David P. Boder Interviews Udel Stopnitsky; September 12, 1946; Hénonville, France

var english_translation = { interview: [ David Boder

[In English] France, September the 12th, 1946, at HÃnonville, a chateau which has now given over to displaced Jews, a extremely religious Kibbutz in which the ORT has its school of agriculture and various trades. The interviewee is Mr. Udel Stopnitsky, 31 years old.

David Boder

[In Yiddish] Now, Mr. Stopnitsky, will you again tell me your full name . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

Stopnitsky, Udel

David Boder

Yes . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

Born in Bedzin, 1915

David Boder

Bedzin is not far from Sosnowiec?

Udel Stopnitsky

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

Yes, 31 years old.

David Boder

Now, Mr. Stopnitsky, what are you doing here? With what are you occupied here?

Udel Stopnitsky

I arrived here in order to get in the fastest way to the land of Israel.

David Boder

You are occupying some kind of a post here in the organization?

Udel Stopnitsky

Yes, I am the head of the Kibbutz, that means leader of the whole contingent.

David Boder

How many Kibbutzim [this is the plural form of Kibbutz] are here?

Udel Stopnitsky

One-hundred and twenty people.

David Boder

No, no I am not asking how many people. I want to know if there is only one Kibbutz here?

Udel Stopnitsky

One Kibbutz.

David Boder

And what is the name of this Kibbutz?

Udel Stopnitsky

Nezach Israel under the leadership of the Alya Agudahs Israel.

David Boder

. . . Agudahs Israel?

Udel Stopnitsky

Alya Agudahs Israel.

David Boder

And what does Alya mean?

Udel Stopnitsky

That is the youth organization of religious working men [the preceding Hebrew terms have to be re-checked].

David Boder

The youth organization of Jewish working men. And Rabbi Horwitz is with you?

Udel Stopnitsky

Yes, he is the religious leader of our Kibbutz.

David Boder

Yes. And to what organization belongs the Yeshiva, there upstairs?

Udel Stopnitsky

That is a Lituanian Yeshiva.

David Boder

They don't belong to your group?

Udel Stopnitsky

No, that is a separate group which only dedicates itself to learning. The rest of the Kibbutz is organized to prepare working people for the land of Israel.

David Boder

And the others are a Yeshiva and it is not known whether they go to the land of Israel?

Udel Stopnitsky

They go to America.

David Boder

Yes. And do they have their own Rabbi?

Udel Stopnitsky

Yes, the Yeshiva has its own Rabbi.

David Boder

Has he arrived already?

Udel Stopnitsky

No, he will arrive tomorrow, on Friday. Every Sunday he leaves for Paris and he comes here for the Sabbath weekend.

David Boder

And what does he do in Paris during the whole week?

Udel Stopnitsky

He has to arrange various things, various formalities for the trip to America because the Yeshiva leaves for America.

David Boder

So he is busy the whole week in Paris?

Udel Stopnitsky

In Paris.

David Boder

Now, Mr. Stopnitsky, will you please tell me where you were when the war started and what happened to you?

Udel Stopnitsky

From 1939 to 1943, I was in Bedzin. In various ghettos. Sometimes in a large ghetto up to the end, to April, 1943, when there were established ghettos surrounded with wire fences.

David Boder

With wires?

Udel Stopnitsky

With wires. By that time there were in the ghetto seventeen thousand Jews.

David Boder

Now let us start again. Where and with whom were you? With whom did you live? I refer to your family at the time the Germans arrived in Bedzin.

Udel Stopnitsky

When the Germans arrived in Bedzin, I was at home. We were ten children.

David Boder

Were the Russians in Bedzin first?

Udel Stopnitsky

No.

David Boder

Oh . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

The Germans came in right from the start.

David Boder

[Does that mean that] the Germans came in before they were at war with the Russians?

Udel Stopnitsky

No, [they marched in] two years before.

David Boder

All right, go on.

Udel Stopnitsky

Also, when the Germans marched inâwe were a family of ten children, and my father and my mother.

David Boder

Ten children and a father and mother in addition, together twelve?

Udel Stopnitsky

Together twelve.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

We lived [from the start] unmolested. The first few weeks various misfortunes happened to other Jews. They right away burned the synagogues and the prayer house, and a number of Jews were right away shot, they burned down various streets with Jews [possibly meaning where the Jews lived], but nothing so far happened to our family.

David Boder

Now wait a moment. [Do I understand that] the Germans were not yet at war with Russia, they marched into Poland, they marched into Bedzin?

Udel Stopnitsky

Yes.

David Boder

Go on.

Udel Stopnitsky

So right away, the first day when they marched in, they took one hundred and seventy Jews and shot them.

David Boder

Where?

Udel Stopnitsky

In Bedzin.

David Boder

Did you see it?

Udel Stopnitsky

I have not seen it, but afterwards when we came outside we saw Jews sitting in poses like it would be Saturday night, they were sitting in their silk coats, with their heads [here one word not clear] leaning against the wall and in such a pose they were shot.

David Boder

So that you did see?

Udel Stopnitsky

Yes, I have seen it.

David Boder

One could see that they were shot?

Udel Stopnitsky

Shot, not once but several times shot.

David Boder

Yes?

Udel Stopnitsky

They were shot with so much suffering that one could not call it normal suffering. Entire pieces of flesh were torn away.

David Boder

H-um, and who buried them?

Udel Stopnitsky

The official Jewish undertakers.

David Boder

The official Jewish undertakers had to bury them? Some hundred seventy Jews?

Udel Stopnitsky

Yes.

David Boder

Where were they buried?

Udel Stopnitsky

On the cemetery, under [one word is not clear] highway which [cemetery] exists until this day.

David Boder

Were they buried in separate graves? [the interviewer inquired whether they were buried in individual graves but Stopnitsky interpreted the word as separate graves.]

Udel Stopnitsky

In separate graves, four graves, women separately and men separately.

David Boder

Oh, in two graves?

Udel Stopnitsky

No, in four graves, two for the men and two for the women.

David Boder

So they did not bury everyone separately, in a nice . . . [The interviewer unexpectedly said this last three words in English; as in so many cases the interviewer could not help becoming perplexed by the story which accounts for not having heard about the four graves when he mentioned them first, and also accounts for forgetting himself as to the language he was to use. âD.P.B.]

Udel Stopnitsky

That they did not permit.

David Boder

The Germans did not permit?

Udel Stopnitsky

. . . because it took too much time.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

. . . to dig so many graves if each one would have been separately buried.

David Boder

Oh . . . and what explanation did they give? Why were they shot? What did they . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

There was no explanation of any kind . . . no explanation.

David Boder

Did you have a Jewish Community Council right from the start?

Udel Stopnitsky

The Jewish Community Council was created [here is either a short break in the wire or the machine was stopped for some reason but there isn't much missing if any].

David Boder

. . . let us continue. Stopnitsky, there were at the time in Bedzin thirty-two thousand Jews in all the orders of the Gestapo, that means the German Secret Police, had to be executed by the Jewish Community Council. No matter how horrible [an order] they had to execute it. [A pause] Also you told me that at that time . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

There were thirty-two thousand Jews in Bedzin, because Bedzin is one of the oldest cities in Poland, but in time, beginning with 1940 the Germans got busy with the little bit of Jews, daily they record various actions, sometimes they were picked for lumber gangs with the help of the German police, sometimes they were just common order to deliver two thousand Jews. At that time it wasn't yet known for what purpose the Jews were sent away. It was said that the Jews are being re-settled to other districts where they could continue to live. But in time obscure information came through that there was created such a thing as Auschwitz. Auschwitz is located 32 kilometers from Bedzin.

David Boder

Oh, that is where Auschwitz is located?

Udel Stopnitsky

Yes. 32 kilometers.

David Boder

And Birkenau?

Udel Stopnitsky

That is the same thing. I was also in Birkenau. From then on it was "obscurely felt" that the Jews are not being re-settled but they are taken to be murdered. But to murder them openly, they still could not decide. But in time they record a case when a woman, a woman from Bedzin has managed to escapeâin what way is not exactly knownâbut she escaped from that hell, and she reported exactly how things occurred there at the time. At that time transports of two thousand, three thousand Jews would arrive. Arriving at Auschwitz they were told that they proceed traveling to a place of work. They were told to take off all their clothes to get ready to go bathing. Each one was given a towel with a little piece of soap as is usually done when people go into a bathhouse. On the [door] leading to the gas chamber was a sign in German "bathhouse". The people simply marched in and there occurred the gas-killing. Sometimes it would last fifteen minutes, five, minutes, sometimes an hour, sometimes two hours. This depended on the experimentation with various gases which were manufactured by the I. G. Farben Industries in Auschwitz. Because there in the lager [camp]âthe lager occupied 40 kilometers squareâand in this lager was a gigantic plant of that great world wide concern, the I. G. Farben Industries.

David Boder

H-um.

Udel Stopnitsky

. . . where they were manufacturing poison gases and these gases . . . when they would prepare a new gas they would test it on the "sacrificial offering" [the word really means plural of the noun sacrifice] of Jews which were sent there from the the name is not clear [district] nearby, [he enumerates here a number of towns of that region but he speaks at such a pace that the names are not clear.]

David Boder

Katowice also?

Udel Stopnitsky

Katowice too, [correcting himself] Katowice was at that time already Jew-clean. As soon as the Germans got into Katowice it was called Upper Silesia, that means [as if] originally German territory and sent over to Zagrumbia [??] which formerly was called Dabrowa, it was called that since hundreds of years] I am not sure of the translation of the last few words.

David Boder

What did you call [that district]?

Udel Stopnitsky

Zagrumbia [??], there are the coal mines, it is a coal district.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

The Polish coal district.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

But otherwise it is called the coal district.

David Boder

Yes. And you say that the I.G. Farben were located in the lager?

Udel Stopnitsky

In the lager a gigantic factory [I am not sure of the adjective, neither here nor before when he mentions Farben, it's the same adjective], and there worked the prisoners, you see the internees were called prisoners. I shall explain to you later what that all means. From the beginning of 1942, misfortune started to fall also over our family.

David Boder

Slower please.

Udel Stopnitsky

We were ten children. All of us . . . the youngest one was thirteen years old and the oldest one was thirty-five years old.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

They started sending away one by one . . . one brother was sent away to labor service. Labor service, that means he was sent away deep into Germany; he was getting hardly any food except for 20 to 30 deca bread a day, barely anything else, and so he had to work eight, ten or even twelve hours a day. This was not yet considered too terrible because after all the people were still alive. We still were able to maintain contact with our children, we were able to write letters to them. In 1942 my father died of a natural death, and the mother . . .

David Boder

[He died] at home?

Udel Stopnitsky

At home. The motherâthat was the 12th, 8th, that is, the 12th of August, 1942âthey ordered all the Jews of Bedzin to assemble on three squares. At that time they were 57,000 Jews. And all the Jews assembled . . .

David Boder

On three different squares?

Udel Stopnitsky

Yes.

David Boder

Why on three different squares?

Udel Stopnitsky

Because it was impossible for all of them to assemble on one square . . .

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

. . . because the squares were surrounded and guarded by the Gestapo with machine guns. And they started a selection. In German it is called selection, meaning they were classifying: these shall live, and these shall not. It was called: one, two, three. To one were assigned such people who were working, they had such papers from the special authorities, and that meant that they may live. But to three were assigned older people, children or such people who he disliked in general, and these were set apart and from them were formed the transports, two, three thousand Jews, and they were sent away to Auschwitz. And . . .

David Boder

And what about two?

Udel Stopnitsky

Group two meant the doubtful [cases]. When the "selection man", the German, was unable to decide from a person's papers whether his work is sufficient [of sufficient importance], then these people were ordered aside for the time being, and by night would arrive the proprietor of the plant, and when he would report that he needs the people, then such people would be released and they would continue going to work.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

Because they have set up in Bedzin certain shops like in America [occupying] nine thousand, five thousand people, which worked for the German Wehrmacht. Such people still had the right to remain at home. That happened in 1942. From then on, from the 12th, 8th, they began to drag away various Jews. There even happened once a case when a message came that the Gestapo is in need of three thousand Jews. The then active Jewish Community Council with the director [??] Monich Morin [??], that was a [the adjective is not clear] Jew . . .

David Boder

Morin?

Udel Stopnitsky

[correcting] Merin.

David Boder

Merin.

Udel Stopnitsky

Monek Merin, Monek Merin, he was the leader of the central office of the Jewish Community Councils. He maintained contact with Berlin, with the Gestapo, with [the authorities] everywhere. He had full rights to travel wherever he wanted to.

David Boder

Please write down for me his name.

Udel Stopnitsky

Gladly. . . . He was a congenial Jew; he took it unto himself . . . he meant well from the beginning, but later he was the executor of all the orders of the Gestapo. He knew that the Jews were going to Auschwitz, and he would assemble these Jews. He would send the old people to Auschwitz because he judged that an old person is already useless, he won't bring anybody [or possibly anything] into this world while young people can produce [or possibly reproduce]. But in time it revealed itself that he was simply a traitor to the Jewish people, to the Jews. If he wouldn't have confused our minds, if he wouldn't have talked into us that there is a chance for salvation, we possibly would have organized for resistance. But he lulled us into such a sleep, that we did not organize any resistance and we went like sheep to the slaughter. Without any resistance and whatsoever. And so things went on until April, 1943. In April, 1943, this same Monek Merin with his whole crew, for reasons which we could not ascertain, the Gestapo took this same Monek Merin with all the other [Jewish] authorities and sent them, too, to Auschwitz.

David Boder

H-um.

Udel Stopnitsky

. . . and we Jews remained without leadership, without anything. From then on the great holocaust started. It happened once . . . the first holocaust took place the 22nd of June. They surrounded the whole ghetto, because we were already [settled] outside of the town . . .

David Boder

You say that Bedzin is only 20 kilometers away from Auschwitz?

Udel Stopnitsky

32 kilometers . . .

David Boder

32 kilometers.

Udel Stopnitsky

32 kilometers from Auschwitz; it formerly was Oswiecim . . .

David Boder

And you didn't know what was going on there?

Udel Stopnitsky

No, until 1942, it was not known . . .

David Boder

People say that the fires from the crematories were . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

But there were no Jews, and such information did not reach us. But beginning with 1942 we knew exactly what was going on there and how things were going on there, everything. But we were without arms and we were unable to defend ourselves. And that happened on account of Monek Merin and his crew. He lulled us into such a sleep that we didn't think, we didn't consider the possibility of resistance.

David Boder

Oh . . . Now go on.

Udel Stopnitsky

It happened the 22nd of June they started it by surrounding the ghetto, the ghetto was outside the town. There still lived seventeen thousand Jews. And they took four thousand of the most splendid young people, the Jewish youth, and they were sent immediately to Auschwitz.

David Boder

Why?

Udel Stopnitsky

. . . Nothing, they just made a kind of . . .

David Boder

Were there too many people in the ghetto?

Udel Stopnitsky

Nothing of the kind. There was no question about that, they were just Jews. The only reason was that they were Jews. The Jews worked, they made themselves useful, they worked for the Wehrmacht, but because they were Jews they had no right to live and that was the order of things. People just shot at ever action, they used to shoot a couple of hundred Jews. These couple of hundred Jews were lying around on the ground, afterwards they [the bodies] were gathered together.

David Boder

Have you see that, how it happened . . . ?

Udel Stopnitsky

I was committing them to burial. I participated in burying them because I had a post of raid watchman because in German a "raid watchman" was active in air raids, and we too had to do that, so I had the right to take those people and to bury them. I still know to this day where the graves are located, because at the end I was the deputy [he says president] of the religious contingents of Bedzin, now . . .

David Boder

Now? [He apparently meant at the time of those occurrences]

Udel Stopnitsky

Yes, and we proceeded with the various things [rituals] burials, tombstones, on a small scale because of course we had no money but we marked everything wherever the people were lying [buried], these sacrifices [one word is not clear]. And then . . .

David Boder

And how can it be known who they are?

Udel Stopnitsky

I wrote it down. I was born in Bedzin and I knew their names . . .

David Boder

You wrote it down then? Right after it [happened]?

Udel Stopnitsky

It was written down in a memorandum, it was all written down but they took it away from me afterwards in Auschwitz; everything was written down.

David Boder

H-um.

Udel Stopnitsky

I shall return to it later . . .

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

Also that happened the 22nd, 6th. And the lst, 8th, when we arose in the morning . . . I want to remark here, since we knew already of the danger, and we were prepared for it. And when I saw that the horror was imminent and there was no salvation of any kind so we made for ourselves so-called bunkers, hideouts. We for instance excavated stories deep in the ground, we constructed various kinds of cellars, we constructed [double] walls, so with the first threats of danger one could hide because we had . . . as soon as Russia entered the war, we had information that America and England have allied themselves with the European powers, so we thought that help is near and we will be able to hold out two, three, or even four months live through in the hideouts. But time has shown that that was a mistake and we were unable to hide. The 1st of August, 1943, we were informed that Bedzin is to become Jew-clean. No Jew should be found in Bedzin. I at that time still had with me a sister, a brother and a wife with a child of fourteen months, and an in-law [one cannot understand whether he means father or mother-in-law or brother or sister-in-law]. I had constructed a hideout and we were lying there for seven days.

David Boder

Tell me a bit, I can't well imagine how were these hideouts constructed and how did people live in them.

Udel Stopnitsky

The hideouts?

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

With the hideouts it was like this. All day we were in the hideouts.

David Boder

And where was that?

Udel Stopnitsky

I told you already . . .

David Boder

In the basement?

Udel Stopnitsky

Or in the attic.

David Boder

In the attic . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

In the attic. Or we arranged [a hideout] right in the apartment. Suppose for example a room was 4, 5 meters long.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

So we would separate 1 meter [of space] and we constructed a new wall. Along the wall we would place a cupboard . . .

David Boder

What?

Udel Stopnitsky

A cloth cupboard [the German word is Schrank].

David Boder

Oh, a cupboard?

Udel Stopnitsky

A cupboard, a wardrobe, and in the inside, in the back, we would make a kind of an opening, and through that opening one could get into the hideout; and there we would lie simply on the floor.

David Boder

For how long?

Udel Stopnitsky

How long? I for example spent in it seven days.

David Boder

So how would you go out? [The question refers obviously also to toilet facilities]

Udel Stopnitsky

At night, in the evening . . .

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

. . . it was always dark, it was dark in general, there was no more light, one couldn't have any, so people would get out and who had luck managed to come back. The one who had no luck [could not manage to return] was shot. Because during the whole evening the ghetto was surrounded. And with special searchlightsâas soon as they would hear a shotâthey would turn their light at that point and would begin to shoot at that point. In this way many people were killed but every day regularly they would send away a transport two thousand Jews to Auschwitz. That was definitely known. In the meantime while I was in hiding with my family . . .

David Boder

How did they select these two thousand?

Udel Stopnitsky

No. I shall tell you later because I myself have gone through it, I shall tell you about the arrival at Auschwitz.

David Boder

H-um.

Udel Stopnitsky

And so in the meantime . . .

David Boder

But I want to know how they selected every day those two thousand people.

Udel Stopnitsky

Nothing . . . they would gather them together, the police would go around, or the people presented themselves voluntarily because they recognized that the hiding is purposeless [a few words are not clear, there seems to come through the windows the yelling of a child; we often had that trouble with people, especially children or adults as well surrounding the interview room and trying to listen from under the windows, and when they were requested to go away would sometimes cause some kind of disturbance] and seeing that there was no way of saving oneself people simply surrendered so that death may come sooner, because to live in such a manner was worse than death. And so they gathered the people up to two thousand in a certain place and then marched them away to the railroad station, and from the station they were sent away to Auschwitz. The whole trip lasted altogether about an hour and a half. One hour . . .

David Boder

From Bedzin?

Udel Stopnitsky

From Bedzin to Auschwitz. The trip was of not much consequence. The same train would go to Auschwitz, would be unloaded, would return back and again take on people. In the meantime while I was hiding for seven days my child died in the bunker.

David Boder

In the bunker?

Udel Stopnitsky

In the bunker, on account of lack of proper nourishment. It was the 8th month [he means of course August], the weather was very hot . . .

David Boder

Your "bunker" was in the attic?

Udel Stopnitsky

No, in the apartment behind a [double] wall.

David Boder

Oh . . . Did you have a window?

Udel Stopnitsky

No, no window. We made between the bricks little holes through which the air could come in.

David Boder

H-um.

Udel Stopnitsky

But for a grown up person it could be sufficient, but for a child . . . he would become suffocated . . .

David Boder

Wasn't there a danger that a child may cry?

Udel Stopnitsky

Precisely . . . when people would get out, for example in the case of my brother the mother herself simply choked the child to death. Why? They were hiding in a very small bunker. And they heard the Gestapo came into the apartment.

David Boder

And how old was the child?

Udel Stopnitsky

The child was about two years old.

David Boder

Well.

Udel Stopnitsky

She was called Chanele Stopnitsky.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

So the child made an attempt to cry, so the mother thinking that it is just for a moment plugged up her little mouth [gagged her]. But because the Gestapo remained upstairs longer [than expected], and there were below in the cellar nineteen grown-up people so she held over her little mouth her hand so long that the child suffocated. She simply choked to death her own child with her own hands. That was a child of my brother. In the case of my child it was different on account of lack of air and of sucking from the mother [apparently mother's breast] poison and gall. Because you can imagine what kind of life it was underground, because we knew that with every day we are nearer to death, so it got poisoned and the child died. [Here we apparently deal with the general belief that under emotional stress the mother's milk becomes "poisonous" for the child.] And because of that . . .

David Boder

How old was the child?

Udel Stopnitsky

Fourteen month old.

David Boder

H-um.

Udel Stopnitsky

And so when the child died we became convinced of the futility of remaining longer in the bunker, because the child was our only hope, and since the child died there was no purpose for us to live for. That's how my wife felt and we decided to come out momentarily and surrender to the Gestapo. We came out, they received us very politely without blows, they did not beat us.

David Boder

What did you say?

Udel Stopnitsky

We reported that we present ourselves voluntarily, six people . . .

David Boder

H-um.

Udel Stopnitsky

That we present ourselves voluntarily, six people . . .

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

So he said, "All right," and that we should go to the gathering point. So we went to the gathering place [there are a few words not clear] he talks very fast] . . .

David Boder

You reported for what?

Udel Stopnitsky

Nothing . . . we present ourselves voluntarily, that meant that we are Jewsâthere were no othersâbecause in the ghetto there were only Jews. When one would come out he would raise high his hands, because if he wouldn't get up his hands he was shot. And so we six went, we even asked him whether we should take our bundles, so he said, "Yes, because you are young people and you are being transported to work." That is what we were told.

David Boder

Who were the six people?

Udel Stopnitsky

I, my brother, and my sisterâthis makes three, my wife is four, a sister-in-law makes five, and the mother-in-law makes six.

David Boder

The mother-in-law wasn't anymore a young person?

Udel Stopnitsky

The mother-in-law was fifty-one years old, but he ordered us to go all together to the gathering place.

David Boder

[He did not use the full term "mother-in-law;" he referred to her always the in-law, and that explains my question.] The in-law, you mean your mother-in-law?

Udel Stopnitsky

Yes, the mother-in-law, the mother of my wife. When we arrived at the gathering place, we saw already hundreds of Jews sitting around. The Jews had already resigned themselves . . . that did not cast for us any horror, we even laughed in a way, and made ourselves cheerful [here he uses a Hebrew term, equivalent apparently to the expression "we invested ourselves"] and all such things.

David Boder

You did what?

Udel Stopnitsky

[I am not sure of the correct translation.] They invested themselves like the dead ready to be laid into the grave, so they invested themselvesâthey were pious Jewsâ

David Boder

The invested themselves in what is called shrouds?

Udel Stopnitsky

Shrouds, in Hebrew it is called [he gives here the Hebrew word,] otherwise it is called shrouds. And we were sitting there and waiting to be transported away. In about two hours there arrived the Gestapo, all the civilians [deputies] with their dogs. They held clubs in their hands and started driving the crowd into formation, four in a row, and we marched away to the railroad station. That wasn't very far, a ten minute walk. When we arrived at the railroad station, we had to wait for one hour, and then arrived thirty cattle cars, cars in which cattle are being transported, animals. [The cattle cars in Europe are not like the American stock cars with provisions for plenty of ventilation; they are simply solidly closed freight cars with possibly a small window near the ceiling. In most cases these were the old type freight cars on four wheels which had the inscription, "Forty men or eight horses." But normally when people such as soldiers or railroad working men were transported in such cars, they were provided with plank beds and the doors were kept open for ventilation.] There were no facilities to get in into these cars, but in the cars that were standing at the railroad platform [the train was apparently longer than the small platform of the little town] at the railroad station, in these [cars] entered a hundred sixty people into each car.

David Boder

Hundred sixty people?

Udel Stopnitsky

Hundred sixty people into one car.

David Boder

Who counted that?

Udel Stopnitsky

The count was made, not at the entrance into the car, but at the entrance into the station a precise count was made. They included into the count those who were killed, those who died enroute, because on the way to the railroad station this one was instantly shot, or it appeared to one of the guards that a certain person intends to run away so he would draw his Browning pistol and shoot him, at that time a human life was of no significance, who of the guards wanted shot, and who did not want did not shoot. And so when we embarked into the trains, into the cars, we felt that we were extra-ordinarily crowded together. The cars were shut, hermetically shut, without any opening for air. Soon the atmosphere became extraordinarily suffocating, people started to strip themselves naked, we soon noticed how old people, gasping for air, became suffocated in the cars. I must remark that we didn't travel more than three hours we made stops at various stations and the train had no clearance to proceed ahead one must remember that the whole distance was about thirty kilometers between Bedzin and Auschwitz, you understand how it is?

David Boder

Yes . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

The suffocating air was extraordinary, soon children almost momentarily began to suffocate in these cars because there were hundred sixty people in a car that could hold only 40, 50, 60 people, that's how we were crowded together.

David Boder

Yes . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

Arriving in Auschwitz we stopped at a ramp . . . that means a place where they unload various freight.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

And we disembarked there and they told us to wait. This is how we waited: on one side stood trucks, on the other side stood SS men with their guns, and in the center stood a Gestapo man, a secret agent from the German . . . Germans with a little stick. And he was pointing, the one to whom he was pointing towards the right of the action . . .

David Boder

H-um.

Udel Stopnitsky

. . . he had to go to the trucks, and it was known that he is going directly to the crematories . . .

David Boder

Where did he have to go?

Udel Stopnitsky

To the "automobiles", to the "auto . . . "

David Boder

To the "automobiles" . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

. . . to the "automobiles", and into these [trucks] they were throwing people alive and dead, children, all together, as if they were not people, they were thrown just as if they were all dead.

David Boder

What were they, open trucks?

Udel Stopnitsky

Open trucks, open freight trucks [he does not use the word trucks, he uses all the way through "automobiles," but it was obvious that he referred to trucks].

David Boder

H-um.

Udel Stopnitsky

From the railroad car from which I came out, they took out thirty-four suffocated people. From the hundred sixty, thirty-four were suffocated. I and my brother and my wife, we were fortunate to be . . . that we were assigned to the left side, and it was said that we are still going to the lager, there is hope for us to live. And we never saw again the people who were loaded on the trucks but within an hour we saw the same automobiles returning with the dirty clothing, and with the "puttings-on" [this is a makeshift Yiddish word for clothing, meaning anything that one could use to cover his body] with the clothing of these people. It was said that these people have already gone through the gas chambers, that of these people nobody has remained [alive] . . .

David Boder

And what did they do with the "puttings-on" [it seems the best translation for it would be the English word furnishings/?

Udel Stopnitsky

With the furnishings . . . for these were constructed special gigantic storehouses in Auschwitz. Because of the tens of thousands of kinds of funishings that you may hear do exist in the world, all of them could be seen in Auschwitz [He speaks very fast in a very excited tone.] Because in Auschwitz thou must know . . . through it [Auschwitz] passed millions of people. Jews alone according to our calculations three to four million Jews perished in Auschwitz. Not only Polish Jews perished in Auschwitz, but French, Greek, Hungarian, Czech, from everywhere . . .

David Boder

Only Jews?

Udel Stopnitsky

Only Jews. There were other lagers in Auschwitz where they had Poles, Gypsies, and Germans as well. Germans who were opponents of the Hitler regime were also sent to Oświe̜cim; [apparently a strange association of the Polish language with the Christian prisoners while the name Auschwitz was the German-Jewish name]. But these were entirely separate lagers.

David Boder

But they were not burned?

Udel Stopnitsky

They also were burned if they had incriminated themselves greatly against the Hitler regime, they were also burned. When we arrived we were all lined up four abreast and we were transported away on foot not anymore in "automobiles" toward the inside of the lager.

David Boder

And your mother [I really intended to say mother-in-law or I had possibly forgotten that his mother was not in the party]?

Udel Stopnitsky

. . . the mother, [correcting himself] the mother-in-law went "on the automobile" [that obviously designates to the gas chamber] and my sister also went "on the automobile," and my sister-in-law also went "on the automobile". And although she was eighteen years old but she did not look so well in her face, she was what they called a Mussulman [by this name they called people emaciated to the very bones, the name Mussulman for this type of people was common in the lagers; the origin is not known, some attribute it to the similarity in looks between these emaciated people and Gandhi or the Oriental beggars in general.]

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

She looked bad, so he also sent her "on the automobile."

David Boder

What is a Mussulman?

Udel Stopnitsky

A Mussulman you know, to look like a Mussulman meant a very emaciated a person who looked in Auschwitz very emaciated was called a Mussulman, and he already had no right to live.

David Boder

H-um.

Udel Stopnitsky

And we haven't seen them anymore. We arrived at two o'clock in Auschwitz. We were led into special blocks, so-called barracks, erected of wood. As soon as we entered there came the ruler of Auschwitz: quick, in a hurry, go on in the German language. "Strip completely," and in a minute one had to be completely undressed, and soon their clubs were striking our backs and we were driven into what they called the washroom, to bathe. At the bath they sheared off our hair everywhere.

David Boder

Who did that?

Udel Stopnitsky

This was done by Jews, well-seasoned, old prisoners. French Jews, Belgian Jews, those who have managed to achieve a certain post, a certain rank.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

One of them was a barber, the other a clerk, and the like, and they proceeded with this work.

David Boder

So you think they were not Polish Jews?

Udel Stopnitsky

Also.

David Boder

French, Belgian . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

French, Belgian, there were all kinds of Jews. Those who were small in number still could survive [he apparently means Jews of a nationality that was small in number like the Dutch or the Belgian or Norwegian; it seems that the countries that had puppet governments like France, Belgium, Norway, and the Netherlands, still managed to exercise some pressure through the Red Cross or otherwise in behalf of their Jewish subjects]. These kind [of prisoners], suppose he was a good Frenchman [French Jew] and the German needed Frenchmen to receive the French Jews, or a Pole . . . there were special squads, for instance, they called one squad, they called it the Canada squad. That was the squad that emptied all the railroad cars of all the transports. The gathered together the gold, the diamonds, the dollars, and later it has become known . . .

David Boder

Why were they called the Canada Squad?

Udel Stopnitsky

Canada meant something good [apparently that was a local code name], Canada meant they had a lot to eat.

David Boder

Oh.

Udel Stopnitsky

These people used to take away the food from the whole transport, because everybody would take food with himself, so they [the Canada squad] had food without a limit. And they too were Jews, they were Jews, Polish Jews.

David Boder

The Canada squad?

Udel Stopnitsky

The Canada squad. They made up this squad. Then there also was a gas squad made up of Jews. But the gas squad had no right to live [indefinitely] after working two, three months at the crematories, they who serviced the crematoriesâleading to it the Jews, turning on the gas, transported afterwards on special carts the dead bodies, because the bodies would not fall out separately . . . the bodies would fall out in a twisted mass, and they would put on their little cart and roll away immediately to the crematory where they were burned.

David Boder

What do you mean "like a twisted mass"? [He really used an expression that could be translated skein]

Udel Stopnitsky

That means the leg of one [person twisted] in the hands of the other. [Here he talks again very fast and it becomes hard to follow for the next few words.] They were twisted together with their hands and feet, because the pain with the onset of death was terrible, and each one struggled, so the result was, since it was crowded in the gas chamber, so they came out as if in one bulk.

David Boder

H-um.

Udel Stopnitsky

There were no separate bodies, one separate from the other, but one solid mass, all the bodies together. We arrived in the west barracks [I am not sure of the translation; he speaks very fast] and as I have remarked before, we were taken and completely shorn [here is a word in Hebrew and I am not sure of the translation] every hair. Just from the shearing [barbering] one could see that "Auschwitz" has begun. The shearing took place with terrible [he uses a Hebrew word] tortures. They did not shear like humans, but simply were tearing; on such parts [of the body] which are sensitive . . . and people were screaming from suffering [I am not sure whether the translation of the few Hebrew words is exactly correct]. But after all, we understood that we are in "Auschwitz." We entered the bath, we bathed, everyone got a shirt, a ragged shirt, a pair of pants, and a coat . . . to wear. No shoes, no hat . . .

David Boder

What were these things, specially made?

Udel Stopnitsky

No. These were the things of the gas-killed.

David Boder

H-um.

Udel Stopnitsky

From the gas-killed. From the people who were gas killed . . . their things were brought afterwards from the warehouses and [the things] were specially prepared with K-L written on the back.

David Boder

That meant . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

Kâ-L that means concentration camp, that one should not be able to escape. And they led us to the place so-called Birkenau. Birkenau was called the quarantine, that meant to prepare us so we could then be transferred for Auschwitz for work.

David Boder

H-um.

Udel Stopnitsky

As soon as we arrived there, they put us, six people in a "container" . . .

David Boder

What was that?

Udel Stopnitsky

A bed, a bed, they called that [container] a unit of three beds, one over the other.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

Boards just knocked together, boards: one [bed] on the ground level, one at the first story, and one at the second story. [In Europe the stories of buildings are not counted as in this country; the first story is there the ground level, and that what we call here the second story is there the first, and so on.]

David Boder

And in every bed?

Udel Stopnitsky

. . . there were lying six people. The bed was about a meter and a half wide, one and a half meter wide, and two meters long [that is about five feet wide and six and a half feet long.] And there were three such levels, one over the other, and there were lying six people [on each]. One blanket was spread underneath and one blanket was to cover themselves, for all six people. Obviously, we did not undress when going to sleep, because there just wasn't what to undress. And they started afterwards to call out the people and to give them numbers, numbers on their arms. That was made . . .

David Boder

You mean the tattoo numbers? What is your number?

Udel Stopnitsky

Hundred thirty-four-four hundred nineteen.

David Boder

[apparently the interviewer writes down the number while Stopnitsky is looking on]

Udel Stopnitsky

Four hundred nineteen. That was made with a special thing that looked like a pen.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

And it had a point and it would get under the skin. Pain one didn't feel anymore because man was no man anymore.

David Boder

What does that mean . . . ?

Udel Stopnitsky

One did not feel anymore pain, neither this pain nor when one would get a "good" blow, a "good" slap, a "good" knock on the head, one did not feel that either.

David Boder

H-um.

Udel Stopnitsky

One was simply congealed [I am not sure of the translation of this word], one had resigned himself to anything, one, in general, did not feel anything anymore. One was not concerned whether he goes to the gas chambers, whether one was anywhere else . . .

David Boder

Who, did you tell me, survived of your family, you, your brother . . . ?

Udel Stopnitsky

I, only I alone . . . I still had some brothers who worked in German camps . . .

David Boder

You were sent to Auschwitz, six people.

Udel Stopnitsky

Six people, but only I alone survived.

David Boder

You mean right from the start?

Udel Stopnitsky

Yes, I was the only survivor of the six people.

David Boder

And who went "on the trucks"?

Udel Stopnitsky

To the gas chamber went immediately my mother-in-law, my sister, and the sister-in-law . . .

David Boder

H-um.

Udel Stopnitsky

Afterwards my brother with the wife [apparently Stopnitsky's own wife] went after a selection, because every Saturday selections took place. People had to strip completely naked, a German doctor passed through the lines [here are a few words not clear] and there were discovered boils of various kinds, skin eruptions, and such similar things . . . and these people were immediately sent to the gas chamber. Even if he was working.

David Boder

Were you and your brother together?

Udel Stopnitsky

Together and we slept in one bed. I have seen him the Saturday when he was selected, it was known that Saturday . . . Sunday morning he will be sent to the gas chamber but unfortunately I could not find a way, I could do no more than weeping and wailing. I had to look on, not only when my brother but all my friends, all my comrades, relatives, female cousins, male cousins, to look up, how they were sent away there and then . . . I want here to point out one thing . . . When people were selected [he is very excited and speaks very fast, I am not sure of the exact translation] and it being known that they will be taken Saturday night, there was curfew in the block.

David Boder

H-um.

Udel Stopnitsky

It was prohibited to step out from the barracks and one heard the screams like one sloid wail. Because the people were taken right there and then, naked, on the trucks and transported to the crematories. And the screams were like one solid wail, but again it was the same thing. We had to sit around in silence because what did we have to defend ourselves with? And what could we accomplish? One was fortunate to get his 20 deca bread. This was the only hope for survival.

David Boder

Tell me something about the bread. Was the bread baked in the lager or . . . ?

Udel Stopnitsky

In the lager. The lager was so big that it housed ninety thousand workers . . . in the lager internees.

David Boder

Yes. I want to ask you this. I was told that there was a kind of bread that was baked a long time in advance and was in some way "preserved." Have you seen such bread?

Udel Stopnitsky

No.

David Boder

No.

Udel Stopnitsky

It was like ordinary . . .

David Boder

They baked it every day?

Udel Stopnitsky

No. they did not bake every day but one got it every day. One would get 30 deca bread, and a half a deca margarine and one liter . . .

David Boder

Per day?

Udel Stopnitsky

Per day. This was the food given . . . but until one could push himself forward to [get] this food, one could lose half of his health. I spent in Auschwitz, in Birkenau, three months. After three months there came a commission from the Krupp factory . . .

David Boder

How do you explain that your health has endured?

Udel Stopnitsky

I really don't know. My brother . . . he was possibly even of better health than I . . .

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

But I . . . I don't know . . . I did not have the strength and did not develop any boils [this apparently refers to a belief in the concentration camps that healthier people or stronger people would develop illnesses than the weaker individuals. The Mussulmen were an example of individuals who could get emaciated down to the bones, lose almost all the appearance of fat and muscular tissue and still continue on living], but he developed boils.

David Boder

Where did they have these boils?

Udel Stopnitsky

Everywhere.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

Everywhere. There was a certain sickness in the lagerâphlegmona . . .

David Boder

Phlegmona?

Udel Stopnitsky

Phlegmona. Everybody everywhere developed it . . . from malnutrition. The blood was spoiled from horror and from the no-good food phlegmonas developed.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

That's what was explained to us afterwards. And so it was "written" [by faith] that my brother soon . . . he spent in Auschwitz only two months . . . and he was "transported away" towards Birkenau, and in Birkenau [his speech becomes perturbed] were the crematories . . .

David Boder

They were in Birkenau?

Udel Stopnitsky

In Birkenau, because there were no crematories in Auschwitz, only in Birkenau. I spent there three months and the things I have seen no man can imagine. We have witnessed incidents . . . I witnessed once such an incident how to one of my comradesâhe was standing and workingâand an SS man approached him with a gun and asked him whether he was thirsty, whether he was thirsty . . . of course he replied "Yes." So he called over a second comrade, a certain Udel Tshernetsky from Bedzin, and he shot him, and then he said, "Here, now you may drink your brother's blood." This I have seen with my own eyes. But this is quite insignificant in comparison with that which I have seen later. After three months we were sent over to a different lager, to a Krupp factory. They have selected six . . .

David Boder

What have you been doing these three months? What were you working on?

Udel Stopnitsky

We have not been doing every day anything [definite], either we were going to carry rocks, or we were ordered . . .

David Boder

Where from?

Udel Stopnitsky

From the railroad station, because the railroad station was also in the lager. There was everything in the lager . . .

David Boder

H-um.

Udel Stopnitsky

. . . working men, factories, complete installations of its own, its own laundries, its own . . . whatever you can think of was there in the lager. It was more than a city, there were complete industries.

David Boder

Well.

Udel Stopnitsky

And we were carrying rocks, [the next expression is not clear] digging ditches . . .

David Boder

What?

Udel Stopnitsky

We were digging ditches, to beautify the lager.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

Because the German was ready to "bury" the people, but the lagers had to look nice. So we made lawns, concrete [walks], all [done] by us under the supervision of Capos [ trusties].

David Boder

And who were the Capos?

Udel Stopnitsky

The Capos were Jews, Frenchmen, German. They were Jews . . .

David Boder

French Jews?

Udel Stopnitsky

Yes. They were worse, these French Jews, than the Germans, unfortunately . . . It was this way. They simply had such a drive to live . . . because he [the Capo] was getting an additional ration of bread and an additional dinner, so he was ready to beat out thelife of a person, and he indeed was beating people that way. And after three months I felt that my strengths are waning, I observed that we were becoming less and less . . . we really did not become less in numbers because every day new people arrived: there [people] came from Czechoslovakia, there from Hungary, there they came from other provinces of Poland. The lager had to have its permanent contigent [its stable population]. So the weak ones were sent right away to the crematories and fresh [contingents of people] were brought in. Whether they were brought from other lagers in Poland that were vacated, because up to this time there were lagers in Poland that had no crematories, work lagers. But with the emergence the idea of the general extermination of the Jews of Poland, these Jews too were sent to Auschwitz, because it was known that from Auschwitz there will be no way out. But we who never have lost hope . . . and there came a day when they picked six hundred and fifty Jews, the healthiest, ones, it was alleged that they were the healthiest ones, and we were sent [to a place] near Breslau, in Germany to a Krupp plant. It was a well known factory, a gigantic factory of Krupp.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

There has begun a period that I may call of better life for us. Inspite of the fact that it was terrible enough, but we were given work like human beings. We were already working men, we got more to eat. They beat us an awful lot.

David Boder

Why?

Udel Stopnitsky

Just for no reason, because we are Jews. There worked Frenchmen and Czech, Christians . . .

David Boder

Yes . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

Those of the labor service, they were not beaten, they got better to eat, they had freedom of movement. But we Jews, we had to wear special prisoners' clothing, they called it, garments with special blue and white stripes [he used a term granat-white, at least that is how it sounds], special round little caps, special wooden shoes, so that one could not have contact with anybody. We were led to work under a guard of SS, we returned to the lager -because every day we had to make fifteen kilometers, seven and a half kilometers going to work and seven and a half kilometers returning to the lager. We departed from the lager at six o'clock in the morning, going to work; and we returned at eight o'clock at night. Each appell lasted an hour and a half. When we returned at eight o'clock at night we had to stand until nine-thirty for appell [the next sentence is not clear; it sounds like: "To check whether the number was correct"], then we were given dinner and we laid down. At four o'clock in the morning we were made to rise for Appell and in ten minutes everybody had to stand in formation ready to march to work again. And so it lasted for quite a time. In our lager . . .

David Boder

This concludes Spool 122, by Udel Stopnitsky from Bedzin. We are going over to Spool 123. The record is taken at HÃnonville near Paris in a Kibbutz which is managed by the Agudah, and the educational part is run by the ORT. Paris, September the 12th, 1946. Illinois Institute of Technology Wire Recording.

David Boder

France, September the 12th, 1943. France, September the 12th, 1943. [The interviewer gave obviously the wrong year because Stopnitsky was talking of events which occurred in 1943; the year of course was 1946. âD.P.B.] HÃnonville, fifty kilometers from Paris at the Kibbutz of the Agudah. Udel Stopnitsky, thirty-one years old, continues from Spool 122nd. This is spool 123.

David Boder

[In Yiddish] Now, then, you were somewhere near Breslau?

Udel Stopnitsky

Yes.

David Boder

And you worked there . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

We worked in Krupp's factory. We manufactured cannons whether we wanted to or not . . .

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

We had to work. And that is how it was there. But in time Russia started a counter-offensive.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

And it was said at the times around January to March, 1945[?] [he speaks not very clearly and the year is not distinguishable] . . .

David Boder

Yes . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

And Poland was occupied by Russia, . . .

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

So there appeared a threat that the lager will fall into Russian hands.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

Of course, the SS men and the German command did not want to permit it. And order was issued that we should evacuate, from Five Lakes, that was the name of the lager, to "destination unknown."

David Boder

H-um.

Udel Stopnitsky

We were all put in formation, seven thousand people were then in the lager, everyone was given a blamket, one kilo of bread, and we started a march on foot.

David Boder

H-um.

Udel Stopnitsky

And so we marched for seven days. And after seven days we had nothing . . . the 18th . . . the 21st of January we left Five Lakes, from the lager and we marched seven days without having been given any more food. We marched every day 30 kilometers in wooden shoes. I want to remark that it was snowing; it snowed constantly, without an end [the last two words are not clear], but we marched on. The one who had no strength to go on was momentarily shot on the spot. He was shot if he for instance would fall, he was given a bullet and thrown into . . . thrown off the road. and we marched on. The 28th of January we arrived in the famous lager of Germany, Gross-Rosen. This was a camp laid out as big as Auschwitz but they had no gas-chambers there; there were just crematories. When we arrived there, the lager contained already thirty-four thousand people. We experienced three horrible weeks. We became polluted with vermin. It was simply impossible . . . after each time when we had searched for them, we could find them again [he apparently refers to the fact of delousing; people would supposedly remove all the vermin from their body and their clothes and in a few minutes would find them again on themselves],

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

. . . that we should be able to get rid of them, these run-overs [he uses the German word Umlauf which the prisoners may have adapted to mean "being run over with vermin"] . . .

David Boder

What is that?

Udel Stopnitsky

Lice, flea, bedbugs, worms, everything you ever can think of, because there we didn't sleep anymore in beds. There we were lying stretched out on the floor with a little bit of straw under us, and that is how we were lying for three weeks. During this time the transport of seven thousand people to which we belonged was reduced to four thousand. The three thousand people were either shot during the march or have died out in the lager. And in February [he gives the Polish name apparently for February and that explains the question below], I don't remember exactly on what day, we had to abandon Gross-Rosen also, because . . .

David Boder

What month was it?

Udel Stopnitsky

[He gives here the Polish name and then translates] In February, the second month.

David Boder

In '45?

Udel Stopnitsky

All that happened already in '45.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

We got out of the lager and we started again to travel in trains. They loaded us into trains and we were traveling as if with no destination [I am not sure of the translation of the last two words]. They loaded us in open gondolas and here the snow and rain poured down from heaven as if without mercy and we were not getting anymore any food at all. And every morning when we, so to speak, got up, when we opened our eyes with daybreak, we had to throw out of the car two, three people because they had died overnight. Whether they had frozen to death or something else has happened. And so we traveled for eleven days, in on one station, out on the other station, until at the fifteenth day, it was the beginning of March, we arrived in the famous lager Flossenburg, that is at the border, of the Austrian-Czech border, a city. The lager was located on a mountain of about 1500 meters high. It was something terrible in that lager. When we . . . by the time we entered that lager there remained of us no more than seventeen hundred people.

David Boder

From how many?

Udel Stopnitsky

From the seven thousand that left [originally] the lager. Three thousand fell during the march to Gross-Rosen, since Gross-Rosen fell two thousand three hundred people. And so . . .

David Boder

How does one know the numbers so exactly?

Udel Stopnitsky

One doesn't know exactly; one estimates the number of people. For sure the number is not known; one cannot remember exactly. I know the people who fell from among my acquaintances, but I cannot remember the thousands of Jews [who fell.] Exactly is known that we arrived four thousand to Gross-Rosen, and seventeen hundred . . . When we arrived at Gross-Rosen they took us to a special sector and they knew exactly [how many]. They took us into a barracks; they told us to undress completely naked, that was in March, and they ordered us to run. We were running, seventeen hundred people entirely naked [this apparently happened already in Flossenburg; this kind of jumps from one topic to the other happened of course frequently in these interviews].

David Boder

Inside the barracks?

Udel Stopnitsky

Outside, in the lager, through the streets of the lager. After we have run four, five, possibly 600 meters uphill, we were led in a kind of washroom they called it , a kind of a cellar up there, so when we got up thereâdown [in the cellar on the hill] . . .

David Boder

So you were running to the washroom?

Udel Stopnitsky

To the washroom. From the "undress-room" [he repeats], "undress-room" to the washroom, 700 meters, we ran completely naked, in snow, in water, in mud . . .

David Boder

Men only?

Udel Stopnitsky

Men only, seventeen hundred men. We got into the washroom, and there stood Ukrainians, also internees, and with cold, such what do they call it, cold hoses with which one pours water . . .

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

They poured water all over us. The windows were open and soon, momentarily, people started to die.

David Boder

Why?

Udel Stopnitsky

Of exhaustion, from not having eaten for fifteen days, in fifteen days we had but 60 deca of bread. [That totals up to 600 grams or a little bit better than a pound of bread.] For all the fifteen days 60 deca of bread.

David Boder

But how can one be for fifteen days with only 60 deca of bread?

Udel Stopnitsky

People ate . . . one would find a little piece of turnip . . . for instance every night we spent in a different place.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

One would eat a little hunk of turnip, a little [the word is not clear; it is apparently a colloquial expression] . . .

David Boder

What was it?

Udel Stopnitsky

That what they call in German cabbage-turnips . . .

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

They are like potatoes only bigger. One also ate raw potatoes that one could snatch on the road [the next word is not clear], a leaf here and there, just like animals. A human being really can't imagine it, but I went through all this and I know it exactly, that is how it was. We arrived there at the lager and we got in into the washroom, and as soon as we came in into the washroom, people started dying. Those alive were also sheer skeletons, simply skin and bone. If one didn't want to lay down on the bare cold floor [the last few words are not exactly clear], so people took the dead men and put them together and we, the living ones, lay down on the dead ones.

David Boder

You did not want to lay down on what?

Udel Stopnitsky

One the cold floor, the floor was of stone . . .

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

And to lay down naked on it one did not want, so we took the dead bodies and laid them out in pairs [I am not sure of the translation of the last word.] . . .

David Boder

Who did that?

Udel Stopnitsky

We ourselves. These were our brothers, my acquaintances, they were laid out [the next word is not clear; he talks very fast], and so we lay down on the dead people. And so we remained there in the washroom until 10 o'clock of the next morning. No more than 1140 people came out of the washroom. From the 1700, 1140 came out alive, the rest remained dead, all of them. And when we came out of the washroom we went through the same procedure as in Auschwitz.

David Boder

Did they give you anything to eat in the washroom?

Udel Stopnitsky

Nothing, sheer air [I am not sure of the last two words], no food. We were moved again into various blocks. In these blocks it was worse then in Auschwitz, because in Auschwitz the blows, the beatings, were not as cruel. They had a special kind of German murderers . . .

David Boder

Where, in . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

In Flossenburg, in the lager I am talking about. And in addition it was the time when the German started to come down, because they have seen already the danger that the German is losing the war, so they started avenging themselves [I am not sure of this word] without an end. They understood that they have lost . . . the danger [his speech becomes somewhat incoherent here], they were killing us, they were beating us in castastrophic measures [I am not sure of the translation from the Hebrew]. Every day we were removing from the block, from the barracks, 10, 15 dead people. So they announced that who would carry the dead to the crematory to be burned . . . it was a provisional crematory, a makeshift [crematory].

David Boder

How did it look?

Udel Stopnitsky

It looked like this: a pit was excavated in the forest . . .

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

This was provided with an iron grate, iron bars. On these were laid out five [bodies] and they burned underneath. Above them was again a grate of iron bars, and there were again laid out the people, and from the fire that burned underneath, the people on top were burned. This was already without a chimney, without anything. As soon as it would happen that one would die, a dentist would come over, he would pull out the teethâthe gold teeth, and he would be cartedâyes, they would write down the number of the one who diedâand he was burned. And since I have suffered from hungerâand so this horrible thing came to happen, we enlisted a group of forty people, and they brought to us the dead to the crematory and we received an additional dinner [ration].

David Boder

What did they call it, the dead platoon?

Udel Stopnitsky

No, that was called the carrier, the stretcher platoon . . .

David Boder

Oh, the stretcher platoon . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

There were some special stretchers, one man laid out one way, the other the other way, each one . . . we carried two bodies at a time. More we were unable to carry. Notwithstanding that they weighed no more than 80 kilograms [I am not sure of that word 80; it sounds somewhat like that one did not weight more than 18 kilos, but that seems to be an error that Stopnitsky could not have made.] And so, at that time, after a stay of three weeks, there came an order that we should march on. We got good clothing but all of it marked with stripes [These stripes were painted by special painting squads on ordinary clothing. The paint was supposed to be indelible.]

David Boder

Good clothing?

Udel Stopnitsky

Good clothing, new clothing, entirely new clothing, and we were sent . . .

David Boder

Where did they get new clothing?

Udel Stopnitsky

They made them, they were manufactured, they manufactured them in Germany without limit, the factories produced such special prisoners' clothing, that is for those who were under arrest . . .

David Boder

H-um.

Udel Stopnitsky

And we were sent over to Dresden, that is in Germany.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

There we arrived in Dresden marching on foot [I am not sure of the last two words], there we got already better food. It happened that we had en route a good commander, we marched a little party of only four hundred men; so he, wherever we came to a place [to a stop], he procured food for us. We went through heavy bombardments, once in Aussig, in Aussig, in the Sudeten country.

David Boder

Aussig?

Udel Stopnitsky

Aussig, Sudeten Country, which the Americans bombarded in plain daylight. One didn't know whether to cry or to laugh. On the one side, we suffered casualties [He says, "It has cost us sacrifices], while exactly that place [where we were] was bombarded and about forty of our people were also killed; on the other hand, we were gratified when we saw what the war made of Germany. And we arrived in Dresden. In Dresden we came to a provisional lager and it was already in [he gives first the Polish name of the month] April, in the 4th month of 1945. And we were there two weeks and there came an order that we have to march again, we have to wander forward, that we could remain here no longer. And by now we remained only three hundred people, two hundred and some ninety, because within this time of the two weeks, again some people had died, maybe eight people, maybe fifty people, one doesn't know exactly, died, and we wandered on. We were wandering for seven days around Elbe, the famous German river [he says, "body of water"] in Czechoslovakia, in the Sudeten Country. There many people jumped into the water [drowned themselves] because it was impossible to bear any longer. I want to remark that at that time I was weighting 37 kilos [about 85 pounds].

David Boder

And a kilo is.

Udel Stopnitsky

Today I weigh 72 kilos. At that time I was weighing 37 kilos. And so we wandered and wandered and we came to a certain lager called in German Leitner, or Litomysl in Czech, [It may also be Litomericeâhe does not pronounce the name very clearly; one would have to check it with the German atlas, Grosser Volksatlas, edited by Zelhagen and Klastings, Bieleseld and Leipzig, 1940, which contains a list of cities bearing German and Czech or Polish or French names which the Germans had renamed.] that was not far from the Jewish ghetto, Theresienstadt.

David Boder

H-um.

Udel Stopnitsky

It was famous, Theresen . . .

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

60 kilometers from Prague.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

As soon as we got in there . . .

David Boder

So you did not get to Theresienstadt?

Udel Stopnitsky

No, to Litomysl. Afterwards as soon as we got in there, the beatings were no more. They absolutely did not beat us any more. They took us in, separately, we were immediately given to eat, we were sent to the washroom to wash up, and afterwards we were led into various blocks. There was nowhere to lay down because the place was full of people from various lagers. And we marched on. In the middle of the night there arrived an SS man and he commanded that all Jews should step forward, all of them. We thought that now we are being sent to a crematory and we simply resigned ourselves, this life was over, we could not live any more because some people weighed 35 kilograms, others weighed still less.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

Well, he ordered that all Jews should step forward. We stepped forward and they started leading us. We did not know that we were only 7 kilometers from Theresienstadt.

David Boder

H-um.

Udel Stopnitsky

But coming out of the lager we observed that a change has taken place. It was the 28th of April.

Udel Stopnitsky

We observed the change in the fact that the SS men we were not led any more by SS men, by Jews without arms.

David Boder

H-um.

Udel Stopnitsky

That is how we marched. We marched a few kilometers.

David Boder

Why were they without arms?

Udel Stopnitsky

The end of the war was already near.

David Boder

H-um.

Udel Stopnitsky

And they led us into Theresienstadt. When we entered Theresienstadt we did not believe our eyes, we did not believe that such people still exist. We saw there Jews well dressed, little children, elderly Jews. Children, the kind of which we had not seen for two years. Children like the which we have seen ourselves, how they were burned in the crematories, so now we could not believe that these were Jewish children. But we saw that people spoke the mother-tongue, they spoke Yiddish, they told us that we have come now to be among friends [I am not sure of the translation of the last sentence, he talks very emotionally], that there is no more great danger in store for us, that no German will dominate us any more. We wept terribly.

David Boder

Why were the Germans not to dominate you?

Udel Stopnitsky

Because there was a Jewish ghetto ruled by Czech police and by the Jews themselves.

David Boder

H-um.

Udel Stopnitsky

There was Jewish currency in the lager with Moses, our prophet, printed on it.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

And signed by the president of the Jewish Community Council, Benjamin Norenstein I am not sure whether the name is correct, a Polish Jew. There was a complete little town with Jews living in every house. At that time there lived twelve thousand people, Jews. We arrived there and soon there arrived transports with various Jews from all lagers, from Buchenwald, from Dachau. They were being evacuated away from the Americans. Since Czechoslovakia, the Sudeten land, was in the center of the military operations, so from wherever they were grabbed the Jews they could not go any further. And so we were there for eleven days.

David Boder

And what were people doing there in Theresienstadt?

Udel Stopnitsky

They let us lie down and so we were lying there. Those who could eat were eating, but there were about eighty percent who could not take in food any more. From not having eaten normally so many months a termendous mortality set in, 300-400 Jews a day. From 300 to 400 Jews died every day and there just was no way to save them.

David Boder

And what did they do with the dead?

Udel Stopnitsky

Before when fewer died they were burned, but afterwards, the crematories could not keep up, so many were buried alsoâburned, buriedâat the end everybody was burned, the Jew themselves burned them . . .

David Boder

And the SS, what did they . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

Nothing, there were no more SS in sight at all, they were not seen any more. Because the SS was preparing already for the retreat, to run away. And so I was lying there [I am not sure of this verb] until the 8th of May. The 8th of May there came news that Prague was taken by the Red Army.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

[He first pronounces the name of the city in Yiddish Prugue] Prague, Prague . . .

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

. . . was taken by the Red Army. The Red Army had taken Prague.

David Boder

How far were you from Prague?

Udel Stopnitsky

60 kilometers.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

The joy merged in one single outcry, people started kissing each other. Thursday, or was it Friday . . . I don't know when it was, the 10th of May . . .

David Boder

Go on . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

. . . we heard rolling tanks and the Russians entered the lager. As soon as the Russians entered the lager they started bringing in transports, trucks full of food without end or limit. One ate as much as he only wanted. But that was something terrible for us, because from the not eating, and from now starting to eat more than normal people, people became upset [to the stomach] and people got sick, and an extraordinary mortality set in, the mortality was extraordinarily great. Soon I myself . . . since I arrived there in Theresienstadt . . . if one still walks around on his feet one doesn't feel yet the exhaustion, but after I was lying down for eleven days, I was no human any more. I weighed 30 1/2 kilograms.

David Boder

H-um.

Udel Stopnitsky

[The next few words are not clear; he apparently uses some concentration camp colloquialisms] From division nine I was taken to the x-ray service and the doctor extablished that I was not too much exhausted.

David Boder

Not . . . ?

Udel Stopnitsky

Not exhausted, the lungs were not affected, the heart was not affected, just a general state of weakness.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

And I was sent.

David Boder

You were examined . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

. . . with an x-ray examintation, with x-rays.

David Boder

Go on.

Udel Stopnitsky

And we were all . . . they opened hospitals and all the sick were sent to the hospitals.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

I was lying in a hospitalâa house for the sickâ

David Boder

Where were they able to get so many hospitals?

Udel Stopnitsky

In Theresienstadt they reconverted . . . there were big armories.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

And these large armories were converted into hospitals?

David Boder

Oh . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

The Russians brought all the equipment and the doctorsâthere were also Czech doctors and they started to treat the sick. I spent there a period of three months.

David Boder

I have here a question.

Udel Stopnitsky

Go on, please.

David Boder

When the SS left, there remained a Czech guard . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

Yes.

David Boder

Were these Czech guards on the German side or what were they?

Udel Stopnitsky

From the beginning the Czech guards were with the Germans. As you know, Czechoslovakia was a Protectorate.

David Boder

Well.

Udel Stopnitsky

It was a so-called government under the leader ship of [the last word is not clear, I don't know whether he mentions a name or an organization, it sounds like Hache.]

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

There was a Czech police, a Czech government, all Czech functionaries, but under the supervision of the Germans.

David Boder

Go on.

Udel Stopnitsky

And so there was with us a complete Czech police. There were no more SS men.

David Boder

And how did they behave?

Udel Stopnitsky

Very well. Much better . . . one could not imagine any better.

David Boder

Did they say something, something against the Germans?

Udel Stopnitsky

Yes, they knew everything exactly. They knew exactly that it will last only a few more days and that the Russians will come to power.

David Boder

Yes, and they were pleased about it?

Udel Stopnitsky

Very pleased, they were highly pleased with it. And now they were still more pleased because such a thing did happen. [Here one sentence is not clear; it seems to mean: "It happened still before the Russians came in."] They simply gave up their arms [to us]. They did not have much arms but they gave up sufficiently. They told us to massacre as much as we could . . .

David Boder

They told you to do that?

Udel Stopnitsky

They have ordered that whoever was well and able to get out on the street . . . and the Germans were still there . . . so everybody was given a gun and he was ordered to shoot them [the Germans]. For two days there was this opportunity to shoot.

David Boder

Well . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

Everybody could do it who had the strength, but there were very few in the lager who could even walk. Because, as a result of all the misfortunes that they went through, people felt broken up physically, not to speak of [being broken up] spiritually. I , for example, was lying [sick] full three months.

David Boder

Why?

Udel Stopnitsky

For three months I was lying because I had all kinds . . . I had an affliction on my legs.

David Boder

A what?

Udel Stopnitsky

An atrophy, a terrible atrophy. Then I developed blood deficiency, anemia, a blood deficiency, I almost had no blood in me. [This statement comes apparently from the German term "blutarm" which means poor of blood.

David Boder

You said atrophy?

Udel Stopnitsky

I had an atrophy and anemia also.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

[The next few words are not clear] They started to treat me with injections, I was given every day four injections . . .

David Boder

What kind of injections?

Udel Stopnitsky

I don't know very well. [Here the few words are not clear because Stopnitsky and the interviewer are talking at the same time.], not blood transfusions, for the blood I was taking something different. I drank something like a preparation of iron, that was for the blood.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

I so recuperated in time, I staged a comeback and became already a human being. I gained in three weeks 25 kilo.

David Boder

H-um.

Udel Stopnitsky

After that we started thinking how one could find his family, how could one find out who of the family is alive. In spite of the fact that I knew that my wife was not alive, that the brother and the sister are not alive, we were . . . I explained it to you already . . . we were ten children altogether. And so I started thinking, I had no way of communicating with them and I decided to go to Poland, and in the 9th month of 1945, I departed for Poland. When I arrived in Poland I learned that five people remained from our family.

David Boder

Who?

Udel Stopnitsky

Four brothers and one sister.

David Boder

From the ten?

Udel Stopnitsky

From the ten, that was all. The two brothers departed right away for the land of Israel. We did not want any part any more of the pale [he uses the Hebrew word goles which really means "exile," this refers to the exile of the Jews from Palestine about two thousand years ago], we saw that the pale was burning [the word "burning" was used commonly to indicate pogroms and anti-Semitic violence.]

David Boder

Did they go in a legal way?

Udel Stopnitsky

No, as brigade members. They went to Antwerp and from Antwerp they embarked with the Jewish brigade back to the land of Israel.

David Boder

Why were they called brigade members?

Udel Stopnitsky

[There are a few words not clear because both talk at the same time.] Brigade members simply meant that the Jews were assembled, put in British uniforms, and it was alleged that they have been fighting. [It apparently meant that they were dressed as British soldiers who were taken prisoners by the Germans] and in this manner thousands of Jews were sent over [it really means sumuggled over] to Antwerp, to Belgium.

David Boder

But there was a real Jewish brigade?

Udel Stopnitsky

Yes, there was, but these were [the words are not clear, I am translating approximately] just dressed up and that is how they got away. [He speaks very fast, rather emotionally or possibly because he considers the later events of not much consequence.] I had there in Poland more brothers, they remained . . . one lives at present in Munich.

David Boder

H-um.

Udel Stopnitsky

One brother still lives in Poland, he got married,

David Boder

No, he lives independently, he lives for himself now, he now, too, got married . . .

David Boder

A Jewish woman?

Udel Stopnitsky

A Jewish woman from Turnow [I am not sure of the name], also from Poland. I have there a sister nineteen years old . . . this sister get over . . .

David Boder

Where?

Udel Stopnitsky

Also in Munich.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

The sister lived for twelve months as a German.

David Boder

Ah.

Udel Stopnitsky

Twelve months.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

She is now nineteen years old, and today I am all alone who has arrived here. Although I had an opportunity to live with my brother and sister in Munich, they asked me to do so, but it drives me toward the land of Israel. After having gone through such misfortunes, it is obvious that it has no sense to remain in the goles, and of sheer resignation after these misfortunes, I arrived here in HÃnonville in order to get by any means, be it legal or illegal, notwithstanding any obstacles or deterrents. [I am not sure of the last two words], just to reach the land of Israel. Because to end one's days as a human being, and to live how one should, is possible only in the land of Israel. Even to die we have seen already that the goles [exile from the Holy Land] may give us some twenty good years again [I am not sure of the translation], but afterwards . . . it does not give us any point of assurance against further extermination, massacres. It has no sense to remain further in exile because it may lead to [a situation] that the million and a half Jews which have survivedâbeware and beware againâwill be submitted to the same [fate] as those before. We felt safe in Poland also, we also did not see the danger, and we had much to regret that we didn't work for the land of Israel. But now we must apply all strengths, all possible means, even illegal means; there even was a case when we were asked whether we would go there by way of Cyprus.

David Boder

What is that?

Udel Stopnitsky

That means the islands.

David Boder

Yes, yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

I am ready there and then as I stand and go, to get up and to go to Cyprus because much too much have we been made to suffer in exile [goles] that we should want to remain in exile. This is the end of my story of my experiences of the events that happened to me.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

It is, of course, self-understood, that one could sit days and months and relate so many various events that is enough to acquaint oneself with the situation which I myself have experienced.

David Boder

You told me from Czechoslovakia . . . how did you get to France? You tell me that you were in Munich, how were you going, did you come there alone or with a group, how did you get there?

Udel Stopnitsky

When I returned from Poland, I arrived in . . . to Bedzin.

David Boder

Oh, you returned to Bedzin.

Udel Stopnitsky

Back to Bedzin. I traveled by train.

David Boder

Well.

Udel Stopnitsky

And for instance, when I arrived in Bedzin . . .

David Boder

Did you have to pay for the ticket?

Udel Stopnitsky

Everything for me was paid for. I even . . .

David Boder

Who paid for it?

Udel Stopnitsky

All by the Czechs.

David Boder

The Czechs . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

They paid me 500 kronen that I should have even some for incidental travel expenses.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

500 kronen for incidental expenses.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

When I arrived at Bedzin, the Polacks soon took away from me all my baggage that I brought from Czechoslovakia.

David Boder

The Polacks?

Udel Stopnitsky

The Polacks, they soon started again. [I am not sure of these few words], it was right after the war so we were soon told that we should not . . . now for instance in Czechoslovakiaâthe same number that I had on my hand, they sewed on my arm, so wherever I came I was shown respect, I was given to eat . . .

David Boder

In Czechoslovakia?

Udel Stopnitsky

In Czechoslovakia. They understood that I was a sufferer [I am not sure of the translation], there they understood it, but in Poland . . .

David Boder

Christians?

Udel Stopnitsky

Only Christians, we were helped exclusively by Christians.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

But when we arrived in Poland, they gave us immediately to understand that we are still on the cursed Polish soil.

David Boder

H-um.

Udel Stopnitsky

I came to Bedzin, I was still a bit sick, I recuperated and I saw again the futility . . .

David Boder

Where did you live in Bedzin?

Udel Stopnitsky

In Bedzin, too, let me tell you, the 1st month I had to lie in the hospital still in a home for the sick, in order to recuperate further, completely . . .

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

Afterwards I was soon taken in by a comrade who is at present the vice-president of the European division of the Agudah Israel, Moses Benjamin Kleinman . . .

David Boder

Where is he now?

Udel Stopnitsky

He is now in Paris and he will arrive tomorrow in HÃnonville.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

So he told me that I should become the vice-president of the Jewish religious community. Since I was a descendant of religious parents, and I myself was a religious man, so I saw that he only aim should be to reconstruct againâbecause when we arrived in Bedzin we saw the great [spiritual] devastationâthere was no shohet, there was no place of worship, there was no holy scroll [Torah], there was just nothing, one could not find any signs left of the once 32,000 Jews. We gathered together, we founded a religious community, we organized a kitchen that would dispense 150 dinners. I want to remark that in comparison with what was left, that could be considered a colossal number, 150 kosher dinners completely [one word is not clear]. Afterwards we started . . .

David Boder

How many were there in Bedzin?

Udel Stopnitsky

There were in Bedzin 400 Jews.

David Boder

400 Jews, did the others not want kosher food?

Udel Stopnitsky

The othersâno. Not everybody ate kosher food, because the committee, the Jewish committee, also had a kitchen, a kitchen in which they fed ordinary dinners.

David Boder

What is called a kitchen . . . [The interviewer simply wanted to ascertain whether he understood the word kitchen pronounced in an extreme Polish Yiddish dialect.]

Udel Stopnitsky

Yes, and so we were there a few months, and soon I understood the futility of all that, and I undertook to organize a Kibbutz, such like the one here in HÃnonville.

David Boder

H-um.

Udel Stopnitsky

And I founded one like that in Bedzin. We then spent in Bedzin another few months and in Liuti, the 7th month, in July, I took that whole Kibbutz, since I was president of the religious community equivalent of parish.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

And I sent them away straight through Biata on the Polish German border, to Vienna, in order that they could reach Munich. I sent them away to Munich.

David Boder

Did you know that your sister was in Munich?

Udel Stopnitsky

Yes, even my sister had returned to Poland.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

And also returned in an illegal way.

David Boder

She went back . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

She went back. And I understood that although we were permitted to adhere to our religious life in Bedzin [the next sentence is not clear], but that my life was under threats [of danger] and we went through Kielce, you know the pogrom of Kielce which has cost, not like the papers reportedâforty sacrifices, but a total of seventy-three sacrifices . . .

David Boder

Were you still in Bedzin during the Kielce pogrom?

Udel Stopnitsky

Yes, I was in Bedzin, Kielce . . .

David Boder

So you left Poland after the Kielce pogrom?

Udel Stopnitsky

After the Kielce pogrom, I saw that it had no purpose [to remain]. And I wanted to get myself a passport, to leave in a legal fashion. But when I saw that the danger was great, I uprooted myself and I went to Cieszyn near Bielsko.

David Boder

Where is that?

Udel Stopnitsky

Cieszyn near Bielsko, Bielsko in Poland.

David Boder

Where did you get 10,000 zlotys?

Udel Stopnitsky

10,000 zlotys in thoses time were not any more in Poland like in the olden times, it all amounted to about 100 [real] zlotys.

David Boder

Did you earn any money while . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

I earned, most certainly I earned. I was trading just like old Jews were trading . . . and artisan . . . I am artisan, but in my trade I could not do anything. I simply earned something because I brought with me a few things and I sold them. But since I had to travel illegally . . .

David Boder

Where did you get the things from?

Udel Stopnitsky

From Czechoslovakia, because when we embarked for home, we could take with us as much as possible.

David Boder

Oh.

Udel Stopnitsky

Clothing, shoes, food . . .

David Boder

From the lager?

Udel Stopnitsky

From the lager, because there were immense storehouses of clothing. But now, in departing, since I traveled illegally, I could not take things with me, so I sold them, converted them into money, and I paid to a Christian the 10,000 zlotys, and he got me over into Czechoslovakia, to the other side, to Cieszyn, because Cieszyn was divided into two parts, one part was Polish and one part was Czech.

David Boder

And the Czech let you in?

Udel Stopnitsky

[A few words are not clear] The Czech let people in. As soon as I got in there . . .

David Boder

But the Poles do not permit people to get out?

Udel Stopnitsky

At that time the Poles did not permit people to get out through Cieszyn, one could go through other places, but not through Cieszyn.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

And since I wanted to get to Prague, I had to go through Cieszyn. When I arrived at Cieszyn on the Czech side, the Jewish committee received me very friendly, the same night they gave me a ticket and sent me to Moravska Ostrava. [He gives this geographical designation twice, once in Polish, and then the latter one.]

David Boder

H-um.

Udel Stopnitsky

From Moravska Ostrava I was sent further with a transport of thirty-four people to Prague. And in Prague there is the Agudah, their superior office [I am not sure of the last few words] which has taken upon itself the task to provide with a passport every Jew who arrived there, a passport of the Red Cross with which he could travel to Paris. I obtained such a passport and arrived with a transport of 400 men in Paris. I arrived the other week.

David Boder

When was that?

Udel Stopnitsky

The other week, a week before this.

David Boder

Only last week?

Udel Stopnitsky

Last week I arrived here at eleven o'clock at night with a transport of 400 Jews.

David Boder

400 Jews?

Udel Stopnitsky

400 Jews.

David Boder

Where are they all now?

Udel Stopnitsky

In St. Saren [I am not sure of the geographical name and I think he himself, being only a short time in France, may have confused the name of the locality.] 15 kilometers from Paris, in a Kibbutz of the Agudah, there too is located a large Kibbutz. St. Saren . . .

David Boder

15 kilometers from Paris?

Udel Stopnitsky

. . . from Paris. St. Saren . . .

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

They remained there. And since I was a power in the organization of the [one word is not clear.] Agudah Israel, so our leadership has assigned me, instead of going there, to come here to HÃnonville, so that . . .

David Boder

And where is your leadership, in Paris?

Udel Stopnitsky

In Paris.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

They are Kleinman, Zaretski. [He gives another name that is not clear] . . .

David Boder

Who are they . . . ?

Udel Stopnitsky

That is the central governing body . . .

David Boder

Of what, the central governing body of the Agudah?

Udel Stopnitsky

No, of Europe, not of one Agudah but of all the Agudahs Israel, that is the working men's organization . . . of Agudah Israel.

David Boder

[Here both are talking at the same time and it is not clear] say it slowly.

Udel Stopnitsky

Alya Agudah Israel.

David Boder

So . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

That is a religious working men's organization of the Agudahs Israel.

David Boder

H-um.

Udel Stopnitsky

And I arrived here, and right at the same dayâI have arrived here on SundayâI took immediately over the leadership of this Kibbutz and . . .

David Boder

How come, was there no leader here?

Udel Stopnitsky

No, there was no head of the Kibbutz, there was the one who is stationed in Paris, the Kleinman, he was the head of the Kibbutz but it was too much work for him. To publish in Paris a newspaper under the name Hachshara, this is the organ of the Alya Agudahs Israel.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

That was too great a task for him, to come here in addition since we are located 50 kilometers away from Paris.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

And so I remained here and my duties are to accept people, newcoming people, and in whatever way possible to send them away to the land of Israel. My task is also educationalâwe have here a brance of the ORT, a tailor shop, a carpentry shop . . .

David Boder

That is a branch of the ORT.

Udel Stopnitsky

. . . from the ORT.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

We have here a tract of land donated by the ORT, and all the fruit, the vegetables, all the installations, is all given by the ORT, but the work is done by our comrades.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

Everything, it was sowed by Jews, and even the harvest is also eaten by Jews. We hopeâsince among our comrades already 320 people have departedâ200 men have departed and are already in the land of Israel, 120 people have embarked but unfortunately got stuck in Cyprus, they were sent to Cyprus, so now we hope that the Kibbutz which is now here and the people who shall arrive will also go to the land of Israel. Our only hope is the land of Israel.

David Boder

[A pause] I still want to ask you, your brother and sister, will they remain to live in Germay?

Udel Stopnitsky

For the time being they live in Germany. They are doing quite well . . .

David Boder

What are they doing there?

Udel Stopnitsky

They trade.

David Boder

Officially or unofficially? [This really meant "legally or illegally]

Udel Stopnitsky

There is no official trade in Germany.

David Boder

What do you mean?

Udel Stopnitsky

There is not official [legal] trading . . .

David Boder

Well, people are permitted to trade . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

The Germans may trade but the Jews may not trade . . .

David Boder

If a Jew wants to remain in Germany, don't they let him do so?

Udel Stopnitsky

They let him, he may stay in a lager and be maintained by the UNRRA.

David Boder

But to have his own business.

Udel Stopnitsky

He may have it but that would require great pull. If one for instance has an acquaintance in the American Occupational Forces, he can manage [to get permission].

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

But not just every Jew.

David Boder

So a Jew is unable to say, "I shall remain to live in Germany" . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

No, to be able to open a business, to be able to buy a home . . . that does not exist in Germany today, they cannot buy homes. The Jews live there quite well, the danger is not great, they are not threatened by danger . . . and that's how they live. My brother now got married, he found a flat . . .

David Boder

How did he find a flat?

Udel Stopnitsky

That happened at the beginning, when he came out of the lager and wanted to get a flat, he got one. Whether it was of six rooms or five rooms . . .

David Boder

He got a flat that belonged to the Germans?

Udel Stopnitsky

They [apparently the American Occupational Forces] have thrown out the Christians, the Hitlerites.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

Because there are Germans who are not official Hitlerites, and there are Germans who are official Hitlerites, and they gave the apartment to the Jews.

David Boder

That was given to them? [The allocation was usually 1.6 person per room.] So then it's not so bad?

Udel Stopnitsky

No, it is not so bad in Germany, only the Jews who live in the lager, for them it is bad. It is now a year and a half since the war and Jews still live in lagers.

David Boder

So why do they remain in Germany?

Udel Stopnitsky

They have no way of going anywhere else. Certainly, they would like to go to the land of Israel, they would like to go to America, but unfortunately, there is no other way out, they have to remain in the lager. Not everybody has money in Germany. Those people have money in Germany who have managed to remain in Poland, who managed to sell their property which they inherited from their parents, from their grandparents, and they sold it out and came back to Germany, because in Poland they were not safe with their lives, these kind of people live there, but the Jews who were snatched away to Germany into the lager [here it means concentration camps] continued to be in the lager. [The next sentence is not clear, but the meaning is as follows:] The UNRRA installations are not supposed to be a ghetto but they are ghettos more than ever . . .

David Boder

[A long pause] Now tell me, here you have only one Kibbutz or there are various Kibbutz's?

Udel Stopnitsky

One KibbutzâAlya Agudahs Israelâyoung girls, women . . .

David Boder

How do people live here . . . do the families have separate rooms?

Udel Stopnitsky

Each family, not only for ethical but for religious reasonsâeach family hasâbe it a smaller room, a larger room, but as soon as one gets married . . .

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

He gets a separate room.

David Boder

And the single people?

Udel Stopnitsky

They are all together, fifteen people in a room, thirteen people in a room.

David Boder

So.

Udel Stopnitsky

. . . depending on the size of the room. As to eatingâwe eat all together.

David Boder

And who does the work? Who manages the labor in this place?

Udel Stopnitsky

There is a special distribution of labor.

David Boder

For instance, cooking, who does the cooking?

Udel Stopnitsky

That is a special assignment, every day another two women have to do the cooking. There is a man in the Agudah, his name is Presant, Udell Presant, he assigns the work, In the morning . . .

David Boder

Does he get paid?

Udel Stopnitsky

No pay, pay does not exist, here nobody gets paid. If he needs anythingâsay he has to go to a doctorâthen he gets paid. If he is being sent . . .

David Boder

Who supplies the money?

Udel Stopnitsky

The Joint [Distribution Committeeâ-JDC]. The Joint pays 100 francs for each person. [The official exchange was then 117 francs to the dollar, but the black market value was about 250 francs to the dollar].

David Boder

And who receives the money?

Udel Stopnitsky

That is the leadership of the Kibbutz.

David Boder

Who?

Udel Stopnitsky

The leadership of the Kibbutz. And they account every few weeks before the whole Kibbutz.

David Boder

. . . before the Kibbutz . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

Before the whole Kibbutz.

David Boder

And the Kibbutz can do with the 100 francs a day . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

What they want.

David Boder

. . . what they want?

Udel Stopnitsky

Yes, the Joint gives 100 francs, that is for food, for maintenance, for everything.

David Boder

Well . . . and who pays for the electric [power]?

Udel Stopnitsky

We pay for everything, everything from the 100 francs.

David Boder

So you pay for your own . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

For everything, even if there is painting to do, we have to construct beds.

David Boder

[A few words are not clear, apparently the interviewee spoke aside from the microphone.]

Udel Stopnitsky

Everything is our own labor.

David Boder

And the beds . . . ?

Udel Stopnitsky

We do everything . . . no, the Joint gives us the beds but we have to refinish them . . .

David Boder

What do you mean?

Udel Stopnitsky

We have to paint them, we have to varnish them.

David Boder

Oh, that . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

Because they are rusty.

David Boder

Those are metal beds?

Udel Stopnitsky

Metal beds.

David Boder

But you don't pay rent for your living quarters.

Udel Stopnitsky

That has been purchased.

David Boder

Who purchased it?

Udel Stopnitsky

[Here he gives the Hebrew name of the organization, it sounds like Vad Hazulo,âthis has to be checked.]

David Boder

[unintelligible]

Udel Stopnitsky

Vad Hazulo.

David Boder

The Vad Hazulo, and what is that?

Udel Stopnitsky

That is an organization in America which procures funds for religious Jews.

David Boder

Oh . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

The support religious Jews.

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

And then the Agudah, the Alya Agudahs Israel, [all these names have to be checked] and [here he gives a name which I cannot distinguish], he is the president of [the next words are not clear] of all the organizations of Agudahs Israel. He is from the land of Israel.

David Boder

He comes from the land of Israel?

Udel Stopnitsky

. . . but nowadays he is in Paris, he visits the organizations[??] and a large amount of money was paid [for this place].

David Boder

And the ORT, they are in charge of the schools?

Udel Stopnitsky

Yes, the ORT has given us the means to open the schools.

David Boder

Now, for instance, those who are learning carpentry, do they work all day in the carpentry shop . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

They work from nine to one and from three to six.

David Boder

So that's how they work in the carpentry shop.

Udel Stopnitsky

In the carpentry shop.

David Boder

Then they are not working in the orchard?

Udel Stopnitsky

No, they must learn carpentry. And those who work in the garden work nowhere else but in the garden because they have to learn gardening. In the evening, at six in the evening, they wash themselves, and everybody goes to study the chapter which is being taught by the Rabbi. That is being done every day.

David Boder

What do they learn?

Udel Stopnitsky

A chapter from the Talmud, they study the Talmud all together.

David Boder

And tell me, what is there the Yeshiva doing.

Udel Stopnitsky

The Yeshiva studies all day.

David Boder

This Yeshiva does not belong to the Kibbutz?

Udel Stopnitsky

No.

David Boder

But they eat with you?

Udel Stopnitsky

That takes place in form of hospitality since they are on their way to America and they have no place where they could eat Kosher and they eat only Kosher . . .

David Boder

Yes.

Udel Stopnitsky

So they were assigned a wing of our building and we eat together and they all sleep there.

David Boder

Tell me, where do you get Kosher meat?

Udel Stopnitsky

In Paris there is a Kosher meat market.

David Boder

There is a Kosher meat market . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

Yes, one can get Kosher sausage . . .

David Boder

And that is being brought over here . . .

Udel Stopnitsky

Yes, and . . .

David Boder

You have no shohet here?

Udel Stopnitsky

We have here two shohets, but one does not slaughter here because there is no slaughter house.

David Boder

Can't you get chickens?

Udel Stopnitsky

We have no chickens here, we don't have here in general such things. We have to buy everything. The whole week we do not eat meat.

David Boder

You don't eat it the whole week?

Udel Stopnitsky

No, only on the Sabbath, Friday at night, and Saturday in the daytime.

David Boder

Oh, then the whole week you eat vegetarian food.

Udel Stopnitsky

We eat potatoes with something else, with turnips, or we eat noodles with peas, but meat is not being eaten the whole week. Not only becauseâwe could get meatâbut we have no money.

David Boder

H-um.

Udel Stopnitsky

The 100 francs a day are not enough, could not be stretched that we could buy meat every day.

David Boder

And the UNRRA does not supply you with products?

Udel Stopnitsky

We get nothing. Even when they gave us [foodstuffs] not every product could be eaten, but the things we could eat . . .

David Boder

What do you mean, you couldn't eat it?

Udel Stopnitsky

Not every product is Kosher.

David Boder

Oh, that is the reason.

Udel Stopnitsky

But even the products that one could eat, we also do not get. We get no products whatsoever, only that what we buy for our money.

David Boder

[In English] This concludes . . . this concludes Spool 123 at thirty-one minutes of the indicator. The person reporting was Udel Stopnitsky who is now the teacher . . . eh, the head of the organization. He arrived here only about two weeks ago and has been suggested or imposed by the central Jewish organization, or by the central Agudah organization. HÃnonville, near Paris, September the 12th, 1946. An Illinois Institute of Technology wire recording.

David Boder

[In Yiddish] Well, I thank you very much, Mr. Stopnitsky. It was a very good report. I have hard a lot of stories and, nevertheless, you have told me some things new. One constantly hears new things. It is never enough.

Udel Stopnitsky

If you should listen for months, for months at a stretch you will not hear everything that the Polish Jews went through. It is very much but let it be enough because all the Polish Jews have contributed to the tradgedy.