Burnt into my memory

The policy of extermination was directed, with full brutality, against the Jewish population.

There were approximately 25,000 Jews in the Stopnica powiat druring the occupation. Like in other areas, it all started with separating the Jewish population through identification through identification marks.

Each Jew over the age of 10 was required to wear on their arm a five-armed star. This was followed in quick succession with public orders forcing Jews to carry out various types of labor, initially in the vicinity of their residences. Germans took every opportunity to demean and humiliate these people, including physical torture. The instances of outright thievery became more frequent. German dignitaries of various types within the country's government, Gestapo officials, and policemen supplied themselves with the best merchandise in Jewish shops without paying.

Jews were systematically forced to pay ransoms. A Jew Taubenblatt was in charge of bringing Jewish contributions and ransoms to the country authorities in Busko-Zdrof.

One of the ways to harm the Jewish population was by depriving it of food rations and putting restrictions on food purchases. For the poor, these actions were equivalent to a sentence of death by starvation. Shooting unarmed people for insignificant transgressions was a common form of persecution.

In 1941, I became friendly with Henryk Nozyc, a young Jewish intellectual in Stopnica.

Having access to the underground press "Rocha", I shared each issue with him. I hoped to spark in this way his interest in the existence of activities of the underground organization. Regretfully, our contacts never went beyond this sharing of the publications, and over time, they dies out.

The final act of the Jewish tragedy arrived. In October of 1942, germans started the transports of Stopnica county Jews to the exterminations camps. Once sunny Sunday afternoon in October, a gang of drunk German soldiers herded into Stopnica a large group of Jews from Staszsow, on the border of the Sandomierz powiat. From here, these extraordinarily exhausted and run down people were taken further on the the train in Szczucin.

The 23 kilometer road between Staszow and Stopnica was a ghastly sight, strewn with the corpses of men, women and children. During one momentary rest break in Stopnica, a Jewish woman went into labor, howling in pain. She was mercilessly shot.

The extermination of Stopnica's Jewish population commenced on October 5. My Jewish neighbors spent the preceding night away from their homes. However, they returned the following evening. My neighbors, like other Stopnica Jews, were victims of a deadly hoax. On that day, the community representative supplied Germans with a large bribe, receiving in return, the assurance that the liquidation orders would be suspended for the time being. So pacified, the population returned to their homes at night, only to be rounded up the next morning on the town's main square. Streets and alleys of the town were covered wtih the bodies of innocent people. The German executioners showed no mercy. An occasional child ran into the street from one of the abandoned houses-left there purposely or forgotten-dressed in a meager shirt and crying out for the mother. Such children were shot on the spot.

Hipolit Zieknica and I witnessed an episode when two German soldiers led in a path toward the cenetery of young Jewish woman with a small child, both discovered in bale of hay. At some moment, the soldier stopped, letting her go ahead, and shot her dead, with a helpless child standing by. The soldier then walked up to the child, lifted it and placed it on top of the dead mother, then shot it. When the murder was compoleted, the soldier walked away calmly with a self-satisfied expression on his face.

One Jewish woman left her little daughter at a Catholic cemetery. The crying child was discoved by a casual visitor and taken to the nearby hospital. The nuns working at the hospital took the girl under their wings, and shorly, she was taken in by a childess married couple in Busko-Zdrof. A few Jews managed to hide with peasant families in the nearby villages. A few people, such as the sisters Cukier and Miss Redlich from Stopnica, survived by working as forced laborers at Starachowice Works. They survived the German occupation by Joining the partisans.

Stopnica peasants lent the Jews a helping hand by providing food and during the tragic days of extermination, by hiding them. Such acts were punishable with death on the helper or even their whole family. Despite such terrifying punishments, many Poles were willing to risk their lives to help persecuted Jews.

According to (Magister)Smaznynski, there were 26,136 Jews in residence in the Stopnica county during the occupation. Only a few dozen survived. The rest were murdered.

Author Anonymous