A roots journey to Zaglembie 2016 - Umschlagplatz, Sosnowiec
Umschlagplatz – Sosnowiec
Edited: Yael Regev
There were 28,000 people in the Jewish community in Sosnowiec on the eve of Second World War, which were about 20% of the town's population.
The German army entered Sosnowiec on 4th September, 1939. On that day and those following, they organized attacks on the Jewish population, during which thirty Jews were murdered. All the Jewish residents became a target of violence, harassment and abuse. Local Jews were being expelled from their homes and terrorized on the streets. Very soon, they were forced to relocate into crowded tenements thus creating the ghetto. Jewish businesses were raided and confiscated by Nazi soldiers.
On 9th September, the Great Synagogue on Dekerta Street was set on fire and burnt to the ground.
We are in a former football stadium by Mireckiego Avenue. During the war it was called "Umschlagplatz" – deportation square. Here, in this square, the selection of Sosnowiec's Jews took place. Here, men, women and children were gathered and were deported to the gas chambers at the Auschwitz death camp.
Deportations of the Jews to Auschwitz started in May 1942. On the 12th of August 1942, by Nazi orders about 26.000 Jewish ghetto inhabitants were gathered here under false pretence of needing a special stamp on their documents.
The area was surrounded by Gestapo and police. Members of a special commission made individual decisions regarding “qualifications and abilities” of every Jew, separating the elders, the sick and those who were unable to work.
Anyone trying to change group was punished by death.
In the evening, a heavy rain started and lasted all night. Thousands of defenseless, exhausted Jews, were crowded, fell to the wet and muddy ground as they were surrounded by a gang of Nazi thugs who were armed from head to toe. Cries of hungry people, children and adults, were heard everywhere. Everyone waited for their death sentence.
After the registration was finished, the Germans chose 8,000 people and locked them in horrible conditions for a number of days in buildings at Kołłątaja and Targowa. Overcrowding caused people to suffocate to death. Some of them tried to save themselves by jumping out the windows.
After a few such hellish days, they were taken to the gas chambers in Auschwitz.
In September 2015, a very impressive official ceremony took place on the outskirts of the football field. The ceremony was conducted on behalf of the unveiling of a memorial plaque commemorating the Sosnowiec's Jews who were sent to their death from this point.
The Mayor of Sosnowiec, a guard of war veterans, a School Band and many dignitaries attended the ceremony. 20 delegates attended on behalf of the Zaglembie's organization. The chairman, Menachem Lior, held a speech and Shimshon Jashvitz said "Kadish".
Mrs. Dorothy Bergman, who was born in Bedzin and was a survivor of this selection, placed the memorial wreath on behalf of the Zaglembie's organization.
Mrs. Dorothy Bergman came with her daughter from Sweden especially for the ceremony.
Unfortunately, she died a few months later.