Hrubieszów Ghetto Deportation
Hrubieszow Railway Station
On 1 June 1942, two girls from the Warsaw Ghetto who were part of the underground movement Chawka Folman and Frumka Plotnica tried to make contact with the Jews of Hrubieszow, in the Lublin District, travelling by train, at great personal risk. Chawka Folman provided a moving account of what they witnessed:
On approaching Hrubieszow, we became aware of an unusual commotion; big crowds were gathered on the platform. Unsuspecting, we alighted at the station. But we soon learned that the thousands herded there were Jews; men and women, old and young, children pressed among the bundles of household effects: cries and shouts of the Germans. Four stout, red-faced Germans, arms bare, gallop on horseback along the platform, ply their whips ceaselessly, tread on whomever they find in their way, vent their wrath on mothers holding babies in their arms. A huge German with the face of a murderer, leads off four youths clad in kapotes. Their faces are frozen; a few metres from the window of the waiting room, where Frumka and I took refuge, they are ordered to dig. They are urged along with the whip. 'Quickly, we have no time!' A few minutes later, four shots are heard, and again the whip is used on those who are bidden to fill in the open grave.
Suddenly a horrible scream of a woman is heard, followed by a shot. A woman with a baby in her arms keels over. She wanted to throw the baby over the fence, in the hope that it would be spared. But a moment later she and the baby are trodden to death by the horses' hoofs. A deadly silence descends on the platform. I hold fast to the window sill; I feel terribly dizzy. We start walking into town. The road is crowded with carts bearing old and sickly people who are unable to walk to their 'destination.' They are guarded by Ukrainian police. We are allowed to look our fill. Only a 'trifle' is required of us; a smiling face! Are we not supposed to be true Goyim and is not spring in the air?
We go through well-known lanes and streets, we reach the house of Aaron Frumer, where we used to meet frequently. The door to his flat is wide open, the floor is littered with all sorts of household objects, but not a living soul in sight. Where to now? In the centre of town, two Germans walk, preceded by a group of Gentile boys. The Germans carry axes, the boys are leading them to a house where Jews are hiding. In order not to draw attention to ourselves, we quicken our pace in the direction of the chuch. There Frumka stays behind and I make a short tour. In a shop I learn that the Jewish youth had been concentrated back of the town. They are intended for the labour camps, whilst the 'rubbish' will go elsewhere. This remark by my informant is accompanied by a sly smile, which I have to return in kind.
Despite my efforts, we could not reach our comrades, and, as there was no train to Warsaw until eight the following morning, we had to spend the night in a hotel. We pass the inspection of the hotel-keeper satisfactorily and are given a room. Needless to say, we passed a sleepless night. Early in the morning, another inspection is thorough; the policemen are not quite convinced and we are ordered to report later in the day at the police station. We decide we cannot risk another inspection. We check out and find our way to the station by devious ways. If we succeed in reaching Warsaw, we intend to return and try again to contact our friends.
A 'special' train stands on the platform, filled to overflowing with Jews. The platform is strewn with bundles, pillows, prams, pots and pans. A number of Gentile boys are waiting. As soon as the train steams out, they will appropriate the loot.
Chawka Folman and Frumka Plotnicka reach Warsaw and made the report about this transport of Jews from Hrubieszow to the Sobibor death camp.
Chawka Folman -Raban was born during 1924 in Kielce. In the ghetto she was an activist in the Dror Movement, a pupil in an underground gymnasium and as a courier for the underground travelled to many towns in occupied Poland. She lived at 43 Dzielna Street and then at 34 in the same street, which was also the headquarters of Dror. She was arrested during December 1942, in Krakow, in connection with the attack on the Cyganeria café and was incarcerated in the Auschwitz concentration camp, and also at Ravensbruck concentration camp in Germany. After the war she returned to Poland and she emigrated to Palestine in 1947. She lived in the Ghetto Fighters Kibbutz and wrote her memoirs.
Frumka Plotnicka was born during 1914, in Plotnicka, Poland. She belonged to the Zionist Youth Movement Dror, and became a member of its leadership cadre in 1938. At the outbreak of the Second World War she fled to Kovel, then under Soviet rule, which was hoped to pave the way for settlement in Palestine.
In 1940, the leadership of the Dror decided that some of its members should return to German -occupied Poland and Frumka went to Warsaw. At great personal risk to herself she travelled to a number of Jewish communities to fortify local Zionist Youth cells. In September 1942, she was sent to Bedzin by the ZOB, set with the task of bolstering the underground, in their moves to armed resistance against the Germans. Its Agricultural Training Centre became the focal point of Zionist Youth activity in Bedzin. On 1 August 1943, the final liquidation of the Jewish community in Bedzin was launched by the Germans. Frumka Plotnicka was killed in a bunker, along with the last group of Jewish fighters on 3 August 1943.
Martin Gilbert, The Holocaust, Collins, London, 1986
B. Engelking & J. Leociak, The Warsaw Ghetto, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2009
Photograph - Tall Trees Archive
© Holocaust Historical Society 2016