Home Shtetl Life Holocaust Landsmanshaftn History Photos Videos
Maps Trips Surnames Researchers Links Guest Book Contact

Wolf Szlapak

Anna Bikont: "Wolf Szlapak was the most well-off person in Radzilow and also a very important activist of the Zionist movement (if I remember correctly, he was the chief of Keren Kayemet for this region)"
References From Chaja Finkiesztejn's Memoirs:

Business Directory Listings
W. Szlapak [Ferier - Horse Shoer]


The peasants from Trzaski went to see the priest in Radzilow and told him the Finkielsztejn family wanted to become Catholic. "The priest told our children to attend the religion classes together with the Polish kids. After the first class they were very bitter; they had recognized Jewish clothes on their classmates. When the priest praised our children for making progress, even our old enemies started paying us visits. They would always talk about one thing: who had plundered how much and how rich the Jews had been. They told us the room of Wolf Szlapak's [By most accounts, he was the richest man in town - Ed] was so full of goods they carried out a whole chest of silverware for the priest and other useful things for his housemaid. Murderers were boasting about how brave they had been, how the Jews had screamed, how they had tortured girls, they would imitate the victims' grimaces" -- this is Chaja's account of the stories she had to listen to in the village.

"Only quietly or when drunk. Father Dolegowski came caroling once, he was so fat it was hard to get him out of the sleigh. I asked, 'Don't you mind, Father, when a murderer comes to church, wearing a Jew's stolen fur?" Everybody knew who was wearing Szlapak's fur. He didn't answer. Marianna (that was the Christian name she adopted) was anxiously pulling on my sleeve."

At that time a communist organization also functioned in our town, the "Peretz Library." We did not want the youth to go the communist way. My husband was the chairman of "Hechalutz" and the representative to the Polish regime all the years until the war. He was the responsible person. Almost all the youth were in "Perachim" and in "Hechalutz." Of those who were older, some were already with the communists in the "Peretz Library."

Question: Can you name some who were the workers at that time?

-- I can. In the last years they were: Moshe Bursztyn, Wolf Szlapak, Rozhevitch (I forgot his name), Slowik, Zdiedzke, and others. We would have meetings. At the time of the Congress, we would sell Shekalim, raise money for the Israel-funds. We carried out the Zionist work, but not to any great degree, since the youth had scattered. Before the Poles, the youth had no existence, no opportunities and obviously they did not want to go to the army. In the year 1920, the youth fled to the South American lands, to America, and the chalutzim went to Israel. Thanks to our work, there are here [in Israel] many tens of families from our town of Radzilow.

The leadership of the city went over to the Poles. One of the Christians, I don't remember who, came into our house and told us who were the leaders.

From that day, daily, every night, they took the heads of families out of Jewish homes, beat them so long until they were unconscious, then they would pour cold water on them and beat them further. Szlapak was also among them. They would throw them back into their homes all beaten up. When the wives and children would start screaming, they would say to them: "Shut up! If you talk too much, we'll destroy everything!"

That's how it was every night. We didn't lie down to sleep, we didn't rest. Each time we heard screams from another part of the city. This lasted about two weeks.

In 1939, the Soviets arrested my husband and all the others whom I have mentioned above. After a short while, they freed all of them, except Szlapak whom they held and tortured for three months, since the communists strongly accused him. Why? Shlichim [emissaries] used to come to us from Eretz Yisroel and they would speak to large numbers of Jews. They spoke in Shul and the communists would disrupt. Szlapak would bring the police. But we never said they were communists, only that they were disturbing the peace. They would be removed. Later, they took revenge on him, and accused him strongly. He was detained three months. They chopped his lungs [beat him]. Later he suffered from hemorrhages, but he didn't die from that. The Poles murdered him.

Return to Shtetl Life