Wednesday, February 24, 2016

World War Wednesdays: Pieces of Warsaw, No. 3

The Warsaw ghetto footbridge 
     Welcome to the third and final installment of Pieces of Warsaw, a series of research assignments I completed for the Holocaust course at the University of Ottawa under Dr. Jan Grabowski. So far, we've discussed an indictment issued by a German prosecutor and the death certificate of a young woman. As we've seen, both have led to tragic circumstances, but as Dr. Grabowski says, "Don't expect happy endings in this course."

Here is the third document we were given:

Dr. Jan Grabowski's translation from Polish:
Verso of the postcard:

To the Council of Elders

Please, let me know where is my son, Izak Micner, post office employee.
If he is not there, please let me know where he is.
I know that you will not refuse [my request].
Written by the desperate father

Recto of the postcard:

Sender: M. Micner                             Recipient: Council of Elders
Schultz Factory                                  Turobin, Krasnystaw area
Tailors’ shop
Nowolipki 29

Your son Izaak Micner departed for the bosom of Abraham.
He has been killed

Council of Elders

Here's what I uncovered on this one:
Izak Micner: Listed on the Yad Vashem database as Yitzkhak Micner, he is described as a fourteen year-old boy from Turobin, Poland. In the document itself, his father indicates that Izak was a post-office employee in that village.

M. Micner (Mordachaj Micner): According to the Yad Vashem database, Mordachaj Micner was forty years old when he wrote the postcard. He was married to a woman named Alte, and had been a merchant in Turobin. He identifies himself in the postcard as an employee of the Schultz Factory’s tailors’ shop in the Warsaw ghetto, and according to the database he was killed a year later (1943) in the Izbica camp, Poland.

Schultz Factory: The German apparel manufacturing company-owned by Fritz Emil Schultz was granted official designation as a war production firm by the German High Command in the fall of 1940. Due to his longstanding ties with the Jewish community, he chose the Warsaw ghetto as the site of his operations to produce winter clothing for the German army, which opened in September 1941. At its peak in July 1942, the factory employed nearly 4,500 Jewish laborers.

Jews at work in the textile section of the Schultz Factory

Council of Elders: Chief of the Reich Central Security Office Reinhard Heydrich gave a conference in Berlin on 21 September1939 at which, after describing the ‘ultimate aim’ to concentrate Polish Jews in large cities, he called for a Council of Jewish Elders to be established in each city. These councils were to be responsible for ensuring that the movements of Jews were carried out on time, and they were threatened with the ‘severest measures’ in case of ‘sabotage of such instructions.’

     Much like the second document, this source represents the ways in which family members were separated and lost contact with each other as the German regime moved people around in mass numbers. Since issues of spelling and poor records make it nearly impossible to establish these claims as certain facts, I, much like the Turobin Council of Elders, was unable to provide a concrete description of the circumstances surrounding Izak Micner’s death. However, if the information from the Yad Vashem database can be taken as truth (I was unable to find a list of Schultz factory employees which would verify this as his name), more can be answered about the fate of the desperate father who wrote this postcard. In the late summer and fall of 1942, massive transportations to Treblinka decimated the factory’s workforce, but Mordachaj Micner evidently escaped these. The firm continued operating until February 1943, when it was transferred in stages to the Trawniki concentration camp, and maintained production until the entire camp population was liquidated during the Harvest Action on 3 November, 1943.Since the Yad Vashem database lists his death year as 1943, it is therefore likely that he perished in this Aktion.

Works Cited
Gilbert, Martin. The Holocaust: The Jewish Tragedy. London: William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd.,
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “Work permit issued by the Schultz Company to
            Gina Tabaczynska.” Accessed 3 February 2016.         
Yad Vashem The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority. “The Central
            Database of Shoah Victims’ Names.” Accessed 3 February 2016.

Thanks for reading,
Delany Leitch (@DLeitchHistory on Twitter!)

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