The Underground of Poland--and a Jew Who Looked Aryan
By PAUL BERNSTEIN
One day during the first year of
the Nazi occupation of Poland,
Jacob Celemensky was waiting in
a line in Krakow to get the travel-
ing documents required of Jews.
He overheard one man say to an-
other behind him, "What is that
Gentile doing in this line?"
This gave Celemensky an idea.
"I have a good face for an Aryan,"
During the next four years, Cele-
mensky passed himself off as an
Aryan, traveling from Jewish
ghetto to ghetto in the guise of a
gas and electricity bill collector
from city halls. Because of his fea-
tures, he received little attention
from the German and Polish
guards at the ghetto entrances, but
from 1940 until 1944, he was able
to smuggle into the ghettos money,
forged documents, arms, food and
the ingredients for Molotov cock-
Another important commodity
Celemensky brought the people of
the ghettos was news—news of the
war (often surpressed by the Pol-
ish Occupied Government), news
of Jews in other places in Europe
and news of the activities of the
Jewish Polish underground with
whom Celemensky had connections.
Here recently to spur interest
in a Yizkor book he is writing, Cel-
emensky described his war exper-
iences for The Jewish News.
Traveling under the name
Cheslav, Celemensky visited 24
cities in Poland, as well as sev-
eral concentration camps. Dur-
ing each visit, in order to make
his appearance believable to the
Nazis, he stayed two or three
days at a time to complete his
business as a bill collector.
His identity was known by one
man at each stop, for it Was unwise
to be known by too many people.
This man would serve as a contact
to Celemensky and to the other
Aryan-looking Jews who worked
parachute into the forests surround-
ing the Polish cities where it would
be picked up by the Jewish under-
ground who hid in the dense woods.
Celemensky was well known to
these youths, and the money was
transmitted through him to the
Born in Gombin, Poland, Cele-
mensky worked as a tailor until
the Nazis overran the country in
September 1939. By that time, he
was active in the national tailors
union in Poland. When he first em-
barked upon his underground ac-
tivities, he established contact
with the Socialist Party in Krakow,
who continued to aid him until he
threw off his disguise in August
1944 in order to take part in the
last great Jewish rebellion in
He spent the last eight months
of the war in a concentration camp
for Poles until its liberation by the
United States Army May 1, 1945.
Three years later he migrated to
the United States, where he now
works as a tailor, his original oc-
cupation, in New York.
In 1963, Celemensky published
gives the town of Lublin, site of
name of the paper, containing Jew-
ish literature, news and inspira-
tional works, had to be changed
with each issue to escape detec-
tion. They were usually mimeo-
graphed and published either in
Polish or Yiddish.
During the time of the ghettos,
Celemensky said, it was consid-
ered unwise in the Jewish com-
munity for a Jew to kill a German
the- sealed "Jewish Reservation"
during the first three months of the
war. One Saturday during syna-
gogue serivices, the Nazis came to
Lublin to collect Jewish laborers,
The Gombiner Society has a
one of whom responded by strang-
house in Tel Aviv and has es-
ling a German soldier in a fit of
tablished a free loan society. At
rage. The result was the massacre
one time, the Detroit chapter
of all the Jews of Lublin.
had more than 100 members, but
Celemensky refuses to give
with no one to replace those who
credit to the claim of the present
have died, membership has
Polish government that the War-
dwindled locally to 15. Sidney
saw ghetto uprising of April-May
Guyer is local secretary.
1943 was a Polish rebellion rath-
Jacob Celemensky is still active,
er than a Jewish rebellion. They
currently on a world tour as a re-
(the Poles) didn't help us at all.
of his works with the< Combi-
They helped themselves."
Before the war started, there
were 300,000 Jews in Warsaw. By
the time of the uprising, the Jew-
ish population had dwindled to
ners. Besides the Yizkor book, re
is active in a tailors union, and has
just had his first book translated
into English in hopes of publishing
his war experiences for the bene-
50,000. Celemensky was instrumen- fit of those who do not speak
tal in smuggling supplies to such Yiddish.
ghetto youth leaders as Mordecai
Anielewich and Dr. Edelmann, two
of the uprising's chief architects.
Celemensky helped 80 survivors
of the uprising escape from the
ghetto by means of an under-
ground tunnel. Among the 40 Jews
who lived in Warsaw by the end of
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(Copyright 1968, JTA Inc.)
thing more than what the doctors
mean by a new heart. He meant
that the world would be filled by
mercy and kindness instead of
hostility and if science can make
a breakthrough here, we would
Put your many Mem your
the Jews of Gombin, the small town
near Warsaw where he was born.
By DAVID SCHWARTZ
toms and then pull the handle
and out will come a prescription
and a ticket good for a set of
china. The ringer is that we may
push the wrong buttons and get
cured of diphtheria when we have
NIA I:it HER iu-: rl t 11 t (.1.1)1ZHII
man on the sixth floor would call which will make the process cheap
out, "my Able is sick" and the enough for everybody.
doctor would yell back, "Give him
The Israeli daily, Maariv, writ-
some castor oil and throw down a ing of the Washansky heart case,
says the prophet Ezekiel was the
Today, a doctor doesn't visit first to predict the, possibility of
his patients. Probably in the not the heart transplantation. In the
too distant future, we won't visit book of Ezekiel, God is represented
the doctor. We'll go to a comput- as saying "And I will give to you
mg machine on the corner, push a new heart."
Probably Ezekiel meant some-
the buttons for our various symp-
rebellion when Jews of every sec-
tion revolted with some Poles
against the Nazis. At this time,
Celemensky came to fight the
Nazis in the Aryan section and
was captured and sent to a con-
centration camp. During his brief
stay in the camp, he became secre-
tary of an organization of concen-
tration camp residents.
Celemensky's current project,
the Yizkor book, commemorates
No More 'My Son, the Doctor'
Today the Jewish young men
and young women seem to be go-
The world keeps going around ing in largely for physics and
and around—in the same circle, chemistry, for research science.
but all the time, it's changing too. Of couse, there is research in
medicine too, but the fields of
Take the Jewish mother.
chemistry and physics appear
Bernard G. Richards, who heads
more rewarding in significant dis-
the Jewish Information Bureau
and knows what's what, says we
The other day, the newspapers
are at the beginning of a new era
full of the story of Dr. Ar-
with respect to the Jewish mother.
thur Kornberg, a Jewish physicist
The day, he says, when the in synthesizing the DNA, particles.
Jewish mother said, "My son, the
Most of us don't know what it's
doctor," is gone forever.
all about, but we are told that
Today, the Jewish mother says, this is a great breakthrough in
"My son, the physicist," (not the science, by which man may be
able to change hs whole being,
Being a doctor conferred some to make geniuses of people and
status, but the ambition to be one to cure many diseases.
seems to have lost a good deal
We hope so. It's nice to read
of its zest. Maybe, because in about it anyway.
the old days, you saw more of the
A few weeks back, we beard
doctor. He visited his patients or
at least, called in the neighbor- that Prof. Abraham Kogan of the
hood. Eddie Cantor used to tell Haifa Technion had achieved "a
how the doctor would pass by the breakthrough" in desalination, a
East Side tenements and the wo- means of de-salting sea water,
Music the Stein•Way
The Gombiner Society, consisting
of former residents of the city, is
dedicated to historical reminis-
cences of Gombin and the com-
Working with Celemensky were solider, simply because the Ger- memoration of the Jews who per-
1,500-2,000 young Jews, mostly mans would reprise with the killing ished during the war.
women. Women were favored be- of 500 Jews. "It was hard," he
cause they could look Aryan with said, "to kill Germans. This is why
no physical characteristics to give the Jews waited so long before they
started open rebellion, as in War-
Much of the money used in the saw. What was the use of killing
operation came from the United one German when we would lose
States, by the way of London. 500 Jews?"
From there it was dropped by
As an example, Celemensky
Friday, January 5, 1968-27
Organized in 1936, the society
has members in cities all over the
world, including Detroit. The book
will be published this year in Yid-
dish, Hebrew and English.
his story in Yiddish in a limited
edition book. Besides his person- the rebellion was Dr. Edelman,
al experiences, the book was a who lives in Warsaw today.
collection of incidents and indi-
In the summer of 1944, Polish
vidual heroism of Polish Jews.
Celemensky tells of the activi- Jews staged their last act of open
ties of the Jewish underground in
the forests of Poland and of his
visits to boost the morale of Jews
trapped in the ghettos through
news of underground activities and
successes, as well as through the
distribution of newspapers. The
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
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