Pabianice Annual Yizkor
Light's speech at the 76th Pabianice Yizkor (27/5/2018)
MCK Cemetery Springvale,
Thank you for attending here today to
honour the fallen of our ancestors from the town of Pabianice, a town
inhabited by ten thousand thriving creative and committed Jewish people,
one fifth of the total population of the town. They lived in a relative
peace, though with hardship until the satanic Nazi forces invaded and
began their plan of horrific inhumanity and Genocide.
The first bombs fell on the first day
of the war, September one, 1939 causing death, injury and destruction.
After the injured were treated in the best possible way, those that died
were carried away and prepared for burial and the fires extinguished,
People began gathering in groups to discuss the situation. Dr
Sasna-Lifszyc who later fled with her sister-in-law, to Russia relates:
The opinion of all was that the dreaded Nazis would not get far.
Because they trusted the Honour and
Word of the large democracies of France and the United Kingdom, who had
solemnly promised to go to war against Nazi Germany, if it attacked
France had a
standing army of one million men with thousands of artillery and tanks
most on the border with Germany. France could call up 5 million men as
reserves. Britain had the largest Navy in the world with massive
destroyers and battleships, submarines and seven aircraft carriers. Both
nations had over 2,000 aircraft with trained pilots long range bombers,
and fighter pilots.
Britain having 550 Hurricanes, and 306 Spitfires with 2000 on order by
September 1, 1939.
None of these airforces navies or armies entered into conflict with Nazi
Germany as it pulverised Poland. The Jewish People and the Polish People
had trusted these large democracies with their vast colonies, and had been
betrayed with horrific consequences.
The Jewish people have learnt since
then, that their
prime defence would depend on themselves, and with miraculous efforts have
built a superbly advanced and elite airforce, an army with technologically
advanced weapons, and courageous and skilled combat units, and navies with
solid deterrent capacity, a harsh justice for the thousands and tens of
thousands of Jewish men, women and children killed in one day by the mass
shootings and horrific gas chambers designed by medical and industrial
scientists of the Nazi ideology who used their knowledge to organise
army reached Pabianice on the 8th September 1939. Many civilians had fled,
and the civilians that remained would be at the mercy of the Nazi army
because the Polish army had retreated to Warsaw and South East Poland.
The Nazis immediately began random
shootings and murders, severe beatings, robberies and humiliations upon
the Jewish People. And often with the help of the many Nazis of the Volks
Deutsche, the Germans with Polish citizenship who had lived in Pabianice
for generations. Some Poles pointed out Jews who the Nazis could not
recognize as not all Jews were ultra-orthodox.
After a few weeks as related by Jehojszua Birnbojm who miraculously survived the War, suffering in the
Pabianice and Lodz ghettos and Auschwitz. In Lodz Ghetto, his wife and 3
children were deported in the first deportation from Lodz on September 1,
1942, and Jehojszua was filled with terrible anguish and anger for the
rest of his life. But he survived to relate the events, to bear witness.
Quoting the Witness to the ordeal
Jehojszua Birnbojm "The Nazis ordered the Jews to form an Elstertendrat, a
committee to coordinate their demands of the Jewish People. The Master
Weavers Union together with 2 other groups expressed their faith in the
honest and responsible.
Jichak Alter, Wolf Jelenowicz and Jacob
Lubraniecki. The above mentioned 3 representatives wanted to carry out
responsibilities on behalf of the community, in an honest and moral
manner. They had no desire to accept blindly the bestial demands of the
Gestapo. Therefore, they were arrested and no one knows what sort of
martyrs deaths they suffered.
With their deaths, they proved their
dedication to the Jewish Community of Pabianice. These 3 great Jews fell
as defenders of justice and their memories will always be holy in the
hearts of all Pabianice Jews. We remember their martyr deaths with respect
years ago, I spoke of the late Romek Alter of blessed memory about Jichak
Alter. He remembered him with great respect and told me he was a relative
of his. During the war, Romek Alter was in the Polish Army fighting the
Nazis in the Anti-Nazi Coalition and was wounded when his tank was hit
late in the war, in a tank charge against the retreating Nazi forces.
After their deaths, these 3 honest and
courageous men were replaced by far less worthy amongst our people. But
still another Resistor arose. The Nazis at first, appointed a Work Council
made up of so called Rational Germans to organize the Jews to work for the
German Industries. They were called Rational Germans because they were not
ideologically fanatic Nazis but opportunistic wanting huge profits. They
observed that their Jewish workers were working slowly and with little
strength. An overseer of the council asked the Jews why their work was
slow. One of the Jewish workers named Landsman said it was because they
received so little food.
When the Work Council investigated, it
was realised that bad elements were not distributing the food equally.
Landsman was then appointed to the Jewish administration but after a few
weeks, the Gestapo found they could not do their cruel and exploitative
business with him, so he was beaten and taken out to the street and
shot dead. The hero Landsman fell another martyr.
Mrs Rochi Alewieska in the Pabianice
Yizkor book relates about other Resistors. Some Pabianice Jews had gone to
Warsaw also under the Nazi occupation. They had formed a Pabianice
collective in Warsaw organising kitchens and other help. It was found out
by them, that the Germans were planning to close the Pabianice Ghetto
because of a Typhus epidemic. A Bernard Faust and Baruch Lychtensztejn
managed to raise funds in USA dollars, and paid for a large supply of
anti-typhus injections. They sent these injections through secret couriers
to Pabianice. The injections were given and the epidemic was alleviated.
mentions 2 doctors who acted with great courage. Dr Szwder and the Gentile
Polish Surgeon Dr Majer who participated in much of the medical treatment
of the Pabianice Ghetto. Dr Majer heroically defended the health of the
Ghetto. Every day he smuggled himself into the Ghetto at great risk, and
carried out operations without pay under primitive conditions. Dr Majer also helped financially and gave medicine and other equipment to
foster health generally. This righteous gentile courageous and honourable,
was hanged by the Nazi beasts. Amongst other accusations, the Gestapo
accused him of befriending and helping Jews.
From the Yizkor book, an eye witness
report on the courage of Mordechai Chmura. Mordechai Chmura was the leader
of the Zionist organisation of Pabianice for a decade before the war. In
the terrible selection of the first and second of Sivan 1942, the Jewish
People were divided into 2 groups. The weak, the ill, the elderly and
children under 10 in one group, numbering 4,500. The more work able, in
another group numbering 3,500.
The young children were then placed
separately. The Nazis in their cruel devious ways asked who would like to
volunteer to accompany the children. Naturally the parents of the young
children volunteered. The only non-parent who volunteered was Mordechai
Chmura. He wanted to steady the spirits of the young families. He had 3
children who were over the age of 10, and were in the group to go to Lodz
to work. He left his wife and children, and took himself over to the group
of children in order to help them. As he entered the field at the head of
the children, proud Jew that he was, he sang the Hatikva and the other
parents joined in. This group was sent directly to Chelmo and the gas
written by Rachael Aerbuch a prolific writer of the terror of the Shoah:
"There was a concept of chivalrous knights of past years who fought to
save the weak, the children, the vulnerable and the helpless, was now
replaced by the Nazi barbarism that went to war to murder those people.
After the war
Pabianice Support Groups were set up in Israel, the leaders being
Pabianice Jews who had made Aliyah to Israel before WW2. They reached out
to Pabianice Survivors who had fled to Russia in late 1939 and early 1940,
hundreds had survived the war. Approximately 300 had survived in hiding in
Poland and some severely traumatised in the Ghettos, and the work and death
camps. The Pabianice survivors sent food parcels, clothes and money to
help their Landsmanshaft and worked to find them jobs and accommodation
through the welfare networks.
(Our 12th yizkor / memorial service in Melbourne) The
of the Liquidation of the Pabianice Ghetto
/ Pabianice Memorial
Service was held on 27th May 2018 at the
Pabianice Monument, MCK Cemetery,
Browns Road, Springvale.
See photos from the 2018 memorial service here...