David P. Boder Interviews Itzhak Brin; September 13, 1946; Hénonville, France

  • David Boder: [In English] Spool 126, starting at the eighteenth minute, with an interview with Mr. Isaac Brin, [to interviewee] ja, in English [unintelligible] Issac. Mr. Isaac Brin, Itzhak Brin. Thirty-eight years old, married second time, his wife . . . second wife is from Palestine, he expects to go over. At the Agudah Israel [unintelligible] of the Agudah in Hénonville, near Paris. Mr. Brin feels that he would not want to tell us . . . a complete story from the Lodzsher Ghetto, but he considers that he wants to pick some special memorial moments.
  • David Boder: [In Yiddish] Did you understand what I said? So, Mr. Brin says that [Inaudible] the Lodzsher Ghetto. He will recount that which he himself had the opportunity to know and experience.
  • Itzhak Brin: [unintelligible]
  • David Boder: [In German] Yes. So, Mr. Brin, say what you would like. Begin. [unintelligible]. Please repeat that. Yes. Speak louder.
  • Itzhak Brin: [unintelligible]. Lodzsher Ghetto [unintelligible]. Work [unintelligible]. Building section [unintelligible].
  • David Boder: [unintelligible]
  • Itzhak Brin: In the end it was [unintelligible] for the Ghetto [unintelligible] Ghetto [unintelligible]. Here we laughed and [unintelligible] Mrs. [unintelligible] [unintelligible]
  • David Boder: [unintelligible]
  • Itzhak Brin: [unintelligible]
  • David Boder: Yes, when you are directly nearby [unintelligible]
  • Itzhak Brin: [unintelligible] caused no [unintelligible]
  • David Boder: Yes, I have from [unintelligible] double-tracked [unintelligible].
  • Itzhak Brin: [unintelligible]
  • David Boder: Yes. And?
  • Itzhak Brin: [unintelligible]
  • David Boder: Yes. Did you know Doctor Vaug?
  • Itzhak Brin: Doctor Vaug . . .
  • David Boder: Were you living in Lodz before?
  • Itzhak Brin: We came to Lodz [unintelligible]
  • David Boder: Aha.
  • Itzhak Brin: [unintelligible]
  • David Boder: [unintelligible]
  • Itzhak Brin: [unintelligible]
  • David Boder: [unintelligible] And?
  • Itzhak Brin: [unintelligible]. I came into the [unintelligible] Lodz Ghetto, then we apportioned a place to live [unintelligible] to the Jews.
  • David Boder: Were you there in Rumkowski's time?Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski (1877-1944) was the Nazi-appointed head of the Jewish authorities in the Łódź Ghetto. Rumkowski was heavily criticized for his relationship with the Nazis and his autocratic style of government. He oversaw the industrialization of the Ghetto, believing that the Nazis would spare the inhabitants of Łódź if they remained productive in manufacturing goods for German consumption. While this productivity initially held off large deportations from the Ghetto, it did not last. Rumkowski and his family, along with approximately 60,000 remaining residents of the Ghetto, were deported to Auschwitz in the summer of 1944. He was murdered at Auschwitz on August 28, 1944.1
  • Itzhak Brin: Yes. [unintelligible] Rumkowski's time.
  • David Boder: [unintelligible]. What did you think of Rumkowski? [unintelligible].
  • Itzhak Brin: What I thought of Rumkowski? Rumkowski was very . . . a leader of the German powers. Everything had to be exact. Everything that he got from Amtsleiter Biebow.Hans Biebow (1902-1947) was the head of Nazi administration of the Łódź Ghetto.2 He with the help of his police carried out precisely. [unintelligible]. He was a very strong person, huge. [unintelligible]. If someone were caught stealing a potato, one went [unintelligible]. Sent to Auschwitz [unintelligible].
  • David Boder: Also, [unintelligible] Rumkowski [unintelligible]
  • Itzhak Brin: [unintelligible]. In Ghetto [unintelligible]. I was in the Ghetto until the end of the Ghetto in '24.
  • David Boder: That is '44.
  • Itzhak Brin: Yes, '44. I was in Lodz until the end, until there were no more Jews. [unintelligible] I lived.. I was. [unintelligible] I was working in the section where there were Christians [unintelligible] Ghetto.
  • David Boder: In the Ghetto? [unintelligible]
  • Itzhak Brin: There were places outside the Ghetto, well-guarded by police, who were watching the workers. I was an assistant to the workers building the walls, the [unintelligible].
  • David Boder: In the Ghetto?
  • Itzhak Brin: In the Ghetto.
  • David Boder: What did they build there? [both speaking at the same time; unintelligible]
  • Itzhak Brin: After that, I had the good fortune that the Christians gave me food. I gave them [unintelligible]
  • David Boder: What did they give you?
  • Itzhak Brin: [unintelligible] Soup, bread [unintelligible] bread. [unintelligible] a kilo salami or a kilo bread [unintelligible] I did not have much strength . . . [unintelligible] my brother and I, my brother's wife and my sister. [unintelligible] Paper [unintelligible]
  • David Boder: I am asking you questions that other people [unintelligible] such things [unintelligible] but you go [unintelligible]
  • Itzhak Brin: I wondered what would happen to me [unintelligible]. I worked with a German and a Pole and the Poles brought a newspaper into the Ghetto. We also had a secret radio in the Ghetto.and we learned what was going politically. The newspapers [unintelligible]
  • David Boder: [unintelligible]
  • Itzhak Brin: [In German] On the last day [unintelligible] the transport left [unintelligible] the politics [unintelligible]. Then we heard that the whole neighborhood [unintelligible]. In the streets [unintelligible] shooting. We heard that thousands of people had been killed. Not Jews. We did not know what nationality they were—Hungarians, Romanians, Poles [unintelligible] Biebow fell out [unintelligible] and saw [unintelligible]. There was one Jew, a certain Ayzlander. He was a [unintelligible].
  • David Boder: A Jew?
  • Itzhak Brin: [In Yiddish] A Jew. [unintelligible]
  • David Boder: [unintelligible] The Jewish Committeeman?
  • Itzhak Brin: [unintelligible] went off to the train station. [unintelligible]
  • David Boder: [In German] They liquidated the Ghetto?
  • Itzhak Brin: [In Yiddish] They liquidated the Ghetto. [unintelligible] Ayzman wanted twenty young, strong men [unintelligible] they should remain in the Ghetto.[unintelligible] to go into all the houses and clean up [unintelligible]. It was the end. It just so happened that I knew about this. [unintelligible] three weeks [unintelligible]. I, my sister, my brother and my brother's wife [unintelligible] we were young people. [unintelligible] It was terrible.
  • David Boder: [In German] The smell.
  • Itzhak Brin: The smell. [unintelligible]
  • David Boder: Yes, with great force [unintelligible]
  • Itzhak Brin: [unintelligible] If there was a corpse, we had to put it into three large ditches, and there were three levels one on top of the other. [unintelligible]
  • David Boder: Germans? [unintelligible]
  • Itzhak Brin: [unintelligible] Germans, Germans. [unintelligible]
  • David Boder: And?
  • Itzhak Brin: [unintelligible] It took time. [unintelligible] This was the work that was very much needed in the Ghetto. [unintelligible] Then all the people were gone. Then they took some people [unintelligible]. Ayzman was also [unintelligible]. He was getting people ready for the execution that was going to take place. [unintelligible] Also sat there [unintelligible] we should prepare a ditch two meters long.
  • David Boder: [In English] Eh, this concludes Spool 126 with the report of Mr. Isaac Brin and we are going . . . about the Lodzsher Ghetto, and we are going over to Spool 127. Illinois Institute of Technology wire recording. September 13th, 1946, Hénonville, fifty kilometers from Paris, in the Agudah Israel.
  • David Boder: Spool 127, continuation of Spool 126. Eh, the interviewee is Mr. Isaac Brin, Itzhak Brin, thirty-eight years old, who was in the liquidation group of the Lodzsher Ghetto.
  • David Boder: [In Yiddish] So, you said that you were [unintelligible].
  • Itzhak Brin: [unintelligible] the working people. He said [unintelligible] that we should make a ditch of three meters deep and three meters wide. [unintelligible]
  • David Boder: [unintelligible]
  • Itzhak Brin: [unintelligible] three or four [unintelligible]
  • Itzhak Brin: Well, it was seven in the morning. [unintelligible] There were no more people in the Ghetto. Everything was already emptied out, and a truck came in covered . . . and every . . . with people. The people, who were going to be shot, were lying stretched out on the bottom of the truck. The crew, the German Gestapo, the totenkopf,Totenkopf is the German word for "skull." A design featuring a skull and cross-bones was part of the Nazi SS uniforms.3 as they were called, were sitting on them.
  • David Boder: They were not lying on their clothes, they were lying . . .
  • Itzhak Brin: Each one was lying separately and each one had his hands bound behind them . . .
  • David Boder: When they were brought in, their hands were already tied.
  • Itzhak Brin: Tied. Hands tied tightly behind them, and then each one was tied to the next one. Each one to the other. And the crew got off the truck [said] "Everyone down," and they began to pull them off. The people didn't know what was going on. During the extreme cold they were barefoot and wore only a pair of pants and a shirt. Nothing else. Well, the first one to go down dragged the next one with him, because they were tied together in groups of from four to ten. The first time I was there there were twenty-four Jews. [unintelligible] there were four times six bound together. In the first six there was one who was a Captain. He told us, us Jews . . . we stood there to serve. He told us to stand fifty meters to one side. We held the shovels [unintelligible] in our hands. We stood a distance away, and this Captain came over with an order. The crew was standing to the side. Six people went over, six people went close to the ditch. The ditch had been dug. They faced the ditch. There was a whistle; a salvo and they were killed.
  • David Boder: A salvo from machine . . . ?
  • Itzhak Brin: A salvo of rifles, of hand rifles. And that is what happened to the first six, the second six, the third six, the fourth—one right after the other until they were all killed. Then there was a whistle indicating that we should come right over, but quickly. So we went. We had to have a small knife in our hands to cut one away from the other.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Itzhak Brin: Well, it wasn't possible to throw all six in, so we had to separate them and took each person . . .
  • David Boder: They fell into the pit?
  • Itzhak Brin: No. [unintelligible]. The first six were left hanging half in the ditch and half on the ground. The second six couldn't lie next to the pit, because they were blocked by the first group. The second were not cut one from the other, did not lie straight. Their hands were down and their feet up. [unintelligible]. Thrown in one on top of the other, as quickly a possible. They stood with billy clubs in their hands and beat us to work faster, ever faster, and every hole in the head was as big as a fist.
  • David Boder: They shot in the head?
  • Itzhak Brin: They shot in the head from behind.
  • David Boder: [In German] How far were the soldiers standing from these people?
  • Itzhak Brin: [In Yiddish] The soldier stood about fifteen meters away.
  • David Boder: [In German] Well, can one always hit it right?
  • Itzhak Brin: [In Yiddish] They did. They hit every one. They stood there and shot into the heads as they were lying there. As soon as we heard the whistle indicating that we should approach, one man went over, this was the Captain himself, and he took out a pocket revolver and if he saw a corpse that was still moving, he put a bullet into his head. Whoever moved, he finished off.
  • David Boder: Finished him off.
  • Itzhak Brin: [unintelligible]
  • David Boder: Well?
  • Itzhak Brin: And we were . . . the brains . . .
  • David Boder: And the living were not buried?
  • Itzhak Brin: What? The living were never buried. The brain, the brains were spattered for about ten, fifteen meters around the pit, and there was blood, and we had to throw these people into the ditch very quickly. And the Gestapo were standing right there, and they . . .
  • David Boder: Men and women?
  • Itzhak Brin: At that time, the first time, when there were those twenty-four people, there was one woman. The other times, there were only middle-aged men. [unintelligible] Poles. Polish. Poles. Polish. Poles. No Jews. Poles.
  • David Boder: Who were shot?
  • Itzhak Brin: Poles were shot.
  • David Boder: They were Poles?
  • Itzhak Brin: They were Poles.
  • David Boder: They were buried in the Jewish. . .
  • Itzhak Brin: This was what the Germans, the Germans did, so that no one would know. They took Gen[tiles], Poles and buried them in the Jewish . . .
  • David Boder: Oh, they shot Poles.
  • Itzhak Brin: All Poles! Because they shot very few Jews at that time. They were trying to kill the Jews but they sent them to the crematoria. But the Poles, the Poles [unintelligible] it was mostly political [unintelligible] political things [unintelligible].
  • David Boder: Polish partisans . . .
  • Itzhak Brin: After that, they scattered some earth over them. They were told to gathered the brains that had been strewn around the pit. [unintelligible] said, "Take this home and you'll have lunch to eat."
  • David Boder: Who [unintelligible]?
  • Itzhak Brin: That's what the German said, the Gestapo. They were, they were making fun of us. Quickly, quickly we poured on some earth into the pit and they were standing there with weapons until it was done.
  • David Boder: [In German] Men and women?
  • Itzhak Brin: Men and women.
  • David Boder: [In Yiddish] Tell me, what did the Poles do? Did they scream, plead? What did they do?
  • Itzhak Brin: From a distance, from afar we often heard:
  • Itzhak Brin: [In Polish] O Jezus, o jezus . . .
  • David Boder: Aha.
  • Itzhak Brin: [In Yiddish] But [unintelligible] they arrived in such condition. . . . When they were being tied up, they knew why they were being bound and they were no longer conscious [of what was going on]. In addition, they had been beaten, pale. They no longer looked . . . . They were practically half-dead, when they were delivered under such conditions. I was present at such events five or six times. The shock that I felt the first time . . . I walked around crazed whole days and night. In the camp that I was assigned to [unintelligible] to talk, but I was not allowed to tell anyone. Afterwards, when the whole business with the Jews was over, with the Ghetto, we were all taken out of there and led . . . connected to the camp that cleaned the whole Lodz Ghetto, At that time, we were five hundred people who remained especially to clean the Lodz Ghetto . . .
  • David Boder: What did they clean?
  • Itzhak Brin: Cleaned. Cleaned. Took out all kinds of material. We were specially assigned to do this work. When the time came and there were no more Jews in the Ghetto, and it happened that the Gestapo needed something brought to them, we were the only ones who were called, only the ten of us who were at the cemetery during that time [unintelligible] and those who cleaned out the camp, because the Gestapo didn't want any other people, only the very same ones.
  • David Boder: Which same ones?
  • Itzhak Brin: The same ten men . . .
  • David Boder: Who had buried . . .
  • Itzhak Brin: . . . who had buried the dead at the time of the shooting.
  • David Boder: Yes, yes.
  • Itzhak Brin: This happened another two or three times in the camp.
  • David Boder: Were Jews or Poles shot?
  • Itzhak Brin: They only shot Poles. We never saw Jews being shot. Just Poles. They say that everyone was being shot, but they were all Christians. It is possible that . . . possible . . . It is a fact that one time a German was shot. He looked like a fat calf.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Itzhak Brin: He must have been involved in military affairs. At that time a judge and a prosecutor also came along and in that place a [unintelligible] was read.
  • David Boder: Only this one German was shot?
  • Itzhak Brin: Only this one German was shot. Yes. It was the only time and that was the only German who was shot in the Jewish cemetery. And at that time the sentence was read. [unintelligible] The Poles did not have any protocol at all.
  • David Boder: A priest was never brought in?
  • Itzhak Brin: A priest . . . no! They couldn't recognize from their clothes who was a priest and who wasn't.
  • David Boder: A priest to administer the last rites?
  • Itzhak Brin: A priest. No.
  • David Boder: To pray.
  • Itzhak Brin: Praying. There was never any of that. Never. Then there came an order issued from the camp that we were to dig eight large pits in the cemetery. So we also took . . .
  • David Boder: Which pits?
  • Itzhak Brin: What?
  • David Boder: Which pits?
  • Itzhak Brin: Eight very large pits.
  • David Boder: Oh. New pits were to be made. [unintelligible]
  • Itzhak Brin: New pits. The same ten people who had been at the cemetery the whole time previously were taken out there, and we dug the eight pits, and it was . . .
  • David Boder: What did you talk about while you were digging the pits?
  • Itzhak Brin: As we were digging the pits, we were in a political situation.
  • David Boder: We you being guarded or were you alone?
  • Itzhak Brin: No, that Ayzman came [unintelligible] an order to make sure that there were eight large pits. We were the same ten men who worked at the cemetery and we were digging the eight large pits. It was a fact that Biebow appeared with another Gestapo official as were coming from the digging, and he said . . . I just happened to hear, oh yes, "We will put the heads on this side, the feet on this side and the children here in the middle. A hundred people should fit in this pit. Then people were brought over who had been hiding in hiding places. I placed myself close by. Nothing was done to them, because at that time, the Germans' opinion was that they were going to kill us but right then they needed more manpower in the Ghetto, because they wanted to clean out the Ghetto,as soon as possible. [unintelligible] They thought they were going to kill us anyway so why not let us work for a while. For eight hundred people, eight such ditches were dug. As we stood there digging . . . with every spadeful, we made our confession [to G-d], because we knew that this work, this work, these ditches were for us. [unintelligible] This is how it actually was. We finished the pits and everyone went back to his work in the camp . . .
  • David Boder: Yes, yes. Well . . .
  • Itzhak Brin: Well, when we were in the camp, we did not lack for food in the camp.
  • David Boder: What happened after you made the pits?
  • Itzhak Brin: We made these eight pits and they remained open. We did not know what was going to happen.
  • David Boder: Did you tell this to the other people in the camp?
  • Itzhak Brin: In the camp . . . When we made these eight pits, everyone was very astonished, broken, because we knew that they were for us. Well, what did G-d do? At our workplace, every morning there was a roll call. In Lodz [Gives the address]. That was where we had the work camp. Every morning there was a roll call.
  • David Boder: How many people were there?
  • Itzhak Brin: Eight hundred people.
  • David Boder: Aha.
  • Itzhak Brin: Eight hundred seventy-six people.
  • David Boder: Aha.
  • Itzhak Brin: I was there. Each group had its leader. Everyone was assigned a job. I was also assigned a job that I did. I took over the horses and wagons [unintelligible] and then led them out.
  • David Boder: Well?
  • Itzhak Brin: Led them out. [unintelligible] were not permitted to enter the Ghetto, so we took their horses and wagons, loaded them with merchandise and led them back to the Christians to take them out of the Ghetto,
  • David Boder: Excuse me. What kind of merchandise did they have there?
  • Itzhak Brin: The merchandise was this: furniture, iron, rags, trash, everything that there was in the Ghetto, especially various medicines, and food that remained in the Ghetto, Everything had to be taken out.
  • David Boder: Everything.
  • Itzhak Brin: Everything had to be removed. The whole Ghetto had to be cleaned out. In addition, every street had to be cleaned, and every house. When the furniture was taken out, the iron, the plates, spoons, bowls . . . everything was removed. Then the Ghetto was surrounded by a fence and Germans and Christians came into these houses, Christian workers, Poles and they tore down . . . who took out the wood, the doorknobs, all the floors that were there, and then they razed the house itself. And this went on and on.
  • David Boder: And where did you live? In barracks?
  • Itzhak Brin: We had [unintelligible] a camp of sorts, a house that was . . . In those times there was [unintelligible].
  • David Boder: Where did you sleep there?
  • Itzhak Brin: We also slept there in the camp.
  • David Boder: In beds?
  • Itzhak Brin: We had very good beds, because there was no lack of bedding in the Ghetto. When we went into whatever house it was, we took blankets, pillows and we had enough. The food was also very good in the camp, because large warehouses remained full of food for the whole Ghetto—seventy thousand Jews, so there was food remaining, certainly enough to feed eight hundred people, especially if the Germans wanted us to work fast. They told us to eat as much as we wanted, because they wanted the work to go as fast as possible.
  • David Boder: Tell. . .
  • Itzhak Brin: Every morning there was a roll call and everyone was given his work assignment. There came . . . it was Thursday, the 17th of January [he uses the Polish term "styczen" here].
  • David Boder: The seventeenth of what?
  • Itzhak Brin: Seventeenth, the seventeenth of January, January.
  • David Boder: Yes, yes. Forty-five.
  • Itzhak Brin: Forty-five, yes. They came and they called a Jew out of our camp.
  • David Boder: [unintelligible]
  • Itzhak Brin: No. He called a certain brother and they told him . . . . He was called on the 17th of January [again, he uses the Polish term]. [unintelligible] that was when the roll call was. He was called out on the 16th in the evening to go to the Gestapo and he was told that the next morning, every single one in the camp, because every day there was a roll call. There were fifty men who took care of fifty pairs of horses; these were the horses that worked to take the goods out of the Ghetto. These men, these people did not sleep with us in the camp. They slept in the barns with the horses. There were special telephone operators, who worked day and night [unintelligible] with the accounts. They also did not sleep . . .
  • David Boder: Jewish ones?
  • Itzhak Brin: But on that day, early on Thursday, the morning of the 17th, there came an order that everyone has to be there—children and adults—everyone should be present at the roll call. We knew [unintelligible] what we had secretly heard, that the Germans were already in Chenstokhov . . . [correcting himself] that the Russians were in Chenstokhov. We knew that we were going to our deaths, that we would all be shot, and we knew that the graves were still open at the cemetery. The leader of the camp arrived very upset, because he also sensed what was about to happen, and the leader of the camp had also bribed a person in the Gestapo. He gave him a gold watch with diamonds. He got him drunk and he said, "Ja, tomorrow all of you will die."
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Itzhak Brin: The leader of the camp came on the night of the 16th of January, came into the camp. "Children," he said, "Jews, save yourselves, each one of you, if you can." I [unintelligible] there was a place for eight people, and we went there and they took us in. In addition, we took along people whom we knew—we were twenty in all—and because we knew that we would not be there long, because we knew that the Russians were already in Chenstokhov, we went into the bunker and they hid us there.
  • David Boder: What did the bunker look like? Tell me. How was the bunker made?
  • Itzhak Brin: The bunker was . . . since I worked at [unintelligible]. At work I . . . .I learned [unintelligible]. In the back there was a first-class room. The room was four meters by two, four meters by three.
  • David Boder: Was this on the first floor or in the cellar?
  • Itzhak Brin: No floor . . . [we had to] go deep, deep there.
  • David Boder: In the cellar.
  • Itzhak Brin: To go down into the cellar in the middle of the garden. The top was covered with thorns, grass [unintelligible] branches. A ditch has been dug and water had been piped in and also [unintelligible] there was rainwater from the eaves. It was constructed so that it went underground [unintelligible] that the rainwater for drinking should go into the barrels. On top lay a piece of material, cloth, and this cleaned . . .
  • David Boder: Filtered.
  • Itzhak Brin: Filtered. And there was water there, there were three or four kilos of water, when it rained.
  • David Boder: In the garden. [unintelligible]
  • Itzhak Brin: It was covered with [unintelligible] on top. It was very, very well arranged.
  • David Boder: Who could cover it when the [unintelligible] went in?
  • Itzhak Brin: One could close it from the inside with a handle . . . to close it. It wasn't bad when we were down there. When we went up, twenty-one men came out. Some people telling about it later. . . they went down there on the night of the 16th and they sat there in the bunker the whole day of the 17th. In the morning on the 18th of January, we heard people walking on the earth. An echo could be heard. People were coming. People were coming. And there we knew, there we knew that no human had set foot. So we understood that the end had come, and someone was sent out. One person took the risk and went out. He saw that the Poles had already entered, and the wires of the Ghetto were already torn. And the Poles were running in and looking for things in the Jewish houses. They were stealing Jewish things, and they saw us. We were wearing the . . .
  • David Boder: The patches.
  • Itzhak Brin: The patches. "Oh, a Jew!" And they fell on us, and began kissing us.
  • David Boder: The Poles?
  • Itzhak Brin: The Poles. They kissed us and they said, "The Russians are here!" The one who had gone out to look, came back down shouting with joy, "Children, we are saved. The Russians are here," he said. We went, we went out into the street, and we went back to the camp. We found out that on that very Thursday morning, that means the morning of the 17th of January,Brin is slightly confused as to the date—January 17th was in fact a Wednesday. He likely means Thursday the 18th, as the Russians liberated Łódź on January 19th, 1945.4 at least 200 men, those who had guarded the Ghetto, with weapons in their hands, had encircled the whole camp, and the camp courtyard, and they shouted, "Jews down." There were only a few elderly people remaining and a few sick people that came down. The police took some of them prisoner and led them to the police station, where criminals were held, and the rest of the Gestapo continued to search the whole Ghetto,for people, because there was no one left. Some . . .
  • David Boder: Were hidden.
  • Itzhak Brin: There remained . . . they gathered sixty people. And in the middle of their searching . . . it was Thursday, the 17th of January at two o'clock, they received an order . . .
  • David Boder: To leave.
  • Itzhak Brin: That they had to leave. The people who had been locked up as criminals in the police station, also remained alive, and the morning of the next day, the Poles opened the doors and, thank G-d. . . not one person . . . everyone remained and they were all saved.
  • David Boder: Yes. Well . . . and the Poles never exhibited any anti-Semitism toward you?
  • Itzhak Brin: They never showed us any anti-Semitism. They were, they were just afraid of us. After all, we saw them stealing Jewish possessions. But who had in mind what was in the houses. The whole time that we were working in the Ghetto, we stepped on the most precious things. When we saw . . . we did do this . . . when we saw valuable things, if we saw an expensive fur coat, and expensive [unintelligible] coat [unintelligible] so that the Germans would not enjoy it. If someone was caught, he was severely beaten for it. For the most part, what ever we sent out, we made a mess of it beforehand, so that the Germans would not have use of it.
  • David Boder: Aha. Well, tell me this—How did you get to France?
  • Itzhak Brin: To France? I traveled to Poland and I went to Lodz. I married my second wife: a woman from my town. She comes from Sieradz.
  • David Boder: From where?
  • Itzhak Brin: From Sieradz. Near Lodz.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Itzhak Brin: And we stayed in Lodz. I had run a business of selling flour in the city of Sieradz. I knew Christians . . .
  • David Boder: Flour?
  • Itzhak Brin: . . . and so I brought flour to Lodz, flour to Lodz. The state of anti-Semitism had gotten much worse in Poland, to the extent that every week I had to go two, three times into town with money and straighten things out with [unintelligible] concerning the business.
  • David Boder: To straighten things out with whom?
  • Itzhak Brin: Straighten things out with my [unintelligible]. It was already very complicated due to the fact that cars were being stopped on the road. They were looking for Jews. It was very complicated, so I had to liquidate it, and I got a passport and came to France. My wife, got a certificate through my brother, who lives in Israel. She got a certificate, and we left it that I was [unintelligible] to travel with the second settlement to Israel, but in the meantime the situation for Jews had changed a lot, so I remained here on the kibbutz, and I hope, with G-d's help, that I will be reunited with my wife.
  • David Boder: Well, Mr. Brin, you have told me very important things. I already have five stories about the Lodz Ghetto, but no one told me what you have told me. Especially the whole matter of the story about the material. I knew about cleaning out the Ghetto,when it was being liquidated, that the corpses were being taken out, but that until the last minute, the Germans were taking everything. . .
  • Itzhak Brin: Everything.
  • David Boder: [In German] Danke sehr . . .
  • David Boder: [In English] . . . This concludes the interview . . . huh?
  • Itzhak Brin: [In Yiddish] I will tell you one more episode about my town, Sieradz.
  • David Boder: Yes. The microphone is yours.
  • Itzhak Brin: I will tell you about an event at which I was present. It was at the beginning of the war, when the Germans entered the town of Sieradz, which is eighty kilometers from Lodz . . . what we suffered there. Before the beginning of the war, when the Germans were already in our town, I was walking in the street in Sieradz and a car [sic] stopped in the middle of the marketplace. The police were making . . . what do you call it?
  • David Boder: A raid.
  • Itzhak Brin: A raid. And they caught [unintelligible] and they caught twenty young people and put them into the car. I was actually among them.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Itzhak Brin: They grabbed us into the car and drove away with us. We didn't know where they were going. In town there was an immediate commotion. No one knew what was happening. They drove on.
  • David Boder: He tells this episode [unintelligible].
  • Itzhak Brin: We were caught and we were taken not far away, one kilometer outside the town. This was the Jewish cemetery in Sieradz. They let us out and we were told that we were to dig a pit here and here. We dug the pit very quickly. They stood there and rushed us through the work. As we were digging, we cried with tears. We did not know for whom we were digging, and we were certain that all of us were going to be shot, that the pit was for us. Once the pit was done, all of us were loaded back into the car and taken back to town. We were all taken, and we were all told to get away from the pit. We were all told to stand by the brick wall with our hands in the air and our faces to the wall. This was the wall of the cemetery, the fence. As we stood there, we trembled; we made our last confessions. We thought for sure we were all going to be shot. We stood that way for a while. Behind us, we saw a car approaching. A hundred meters from the Jewish cemetery, there was a mill.
  • David Boder: A what?
  • Itzhak Brin: A mill, a [unintelligible] mill. They pushed people out of the car. The car remained standing and returned to the town. And the Germans who were guarding the people began to beat them with clubs. With their hands in the air they began to shout, "Run, run, run. Fast, fast, fast."
  • David Boder: How many people were there?
  • Itzhak Brin: There were twenty-three people. They were the elite of the town Sieradz: judges, lawyers, prosecutors, [unintelligible], Christians. There was one Jewish doctor, a certain Elias Sperok, and eye doctor, a big professor. In addition, there was a dental technician, Rozenkrants, Srulik Rozenkrants. And these people were rushed to . . . .they were . . . they were prisoners.
  • David Boder: Prisoners.
  • Itzhak Brin: Prisoners in jail. Captives.
  • David Boder: Yes, yes.
  • Itzhak Brin: These people were led . . . They were told to run, run, until they reached the house that was the entrance to the Jewish Cemetery, the Jewish Cemetery.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Itzhak Brin: We saw them, we saw them running and we felt a little better. We thought, certainly, certainly they were going to shoot these people.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Itzhak Brin: We were still standing with our hands in the air by the brick fence. We saw these people coming out. Huff, huff, breathing hard from their running to make them tired, and all these people were taken around, taking care to avoid the pit. They were taken from another corner of the cemetery and told to stand there. Then seven men were selected from us, from our twenty-three and they were placed near the pit. They were told to . . .
  • David Boder: Were you among these seven men?
  • Itzhak Brin: No. I was not one of these seven men. The rest of us remained standing by the fence with our hands in the air. And these seven men went over. They were told to make a mound of earth right near the pit, a mound of earth right near the pit. These were also my colleagues. Of course, they told me how things went. We had to stand facing away with our hands high—turned to the fence. They took . . . they brought every single person there and told them to kneel and to place his head on the mound, and one man stood with a hand gun and shot. As soon as they heard the bullet, our men had to run over, these seven men, and grab him and put him in the pit. This happened one right after the other, one right after the other. One guy, Yankl Rozen, he is also not living anymore, he died in Auschwitz, told me that when it was the turn of this Jew, Isrulik Rozenkrants, the technician . . . he received the bullet and when he was being taken from the mound to the pit, he said, "Yankl, what are you doing? I am still alive!" He knew Yankl Rozen. "What are you doing? I am still alive!" That's how things went: one on top of the other, continuously. They shot one right after the other, and they were buried in their clothes, in what they were wearing. The hysterical screaming of these people cannot be described.
  • David Boder: [unintelligible]
  • Itzhak Brin: Those who were being shot, as they were walking to the pit.
  • David Boder: They were screaming?
  • Itzhak Brin: They were screaming. That's what I was told. They were all shot.
  • David Boder: All the men?
  • Itzhak Brin: All the men. [unintelligible] They were all shot, and they were all buried. Now, a year ago, there was an exhumation. They were taken out of the Jewish cemetery and they were taken to the Polish cemetery. And also. . .
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Itzhak Brin: After doing this piece of work, all twenty of these men were taken to the police station. They had to sign. . .
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Itzhak Brin: . . . that nothing would get out. Whoever would tell what happened there in the Ghetto among the Jews, what happened, should know that he would be shot. The truth is that all of these twenty men ran to other surrounding towns. They did not want to remain there, because they were afraid that they would be . . .
  • David Boder: [unintelligible]
  • Itzhak Brin: . . . prosecuted for what they did. So they scattered. One ran here. One ran there.
  • David Boder: They ran away from the Ghetto.
  • Itzhak Brin: Away from the Ghetto.
  • David Boder: Well, Mr. Brin, I thank you very much. This is a tragic story. I cannot say that it is a good story, but it is an important story, simply told, of a person who saw the most, and I think that it will be very useful. I thank you very much.
  • David Boder: [In English] This concludes the interview with Mr. Isaac Brin [unintelligible] . . . eh, Mr. Isaac Brin. At Hénonville. He apparently worked a special . . . hm, especially in a very gruesome type of work. He did not want to tell his whole story, but we got from him nearly one and a half spools. Hénonville near Paris, September the 13th, 1946. Illinois Institute of Technology wire recording.
  • David Boder: [break in wire] . . . six . . . Illinois Institute of Technology wire recording.
  1. Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski (1877-1944) was the Nazi-appointed head of the Jewish authorities in the Łódź Ghetto. Rumkowski was heavily criticized for his relationship with the Nazis and his autocratic style of government. He oversaw the industrialization of the Ghetto, believing that the Nazis would spare the inhabitants of Łódź if they remained productive in manufacturing goods for German consumption. While this productivity initially held off large deportations from the Ghetto, it did not last. Rumkowski and his family, along with approximately 60,000 remaining residents of the Ghetto, were deported to Auschwitz in the summer of 1944. He was murdered at Auschwitz on August 28, 1944.
  2. Hans Biebow (1902-1947) was the head of Nazi administration of the Łódź Ghetto.
  3. Totenkopf is the German word for "skull." A design featuring a skull and cross-bones was part of the Nazi SS uniforms.
  4. Brin is slightly confused as to the date—January 17th was in fact a Wednesday. He likely means Thursday the 18th, as the Russians liberated Łódź on January 19th, 1945.
  • Contributors to this text:
  • Transcription :
  • English Translation : Khane-Faygl Turtletaub
  • Footnotes : Eben E. English