Our father, Meyer Abramczyk, was born on July 24, 1926 in Belchatow, Poland, to Toba and Herschel Abramczyk. He had six brothers and sisters: Zelda, Hinda, Moshe, Jankiel, Channah, and Paula. At that time, Belchatow was considered a textile/market town and 50% of the town was Jewish. Our father and his siblings lived on a farm just outside the city. Their father would buy animals such as geese and cattle and sell them to others, who would sell them to the stores in towns such as Lodz. They lived a lower/middle class way of life. They, like most Jewish families of the time, were quite religious.
Our father told us that in 1933, before the war even started, there were many anti-semitic farmers who lived around them. These farmers would threaten their family, shoot guns at them, and break the windows of their home. One day, my great uncle burned down the farm, believing that they would not be threatened any longer. The family then moved into the city.
The German army entered Belchatow during the first week of the war. During the Nazi Occupation, Belchatow was declared a "Jewish town." The Nazis established a ghetto, where the Jewish people were brutally repressed, beaten, and murdered. Many Jews attempted to leave, hoping to find safer places. Our family also tried to leave. They bought a horse and cart and attempted to flee to Russia, where they thought that they would be safe. On their journey, they were discouraged to flee, being told stories of brutality and murder in Russia as well. Therefore, the family decided to turn around and head back to Lodz. A few kilometres away from Lodz, they were stopped by the SS. The SS ordered them to get off of the cart. They cut our zadie’s beard, and harassed all of them. Then they took their horse and cart away from them. The family returned to Belchatow.
In Belchatow, Jews continued to be humiliated. Holy objects were confiscated and desecrated, and holy books were thrown into fires, and the Jews were forced to watch while the German army danced around it. Old Jews were forced to eat non-kosher food and, like our zadie, had their beards cut.
In 1940, our father was told by the SS that all the young men would be going to another town to “work” for only 6 months and would return to their families after. This was the last time that our father saw his family. He was taken to a work camp in Poznan at the age of 13. In the beginning, he was able to correspond with his family, but over time communication dwindled. He was moved to several camps and ended up at Furstengruber-Auschwitz until the end of the war, at which time he was in the Auschwitz death march from January 1945 to May 1945, which took him to Lubeck Bay in Germany, where he boarded the Cap Arcona falsely believing, from the Nazis, that he was on his way to freedom. The Cap Arcona was a cruise ship that was used by the Nazis to transport military personal. However, the Germans were actually planning to let this boat drift into the harbour, at which time they would then detonate the explosives that were placed on board. British Intelligence believed that this boat was carrying German military personnel and started bombing the boat before the Germans took the opportunity to detonate the bombs. Of the 10,000 prisoners aboard, only 250 survived.
After the war, our father was told by others the demise of his parents and some of his siblings. He was told that his mother, father, and his two younger sisters, Paula and Channah, and other family members were sent to Chelmno death camp where they perished. Moshe was killed while trying to escape a second roundup of young men in Belchatow, and Yankiel, Hinda, and Zelda were sent to the Lodz ghetto to work and then sent to Chelmno in 1944 when Lodz was liquidated.
As our father was taken from his family at the age of 13, he was unable to take any photographs or family mementos with him. With the murder of his family, there are no pictures or documents that survived. We ask that if you knew our father and his family, perhaps you would be so kind as to share your stories with us as his memories are fading and there are so many unanswered questions. Perhaps you may have a picture of him or of his family or a family member. We would be so grateful if you would please forward us a copy of these. Toba can be reached at email@example.com, or perhaps, if you feel more comfortable, you can contact Roni Seibel Liebowitz.
Meyer Abramczyk and Family at his 80th Birthday (July 2006)
(Photographs provided by
Copyright © 2001-2013 Roni Seibel Liebowitz. All rights reserved.