The expulsion from Wislica (by Yitzchak Kazimierski)

The expulsion from Wiślica

By Yitzchak Kazimierski

Translated by Sara Mages

“I am the man that has seen affliction by the rod of his wrath”

The Book of Lamentation 3:1

 Shemini Atzeret 5703 – 3.10.1942

Calm before the storm, the town is in constant fear, fear, destruction and danger!

Echoes of expulsions arrive and the atmosphere is gloomy. A very special feeling envelops its residents, despair and disappointment! The feeling of an upcoming destruction! As if a huge powerful typhoon is approaching and a human hand can't stop it – so we were confused and helpless when various rumors arrived. Some contradicted the deportations in: Warsaw, Kielce, Częstochowa and more, and the fate of the deportees. But the storm moved closer to us and news of the deportations, which took place in the nearby Miechów districted, arrived. We learned more accurate information about the Germans' methods and the slaughter that they perform during the deportations. But, when the first deportation started before Rosh Hashanah 5703 in Działoszyce and the refugees, who were able to escape from the field of slaughter, started to arrive to us, the matter began to take a more tangible form. We started to understand that also our turn arrived. Działoszyce's refugees hid with us without the Germans' knowledge. These people were bitter and expression of sadness covered their faces, because only yesterday they witnessed the destruction of their city. They walked about like terrible shadows, as if they felt the taste of wanderers on their flesh.

Yom Kippur – the refugees that we met in the synagogues on Yom Kippur added to the gloomy picture. These people have caused us much grief. Broken and exhausted in their hearts and their souls. These people escaped without their families, everyone escaped where he could, and the worry about their families was great. But, they didn't imagine that they would never see them again. When the cantor sang the prayer “El male rachamim” [God full of compassion] – the whole congregation cried. All the eyes shed tears, and everyone prayed in the secrecy of his heart that he will survive the upcoming trouble. Hearts tore to the sound – but the tear gates remained locked. At the end of the holiday they wished each other “G'mar Chatima Tova” [May you be inscribed in the book of life], but the feeling wasn't good.

Hoshana Rabbah [the seventh day of Sukkoth] – The autumn sun rays warmed the desperate town's residents a little. People are walking around whispering to each other. They don't know what to do. They hear, what's new? in each place and in each corner. The unrest greatly increased among the Jewish residents. Another factor to the mental unrest was the sudden visit of the district's German police commander and his group of friends to Wislica. They walked around town and returned the way they came. Later, it became clear that it was a German plan to surround the city so no one will escape on the day of command. Wislica's streets are in mourning. You can't see people outside. Everyone is locked inside as if it can help with something. The unrest is increasing.

The hearts predicted that something might happen. There is little preparation for the holiday tomorrow. On holiday eve the synagogues are empty from their worshipers and you can't see Jews outside. Horror and great darkness fell on us, there was nothing like this in all the years of German occupation. The town is sealed – no one is coming or going. Wislica's Jews went to sleep with a heavy heart and deep concern on their last night in town

Shemini Atzert [the eighth day of Sukkoth] – The news, that the town is surrounded by Germans, Poles and members of the Polish labor squadron, fell at dawn like a thunder on a clear day. “A day of trouble and of crushing down and of destruction…” [Isaiah 22:5] -

“A day of distress, rebuke and rejection!” [Isaiah 37:5]. The town rumbled like a scene of an earthquake. Nervous Jews run around, from here to there, as if they lost their mind. It is too late to escape from the town. “Lamentation and bitter weeping!” [Jeremiah 31:15]. In each home people are getting ready for their last journey and pack the meager bundles that they are allowed to take with, a few belongings and a little food. After two hours of preparation the order was given: The Jews need to appear in the main square.

The death march – what a terrible sight - Woe to the eyes that saw! Families start to arrive to the town's main square, families from all of its streets and corners. Men, women and children dressed in their best winter clothes with bundles in their hands. The expression on our Polish neighbors reveals satisfaction. Slowly slowly the town is being emptied from her Jewish residents who arrive to the gathering place in the main square (at the same time a delegate from the community of Nowy-Korczyn arrived to find if the report about the deportation is correct. The minute I met him I told him “Run quickly so you won't be killed”). Prominent in their presence among the masses of Jews were: Wislica's Rabbi, The Great Rabbi R' Chaim Shlomo Schwartz, and HaRav R' Natan David Hershkowitz the Ritual Slaughterer. They were the only ones who managed to keep their beards to the last moment despite the ban by the Germans.

We start to fall into rows under German command to facilitate the counting. The community leaders and their families stand in front and the head of the community is crying loudly. People are jealous at those who are not here, a sign that they managed to escape or hide, maybe they will have another hour to live, but still, this is heroic, because they didn't surrender to the German's order.

Wislica's Jews gather together for the last time. Their heads bowed and their faces pressed to the ground from disgrace, sufficient shame and fury. It was frightening to look at the gloomy picture. Families stood next to families with their wives and children.

“The lovely and pleasant, in their lives and in their death they were not divided”… [2 Samuel 1:23]. The uproot people from the homes where their ancestors lived for generations upon generations, here they were born, here they lived, and here they were buried. The chain lasted for centuries, and here, Alas! They are being uprooted to the ground and the toil of generations is lost.

Destruction and desolation and no savior!

After the roll call wagons started to arrive to transport them to from here to Pińczów. Endless wagons, hundreds of wagons from all the villages in the area, so, as many Poles as possible will participate in the expulsion. The Jews - the victims, climb on the wagons, families after families, and slowly slowly they start to leave the main square. The Jews look back one more time to see their town for the last time, and the Jews leave Wislica crying. At the end we were also cut down! The expulsion was over – the town is dead and buried, and Wislica was left mourning without her Jews.

Their last road was accompanied by the pleasant prayer of R' Hertzki Lindin who prayed his last “Tefilat HaGeshem” [a prayer for rain recited on Shmini Atzert].


A meeting in the Communal Kitchen yard – in the center: Eliezer Baum


Yizkor Book Project Manager, Lance Ackerfeld
Emerita Yizkor Book Project Manager, Joyce Field
Contact person for this translation Morton H. Katz
This web page created by Lance Ackerfeld

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Updated 31 Dec 2010 by LA