Presented at the Memorial Meeting of Lubliners, Tel Aviv – December 2012
Already in mid-October there were rumors that something terrible was going to happen. This was the reason that my mother decided to take me- an eight year old girl- out of the ghetto . She left me in the house of two old Polish women in Lublin. In the evening, my mother would leave Majdan Tatarski via the ghetto gate, taking off the yellow band, and come to spend the night with me . In the morning she would go back to the ghetto to work . During the day, I would watch the clock , waiting for her return.
In the beginning of November, the Germans ordered the old Polish women to leave Lublin and to move to a village, as they were considered to be non-productive. I was forced to return to the Majdan Tatarski ghetto. In the ghetto, the house of our family, which included my grandfather, grandmother, two aunts , my mother and myself, was almost at the end of the ghetto, near the barred fence. On the 8th of November, we awoke to shouting; all were being ordered to leave their houses. When we looked toward the fence, we saw that it was surrounded by Germans and their Ukrainian collaborators from the army of General Vlasow. My aunt Helenka and two boys – cousins who had arrived from a small town several days before – hid in the cellar of our house . My grandfather , grandmother and aunt Elka went out. My mother and I went to the house of Yacov Tuchman , a Jewish policeman and a cousin of my father . Yacov’s house was in the center of the ghetto. In the cellar of Yacov’s house were his mother ,his wife , his two daughters , one younger and the second, Mania, older than I; my mother and I joined them. After some time, we heard shooting. Several hours later, Yacov came and told us that this is the final liquidation of the ghetto. Everyone had been removed from the ghetto, including the Jewish women from outside Poland who had been living in shacks in the ghetto and had been working for the Germans. Yacov explained that the shooting that we had heard was that of the Germans killing the sick in the hospital Among them was my uncle Izidor Bach.
In the evening, we left the house. The street lamps of the ghetto were lit as the Germans did not cut off the electricity. When we passed the building of the community center we heard the telephone ringing , but nobody dared to answer it. We moved around in this cage of the ghetto for about 4 days. One evening when we were in the street, the Germans fired. A bullet hit Yacov’s mother ,killing her. She fell near me. Another evening, we entered the house of the baker. There were many people there who had come out of the cellars. They were sitting on unmade beds and on the floor and they were very quiet . Suddenly Yacov cried : “ but I have family in America” , but America was thousands of kilometers away from the ghetto. After about four days, Yacov, who knew Russian or Ukrainian or both, bribed the Ukrainians. In the evening, a Ukrainian lifted up the wire fence, making a passage, and my mother told me to go first. Later my mother explained to me why she had told me to be the first. It was because she thought that the Ukrainians would have pity on a little girl and would not kill her. So I would be saved. However, the Ukrainians did not shoot at all and about ten people got out after me. The group dispersed and everybody tried to reach Lublin to find hiding there. My mother and I went at night in the cold until we reached the home of some Polish people that my mother knew. We stayed there for several days and then moved on to another family who arranged false Polish documents for us . Provided with these, we traveled to Warsaw to find a place to hide,
The Tuchman family , who had escaped from the ghetto with us, tried for several days to find a hiding place in Lublin. As they found none, they gave themselves up to the Germans and were immediately shot. My aunt Helenka Akierman and the two boys had been shot on the first day in the ghetto when the Germans entered our house and found them hiding in the cellar. (This was told to us by Yacov Tuchman.) My grandmother Sara Akierman and my aunt Elka Akierman were taken to the Plage Laszkiewicz camp and probably died there. My grandfather Hanoch Akierman, a professional tailor , was taken with other professionals to the Castle of Lublin where they worked for the Germans. A Polish friend of my mother Cecha Badyoczek succeeded in entering the Castle where she saw my grandfather. She told him that my mother and I had escaped from the ghetto. Recently I was informed by her son, Tomasz Badyoczek, who had read in a Polish book (*) that my grandfather died in the Castle on 27 February 1943.
This was the end of the Jewish community of Lublin.
(* )Hitlerowskie wiezienie na Zamku w Lublinie 1939-1944.Praca zbiorowa pod
redakcja Zygmunta Mankowskiego. Wydawnictwo Lubelskie .Lublin 1988 rok.