Julian Weinberg, forty-nine years old at the time of the German conquest of Poland in 1939, was managing director of the electric power plant in Łódź, a post he resumed after liberation in 1944. Evidently he was visiting Paris at the time of his interview and planned to return to Poland. For some unexplained reason he was prepared to grant only half an hour for his interview. When a spool ran out as his story neared its end, there was no follow-up. This is a pity, because Weinberg experienced the entire span of the Łódź ghetto and was one of only a few hundred Jews who escaped its liquidation in August 1944.
Short though it is, Julian Weinberg's story offers some glimpses into the fate of Łódź Jewry, including its terrorization by ethnic Germans in the first months of Nazi rule and the frantic rush of Jews to escape the terror by moving into the ghetto created in April 1940. Evidently the Germans had succeeded in making it look attractive to at least some inhabitants of Łódź, because Weinberg had to prove that his son was who he said he was and not some Polish orphan seeking a "free ride" to the ghetto. The interview also reveals how the Nazis skillfully lied to the Jews to secure their cooperation at various points, including their final removal from the ghetto, ostensibly to workplaces in Germany, but actually to the gas at Chelmno and Auschwitz.
Julian recalls work in the ghetto as being "a kind of silent sabotage” of the Germans as well as of the Jewish Council, widely viewed as corrupt by the mass of Jews. His job in the furniture shop explains why he was one of some 800 Jews exempted from the final evacuation of the ghetto to clear it of valuables, including furniture in need of repair. As the Russian army approached he was among those with the wit to go to ground and evade German death squads that combed the ghetto.
From FRESH WOUNDS: EARLY NARRATIVES OF HOLOCAUST SURVIVAL by Donald L. Niewyk. Copyright (c) 1998 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. www.uncpress.unc.edu