The Jewish community was founded in 1831
. The first Jews worked in the local
weaving mills. They bought all clothes, carried them to other towns and sold them on markets. Later some
Jews became owners of various textile plants.
Tomaszow Maz. was occupied by German troops on 6 September 1939
At that time 13,000 Jews lived in the town. Very soon the Germans started
tormenting and persecuting the Jews. Members of the intelligentsia were
deported to KZ Buchenwald
, others were forced to work in several camps in
In December 1940
a ghetto was established, divided into three parts. All Jews
of Tomaszow Maz. had to move into the ghetto, 3,000 Jews from neighbouring villages
too. So 16,000 people had to share 250 houses, which means that 64 Jews had to stay
in each house. Very soon a typhus epidemic broke out in January/February 1941
On 15 December 1941
the ghetto was completely sealed off, the three parts put together.
In January 1942 another typhus epidemic broke out. The ghetto population was decimated by
epidemics, starvation, deportations to forced labour camps (Blizyn, Pionki
mass shootings and death sentences.
|Jews, forced to shave their beards *
On 23 October 1942
, Polish, Ukrainian, Lithuanian and German police troops surrounded
the ghetto. All street lamps, bordering the ghetto, were suddenly lit. The troops
fired at the ghetto people, many of them were shot.
On 29 October 1942
, men, women and children proceeded to the building of the Judenrat
asking each other for the latest news. Above all, they wanted to know where they
would be deported. People sought comfort by embracing one another, whispering words
of parting, choking with emotion and ignorant of where they were going and what would
be their fate.
In the evening the Gestapo
appeared, ordering the Jewish police and the sanitary
workers to calm down the crowd: "Everything would remain and none would be deported:
but anyone spreading rumours about deportation would be severely punished". Everyone
had to stay at home.
In the evening hundreds of Jews from the neighbouring towns and villages were
already assembled, herded in a field, enclosed with barbed wire, waiting for the
train to take them somewhere... From time to time shots were fired at the people,
searching for their relatives. These shots too were a warning to anyone who even
thought about escape. From early morning of 31 October 1942
, most of the
Jews had to enter the cattle cars, going to
. Jews of nearby villages
arrived also and were added to the victims. Surplus people were sent back to the
city, crammed into empty factory halls. Local Jews wanted to give them food and
water, but were prevented from doing so by the Ukrainian SS men.
People rushed everywhere, trying to be reunited with their families. This one
with a rucksack, that one carrying a bundle, mothers with children in their arms -
and one holding several children by the hand. An order rang out: "Alle Juden Raus!"
("All Jews outside"). All Jews were expelled from their houses into the courtyards.
There Jewish police, Gestapo
and Ukrainians, armed with sub-machine guns, were
waiting for them. The Jews were forced to throw down their rucksacks and bundles.
They had to line up in rows of five, to form 20 or 25 rows, and to march towards
the former hospital in Wajcznoso Street
, leaving behind and stumbling over the
dead and wounded. Husbands were torn from their wives, children cried, searching for
their parents. The victims reached the hospital courtyard and lined up again in rows of five.
In Wajsznoso Street
an inspection took place. The Gestapo
perused the documents permitting the Jews to remain in the ghetto for work. These Jews were
sent back to a factory in Sotlerska Street
All other Jews were divided into groups of 120 and sent to the railway station,
guarded by armed Germans and Ukrainians. Before these 6,000 Jews were crammed into
the waiting cattle wagons, their shoes, rucksacks and bundles were taken from them.
On 2 November 1942
, the events were repeated with even greater cruelty and energy.
Screaming like wild beasts and with murder in their eyes, the Germans began to root
all the Jews from their houses into the winter morning cold. Old people, men, women
and children were lined up in rows. Horrible was the sight of children of 4-5 years,
separated from their parents, as they faced their murderers. Thus did Jewish children
march to the hospital courtyard on their way to annihilation. Families began to arrive
in rows of five. Among them were Reb Godel
and his family, and
his family, apart from his eldest daughter Pesska
remained behind in the townlet, as she held an authorized work permit. There was also
R' Motel Neimitz
and his family,
apart from his son Moshe
, who was a sanitary health worker.
marched in the middle of the row.
All people, in batches of 100 or 120, were pushed into the wagons. Wagons without
water and toilets for around 7,000 persons. The wagons were then bolted tight, a soldier
sitting on the roof!
Around 900 Jewish manual workers remained in Tomaszow Maz., were they had to work in
a labour camp of Organisation Todt
in the town. On 29 May 1943
, this camp was
liquidated also. 650 survivors were deported to Blizyn
labour camp, where
most of them perished. 40 Jews had to clean the labour camp until September 1943
Then they were sent to Starachowice
labour camp, fate unknown.
Around 200 Jews returned to Tomaszow Mazowiecki after the war. A Jewish community was not
Encyclopedia of the Holocaust
M. Grossman: "Deportation of the Jews of Tomaszow Mazowiecki in 1942"
Photo: USHMM *
© ARC (http://www.deathcamps.org) 2004