Canadian Jewish Review

Canadian Jewish Review
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[This transcript was created by optical character recognition (OCR) software and the accuracy depends on the quality of scanned images and complexity of original text.]

Browse more items from Canadian Jewish Review [newspaper]

Title: Canadian Jewish Review

Full text: NOVEMBER 19, 1948 THE CANADIAN JEWISH REVIEW PASSPORT TO NOWHERE: THE STORY OF A GREAT TRUCK DRIVER \ By Gertrude Samuel*, Of The International Children's Emergency Fund This is the story of Hirsch Schwartzberg and his "passport to nowhere" — the story of the last remnants of Jewish Displaced Persons who have moved from tragedy to tragedy, outcast and forgotten. I met Schwartzberg at Dueppel Displaced Persona camp. He had, figuratively, just been handed his "passport to nowhere" — a transfer from one DP camp to another. A mountain of a man, with a three-day beard and a terrible calm in his eyes and voice, he was helping the officials move the DP's of Dueppel and of 'adjoining Marien-dorf camp—men, women and the children born here—to other camps in the Western zone. And over the gray and rotting barracks, which are soon to become a "boys' town" for German youth, over the noise of trucks and children, hung the same terrible calm—and dread.__ The DP's milled before the temporary wooden platform near the Jewish Welfare Center with its Star of David, helmeted constabulary moving quietly among them to keep order. Army trucks backed up to the platform as an official called the DP's forward — the Abrahams, the Bezalas, the Daniels, nearly all from Poland — loaded them and drove off to Tem-pelhof Airfield. More trucks carried the 200-pound lots of baggage allowed for each DP—other possessions, hopefully accumulated, had gone for a song to German buyers outside the camps. Schwartzberg stamped this and that, signed his name to "character references." He found time for all their questions, though ho didn't know the answers.—"Where arc we going?" "How long will it take?" "Will we meet again?" We still had time. For Schwartzberg was the last man out of the camp he himself had established over two years ago. To follow the story of how Schwartzberg got to nowhere, one must begin with the year 1941 and Vilna, where he lived with his wife, Rebecca, and his 5-year-old son, Jacob. That year, the Gestapo killed his father, sister and brother, killed every member of his wife's family, and took the surviving Schwartz-bergs to Vilna ghetto. There were 60,000 Jews in the ghetto — just one of many areas marked for death_ by the Nazis in Lithuania and Poland. Three million Polish Jews alone were rounded up in preparation for death by firing squads, starvation and furnaces. In the Vilna ghetto, the Germans indexed them according to yellow and white cards, or what the Jews soon called "Leben" (life) or "Tod" (death) cards. Because Schwartzberg had been a truck driver, they had use for him in the "schwarz-arbeiter" — among the "black workers" doing construction, forest work and ditch digging. By 1944, only 20,000 of the original 60,000 Jews of the Vilna ghetto were alive; only an estimated 80,000 Polish Jews out of TURNING THI PACIf OF •rat farmer, Lou la to nap kk hand, he could barely provide enough (rain to supply his own family. The pioneer fanner and his tons, with their one hone, worked long and hard to grow enough food for their own us*. In 1852, farmer Daniel Massey made the first mower In Canada. Later Alanson Harris designed the reaper. Their combined efforts in 1891 helped develop the wheatland of the West. ',' The Introduction, In !•!•, of the combine, made it po«-•ible to reap and thresh 25 acres * day. Now, one man with modern equipment can cut and threah 54 acre* a day. It is Canadian people and C*»* •*<*•« machine that prove . . . there's room to grow in Canada Unlimited. Bft I Wl N G COMPANY the 3,000,000 survived. For all Europe, 1,600,000 survived out of the pre-war Jewish population of 7,500,000. "Nobody," reflects Schwartzbcrg, "will believe that we have suffered so much." There were only ninety children left in Vilna ghetto when the Nazis ordered a special killing of children. Schwartzberg clawed out the wood and bricks under the window of his room, deep enough to hold a child's body, clothed Jacob fully as protection against the weather, and put him inside the hole. Sixty children were killed in the pogrom. For four months, Jacob lived and ate in his hide-out, coming out late at night to stretch and play. As Jacob recalls it now, he "couldn't stand it at first and cried, but after I understood what it was for, I stayed quiet and didn't mind." In 1944, the Nazis decided to liquidate the entire camp, ordering all Jews forward for killing or cremation. With thirty others, Schwartzberg took his wife and son, clambered between the ceiling and roof of their dwelling and lay there for two days. "Just when it seemed quite mad to want to try to go on living," villagers poured in to loot. And the handful of Jews climbed quietly down, one by one, from their hiding place to mix with the looters and go unnoticed out of the ghetto. The Schwartzbergs got into the city of Vilna—by then in the Lithuania Soviet Socialist Republic. They found nothing left of their old home. When the Government announced that all who had been Polish subjects until 1939 could be registered for repatriation to Poland, Schwartzberg qualified and the family was evacuated to Lodz. "There I had a friend," explained Schwtrtabtrg. "My boy was growing. Wt wanted aottahow to make another •tart" Tha ga*tto-sl«ve labor phaae had doaed. Xt seemed possible to put down roots again. But post-war Poland still suffered from Hitler's legacy of anti-Semitism and the UNRRA camps in Germany seemed to hold greater safety for those who had miraculously survived Hitler. Thus the Schwartzbergs, suddenly fleeing again, joined that strange, new group for whom the world had to coin a name—Displaced Persons. There were already hundreds of thousands of the DP's in the Western zone camps in Germany—former Christian nationals of Poland and the Baltic countries, many of whom had been in Germany at the end of the war as slave labor. Surely UNRRA and the American military could let in a few more Jewish survivors: thus Schwartz-berg reasoned. Travelling illegally by train and truck with sixteen other Polish Jews, the Schwartz-bergs arrived, late in 1945, stateless and penniless, in Berlin. What followed laid the foundation for Dueppel DP camp. With the help of the Jewish "Gemeinde" (community) of Berlin, an UNRRA camp was set up in a former pavilion at Wannsee. No permission was asked to occupy it. The Jews simply moved in "because it was empty and we needed a fl^or to sleep on." And they kept coming— "exhausted, bitter, lost, hopeful, even with peace still not knowing where to turn." There were 450 in the original group, including twenty children, and for a few days they lived off bread and rations brought in by a Jewish chaplain. Then they formed a committee to get in touch with the United States Military Government. Schwartzberg, whose ingenuity and patience had become a legend in the ghetto, was elected director. "General Barker," said Schwartzberg, "came out to the pavilion. He said he couldn't believe that people could exist as *re were existing. H« said he had no words for oar experiences and for what we had managed to do. He said very much more, with words which our people had not beard for jean. He would get us beip. And h« did." For five months Schwartxberg and his 460 DP's lived in the pa- vilion. Then on June 10, 1946, the Dueppel camp, formerly training quarters for the German Luftwaffe, was opened for them. Within three days all of them plus another 350 Jewish DP's were moved in, UNRRA and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee pitching in with workers, food, supplies, advice. And the DP's began to build what many believed was to be their last way-station. They renamed the camp Hcrzl, after the founder of Zionism, Theodor Herzl. They hoisted the Star of David. Their hopi-s were clearly known, at least amontf themselves. They wouldjro to the "homeland which would welcome them — Palestine — with American help." They again made Schwartzberg their director, and elected a committee of thirteen to run the camp. Organization went forward under Schwa rtzborpr's direction. First came the hospital—critically needed for those just out of concentration camps. "It filled up completely at once," said Schwartzberg. "We had five doctors and ten or twelve nurses among our DP's and UNRRA and the Army gave us more help and supplies." Then the place of worship — "crude but adequate, and it filled up, too. Our DP's had a stronge feeling about this camp. They felt lucky. They saw the interest of the Government. They were free to move around. They heard kind words again. They felt lucky and alive." And so they worked to put down some roots again. They established schools, a registration 'office, a post office, a search and tracing office for those who still hoped to find relatives, their own police detail. By July, 1946, the population of Dueppel had grown to 10,000 as thousands more Jewish DP's fled to Berlin after the Kielce pogrom in Poland. Another camp, Marien-dorf, adjoining Dueppel, was opened and some 5,000 settled in it. A Central Committee of the Liberated JPWS in Berlin was established to act in behalf of both camps, again with Schwartzberg directing. In the hard winter of 1946-47 Schwartzber^ scrounged for materials, food and coal. He settled quarrels and moved constantly around the camp; a 200-pound tower of determination and philosophy, he intervened at Military Government courts in behalf of those-arrested for black-marketing. "Is it difficult to understand how some can become ill with the mind?" he would gently inquire. And the DP's loved him. They knew him, not as Hirsch but as Solomon. To them, he symbolized the good and the wise and the understanding. His decisions stood and were respected. He knew there were "good and bad souls" among them — that many had suffered so cruelly that they had turned inward and refused to trust even fellow DP's; that perhaps those, above all, needed protection. He could speak to them in Yiddish, German, Polish, Russian, Lithuanian. He rarely punished them — "Can you wonder?" His reputation spread beyond Dueppel and Mariendorf to wherever Jews were in trouble. The first words of a sick and homeless DP who had wandered into a Berlin hospital recently were: "Please get word to Schwartzberg at Dueppel camp. He will know what to do." And his DP'srWho were they? There was, for instance, Roza Emer, a wide-eyed blonde of 5, born in Lodz, Poland, who escaped to Dueppel with her parents, Laja and Aron. In Block 42, Room 20, there was the Luszcanowski family — mother, father, their 6-year-old daughter, Nusha, from Pctro-kow, Poland, and the baby, Daniel, born in the camp six months ago. (They had left Nusha, who is fair enough to be "Aryan", with Gentile friends in their native town when they fled before the Nazis, and were reunited after liberation.) There was Samuel Neubauer, who had "been through it all — ghetto, concentration camps, slave labor — watching everyone around me killed but somehow never feeling nervous for myself. But now— now for the first time I am nervous. We do not know what will happen to us. We do not know where we are going. We do not know, three years after the war, what will become of us." Thus, as they loaded the trucks, as they took down the sign in Hebrew letters below the Star of David — "Give Help to Israel"— as friends bade each other wordless farewells, as they flew out of Berlin to Wiesbaden and Frankfort and then were dispersed to other DP camps in the west of (Continued on Page Tieelvt) from prying eyes E very day hundreds of customers may be in and out of the bank which serves you. Yet you know nothing about their transactions, they know nothing about yours. You may be depositing or borrowing. The amount mav be a dollar, or thousands. That's vour business . . . nobody else's. You take for granted this private, personal relationship between you and your bank. All banks see to it that vour transactions— and those of about 7,000,000 other Canadians- are kept safe from prying eyes. SPONSORED BY YOUR BANK

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"Canadian Jewish Review." Multicultural Canada. N.p. n.d. Web. 11 February, 2016.

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