The destruction of Tomaszow Mazowiecki
A town and its destruction under the Nazi Occupation
Map showing Tomaszow Mazowiecki (click text to enlarge)
Tomaszow Mazowiecki during the inter-war years had a Jewish population of about 10,000 approximately this was one third of the town’s population. Most Jews in Tomaszow Mazowiecki were merchants or artisans, although a substantial number also held blue or white-collar jobs at an artificial silk factory.
A number belonged to Jewish Trade Unions - the community had many charitable institutions, including an orphanage, and an old-people’s home that was supported by donations from Polish expatriates.
A range of educational institutions included three Szabasowka schools, a Talmud Torah run by Agudath Israel, a bilingual Polish-Hebrew Jewish high school, a Jewish popular college that was also attended by non-Jews, and Polish high schools.
Zionist political Parties and youth movements ran a pioneering training centre, The Bund, its youth movement, and Agudath Israel were active as well. Many Jews belonged to a local chapter of the Communist Party. Most Parties sponsored cultural associations, drama groups and libraries. By the eve of the Second World War, the Jewish population had increased to approximately 13,000.
Nazi leaders view the town of Tomaszow Mazowiecki
The Germans occupied Tomaszow Mazowiecki on the 5 September 1939 and within eight days they had arrested about 1,000 inhabitants of the town, including some 300 Jews, and in the process sent 90 Jewish men to the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany, only 13 were alive at the end of the war in 1945.
The Germans also abducted Jews for forced labour and the Germans imposed harsh restrictions, Jews were only allowed to circulate in the town streets between eight o’clock in the morning and noon. The Germans burnt down the Great Synagogue on the 16 October and set fire two other houses of worship on the 7 and 14 November
During the first few months of the occupation, a number of Tomaszow Mazowiecki Jews, including many youths, fled to Soviet controlled territory, in spite of this the towns Jewish population increased due to a large influx of refugees from Lodz and Warsaw.
Jews are rounded up in Tomaszow Mazowiecki
In late 1939 in line with Reinhard Heydrich’s, the head of the RSHA, edict a Judenrat was established under Baruch Shoeps and his deputy Leibush Warsager and a Jewish Order Service was set up under Josef Goldberg. In late 1940, after the Gestapo arrested Shoeps and beat him to death, Warsager took over as Chairman of the Judenrat.
In early December, the Judenrat was ordered to furnish the Germans with 1,000 Jewish labourers daily and during the period 1940 -1942 hundreds of Jewish men from Tomaszow Mazowiecki were sent to the Zawada labour camp and other locations.
A ghetto was established on the 20 December 1940, in three different parts of the town under the command of the county governor Karl Giehn. Jews were not permitted to leave the ghetto without permits, but many violated this restriction.
The Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team
Copyright Carmelo Lisciotto H.E.A.R.T 2012