Members of the Jewish police were not the only ones who served the Germans; some Jews acted



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In Szydłów,
In September 1941, deportees from Płock and Łódź complained to the JSS [Jewish Social Self-Help] headquarters in Kraków, accusing the president of the Society for the Protection of Health (TOZ), L. Koralnik (who also held the position of president of the Judenrat), of denying them social help to which they were entitled. … According to the deportees, Koralnik was selling most of the food to other towns and pocketing the money, claiming to have saved it in case of illnesses.519
Similarly, in Suchedniów, the Judenrat withheld financial assistance sent by other welfare institutions specifically for the Płock deportees.520 In Rawa Mazowiecka,
Survivors maintained that the Judenrat behaved very badly towards their own [Jews] and even worse towards the refugees [from other towns]. One of its members, Abram Bekermos, was a Gestapo informant who denounced Jews who were trading illegally in foreign currency. …

In the spring of 1940, the community was ordered to pay a contribution of 75,000 złoty; the Germans made the Judenrat responsible for the sum’s collection. When better-off Jews refused to pay, the Judenrat identified them to the Germans. Following a few arrests, wealthier Jews soon contributed their share. …

Abram Zand testified that after he moved to Rawa Mazowiecka in November 1941—then already a ghetto—“the Judenrat was sending transports of paupers to Warsaw [the Warsaw ghetto].”521

The impoverished Jews from surrounding towns were the most likely to die of starvation in the overcrowded conditions that existed in the Warsaw ghetto. Of the approximately 60,000 Jews who died in the Warsaw ghetto in 1940 and 1941, the vast majority were not natives of Warsaw but had been resettled there from other towns or had sought refuge in Warsaw.522 On arrival in the Warsaw ghetto, the Jews from the town of Jeziorna were quarantined at 109 Leszno Street, where they were held for dozens of hours under unpleasant conditions. In the quarantine centre bribery, corruption, and theft were rife. The deportees had to pay to collect the parcels they were entitled to and could only be released from the quarantine center early in exchange for a bribe. One account accuses the quarantine manager, Helber, of being a collaborator of the Gestapo.523 Horrendous conditions of poverty and hunger faced the Jews of Kalwaria Góra in the Warsaw ghetto. Whatever they brought with them was stolen. Hundreds died in the first months and many more daily after that. Most of the remainder were deported to their deaths at the Treblinka extermination camo in the summer of 1942.524 Most of the arrivals from Jeżów were put into impoverished hostels designated for refugees.They experienced difficulties with hygiene and medical care. A large number of the refugee from Jeżów died of starvation and contagious diseases in the Warsaw ghetto. Most of those who survived until the summer of 1942 were among those deported to Treblonka at that time.525



The Jewish police carried out an array of important tasks during the ghettoization of the Jews and in the liquidation of the ghettos. They dutifully carried out German orders to seize property. Manis Szajnbrun, the deputy police commander, used brutality to requisition gold, silver, bicycles, and other items demanded by the German authorities.526 A group of strong men (shtarken) in Zamość confiscated property that the Germans demanded, including by early 1940 some 235,000 złoty.527 The Jewish police often apprehended those who tried to avoid detection or escape from the ghettos. In February 1941, the Jewish police from Głowno searched nearby villages to find any Jews still outside the ghetto after the exit passes were withdrawn.528 Herman Herling’s wife was one of many Jews caught by Jewish policemen in Warsaw as she climbed the wall of the ghetto attempting to leave.529 From 1940, the Judenrat in Zelów near Łódź was ordered to assist in the transport of hundreds of men to work in the Poznań area. Jews able to work were kidnapped on the streets and from their homes and sent away. The kidnappers were German policemen assisted by the Jewish police.530 Jewish policemen often extorted money. A testimony from Głowno near Łowicz preserved in the Ringelblum Archive noted: “Extortion was a common and established practice.”531 The Jewish police in Węgrów arrested several families to extort money from them.532 In Łowicz, Jewish policemen demanded payment of an entrance fee from refugees from other ghettos before being allowed through the ghetto gates.533 Sometimes this was done in order to allow Jews to escape punishment, as was the case in Strzyżów near Rzeszów.534 When rounding up Jews for forced labour in Otwock, Jewish policemen employed force and even killed some who resisted.535 The Jewish police in Tomaszów Mazowiecki earned a very bad reputation among most of the ghetto dwellers. During the deportations in that town, the Jewish police assisted the Germans in rounding up the Jews,536 as they did in many other places such as Wodzisław near Jędrzejów,537 Hrubieszów,538 Łęczna,539 Łuck,540 Tarnogród,541 and Jedlicze.542 The Jewish police in Nowy Sącz also earned a bad reputation for working closely with the German police. The Jewish police participated in many of the round-ups of Jews in the ghetto, including “black marketers” identified by the Jews themselves.543 In June 1942, the Jewish police rounded up Jews in Biała Podlaska and handed them over to the Sonderdienst, ethnic German police, at the railway station.544 In May 1942, Ukrainian auxiliaries, assisted by the Jewish police, rounded up between 430 and 580 men in Bełżyce and marched them to the Majdanek concentration camp. During a subsequent Aktion in Bełżyce, the Jewish police identified several hundred young men and women who had been ordered to report to the town square for immediate deportation to Majdanek.545 Jewish policemen would expel and mistreat Jews who tried to sneak into the ghetto for temporary protection.546 Similarly, in Bochnia, the Jewish police helped the Gestapo, SS and Ukrainian auxiliaries in rounding up Jews in the ghetto and conducting selections and searching for Jews in hiding, and even turned over their own family members for deportation.547 The Jewish police also lured Jews to come out of hiding by giving them false assurances of safety, as was the case in Drzewica near Tomaszów Mazowiecki.548 Jews who escaped from ghettos were usually apprehended by the Germans, since most of them were readily identifiable as fugitives by their physical features or dishevelled appearance.549 The Germans sometimes employed the Jewish police during their manhunts, known as Judenjagd, to capture Jewish fugitives hunting in the countryside. At the beginning of 1942, the German command ordered the complete “cleansing” of the county of Miechów. Assisted by the Jewish police, SS forces and the German gendarmerie, captured about 600 surviving Jews from throughout the county and murdered them in Chodówka forest.550 When the ghetto in Ołyka, Volhynia, was liquidated in July 1942, the Jews were executed in mass graves outside the town: “Ukrainian police drove the Jews in groups of 50 to the ditch; the Jewish Police forced them to undress and to lie in the ditches facedown, after which drunken German and Ukrainian policemen shot them in the back of the head.”551 It is little wonder, then, that in the eyes of the Jewish public, the Jewish police “became the embodiment of evil and public corruption.”552

Jakob Friedmann, a native of Włodawa, recalls:


Once I was caught by a Jewish policeman whose name was Matthias. He was an exceptional brute. When there was an Aktion against the Jews sending them for extermination to Sobibor [Sobibór death camp], he went up to the house where his family lived and called to his parents: ‘Dad, mum, please come down, it’s time for you to go.’ He called to them, and they came down. He knew they were going to Sobibor to be cremated. That’s the kind of man he was.

One night he caught me as I was getting ready to cross the barbed-wire fence back into the work camp … He bashed me nearly to death, saying: ‘Next time you will be dead.’553


The Jewish council and police in Włodawa were already involved in rounding up Jews at the behest of the Germans as early as July 1940, when the SS arrived from Lublin and ordered them to hand over 250 Jews to work on the construction of the Bełżec death camp. For the August 1942 deportation to the Sobibór death camp, the Jewish council in Włodawa drew up lists of the disabled, elderly and orphans, whom the Jewish police then proceeded to round up. During a subsequent deportation in October 1942, the Jewish police once again assisted the Germans, this time rounding up children. The Jewish police continued the dirty work the following April 1943, when they assisted the German SS, Ukrainian police and Latvian police in rounding up the remaining Jews.554 None of this is mentioned in the entry for Włodawa in Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933–1945.555

Unusually, in Białystok, the Judenrat acting chairman Ephraim Barash took drastic steps to address the problem of police corruption:


Barash curbed the excesses of the Jewish Police. On June 16-17, 1942, the Judenrat ordered 20 corrupt policemen sent to labor camps. When a search, on June 21, of the apartment of policeman Grisha Zelikowicz, a notorious extortionist, revealed large sums of foreign currency, diamonds, furs, and other valuables, the Judenrat ordered him turned over to the Gestapo. Barash appointed the popular Moshe Berman, a pre-war deputy chief of [the Polish] police in Białystok, the fill the position of police commander. Berman restored the force’s public image, in part by recruiting policemen with a social conscience. The changes ultimately created a force that refused to help the Germans extricate Jews from hiding places during the expulsions. … When the Jewish Police refused to cooperate, the Germans savagely beat them and turned to informers to find hidden Jews.556
The German authorities were also assisted by agents brought into or recruited inside the ghettos and freelance informers. Conditions in Chełm were typical of many towns:
A certain person unexpectedly appeared in Chelm [Chełm] passing as an administrator of Jewish possessions. At the beginning it was not known if he was a Jew. Later it was learned that the “administrator” was a Jew. He was called “the Jewish overseer”—Reb Pinkhasl. He had a dislikable appearance, was of short stature and with a shaved head—a true German. He always held a whip in his hand like ever Gestapo-man. To the Jews he said he was defending thie interests; he was their “overseer,” but, in fact, he worked with the Gestapo.

Once, the “Jewish overseer” entered the ghetto and told those Jews there that he was authorized—by the German regime—to create a Jewish self defense group—Jewish police, so that the Jews could defend themselves. A Jewish police [force] of 150 people was created, over which there was a commandant. The jail was on Pocztow [Pocztowa] Street and there were arrests for every trifle. If a Jew escaped from the jail he was then shot by the Gestapo. The “Jewish Guardian,” Pinkhasl, caused the Jews in the ghetto a great deal of trouble.



Erev Shavous [eve of the holiday commemorating the Jews receiving the Torah at Mt. Sinai], 1942, this Reb Pinkhasl came to the Chelemer Judenrat with a demand for the surrender of 3,000 Jews who were not capable of useful work. The representatives of the Judenrat were then, among others, Meir Frenkel (son-in-law of Dovid Liberman), and Anshel Biderman. They called an urgent meeting of all the members of the Judenrat and of the Chelmer businessmen. The meeting took place in the butchers' synagogue and lasted an entire night. It was a bitter and dark night. They did not know what to do. There was great despair. They wrangled for a long time, but in the end they decided to surrender the demanded Jews to the Gestapo.557
Leon Cymlel, who had escaped from a death march and returned to his native Chełm with the help of Poles, found himself pursued by Jewish policemen when he did not report for work. He was chased by one Bocheński in the streets of the city, but fortunately escaped.558 Kalmen Wewryk of Chełm recalled:
The Jewish police went to each house after the Aktion and made new lists of the remaining population—those who had survived. The Germans then ordered the survivors to live closer together, in a more narrowly restricted area. Two families, with 4 children, were sent to live in my home. … My new neighbors resented my presence—they would have preferred to have the house all to themselves.

… I was completely dejected, totally depressed. In my house there were strangers now who dressed in my wife’s clothes; their children wore my little one’s clothes. … When I saw them in those clothes I just couldn’t control my tears. They slept in my bed and I no longer had a bed to sleep in. I kept a bit of merchandise in a chest, so I slept on the lid of that chest. I had lost my bed because I was outnumbered by them; they simply took over the bed and that was that. …

A big camp, using the military barracks of Chelm as a nucleus, was built. All the Jews from Chelm and the surrounding shtetlach were “invited” to report there. … Then a new order was issued: all Jews had to report to the barracks. …

I didn’t report to that camp. Some of my neighbors in my flat also didn’t report. Because of them I could no longer use my false-beam hiding place. Anyhow, they wanted to get rid of me. With me gone, there would be one less body in the crowded room. And they could ‘help themselves’ to my meager possessions. One woman in the flat lost her husband so she wanted all Jewish husbands everywhere to die. Another had lost 2 brothers who were my age, so she looked at me and her eyes seemed to say: “Why are you alive and they’re not?” Somebody in my house squealed on me. One day the Gestapo burst into the flat, ran right over to me and told me to tell them where I had hidden my merchandise. … I showed them where all the merchandise was. They brought a truck and I had to load all the merchandise on it. … I had to go with the Gestapo men there and unload the merchandise. When I finished they beat me and drove me straight to the big new military barracks camp and shoved me in. I was no longer a free man.559


In Szydłowiec,
several weeks after the outbreak of the war, a young Jew suddenly appeared in Szydlowiec [Szydłowiec] driving a German army truck with military license plates. … a few months later he was back, this time in the service of the Price Control Police. He rode around in a droshky [horse-drawn carriage], stopped at certain addresses, broke open a brick wall or a padlock and removed hidden stores of goods such as leather, textiles, etc. He would write down the name of the owner in a notebook, and several weeks later the Jews whose name he had written down would be arrested and no one would be able to learn what happened to them. The resultant panic among the Jews in Szydlowiec was completely understandable, because most of them now lived on what they had managed to hide before the Germans came in. … the “raids” by this man became more and more frequent …

… Meanwhile, the number of local Jewish informers who joined the driver increased. It was clear to us that without these local informers the driver, a stranger in town, would have been unable to find the hiding-places.

The Judenrat then called the young man in and offered to give him a weekly stipend if he would stop … He agreed, and also asked for a stipend for his “assistants.” This too was granted. One day later, the droshky reappeared on the street and resumed its old business. The stranger had informed the Price Control Police about the “deal” the Judenrat had offered him. The Police immediately ordered the Judenrat to come to Radom. … The Gestapo had arrested several Jews who were found with hidden goods.
Jewish informers have also sprung forth out of the earth. Early in the summer [1940] the district police appeared and conducted mass inspections, acting on “leads” supplied by Jewish informers. One of these characters, a refugee from Kalish [Kalisz], takes part in these inspections personally. They are usually done at night, when people are asleep. The police beat the Jews unmercifully, rip up floors, dig up the ground, test the walls for hiding-places. If they find hidden goods they arrest the owner and send him to a place from where he never returns. These inspections have been going on for weeks.560

After we lined up as ordered, they pulled a Jewish boy [of about 16 years from Iłża] out of a nearby car, and I immediately recognized him as one of those who joined the partisans and never came back. … He was dragged by two SS troopers who were leading him along the rows as if it were a lineup and telling him to identify. … He therefore moved from one person to the next, until he reached the end of the line with no results. But this fact annoyed the Germans, who started threatening him that if he didn’t tell them what they wanted to know, they would kill him. Then they ordered everyone to take off their hats and the lineup was started anew. Their threats worked this time, the boy cracked and started pulling people pou of the rows—one, two, three. …

The Germans, who wanted to take revenge against all the people of Iłża [in the Szydłowiec ghetto], had him pointing out people from Iłża, whom they led to the cemetery and murdered there, in addition to those murdered in the forest. This was the tragic end of the Jewish partisans who left camp Skarżysko and reached Polanka forest.561
In Chmielnik,
Once three Germans, accompanied by a Jewish informant, burst into Kalman’s store. Just as they exploited the Judenrat, the Nazi employed Jewish collaborators and Jewish police to maintain order and to carry out unpleasant tasks. …

Bela Nozyce Strauch did not have a favourable or sympathetic impression of Chmielnik’s Jewish informant, who raided her home with the Germans. While they ransacked the house, their dogs ripped out her father’s beard.

Saul Zernie, the 17, walked to the square with his father, still a young man at age 38. The urge to escape was so overpowering, Zernie bolted. A Jewish policeman pursued and caught him, just as he entered a building. Zernie was forced back to the square. He felt like a hunted animal. “We were all surrounded by German and Jewish police,” Zernie said. “They started lining up the people, picking the healthy ones and the younger ones.”562
In Słupia Nowa near Kielce,
There were also traitors among the Jews. According to survivor Ana Flaumembaum, a local Jew denounced the entire Judenrat, including Flaumembaum’s father Joshua (Szyja) Kestenberg, her uncle, and cousin. They were sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp following their arrests. …

The Słupia Nowa ghetto was liquidated in September 1942, when German gendarmes accompanied by dogs and Jewish policemen chased its residents onto Świętokrzyska Street. The men were separated from the women and children. Anyone who resisted or was too weak to leave was shot inside his or her dwelling.563


Often members of the Jewish council and police simply acted like scoundrels and became the scourge of the ghetto, as was the case in Busk:
While it lasted, the Judenrat officials and the all-Jewish Ghetto police took care of their cronies. They used what power they had, or exploited the powerlessness of those under them, to settle old scores where being Jewish counted for nothing.

Those who became the Ghetto police were usually the local scum. One of our neighbors was especially mean, and he wielded his club without provocation. His name was Laybele. … He turned out to be the meanest of all the Ghetto police in Busk.564


In Sandomierz, a Jew confided in a Jewish policeman, telling him where his family had hidden money and gold in the nearby town of Opatów. The Jewish policeman went there with some Germans and retrieved the valuables, but refused to share any with the rightful owner who was in need.565 In Biłgoraj, Efraim Farber avoided registration with the assistance of a Polish clerk only to be sent back to register by a member of the Judenrat who acted as a strict enforcer of German decrees.566 People who clandestinely tried to organize a religious life in the Kielce ghetto were reported to the Germans by fellow Jews.567 A Jew by the name of Spiegel denounced Jews to the Gestapo in Kielce. When Spiegel himself found himself in Auschwitz two years later, a Jewish kapo (abbreviation for Kamaradschafts Polizei, literally a “police force of peers,” that is, a prisoner appointed by the Germans ro be responsible for a unit or labor detail in or near a camp) whom he had denounced in Kielce located him and, after severely beating him together with the kapo’s friends, threw him against the electrified perimeter fence where he was electrocuted.568

Conditions in Tarnów, where about 40,000 Jews were confined in the ghetto, were typical of those found in many medium-sized cities. The Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933–1945 states that, on October 16, 1941, the Germans created a Jewish police force consisting of about 300 policemen, that their numbers were increaded before the first large Aktion in June 1942, and that its last commander was a brutal German Jew named Diestler.569 However, the encyclopedia entry is silent about the activities of the Jewish police. A number of survivors have left testimonies about those activities, which included frequent betrayals of hideouts during and after the liquidation of the ghetto.


The third deportation took place in autumn of ’41—it was Sunday. I was at work at the time and this man came—a Pole—and he told us that the ghetto was surrounded. …

At 4 o’clock a Jewish policeman came and reassured us that there was nothing happening in the ghetto and we could go home. He escorted us to the ghetto—the ghetto was empty, windows smashed; I go to my flat, open the door—no one is there. I shouted, my cousin answered, he was standing by the window, and was crying. I asked him where my auntie and cousin were, he told me that the Ordnungsdienst (this is the Jewish police) came and took them. And he (the 14-year-old boy) was hidden in the cellar in the house.

From that time on, every few weeks there were round-ups in the streets and in homes, at night or during the day. The Gestapo from various labour camps would arrive and, with the help of the ghetto policemen, organise these round-ups. In November 1942, I was caught together with my cousin, the 14-year-old boy, during one of these round-ups. We were loaded onto a lorry—we travelled several hours to the Szebnie camp near Jasło. 70 men were caught and I (was) the only woman.570
In 1942 the Germans created a ghetto surrounded by barbed wire. Cesia [Honig], her parents and extended family moved to the ghetto and shared one room between them. Everyone was assigned to force labor. Cesia worked sewing saddles in a workshop outside the ghetto boundaries where many Poles also worked. Soon afterwards, all the ghetto inhabitants underwent a selection. Cesias father received a forced labor stamp, but the German in charge marked Cesia and her mothers papers with a K. Someone explained that those with a K, mostly women and children, would be shot the next day. They returned to their apartment and hid behind a false wall. However, a Jewish policeman found them and brought them out to join a procession of those being led out of the ghetto. When Cesia walked past the one factory within the ghetto boundaries, suddenly two Jewish boys whom she had recently met grabbed her and yanked her inside. They told her they would tell her father where she was. Cesia could not bear the thought that she would survive while her mother would be killed and wanted to give herself up, but her father arrived and told her that she had to remain alive for his sake. After surviving the ordeal, she and her father returned to their previous work assignments.571

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