The Diary of the Great Deportation, written by a resident of the Warsaw ghetto, was published in Russian

News
The Diary of the Great Deportation, written by a resident of the Warsaw ghetto, was published in Russian
The Diary of the Great Deportation, written by a resident of the Warsaw ghetto, was published in Russian
14 January, 12:28CulturePhoto: Фото: архив Яд Вашем
From 1940 to 1943, an underground group called Oyneg Shabes existed in the Warsaw ghetto. Its purpose was to collect evidence of the life and destruction of the Jewish culture of Eastern Europe. We collected absolutely everything, trying to preserve as much of all kinds of materials as possible.

Eyewitness stories and photographs, chronicles and diaries, prose and poetry, drawings, sermons and anecdotes, creative evenings programs and underground exchange rates, tram tickets and candy wrappers, restaurant menus and food ration cards collected over three years were carefully packed and hidden in three hiding places. After the war, only two of them were discovered. The work on deciphering the unique archive lasted several decades; the publication of 36 volumes was completed in 2018. The collection, compiled by Professor David G. Roskis, includes works and documents that tell about the Holocaust in the voices of its first researchers - the victims themselves - "in the first person, in real time, despite time and for all time".

Novye Izvestia publishes an excerpt from the Diary of the Great Deportation by Abraham Levin, a Warsaw resident, historian, Hebrew teacher and one of the founders of Oyneg Shabes, who died in January 1943 during the first battles of the uprising in the Warsaw ghetto. Translated by Yulia Poleshchuk

Friday 28 August

Intimidation actions continue. I heard that a group of workers were returning from work at the Ashman factory last night. The SS men divided the line of workers into two groups: one was allowed to continue the journey, the second was taken straight to the umshlagplatz [1] .

The children who were captured yesterday could not be saved. They died, they died.

Today we [the participants of Oyneg Shabes] talked for a long time with Dovid Novodvorsky, he returned from Treblinka. He told us the whole story of the ordeal that he had to endure from the moment of his arrest until he escaped from the camp and returned to Warsaw. His words confirm and leave no doubt: all the deported (both those who were captured and those who came voluntarily) were sent to death, not one was saved. This is the naked truth, and how awful if you remember that in recent weeks at least three hundred thousand Jews were exterminated from Warsaw and other cities: Radom, Siedlce and many, many others. His story is evidence of torment so terrible, so unbearable that it is impossible to convey and describe in words. This is undoubtedly the greatest crime ever known to history. Yesterday from Warsaw about four thousand people were sent to their death - men, women, children. The promotion continues today. The workshops surround, block the entrances and exits, but (as I heard) the transport is not rushed. The workers will be kept inside until the evening or until tomorrow, and then the next large batch will be sent to the camp. It is the thirty-eighth day of the great bloodshed. In addition to Warsaw, Siedlce, Radom, Rembertuv and many, many others drank this cup of poison.

Yesterday I heard that the owners of a large factory, Schultz and Többens, are in talks with the leaders of the Einsatzgruppen. They are promised a bribe of three million if they do not touch the Jews remaining in Warsaw (of which, according to their estimates, there are about a hundred thousand) and get out of the city. In this regard, there are rumors that the action will last until Saturday or Sunday, after which the killers will leave and peace will come to Warsaw. We so often allowed ourselves to hope that the bloody massacre was about to end, and so often our hopes turned out to be false, we were left with nothing. I have no doubt that this time too, disappointment awaits us, and the bloodshed will continue.

God! Are we really going to be destroyed, every last one? Now there was no doubt: everyone who was taken out of Warsaw was killed.

Friday, September 11, Rosh Hashanah Eve

Since last Saturday there has been no hunt, no time, no opportunity to write [2] . Both the human hand and the pen are tired of describing everything that happens to a handful of Jews who are still alive, including me. The bowl of our sorrows has no example in our history.

The week of terrible atrocities began on Saturday night - Sunday morning. A Jewish policeman knocked on us and told us the terrible news: all Jews should gather in the quarter between Gensha, Mila and Ostrovskaya for the next census. Take food for two days and a container for water with you. On Sunday morning, the Jews of Warsaw were in panic. We all thought that our hour of death had come. With tears in my eyes, I said goodbye to my family: to my mother, Fruma, Nasya, Yakub, children.

A frightening and unusual view of the streets: Mila, Volynskaya, a square defined under the umshlagplatz. Crowds of Jews with backpacks flock from all over the ghetto. All are located right on the street. We sit like this all Sunday. In the evening, checks begin at the workshops, and individual groups return to factories and homes. The test brings new sacrifices: the children do not pass it. Old men, women too. But then how lucky. Some groups are not so rigorously checked, while others, on the contrary, suffer huge losses.

Murders in the streets. I saw with my own eyes how a young strong man and a young beautiful woman were shot. A sight that I will not forget while I am alive: five tiny children, two or three years old, from Monday to Tuesday sitting on the street in a camp bed, crying, crying, shouting incessantly: "Mom, mom, htse eshch!" [Mom, Mom, I’m hungry!] The soldiers are firing incessantly, and hearing the shots, the children are briefly silent. Children lie there for twenty-four hours, crying, shouting: mom, mom. On Tuesday afternoon, a middle-aged man, about fifty years old, approached them, burst into tears, sobbing, and gave the children some food. Shortly before him, a woman approached and also gave them food. Our hearts have turned to stone, and children cannot be saved. Why save them if we are all doomed to die?

We waited for the company's commissioner, Hansel, to come and take us to the factory. He does not go. We are more and more discouraged. We feel that death in the guise of umshlagplatz is slowly getting closer, taking us by the throat, strangling us. There were rumors that the SS had shut down our firm. People rush from hope to despair. Meanwhile, the Nazis blockade Mila and the surrounding streets.

Several dozen of our people are driven out of house number 61 on Mila Street [where the workers of the Landau factory lived] and from the Werkshutz [factory guards]. Rosenovich with his father, Fish with his family. It was on Monday. Our despair and the suffering of hundreds of people trapped in the alley have drained our patience. The shooting, which does not subside either day or night, gets on your nerves, plunges you into mortal anguish. On Tuesday morning there is a glimmer of hope, but it immediately fades away. Hansel comes briefly, from ten to eleven in the morning, promises that he will pick us up soon. Leaves, time passes, but he does not return. Our resolve weakens again, and we fall into deeper despair. We await the inevitable end: when we are taken to the umschlagplatz.

It's hard to continue. I have nothing to eat, nowhere to sleep. I spend the night (a) on Dzelnaya (b) at [Isaiah] Rabinovich, on the floor (c) at Recimer's. People quarrel with each other. Those who have at least something left cook, eat, make sure that nothing is stolen from them. And they drag everything that lies badly, especially food: neither a feeling of common destiny, nor mutual assistance. People wander the streets like shadows.

***

The lice are also terribly harassing. Hunger forces them to beg for alms, to beg for food. Even in such terrible hours, a hungry person is looking for how to appease hunger. On Wednesday morning, there was another hopeful rumor. Hansel will come for us. He really came. Joy seized those who are locked in the street. Everyone who works in the workshop, men and women, immediately left the house. In the apartments - that is, in the shelters - there were only old women and children. We stand (then sit) on the street from ten in the morning to six in the evening. The mood is high. Before us, like some kind of detachment, there are women. Time is running. Everyone is patiently waiting. Everyone wants to go to the factory. Suddenly four or five SS men appear and ... a pogrom begins, such as I have never seen before. Even the Cossacks in the first revolution of 1905-1906 did not commit such outrages as the Germans do now. Men and women are beaten with whips, sticks, boards. Women are taken to the umschlagplatz (except for those few who have iron numbers [3] ) [that is, those who cannot be deported], as well as a large number of men who did not get a number - they were considered useless. They took the prettiest, most elegant women. Whole families were hijacked. A young officer brutally beats us and shouts, enraged: “Ü ber euch , verfluchte , verdammte , kr ä zige Juden , habe ich 3 Jahren Lebens verloren . Schon 3 Jahren plaget ihr uns , ihr Hunde ... ” [“ Because of you, damned, accursed, filthy Jews, I have already lost three years of my life. For three years you harass us, dogs ... "] and so on. I have never seen such animal hatred. There were also murders.

***

We've been locked in the factory since the day before last. We shudder at every rustle and shot coming from the street. Yesterday SS men came and robbed. Today is the eve of Rosh Hashanah. May the new year bring salvation to those who survived. Today is the fifty-second day of the greatest and worst murder in history. We are a handful of survivors from the largest Jewish community in the world.

P. S.

From January 17 to February 4, the annual "Week of Remembrance" will be held in Russia at the federal level. This is a series of memorial and educational events timed to coincide with the International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27. The full program of events planned both in Moscow and in the regions is published on the website memoryweek.ru

[1] Umschlagplatz - the square in the ghetto, from where the deportation to concentration camps began: selection and loading into wagons, as a rule, near the railway station.

[2] During the five most terrible days of the great deportation, known as the "dos qesl" ("cauldron"), from September 6 to 10, Levin did not open his diary. All Jews who remained in the ghetto were ordered to leave their homes and gather in the streets adjacent to the Umschlagplatz. Those who were not officially employed were sent to Treblinka in cattle wagons.

[3] An iron badge with a number was issued to residents of the ghetto who were employed and therefore were not subject to deportation.

Found a typo in the text? Select it and press ctrl + enter