THE FORTIES ARE NOW
October 14, 2011
by Barry Chamish
We begin with a wedding in 1948. In the photo above are my grandparents, parents, brother, two aunts and one uncle. In the center is the bride, Freda, standing beside her mother Manya Frankel. I don't know if you can see it, but there are real unwanted emotions staring at you. Not four years earlier, many of my grandmothers' family, the Resniks, were slaughtered like animals, mostly in a Polish town called Miedzyrzec. I now know how it happened because Aunt Frida asked her mother where her family were from and she traced the records of the dead.
My last visit to Aunt Freda was when I was in New York a few years ago. I used the time to let her tell me about my maternal family roots. Manya arrived with her parents in Brooklyn around the time of the First World War, married Sam Frankel and had four children. When her parents decided to move to a Midwestern city with her sisters, she joined them.
Frida told me the married names of her sisters, Kosatzky, Marmel, Fireman and that they initially moved to nearby farm towns. Only Freda disliked prairie life so much that she moved back to Brooklyn.
If you look hard, there are two other emotions in the photo, joy and fear. Israel had declared its nationhood, a small reward in an awful decade.The Jews there faced the real possibility of being defeated and turning into the second Holocaust. My family put all their spare time and thoughts into working locally to save Israel. As happy a bride as was Freda, even her wedding day was haunted by recent massacres and the threat of another one any day.
When Freda died recently, she left this photo and a searing document telling how her mother's family met their heartless demise. As I read it, me, being who I am, saw awful parallels with Israel today. See if you agree.
Miedzyrzec prided itself on its religious life:
Unlike the general area, where most of the Jews tended to be part of various Hassidic sects, the majority of the community in Miedryrzec were Mitnagdim (those who opposed the Hassidim). The relationship between the Hassidim and the Mitnagdim was amicable. At one point the Hassidic Rabbi Yechiel Michael Halperin of Kuzmier served as the Rabbi of Miedzyrzec. Only during the 19th century, when Rabbi Yom Tov Raphael Lippman, an extreme Mitnagid, served as Rabbi, did an intense argument occur which culminated in Rabbi Lippman placing the Hassidim in cherem (excommunication). As a consequence of his action Rabbi Lippman was forced to leave the community and things reverted to normal.
Among the other important Rabbis were Rabbi Zvi Hirsch who served during the end of the 16th century, Rabbi Natan Netta Katzenelbogen who came to live inEretz Yisrael and died there in 1689, Rabbi Yehoshua Lieb Diskin who came to live in Eretz Yisrael and established the Diskin Orphanage, and Rabbi Issa Shapira who came in 1930. Rabbi Yitzhak Yakov Wachtfogel was a rabbi in Meah Shearim in Jerusalem, and Rabbi Shimon Yakov Halevi who was a rabbi in Tel Aviv, were both born in Miedryrzec.
Miedryrzec was a town that opposed Hasidim but the villages around it were mostly Hasidic. During the Holocaust, Miedryrzec was a holding center for the district's doomed Jews, and the Hasidim were crowded into the new ghetto along with the Mitnagdim. Ignoring obvious distinctions, to me this is the equivalent of the Hasidim and religious Zionists huddled together in the dying gasps of Judea and Samaria. The difference between the two groups in the forties is that some Mitnagdim survived, while the Hasidim were all but wiped out completely.
The Germans entered the city on the 13th of September 1939, and they were replaced twelve days later, by the Russians on September 25. The Red Army was only there for two weeks and with their retreat some 2000 young Jews managed to join them. The Wehrmacht reconquered the city on October 9, and on the 20th of October, the city was transferred into the hands of the Gestapo.
Why didn't the Hasidim youth retreat with the Russians? Everyone knows the answer because the exact same delusions are alive today in Israel. Their rabbis undoubtedly told them that God wouldn't abandon them and would soon send his Messiah. In actuality, it appears that God did abandon them and that no Messiah showed up. And no matter how many justifications have been fabricated to make Israel different, that the slaughter can never return, the Hasidim are in the exact same boat. And the rest of us could share the fate of the Jews who stayed in Miedryrzec.
Among the Nazi groups that were stationed in the city there were the Gendarmerie and the Schupo, (German police) who would later be responsible for murdering the Jews of Miedryrzec. Among the gendarmes was Sergeant Franz Bauer, who personally killed 1000 of the Jewish residents. In the summer of 1940 six separate work camps were set up where some 2000 Jews worked in terrible conditions. Many of the workers died of hunger and cold. The Jews no longer had any rights. Jewish factories were expropriated, among them the brush factory. Other factories were transferred to polish ownership. Jewish refugees continually came from Krakow and the surrounding area. In December 1941 Jews were ordered to hand over all of their fur coats to the Nazi's. Some 20 Jews were murdered on the city streets and another 75 died during the searches that were carried out by Jewish prisoners of War from the Polish army that were specially brought to the city...
On August 25 and 26 the first action occurred. 10,000 Jews were brutally assembled in the town square. They were forcibly marched to the train station where they were put on 52 cattle cars (shipment 566 according to the German inventory) and sent to Treblinka...The Second action took place between October 6 and 9. Some 7000 Jews were forcibly assembled in the town square. At this stage everyone knew what their fate was. The Czienki brothers, who managed to escape from Treblinka, informed the Judenrat of Miedzyrzec and other Jewish ghettos about the extermination that was taking place. The head of the Judenrat told the Gestapo about the brothers and they were shot on one of the small streets of the city.
Between October 27 and 29 and November 7 and 8 two actions took place without respite. The Germans, assisted by the Jewish police conducted searches in the Ghetto. Many Jews were captured and shot on sight. Others were sent to camps. At this time many lost their will to live and simply turned themselves over to the Germans.
We must face the fact: the Nazis organized Jews to run the local government, the Judenrat, and its Jewish police. Without their help, the Holocaust would have gone far slower and perhaps millions would have survived. Many studies have shown that these men were selected from amongst the Jews with low standing in the community and who relished the sudden rise in their social status. The lesson learned was that certain Jews were happy to do the dirty work of outsiders determined to destroy Judaism. These are the leaders of Israel! Israelis don't understand that their leaders, long before, had sold their souls to today's Nazis and were manipulated into power. I could but won't repeat my solid proofs at this time but just know, the Oslo "peace" Accord was the mayor of Miedryrzec inviting the Gestapo to come in and take care of Jewish security.
On May 2 and 3, 1943, after a long hiatus, a fifth action took place. Some 3000 Jews were captured and sent to different camps. Approximately 200 caught trying to hide, were marched to the cemetery, forced to undress, and were then shot. A Jewish youth named Chaim Foga attacked a German officer and threw acid in his face. On that day the entire Judenrat and Jewish police were shot to death.
In this horrific report, I personally relate to Chaim Foga. He knew every Jew was a walking corpse and he fought the executioner. As a result, he ended the delusions of the Jews
working for the Nazis. The leaders of Israel should know, there is no escape for you either.
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