April 20, 2009

The Jewish Ghetto During World War II

The information concerning the life in the Ghetto was gleaned from Father and Yetka Wagner, from her book, A Promise Kept. This book details her personal story concerning Radziejow and the Holocaust.
The Nazis decided that all the Jews living in Radziejow had to move to one street. The rule was four families per dwelling. The dwellings barely could comfortably fit one family. Thus, the Jews were forced to live together away from their homes. There was very little food provided to the Jews. To supplement the food Jews, disguised as gentile Poles, smuggled food in at the very real possibility of death if caught. The schools were shut down and education of children was banned. Small groups were formed in the Ghetto to teach Jewish children.
The able bodied men and women were forced to work for Nazis as slave laborers. The Jews would harvest crops, clean, dig ditches or provide their valuable skills to the Germans for free. Often times the Jewish males would return to the ghetto physically abused. The Jewish females were often sexually harassed and abused by the Nazis.
No soap was provided to Jews, so the Jews manufactured their own in the Ghetto. A Judenrat, Jewish council, was established to control the Ghetto. Unlike other towns where there was a criminal Jewish element that was used as policemen of the Ghetto, the Jews of Radziejow were either all related or close friends, so the Judenrat did its best to make life bearable.
My family was forcibly moved into the Ghetto. The store and house was sealed by the Nazis. In order to survive, the Neuman’s returned to the house a few times to dig up leather that was buried in the basement of the building. That leather was used to barter with the farmers for food.
The Jews were constantly harassed by the Nazis. The Nazis would make surprise raids looking for any young people to be placed on work crews. If the household had none then the Nazis would not leave before causing some physical abuse or relieve the Jews of some of their property.
As bad as life was in the Jewish Ghetto it was mild to their future that took place in April of the following year!

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