a special division of excavators
   arrived and exploded down all the buildings and guard towers.  They
   pulled out the pillars of the barbed wire loaded them on vans and
   together with the bulldozers that had excavated the pits for the
   ashes of the burnt, took them away.  They also took the transport of
   wagons on which there were still corpses and the disel-engines 
   that had operated the flow of the nitrogen.  They even killed the
   geese and the rabbits.

   Many of the escapers were captured, others escaped to the partisans.
   Jaftim, Litwinowski was at the first in the division of a Polish
   partisan division.  Afterwards he met in the woods of Skoporodniza
   a group of Russian soldiers, who also had escaped from German camps.
   Their leader was Fiodor Kawakiow.  Together they joined the famous
   partisan union under the leadership of Fiodorow, a hero who had
   distinguished himself twice in the Sowjet Union.  

   Simion Rosenfeld felt sharp pains in his right leg, an hour after
   they had escaped from the camp.  He and two young boys, the brothers
   Monik and Jusek, left the group and went southward to the woods of
   Sawin.  They were told that there too a partisan camp existed.  They
   wandered for two weeks in the forest until, near the Janow farm, they
   found an extinguished fire on which stood a big rounded pot covered
   with leaves in which were found boiled peas.  Obviously someone was
   there.  100 meters away they found an excavation where 5 people lived
   who had come 10 days before from Sobibor, and 3 Jews from
   Czechoslowakia (Schnabel, Karnischauer, Silbermann) who had escaped
   from another camp.  

   At the end of December the first snow fell.  

   With the snow there came an armed group of "AKA" of 6 men who did not
   succeed in entering the ditch in time, 5 were killed (one escaped).
   from the grenade which was thrown into the ditch another one was
   killed and they started pulling the boards of the ditch.

   Rosenfeld tied up the 3 gun bullets he had in his pocket and laid
   them on a board under them he put a burning candle, the bullets
   exploded and caused the murderer to flee.  

   4 people remained in the ditch.  They had heen hiding for 7 weeks and
   then they moved to farm of friends between Lublin and Chelm.  In the
   second half of July 1944, the Red Army liberated Chelm.  The wound of
   Rosenfeld had not yet healed but he went to the Sovjet General and
   demanded: "Sent me immediately to the front".  

   In the region of Lodz -- a soldier, at Posen -- a sergeant and again
   wounded in his right leg and in his right hand, and back to Lodz in
   the hospital.  But this time not for long.  When the Reichstag was
   burning enclosed by smoke, stood man, like thousands others, at the
   walls and moved for a moment the machine gun to his left hand.  This
   was Simion Rosenfeld not yet 23 years old who had already white hair
   and a wrinkled forehead.  In a splitter he inscribed --

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