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Postwar Justice


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Notice on the Execution of Jakub Lejkin

Jakub Lejkin execution document
Courtesy of the Ghetto Fighters' House Museum, Israel
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tags: collaboration ghettos retribution & revenge

type: Report

Jewish police forces were made responsible for maintaining public order in the ghettos of occupied Europe. They operated under the authority of German-appointed Jewish Councils.1 When German authorities ordered roundups of Jews for deportation to labor camps, these Jewish police helped enforce the deportations. As the morale of Jewish police deteriorated, its members often grew increasingly brutal and corrupt. Police officials like Jakub Lejkin, who became Deputy Chief of the Order Service in the Warsaw Ghetto in May of 1942, earned a reputation for cruelty and  indifference. But work in the Jewish police also yielded privileges. Many who joined hoped that they—and their families—would be able to secure a living and avoid deportation.

In the summer of 1942, German authorities began an operation to deport hundreds of thousands of Warsaw's Jews to killing centers in occupied Poland. Jewish police officers helped bring the ghetto's inhabitants to collection points, from which most were sent to be murdered by gas at Treblinka. Diaries and testimonies describe the ruthless tactics of the policemen—they used sticks and axes to ensure delivery of their required quota of "heads." Many officers ignored exemption papers and took bribes. Those who exceeded their quotas often "sold" their captives to less successful comrades.

Efforts to pursue justice against these figures began soon after the deportations and continued into the postwar period. An underground resistance group in the Warsaw ghetto, the Jewish Fighting Organization (Żydowska Organizacja Bojowa [ŻOB]), almost immediately began issuing death sentences for those accused of assisting in deportations, including Jewish policemen. With leaflets like the one featured here, the ŻOB denounced both the Jewish Councils and the Jewish police. They declared membership in these groups was collaboration with Nazi Germany, and both policemen and council members became targets. The featured leaflet served as a warning to other Jews who were cooperating with German authorities and helping to implement their policies.

Documents describing the efforts to seek vengeance against Jews accused of collaboration are relatively rare. Some Jewish survivors remembered how they reacted to news of executions like Lejkin's. One commented after the war, "After each such occurence, I went out and, while passing a Jewish policeman in the street, I peered at him ominously. I straightened up and peered, convinced that now it was he who had to be terribly afraid."2

This police force formed as an arm of the Judenräte or "Jewish councils." For more information on the creation of the Jewish ghetto police, see Samuel Schalkowsky, ed., The Clandestine History of the Kovno Jewish Ghetto Police (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press in Association with the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2014). See also the item Report on the Activities of the Order Service Department of the Board of Representatives of the Jewish Population in Bendsburg.

Joanna Wiszniewicz, A Jednak Czasem Miewam Sny: Historia Pewnej Samotności (Warszawa: Agencja Wydawnicza "Tu," 1996), 74. Available in English as And Yet I Still Have Dreams: A Story of a Certain Loneliness, trans. Regina Grol (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2003).

 

Jewish Police.

German: "Factory security."

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DECLARATION

It is hereby publicly declared that due to charges brought against the leadership, officers and functionaries of the Jewish Police in Warsaw, as reported in the Declaration of Aug 17[,] the sentence of Jakub Lejkin, Deputy Director of the J.P.1 was carried out on Oct 29 at 6:10 in the evening.

Further repressive measures will be applied with without mercy.

It is also hereby publicly declared that the following have been charged:

1) The Presidium and Jewish Council in Warsaw for cooperating with the occupier and signing the Displacement Order.

2) Factory managers and administration in factories that are exploiting and oppressing workers.

3) Group leaders and officers of the Werkschutz2 for viciously abusing workers and the "illegal" Jewish population.

Repressive measures will be applied without mercy.
Warsaw, Oct 30, 1942

 

Archival Information for This Item

Source (Credit)
Courtesy of the Ghetto Fighters' House Museum, Israel
Source Number Adolf Berman Collection, no. 109
Date Created
October 29, 1942
Page(s) 4
Language(s)
Polish
Location
Warsaw, Poland
Document Type Report
How to Cite Museum Materials

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