- Ruhe! Ruhe! Quiet! – he shouted. – All Jews are to get on board the railroad cars. You are going to a place where work awaits you. I want order. No pushing or delaying the boarding . Whoever creates panic or resists will be shot dead.
He broke off and fixed his gaze on the crowd of people in front of him and slowly began to open the holster of his pistol. He took out the gun. The front rows of Jews started to step back. The Nazi broke into a laugh and fired three shots into the crowd. The deathly silence was pierced with a shrill cry. He slowly shoved the gun into the holster.
- And now, onto the cars! Raus! – he yelled.
The crowd froze. Suddenly, shots could be heard from behind. Frightened and shrieking, the people rushed forward. They were so close to the wooden ramp, but the stream of people was too wide to fit onto it. The SS men opened fire. The people running started to fall to the ground. The dull thudding of their feet resounded from the ramp boards. Next, the guards who stood by the railroad cars began to shoot. The crowd slowed down.
- Ordnung! Ordnung! shouted the SS man.
The first Jews fell into the cars. The Nazi counted them by the door as they got in. After he had reached “one hundred and forty”, the SS man howled “Halt!” and fired two shots. They stopped. The train pulled away and an empty railway carriage rolled up to the ramp. More prisoners began to get in.
According to military regulations, a freight car was allowed to carry eight horses or forty soldiers. Cramming the people in by force and without any baggage the car could hold one hundred people. The Nazis s ordered that one hundred and thirty were to be squeezed in, and then t they managed to pack in another ten. It was impossible to close the door; they beat the unfortunate Jews with sticks, fired inside and shouted. To create more room those getting in climbed on the shoulders and heads of those already inside. Shrieks and howls emanated from the depths of the car.
When the one hundred and forty people were in the carriage, the guards started shutting the door. The heavy door made of wood covered with iron crushed any limbs s that stuck outside and loud cries of anguish could be heard. After sliding the door shut, the Nazis secured it with an iron bar and bolted it.
Before the Jews got in,, a layer of quicklime was emptied onto the floors of the carriages. Officially, it was to serve as a hygienic measure preventing the spread of infectious diseases. In reality, the lime very quickly absorbed the humidity of the air, causing an increase in the oxygen so that people began to suffocate. At the same time, lime that came into contact with human excrement exuded toxic substances such as chlorine that led to suffocation. The Nazis achieved a double goal. Diseases were not transmitted and it was easier to wash down the railroad cars once the people got off. Also, a number of Jews died during the journey, which was what the Nazis actually hoped for.
The Polish railway men sometimes reported seeing the cars carrying the Jews standing in the railway sidings for a few days. When they were opened, there were only dead bodies inside…
[…] The dead and the dying were in the camp yard. The guards strolled by slowly and shot them in the head. After a while there was deathly silence [....][4.1].
The main wave of transportations to the death camps took place in October and November 1942 and then the Jews from Zamość, Krasnystaw and other neighboring towns were brought to Izbica.
On 2 November 1942, a Ukrainian unit of SS men from Trawniki and the Police in navy blue from Izbica surrounded the village. In the next few days the Jews were sent to Bełżec and Sobibór. Several thousand Jews had been rounded up in the fire station[4.2] from where they were chased in groups to the Jewish cemetery and executed there. The transit ghetto was closed down[4.3].
Then a ghetto for remaining Jews was created. The Nazis took the last Jews from Izbica to Sobibór in April 1943. The final liquidation of the ghetto took place on the 28th of April 1943 when the last two hundred Jews were sent to Sobibór. Almost all the inhabitants of Izbica were executed, apart from 14 Jews who survived the Holocaust[4.4].
Halina Błaszczyk (maiden name Babiarz) and her mother Kazimiera Babiarz (who died in 1993) were awarded The “Just amongst the Nations” medal. Before the war, the Babiarz family owned the only Polish mill in Izbica. The remaining six belonged to Jews.
[4.1] Jan Karski, Wikicytaty, http://pl.wikiquote.org/wiki/Jan_Karski, [as of the 16th of May 2008].
[4.2] Fire station is situated on the left side of the road leading from the square to the nearby Tarnogóra.
[4.3] J. Niedźwiedź, Leksykon historyczny…, p. 195.
[4.4] R. Kuwałek, Z Lublina do Bełżca..., p. 17.
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