2 Execution site(s)
Eugeniusz K., born in 1932: “I was born in Piotrowice, a village located about 3 km from Zawichost. There were no Jews in our village, but about 2000 Jews lived in Zawichost. When the German occupation started, we moved to Trójca. One summer evening, when it was already dark, my father heard a noise near the fence. He went over and found 7 Jews, almost naked and barefoot. They had managed to escape during the round-up. He hid them in the barn behind a small wooden hiding place used to store straw. They made themselves a bed, he gave them a small lamp and a bucket in which they relieved themselves. I knew nothing about this at first. It was only after 2 months that I discovered that my parents were hiding these Jews. In winter, there was no straw left to hide the Jews’ hiding place, and it was very cold, so we moved the Jews to the attic of our house, where they stayed for about 2 months. In total, the Jews stayed in hiding at our place for 9 months. Unfortunately, at some point, someone realized that we were hiding Jews, and thugs came during the night. They murdered the Jews and beat up my father too because they wanted money. Although we had no possessions, it was my family who fed the Jews, receiving absolutely nothing in return. I woke up in the morning to find my mother crying and telling me: "Your father is barely alive. The gendarmes are coming and they’re going to kill us all". A neighbor, Irena, came and helped us to clean everything up. As she had good relations with the Germans, she managed to save our family. The night after the massacre, my father and his brother-in-law took the bodies back to the Jewish cemetery for burial. They buried the 7 bodies in one mass grave.”
(Witness N°1347P, interviewed in Zawichost, on august 22, 2022)
Zawichost is a small town in Sandomierz County, Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship, Poland. It is located by the Vistula River in Lesser Poland, near Sandomierz. Zawichost is located in Lesser Poland, near the picturesque Lesser Polish Gorge of the Vistula. The town lies on left (western) bank of the Vistula, 17 km (10mi) northwest of Sandomierz. The Jews from Zawichost were primarily engaged in trade and craftsmanship. Each household, each family, operated a shop, totaling over 100 in total. These shops offered a wide range of goods, including flour, kasha, sugar, salt, herrings, tea, coffee, soap, candles, and various other miscellaneous items. Additionally, Jewish individuals would venture into nearby villages to purchase goods from farmers, such as cattle, horses, poultry, feathers, and fish. Some Jews would carry delicacies like white bread, rolls, and challah, as farmers typically consumed brown bread on a daily basis. Market days, particularly Wednesdays, were festive occasions and attracted both Catholics and Jews. Zawichost comprised two adjoining districts: the riverside district, primarily inhabited by Poles (also known as ’Polish Town’), and the western district referred to as ’Żydowskie Miasto’ (‘Jewish Town’) or ’Prosperów.’ This is where the synagogue, bathhouse, and cheder were located. According to Yahad witness, Stanisław K., born in 1932, the synagogue was made of brick, as well as the wall around the Jewish cemetery. Jewish and non-Jewish children would go to the same local school. 3,014 people lived in Zawichost in 1921 and 4,000 in 1939, including over 1,400 Jews.
When German troops occupied Zawichost on September 9, 1939, there were 1500 Jews living in town. The plunder of Jewish shops and properties started immediately after the Germans’ arrival. In early 1940, the Germans established a Jewish Council (Judenrat) in the town, which was responsible for collecting “contributions” imposed by the invaders and organizing forced labor. Later, it was obligatory for all men aged between 16 and 60. Jews were forced to drain nearby fields and repair the levees on the bank of Vistula River. In September 1939, about 200 Jewish refugees who had fled from settlements to the west arrived in Zawichost. In addition, about 130 Jews from Lodz, Kalisz and Tarnobrzeg were sent to Zawichost in November 1939. In August 1940, about 200 healthy Jews were sent to labor camps in Distrikt Lublin, including the one at Belzec. In March 1941, the Judenrat estimated there were 300 deportees in Zawichost, and by April, this number raised up to 400. With the beginning of the Operation Barbarossa in June 1941, the German military left the town. From that moment, authority was exercised by German Gendarmes, the SS and collaborating Polish policemen. In the summer of 1941, the Germans ordered the establishment of the Jewish Police. Their main task was to maintain order in the Jewish neighborhood, as well as to collect fines from those who avoided forced labor or refused to house deportees. From November 1941, the Jews were not permitted to leave town limits or ride in wagons, although the ghetto had not been established yet. In February 1942 there were 2035 Jews living in Zawichost. In May 1942, an order was issued to concentrate all the Jews in the Kreis into five towns, including Zawichost, and 12 settlements. It was the first step to the total expulsion of the Jews from the region. From that moment, all the Jews who lived in other parts of the town were forced to resettle in the ghetto, which consisted of four streets: Gleboka, Ostrowiec, Boznicza and Berek Joselewicz. The penalty for leaving the ghetto area was death. Jews from Vienna, Annopol, Modliborzyce and other settlements were resettled in the Zawichost ghetto, with the number of Jews subsequently rising to 5000. The liquidation of the Zawichost ghetto took place on October 29, 1942. SS troops and Ukrainian auxiliaries surrounded the town and gathered the Jews at the marketplace. The dilatory, old and sick were shot in their houses. The column of Jews was escorted to the nearest train station in Dwikozy (10km), about 40 people were killed during the march. About 80 Jewish policemen and young men remained in Zawichost to clean up the ghetto and bury the dead. During the looting of the Jewish properties, many people were discovered in hiding and killed. It is estimated that about 200 Jews were killed in Zawichost during the ghetto liquidation. The bodies of the victims were buried at the local Jewish cemetery. A few months later a special detachment arrived, dug out the corpses, and burned them in the framework of Operation1005.
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