Welwel Kisielnicki

Welwel Kisielnicki

Born: 1884

Kaluszyn, Poland

Welwel lived with his wife, Feiga, and their three children in the small, predominantly Jewish town of Kaluszyn, which was 35 miles east of Warsaw. The Kisielnickis were religious and spoke Yiddish in their home. Welwel was a merchant and often traveled, by horse and wagon, to Warsaw on business.

1933-39: Our hopes that the war wouldn't reach Kaluszyn have been shattered. Last week, a German plane flew over our town and dropped a bomb on people waiting in line outside a bakery. Then, a few days later, German forces fought Polish troops in a battle right here in Kaluszyn. Half the town, including our house, has been flattened by bombs, so we're moving to the outskirts of town, to my cousin Mojsze's neighborhood.

1940-44: Here in the ghetto, which the Nazis set up in Kaluszyn a few months ago, people are desperate for food. The Nazis used to permit the Jews to leave town during the daytime to get food in the nearby village. But now the ghetto has been sealed. Some people sneak out to get food. But every day, Polish gendarmes [Polish police] catch these people on the road, imprison them, and in some cases, shoot them. Among some 50 people who have already been shot is our friend Chaim Neiman.

In late 1942 most of the Jews in Kaluszyn were deported to a killing center. Welwel, his family, and most of Kaluszyn's Jewish citizens perished there.