Investigating Officer: Rosenfeld
Yacov Gurfein Date of Birth: Born 1921
Place of Birth: Poland
Fatherís Name: Abraham Gurfein
I was born in Sanok, Galicia, Poland.
In the summer of 1942, they put me and my family, plus forty other people in a work camp of the Schutzpolizei in Dabrowka, near Sanok. The work there consisted of the building of houses and barracks intended for a police school.
In September 1942, the Gestapo suddenly came in and took out five or six children, and about twenty adults, among them my father and other relatives, and transferred them to a transit camp in the town of Zaslaw, before taking them to the extermination camp at Belzec. At the same time they killed in the above-named camp about 500 Jews by shooting and about 10,000 were sent in special transports to Belzec.
I stayed in the work camp until November 1942, and after that they transferred my group - about sixteen people - to the ghetto in Sanok. We stayed there until January 1943, and that same night the Gestapo and Police surrounded the ghetto and took me and four hundred men and women and led us on foot to Zaslaw. On the way they collected another one hundred Jews who worked in the Zalinski factory, constructing railway carriages. They concentrated all of us in Zaslaw - we were about one thousand, three hundred people in all.
They held us in a big locked hall for three nights, and two days, without food or water. On 13 January 1943, they took all of us, except twenty who remained behind to collect our personal belongings, and loaded us into railway-freight wagons, which were intended for eight horses or forty men. We were one hundred and thirty altogether. Before we got in, they took all our personal belongings. The train started and after passing Jaroslaw I noticed the direction of the journey was Belzec.
The windows and the doors were closed from the outside with planks of wood and barbed-wire. On the way we broke through one of the windows and people started jumping through it, while the train was moving. I was the seventh to jump and fell down. I hid in a pile of snow. That was about two or three o'clock in the morning. The guards who noticed opened fire and afterwards stopped the train, which was already a few hundred metres ahead. I was inside a snowdrift for about two hours, when I heard the train was going, I got up and walked towards a Polish village. I can't remember its name. From there I walked to Jaroslaw and took a train to Przemysl.
Note: The transport on 13 January 1943, from Zaslaw was destined for Sobibor death camp, Belzec ceased gassing in December 1942
Holocaust Historical Society Archive
© Holocaust Historical Society 2014