Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Henry Krystal - September 19, 1996

Polish Police

Before we come back to the armaments factory in uh, in Starachowice, let me ask you a question about um, Bodzentyn. Do you recall any specific gendarmes, Polish police, any individuals who were particularly bad killers?

I, I do, as, as images. But of, of those gendarmes especially. But uh, peculiarly I, I have blocked on their names, I don't recall their names. But one that was one of the worst killers and sadists uh, there was such a fear of him that on one occasion my friend Chaim and I were walking down the street, we came to a crossroad over the market and uh, he was coming up. Uh, and uh, Chaim got scared and started running away and he started running after him and, and hit him over the head with uh, some wooden uh, stick that he was carrying and, and beat him, got him down and then put him to jail. And uh, this was already uh, special that he didn't just take out his pistol and shoot him right there. But uh, once they got him to jail uh, Chaim's older brother was a very good friend of the head of the Judenrat uh, in Bodzentyn. They were, because he was originally from, from Sosnowiec, but he was now living for many years in Starachowice. And anyway they interfered and probably bribed him so that he agreed for Chaim to be released. But there were many instances where people were just attacked and killed and, and maimed and uh, again and again all the time. The population was terrorized increasingly.

Was it the same in Starachowice, in the labor camp?

Uh, there, there were in the first place beatings, there was a long march uh, a number of kilometers uh, from the camp to the, to the factory.

This is where you worked.

Where I worked and that was uh, the, the, the, the march was an occasion for beatings, especially since we had to work, walk at night uh, and uh, they wanted us to be terrorized. And uh, the, the, the beatings in the factory were just occasional. Uh, for instance uh, one of those early nights when I was working in, in the first uh, part of uh, the, the plant uh, a, a uh, civilian came in drunk at night and he didn't like the way that I was transporting those shells. And he started beating me and the, the more I was beaten the, the worse he liked what I was doing and he kept it up uh, and, and uh, uh. He was finally distracted by one of the women that was also working there. Otherwise he might have killed me right then.

Did she do this deliberately do you think?


So she saved your life.


Another prisoner.


© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn