Oral History

Bella Jakubowicz Tovey describes a meeting between her father and the Jewish council leader in Sosnowiec

Bella was the oldest of four children born to a Jewish family in Sosnowiec. Her father owned a knitting factory. After the Germans invaded Poland in 1939, they took over the factory. The family's furniture was given to a German woman. Bella was forced to work in a factory in the Sosnowiec ghetto in 1941. At the end of 1942 the family was deported to the Bedzin ghetto. Bella was deported to the Graeben subcamp of Gross-Rosen in 1943 and to Bergen-Belsen in 1944. She was liberated in April 1945.


[Moshe] Moinyek Merin, who owned...who was the head of the ghetto, met my father in the street and he knew my father, and he liked my father. He had worked for my father. And he said...he offered my father a job of a militiaman, and my father said, "Why are you asking me to become a militiaman? I mean, you know that this is something that I would find very difficult to do." And Moinyek Merin said to him, "Terrible things are going on and people, you know, are disappearing. And, uh...but there is a war going on, and the war may end. Maybe it'll end in a month. Maybe it'll end in a half a year. I'm trying to hold on to this ghetto. I'm trying to hold on to as many people as I can. If you are working as a militiaman, your chances of holding on to your family are much better." And my father said to him. "I am...I'm a religious Jew. I couldn't go and knock on anybody's house and ask somebody...take somebody somewhere where, as you say, terrible things are happening." And Moinyek Merin said to him--he got very impatient with him--and he said, "I don't understand why you are...why you are refusing. I'm trying to help you. I'm trying to help you. And it's your God...I know you...your...it's your God that's doing it. He's looking down at this whole misery, all our suffering, and He's not lifting a finger, and the only thing you can do is you can help yourself. He's not helping you." And my father said to him, "I don't know who's doing it, but if it is God, I am not going to be His Malach HaMavet. I am not going to be His Angel of Death."


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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