Tomasz (Toivi) Blatt
Born: 1927, Izbica, Poland
Describes Izbica Jewish council (Judenrat) and German attacks (Aktionen) in Izbica [Interview: 1990]
The Germans in that time established Jewish councils, so-called Judenraete. And through the Judenrat [Jewish council], they were able to execute their orders, so the Judenrat sent people to work in the labor camps and the Judenrat also after a month or so sent new people. The old ones...the first ones should be released. So it was in order. Now, everybody, accord...according [to] the rules, everybody was forced to go for one month to the labor. But again, if there was a rich fellow in the list he was able to pay the poor...to pay the poor fellow, and he did voluntarily go. But as the time progressed, it was worse and worse. We heard about beating. We heard about uh torture, and people refused to go. In that time the first so-called Aktions happened. "Aktion" is a roundup. It started with roundups to the labor camps. They would come in the morning and told the Jewish council to deliver 500 men or 200 men. If the Jewish council wasn't able to deliver through their own police, they started indiscriminately to go from house to house, beat, shoot...Ukrainians, which worked with the Nazis together. And they...they caught...they simply caught people on the streets 'til they get the amount of 500 people and they took them away.
After war began in September 1939, the Germans established a ghetto and Jewish council in Izbica. Tomasz's work in a garage initially protected him from roundups in the ghetto. In 1942 he tried to escape to Hungary, using false papers. He was caught but managed to return to Izbica. In April 1943 he and his family were deported to the Sobibor extermination camp. Tomasz escaped during the Sobibor uprising. He went into hiding, and worked as a courier in the Polish underground.
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