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Stories from the Warsaw Ghetto

Extracts from the Diary of Abraham Lewin

“Eclipse of the Sun – Universal Blackness”

 

Extracts from the Diary of Abraham Lewin

 

Warsaw Ghetto – July – September 1942

 

_______________________________________________________________

 

 

 

Abraham & Ora Lewin

 Wednesday 22 July 1942 – The Day Before Tishebov

 

A day of turmoil, chaos and fear, the news about the expulsion of Jews is spreading like lightning through the town – Jewish Warsaw has suddenly died, the shops are closed, Jews run by, in confusion, terrified.

 

The Jewish streets are an appalling sight- the gloom is indescribable. There are dead bodies at several places – No one is counting them and no names are being given in this terrifying catastrophe.

 

The expulsion is supposed to begin today from the hostels for the homeless and from the prisons. There is also talk of an evacuation of the hospital. Beggar children are being rounded up into wagons.

 

I keep thinking about my aged mother – it would be better to put her to sleep than to hand her over to those murderers. Ora brings exaggerated stories from Sweden, that the war is coming to an end.  

 

Thursday 23 July 1942

 

Disaster after disaster, misfortune after misfortune. The small ghetto has been turned out on to the streets. My nephew Uri arrived at half past seven.

 

The people were driven out from 42- 44 Muranowska Street during the night. Garbatka, near Radom, 300 women,  55 children  – Last Tuesday in the night. Rain has been falling all day.

 

Weeping, the Jews are weeping, they are hoping for a miracle. The expulsion is continuing. Buildings are blockaded 23 Twarda Street. Terrible scenes. A woman with beautiful hair. A girl 20 years old, pretty. They are weeping and tearing their hair.

 

On Zamenhof Street the Germans pulled people out of a tram and killed them on the spot. (Muranowska Street).

 

 

Friday 24 July 1942

 

The turmoil is as it was during the days of the bombardment of Warsaw. Jews are running as if insane, with children and bundles of bedding. Buildings on Karmelicka and Nowolipe Streets are being surrounded.

 

Mothers and children wander around like lost sheep – where is my child? Weeping. Another wet day with heavy skies: rain is falling. The scenes on Nowolipie Street. The huge round up on the streets. Old men and women, boys and girls are being dragged away. The Police are carrying out the round up, and officials of the Jewish Community wearing white armbands are assisting them.

 

The death of Czerniakow yesterday at half past eight in the Jewish Community building. As for the reasons- during the ceremony at Grzybowska Street he said “ I’ll die anyway, Madam”. The round up was halted at three o’clock.

 

How Jews saved themselves, fictitious marriages with Policemen. The savagery of the police during the round up, the murderous brutality. They drag girls from the rickshaws, empty out flats, and leave the property strewn everywhere. A pogrom and a killing the like of which has never been seen.

 

Merenlender’s visit. She and her father were taken the first day. In what kind of train wagons are the prisoners kept? According to her they will not last a night.

 

Many buildings have received an order to present themselves on their own. The manager of 30 Swietojerska Street, Nadzia gave herself up.

 

People get attacks of hysteria, 11000 people have been rounded up, 100 policemen held hostage. One of them let himself down on a rope, fell and was badly wounded. The policeman Zakhajm has been shot. Terrifying rumours about the night – Will there be a pogrom?

 

Schultz is dismissing 100 Jews – his explanation for his actions. -The great hunger in the ghetto. Someone saves his sister and a four year old child, passing her off as his wife. The child does not give the secret away. He cries out “Daddy”. I am trying to save my mother with a paper from the Jewish Self-help Organisation (ZTOS).

 

 

Saturday 25 July 1942

 

Last night I could not sleep. It passed peacefully. Everything reminds one of September 1939. People rushing through the streets. The day is so long. Packages, mainly of pillows and bedclothes.

 

Noisy movements, the never ending questions – “Can one get through here”. Five killed in Dzielna Street in the night. Terrible scenes in the streets.

 

The police are carrying out elegant furniture from the homes of those who have been driven out. Umschlagplatz a policeman is crying. He is struck. Why are you crying? “ My mother, my wife. Wife yes, mother no”. 

 

Zamenhoffa St    During the "Great Action"   -Source ZIH

How did Czerniakow die? 10,000!  Last night there were a lot of suicides.

 

Conditions at the Umschlagplatz – people are dying where they are being held. You cant go in or out. By yesterday 25,000 had been taken away, with today 30,000.

 

With each day the calamity worsens – many people give themselves up voluntarily. It is supposed hunger forces them into it.

 

The new proclamation: non-productive elements are being sent to the East.

 

Vast numbers of dead among those being expelled. The German Jews are content to go. For them it is a long journey.

 

The Jewish Self-help Organisation is flooded with Jews begging for mercy, stretching out their hands for help- who is there to help them? Then every Jew would come and ask for papers from the organisation.

 

Since Tuesday there has been no newspaper in the ghetto, apart from the very sketchy Jewish paper – Gazeta Zydowska.

 

 

Sunday 26 July 1942

 

The “ Action” continues. The buildings at 10-12 Nowolipie Street are surrounded. Shouts and screams. Outside my window they are checking papers and arresting people. Human life is dependant on some little piece of paper. It is really enough to drive you insane.

 

A lovely morning, the sky is wonderfully beautiful, the sun is shining , the acacia is blooming and the slaughterer is slaughtering. The blockade of our courtyard. How it was carried out – Winnik’s story.

 

Good news from Brzesc. The closing of the post office. The terrible hunger, many give themselves up, they are not accepted, so great is the number that are going.

 

Yet still they set up blockades so as to extort money. The terrible corruption of our police and their assistants. An outrage, an outrage. 6 Solna Street, 99 victims. Today 12,000 martyrs.  A kilo of bread – 50 zloty, Potatoes –20.

Warszawski son, an official of the Jewish community, was seized and ransomed for 250 zloty.  The break up of families – it hurts so much. 37,000 martyrs today – the Jewish community and Self-help Organisation workers are also not safe. Only the workers in the “shops” seem to be still safe.

 

A new leadership for the community, Lichtenbaum, chairman, the deputies: Wielkikowski, Sztolcman, Orlianski. Lola Kapelusz, the wife of a lawyer from Lodz, she goes twice with her daughter to give herself up because they are starving. “ We haven’t eaten for two days”. They send them away because of huge crowds of people giving themselves up.

 

 

Monday 27 July 1942

 

The “Action” still continuing at full strength. People are being rounded up. Victims on Smocza Street. People were dragged from the trams and shot. One hundred dead, old people and sick,at the Umschlagplatz.

 

Huge numbers of dead at 29 Ogrodowa Street. The remaining occupants were taken out, no notice was taken of their papers. The cause – a piece of glass fell on to the street when there were Germans passing. Shooting all day. Dead on Pawia and other streets. The terrible hunger. Bread – 60 zloty, potatoes – 20, meat 80.

 

Read more here: http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/ghettos/al-diary.html

 

The Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team

www.HolocaustResearchProject.org

 

Copyright Carmelo Lisciotto H.E.A.R.T 2010

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