Chaskell Wollman

Born 1928 - Stazow, Poland

Chaskell, born 1928, in Stazow, a small town in central Poland. He and his younger sister, Yehudit, born 1932, were the children of Devora and Aron Wollman. There was a Jewish presence in Stazow as early as the beginning of the 18th century. The Jewish community operated schools, yeshivot (religious schools), two hospitals and libraries. At the end of the 19th century, Jews established clothing factories and engaged in small scale trading. Before World War II, there were about 5,000 Jews in Stazow, constituting over half of the town’s population. In 1932, local Polish peasants attacked and brutalized their Jewish neighbors. In spite of these hostilities, the Jewish community thrived. Chaskell was an eleven year old schoolboy in 1939, when the Soviet Union, by agreement with Germany, annexed Stazow and the neighboring area. The Soviets immediately instituted their own administration. This meant the extinction of traditional religious and cultural life for the Jewish community. With the suppression of private enterprise, Jewish economic life was destroyed. Still, the Jews believed they would quickly adjust and that they were better off under Soviet rule, than under German rule.

But, in June 1941, the Germans entered the town and immediately began brutalizing and persecuting the town’s Jewish population. A ghetto was established and, in June 1942, the Nazis forced Chaskell and his family, together with the entire Jewish population of Stazow and the surrounding area, into the ghetto. The ghetto, sealed from the rest of the city, was severely overcrowded and lacked food, medicine and heat. Daily people died of starvation and disease.

On November 8, 1942, the ghetto was liquidated, and its residents were pushed onto cattle cars and taken to an unknown destination. In an attempt to escape, Chaskell's father jumped from the train and was shot to death.

Chaskell, his younger sister, Yehudit, and his mother, together with the rest of the ghetto's Jews, were taken to the Treblinka Extermination Camp where they were gassed immediately upon arrival.

Chaskell was fourteen years old.

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