Discovering Karola’s Kielce Pogrom Testimony

12 Aug

In February 2017 I published a blog about discovering my grandmother’s cousin was in Kielce, Poland, during the Pogrom in July 1946. (See blog link below.) Since then I have been continuing my research on the lost remnants of my grandparent’s families.  Along the way, I have discovered more about Karola.

First off, I now know her entire name, which brings me more understanding. Korala’s mother and my great grandmother were sisters.  My grandmother was her first cousin.

Our families did keep in touch.  My father often went to Paris on business, occasionally my Mom would accompanied him and would visit a cousin who lived there.  That cousin was Karola.  She had changed her name from the Polish sounding to a more French name, and of course I recognized the last name.

In any case, it was when I found the village where my great grandmother was born, that I found also the Viroshov Yitzkor Book published in 1970.   In it, written in Yiddish, was Karola’s testimony about the Kielce Pogrom.   I must thank my friend, Blumah W., the local Chabbad rebbetzin, who spent several hours with me as she translated this moving memory.

I think with what is going on in Poland today, with the country’s wanting to deny their people’s involvement in the Nazi’s intent to destroy and annihilate the Jewish population.  Karola’s story and memory is even more important because it tells the truth of what really happened in the years pre, during and after the war.

The Kielce Pogrom By Karola Manes F. as translated by Blumah W.

 “A lot has already been told about the ferocious anti-Semitism of how the majority of Polish treated their Jewish neighbors during all the years of the Polish existence. It is still fresh in memory.  The anti- Jewish politics in pre-war Poland using power against the Jewish workers and merchants, and the hooligans acting against the Jewish young students. 

        Also, during the time of the War, being under the German occupation, the Poles did not forget their anti-Semitic tradition.  They were very much supportive of the Nazi program and worked with the Nazis for the annihilation of the Jewish nation.  (“G-d forbid,” added by Blumah.)

          When the war finished, the Jewish remnants were hidden in different places. A few Jewish people who were saved began to look in their birth places for their relatives; their flesh and blood.   Also, then there came upon these survivors, unruly/wild Polish bandits, bands of Poles, who murdered these few left over Jews.

           The culmination point of this ferocious Polish behavior was the tragic well-known Kielce Pogrom, which was accomplish over these few ‘leftovers’ in the summer of the year 1946.

            Being be that I was in that time in Kielce where I lived through this tragic chapter, then I will tell what happened during this incident.

            After the war, in Kielce there was the concentration of a larger group of Jews.  The portion of them came from hidden places and from the forests, where they were involved with the armed partisans combat.  Larger groups from back from Russia, where they found themselves during the time of the war.  In order to deal with stream of survivors, a Jewish committee was formed that found themselves on Planty Street. 

           The Polish people right away, in the first days, immediately began to agitate and incite against the Jews.  “TOO many of you remained!”  They said with extreme hate.

           The first provocation was when someone threw the dead body of a Christian woman into the Jewish compound.  It was accompanied with an incitement that they said the Jews murdered this woman.

           Only at night, Russian soldiers came dressed in Polish uniforms and made order. They arrested a number of Polish hooligans.   The next morning, on the way to the funeral, the Jewish people accompanying the dead, were guarded by the Russian soldiers in order to avoid any further incidents by the wild and unruly Polish population

            May these words act as a monument for the holy martyrs of the Kielce Pogrom; May G-d avenge their blood. “

In the last paragraphs, Karola does not talk about how people were murdered or what truly happened on the day of the pogrom.  Instead she talks about the fact that it was Russian soldiers who stopped the pogrom by dispersing the Polish hooligans.

To be honest, I was a bit disappointed.  I wanted to know from her mouth/her pen what truly happened. What she as a survivor saw.  But then, I realized, it was too much.  She had survived a ghetto, a concentration camp and now a pogrom, who am I to want more from her?


9 Responses to “Discovering Karola’s Kielce Pogrom Testimony”

  1. Amy August 12, 2018 at 4:05 pm #

    It is terrible to read this. When we were in Poland, our guide—who was terrific, well-educated, very sensitive–did try to portray the Poles as unwilling participants in the Nazi horrors, forced to do so in order to survive and victims of Nazi propaganda. This incident indicates (and others I’ve read about since) shows that there were many Poles who were willingly complicit with the persecution and murder of Jews.

    • zicharon August 12, 2018 at 4:13 pm #

      When I found her testimony, I was actually afraid to get it translated. Blumah and I have been friends for years, and her parents are survivors as are her older siblings. So we sat together as she translated. It is emotional, but was not as bad as I thought it would be since she did not go into great detail. But what she does say is enough and tells the truth.

      • Amy August 13, 2018 at 9:56 pm #

        Sometimes what isn’t said is more powerful than if it had been said.

      • zicharon August 13, 2018 at 9:57 pm #


  2. rochellewisoff August 12, 2018 at 4:14 pm #

    Dear Ellen,

    I only click ‘like’ because there’s no horrified button. It would be something to read her own words what happened. But we can all too well imagine and understand.



    • zicharon August 12, 2018 at 4:16 pm #

      Exactly. I have another testimony from her about her time in a ghetto before going to the camps. Just cannot deal with it yet. Grimes’s last few months researching my grandparents’ families has emotionally exhausted me.

      • Sylvia Dinkin September 17, 2018 at 10:27 am #

        Why did it take the Pope more than 40 yrs to acknowledge what the Poles did?

      • zicharon September 17, 2018 at 10:29 am #

        Different Popes. Different times. People do not like to admit they have done evil.

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