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Jules Izrael Zajdenweber

Lublin, Poland

Jules grew up in a Jewish family in the industrial city of Radom, which had a large Jewish population and was known for its armaments industry. The Zajdenwebers spoke Polish and Yiddish at home. Jules' father was a textile salesman and his mother was a corset maker. Jules, whose nickname was Ulek, attended public schools in Radom and was a member of a Zionist youth organization.

1933-39: Jews weren't safe in certain neighborhoods. Some classmates at my Polish state secondary school belonged to antisemitic organizations, and the seven Jewish kids in my class were in Zionist youth groups. When Germany invaded in September 1939, my friends and I feared the worst, so I fled to Soviet-occupied Poland. But by December, with no place to stay and refugees like me disappearing in the USSR, I decided to return to Radom.

1940-44: The Germans packed Radom's Jews into two ghettos in April 1941. Sixteen months later I was dragged out of bed at 4 a.m. Floodlights glared. I was ordered to help bury those Jews who'd been shot resisting deportation. We loaded bloodied corpses of men, women and babies, and carted them to the city's outskirts. Sweating from the summer heat, we were told to strip the bodies and stack them in two huge trenches. White lime powder was poured on the first layer--it accelerated decomposition and reduced the stench.

Jules was transferred to the Vaihingen-Enz concentration camp in August 1944 and then to Dachau before being liberated by U.S. troops in 1945. He emigrated to the United States in 1950.

 

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