The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Life and Fall of Wlodowa

The Memorial Book of Wlodawa

In the Valley of Death
Perla Knapfmacher

In the year 1941 father with the family moved to the village Kalaz were grandfather Szlome Kalaher lived and we stayed there until 1942, the day of the order that all the Jews had to return to the town.

I was then 8 years old and I remember that once father went to look for his parents without returning again.

Together with my brother, mother and a glazier we went to the labour camp Adampol where we worked a little and received food. After work mother went to the village as she had some beans. While crossing the main road the SS-man Lotek saw her and beat her cruelly until finally he shot her.

Sometime after this event, I waked up at 4 o'clock in the morning for a roll call. My eyelids were heavy and I drowsed off while standing. Suddenly I heard shots and bullets flew over our heads I fell down on the ground with the face down not to see the terrible spectacle on the field. I was sure that they would shoot me too. After some moments passed, I tried moving a little in order to see what was going on around me. Next to me lay my brother dead. All those around me had been killed. I heard the voices of the Germans far away and was afraid of moving a limb, I remained sprawled out all the day.

With dusk, I dared raise my head and I saw the village inhabitants moving around the corpses stripping off their clothes and pulling out their gold teeth. I did not give any sign of being alive only late at night I dared to sit and to consider what I was to do.

I was a little girl, 8 years old and alone. All my relatives were laying in a pool of blood. I knew that not far from here there was the village Sochowi, where mother had taken me when she went to exchange a cloth for a slice of bread. I went there. Along the entire way there I was tortured by a wild thirst and arriving at the village I crept to the well to appease my thirst. Unfortunately the bucket creaked.

Immediately an old farmer came out of his hut and approached me. All my limbs froze from fear. The farmer bent down and told me whispering not to be afraid. He took me into the hut and told me that he knew about everything what had happened that day in the camp. He gave me something to eat and to drink and immediately he put out the light of the lantern saying: "We have to be careful that nobody should know that I let you in". After I had finished eating the old man told me that he was afraid to keep me in his house because of the frequent searches of the Germans after hiding Jews and he continued that the neighbors were even worse than the Germans denunciating every hiding Jew to the "Schwaben".

I asked him to let me stay until the morning and to show me the way leading to he village Kolatz, the village where my grandfather lived. There some farmers lived who were acquainted with my parents and I thought that they would provide me with a hiding-place. The old man agreed but when the sun rose and I intended to leave he told me: "Now don't go it is already broad daylight and you can be seen and get killed. Wait until the evening and then set off...."

In the evening the old man gave me a slice of bread in a pouch a bottle of milk and a box matches saying: "Don't walk on the main road, there people can see you, go through the forest. Though, there are wolves and they are also dangerous but not like man if a wolf approaches you, light a match and he will not come near you." All through the night I walked and crossed the forest until I arrived at the village Kolatz by sunrise. But as I was afraid to enter the village in the day time I hid in a pit I found in the field and stayed there until the evening.

In the dark I approached the hut of the farmer who had been our neighbor when we were living in this village and who was friendly with us but now when he opened the door I immediately felt his evil hatred and he said:

"I will not give you up to Hitler, as we know each other but you have to vanish from here right away..."

As I had no choice I went to the other end of the village and thought I will open a door and ask for mercy, help, but in front of me I saw the hostile farmer and I was afraid to knock on at any door in case I would meet someone who would hand me over to the Germans.

When I was already preparing to leave the village an old farmer approached me looking at me with warm eyes and saying to me in a friendly tone: "Food and dring you will get from me. I am ready to do anything for you except to give you a place to sleep at night. The village is near the main road, and they make such searches that you have to be afraid".

I went to the field and during the daytime I found refuge among the plants. At night I found an open barn and I became acquainted with the dog watching it. Giving him the last slice of bread and he let me enter the barn. There I slept until sunrise and returned to the field.

Once some one saw me and he told "Wit" (the head of the village) who lived in Hansk. He gathered other village leaders and together they enclosed the field in order to find me. Bit by bit they looked for me among the plants. I saw them coming nearer and I felt that these were my last moments.

Suddenly I felt someone treading on my foot. I was sure that now, now... but he bent down pretending as if looking for some thing and whispered to me: "Don't be afraid... I will not tell them". He withdrew waling and as if searching for me he arrived at the other end of the field when I heard him saying loudly so that I could also hear: "I searched the whole field but she was not there. She certainly escaped." The information about the denunciation also reached the partisans (so I was told afterwards) and one night they lit the hut of the farmer who had denunciated me and killed him. The partisans wanted me to join them where I would be safer. They ordered me to come to a certain house from where they would take me to the forest. Unfortunately a big attack of the Germans took place at the same time - the German army enclosed the forest and the partisans had to withdraw. So I continued hiding in the field. In course of time I became friendly with the shepards of the village and they had pity on me and brought me some food. They even warned me of those who could give me away. Among the shepards was one shephardess who bore a grudge against me but as she was afraid of the others she did not hand me over. Once when I was sitting with the shepards around a fire roasting potatoes some Germans passed on a carriage. One of them descended approached us, taking roasted potatoes asking in Polish if we had seen Jews or partisans hiding in the field. We answered in unison that we had not. The shepardess made a movement as if she intended to speak and one of the shepard seized her arm strongly making her understand to keep silent.

When I wanted to enter a hut to ask for something to eat a big dog attacked me threating to tear me up. The owner of the hut came out and took me in. He allowed me to warm myself at the oven and even gave me something to eat. But his wife looked at me with hostile eyes - saying that she would not allow me to sleep there. But in the middle of the night I heard the owner speaking: "It is forbidden to send the girl away she will freeze in the cold. When his wife saw that he would not change his mind she agreed by remaining silent. I stayed there until summer. I helped them in all kind of chores but I did not dare to leave the house.

Apparently the neighbors were suspicious. One of them started to come over frequently. When he came I hid under the sofa. The neighbor sat down on the sofa while trying to find me with his feet, I moved to the wall and remained pressed against it until he left. I told this the farmer and he understood that the neighbours were suspicious of him. One day he hitched the horse to the wagon I was placed under the seat and together with his wife they removed me from the village.

They brought me to another village not far from Chelm. There they had friends. He went to a farmer and revealed him the whole secret that I was Jewish and looking for refuge. I remained there working as maid and shepard.

Once a while I was working in the stable. A German soldier who lived at my employer's entered: "I know you are Jewish, I see it on your face and eyes, but you don't need to be afraid of me. I have a girl like you in your age, who knows if I'll ever see her." He whispered: "Don't be afraid though I am German, but I will not cause you any harm."

I pretended that I did not understand what he said and answered him in Polish. But also in the future he acted to me in a friendly way. He gave me chocolate and conserves. But I was filled with fear due to the fact that I was Jewish. After the conquest of the whole environment by the Russians, I went to the farmer who had brought me here in order to thank him for what he had done for me though he endangered his and his wife's life. I intended to stay with them and to accept their religion, they were Baptists and to mix with the life of the village to avoid any further troubles which I had suffered as a Jew.

This reached the ears of a Jew named Glanzmann, inhabitant of our town, and he came to take me with him. I did not want to leave and so I escaped from him. .. I was afraid that these terrible times would return and again I would be forced to endure these tortures.

Finally someone decided to convince me to remain Jewish and I was brought to a Boarding School were everyone treated me warmly and where I felt well.

The family of Abraham Seligmann and also my aunt, my mothers sister asked for me and took me to their house. In the year 1948 I immigrated together with them to Israel. Here I got married and raised a family.

From the German Press

(The trial of Sobibor on 80 recorded tapes)

Hagen. The trial of the extermination camp Sobibor before the jury has continued since the 6th of September 1965 is already recorded on 80 tapes each lasting more than two and a half hours including the important parts of evidence of this trial.

The end of this trial which has already continued for 15 weeks and which according the plan was be over before Christmas, is not yet to be seen.

The participants are sure that it will continue until spring or summer 1966. The reason for this is the evidence of Jews of the extermination camp Sobibor who survived. It is also expected that the judges have to visit Israel and the USA in order to hear those who are unable to come to Germany because of their health.

Testimony written in blood

Hagen. The Sobibor trial which is taking place before the Jury of Hagen approaches its Jubilee, which means, on Thursday, December 23, they will meet for the fiftieth time. Though two camp supervisors, Edwin Bauer (65) and Hubert Gamarki (54) were convicted in 1949 to life imprisonment for the murder of Jews in Sobibor, the Jury is now hearing the testimony of 17 Jews who had escaped during the revolt in the death camp and so survived.

Moshe Bahir, a bank clerk in R.G. is an important witness for the prosecution. He is testifying against the two defendents Karl Frenzel and Kurt Balender.

He only tells us what had happened to him and what he saw with his own eyes.

The witness accuses Balender of killing a child on the pavement of the camp and Frenzel of forcing a Jew to hang his son and finally killing himself the poor father.

He told about Jewish labourers who were brought to the death camp Belsiz to be exterminated in Sobibor and who had hidden documents written in blood in breed. These documents tell about what had happened in Belsiz and warn the Jews of Sobibor that the same fate awaits them - they would be killed.

Hagener Rundshau, No. 297, December 22, 1965.

Hagen. One of the 11 accused at the Sobibor trial, Erwin Lampert (55), a constructor from Stuttgart is accused of helping to kill the Jews in Sobibor. He is accused of the same guilt in Treblinka.

He was convicted in the trial of Du"sseldorf on September 3, 1965 to 4 years imprisonment but because of his appeal he was released at the moment. In the Sobibor trial again he was arrested and accused of building and perfectioning the gas chamber in Sobibor.

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