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Ransom from the Jewish Community Council

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Getting food for militant groups
Marek Edelman Social activist
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Pieniądze, pieniądze. Pieniądze szły na aryjską stronę, tam kupowali broń. Michał, Zygmunt, Fridrich, Tosia Altman, Jurek Wilner, Władka Peltel - to byli ci, którzy chodzili na Kiercelak i z niemieckimi żołnierzami handlowali za butelkę wódki, czy dwie butelki, ale to było wszystko bardzo drogie. Natomiast jeść trzeba było. Te grupy bojowe były skoszarowane, trzeba było im dać jeść. Nie, że luksusy, ale jeść. Raz dziennie zupę i chleb trzeba było dać? Trzeba było. N o więc chleba nie było. Ale były piekarnie. Piekarnie, które kradły mąkę, one robiły wszystko z kradzionej mąki. A tej kradzionej mąki było tyle, że tych chlebów było do cholery i ludzie kupowali. Tośmy powiedzieli piekarzom: `Nam codziennie 40 bochenków.` Z tej piekarni, z tamtej piekarni, nie mogę Ci powiedzieć czy to było 40 albo 40 w jednej dzielnicy, nie ważne. No to na początku dawali, a potem się namyślili, że nie chcą, bo zdrożała mąka - no nie mogę ci powiedzieć co było. Nie było rady. Na ulicy Nalewki była pod numerem 37 piekarnia, duża piekarnia. Nie było wyjścia, trzeba było ten chleb, bo oni kończyli ten chleb piec o 4-ej rano, wtedy była jeszcze godzina policyjna, nie wolno było chodzić, ale myśmy chodzili, bo myśmy mieli te wszystkie przejścia wiesz po domach, dachy, piwnice. O 4 rano, grupa taka bojowa wchodzi, parę pistoletów i mówi do niego: 'Panie właścicielu, dziś od Pana się należy, nie wiem, 40 kilogramów chleba'. 'Ja nie mam'. 'Heniek, zabieraj wszystko, On nie ma 40.` `Weź ile jest, może jest 20, może jest 10, bierz'. To on mówi: 'Panie komendancie jest 150'. 'Zabieraj!' Wzięliśmy to 50 kilogramów. Od tego dnia...  A jeszcze pistolety, nikt nie strzelał, tylko pistolety, puj, puj, puj. Bali się, zabraliśmy i od tego dnia już było wszędzie, we wszystkich... było naszykowane, żeby tylko nie wchodzili. Ciepły chleb. Widzisz, co to jest siła?

The money went over to the Aryan side because that's where they bought the weapons. Michał, Zygmunt Frydrych, Tosia Altman, Jurek Wilner, Władka Peltel, they were the ones who went to Kiercelak and traded with Germans soldiers for a bottle or two of vodka, but all of this was very expensive. And we still had to eat. These militant groups were quartered and needed to be fed. They didn't need luxuries, just food. We had to give them soup and bread once a day, didn't we? There was no bread but there were bakeries which stole flour and everything they baked was made out of this stolen flour. There was so much of this stolen flour that there were shit-loads of bread and people bought it all. So we told the bakers that we needed 40 loaves per day some from this bakery, some from another, I don't know whether it was 40 or maybe it was 40 from one district. That's not important. At first, they'd give us the bread but then they began to think about it and decided they didn't want to give it to us any more because the price of flour had gone up. I can't say what the reason for this was. There was nothing we could do. There was a bakery, a big one, at 37 Nalewski Street. We had no option, we needed that bread. They finished baking it at four o'clock in the morning, there was still a curfew at that time of day and it was forbidden to be out in the streets, but we used the passages between the houses, went over roofs and through cellars. At four o'clock in the morning a militant group arrived with a couple of guns, saying, 'Mr Proprietor, you're to give us 40 kg of bread today'. 'I don't have any!' 'Heniek, take the lot. He doesn't have 40, so take what's there. It might be 20 or 10, just take it all.' So then he says, 'Commander, there are 150'. 'Take them!' So we took 50 kg. From that day - there were the guns, too, although no one fired them, just the guns. They were afraid, we took the bread and from that day on everywhere was the same, the bread was ready for us to take just so long as no one came inside. Warm loaves. See what it means to be powerful.

Marek Edelman (1919-2009) was a Jewish-Polish political and social activist and a noted cardiologist. He was the last surviving leader of the 1943 uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto. Following the Second World War, he took an active part in domestic and international politics, dedicating himself to fighting for justice and peace.

Listeners: Joanna Szczesna Joanna Klara Agnieszka Zuchowska Anka Grupinska

Joanna Szczesna is a journalist writing for Gazeta Wyborcza. Together with Anna Bikont, she’s the author of Pamiatkowe rupiecie, przyjaciele i sny Wislawy Szymborskiej (The Recollected Flotsam, Friends and Dreams of Wislawa Szymborska) a biography of Wislawa Szymborska, the Polish winner of the Noble Prize for Literature. Since the 1970s, Joanna Szczesna has been involved with the democratic opposition movement in Poland, active in the Worker’s Defence Committee (KOR), the co-founder of the independent press in Poland: editor of KOR’s Information Bulletin, Solidarnosc Press Agency and Tygodnik Mazowsze.

Joanna Szczesna, dziennikarka "Gazety Wyborczej", autorka - wraz z Anna Bikont - biografia polskiej noblistki "Pamiatkowe rupiecie, przyjaciele i sny Wislawy Szymborskiej". Od lat 70-tych zwiazana z opozycja demokratycznaw Polsce, wspólpracowniczka Komitetu Obrony Robotników, wspóltwórczyni prasy niezaleznej w Polsce: redaktorka "Biuletynu Informacyjnego KOR-u", Agencji Prasowej "Solidarnosc" i "Tygodnika Mazowsze".

Joanna Klara Agnieszka 'Aga' Zuchowska was born 20 January 1938. Her father was killed in the Katyń massacre. After the war, she moved from Warsaw to Lódz. She obtained a degree in medicine in 1960, qualifying as a specialist in internal medicine in 1973. Dr Zuchowska worked with Marek Edelman for 15 years. In 1982 she left Poland for Algeria where she remained for the next three years, returning to Poland in 1985. She currently lives in Lódz.

Joanna Klara Agnieszka 'Aga' Zuchowska, urodzona 20 stycznia 1938. Ojciec zginal w Katyniu. Po wojnie zamieszkala w Lodzi. Studia ukonczyla w 1960 r. a specjalizacje z chorób wewnetrznych w 1973 r. Doktorat obronila we Wroclawiu. Pracowala z Markiem Edelmanen przez 15 lat. W 1982 r. wyjechala do Algerii. Wrócila do Polski w 1985 r. i mieszka obecnie w Lodzi.

Anka Grupinska studied English at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland. She wrote for Poznan’s underground publications and was herself one of the founding publishers of the bi-monthly Czas Kultury. She spent 1988 and 1989 in Israel compiling reminiscences of Holocaust survivors. From 1991 to 1993, she held the post of Cultural Attache at the Polish Embassy in Tel Aviv. She moved back to Poland in 1996 and now writes books on Jewish subjects, mainly dealing with the history of the Warsaw ghetto. She is also a freelance journalist for Tygodnik Powszechny. Anka Grupinska is the director of the Centropa Foundation project in Poland (oral history project) called “The Witness of the Jewish Century¿, presents her own radio programme, “Of Jews and of Poles too¿, and teaches creative writing and oral history in Collegium Civitas and SWPS in Warsaw.

Anka Grupinska ukonczyla filologie angielska na UAM w Poznaniu. Wspólpracowala z poznanskimi pismami podziemnymi, wraz z innymi zalozyla i wydawala dwumiesiecznik "Czas Kultury". W latach 1988-1989 przebywala w Izraelu opracowujac wspomnienia ocalalych z Zaglady. W latach 1991-1993 pracowala jako attaché kulturalny w ambasadzie polskiej w Tel Awiwie. Od 1996 mieszka w Polsce. Anka Grupinska specjalizuje sie w tematyce stosunków polsko-zydowskich. Publikuje ksiazki (m. in. Wydawnictwo Literackie, Zydowski Instytut Historyczny, Twój Styl), artykuly prasowe (m. in. "Tygodnik Powszechny", "Rzeczpospolita"), realizuje projekty wystawiennicze. Jest takze koordynatorem miedzynarodowego projektu "Swiadek zydowskiego wieku" (archiwizowanie pamieci o zydowskiej przedwojennej Polsce), prowazi autorska audycje radiowa "O Zydach i o Polakach tez" i uczy warszawskich studentów sztuki czytania i pisanie tekstów literackich.

Tags: Kiercelak, 37 Nalewski Street, Zygmunt Frydrych, Tosia Altman, Jurek Wilner, Władka Paltel

Duration: 3 minutes, 2 seconds

Date story recorded: December 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008