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April 02, 1982 - Image 10

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1982-04-02

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

10 Friday, April 2, 1982

Nazi Trap in Post-Ghetto Warsaw Revealed in Shulman Volume

By ALLEN WARSEN

"These were the two rea-
sons which caused so many
Jews hiding on the Aryan
side to voluntarily enter
what they themselves
called the Hotel Polski trap.
The first was the nightmare
of their daily existence, and
the other was a belief that
the exchange plan con-
tained a grain of probabil-
ity."
The above passage is from
the "introduction" to "The
Case of Hotel Polski,"
authored by Abraham
Shulman and published by
the Holocaust Library
(Schocken Books).
The book, a detailed ac-
count of the tragic Hotel
Polski affair, consists of ex-
cerpts from published
books, diaries, testimonies,
interviews and documents.

In the "introduction,"

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the author chronologi-
cally recounts the events
that led to the death
camps, the Pawiak
Prison, Bergen-Belsen
and Vittel.

Thus, on Sept. 1, 1939, the
Germans invaded Poland
and 26 days later Warsaw
surrendered. On Oct. 4,
Adam Czerniakow, the
chairman of the Warsaw
Jewish Community Coun-
cil, was ordered by the Ges-
tapo to form a Judenrat and
in November, the Judenrat
was asked to take a census
of the Warsaw Jewish popu-
lation.
On Jan. 26, 1940, congre-
gational worship was for-
bidden and kosher
slaughtering of animals
banned. In September, the
ghetto was established and
the Warsaw Jews were
forced to move into it and
the Poles living there to
leave. In September, 1941,
Governor Frank (executed
after the war) reduced the
ghetto's meager food rations
and in July 1942, the mass
deportations of thousands of
Jews to the death camps be-
came daily happenings.
"In April, 1943, following
a heroic, desperate and
hopeless resistance, the
Germans liquidated the
ghetto."

Nevertheless, thou-
sands of Jews were still
living in hiding on the
Aryan side. The Hotel
Polski affair was an im-
portant event in the
tragic history of those
Marrano Jews.

Their tragedy was re-

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flected in their unfortunate
attempt to become free
again and is vividly and
painstakingly described in
the Holocaust memoirs of
Bernard Goldstein, Tuvia
Borzykowski, Jacob
Celemenski, David Klin,
Vladka Meed and others.
Bernard Goldstein, a
leader of the Bund under-
ground, relates in his
memoir that a rumor sud-
denly began circulating in
Warsaw that the Gestapo
had obtained foreign
passports which could be ob-
tained for a price.
In order to facilitate their
purchase, the Gestapo es-
tablished an office at the
Hotel Polski that ad-
ministered by its Jewish
agents.

Goldstein, however
stresses in his memoir
that the Bund under-
ground "had serious
doubts about this scheme
from the very start."
These doubts, he writes,
were strengthened by the
statement issued by the
Polish underground that
"the entire affair was a
trap planned by the. Ges-
tapo to get their hands on
the remaining Jews of
Warsaw in order to kill
them."

Yet, despite the warn-
ings, the rush to the hotel
continued. Goldstein re-
marks that he knew a fam-
ily that paid 750,000 -zlotys
($11,000) for a passport.
Tuvia Borzykowski, a
participant in the Warsaw
Uprising and a leader of the
"Hahalutz," in his book "Be-
tween Tumbling Walls"
states that the Jews be-
lieved the enterprise was
genuine because they
trusted, among others,
David Guzik, the chief of the
Warsaw Office of the Joint
Distribution Committee,
who "threw the full weight
of his prestige behind the
project."
Celeminski,
Jacob
"thanks to his good looks,"
lived on the Aryan side
throughout the war and
served as a courier, "bring-
ing financial aid and report-
ing news to Jews who were
living in hiding."

In his book, "With My
Slain People," he relates
that on his secret visits to
the Hotel Polski, he
learned that the Gernians
kept in the Pawiak
Prison those Jews in pos-
session of foreign
passports whom they in-
tended to exchange for
German internees in
America. He also was in-
formed that a number of
these people, including
the journalist Hillel
Seidman and poet Yit-
zhak Katzenelson and his
son Zvi, already were
transferred to the Inter-
national Camp Vittel in
France.

-

He was told that those
passports the Orthodox
"Va'ad Hatzala" (Commit-
tee for Rescuing Jew) was
sending from Switzerland,
which arrived for Jews no
longer alive, the Gestapo
was selling at exorbitant
prices.

Vladka Meed, who also
was an underground
courier, in her memoir, "On
Both Sides of the Wall,"
writes that the last group of
Jews (except a few who
managed to hide, including
her future husband), the
Gestapo transported to
the Pawiak.
Of this group, according
to historian Leon Wanat,
262 were immediately shot
and the remaining group of
162 were sent to Bergen-
Belsen.

Constructed in 1943,
Bergen-Belsen originally
was planned for Jews in
possession of citizenship
papers of Central and
South American coun-
tries. But shortly after its
establishment it became
a concentration camp for
thousands of people,
most of whom were de-
ported to Auschwitz
where they, were mur-
dered.

Many of the people who
were brought there from the
Pawiak Prison, including
Yiddish writer Joshua Perle
and Galka Leszczynska, the
daughter of a well-known
labor leader, were deported
to Auschwitz where they
perished.
After the war it was
learned that these people
soon after their arrival in
Auschwitz "threw them-
selves at the SS men, tore
their weapons out of their
hands and tore down the
fences."
The remaining internees
at Bergen-Belsen organized

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The 114-room facility of-
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The Park House Hotel is
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population. There are many
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cial and religious activities.
Cultural activities were
also carried on at Vittel.
Like Bergen-Belsen, it too
was originally planned as a
temporary camp for Jews in
possession of foreign
passports.
On April 29, 1944, Kat-
zenelson, his son Zvi, and a
group of 171 Jews were sent
to Auschwtiz where they
were killed.
Prior to his deportation,
Katzenelson kept a Het
diary and composed
Holocaust jeremiad, "The
Song of the Murdered
Jewish People." The first
and last stanzas read:

a clandestine committee
consisting of former mem-
bers of the command of ZOB
(Zydowska Organizacja
Bojowa-Jewish Fighting
Organization) and repre-
sentatives of political par-
ties.

The committee's major
task was the formation of
"militant groups of fives"
for the purpose of dis-
arming "the Germans, in
case they would in the
last moments before
capitulation, try to mur-
der the Jewish pris-
oners."

In addition, the commit-
tee promoted cultural, so-

Sing! Take your light, hollow harp in hand,
Strike hard with your fingers, like pain filled hearts
On its thin chords. Sing the last song,
Sing of the last Jews on Europe's soil.

**

Woe is unto me, nobody is left . . . there was a people and it is
no more. There was a people and it is gone . . .
What a tale. It began in the Bible and lasted till now . . .
A very sad tale.
A tale that began with Amalek and concluded with the
far-crueller Germans . . .
0 distant Sky, wide earth, vast seas: Do not crush and don't
destroy the wicked. Let them destroy themselves!

In 1980, the Katzenelson
Kibutz of the Ghetto Fight-
ers published Katzenelson's
epic poem. The edition in-

eluded photos of the original
manuscript with an
Engligh translation and
annotations by Noah H.
Rosenbloom.

There is nothing that God
has judged good for us that
he has not given us the
means to accomplish, both
in the natural and the moral
world. If we cry, like chil-
dren, for the moon, like
children we must cry on.

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