David Giora: Hannah Kramarz

I knew Hannah (or Hanke) Kramarz even before my father went to work in her father’s sewing workshop, since Hanke learned with me in the same class, so in that sense, if I want to write about Hanke, I must focus on all issues related to this family.

My father worked for many years for Welwel (wolf) Orlovsky, and had to leave the work there (I’ll tell the details separately). At most, my father worked for Kramazs, for less than two years, until the outbreak of the war.

Their home, namely the workshop and apartment were linked to each other. It was a one-story wooden building, on Kilinskiego Street, not far from the Orlovsky’s home and very close to the railroad tracks.

As before, my father worked in the same professional field as a military tailor and he was the only assistant of Kramarz, knowing very good polish, of course. Why do I emphasize polish? Because the mother, Hava (known by all Havtza), tried to talk Polish to her two daughters, which has been seen as the beginning of the assimilation of the family.

The Kramarz weren’t very observant, but they were still far from being Gentiles. Eventually the girls would stray away from Jewish tradition, surly.

In the room next to the store / workshop, was the guest room with a sofa and a mirror on the wall. This is where Polish army officers would measure suits, and this room is where I listened to the radio broadcast using headphones for the first time. So if there was something that attracted me to visit this house, it was the radio. This does not mean that the girls did not attract me, but as a child I was ashamed to show and express it.

One day they moved the radio to the other room facing the courtyard and then, too, I kept listening to the radio unit it went quite. The reason was that I liked to play with different buttons and this caused its silence. I was really afraid to tell that the radio ceased to operate and set the headset aside. As I was leaving, I heard Havtza tell her husband the radio was not working, but no one accused me.

The next time I came to visit my father (and the girls) I could see the girls’ frowning faces and I never asked to listen to the radio again.

My mother was friendly with Havtza before my father began to work for them. Apparently, familiarity began when meeting at school’s parents’ meetings. The deepest friendship occurred with the Kramarz on the summer of 1939, when the families spent time together in the summer months in the same house in two adjoining rooms in the Wolenitz village.

The Kramarz abandoned their home during the bombing of September 1939 and moved into an apartment two hundred meters away, hoping to escape the bombs dropped on the nearby train station.

Fatefully, a bomb fell right there and the whole family had been killed with no trace or remnant.

Immediately after the bombing, as they began to look for survivors or bodies of Jews to bring them to burial (and there were those who sought Jewish wealth) I’ve heard they found the four family members lying on a single bed (probably sitting at the table for breakfast) adjacent to each other.

On Havtza’s neck hung a bloodstained bag containing a lot of Polish money. If it was one of her relatives, acquaintances or just someone off the street who coveted the money, I’ll never know.

Anyway, in those dark days, whoever found it – found a treasure.

May their memory be blessed.

Written by David Giora.
Translated from Hebrew by Mr. Yuval Romano