The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Life and Fall of Wlodowa

The Memorial Book of Wlodawa

In a Jewish Division
A. Shenko

In October 1942 when Jews were forbidden to stay in the country and had to move to Ghetto Wlodowa, we came to the city. Here we slep one night at my brother's house, where I stayed. When we heard rumours that there would be an Action, my father made use of his acquaintance with Kosowski, the power of attorney of the Earl of Samoski and through his interference my parents, my brother and his two children (his wife had been taken to Sobibor) and I moved to Adampol. There the leader of the labour camp was the German Selinger. The day after our arrival there was an Action of aged in Wlodowa.

I had already been in Adampol before working as a painter, I worked together with Shmulke Ranes. In the camp my whole family worked as gardeners or pulled out tree roots in the forest and did all kind of other work. Some months after my parents had arrived to the camp, Selinger called us, Shmulek and me and told us to come at 1.00 o'clock and to go with some SS-men to Wlodowa to paint some rooms there.

Shmulke like all the other Jews believed what Selinger had told him as everyone thought he was a good German. They did not realize that he, in his green hat with feathers and shining boots that he was the same murderer only wearing civilian clothes.

He took part in Actions in such a manner that nobody could realize his cooperation. He acted cunningly that the Jews did not suspect that he was preparing new victims for the SS-men. If someone did anything wrong he set the dogs on him that bit him until he bled. Not once had I been the victim. The last time he set them on me was because I had the Chuzpe to ask him to send my parents to Wlodowa whom he considered too aged already. The dogs tore up my clothes and bit me, and he smiled satisfied. "Why are you crying? These are good dogs", and he called them back.

A day did not pass without shooting in Adampol and killing of Jews ordered by this murderer. The dogs did not miss Shmulke either and every day they stripped his clothes according to Selinger's commands, but Shmulke did not realize his cunning.

As I knew all this I decided not to go with the SS-men to Wlodowa I hid myself behind the stable and from there I saw Shmulke ascending the car. I remained in my hidding place until the evening when I separated from my family and escaped into the forest.

In the forest together with Jews

By this time I already possessed a rifle and bullets hidden in the forest. Also my brother and brother-in-law had guns of their own which we had bought with clothes and boots that we had succeeded in taking with us.

Having arrived in the forest I took my rifle and started looking for Jewish partisans. At that time several groups of partisans armed and unarmed were wandering in the forest. Besides these there existed two groups very well equipped with arms, one consisting of Wlodowa Jews under the leadership of Moshe Lichtenberg and the other one under the leadership of Jechiel.

The first one was concentrated on the area of Adampol and the second one on "Akashe". From time to time the guys of Lichtenberg came to Adampol to see their relatives and returned to the forest.

In the forest I met Jews from Skradeniece and from Marienka with wifes and children some armed and some not. I joined them.

After 8 days I returned to the camp. There I heard that the SS-men had killed Shmulke after he had finished his work. The son of Grashinski from Adampol found the documents of Shmulke near the Christian cemetry . This was the prize for his belief in Selinger.

I returned to the camp in order to provide for my parents to care for them as good I could. I no longer slept in the camp but in the woods where my brother and brother-in-law joined me. Sometime we brought along the parents and the children because we were afraid that the camp would finally be attacked and all the Jews would be murdered.

The meeting with Moshe Lichtenberg

As every path was familar to me in the woods everybody joined me. On the way we met the group of Moshe Lichtenberg. He gave us meat and bread. I emphasize meat first, because in the forest it was easier to get meat than bread. He promised to help us as much as possible. But in the meantime Selinger announced that everyone could return to the camp and we would not suffer from any further harm.

After a week most of the people returned to Adampol. Also my parents, arguing that they could not live in the forest, went back together with my brother and brother-in-law with the children. "Come with us so we will be at least some days together " they beseeched me."

I could not refuse their request and so I went with them to Adampol. But I did not spend much time there. My concealed gun did not let me rest - and I found myself spending more time in the forest than in the ghetto.

The Slaughter in the camp

The thing we were afraid of happened one Shabbat, Selinger gathered all the Jews of the camp and told them that SS-men had to arrive and that it would be safer for them to stay in the palace of the Earl of Smoiski. I, though always more suspicious of his words entered together with everyone into the palace. There we waited until noon and nobody came. After some hours Selinger commanded us to leave and to return.

The Jews refused to return to the palace. Some went to work in the fields and some about 100 people among them my family escaped into the forest. In the afternoon the SS-men arrived and shot all those in the fields. The dead and those captures living were loaded on wagons and brought to Sobibor. Some succeeded in hiding between the wheat and remained so alive. They ran back to the camp in the evening taking everything they could with them and returned to the forest.

Adampol - "JUDENREIN"

On the 10th of Tamoz, 1943 I returned for perhaps the fifth or sixth time to the forest from the ghetto Adampol. There I lived about a month or a month and a half hovering around with several unorganized groups of Jews from the country and Russian prisoners calling themselves "Shastiorka".

This time I came to the ghetto with my brother Jankel, my younger brother Yitzchak stayed with the Shastiorka.

Here everything was quiet and nothing hinted at the imminent action. Suddenly at about 4.00 o'clock in the morning I heard shots. This meant that the camp was surrounded and something was going on. I was lying behind the stable watching the Germans dragging from everywhere Jews with women and children. The crying and yelling pierced the ears.

They were made to run to the stable where they were shot. When I saw them dragging my parents I fainted, I awoke when a big dog sniffled me - running to and fro - suddenly a huge German was standing in front of me with a rifle, kicking me and shouting: "Aufstehen!" (Get up) I got up. He took me to his officer saying: Look at the thief I caught! The officer replied: "beat him"...

I went with my hands up. The German told me they would not kill me. At this moment an excellent idea flashed across my mind: "Why do you surrender so easily, you are going to be killed, save yourself, you have nothing to lose." I suddenly bent my raised arms to the bar of the rifle and in the same breath seized the weapon. The German threw himself on the earth while I fired on him and fled.

The Germans opened fire and I set off to the woods of Papinski. Two Germans were persecuting me trying to catch me alive. I threw off my boots and hurled away the weapon and kept on running as fast as I could. My right leg was injured by a bullet but I continued running until I arrived at the forest. At about 11.00 o'clock in the morning they attacked the forest. As I was covered by the density of the trees, they did not find me. In the night I left my hidding-place . After having walked a big part of the way I met David Z., Joske Abremel and Jankel Mirk. David was also lightly wounded in his leg.

After spending the night in the forest we moved in the morning to the place we had concealed our guns near Adampol. We took the weapons with us and carried on in the evening to the "Ochosze" Kalpinitzi. Before we arrived at the "Ochosze", my leg hurt me so terrible and I was so weak that I was no longer able to walk. David Z. and the other three dragged me in a sheet until we reached "Ochosze". There they turned me over to the leader of the "Tabor" (partisan camp) Nachmann Makrasiwka.

On the same day David crossed the Bug and on the same day I heard that Moshe Lichtenberg was killed by a Russian.

In the Jechiel Division

After staying two weeks at Tabor my leg was cured. One day Jachiel and David Maseike introduced me to the armed group.

When I joined, the group of Jechiel was no longer independant but was appended to "Gwardia Ludowa" headquarters (the National Army) located in these woods. Jechiel no longer acted on his own but on the advice of the command of the headquarters.

At this time we had already in every village a leader who supported the partisans. According to their instructions we fetched their food and then it was forbidden to enter the village without their knowledge. They advised us as to how and when to attack the German guards and the wagons delivering food for the Germans. All our actions against the Germans and their aids in the villages were carried out according to their orders.

The first task I performed under Jechiel's order was as following I, Hershel (Politruk), David Maseike and Simcha from Marianka were to do away with some Poles from Marianka. We had often come to their houses and now they started plundering, in the name of the partisans, rich farmers from other villages.

In the beginning we could not believe the rumors of their deeds and it was difficult to prove anything.

We did not catch them red-handed until one day they attacked the house of the farmer Trolzki from the village of Saheike telling him that in the name of the partisans they were to take everything they needed.

This farmer was in favour of the partisans and did us many services. It was due to this farmer that the rumors were proven and thus we executed the sentence.

A flying train next to Sobibor

One winter night in 1943 about 20 people were walking from the woods of Mokoshi towards the railway station of Chelm to Sobibor. The distance was 50 km.

The following belonged to that group: Jechiel, Davidkin, Lionka, Simion, Abrashka, "Pazan", my fourteen year old brother Davidkin, Butshan, Sigmund and myself, as well as others whose names I do not remember.

Near to the village Kossin we discovered an Ukrainian policeman standing under a tree. Before he had a chance to question us we seized him. He revealed to us that in the first hut of the village his friend and a prisoner are staying. Jechiel and David jumped into the hut seizing the policeman who was armed with a "Mauser" and whose pockets were filled with stolen gold. We sentenced the policeman accordingly and set free the prisoner. After this operation we forced a farmer from Kopin to take us to the railroad leading to Sobibor. Naturally we first took his address and warned him.

We had with us a 20 kilo mine which we took turns carrying. About 2 kilometers away from the Station of Sobibor we came close to the rails and planted the mine in a pit we had dug. Two people remained on each side forming a wing for protection in case of attack.

The explosion which was accompanied by the yelling and screaming of the "heros of the Herrenvolk" released us from the tension of expectation. I saw my comrades in the same state of exultation. We remained lying another 5 minutes without moving and then we started creeping away from the rails.

When we were safely hidden by the denseness of the trees the farmer told us to pass now through the village Sarki. We warned him to keep quiet and never to talk about this, otherwise we had his address. The next day we read in the newspaper that gangs had attached the train to Chelm.

Burning the food deposits

At the end of summer 1943 we left the forest of Mohashi and were living now in the "pit". This was a great pine forest extending from "Ochosze" Kaplinizi until the forest of Wirk.

Here we had made up our mind, to destroy the supply yard of Kaplinizi belonging to the estate of Adampol.

There the SS-men kept watch over the corn deposits that had been gathered in the last harvest. It was our task to destroy the supply yard, and the German base as well as to set fire to the wheat and oat deposits. About 30 people set off on this operation with Jechiel as our leader.

10 people remained at the stores in order to divert their attention so that the others could start with the operation.

As soon as the bullets of our guns hit the stocks of dry harvest and high red flames consumed them immediately. While the Germans approached running and we crept away as it had become dangerous from the spreading fire.

At the same moment we heard a terrible explosion from the other side where the German guard was located, meaning that the other twenty of us had fulfilled their mission.

The next day an ivestigation took place but we were 15 km away and were already occupied in an other blow against a food transport that farmers were bringing for the Germans.

We disperse the sacks of the corn on the earth mixing it with dust and dirt, thus completely destroying it.

By the way actions like these were on daily schedule, we did not neglect an operation for even one day.

Because of our daily aggressions we were forced to be constantly on the move. We surprised the Germans in places where they never expected us to attack.

At the same time we performed another important operation. About 100 people were sent out to demolish telephone poles. We were divided into groups of 3 men for each pole and sawed them down. About 30 poles were thus destroyed during one night. With axes and scissors we cut the lines and destroyed the isolaters. Afterwards we moved on and again - poles fell...

These actions impressed the village leaders and then later also the farmers of the environments we were connected with.

Jechiel's group was very alert while the 'Tabor" of Nachmann was rather slack. When we were nearby we could help them. But when we were far away many of them fell victims of the "Akawazim" (National Army).

Spying against German agents in villages and small towns

In our daily Partisan work we also tought against Ukrainians and Polish traitors who helped the Germans. We killed the leaders of the villages Bakwidnitz, Sinki, and some other places. Every night we were reckoned with the local Nazi agents. In Krasiwka we put an end to all those opposing us and cooperating with the Germans. Once it was decided to sit in judgement over the farmers of Samolidzca having had expelled the previous year Jews hiding in their villages of Halle and Marianka and delivering them to the Germans.

During a whole year we could not take revenge as the villages of Lublin and its surroundings was crowded with Germans and our forces were very small. But now our division was strengthened and the number of the Germans decreased. Therefore, we decided to avenge the blood of our brothers.

We were about 180 armed men approaching the village of Samolodizca. At midnight we surrounded the village. Every third man knew the names of those he had to extract from their houses. We killed twenty of them that night. Among those who had been killed there were some who had known every path in the forest and had betrayed to the Germans the hiding places of the partisans especially of the Jews. On our way back we also passed through Marianka. There we shot two Andaks burning all their property for having murdered two of our people of "Tabor".

Some weeks before we had brought 3 women for safety reasons: Feige Hershel, Tuvia's daughter and two girls, Mathel Tuchschneider (?) Everyone was hidden in another place. We warned the farmers that if they caused any harm to the girls we would burn them together with their huts.

Eight days after our action in Marianka we were told that the Andaks had killed one of our girls. When we arrived there in the evening we found Feige Hershel Tuvia's daughter stabbed dead in the snow. This time we killed another seven of the murderers.

The War Against "AKA" And "NSS"

At the end of 1943 the group of "Aka" - "Armia Krojowa" (National Army) and "NSS - Narodowi Sabjonsek Shilsbravinjek" (National Organized Armed Forces), gained power. They spread over the forests of Poland and the Wlodowa area and especially around the property of the Earl of Samoiski. The members of the NSS, who had been the rowdies before the war, had prevented Jewish students from visiting the Universities, had beaten up Jews, in the streets, smashed windows, stood in front of Jewish shops preventing Poles from entering with the slogan: From our own to our own.

These partisans were even now attacking Jewish partisans and Jews trying to save their lives in the forest.

We too did not make any allowances and paid them with an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. We often tried negotiating: Don't attack us and we won't attack you... - without any success.

With the withdrawal of the Germans after the defeat of Stalingrad several groups of partisans crossed the Bug. We joined General Baronowski who was organizing the youth from the villages to come to the forest and cooperate with the partisans. Afterwards we achieved a big victory over a great German division. In those days the members of AKA and NSS kept quiet and did not bother us. Our strength frightened them.

Captain Smasta, the Jew

After our great victory in the battle with the Germans near the village Wirzinski, in which General Baronski took part, we were ordered by the Armia Headquarters to move to the forests of Arichova. In the forest near the Sinki village we met Captain Smasta who was in charge of the command and Jechiel became his assistant.

After a fortnight the Sinki village was already in our possession, we convened with General Rolo Smirski. He shook hands with each of us and asked how long we had been with the partisans. He slept a few nights in our camp. Then he disappeared in the same way he came.

Our group with the men of General Smasta consisted of about 600 well-armed people. For three months we drifted through the woods with Captain Smasta, attacking the Germans and the NSS-men. By this time we held the entire forest as well as the villages. We stopped sleeping in the forest and moved into the dwellings of the farmers.

The leaders of the villages who were in constant touch with us informed us about the infiltration of German spies into the forest and that one such spy was wandering around in the Arichowa. We immediately found him there and he gave us the names of 5 other spies and told us where they could be found. We found them disguised as beggars or as shepards.

After three months the group of Jechiel split from Captain Smasta who, with most of his people, set off forwards the woods of Romblawa bordering on the the woods of Janova continuing until the Carpathians.

Our group which included 60 people went on sawing telephone poles, destroying foodstores and otherwise hindering the Germans and their collaborators.

Later on we heard that Captain Smasta clashed with a great German unit near the Carpathians fighting day and night, while they were withdrawing, members of the AKA opened fire thus wounding and killing many of them. Captain Smasta and Wanka Krapitnik (the first who had organized the partisans in the forest of Wlodowa and Parzew!) were also hit by the bullets of the traitors. Among the wounded and unwounded returning to us were found Berl Mikale, shot in his neck with the bullet passing out through his mouth, and Aharon from Parzew seriously hurt and others whose names I do not remember.

Nearing liberation

The front at Kobel was broken. The Germans were confusedly retreating to the other side of the Bug. We of the various partisan groups attakked the withdrawing Germans. General Kolpak succeeded in eliminating the German guards in our region. Everywhere the partisans dominated. One day we heard that the Russian army had conquered Wlodowa. We were overjoyed singing, dancing and kissing each other.

Wlodowa was taken over without one single shot. The Red Army did not approach across the Bug but through Chelm and all the fortifications along the Bug became useless.

On the same day we and the "TABOR" openly moved to Lublin. There street-battles were still taking place. When we reached the first street we were welcomed with flowers, but on the next street we were shot at by the members of the NSS.

Some days later Jechiel was sworn in as commander of the Headquarters of the army in Lublin. Some of the partisans joined the civilian army and some the security police.

I was appointed as prison warden where I worked for half a year. At he end of 1946 I illegally immigrated to Israel then still under the British Mandate. In the year 1948 during the Independence War I joined the Hagana and afterwards ZAHAL.

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.