BIALYSTOK - 45 YEARS LATER
By Ephraim Kissler "Boris", Gdansk Poland. Published in BIALYSTOKER STIMME, April, 1992
In Bialystok, on August 16, 1988, observances commemorating the 45th anniversary of the Bialystoker Ghetto uprising and the annihilation of the Bialystoker Jews took place. Participating in these events was, in addition to a great number of Poles, also larger group of Jews from many areas.
There were all 5 Jews who now live in Bialystok: 3 from the Bialystoker province - 2 from Bielsk Podlaski and one from Swolkh; 3 from the Jewish underground, ghetto fighters and partisans: Pinkhas Kozhetz, "Pavel", now a professor at the Sorbonne in Paris with his wife, "Marilka" Ruzhitzke Mukhalak of Sofot, and Ephraim Kissler "Boris" and his wife, from Gdansk; a group of "landsleit" from Israel, among them the Director of Education in Kiryat Bialystok, Szamay Kizelsztejn and his wife, Chana Kizelsztejn-Lin, one of the "Druskieniki miracle children," Lisa Strauch, a Horodanker, from Tel-Aviv, who, during the Shoah spent time in the Bialystoker prison, camps and Stutthoff, Auschwitz and others.
Also participating were representatives of organized Jewish social organizations in Poland, among them representatives of the orthodox Jews, Dr. Simkha Weiss, Felix Lifman and Samuel Farber, a Bialystoker who now lives in Lower Silesia, brother of the ghetto-fighter Henokh Farber, "Kovadlo." I want to stress that his father, Chaim Ben Shmuel was one of the last to receive a Jewish burial on the Zhabier Ghetto Cemetery in 1947. There was also the chairman of the Nisenbaum Family Foundation in Warsaw, which concerns itself with erecting and setting in order the Jewish cemeteries in Poland, Zygmunt Nisenbaum and his wife Sonia.
In conjunction with the anniversary the Bialystok city authorities issued a brochure in Polish dedicated to the history and suffering of the Bialystoker Jews during the time of the Holocaust.
On the morning of July 16, in the auditorium of the Bialystoker "filye" of the Warsaw University, there was a small scientific conference, devoted to the path of the Bialystoker Jews during 1939-1943. Participating in this conference was the chairman of the Polish committee to research the Nazi crimes, Prof. Kazimierz Concol. Dr. Dozent Adam Dobronski convened the conference. Greetings to all the participants of the commemorations in Bialystok were extended by Dr. Shimon Datner, who, due to illness, could not personally attend, but sent a cassette with his greeting in the form of an interview, in which he honored the martyrs and heroes of the Bialystok Ghetto.
The guest speaker at the conference was Bialystoker partisan, "Pawel", Pinkhas Kozhetz, who in 1968 left Poland and is now a professor in the Sorbonne in Paris. In an outstanding speech he gave an in-depth review of the history of Bialystoker Jewry during the years of 1939 – 1943. He is of the opinion that the Jews who remained in Bialystok could not live among people and, therefore went into the forests in order to continue to live with arms against the murderers of our people
Groups of Jews while placing
flowers on the site where the Bialystoker Ghetto cemetery once was. Standing L.
Sonia and Zygmunt Nisenbaum, Shie Bartnowski, Felix Lifman, manager of the Jewish organization and two other Bialystoker Jews. In the background, an office. A.Kissler
The writer of these lines spoke and honored the Jewish youth of Bialystok who raised their Maccabean flag of resistance in the dark years of our history and stated, "Our youngest survivor of Auschwitz, Samuel Pisar, believes that is a 'saga of blood and hope'."
The Jewish youth of Bialystok are a link in the chain of generations who fought for the honor of our people. They shed their blood on the altar of the nation. He adds that in the "Talmud shel Bavli" it is written that, "whoever has saved one life, it is as though he had saved the world." I believe this.
At the conference, Chana Kizelsztejn – Lin from Kiryat Bialystok awarded the rector of the Historical Institute of the Bialystoker Division of the Warsaw University a photograph album of Kiryat Bialystok.
It has almost become a tradition that such conferences ends with a controversy concerning Polish aid for the embattled ghetto. It also ended that way in Bialystok. We must not and dare not allow speculation, or turn our tragedy and bleeding, into a political chapter. We, inexperienced young boys and girls, fought alone against the greatest war machine of that time or of any time in the history of man.
This is the truth.
We also placed wreaths and bouquets of flowers, lit candles and said suitable prayers at the memorial plaque of the large shul and the 3,000 burned martyrs: at the memorial dedicated to the
fighter Yitzkhak Malmed, and on the Bagnovker cemetery.
In the afternoon, there were commemorations at the memorial plaque located on the spot where the Bialystoker Ghetto Cemetery once stood, and which was totally destroyed in 1971, without leaving a trace.
The sounds of "El Moley Rakhmim" rang out. Hundreds of people, dozens of Polish and Jewish delegations, placed wreaths and flowers, as did the representatives of the Polish community, military, combatants, scouts, factories and many other organizations and individuals, both Polish and Jewish.
The writer of these lines lit six torches at the communal grave of almost 3500 Jewish martyrs and fighters from Bialystok, after a hiatus of so many years, at the plaque near the government representatives. Samuel Farber, a Bialystoker, intoned the "El Moley Rachamim" and said "Kaddish" together with us.
From the bloody earth of "our" graves and monuments in Bialystok, on this day rose Heavenward our prayer "Yitgadal v'yidkadash..." - grant them all a bright hereafter because they gave their lives for the sanctification of God and our people.
Later, in the Bialystok Philharmonic Hall, a memorial service was held, where a representative of the city authorities, Wechler, honored those who had been murdered and perished; in the name of the remaining organized Polish Jewry, an impressive talk by Dr Simkha Weis. Among others, he said: "the Bialystok Jewish Youth proved that Jews are prepared and are capable of fighting for the honor of our people and for the honor of every human being."
For the first time in Poland. I was successful in officially organizing, on the scene, the lighting of 6 candles in memory of our 6 million martyrs. Three candles were lit by three Jewish families, Pavel and Mire Kozishetz from Paris, Szamay Kizelsztejn and his wife Chana Kizelsztejn - Lin from Kiryat Bialystok in Israel, Zygmunt and Sonia Nisenbaum from Warsaw: three candles by Polish combatants, who fought in World War II.
Following the official ceremonies, a concert of Yiddish songs by Slava Pshivilskaya took place. A tremendous impression was made by the song, "Es Brent' ("it is burning"), and other songs of the Bialystoker Ghetto. The fully packed auditorium responded to the concert with great attentiveness and respect and during the song 'Rivkele, di shabesdike" ("Rivkele the Sabbath one), one could hear crying and sobbing in the hall.
BUT! There are no Jews left in Bialystok (only 5 out of a population of ¼ million). Our one-time hometown is cleansed of Jews. They also killed the living. Our graves and monuments disappear daily.
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Last updated August 15th, 2006