ZALMAN

2019-10-15

ZALMAN

Cheers!
Zalman? It could be the very same guy.
I did not know him personally, but I remember his name.
I remember it because my grandmother told me something about it.
The guy was rich.
He had several tenement houses here in the town before the war.
What a miser he was!
He was collecting the rent himself.
To hire and pay an administrator was too much for him.
Was someone behind with the rent for more than two months, the bailiff came at once.
Several times the people were evicted if they did not want to move out.
No. Zalman did not make a difference there, Jew or not Jew, Pole or not Pole - no payment - leave the premises!
When the Germans came, some tenants became even happy.
At last, they would become free for Zalman, and nobody would bother them about the rent anymore.
But that bastard hired Limpy.
It was not his last name, but they called him so because he limped a little on one leg.
That Limpy was even worse.
He looted everything from the flats after those Jews who moved to the ghetto but charged the rent for the furnished ones.
At first, Zalman could stay by paying off the police chief.
He was so rich that he succeeded with this for some time.
Without our help, the Germans had difficulties distinguishing who was a Jew and who was not.
Particulary with those Jews who lived in the town.
Without looking into the pants, they had to rely on us.
Zalman disappeared when they began to empty the ghetto for people and send Jews away.
But this Limpy still came to collect the rent.
When people began to protest, he showed a legal act of ownership!
Zalman entrusted him everything!
If I want one more? I would not refuse! Thanks!
What was I talking about? Oh! Yes!
All this I know from my grandmother.
Zalman did not appear until 1946.
Limpy hid him and his family, but only for a short time.
Then he threatened that he would denounce them if they did not go away.
They left and were hiding in the forest.
I know it just by accident.
I found a newspaper from 1946, and there was an article about it without names, but my grandmother could remember it.
When the new regime security forces searched the nearby forest, they found a moonshine distillery plant next to the forester lodge. When they searched it, they found a shelter or a dugout. And there were some Jews! Scrawny and exhausted. They lived without food or drink for the last four days.
Because the forester, who kept them there, escaped when the security forces started their activities there.
Why did he keep them hidden so long time after the war?
Maybe because they still had some money to pay for hiding and food?
Grandmother said that the warfare in our area moved very quickly away.
One day there were the Germans, the other came the Russians, and on the third day, they went onward. So those Jews in the dugout did not notice anything.
Yes! It was Zalman with his family. They returned to the town to get their property back.
But Limpy showed them the door. He had the papers! And he told Zalman that that handwritten agreement about the loan of the property, he could put in his ..., you know.
Zalman complained to the authorities, but they told him to go to hell.
Not just him. Several other Jews had survived.
But they have been told to go away because they were not wanted here. Some guys even threatened that if these Jews claimed their rights, it could end badly for them.
Grandmother said that the atmosphere in the town became very unpleasant when the Jews returned.
None of them stayed here. OK. Some people pitied them. But no one pitied Zalman.
Limpy? He quarreled with the head of the local security police.
No. It was not about real estate. The quarrel was about a woman. They accused Limpy of collaborating with the regime's enemies. He got 15 years jail sentence and forfeiture of property. People were happy because nobody charged the rent for more than a year until the state took the buildings under its management.
No. None of these Jews or their relatives ever came back here.
Does anyone remember them? Probably not!
If not for my grandmother, I would not know anything either.
What? Do you have to leave now?
No problem. I will stay and finish your drinks.

Alex Wieseltier
April 2020

Alex Wieseltier - Uredte tanker
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