Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Aaron Salzburg - July 24, 1984

Opatów Ghetto

Is this in uh, Opatów? Was this in Opatów?

In Opatów, yeah.

Opatów. And did they kill non-Jews as well as Jews?

No, they uh, uh, I don't know of any--there were killings uh, there were killings of Jews--of non-Jews, too. For example I have witnessed it myself uh, a guy by the name ??? he was apparently he was a Czech--a Slovakian SS person. His uh, function was to drive, to be a driver, or they called a chauffeur, for the S--Sicherheitdienst. And he also had a function to kill people. He killed everything what came in his way, not in particular Jews. As a matter of fact, he might have liked Jews, but he just liked to kill. Killing was fun for him. He killed everything, anywhere from cats, dogs and human beings. This was the character.

You witnessed some of the killings?

Yes, I witnessed--he was taking a Gentile prisoner from the city jail. Ordinarily they shot the people. Gentiles they would take out to the Gentile cemetery. Jews they would take out to the Jewish cemetery. The Polack tried to get away from them, and he got away from them for quite a while. And he kept on chasing him and he finally caught up with him and killed him right on the stop. As a matter of fact, going back to the beginning, as soon as the Germans came in, the first thing--speaking about Gentiles--the first thing they did, they eliminated all the Polish and the Polish intelligence from that little city. I would imagine they did it all over Poland. Most of the teachers and educators were taken away, which they never returned to the city. Life was going on pretty tough as time went on. Typhus was the main problem. People died in, in, in the hundreds. Our community--the Judenrat, which were made up of Jewish people, Jewish leaders--did everything they could. Mostly the dying people were--which came from the west, that means when cities adjacent to the German border--what they did is uh, they, they evacuated or took the people, the Jewish people out from the western cities. And they brought it in to the Protektorat which uh, it means, uh, like um, Congress Poland and this area. A lot of Gentile people who were evacuated from the, from the uh, cities adjacent to the Ger...uh, to, to Germany. And uh, life gotten pretty tough for those people, especially the newcomers. And by the middle--Germany actually, or what they started to liquidate, or the last solution what Hitler just--what Hitler talked ab...about--his common language what about the last solution started some, sometimes in Poland in the beginning--not in the like sometimes like here, March or April. To that time they must have still been in Poland something like [pause] three and half million Jews. Except, with the exceptions, mass murders in some cities were buried alive in the thousands. But there were some cities--it didn't happen in every city. But the total destruction--the extermination camps, the gas ca...chambers started off sometimes in April. Poland had...

What year are we talking about now?

What year? That was 1942. In April sometimes 1942, that's when they started to eliminate the Jews by` gas.

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