Testimony of Mr. Jacobo Seidenfeld.
|Mr. Seidenfeld is residing in Argentina and speaks mainly Spanish. Due to a language barrier I could not interview him but I did correspond with him intermittently for the last few years. I also have a letter from Mr. Seidenfeld dated December 1947, which he sent to my late mother from a refugee camp in Germany after the Second World War. Since Mr. Seidenfeld is one of the key witnesses to the fate of my family during the Holocaust, I decided to retrieve all the related data from his letters and compile it into a single document.|
|December 12, 1947
(Partial, translation from Polish)
Yesterday I got a letter from Genia. She wrote that she was again in the HIAS offices and the immigration papers are O.K. I immediately wrote to Genia about my immigration application to Uruguay. I also told her that I will comply with whatever she thinks is best for me. Cousin Moishe and xxxxx spent the first few days of Passover with me and we celebrated the Sadder together. When we were living at home, celebrating Passover was something completely different as you can imagine. He (Moishe) is, thank God, feeling better but before coming here (to Germany) he was very sick. You wrote me that you spoke to Moishe Natovich who came to visit you. I know him from Grandmother's house (your dear mother). With a very heavy heart I have to tell you that he was talking very bad things about your dear mother.(he was deforming her character)
From our house I have a lot to tell you but it is impossible to describe all that on paper. Your mother had to cope with a lot of heartache in her old years. She lived through it when my parents and family, Hella and family, Esta, Aunt Genia and two daughters were taken away on August-25-1942. From this day we have never heard from them. At the beginning of 1941 I was sent to the labor camp "Klay". From this place I used to come home very often. After my parents were taken away the things that I saw in the concentration camps did not seem to me as painful as they used to.
Dear Grandmother , Simon and family were still at home. They stayed there until some more people from our family were taken away. Then they took Nathan to the labor camp "Rakowic" near Krakow. After two months he escaped and returned home. Later I was taken to "Plaszo'w" (another labor camp) near Krakow. From there I could not come home anymore. But I got letters, packages and money that were sent to me by Nathan. This arrangement persisted until the end of 1943. Later they sent me to "Czestochowa"1 . From this time I had no more contact with our home or family. Later I heard that all the people (Jews) of Bochnia were taken away from the town. The fate of all our loved ones was very grim.
|July 29, 1992
Anyway I don't want to delay anymore my answer as I see your interest in knowing more details about how our family lamentably, so tragically disappeared. I will try to do my best because you must know that I was 15 years old when I went to the work camps and later to the concentration camps, so after 18 months I lost contact with my family. Certain things I did find out after my liberation, lamentably too sad.
We met with Moishe Kant in Germany casually, looking for survivors from our family. He passed the war in Russia and I was in Poland and later in Germany. He knew details about his family at Nowysonz as I knew about mine in Bochnia (as long as I was in touch with them) but we never could contribute to each other with additional details about our own family's destiny. All that I knew about Berich Rozenfeld, (with whom) I wasn't in touch from before the war, was that he and his family were living in Bochnia in 1941 and I think he was sent on a transport together with my family (and I don't know anymore).
About uncle Nathan he was mobilized in 1939's war. He was taken prisoner by the Germans and was released after several months. After this he worked in a bakery from where he sent me bread whenever he could, even to the concentration camp of Plaszow-Cracovia smuggled into the parcels of Polish Christian workers. He sent as well bread to Hanka's sister named Hela (she was elsewhere, other concentration camp, I don't know). He worked also as police at the ghetto. Once the Germans caught bread he sent someone and he was shot.
Ester Kant was a young adolescent that lived together with her mother, Simon and Yenta's family and my own family in our Grandmother's house in Wisnicka 40. When the ghetto was formed they were assigned to Kazeczowska 48 (our Grandmother, Ester and Simon's family). My family lived somewhere else I can't remember. In this house in Kazeczowska 48, lived our great-grandfather where he ran a bakery, and later uncle Szaie and Hinda lived there. I know that they had made a hidden place in the hillock to avoid frequent German patrols looking for people. As Grandmother did not have papers to avoid deportation she was almost always hidden.
Simon and Yenta had two kids. The boy's name was Naftali Issachar like his Grandfather's. I don't remember the girl's name. During one of these searches, one of the kids cried and died by asphyxiation when his mouth was covered. I don't know if it was the boy or the girl. Simon (I don't know if he was taken alone or with his family) was shot together with other people at Bochnia's cemetery. I think that Grandmother's house at Wis'nicka 40 still exists. Moishe , may he rest in peace, was there and tried to sell the house but as he was offered a ridiculous amount of $500 US he didn't do anything. There was a box with old silver things dug (burried underground) that who knows if it is there today or not.
I hope that this data will clear up some points you were asking for.
(Partial, translation from Spanish)
I prepared for you some samples from my files that may be useful for your work about the history of our family.
I have been in two concentration camps that are marked with #4,5 and 6 and # 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 and 23. They belong to the same concentration camp where we worked on the famous V2 flying bombs.
Gardelegen is the place where we were taken to be killed one week before the war was over. The first group of about 2,000 people were taken to sleep at the livery stable that is marked #14,15,16. The next day they were taken to the woods and were shot to death. In the afternoon another 2,000 people were taken to the stable and the whole place was set on fire so that they all perished. Those who were not killed by the fire were machine gunned. I survived because I was in the hospital at that time.
About this last camp I had to go back to Germany to act as a witness for the Prosecution.
|September 8, 1996
Now I'm going to answer your question about the address of Grandmother Freida. She and Uncle Simon with his family moved before the formation of the ghetto to a bakery which had belonged to our Great-grandfather Zymerspitz. This bakery was occupied by Aunt Hinda and Uncle Szaje Lewenbraun. Since they had found out ahead of time that the ghetto was going to be built in that area, they rushed and occupied this house in advance. Uncle Simon Kant, the late brother of your lovely departed mother, and my mother were together when the Germans assembled the Jewish population of Bochnia and took them to the headquarters and later moved them to the extermination camp. They left five hundred people at the ghetto to work and to liquidate the ghetto. Among these five hundred was that uncle. My lovely mother escaped from the headquarters with two of my youngest brothers, we were nine brothers. I was the oldest son and was already working in Klay. The following day she returned because she said that whatever happens to my father and the rest of my brothers will happen to her and my two brothers also. That's why nobody survived, as my grandmother Freida told me. My grandmother Freida and others were hiding at the bakery. I don't know what was of grandmother after. Uncle Simon and Uncle Nathan that returned from the prison camp were shot in the Jewish cemetery of Bochnia.
About the camp Klay; This camp was located ten kilometers from Bochnia between Bochnia and Krakow. Before the war this place was the fifth deposit of ammunitions of Poland and was built between dense forests (Pszcra Niepolomicka in Polish). There were eight huge warehouses of almost one hundred meters long and approximately more than thirty five meters wide. Each warehouse, all along the side, had a ramp for loading and unloading from rail cars. The Germans transformed these warehouses into ammunition and mine factories where about 300 wagons of rail cars were loaded and unloaded per day. The Klay railway station was located about 2000 meters from there. The administration was near the railway station and belonged to the army (The Wehrmacht in German), we did not have the SS. We were lucky, the Chief Lieutenant Colonel Hofman was a decent person and helped us at work. There are many details that I do not want to mention by letter, but I will give you a hint. I have a friend from Bochnia that lives in Munchen (Munich), he was with me in Klay, who met him after the war and helped him monthly almost with money.
About the description of the camp at Klay; It was built inside a forest very well hidden between tall pine trees almost 25 meters tall. It had an electrical barb-wire fence and observation towers with permanent guards. The population consisted of 500 or more German soldiers and technicians experts in ammunition, 150 Jewish men and 10 Jewish women. The women were looking after the kitchen and cleaning our living quarters. Our living quarters were 600 meters from the factory inside the forest. There were 5,500 to 6,000 men and women workers that were residing nearby. They were coming in the morning and leaving for their homes in the afternoon. These workers were getting monthly payments. We had a special pass book to travel by train to go home to Bochnia until they built the ghetto. Thereafter we traveled every two weeks on Saturday afternoon until Sunday. We went to the public baths to take a bath and disinfect ourselves.