Chapter 30: The Situation with Moses
In Warsaw the German propaganda machine was operating at full speed to incite loathing for the Jews in the eyes of the Poles. They did so by means of writing malicious articles in the Nowy Kurier Warszawski, the newspaper notorious for its mudslinging articles against the Jews. In one article the Jews were described as, “parasites and leeches that have been sucking the blood of Polish Christians for untold centuries,” and with words like, “We have stopped the takeover of Holy Poland by the filthy Jews.”
They did everything to alienate the Jewish population from the Poles. They built walls with barbed wire on top around their neighborhoods and sent vehicles with loudspeakers through the streets encouraging the Christian population to hand over any Jew that was in hiding.
However, the reaction of the Poles was just the opposite. They knew that the Germans were the common enemy, of themselves and of the Jews, and thus many helped the Jews in every possible way.
In one instance, in the corner of the ghetto wall, a children’s choir would sing accompanied by a small orchestra. On the other side of the wall, a group of Christians gathered and listened to the singing. A Christian policeman walked around among the audience and collected money which he wrapped in a piece of paper and threw over the wall. This went on for quite some time; the Jews played and sang and the policeman collected the money.
In another instance, though, some Christian Polish hooligans, who were aimlessly walking around, tossed large stones over the walls surrounding the ghetto and hurt passersby on Chlodna Street.
Moses successfully bribed an employee of the telephone company to connect his telephone line at home. With the line connected, Moses tried calling Wolf and Ida in Wloszczowa, but Wolf’s line was disconnected. When he tried contacting Dr. Herman in Lodz, a stranger answered the phone and told him that the doctor had left months ago, and he did not know where he went. Finally, he called the hospital in Brest-Litovsk and tried to get in touch with his son Adam. Somebody answered the phone and told him to hold on. After waiting for quite some time, he heard Adam’s voice.
Moses was very excited to hear Adam’s voice.
“Adam, Adam, I am so glad to hear your voice. We are all fine. We now live in the Warsaw ghetto, but at least we have our own apartment. Mother and Jerzy are standing right next to me.”
“Papa, I’m so glad to hear you are all well. I am also doing fine. I am currently working in a hospital. David came to visit me about a year ago, but that was the last time I saw him. I had heard that all the Poles who crossed the border into Russia were transferred to Siberia. He was either sent there or he went to his uncle Yulek in Moscow.” (This conversation took place before he had received the letter from David.)
“I have absolutely no knowledge about the family in Wloszczowa or in Lodz. Either they have no phone anymore, or they are not there,” Moses continued.
Moses kept on talking, but there was no response forthcoming from the other end of the line. Moses shouted into the receiver “Hello, Hello, Adam do you hear me?” Silence. The line had been severed.
Moses had heard about groups of people who were told to gather at the umschlagplatz, and then herded onto trains to unknown destinations, never to return.
He decided it was time to act.
He inspected the area around his house and saw that he did not have much of a choice. He realized that if he left his house and he turned right toward Leszno Street, there was a heavily secured exit gate, and if he lowered himself from his rear window onto Biala Street, he would be forced to pass the exit gate at Miranowski Square and he would surely be noticed.
He therefore had to think of another alternative. He was going to buy his way to freedom. He met with a Polish smuggler and asked that he introduce him to someone in the underground who dealt in forged documents. He needed new documents for himself, his wife and his son.
Several days later the smuggler came to the ghetto along with a man dressed as an ordinary laborer with black paint on his hands, looking as if he worked on a printing press. He introduced himself as Czarny. Moses knew that it was not his real name, but did not really care.
They went to a small restaurant which he knew was quiet and where they would not be disturbed. He mainly feared informers of which there were many wandering around.
“I need documents stating that we are of Aryan origin,” Moses said.
“For when do you need them?” Czarny asked.
“The quicker the better, but no longer than three days.”
“I can have Polish identity cards for you within a week.”
“Okay. Prepare Polish identity cards with fabricated names,” Moses said.
“I need three current photographs. How old are you all?” Czarny asked.
“I have current photographs. I am 59, my wife is 49 and my son is 16. How much will it cost me and how do you want to get paid?” Moses inquired.
“It will cost you five thousand zlotys for each document. Half is due now and the balance upon delivery.”
“Don’t you think that you have exaggerated the price? Do you think that I have fifteen thousand zlotys in cash? I can give you jewelry in that amount,” Moses suggested.
The man agreed to take the jewelry as payment, on the condition that he received it in advance. Moses told him that he had to get the jewelry from a friend who had it in his vault. Having no choice, Czarny agreed and a meeting was set for the following week. Moses gave him three photographs and when he wanted to choose names, Czarny said there was no need to do that. Moses understood that they had a huge stock of documents from the dead that were strewn in the streets under the rubble and all they had to do was to change the picture and place a forged stamp on it.