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Survivors and Others Mentioned in this Documentary:
Where Are They Now?




































Volume 7

Charles Kotkowsky

Remnants: Memoirs of a Survivor

published by the
Concordia University Chair in Canadian Jewish Studies

Copyright Charles Kotkowsky, 2000

Key Words

Piotrkow (Polish town in Lodz province, near Warsaw), Heinz Dreschel (Oberburgermeister of the town) Judenrat, Zalman Tenenberg (Head of the Judenrat), Bund (Jewish labour-socialist organization), Hashomer Hatzair ((Young Guard) Zionist youth movement), Mordecai Anielewicz (commander of the Warsaw ghetto uprising), Joint Distribution Committee, Tuszin (a town), Czestochowianka (a labour camp), Buchenwald, Leon Blum (former prime minister of France, prisoner of Buchenwald), Flossberg (a camp 30km from Leipzig) Allied bombing, Kapos, Pilsen (town in Czechoslovakia), K’dinie (town in Czechoslovakia).


In preface author states the reasons for the writing of his story: it answers the need to commemorate the victims and helps to rebuff the false charges of the Holocaust deniers.

Describes the history of his town Piotrkow, which had a population of 50,000, including 13,000 Jews, about 26% of the population. Describes the German invasion on September 1, 1939. By September 5th, Germans shell the town. Observes the retreat of the Polish Army and the entry of the German forces. By October a German civilian authority is established. Soon thereafter the Judenrat is organized, headed by Zalman Tenenberg, a Bundist. The Judenrat carries out underground activities to aid the Jews. Describes the underground work of Hashomer Hatzair--the left-wing Zionist youth movement. Describes efforts to escape the ghetto and reach Russian sector. Russian soldiers refuse them entry and force them back to German-held territory. Returns to the ghetto. Enumerates the decrees governing Jewish life in the ghetto. Attempts to avoid being caught for slave labour brigades, but works in camp in the outlying district. He and his brother escape from camp and return to the ghetto. Together with his mother and brother, he lives for some weeks in a nearby town before returning. Gets work at the local glass factory. Polish worker gives him socialist newspaper which carries news of widespread Jewish killings. Destruction of the Piotrkow ghetto takes place on October 13, 1942. The action of transporting the ghetto inhabitants took over a week. Describes the factory conditions and the organization of a clandestine underground network which transmits messages and news from other centres. Receives funds from the central Jewish resistance organization in Warsaw. Tells of sabotaging the industrial machinery. Through underground, is informed of the projected uprising of the Polish underground army in Warsaw. The uprising fails because the Russian forces remain on their side of the Vistula leaving the Polish underground to face the German Army. The factory and work camp are evacuated before the Russian advance. He and his brother are transported to Czestochowiankia, where they work in munitions factory. After 7 weeks the prisoners are moved from the town before the Russians capture it. Transported to Buchenwald in January 1945. Describes reception at camp and the conditions. Reports on Jewish groups that take revenge on harsh Jewish kapos. Sees Leon Blum among prisoners. Moved to camp Flossberg, 30 km from Leipzig. Living and working conditions are described. Works at munitions plant and laying rail tracks. Another transport from this camp and after many days in a box-car, arrives at Pilsen in Czechoslovakia. Tells of cruel treatment at the hand of Jewish kapos who came from his native city and were familiar with him. While being transported, he and several others escape from moving train. Finds shelter in a farm and are fed and well-treated by farmer. Walk to the Czech town of K’dinie where they are fed and cared for by a local family. On May 8, 1945 the Americans enter the town and the survivors celebrate the liberation with the townsfolk.

Epilogue: concludes with brief account of why he survived--to serve as a witness to the experiences he suffered.

Appends list of names of fellow inmates and survivors--many of whom were named in the narrative--and tells what happened to them after the war.


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