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

J,"JVE WEEKS WITH ERLICH ANO ALTER AT KUIBISHEV S1a1ement by lul'jan 8/it, 1,,ho.shored a rOQmwith them 01 tht lnl<mri.slHotel in Kuibis~r. (Mr. 8/it i~ a m,mb,r r,f IM Ctntra/ CDmminn 0/1/tr "' Butuf"" in PD/and, nwmber t,,,:'::ci/!)""" of 1/w $«/a/Ili Yo,,th J,r,tr,,o/lOIIIII, und nwnr/Nr of th, Wuru,~, 0/y In accordance with the Soviet-Polish Pnct I was released from a Soviet ·· Labour Camp" ncar Archangel, in September. 1941. In October I arrived al Buzuluk, a small town where lay the Hcad- ()~a~~~rs;~ht~~::~ ,~;~ya~~i!~ ~~!~\!-~h~nu/~ifh~1~f :1a~i1~: Broniewski, who brought me a message from Hcnryk Erlich and Victor Alter asking me 10 go as soon as possible 10 Kuibishev. where they had both bccn staying sincc the middle of that month aftcr bcing evaeuated from Moscow togethcr with the Polish Embassy. Thc next day, October 30th, 1941, I arri\·ed at the Grand Hotel, Kuibishevskaya S1. 111, Kuibishev, where, in room No. 31 second lloor, Erlich and Alter lh'ed during the whole periOO of thcir stay in thai town, Aflcr tcndcring a certificate from the Polish Embassy s1a1ing that I had been requested by thcm to come lo Kuìbishcv in order. lo undenake certain work among Polish nationals, I was gi\·cn perm1ssion by the .. lntourist "-to whom that hotel belongs-10 take up residence there. I lived with Erlich and Alter in thc same room unti\ Dccembc:r 4th, thc date of thcir rearrest, and staycd on, in the same room until Deccmber 28th. During the fivc weeks I shared their residence with them, I had the opponunity of hcaring frorn thesc two comrades the full s1ory of thcir last two years, i.e., from the moment of their arresi until my meeting with lhem. I also had the privilege of enjoying their fulles1 confldencc during our short stay togcther and for this rcason I belie,·e I know e1·erything they did from thc moment of their release in Moscow to 12.30 a.m. on thc 4lh Dccember, whcn thcy lcft never 10 rcturn. Erlich was arrestcd by thc People"s Commissariai of the Jn1crior (N.K.W.D.) late in Sep1cmbcr, 1939, at the railway station of Brzcsc (Brest Litovsk). After severa] weeks in the locai prison, he was transfcrrcd IOthe famous prison in Moscow known as " Butirki." There he was oflen questioned by various examining magistrates and once by the Ali-Russia Commissar for lhc lnterior-Beria. He was questioned as to thc attitodc of lhe ·· Bund " 1owards ali manncr of sodai and politica! probtcms. Naturally there wcrc not lacking 1hose ques1ions of a criminal-politieal charactcr so typical in any of the U.S.S.R. politica! trials. For instanec, hc was asked 10 confess 1hat, as leader of the Bund, assisted by the Polish poli1ical police, hc hud organiscd sabotagc and terrorist acts on U.S.S.R. tcrritory. Erlich purposely decidcd IO give replies in writing IO ali questions and charges brought against him (he spoke Russian vcry wcll). As he told me, he did this so as 10 lcavc in the rccords of thc N.K.W.D. a genuine account of the activities and views of thc Bund io Poland. Il Biblioteca Gino Bianco