Holocaust Victims Accuse
Published in 1977 by
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ONE MAN'S TESTIMONY
Chaim Mordecai Romkowsky, “King of the Lodz Ghetto”, was not the only Zionist leader who tried to realize the vision of a Jewish state under his own rule, in the distorted Kafkaesque setting of a large concentration of individuals destined for the furnaces. The district of Upper East Silesia in Western Poland was annexed to the Reich by the Germans. The cities of Bedzin (Bendin), Sosnowiec, K’shonov, Alkosh and dozens of glorious communities were included in the district of Upper East Silesia. In accordance with the organized method of extermination, the first thing the Nazis did in Upper East Silesia, too, was to establish a “council of elders” (Judenrat) and, as in every place, they ap pointed Zionist activists to head the council. The Nazis found in these “elders” what they had hoped for: loyal and obedient servants who, because of their lust for money and power, led the masses of Jews to their destruction.
Monik (Moses) Merin, one of the Zionist activists in the community of Sosnowiec, was propped up by the Nazis as “emperor” of all the “councils of elders“, and he appointed the leaders of these councils in every community. Of course, he named to these shameful positions only his friends in ideology from the Zionist camp. The Satanic plan of the Nazis assured that the personal fate of each Jew —— whether for life or death —— be exclusively left up to the decisions of the “councils of elders”. The Nazis, from time to time, decided upon a general quota for the work of the camps and for extermination, but the individual selection was left up to the “council of elders”, with the enforcement of kidnappings and arrests also placed in the hands of the Jewish police (kapos). By this shrewd method, the Nazis were highly successful in accomplishing mass murder arid poisoning the atmosphere of the ghetto through moral degeneration and corruption. Monik Merin, like the other leaders of the councils, sought for themselves justification and concealment of their criminal actions. For this reason, they wished to include the rabbis and prominent m of the Orthodox community in their work. But everywhere they met with absolute and forceful refusal. From the’ start, the Torah leaders relinquished the idea of saving them selves, as well as any private or communal profit they could have obtained from cooperating with the councils: In the whole of Poland there could not be found an observant Jew whose hands were dirtied by his brother’s blood. Reb Yosef Kanel from Bedzin, who at a young age experienced all the stages of the holocaust, speaks as a witness who saw and heard of what happened in the district of Upper East Silesia.
“When tempers in the extermination camps became enflamed as a result of arguments between observant inmates and the secular ones, Kanel posed a penetrating question which immediately did away with the arguments of the secularists: ‘Please tell us, who sent you to your extermination —— religious Jews or your activist friends from the secular camp’?”
The Ram bam (Maimonides), in the basic laws of the Torah, reaches a verdict: “If the heathen said to them: ‘Give us one of you, so we may kill him, and if not, we will kill all of you,let all be killed. They should not deliver to them one Jewish soul.” The rabbis of Bedzin whom Monik Merin invited to discuss which Jews should be given to the Nazis for forced labor quoted him the above halacha from the Ram bam and prohibited erI of the selection because Of the certainty that deaths will occur when one hands Jews over to such Gentiles. All the pleadings of Merin and his friends were in vain; the rabbis did not budge from their stand. As long as the Germans demanded a quota of 3-4,000 Jews for forced labor, the “council at elders” handed out lists of names. As the first victims,’ they chose the poor of the city or refugees from other communities. In order to still the murmurings that arose in the city, it was reported that Merin asked the Germans to show the Jews how a selection would be made without the intervention of the council of elders. The Nazis obliged, and one day surrounded a block of three houses, sending all their inhabitants to forced labor, without taking into account age or, physical condition.
On erev Rosh Chodesh Elul, 1942, the deportations began from Upper East Silesia. ‘Merin calmed the Jews by telling them that no harm would befall them and that after a short time they would return to their homes, and that they were only being drafted for work.
One of the prominent men of Bedzin, Reb Bunim, was a direct descendant of Rabbi Simcha Bunim of P’shischa, a chassidic Jew, Torah scholar and Agudah activist. He alerted the Jews of the city, revealing to them that they would be burned in the furnaces and that they should save themselves by not appearing for the deportation when called by the council. Reb Bunim knew that Merin would revenge himself cruelly, especially since he refused to participate in the schemings in the previous two years of the council of elders. Merin’s revenge was not long in coming. He betrayed to the Gestapo that Reb Bunim’s sons belonged to the underground, and they were soon arrested and sent to Auschwitz. After a short time, Reb Bunim and his wife were also arrested and sent to Auschwitz. He prepared himself for sanctifying the Almighty Name by putting on his ‘gartel” (belt reserved for praying), while appealing to his wife that she keep calm in order not to upset their remaining daughters.
As it was everywhere else, in Bedzin, too, the basic difference between the observant individuals and the Zionist leaders and enlightened “intellectuals” of the city was graphically demonstrated. Practically all of the kapo officers were academicians — — persons with degrees — — who behaved like wild beasts and at times were more cruel than the Nazis. On the other hand, the observant Jews simultaneously in creased their acts of kindness and mutual help. When the sisters of the man presenting this material, Reb Yosef Kanel, were arrested, their father refused to go to the council of elders to request their release, for two reasons that make hearts tremble: First, that it was prohibited to look an evil man in the face, and second, that if they would grant his re quest, they would then choose two other Jewish girls. And what is it that makes one’s own blood more red than that of another?
In the center of the city, the Nazis would round up thousands of Jews for deportation. The S.S. captains then selected for forced labor those who looked young and healthy. Those unable to work were marked for extermination. There were many instances where sons pleaded with their fathers to shave off their beards, in order to appear younger. The fathers, who knew what was in store for themselves, refused to destroy the Divine image on their faces —— even at the cost of death by burning. Jewish mothers hesitated to give their babies to Gentiles, fearing that they might assimilate with them and forget from where and whom they originated.
Merin also came to a violent end and, because of his evils, he died as a traitor. Sternbuch’s rescue committee (Vaad Hatzalah) in Switzerland obtained, in exchange for very high payments, a few passports from countries in South America, particularly Panama. These passports certified that their bearers were foreign citizens and the Ger mans had to go along with this and guard these people’s lives.
The deportations reached their peak at this time and Merin warned the rescue committee in a letter that its only communications be with him. It was later discovered that in his anger over not being included on the list of foreign citizens, he revealed to the Germans that the citizenship in South America was fraudulent. The Germans acted upon his information and sent all those with passports to Auschwitz. Through the efforts of the rescue committee in Switzerland, the countries of South America demanded that the Germans clarify the fate of their above-mentioned citizens and then release them. The Gestapo was furious with Merin for causing an international scandal and sent him to Auschwitz, six weeks before the final liquidation of the communities of Upper East Silesia.
Moldetsky, a leader of the Zionist Workers Party (Poalei Zion), who was appointed head of the council of elders in Bedzin, and who, over the course of years, chose thousands of Jews for forced labor and extermination, succeeded in remaining alive. For the mass deportations, Moldetsky published a decree which was completely fraudulent and deceiving, in which he said: “Jews, dress up in your holiday clothes and march joyfully to the gathering places mentioned above. No one is to remain at home. Anyone who is missing will be prohibited from staying in the district of Upper East Silesia.” The Jews, in their innocence, obeyed him. The result was that people with large families — — as well as the elderly — — a total of 8,000, were sent to Auschwitz. The babies were pushed into sacks by the Nazis.
Over the years, Merin and Moldetsky tried to prove that only by cooperation and carrying out the orders of the Nazis would they save the Jews of Upper East Silesia. Their good friend, the Nazi, Drear, was able to boast to the central government in Germany on August 4, 1943:
“Since yesterday, August 3, 1943, my district is “Judenrein” (emptied of Jews). Liquidation of Jewish property is being taken care of by the administrators of the cities of Sosnowiec and Bedzin, whom I have appointed as the heirs of the Jewish property. For the sake of information, I would like to point out that in my district in the year 1939, there were more than 100,000 Jews, including men, women and children. Of them, 20,000 were sent to ‘work action’ and the remaining 80,000 were deported and exterminated.” (From the book by Dr. Pawel Wiederman, “Plowa Bestia”, “The Blonde Beast”, Munich, 1948). It becomes evident in the final analysis that the annihilation in Upper East Silesia was more complete and efficient than in other places, thanks to Merin and Moldetsky.
After the war, Moldetsky —— by merit of Zionist activities —— was understandably one of the first to receive an immigration certificate to Palestine. His collaboration in the murder of tens of thousands of Jews did not make him unfit in the eyes of the officials of the Jewish Agency, who were distributing the certificates. He went to Eretz Yisroel where, it has been reported, the revengeful hand of the Jews of Bedzin killed him while he was taking a trip in the mountains.
In order to dispel any doubts as to the intentions of the council of elders, it is appropriate to quote what David Liwer writes in his essay in “Pinkes Bendin” (history of Bedzin), “That Which Shall Not Be Forgotten”: “The climax of the activities of the Judenrat were the deportations to Auschwitz. The Judenrat, who knew of the Germans’ plans, not only did not disclose them to the public, but with all the means at its disposal it helped the extermination operation. For the first deportation, the Judenrat simply called it the transfer of a number of persons to another place. In order to make it credible, they announced that do tors and members of the Judenrat would accompany the transport. One thousand persons appeared in response to individual requests and were sent to Auschwitz. Of course there were no doctors with them, nor any member of the Judenrat, or their relatives.
Just three months went by and again the Judenrat invited all the Jews on a certain date to two meeting places —— but this time not individually. The purpose of the gathering, according to the Judenrat, was to register all the inhabitants. The Judenrat organized dozens of assemblies in which they threatened that a person’s absence would mean deportation of his entire family or the entire house in which he lived. The result of appearing, in obedience to the Judenrat, was that 8,000 persons were sent straight to the ga chambers. After the first two mass deportations, all pretensions disappeared and the Judenrat continued with them as a matter of course.
The testimony of Reb Yosef Kanel on the chapter of our history dealing with the extermination front confirms the general picture, contrasting Jewish war criminals from this side and heavenly sanctifiers of G-d’s Name on the other. The ability to distinguish was given only to those who sought to know and differentiate b the sanctity of Torah and the profanity of secularism.