Welwel Rzondzinski

Welwel Rzondzinski

Born: 1903

Kaluszyn, Poland

One of six children, Welwel was born to Jewish parents living in the predominantly Jewish town of Kaluszyn, 35 miles east of Warsaw. His parents were religious, and they spoke Yiddish at home. Welwel's father was a bookkeeper for a large landowner. After Welwel's father died, his mother ran a newspaper kiosk in Kaluszyn. Welwel married when he was in his twenties and moved with his wife Henia to Warsaw.

1933-39: When war broke out three months ago, many Jews left Warsaw in a mass exodus towards the east. They were mostly young and middle-aged men who were afraid that the Germans would deport them as forced labor. Welwel was scared, too, but he couldn't leave Henia and their two children, Miriam and Fiszel. Now the Germans have entered the city, and they are seizing Jews off the street for labor gangs. Welwel tries to stay inside as much as possible.

1940-43: The Jewish ghetto, situated in the heart of the Jewish quarter, was sealed off a few weeks ago. The  Rzondzinski family's house on Gesia Street is in the ghetto and so is Welwel's grocery store, on Nowolipki Street. Only small quantities of food can legally be brought into the ghetto, so his stocks have shrunk. Most of his customers purchase the basic items that they are allowed on their near-starvation ration of bread, potatoes, and ersatz fat. Those of them who have the means complement their diet with black market goods.

Welwel and his family did not survive the war. They are thought to have been deported to the Treblinka killing center in the summer of 1942 or early 1943.