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Welwel Rzondzinski

Kaluszyn, Poland

One of six children, Welwel was born to Jewish parents living in the predominantly Jewish town of Kaluszyn, 35 miles east of Warsaw. His parents were religious, and they spoke Yiddish at home. Welwel's father was a bookkeeper for a large landowner. After Welwel's father died, his mother ran a newspaper kiosk in Kaluszyn. Welwel married when he was in his twenties and moved with his wife Henia to Warsaw.

1933-39: When war broke out three months ago, many Jews left Warsaw in a mass exodus towards the east. They were mostly young and middle-aged men who were afraid that the Germans would deport them as forced labor. I was scared, too, but I couldn't leave Henia and our two children, Miriam and Fiszel. Now the Germans have entered the city, and they are seizing Jews off the street for labor gangs. I try to stay inside as much as possible.

1940-43: The Jewish ghetto, situated in the heart of the Jewish quarter, was sealed off a few weeks ago. Our house on Gesia Street is in the ghetto and so is my grocery store, on Nowolipki Street. Only small quantities of food can legally be brought into the ghetto, so my stocks have shrunk. Most of my customers purchase the basic items that we are allowed on our near-starvation ration of bread, potatoes, and ersatz fat. Those of us who have the means complement our diet with black market goods.

Welwel and his family did not survive the war. They are thought to have been deported to the Treblinka extermination camp in the summer of 1942 or early 1943.

 

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