«Bund» of Poland - The case of Henryk Erlich and Victor Alter

charge. Thc truth is that thcy wcrc dc1aincd along with thousands of ~ othcr Po\ish citizens, especially Socialists and tra.dc unionists. Close upon the heels of the U.S.S.R. army which occupìed Polish tcrritoryin September, 1939,followcd manydetachmcntsofthc N.K.W.D., the politica! policc of Soviet Russia (formcrly the "G.P.U."'). And immcdiately mass arrcsts among all dasses of thc population of Polnnd began to takc piace. Especially grcat numbers of arrests wcrc made among thc Polish Labour lcadcrs, belonging to the Polish Socialist Party and IOthe Jcwish ·· Bund... Thc arrcsts bcgan on Septcmber 20th, thrcc days afler thc Soviet army had cntered Poland. Thc town councillors. mcmbers of the committees of the local Socialist partics, members ofthc tradc union cxeçutives, organiscrs of working-class and pcasant youth werearrestcd. Among thcsc wcrc Erlich and Alter. The fact that they werc seni a few days later to thc centrai prison of thc N.K.W.D., ·· Butirki," in Moscow, suggests that thcse arrests hnd becn planncd from the first upon thc order of the centrai authoritics, and that thcy belongcd tO the "operational pian" of thc Sovicts, prcpared cvcn beforc thai part of Poland had becn occupicd. The way in which thesc arrcsts wcre made was typical. In 1he houscs, whcrc thc arrests took piace, not only the men whom 1he policc had come to fctch wcrc arrcstcd, but c\·erybody who was in thc housc with them. In Wilno, for instancc, the policc cntcrcd the housc of an old activc "Bund ., leader, Zelcznikov, who had be(:n exilcd to Siberia in the time of thc Czar, in order IOarresi him. Quite accidcntally they found lhcre also a man named Rosenstcin employcd in the s:rnatorium for workingclass childrcn named after Wladyslaw Mcdcm. This man, who had flcd from Warsaw and 1hc Germans, thcy also arrcstcd. He was sentenced 10 the labour camp whcrc he met his death. Also in Wilno. the Secret Soviet polìcc camc 10 arrest a wcll-known Socialist leader, a lawyer namcd Tajtell. Bui they found thcrc a refugee from Warsaw, a wcll-known trade unionist and Socialist, who had spcnt years in Czarist prison -H. Himelfarb. They took him along and sentcnced him tocight ycarsin thccamps, lt proved quite impossiblc IO intervene with the examining magistrale or thc public prosocutor. With vcry fcw cxccp(ions, no parccls or food or clothing were allowed to rcach them. The w1feof one of the arrcsted men, Mrs. G., was told by the c;c.aminingmagistrale; ·· You ha\"Cfunny womcn here. In our country, in Russia, when thc husband is arrcsted 1hcwifc sucs for divorcc and tooks for another one. But hcrc you come along plcading and begging, which can, after ali, only result in your being scnt away also."" No information as IO lhe fate of the arrested pcrsons was availablc, muçh lcss was thcrc any chance of seeing the prisoners or of sending lcners toor from the prison. 10 Biblioteca Gino Bianco