Judge Halevi: What happened to him?
Witness Masia: This Max Bejeski obtained a job in an
approved German enterprise, and later was deported to
Auschwitz. As eyewitnesses who were there in Auschwitz told
me, he said to the Germans at the time of a roll call “You
won’t kill me, I shall kill myself,” and ran to the
electrified barbed wire fence and remained on it, dead.
Attorney General: What was the full term of the
Witness Masia: “Der Sonderbeauftragte des Reichsfuehrers der
SS und des Chefs der deutschen Polizei fuer fremdvoelkischen
Arbeitseinsatz” (The Special Commissioner on behalf of the
Reichsfuehrer SS and Chief of the German Police for the
mobilization of foreign nationals for labour).
Q. Who was its head?
A. At the beginning General Schmelz, but he very seldom came
to the district, and in his place there were Mildner, Knoll,
Kutschinski and others.
Q. What was Lindner’s rank?
A. We did not distinguish between ranks – for us all of them
were the same Germans.
Q. But to what unit did he belong?
A. To the SS.
Q. And Kutschinski and Knoll?
A. Also the SS.
Q. When were the workshops established?
A. The workshops were established in 1940-1941. When
deportations to Germany began, people saw that those
employed locally for the time being and who were apparently
useful to the German Reich by their work, remained there,
and consequently large workshops were set up. People handed
over their machines, supplied manpower almost for nothing,
for it was impossible to exist on the money they received,
it was even impossible to buy the official and meagre
rations which could not be sufficient. A large part of the
official pay which they obtained was taken by the “Sonder”
who received a certain percentage of the pay.
Presiding Judge: Who took that?
A. This is an abbreviation of the long name which I quoted
earlier. We called it in short “The Sonder.” Attorney
General: Do you remember how these labourers used to return
from their work in Germany?
A. There were still people who returned from the first
transports – very few men returned, more women returned. The
girls in most cases were swollen from hunger, sick, often
suffering from tuberculosis, ill with arthritis. They spoke
of very hard conditions, of long roll calls, of work from
the first light of day to sunset and of starvation rations.
Afterwards, at a later period, the Germans established a
recuperation camp for the sick, a camp where they treated
the sick. After some time, the first death notices arrived;
later on these didn’t arrive either.
Q. Do you remember how the Germans began telling you about
transfers to the East?
Q. When was that?
A. It was at the end of 1939. The Germans informed us that
it was necessary to collect a group of 300 Jews who would be
sent to the East. These 300 Jews were actually sent, and
thereafter news arrived that they had reached a point near
the Soviet border. This was already in the period when the
Soviets had advanced and occupied part of Poland. The
Germans placed them along the border and told them to run
forward and shot at them. The Russians didn’t know who was
running there and also attempted to shoot, but they very
quickly grasped the situation and most people were saved in
this way. A few of them returned at a later stage, when
these areas were reoccupied by the Germans – they returned
in this way to be reunited with their families in Sosnowiec,
and they gave an account of this period.
After this, a second transport had to leave for the East, a
transport of 1,500 or 1,300 – I don’t remember the number –
but a transport the total of which reached four figures.
This transport was prepared but at the last minute it was
cancelled. What the reason was – we did not know.
Q. Do you remember execution by hanging in Sosnowiec?
Q. How many times?
Q. How many people were hanged?
A. Once two were hanged, and once four were hanged,
including a father and his son.
Q. Did you witness it?
A. The Germans insisted that the Jews should watch this
“show,” but many tried to avoid it. At our home the shutters
were closed and we didn’t leave the house, but they left the
bodies in the centre of the town (the distance from our home
was six to seven large houses) – in the central square in
the town area.
Q. How long were the victims left hanging?
A. Two or three days. We had to go out of the house and it
was impossible to leave the house without seeing them.
Presiding Judge: What was the reason for hanging them, what
did the Germans say?
Witness Masia: Concerning the four, they said that they were
hanged because of transactions on the black market. But the
black market – that was an egg, one egg they found in the
possession of a mother who had obtained it from a Pole for
her little girl so that she shouldn’t die of hunger. With
them that was black market. The two were hanged because of
assistance they rendered to people who had returned to us
from the occupied areas, who had managed to cross over to
us. One had to cross the border that divided us. They were
in the zone of the Generalgouvernement, and we were annexed
to the Reich. They crossed the border and were illegally
with us, and those helping them were executed.
Attorney General: Do you remember that a story circulated in
the town about a German of whom one had to beware if he
Witness Masia: Yes.
Q. What did they tell you about that man?
A. I know that there was a time, approximately in 1940, when
we knew, generally speaking, that when high-ranking Germans
came to the town, it was advisable to hide, it was advisable
not to be in the streets. The streets were empty. In offices
also, clerks who were not required to be at their desks,
endeavoured to get away. There was a story that one had to
beware of coming into contact with them, and that amongst
them there was someone who was a native of a German colony
in Palestine, who knew Hebrew and Yiddish, and who was well
acquainted with Jewish customs.
Q. Was the name mentioned of the colony where that person
Q. His name was not mentioned?
A. Possibly it was mentioned, but I don’t remember it now.
The name didn’t mean anything to us.
Q. In April 1942 an order was issued by the Gestapo to
conduct a registration of the Jewish citizens?
Q. What happened?
A. We had special identity cards. In April 1942?
Q. In April – May 1942.
A. In April 1942 the Germans announced a registration of
citizens, marking out those who were not working. These
people, the aged, the sick, those who did not have permanent
places of work – were to be sent elsewhere as an
unproductive element. During this period the first
transports for deportation departed. We didn’t know, then,
where the transport was bound for. There were rumours – the
Germans spread rumours – that this transport was leaving for
Theresienstadt, a place where they were collecting all the
Jews. About 1,200 people from Sosnowiec left on this
Q. Do you know where this transport went to?
A. No news was received from anyone.
Q. Were there also deportations from other towns in the
A. Generally the deportations were on the same day or a day
or two before that. It was known that if there was a
deportation in Sosnowiec today, and it was quiet in Bedzin
that was a sign that tomorrow or the next day the
deportation would be from Bedzin, and so on.
Q. Do you recognize the name of a German, Mildner?
Q. Who was he?
A. Mildner was the Gestapo Chief in Katowice. We saw Mildner
at deportation points near the trains which were loading
people. I met Mildner when I was a prisoner in goal in
Katowice and when I was interrogated by the Gestapo.
Q. In June there was a second “action” in Sosnowiec?
A. Yes. In June 1942 there was a second “action,” but in
this “action” the total number was not reached, there was
not a sufficient number of people according to the quota
which the Germans laid down. I worked as a nurse at the
Presiding Judge: A nurse on whose behalf?
A. I worked as a nurse in the hospital, and we organized a
first-aid station at that point…
Q. Who ran the hospital?
A. The hospital was run by Dr. Liebermann, a Jew.
Q. Was it a private hospital?
A. It was a public hospital, the only Jewish hospital in the
district, which was maintained by the Jewish community; it
was forbidden for Polish or German doctors to treat Jews.
Q. They rounded up people on the street?
A. They rounded up people from the street, and when this
number was not enough for them, we saw that they were
beginning to transport carts with aged people, with people
who were paralyzed. They emptied out the Old Age Home which
was in the town, and transferred it to the assembly point.
We got to know – we heard the Germans talking amongst
themselves that someone had to go to bring the sick from the
Jewish hospital. Adjoining the hospital, in the building
next door, there was also a Jewish orphanage. Those of us
who were working in this place, some nurses, a few of us ran
to the hospital to inform them and to try and save them and
a few ran to the orphanage. They managed to take the older
children from the orphanage to a field and to hide them in
the bushes. The sick people, those who could walk, tried to
escape. Not many of them succeeded. They took women after
childbirth, men after operations, removed all the children
from the babies’ room, and threw them down from the second
floor, put all of them together into large vehicles, and
sent them to a new place, a new settlement.
Q. Do you know where to?
A. At that time we did not know.
Q. Do you know today?
A. But when we stood beside the trains, and I was alongside
the train until the last moment, until it was almost in
motion, when we saw the people, we realized that it was not
life they were bound for. What place it was – we did not
know. But we knew this was not a place where people lived,
for many of them were dead, and they also threw the dead
ones inside. The first rumours reached us about the camp in
Auschwitz. The fact that a camp existed at Auschwitz we
already knew before, since before Passover 1941 all the Jews
of Auschwitz had been deported to us.
Presiding Judge: What is the distance between Sosnowiec and
Witness Masia: I think it is about 50 kilometres.
Attorney General: Mrs. Masia, did you belong to the Jewish
Witness Masia: Yes.
Q. You were a leader in the Zionist youth movement and you
were a member of the underground?
Q. And did Mordechai Anilewicz of Warsaw and also Eliezer
Geller come to you after the second “action” and tell you
about Belzec and about the extermination by gassing?
Q. And they also brought you news about the underground
organizations that had been set up in Warsaw and other
A. Yes. Mordechai then brought the tidings about Nowogrodek
and the news about the first Jews to raise the banner of the
revolt in Novogrudok.
Q. And then you organized an underground in Sosnowiec as
A. From the first moment something rebelled within us but we
could not give expression to it. There were many reasons for
this and we were spurred on by this thought. But from the
moment we saw that we were not alone in feeling this way,
that there were others, that in almost every Jewish
community there was the same thought – this was some kind of
encouragement, some kind of force which gave us courage,
possibly the feeling that we had to organize ourselves in
anticipation of something. We still did not know, then, what
we were organizing for. We felt that here there was need for
some sort of response, but it was very difficult to react
since the Germans imposed collective responsibility upon us.
Q. Judge Beisky, in his evidence here, mentioned your name.
Were you in contact with Mr. Beisky when he was in Cracow?
A. Yes. Should I briefly describe this?
Q. No. I merely wanted to establish the fact that your name
was mentioned in his evidence. You succeeded in obtaining a
quantity of arms from the Polish underground, after you were
in contact with the people of the underground in Cracow?
Q. And also in this way you managed to smuggle out a number
of girls in connection with the transports – do you
A. Yes. I remember it well. We sent girls as young Polish
women to Germany, girls and boys, and today they are in
Israel, about fifty of them.
Presiding Judge: You sent girls in the guise of Aryans to
A. Boys and girls in the guise of Aryans to Germany; since
the Germans were also deporting Poles for labour, we managed
to find a way of securing the papers for transport for
labour for our people in the guise of Aryans. And
afterwards, when everything was already over, when the
ghetto was no more and only a few remnants remained, we
succeeded in saving these remnants.