Decree of Deportation and Murder of All Polish Jews
[This is the first official communication from the Jewish Agency Executive in Jerusalem that confirms reports about the systematic annihilation of European Jewry. Notably, it does not mention the extermination camps; it focuses almost exclusively on occurrences in Poland. This communique marked a turning point in the Yishuvs awareness of the annihilation.]
The Jewish Agency Executive in Jerusalem has received, from authoritative and reliable sources, detailed reports on murders and massacres carried out against Polish Jews and against Jews from Central and Western Europe who had been deported to Poland.
According to these reports, the Nazi authorities in Poland, after a visit by the head of the Gestapo, Himmler, in June 1942, embarked on the systematic annihilation of the Jewish people in the cities and towns of Poland. A special government commission for the extermination of the Jews, the Farnichtungskommission, was established under a commissar named Pau.. This commission circulates among the cities of Poland and orchestrates the annihilation operation. Jewish children up to age twelve have been executed mercilessly en masse. Old people have also been executed.
Jewish men fit for labor have been registered and sent in groups to unknown destinations, and their traces have vanished. In various locations, the Nazi authorities have also rounded up and deported Jewish women. Thus eyewitnesses report that from the ghetto of Gielce, where 30,000 Jews were interned, 27,000 were removed about two months ago for deportation. Some 1,500 persons were murdered on the spot, as the deportation was being carried out, and according to the rumors the rest were murdered en route. In Brisk, Lithuania, the Nazi murderers drowned thousands of Jews by hurling them into the Bug River. In Piotrkow, only 2,600 of 20,000 Jews survived, including only 160 women and children. In Czestochowa, only 2,000 of 40,000 Jews remain. In the Radom ghetto, 3,500 out of 32,500 have survived. The same has occurred in most of the other Jewish ghettos. In Bialystok, the Nazis herded 1,500 Jews into the Great Synagogue, torched the building, and burned the Jews alive. Most of the Jews in Tiktin were rounded up by the Nazis and buried alive.
Reports from the ghettos of Warsaw and Lodz indicate that their Jewish population has dwindled frighteningly over the past few months. According to reports from the same sources, mass deportations of Jews from the cities of Central and Western Europe are continuing. In Berlin, only 28,000 Jews remain.
The Jewish Agency Executive discussed these reports in its meeting yesterday and decided to take a series of actions and make inquiries with parties abroad regarding the plight of European Jewry. A special committee chosen to carry out these actions has begun its work.
Source: Ha’aretz, (November 23, 1942)