Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Martin Water - 1982

Biebow and Rumkowski

Did you know in the ghetto a man--know of a man, German, named Hans Biebow?

Yeah, I heard of him. I didn't know him personally. Hans Biebow was in charge of the Ghettoverwaltung which means the ghetto organization, which was in, in, in Bałuty. In our uh, ghetto, was a, a, a place called uh, Bałucki Rynek, which means--a rynek means--let me see if I can translate--a market. A Bałuty market. And every day, this was a ghetto within the ghetto. Only those people who were uh, who were designated, who worked for this, for this group, were allowed to go in there. They had to show--they had arm-bands on their right arm, which designated they were employees of this ghetto market. Biebow was in charge. I heard--not in the ghetto, but later on, when I survived, I heard that people--there was a sm...small town, ???. He came in there, and soon hundreds--they probably killed hundreds of people. He, he walked around among them with a gun in his hand and he killed a lot of people. And then he came to us. That's what I heard after I was, I was survived--I, I, I was liberated, I came back to Poland. He came back, and he enticed the people to, to join the transportations. "You can take all your clothes with you. You'll go to a different camp, and work at your, at, at your trade, at your trade." There was this doctor, Dr. Weiss was his name. He knew the score. He took a brick and jumped on him. He says, "You are lead...eh, leading our people to their deaths. I know where they're going. You're not, you're not telling the truth." And he took upon himself, knowing he was gonna be killed, he jump on him with a brick. He was grabbed by a ???--by a guy--by a guard. His name was ??? yeah uh, ???. He was also a guard of Rumkowski, the president of our ghetto. He was grabbed, and they killed him, right then there on the spot. Later on, this Biebow was caught. There was a criminal eh, court in Po...in Łódź. I had a friend who lived in those days in Łódź. He lives now in Israel. He was a witness. And he was um, indicted for mass murder; he was hung by the Polish government. They soon did him, right? Is it sooner than him? Go ahead.

Let me uh, ask about the connection between Hans Biebow and um, the members of the Judenrat that you knew about. You mentioned Rumkowski. Do you know anything about Chaim Rumkowski other than that he was the president of the ghetto? Have you ever met him? Did you ever have any contact with him?

Yeah, uh, I had a personal, personal incident. Of course, I was not in his eh, favored people, because he became a big man, by chance. He held, in his hand, life and death practically upon the people of the ghetto. One day, I came from work, and I realized that I--all my food for two weeks, my rations, are gone. Somebody broke into my house and stole it. So that means that I have to live on that soup that I got at the factory. So I went to this ??? he was the commissar of my camp--of my eh, factory, and I said to him, I said, "???, what happened?"and that maybe he can help me. He said, "Well, go to the girl, and let her write out a petition. Rumkowski's supposed to be here and hand over the petition to him, and maybe he'll help you." I said, "Good." I went to the girl, and she typed out a, a petition for me. And he drove in, drove in to uh, in a white horse, beautiful, you know, in a ???, and he came into the factory. I went over to him, and I spoke to him in Polish. And I said, "Uh, Mr. President" ??? is in Polish. I said, "Mr. President, here is a petition. I have my arm-band. I live, I live alone. I work in this factory. Somebody broke into my apartment. They stole all my food, and I have to starve for two weeks." He said, "Did you go to uh, Mr. ???" I believe was the name. He was in charge of the food department in the ghetto. I said, "I couldn't come near him." So he said, "I cannot help you." Now this is a catch-22. I couldn't come near the man that was in charge of the food department, and yet, if I didn't go to him, he wouldn't listen to me. So I confronted him again. I was very persistent. When he was walking out, I jumped in front of him. I said, "But I cannot e...e...even go to him. Why don't you listen to me? After all, I have to work starved. I haven't got too much as it is." He took the petition and ripped it apart and lifted his cane; he wanted to hit me. That was the only incident I had with him. He was a very cruel man., very cruel man. But a very--his name, Chaim Rumkowski, was on the money and everything. And he was--I believe I was told that, after mine, the next transportation to Auschwitz, he was on it and they beat him to death. That's what I heard. I don't know, I wasn't there.

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