Brok - (Warsaw region) 76 km NE of
| Cemetery |
Destruction Brok |
Article published in the Pinkas Hakehilot, Encyclopaedia of
Warsaw and Its Region
(District of Ostrów Mazowiecka, Region of Białystok)
The Brok Synagogue
Sefer ha-zikaron le-kehilat Ostrov-Mazovyetsk Edited by: Arye (Laibl) Margolis
(Margalit), Assoc. of former residents of Ostrow-Masowieck Published in Tel
Brok is a tourism resort on the bank of the Bug River. In the year of 1939 there
lived about 3000 inhabitants, 1000 among them were Jews. The first natives
settled there in the 17th century. Their livelihood was small
commerce and leasing of orchards and craftsmanship.
The first Jews of the place were Jews from Płock. With the development of Brok
as a resort town by the end of the 19th century, new sources of
livelihood and economic opportunities opened to the Jews. Part of the Jews of
Brok started with services to the vacationers. New Kosher inns and restaurants
were built and the existing shops prospered. Brok was well known by its matzah
for Passover (unleavened bread) bakery and it supplied them also in Warsaw and Łódź. These bakeries operated a few months in the year, near Passover. In the
small town prevailed traditional and religious way of life. There were 3 Bathei
Midrash, Houses of Study. The central synagogue was made of wood and was
build by the end of the 19th century. Among the known Rabbis who
served in Brok were R’ Abraham Lajb (from the Kock Hassidim) who
served in 1890, R’ Nachman Shmuel Jakob (in 1908), R’ Shmuel Icchak
Miadasar (in 1925) and R’ Jakob Meir Pomeranc (immigrated to Eretz
The following Societies were active in relief and social welfare: “Linath
Hatzedek”, which took care of the poor sick people, “Hachnasat Orhim”
(hospitality of the poor) and “Kupat Gmiloth Hassadim” which gave loans free of
interest. In the period between the two World Wars, branches of Zionim
Klaliim, “Hamizrachi” and the Revisionists, as well as Zionist youth
movements – “Hashomer Hatzair” “The Zionist Youth, “Hashomer Hadati” (The
Religious Hashomer) and Beit”ar were founded in Brok. In the year of 1938
was founded in Brok the center of Hachshara (preparatory) of
Hakhalutz (The Pioneer). The local branch of “Agudath Israel” relied
mainly on Gerrer Hassidim.
A few of the local Jewish youth belonged to the “Bund” and the Communist
movement which were illegal. In the election to the local Council, the Jews of
Brok won 3 mandates (2 the “Bund” and one of the civil movement). Most of the
Jewish boys of Israel studied in traditional Heders (religious elementary
schools) and the girls in Beth Jakob schools. During the period between
the two World wars, the education became obligatory so many of the Jewish
children studied in the Polish elementary school in Brok.
Brok was occupied by the German Army on 8th of September 1939. The
following day the conquerors set fire in town, burning almost all the wood made
houses of Brok. Many of the local people were burnt alive, among them about 40
Jews. The Jews who tries to escape were herded to the local church and men age
15-45 were led to Ostrów-Mazowiecka and Komorówo. They were freed after 2 weeks.
The abuses and persecutions intensified and by the end of September 1939.
Robberies and murders were the daily share of the Jews in Brok. Anti-Semite
Poles, local inhabitants of Brok cooperated with the German with all these
abuses. Most of the Jews escaped and reached Ostrów-Mazowiecka. Even then,
murders of the remaining Jews happened all the time.
On Hol Umoed Succuot (the intermediate days of Tabernacles) (1939) the
Germans ordered all the refugees from Brok to leave Ostrów-Mazowiecka and move
to the Soviet zone. Most of the refugees arrived to towns and village is the
eastern part of Poland. Most of them were killed in the years of 1941-1942,
during the war of Germany and the Soviet Union. About 300 survivors from Brok
survived the War in the interior lands of Russia.
Yad Vashem Archive M-11/1357
The Central Zionist Archive, Jerusalem Z-4/3569 III, IV, V, Z-4/3740
a. III 38 file 13.
The memorial book of the Jewish Community of Ostrów-Mazowiecka, Tel Aviv 1960,
(the daily Yiddish newspaper in Warsaw) 17.12.1918, 10.1.1919, 13.1.1919,
“Neue Folks Zeitung” 29.7.1927, 5.8.1927.
The Translation in JewishGen Yizkor Books Translations
Tombstone in the deserted Jewish Cemetery of Brok
photographs of the cemetery and tombstones will be added to this web site soon.
translation of the above article was made in honor of Damian Piekarski, who is a
native of Brok, and has asked me to translate it... This is because he wants to know all
about t the Jewish habitants of the town, before its destruction in the WWII...
I've received an email
By Rabbi Jakob Meier Pomeranc
Judie Ostroff Goldstein
source: JewishGen Yizkor Books
Translations database at:
war between Poland and Germany began Friday, the 1st of September 1939. Tuesday,
the 5th of September at midnight, a terrible explosion was heard. The Polish
army had blown up the bridge that spanned the Bug River at Brok. (It was said
that this was a provocation, a forged order, because later the Polish army did
not have any way of returning and their heavy artillery was left behind for the
The police left town during the night. We had no idea what was happening. From
the towns that the Germans had already taken and from the whole area, thousands
and thousands of people were fleeing with packages on their shoulders. They were
trying to escape to Warszawa, or to the eastern part of Poland, with the hope
that the Germans would not get that far.
Friday, the 6th of September (24th of Elul), the last Polish soldiers left Brok
and on Shabes, the German army arrived in Brok.
An officer called me to the market place and told me the stores must be opened,
that we should not be afraid, they would pay for everything: do not raise the
prices, as we know what they should be. I went around town pleading with people
not worry about it being Shabes and to open the stores because this is a
matter of saving lives. The Jews sat the entire day in the besmedresh and
said Psalms. But when I saw that groups of soldiers were coming into the school,
coming and going away, I called for Mincha and we went home. The Jews who
arrived later made a second minion for Mincha.
Suddenly as I arrived home, an airplane flew overhead and saw how the military
were gathered together in a certain place and soon bombs were raining down
(later we found out that the Polish artillery was firing from Ostrów to Brok).
Afterwards the German soldiers went into all the houses and dragged people out.
At my house we were full up with women and children. A soldier threw a hand
grenade into the kitchen and if it had exploded there would have been a lot of
victims. Luckily, a miracle happened – and the grenade fell into a pail of water
and never went off.
I was forced from the house by a soldier with a rifle who said, “out criminal,
or I shoot”! I began to run, not having any idea where I was going. Running past
the besmedresh, I saw that the Germans had surrounded it and had shot the
Jews who had arrived for the second “minion”. The following are those who
were murdered: Herszel Czernowin a butcher, Fiszel butcher's
son-in-law; Jakob Meier Rotbard (the dark one) and Motl Holland.
He was wounded and was brought to my house and laid on the
bed. But when the Germans forced everyone out of the houses, he died in the
courtyard of the Orthodox Church.
When I ran by the besmidresh, I saw that they were preparing to blow it
up with dynamite. They forced everyone to the market place, near the Orthodox
Church. The mass of people became larger and larger, the laments rose to the
sky. Men pleaded with me to say “confession” with everyone. People were kissing
each other, begging forgiveness from one another and saying goodbye. There was
bedlam when a large military brigade arrived and trained machine guns on the
assembled mass. The flames from the surrounding houses were growing and growing.
Then they forced all the Jews and Christians into the Orthodox Church courtyard
and an officer explained that partisans had shot a German soldier (this was a
provocation – they said the same in every town). A Catholic German soldier had
told a Catholic priest that morning that he should take his property to the
church, as they would set fire to the town that night. Virtually everyone
deserved to be shot, but Hitler was generous and would spare their lives, but
the property would be destroyed and therefore everyone should scream: “Heil
Also, a message was brought to us that there had already been a number of people
killed here in Brok. Michel Finkelsztejn, the turner, was shot near the
grain-mill while being dragged to the gathering place. Herszel Lewatowski;
Mordchai the butcher's son-in-law, Mosze Przestrzeleniec, a child
of six (Mordchai butcher's grandson); Herszl Sztejfman, a wagon
driver, was shot near his house; Chaim Jakob Zysk's Sztejnberg was
blown up when his house was bombed and burned. Fala, the writer's wife,
Szfaker and Hersz Icchok Rotbard's wife were also burnt – in total
ten people. It was difficult to remain sitting because of the heat – everything
around us was burning. If not for the trees that shielded us, we would have all
been burnt as well.
At midnight, the Jews gathered around Israel Chaim Szub and in the
courtyard of the Orthodox Church said the first slikhes.
In the morning we were ordered to leave town. We left in small groups, taking
various roads to get to Ostrów. In the group that left with me about three
kilometers from Brok, in the forest, three Jews were shot: Mendel Treblinski,
Icchok Maier Szajko and Meier the butcher (Szmulek's)
Przestrzeleniec. They also wanted to shoot me, but one of my children was
with me and then they did not murder small children. Thanks to my child I was
The entire Jewish population arrived in Ostrów and there was simply no place to
stay. Ostrów was full with thousands of refugees. People were living in all the
public buildings. The Germans scoffed at the Jews.
The trouble that Rabbi Zinger (Ostrower rabbi) endured from the Germans
is a separate chapter. Every time they called him, there were more demands to be
met. Every time they sent for him he was insulted and beaten and his beard was
The Jews still held on to the hope that Ostrów would belong to the Russians –
but the border remained outside Ostrów. There is no way to describe the torment
and sadness when it was realized that Ostrów would remain German.
Worse, the Jews who had stayed in Brok in the few remaining Jewish houses were
cut off. In the night Monday to Tuesday (28th Elul) the Germans blew up Meier
Szmulek's house and shot Icchok Kuperberg, an eighty-five year old
man, Zysze “melamed” and Izrael Hejmen (they wounded him,
but he managed to get to Ostrów and died there 3 Tishre); Alter Einbinder's
wife, Jakob Krupinski. From another house that belonged to Herszl
Surek, they took Herszl Surek, Matti shoykhet,
Jakob Migdal and his son Henich, Berisz Piwka, Arke
Jozef Langlejb, Berisz Jabkowski (blacksmith), Szmulke Szmelcynger
(Lejbl Szmelcynger's son), Mendel Sztrikmacher, Abraham Surek,
Anszel Prawidlo, tailor, and a Jewish stranger. They were taken to the
old castle and after great suffering were killed. On the road from Brok to
Ostrowa the Germans purposely ran over Markil Wajsbord and he died on
Rosheshoneh in Ostrów. Also the wife of Nach Burejkes was killed.
Jewish Genealogy: JRI Jewish
Record Indexing - Poland - The Town of BROK
Virtual Shtetl: The Jewish
Community of Brok
JewishGen - The Home of Jewish
| Cemetery |
Destruction Brok |
Last updated on March 7th, 2014