Excerpt: From "Fear"

Sunday, June 25, 2006

KIELCE, July 4, 1946 -- In frantic telephone calls, meetings, and conversations conducted during the early part of the day by various military, police, and administrative officials, there is constant talk of help being on its way. In the meantime there was nobody to issue orders, take decisive action, or even remove the imperiled Jews from Planty 7. Instead, the building was cordoned off by the soldiers and policemen on the scene, but they proved to be no obstacle to the second wave of attackers already on their way. Within an hour, the Jews who remained inside were assaulted again and scores were killed in the second surge of the pogrom by workers from the Ludwik?w Foundry who arrived en masse after midday. They came running, wielding tools, iron bars, and other improvised weapons. Some fifteen to twenty Jews were murdered in the ensuing hour and a half.

The whole area turned into a vast killing field and it was littered with bloody mementos long after the events of the day. Saul Shneiderman arrived in Kielce with a group of foreign journalists on the following day. He went to the main site of the pogrom, the building at Planty 7. "The immense courtyard was still littered with blood-stained iron pipes, stones and clubs, which had been used to crush the skulls of Jewish men and women. Blackening puddles of blood still remained. . . . Blood-drenched papers were scattered on the ground. . . . I picked up some. . . . There were letters addressed to the victims by their relatives in Palestine, and Canada, and the United States." Three days later Helena Majtlis drove across town in a military jeep to the hospital where she would be ensconced for several days nursing the wounded. The city streets, she remembered with horror, were still covered with blood.

-- Jan T. Gross

© 2006 The Washington Post Company