World War II came to Tyczyn in September 1939. I was then eleven years old.
By George Salton
The Germans occupied our town on 10 September 1939. Within days our synagogues were desecrated, the Torahs and prayer books burned on the streets. Beatings and persecutions of Jews followed. Jewish homes were searched, our possessions were confiscated, and Jewish stores and shops were closed. Jews lost their jobs and occupations; Jewish children could not attend school. There were ever greater restrictions, great poverty and hunger. Jewish men and women were forced to do heavy and demeaning work. Before long, random beatings of Jews were followed by random executions of Jews. And our Polish neighbors basically just stood by.
In the early part of the war the Jewish population of Tyczyn was increased by the hundreds of Jews from the Western Polish town of Kalisz (west of the town of Lodz), who were transferred by the Germans to Tyczyn. They suffered the same fate as the Tyczyn Jews.
We suffered like that under the German yoke for over two years. In the late spring of 1942, the Jews of Tyczyn were moved into the Rzeszow ghetto. The conditions here were terrible. Great congestion, hunger, diseases and more killings. In July 1942, most of the people in the ghetto, including the Tyczyn Jews, my family, my friends, my neighbors, were deported to the killing camp of Belzec, where all were driven naked into the gas chambers. None survived.
I was among those few kept back in the ghetto. There were also maybe twenty young men from Tyczyn.
Of these maybe ten survived, including Hoffstetter, Zimment, Tuchman, Verstanding and Horn.
I was one of those few ordered to stay in the ghetto. Years in many different German concentration camps followed. I was liberated in May 1945 at the age of 17. Only a very few Tyczyn Jews survived: maybe ten of the two thousands.
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