4 June 1948, Warsaw. Judge Halina Wereńko, a member of the District Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Warsaw, interviewed the person named below as a witness, without administering an oath. Having been advised of the criminal liability for making false statements and of the obligation to tell the truth, the witness testified as follows:
|Name and surname||Moszek Fronenberg, alias ‘Maks’|
|Parents’ names||Boruch and Freidla, née Brajntych|
|Date of birth||4 April 1921, Puławy|
|Place of residence||Warsaw, Ząbkowska Street 30, flat 13|
I found myself in the ghetto after its establishment on 15 November 1940. In 1934 I joined the Jewish Youth Organization Hashomer Hatzair and during the German occupation I worked at the Jewish Care Society [Żydowskie Towarzystwo Opieki – ŻTOS]. I made a living working in my field as a tinsmith.
On the night of 22 July 1942, a unit of Jewish police dragged me out of my bed and escorted me to the Jewish Ghetto Police Station, from where I was sent to Pawiak prison. I was arrested for no reason. While I was in Pawiak, I joined the Jewish Combat Organization [Żydowska Organizacja Bojowa – ŻOB]. During my incarceration in Pawiak, I worked at the prison workshops and outside the prison walls as a tinsmith and a chauffeur’s assistant. I escaped on 30 July 1944. Throughout my stay in Pawiak prison (from 22 July 1942 to 30 July 1944), the Pawiak workshops were often visited by the Gestapo Commissioner for Jewish Affairs, Brandt (I don’t remember his name). He was a short (152-155 centimeters), stout man with a big belly. He was about 50 years old. He had bags under his bulging eyes, a large, slightly hooked nose, and a swarthy face. Looked at from behind, his head was broad, and his neck and the back of his head covered his ears from sight. I didn’t notice any distinguishing marks. Brandt held the rank of Sturmführer.
With regards to the Hotel Polski [Polish Hotel] affair, I know the following: in the period between 15 and 20 July 1942, acting on the orders from the German Warsaw police, the Jewish Council issued an order requiring all the Jews who were American and Romanian citizens to appear in front of Pawiak prison at Dzielna Street 24, flat 26. I was told about this by a group which showed up at Pawiak. I remember exactly when the order was issued, because its proclamation took place just before the first expulsion of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto (22 July 1942), when they were deported to the east – to Treblinka, as it turned out later. A group of 15-20 Jews with Romanian citizenship was sent to the camp in Auschwitz. My acquaintance Tauber (I don’t remember his name) was in that group. I have no information as to what happened to him later. A group of about 30 Jews with American citizenship was detained in Pawiak Prison, then equipped with passports at the end of August 1942, and sent to Vittel in Alsace. The Jews from this transport sent letters from Vittel, and later from Portugal and the USA, to their relatives who remained in the Warsaw Ghetto.
I don’t know how they managed to get out of Vittel. Bronisław Anlen, who currently lives in Warsaw at Marszałkowska Street 19, could provide more details concerning this matter. Anlen is still in touch with a woman who was in the transport headed for Vittel and who now lives in America. Not all Jews with American citizenship responded to the first call. It was only after the first letters sent by the Jews from the first transport had arrived from Vittel that the summons stopped being considered as a trap. It was presumed that someone from abroad must have intervened with the Germans on behalf of the Jews.
In November 1942, a group of American citizens was brought together, consisting mainly of members of the well-off Rappaport family from Bielsko and of the related Wajntraub and Poznański families, and that of the attorney Wolman. In the winter of 1942, a severely ill rabbi Rappaport, his family, and the family of his brother-in-law Frenkl, were brought from Pińczów. About 40 people were brought together and detained in Pawiak, in the same building as me. On 18 January 1943 they were given passports and sent to Vittel. I have seen letters from Vittel sent by the people from this group.
I remember the exact date of their departure. It was on the day when the Nazis began the second liquidation action in the Ghetto. In both instances of transports departing for Vittel, Jews with American citizenship were put on buses and their belongings were loaded onto trucks. So far I haven’t encountered anyone from the second group and I don’t know what happened to those who formed it. Samuel Wajntraub and Poznański, whose parents had been transported to Vittel, can provide more information on this matter. In 1939 they went to Zurich in Switzerland to study and are most likely residing there to this day. With the possibility of American Jews leaving Poland, the Jews from the USA, Bolivia, Ecuador and other American countries set about arranging for their relatives in the Warsaw Ghetto to be granted American citizenship. They bought out a few acres of land in the name of their relatives from the Warsaw Ghetto, thus procuring for them a fictitious citizenship. The governments of American countries started sending summons (Ausforderungspapiere, currently Aufwidewidy [?]) to the foreign department of the Sicherheistpolizei [Security Police] at Aleja Szucha 25 in Warsaw. These papers were dealt with by Sturmführer Brandt and his assistants Oberscharführer SD Orf and Oberscharfürer Mende (Mende had an elongated triangle with the letters SD on the sleeve of his uniform and epaulettes with two straps and one star, the same as those worn by SS-men). The documents sent in from the USA didn’t attract attention until after 18 January 1943, that is after the second liquidation action in the Ghetto. At that time, people for whom these Ausforderungspapiere had been sent were usually already dead. Then a group of Jews working for the Gestapo received an order (or came up with this idea to use the Ausforderungspapiere to make money) and sold the Ausforderungspapiere to the Jews in order to catch those who were hiding on the Aryan side. The following Jews, who collaborated with the Gestapo, became involved in selling Ausforderungspapiere:
Manówna and Lolek Skosowski, both of whom were killed in September 1943. They were shot by the Polish Underground unit in the café at Nowogrodzka Street;
Engineer Königel – before the outbreak of the war he was a cinematologist. He was also the director of the ‘Stylowy’ cinema and worker of the Corps District Command number II. He departed to Vittel in June 1943; Brodsztajn, whose real name was Baskin, before the war worked as a merchant at Gęsia Street;
Julek Lubraniecki, who owned the Excelsior shop at Leszno Street 6 before the war. He lived in Warsaw until the end of German occupation.
Rozenberg, who owned the “Amada” company before the war. He departed to Vittel in October 1943;
Adam, whose surname I don’t know, a Volksdeutscher (Aryan), lived at Smulikowskiego Street 9 at the time.
Wiera Gran lived with him, but I don’t know if she was involved in this matter.
The current whereabouts of the aforementioned persons are unknown to me.
All of these people who collaborated with the Gestapo were spreading the news on the Aryan side that the Jews who appeared in the Hotel Royal at Chmielna Street, starting from February 1943 in the Hotel Polski at Długa Street 29 or 31, could obtain Ausforderungspapiere, and be transported abroad as internees. Indeed, Jews became untouchable to the Germans once they had gotten past the gate of the Hotel Polski. Upon payment, everyone who appeared at the hotel received Ausforderungspapiere issued under a different name.
I don’t know how much the Gestapo Jews were paid for these documents. In addition to the Gestapo Jews, a Jew named Guzik was also involved in bringing Jews to the Hotel Polski. He, however, was motivated by his wish to help, not to make money. During the war, Guzik served as president of the Joint – an organization which aided the Jews. During the German occupation he worked at the care section of the Jewish Combat Organization. He held Argentinian citizenship. Having believed the Germans, he engaged in helping Jewish families of limited means get to the Hotel Polski for free. Jews who worked for the Gestapo distributed some of the Ausforderungspapiere in the Warsaw Ghetto (probably on the Gestapo’s orders), where Jewish laborers were still working in a number of workshops (the rest of the population had already been deported).
I don’t know what fees they charged for these documents. The Jews from the Ghetto who had the Ausforderungspapiere reported to Pawiak and awaited the transport to Vittel. They were the ones who told me about the matter descrbed above. This is how on the Aryan side the Jews were gathered in the Hotel Polski, while on the side of the Ghetto they assembled at Pawiak – in both cases they were promised to get to Vittel.
After the liquidation of the Ghetto, on 5 May 1943, Brandt, assisted by Orf and Mende, organized a transport of 30 Jews from Pawiak and a group of Jews from the Hotel Polski.
I don’t know the exact number of Jews taken from the Hotel Polski. I heard that there were over 30 of them. They were told that the transport was headed for Hanover. Just like in the previous transports, people were put on buses, while their belongings were loaded onto trucks. I asked the brothers Jakub and Szymon Dudelzak, who belonged to that transport, to send me a letter to Pawiak and write where they were going and what the conditions in that place were. In June 1943 I received a postcard from one of them, dated June 1943 – a dozen or so days before I got it. The postcard was sent from Berlin. He was informing me that the transport was headed for Hanover.
I don’t have the postcard any more.
In October 1943 I was told that two young boys had escaped from this transport in Berlin: Sztark and another boy, whose surname I don’t remember. The transport was headed to the death camp in Bergen-Belsen, not to Hanover. Both boys are dead.
A group of Jews – Palestinian nationals – returned to the country from the camp in Bergen- Belsen. I heard that they reported that a group of Jews who were American citizens had been murdered in Bergen-Belsen.
After the departure of the transport in question, there were no Jews left in the Ghetto waiting in Pawiak to depart with Ausforderungspapiere. The Ghetto was surrounded. On 19 April 1943 the Ghetto Uprising broke out.
In June 1943 (I don’t remember the exact date) there was one more transport from the Hotel Polski to Hanover. I don’t know the number of people in the transport or their names.
I don’t know what happened to them, but I have heard of no one from this group who returned or sent any message about their fate.
In June 1943, a group of Jews with Argentinian citizenship was placed in Pawiak as internees. Among them were Mieczysław Orlean, who was an owner of tin packaging factory in the Wola district before the war; Anita Orzech, the daughter of the brother of Dr. Orzech – one of the leaders of Bund, and a married couple whose surname I don’t remember. This group was released on 30 July 1944.
I heard that all of them were killed during the Warsaw Uprising.
Before the establishment of the Hotel Polski, the German authorities issued an order requiring Aryan American citizens to appear in the Gestapo headquarters (Aleja Szucha 25). The group was transported to Pawiak and placed in the chapel in Serbia [female ward in Pawiak prison], where they stayed for six weeks and were then released.
On 13 July 1943, between noon and 1 p.m., I saw several trucks drive into the yard of Pawiak prison escorted by the German gendarmerie (Schutzpolizei). I saw Jews in the trucks – men, women and children. They had luggage. They were ordered to get off the trucks in the square behind the boiler room, opposite a slag embankment. The group numbered 350- 400 people. I recognized my Jewish acquaintances from Warsaw there: Brott, who used to work as a salesman in furniture trade at Muranowska Street 42 before the war (owner of the houses at Nowolipki Street 42 and Karmelicka Street 12); Liwazer, who before the war was the owner of a button factory at Kacza Street 7, a shop with buttons at Nalewki Street 29, and a house at Dzielna Street 43. Before the evening of that day, the Gestapo men who were on the grounds of Pawiak prison on a permanent basis – Oberscharführer Sander and Hauptscharfürer Bürker – carried out a segregation of people who had been brought in, and inspected their Ausforderungspapiere. It turned out that about 130 people had such documents. This group was escorted to a warehouse which housed the interned Argentinian citizens, Orlean and others. They were allowed to take their belongings with them. I noticed that the group of about 130 Jews who had summons included Guzik. Those who didn’t have the Ausforderungspapiere were placed in the cells of ward VIII of Pawiak.
On 14 July 1943, at around 7.30 a.m., after roll-call, the Gestapo men – Sander Friwird and Albert Albers – led the Jews from the cell of ward VIII out into the yard and carried out another segregation. Later I learnt that the Jews had been asked about their profession. Out of the whole group the Germans selected 15 artisans (shoemakers, tailors and so on), including Lach (killed), Stanisław Wróblewski (currently lives in Venezuela), Marian Gerszman (now in Stuttgard), Brott (killed), Sztark – the one who escaped from the transport to Bergen-Belsen in Berlin (now deceased), and Handelsman (killed). Frydman departed with a transport to Hanover and was killed. The fifteen men who had been selected were taken to cell 166, ward IV, where they joined the group of Jews who were employed at Pawiak’s workshops, where I belonged. The rest was taken to cells 257, 258 and 259 in ward VIII.
At the time I worked as a chauffeur’s assistant. On 15 July 1943, at about 11 a.m. I arrived in a truck with a German chauffeur Arct to Pawiak’s front gate. I saw two rows of gendarmes extending from the Pawiak’s front gate (at Dzielna Street 24/26) across the street to the property at Dzielna Street 27. The gendarmes were standing separately on both sides of the street, at some distance from one another. The gendarmes stopped the truck and told us to wait in front of the gate. I was allowed to stay in the truck but the gendarmes told me to look towards Karmelicka Street, in the opposite direction to where the rows of gendarmes were standing. I lay down in the truck and, despite the order I had been given, I looked in their direction. I saw Oberscharführer Alfred Albers holding a whip in his hand and rushing a group of about 20 Jewish men in front of him from the Pawiak gate towards the gate of the house at Dzielna Street 27. I recognized Liwazer in the group. I have mentioned him above. At the same time I heard the screams of Jewish women and their children coming from nearby. I realized that women and children were standing between the building of the male section of Pawiak and the prison wall from the direction of Dzielna Street. Right after I saw Albers rushing the group of men, I heard bursts of shots from a submachine gun, followed by single shots.
I distinctly heard the shots.
After the men had been rushed from Pawiak to the gate of the house at Dzielna 27, I saw Albers rush the women and children. Shots could be heard each time after a group had been driven. The whole operation lasted from 11 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. I realized that the Jews herded to Dzielna Street 27 were being murdered in the yard. Many executions of Pawiak’s prisoners had taken place in the yard of this property before.
As a chauffeur’s assistant and a tinsmith in Pawiak, I was often required to tin-wrap packages sent by Albers to Germany. I saw that the packages were addressed to Solingen in Hahn, Wassenkampf 12/8. I passed on Albers’ address and the addresses of the Gestapo men Frivid, Sander, Pitsch, the prison’s commandant, and others to the Polish Underground Organization via a guard named Karol Piłka.
Having parked the truck in the prison yard, I managed to be on time for dinner which was delayed because of the execution. The time was 1.00 p.m. After I drove into the prison yard, I noticed that the doors to all the buildings were locked and that there was no one in the yard except for the Gestapo men and Ukrainians. I went to my workshop near the orangery. The door was locked. As it turned out, the key had been taken by a Gestapo man. I remained in the yard, next to the gate – the exit from Pawiak’s male section into Serbia [Pawiak’s female section], from where I could see the main entrance gate. I then saw that the truck which I drove and which was usually used to supply Pawiak with food, was going empty through the gateway on Dzielna Street. After a few minutes the truck returned loaded with clothes and underwear. I guessed that these things belonged to the Jews whom the Germans had murdered on the premises of the house at Dzielna Street 27.
On the next day, 16 July 1943, a unit of Kommando Befehlsstelle Strafkommando, quartered at Żelazna Street 101, flat 103, arrived in Pawiak. The unit consisted of the gendarmes who had carried out the execution and of a group of about 12-15 Jews from Łódź, who were tasked with burning the corpses. This group of Jews proceeded to burn the bodies in the courtyard of the house at Dzielna Street 27. I saw the Jews from this group bring wooden logs to the courtyard. On the next evening I smelled a characteristic odor of burnt bodies and saw smoke rising from the courtyard of this property. Three Jews from the group which burnt dead bodies escaped and survived.
I do not know their surnames. I encountered them in Łódź in 1945.
A few days after the execution, on 15 July, with the dead bodies already burnt, the dismantling of the house at Dzielna 27 began. The next executions of Pawiak’s prisoners took place on the grounds of the former velodrome at Nowolipki Street 29 and the Nowolipki passage 32 and 34.
The group of Jews who had the aus Forderungspapiere and who were brought from the Hotel Polski to Pawiak was sent away in two transports – supposedly to Hanover. The first transport departed in August 1943. Those were in it sent several postcards from Berlin to Pawiak, to their relatives and friends who were still kept there as internees. These persons wrote that the transport was to depart from Berlin to Hanover.
I don’t know whether this group actually got to Hanover, and I don’t know what happened to them.
The second part of the group from Pawiak departed in October 1943, supposedly to Hanover. The Germans released Guzik from the last group. I saw him leave Pawiak. Guzik died in a plane crash in 1946. So far I have not met anyone from this group which had been sent back then to Hanover, and I have heard of anyone who has received any message from the members of this group.
At this point the report was brought to a close and read out.
(Attachment: a schematic diagram of Pawiak prison and the property at Dzielna Street)