Memories of Henryk Nowak, born in 1925, a native of Trzemeszno, who lived at Kiliński Square number 9 during the war. Recorded in July 2021.

Agnieszka Kostuch: Do you remember the Jewish family Haase?

Henryk Nowak: They lived on Bóżnicowa Street, which is now Konopnicka Street. It was a two-family house. There is a new built there now ... it seems that Władziu Pietrzak bought a house there ... on the site of where these Jews lived. In this house, in the corridor on the left, lived Leo and Icek[1]In fact, his name was Itzig. He was called Icek by the inhabitants of the city.. Leo worked for Abraham. Abraham had an hardware store on the corner of Kiliński Square and Bóżnicowa Street. Next to it was Kramer's second store, a German one (picture 1).

Picture 1. View on Kramer’s store and Abraham’s house next to Market Square in Trzemeszno, second from right (Source: postcard from private collection of Rafał Nawrocki)

This Leo was moving goods from the warehouse to the store. In my perception, he was such a henchman, "bring, take away, sweep". And his brother Icek was so mentally incapacitated, physically neglected. He always gave the impression of an unwashed, unshaven dirty man, and at the same time he avoided people. When he showed himself on the street somewhere, and us guys accosted him, he was running away. We thought they were brothers [Leo and Itzig – A.K.]. I remember that the name "Haase" was written on the door [of their house – A.K.]. I remember this, because in the same house on the other side lived the Ciszak family. The oldest boy was my peer. We went to class together and I used to go there [to the Ciszak and Haase house – A.K.] a lot.

Leo was married[2]Anna/Johanna Haase była siostrą Leo i Itziga, zachował się jej akt urodzenia. Według aktu urodzenia Theresy Haase była ona panieńskim dzieckiem Anny. Obie trafiły do getta w Piotrkowie … Czytaj dalej. I remember that her name was Anna or Chana, we called her something like that. They had a daughter. Oh, how she was also afraid of people.

They went in the first round of liquidation of the Jews [Leo and Itzig – A.K.]...[3]Itzig and Leo Haase died in a mass execution together with the defenders of the city on 5th of October 1939 in Kocin. Immediately after these events, I heard that apparently this Icek mourned the loudest, cried, shouted that his voice could be heard all around.

AK: Were all the bodies of the murdered in Kocin transported to cemeteries?

HN: They exhumed them all, but I didn't see them.

AK: I ask this because no one knows where these brothers were buried, whether in a Jewish cemetery or a Catholic cemetery. Or maybe their bodies stayed in Kocin. Have you heard what happened to the rest of the Jews?

HN: I heard from my colleague Lech Majewski. At that time he lived in Knast’s[4]In a tenement house at St Michael’s Street.. He told me that one day he saw them leading down that street[5]It is about St Michael's Street towards the Jewish cemetery, located on the border of the city. a group of Jews. From the balcony he could see it well. They walked with shovels. After some time, after an hour or two, the Germans returned alone. But where they took them, I did not hear.

AK: Did you know Antoni Nowakowski?

HN: Very good. Fellow teacher.

AK: Mr Antoni drew up a list of victims of the war in Trzemeszno and, among others, he also included Jewish families in it[6]The documents are called Numerical List of Victims of Nazism Ob. Trzemeszno and the surrounding villages by occupation, age and places of execution, and are located in Czytaj dalej. A total of 38 people, 17 of whom are listed on another list brought to the ghetto in Piotrków Trybunalski. So 21 people are missing. 

HN: Apparently, in small groups, they were taken out and liquidated. So that there is no trace of them. No one survived, no one came back.

AK: Some of them managed to leave earlier, for example, three children from the Hirsch family left. Daughter Flora stayed with her parents. They also ended up in the ghetto in Piotrków. Among those who survived the Holocaust from this family was Alfons, who emigrated to Palestine (later Israel) together with his wife and child. While still in Trzemeszno, he married Ruth (Heb. Ruchla) from the Rachwalski family. They lived here in 1935.[7]This information comes from the living grandson of David and Johanna Hirsch – Asher Ofri Hirsch from Israel. He gave the spelling of his name as "Rachwalscy". Antoni Nowakowski wrote as "Rychwalscy".. Do you know such names?

HN: I don't remember the Hirschs. As for the second family, some said that their name was Rachwalscy, others that Rochwalscy, but I knew them. They had such a shop at the exit from Kiliński Square to St. Adalbert's Square. What they were selling, I don't know, but we were buying there “macki”. It was a big pink wafer on a stick. It cost 2 cents. If a man got from his mother or someone these 2 cents, it was not enough for a candy. We used to say "macki – Jewish pies". 

AK: And do you recognize the name Bleys? They also lived at St. Adalbert's Square, only on the other side, but they had to leave Trzemeszno much earlier, in the 20s.

HN: I heard that name few times, but I don't remember them personally. If they were living later, I would have to remember them, because I lived at Kiliński Square, under number 9. At this square, in addition to the shop of this Abraham, there was another Jewish shop – Loewenthal’s[8]Sklep został założony przez Eliasa Loewenthala, ale on zmarł w roku 1906, więc Pan Henryk nie mógł go pamiętać. Po śmierci Eliasa właścicielką kamienicy, gdzie mieścił się sklep, … Czytaj dalej. It was a clothing store. I remember once my father took me there and bought me clothes [for the First Holy Communion – A.K.]. I do not know if there was such a tradition among these Jews that the first customer after opening the store, he did not let go. "I will sell for half price." And to this day I remember that my father bought me this garment for half the price (picture 2).

Picture 2. Elias Loewenthal’s store at Market Square in Trzemeszno (Source: postcard from private collection of Rafał Nawrocki)

AK: Do you remember any other Jews?

HN: There was an Eisig Glaser[9]W rzeczywistości nazywał się Menasze Eisig. Zachował się akt urodzenia jego najmłodszej córki Chaji, z września 1939 r., gdzie został podany przez zgłaszającą narodziny akuszerkę jako … Czytaj dalej. He was an upper by profession. He sewed uppers for the shoes for the local shoemakers. He lived in this corner house of Knast at Kościelny Square [now Kosmowski Square – A.K.]. He lived in the attic (picture 3). I was there quite often, because on the same floor lived the Koczorowski family, who previously lived where we did, at number 9 at Kiliński Square. I was friends with their son Klemens and visited him more than once in this house. In this corridor these little Jewish were playing. Oh, how they ran away from me! They fled like young sparrows. They were the children of this Eisig, but how many there were - 3 or 4 - I never had time to count[10]Było ich 3: Isaac (10 l.), Mendel (8 l.), Malka (6 l. ). Ich imiona i wiek widnieją na liście przybyłych do getta w Piotrkowie 13 grudnia 1939 r. Najmłodsza Chaja – podana na liście jako … Czytaj dalej. Their fear stuck in my memory.

Picture 3. Tenement in which Eisig’s family lived (Source: postcard from private collection of Rafał Nawrocki)

I also remember such a Zucker. He worked in the Trzemeszno’s "Krochmalnia", but whether he was an accountant or ran something there, I do not know. I remember him only by sight, I did not talk to him. He lived at Kościuszki Steet. He dressed very fashionable.

AK: Do you remember what the Jewish cemetery looked like after the war? Were there still tombstones?

HN: There were still traces. At the base there was a residential house. Wiśniewski and his family lived there. He was a gravedigger. His daughter was around my age. 

AK: This building most likely served as a funeral home.

HN: I remember the Jewish funeral that came out of Abraham's house. But who died there from this family, I do not recall[11]Most likely, it is the funeral of Sigismund Abraham's wife – Else from family Pander, who died in 1936, so Mr Henryk Nowak could remember it.. I only remember how they took the coffin to such a hearse, uncovered. I did not attend this funeral, nor did I run to this Jewish cemetery out of curiosity. 

AK: Thank you for sharing your memories. You are a real treasure for Trzemeszno. 

Picture 4. Henryk Nowak (source: Michał Nowak's private archive)

Edited by Agnieszka Kostuch

Translated by Marcin Butka

Przypisy

Przypisy
1 In fact, his name was Itzig. He was called Icek by the inhabitants of the city.
2 Anna/Johanna Haase was the sister of Leo and Itzig, her birth certificate was recovered. According to the birth certificate of Theresa Haase she was Anna's maiden child. Both were sent to the ghetto in Piotrków Trybunalski in December 1939.
3 Itzig and Leo Haase died in a mass execution together with the defenders of the city on 5th of October 1939 in Kocin.
4 In a tenement house at St Michael’s Street.
5 It is about St Michael's Street towards the Jewish cemetery, located on the border of the city.
6 The documents are called Numerical List of Victims of Nazism Ob. Trzemeszno and the surrounding villages by occupation, age and places of execution, and are located in the Municipal Public Library in Mogilno.
7 This information comes from the living grandson of David and Johanna Hirsch – Asher Ofri Hirsch from Israel. He gave the spelling of his name as "Rachwalscy". Antoni Nowakowski wrote as "Rychwalscy".
8 The store was founded by Elias Loewenthal, but he died in 1906, so Mr Henryk Nowak could not remember him. After Elias' death, his daughter Flora Schlesinger became the owner of the tenement house where the store was located, and from 1934 his son-in-law - Willy Schwersenzer. Apparently, even after Loewenthal's death, the name of the store was based on his name.
9 In fact, his name was Menashe Eisig. The birth certificate of his youngest daughter Chaji, from September 1939, has been preserved, where it was given by the midwife reporting the birth as a father. In addition, Kazimierz Majewski wrote about him several times in "Kosynier" in 1938, calling him "upper", but once he used the name "Menasze".
10 There were 3 of them: Isaac (10 years old), Mendel (8 years old), Malka (6 years old) . Their names and age appear on the list of those who came to the ghetto in Piotrków on December 13, 1939. The youngest Chaja – given on the list as Helene – was born on September 8, 1939.
11 Most likely, it is the funeral of Sigismund Abraham's wife – Else from family Pander, who died in 1936, so Mr Henryk Nowak could remember it.
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