Jon and Julie in Radom –
The book written by Krzyzanowski
After our visit to the cemetery, we walked to the Resursa Obywatelska Culture and Arts Center, (Center for Contemporary Arts) where we were to listen to a lecture by a Radom scholar named Lukasz Drzyzanowski. He has written a book that explains what happened when survivors of the Radom Jewish community returned to their homes after the war. I did not know that seven Jews were killed; for Jews, it was impossible to resume life as it once was. There was much antisemitism; Poles had moved into the Jews’ homes and were not planning to give them back. Dryazyzanowski discussed what Radom was like after the war.
The persecution of Jews began immediately after the occupation of Radom by the Germans. Jews were deprived of public rights, property, and in April 1941, the ghettos were created. Once was the larger ghetto, around Walowa Street, and the smaller ghetto was called Glinice. Over 30,000 Jews from Radom and its neighboring towns were crowded into closed-off quarters; food was scarce and disease spread quickly.
On August 4, 1942, the smaller ghetto was destroyed. On the nights of August 16-18th, the larger ghetto was decimated. It was then that my father’s mother, Johevet, father, Judah, and his sister, Bluma, were sent to the extermination camp in Treblinka.
When the war ended, returning Polish Jews encountered an antisemitism that was terrible in its fury and brutality. The most shocking was the Kielce pogrom – a violent attack in July 1946 by Polish residents of Kielce against survivors who had returned, in which 42 Jews were murdered. The Kielce pogrom became a turning point for Holocaust survivors; it was for them the ultimate proof that no hope remained for rebuilding Jewish life in Poland. The pogrom sounded an internal alarm: during the months that followed it, survivors fled from Eastern Europe any way they could. If approximately 1,000 Jews per month left Poland between July 1945 and June 1946, immediately after the pogrom the numbers spiked dramatically: in July 1946, almost 20,000 fled; in August 1946 that number swelled to 30,000, and in September 1946, 12,000 Jews left Poland.
Those who had survived the Holocaust only to experience murder at the hands of their own countrymen could not bear this additional tragedy. My parents did not return to Radom. They were in a DP camp in Stuttgart, Germany and eventually left from Germany to New York: my father in January 1947, my mother during the summer of 1949.