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Chapter 4: Live - do not live - in ghetto
The Germans herded the Jews together, massacring them by the thousands. Initially, they burnt the corpses in great pits; later, they developed more efficient techniques.
The Einsatzgruppen were backed up by the German civilian administration, which established ghettoes in the larger Jewish towns.
The Judenrat was required to comply with the demands and orders issued virtually daily by the German military commander. Anxious to alleviate conditions in the ghetto and ease contacts with the authorities, the council shouldered a range of organizational and economic tasks.
Having been confined to the ghetto, we knew nothing of the developments at the various theaters of the battlefront, where the Germans were beginning to suffer setbacks; but we did sense their viciousness growing with each passing day.
Refusing to await liberation, some - young people in particular - resolved to flee the ghetto and try their luck in the nearby forests. Those who fled hoped to join the partisan bands active in the nearby forests. A few did indeed enlist with the partisans, but others were rudely rejected.
On January 28, 1943, the Gestapo chief entered the offices of the Judenrat to notify its members that the residents of certain streets - 2500 persons in all - were to prepare for departure within a few hours.
“They are being sent to work in Silesia,” announced the Gestapo official. “They are to take all family members, including the elderly, babies and invalids. They are authorized to carry small packages, and are advised to take their money and jewelry, and all valuables.” Thus commenced the evacuation of the Pruzany ghetto. It took four days to complete.
The ghetto was evacuated in four transports. Of the 9,161 Jews hitherto resident in the Pruzany ghetto, 1,775 men and women ultimately reached the Auschwitz camp.