Statement made by Jan Chemura, born January 10th 1901
The Polish inhabitant of Grodzisko Dolne who was witness to the murder of the Grodzisko Jews during the liquidation of the local ghetto, and was forced to bury them.
Submitted by Violetta Reder
(from Ilex Beller, Life in the Shtetl, New York 1986, p. 139)
I live near the Jewish cemetery, which is why I was chosen to take care of burying the Jews who had been shot. With my own hands, I buried some hundred Jews. Later on, two other people were ordered to carry out this task, Stanisław Kwas and Jůzef Domin, who acted as my helpers. Over the entire period of the occupation, the Germans killed more than 150 Jews in Grodzisko Dolne, near Łańcut. A German named Jeske performed this task by firing a shot through the back of the neck.
I can remember dreadful scenes of human tragedy. Sometimes children suffered for over half an hour before they died; or a victimís head would explode into fragments and I would have to pick up bits of brains and bone over a radius of several yards. In particular, I remember the death of Matys Beller, a very powerful man, who received several gunshots before he died.
The Jews from Tryncza were also brought to the cemetery. Some of them were already dead, while the others were imprisoned in the cottage next to the post office (behind the bridge next to the church and opposite Zofia Trynieckaís house, next door to the organistís).
When the Germans first arrived, they ordered the Jewish population to wear armbands with the yellow star. Then they selected a Jew named Stempel to be the village mayor. They ordered him to collect all the valuables (dollars or gold) belonging to the Jews and hand them over to the Germans.
The Jews were not able to buy peace for very long, however, for shortly after this the Germans began rounding the Jews up. It was at this point that many escaped beyond the San to Russia.
The threat of death hung over any Pole who helped the Jews, but there were courageous people who nevertheless did so, by hiding Jews on the run. My neighbour, Jan Gojewski, lived during the occupation in the house that belonged to a Jew named Jankiel Fingerhut, and hid Fingerhut, his wife and two sons, Abraham and Arieh, in the same house. When the war was over, the Fingerhut family thanked Jan Gojewski by sending him aid from America. Gojewski, who was a courageous man, died in November 1984.
Used with permission of Georges Beller, son of Ilex Beller
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