Zalman? I didn't know
him personally, but the name sure rings a bell.
Yes.... I remember. Grandma told me about it.
He was a rich old bugger and a miser to boot.
Before the war, he had several tenement houses in the town, but he was too cheap to hire an administrator. So, he collected the rent himself.
If someone was behind with the rent for more than two months, the bailiff was dispatched at once.
Several times people
were evicted if they did not move out immediately.
No, Zalman didn't discriminate. Jew or non-Jew, Pole or whatever - no payment - get the hell out of there.
When the Germans
came, some tenants were delighted.
Now they would be free of Zalman, and nobody would bug them about rent.
But then the sly bastard went and hired ' Limpy'.
Limpy wasn't t his real name...just a nickname. Because he limped a little.
But, here's the rub,
bloody Limpy was even worse than Zalman.
He looted everything from the flats vacated by the Jews who moved to the ghetto.
Then he went and charged the same rent as if they were furnished.
At first, Zalman
could stay on by paying off the police chief.
He had enough cash to do that for quite a while.
Yes indeed.... it's true .... without our help, the Germans had difficulty figuring out who was Jewish and who was not. Particularly about the Jews who lived in town. They had to rely on us. Unless they got them to drop their pants and so forth,
Back to Zalman.
He disappeared when they began to empty the ghetto and send the Jews away. But Limpy still came to collect the rent.
When people began to protest, he showed them a legal document of ownership!
Seemed like Zalman gave him everything!
One more drink? - I won't say no! Thanks!
What was I talking
Oh! Yes! All this I know from Grandma.
Zalman did not reappear until 1946.
Limpy hid him and his family during the war, but only for a short time.
Then he turned on them and threatened to turn them in if they did not go away.
So, they left and hid in a forest dugout.
How do I know? An odd
I found a newspaper from 1946 with an article about it.
Without names, but Grandma had no trouble piecing it together.
When the new regime's security forces searched the nearby forest, they found a moonshine distillery plant next to the forester lodge.
There they found a shelter or rather a dugout.
And inside - Jews! Scrawny and exhausted.
They had survived without food or drink for four days.
Apparently, the forester, who kept them there, ran away when he heard about the security forces impending search.
Why did he keep them
hidden so long after the war?
Perhaps because they still had money to pay for food and shelter?
Grandmother said that
the frontline in our area changed very rapidly.
One day there were the Germans, the next - Russkies, and on the third day, they were gone. So, the Jews in the dugout did not notice anything.
Yes! It was Zalman with his family.
Then, low and behold,
Zalman returned to the town to get his property back.
Limpy immediately showed him the door. He had the papers!
And he told Zalman that he could shove their handwritten agreement about just a lease where the sun doesn't shine!
Zalman bitched and whined to the authorities, but they told him to go to hell.
Not just him. Piles
of other Jews had also managed to pull through, and they were told to screw off
Some people even threatened the Jews that if they claimed their rights, it could end very badly for them.
Grandma said that the
atmosphere in the town became very unpleasant when the Jews returned. None of
them settled here.
Mind you, some people even felt sorry for them, but no one gave a shit about Zalman.
Limpy? He quarreled
with the head of the local security police.
Naaah. Nothing to do with real estate. It was about a woman.
Rough justice. Limpy was accused of collaboration with the anti-regime insurgents and got fifteen-year jail sentence and property confiscation.
And people were happy because nobody charged them rent for more than a year until the state took the properties under its management.
No. None of the Jews
or their relatives ever came back here.
Does anyone remember them? Probably not!
If not for my grandma, I would not know anything either.
You must leave now?
No problem. I will stay and finish the booze.