Holocaust Teacher Resource Center

Support us by buying from the following:

Reading Passages for slides (13) and (14)

Page 24

June 12, 1941

One of the plagues of the ghetto is the beggars, who continue to multiply. They are refugees who have no friends or relatives here and for whom there is no place even in the terrible “homes” established by the community. During the first few days after their arrival they look for work. At night they sleep in the doorways, that is to say, in the street. When they become exhausted and their swollen feet refuse to carry them any further they sit down on the edge of the sidewalk or against a wall. They close their eyes and timidly stretch out a begging hand for the first time. After a few days they ask for charity with their eyes open. When hunger torments them even more fiercely, they begin to cry… thus the so-called “rabid beggar” develops…Someone throws him twenty groszy or even half a zloty, but he cannot buy anything for such small sums.

Mary Berg p. 69-70

The establishment of the ghetto truly marked a turning point in our lives. All of a sudden the spectacle of unrelieved and concentrated poverty had thrust itself upon our eyes. The situation deteriorated with every passing day. The streets were littered with dead bodies. True, in the course of time, your senses get dull, you get accustomed to these sights, you simply step aside and move on. I used to pass by a small family: two young people were holding a small girl in their arms. I remember well the dignity visible in their posture and silence. Every time I passed them by, I gave them a little something. One day they disappeared, and I knew they were no longer among the living…

I used to see singers on street corners. One of them, endowed with an unusually powerful voice, was actually an opera singer. He used to attract a small crowd which threw him a few groshen. There was also Rubinstein, the mad jester of the ghetto; I remember some of his wisecracks: “Hold on, don’t give away your ration card! ” and “The price of lard is going down, the rich are getting scarcer!” Later on he used to say that only three people would survive: Czerniakow, Abraham Ganzweich, and himself. I also remember him saying: “You think I am mad? But if I weren’t, I would be dead already!” He never failed to attract curiosity seekers.

Antek Zukerman, p. 112 [Hebrew]