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Annihilation of Jews in the Districts of Grajewo and Lomza in July 1941

Translation from Polish, pages 232-234 of the Grajewo Yizkor Book*

Jewish Historical Commission
Bialystok, 14 May 1946
L.p. 5/46

Deposition of Menachem Finkielsztejn
Resident of Radzilow, age 22

22 June 1941 was the start of the war. The two districts are adjacent. The first line of Germans overran the district without doing any damage. A week later, the Polish police allied with the Germans, entered the houses. The Germans terrorized and the Poles looted. The Poles asked the Germans what penalty there was for killing Jews. The Germans replied that killing Jews was not a crime. A week later the Germans left. The Poles would enter Jewish homes at night to terrorize and rob.

Finkielsztejn Family
Upon arrival in Israel, 1946
[Bottom row L-R]: Yisrael Finkielsztejn, wife Chaya (nee Wasersztejn) Finkielsztejn and eldest son Menachem
[Top row L-R]: Chana, Sholem, Yaffa
Entire family of six survived the Holocaust
Went to Israel, 1946


5 July, the Polish police surrounded the little village of Wasosz (district of Grajewo). The hooligans went from door to door murdering inside and outside the Jewish houses. They raped the women, cut off their breasts and threw children against the walls. Also killed were the wives of the Soviet commandant and Soviet workers. The fingers of the cadavers were cut off to secure any jewelry and teeth were removed from the mouths for the gold. Any surviving children were killed while their parents watched and then they killed the parents. The pogrom lasted 3 days, the amount of time the Germans allowed the Poles for murder and robbery. Graves were dug and the bodies were buried. In the course of this 1200 Jews perished (the town had about 800 Jews but more were brought from other places). About 15 people survived until June 1942 in Wasosz. The Germans behaved well but the Poles could kill and plunder at will.

1 June 1942, a model farm was created in Milewo, community of Szczuczyn. This was on the property of a landowner from Grajewo. All the Jews were moved there as well as the Jews from neighboring villages, all together 500 people. The people were worked extremely hard from dawn to night. Supervisors were the Poles. Even the children were worked very hard. Shelter was very meager and there was terribly severe discipline.

2 November 1942, they were deported to the village of Bogusze on the German border. There was a former camp there where Soviet and Polish prisoners were literally worked to death. They were kept in this camp until January 1943 when they were sent to their deaths in Majdanek and also Treblinka.

In Bogusze there were no houses for the Jews. They slept outside in the fields and were thrown raw potatoes. Those that caught them ate. Half of the Jews died on this spot.

Stories were told that Soviet prisoners in the barracks were starved to death. There was one Jew that possibly survived. His name, Mroczek from Kolno (now in Lomza).

7 July 1941, the Polish hooligans who were armed with rifles and pistols by the Germans burned approximately 1500 Jews in Radzilow, community of Bialystok (100 from Radzilow and 500 from Szczuczyn, Jedwabne, etc.). This pogrom lasted 3 days. 22 Jews hid and they survived, including the family of Finkielsztejn (father, mother, 4 children, and one cousin who perished later - Zina Wasersztejn). The Finkielsztejn's were hidden in the village of Konopki-Blonie, community of Hawiski, Lomza district. Other Jews stayed in Radzilow. After a month, the Jews remaining there were housed in a synagogue. They were forced into intense labor removing heavy stones from the Radzilow River [Radzilowka River] to build a bridge. This lasted 3 weeks. The Jews bought themselves out at the office of the police commander (Konstanty Kiluk). He allowed them to live in one of the Jewish houses on Koscielna Street. They were required to do heavy labor (street cleaning, etc.). This lasted until 1 June 1942. Meanwhile, they arrested Benjamin Kruk, Szapsa Moruszewski and others for being communists. They disappeared without a trace.

1 June, the people were deported to Milewo. The only survivors were the Finkielsztejn's, Mojzez [Moshe] Dorogoj and his son Akiwa (they perished 28 January 1945, one week after the liberation by the Red Army). They were killed by the Poles in the village of Itucz, community of Radzilow.

Destruction of the Village of Jedwabne 11 July 1941 (also 3 days):
Translation from Polish, page 234 of the Grajewo Yizkor Book*

Before the war there were 2800 Jews there. They were all burned in a barn. The first in the death procession was the Rabbi and the butcher. The Rabbi carried a portrait of Stalin and the rest of the Jews carried red flags. As they passed before the monument of Stalin they were told to kiss his feet and cheer in his honor. As in Radzilow, the second day, the Poles went into the burnt remnants of the barn and pulled gold teeth from the jaws of the cadavers. 3300 Jews perished (3000 were burned, the rest were found and killed in the following 2 days). There were 302 that survived. They remained in Jedwabne in 3 houses until 11 February 1942. However, 15 from among them, due to some Polish provocation (the Jews were accused of hanging anti German banners), disappeared . . .

2 November 1942, the rest, along with the inhabitants of the Lomza ghetto were taken to Zambrow and then in January to Treblinka? . . .

Those left were Zyna Cukierbraun and 3 males (the males are in Jedwabne and Zyna is in Warsaw).

Jewish Historical Commission:  M. Turek, Mgr.

*The Grayewo Memorial Book
Published by the United Grayever Relief Committee, New York, N.Y. 1950.
Pages 232-234, in Polish.

Editor's notes or definitions are entered in [brackets].
(Parentheses) in the translation appear here as they appeared in the original text.
Translated from Polish by: Janine Oberrotman. Edited by: Roy M. Warshawsky and Jose Gutstein.
Translation Copyright 2001 by Jose Gutstein.
Note: A few names and phrases have been deliberately inserted throughout the text, which are not in the original,
but which do not alter the context, to easily detect unauthorized use and publication of this material, on the internet or elsewhere.
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