Benjamin Arie (Leib) Perlmuter in the Officers Prisoners Camp at Woldenberg 1939-?

An article (originally in German) by Jan Jagielski, from the Jewish Institute in Warsaw, who received the documents about Benjamin Arie (Leib) Perlmuter from a Polish citizen who found it in an attic in Warsaw. It was published in the bulletin "Lebn wil ich" - Was bleib: Judische Friedhofe in Polen", editor Petra Blachetta Madajczyk, 31 august 1999".

Benjamin Arie (Leib) Perlmuter and the Destroyed Monument for Plock Jews

Translated from German by Ilana Witkowski and from Polish to English by Adam Neuman Nowicki and daughter Dr. Anat Halperin.

Not long ago The Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw received personal documents belonging to Benjamin Arie (Leib) Perlmuter who was the only Holocaust survivor from his entire family.

The documents contain short biographic information which he wrote right after his liberation from concentration camp (translators note: "Lager" might be a war prisoners' camp). It is dated June 12, 1945. Benjamin Arie (Leib) Perlmuter wrote:

" I was born in Plock on March 22 1898. After I finished the Elementary School I entered the High School. Because of the outbreak of World War I school studies were interrupted. After a year and a half I was admitted to the fifth grade at the Malachonski High School in Plock. I received the high school diploma ("Matura") from this school in1919. In 1922, after serving in the army, I started architecture studies in the Warsaw University. In 1931 I became Architecture Engineer. I worked in a private architectural office until September 1939 when I was drafted to the army. After the defense of Warsaw I was taken by the Germans prisoner of war. I was released from the prisoners of war camp in June 1945."

That was how he wrote in a laconic manner of the war times. He didn't write in which camp he was imprisoned and whether he had a family. A postcard sent from Warsaw on February 21st, 1942 gives us some more explanations. The postcard was sent by Aleksander Perlmuter (translators note: that was his small son's name) at the address: 63 Leszno Str. Apt. 24 Warszawia - this was in the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw. It was addressed to the "Polish Army Officer Benjamin Arie (Leib) Perlmuter at the address: Barak 12A Oflag in Oflag 11C in Woldenberg (presently Dobiegniew). Woldenberg was the biggest camp for Polish officers. The other side of the postcard served as a letter for relatives of war prisoners. It was required to write on this card only with a pencil and strictly on the lines.

"My dear father!
Thank you for your wishes. I miss you very much. Please send me a photograph because I already forgot how you look. I read books and I study. I kiss you. Oles."

(Translator's note: Oles is a diminutive from Olek). Benjamin Arie (Leib) Perlmuter answered:
"My dearest! Here everything is the same. The money didn't arrive yet. I am trying to place Oles in a home for children of the Intelligence run by Centos and the decision will be made on February 23rd. I will write more on this subject in the letter. Yours..." (There is no more room for the signature.) Some of the pictures are stamped: Oflag II c 20 censored.)

On the picture of a boy in a coat and hat taken in Zyrardow in August 1940 there is a dedication: "Oles, to dear father."

Aleksander Oles Perlmuter perished in Holocaust with mother Roza.

In a certain letter written by H. Piechocki from Zyrardow after the War, Feb. 17, 1946 we can read: "Respectful Mr. Engineer! I would be glad if you could visit me this coming Sunday. I was in contact with your wife and son until their last moment of stay in Zyrardow. I could tell you a lot about them."

On the picture of a woman there is a dedication: "For remembrance to my dearest Pelka. July 1942"

On July 22, 1942 started the deportation from Warsaw ghetto to Treblinka.

Wroclaw (Breslau), June 3rd, 1946
"My dear! My happiness is enormous because you are alive and well. Come to us. It will be much easier to talk than write about those terrible happenings. I think that you know by now that as of now nobody survived from our family besides you and me. Ilonka"1)

Perlmuter's papers also contain a poem written by Haim Nahman Bialik "Samotny" (translation: "Lonely"). The poem is full of despair and sorrow. It shows his profound depression in the post war years. The disease acquired in Woldenberg camp got worse.

His papers contain also several letters from his friends in Palestine, discussing his health problems and eventual emigration to Palestine.

In 1949 Perlmuter is admitted to a tuberculosis sanatorium in Otwock. At the same time he is working as a building engineer. He participated in rebuilding houses in Warsaw on Wiejska and Frascati streets. In 1950 he was responsible for building of the "Dom Slowa Polskiego" in Miedziana Str. All this time he contemplated immigrating to Israel. One of the main reasons for not leaving Poland was his life project of building a monument to the Jews of Plock who perished in the Holocaust, a symbolic grave to his dearest.

Documentation of the rising monument on the Jewish cemetery, from its first plans until the actual unveiling is found in the Black Photograph Album. Among the documents are letters written between him and the head of the Jewish community in Plock, Mr. Alfred Blay. Among them there is a letter expressing sorrow for his failing health. Mr. Blay thanked him also in the name of the Jewish community for his hard work and dedication.

In one of the last letters, Mr. Blay wrote to Engineer Perlmuter: "...On October 23rd of this year (1949) at 11:30 on the Jewish Cemetery an unveiling will take place of the monument dedicated to the memory of Plock Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust. The monument stands in the place where there are ashes of 25 murdered Plock Jews and is a symbol of the martyrology of all the Jews from Plock murdered by the Hitlerite perpetrators.

This monument will be at the same time a commemoration for thousands of Jews who during many generations dedicated their life and work and tied their destiny with the town of Plock and died in this town...Even though the German murderers did not respect the resting place of our ancestors and tried to erase all trace of their existence, these letters engraved on this stone monument will be their everlasting testimony and tell of Jews from Plock to all generations to come.
(Translator's note: On the eastern side of the monument, Benjamin Arie (Leib) Perlmuter designed 24 plaques on which there were supposed to be written names of murdered Plock Jews during the Holocaust)

The Jewish newspaper wrote about the unveiling of the monument in Plock:
"In the unveiling participated the Jewish residents of Plock, Polish and Jewish delegations. Representing the Central Jewish committee was Director S. Fiszgrund. and present was Mr. Blay chairman of the Jewish committee of Plock, who was the main speaker and present was also the mayor of Plock Mr. Gizycki who unveiled the monument."

Benjamin Arie (Leib) Perlmuter, the main creator of the monument, was not even mentioned during the ceremony. However on November 8th, 1949 Mr. Blay wrote to him the following letter:
"We are very sorry that you were not present at the unveiling of your work of art - The Plock Monument. Everybody liked it very much, especially the experts. How much work and effort you dedicated to the building of this monument. Every one of us Jewish brethren is proud of it. During my speech at the unveiling I stressed that we should all be grateful to you Engineer Architect Perlmuter, who always supported the Plock Jewish community and did not spare hard work and attention to this project and even during his illness helped us with his knowledge and art to fasten and achieve the goal. I allow myself at this moment to express my acknowledgement and gratitude as well as wishes of good health. I am sorry that your failing health did not allow you as the creator of this monument to participate in its unveiling. "

Among Benjamin Arie (Leib) Perlmuter's documents there is an announcement of his death printed in the press: " Benjamin Arie (Leib) Perlmuter, Engineer Architect the Dom Slowa Polskiego, prisoner of Nazi camps awarded Krzyzem Zaslugi - the medal of Achievement - died on February 6, 1952 at the age of 54. The funeral will take place on February 7th 1952 at 15:00. The body will be transported from the funeral home at 49/51 Okopawa Str. Directors and employees of "Dom Slowa Polskiego".

On one of the plaques of the Monument there appeared the following engraved names:

 Simcha Guterman
 Gena Garfinkel (ne'e Perlmuter)
 Eliza Ela Garfinkel
 Jozef Garfinkel
 Gustawa Perlmuter Lewin
 Jakob Izrael Lewin
 Eliza Lila Lewin
 Roza Perlmuter (ne'e Szenwic)
 Aleksander Oles Perlmuter
 Gustawa Szechtman Rappel
 Eliza Lila Rappel
 Naftali Szechtman
 Dopa Szechtman Finkelsztejn
 Tuwia Finkelsztejnn Koenigsberg
 Dr. Fil Akiba Kuba Koenigsberg
 Andrzejek Koenigsberg
 Dora Koenigsberg Kadysz
 Dr. Med. Henry Kadysz
 Irenka Kadisz

A photograph of this plaque was the last picture that Benjamin Arie (Leib) Perlmuter placed in his black photograph album for documentation of his creation, a monument serving as a grave for his murdered son, wife and other members of his family.

In 1967 this monument was demolished by Poles. There are no more commemorating plaques and the present monument is a caricature of Benjamin Arie (Leib) Perlmuter's creation.

Is it possible to change that? !

The Memorial Monument erected by Eng. Benjamin Arie (Leib) Perlmuter before vandalized by Anti-Semites in Plock.

Another photograph of Benjamin Arie (Leib) Perlmuter near the Memorial Monument

1) Ilonka Neuman Nowicki nee Szechtman was the first cousin of Eng. Perelmutter.
Grandmother Tauba Szechtman, nee' Kohn, had three daughters:
* Golda (Gucia) who married Adolf Rappell - mother of Ilonka - Dr. Anat Alperin's mother.
*Myncia who married Jankiel Generson.
*Lywcia who married Maier Perlmuter, their son was Eng. Perlmuter...

My Message to a Polish Journalist  5.3.2004

Dear Sir,

I  send you more material about Eng. Arch. Benjamin Arie Lajb Perlmuter


Part of the Destroyed Memorial Stone

1) Fragment of the destroyed memorial, source: "Plotzk (Plock) a History of an Ancient Jewish Community in Poland, Eliahu Eisenberg, Tel Aviv  1967, page 299, see the jpg file in attachment.
This appears in the article title: "Four Friends and their Spiritual World". It is about Benjamin Arie Lajb Perlmuter and three of his friends, Icchak Rubin, Cwi Hirsz Baran and Cwi Herman Kruk who founded a Yiddish newspaper in Plock after World war I, name: "Di Shvere Zeitung" - (the hard times). Perlmuter was a graduate of the Hebrew Gymnasium of Plock.
One poem which survived from their newspaper is: "FARWOS?" Why?! It is about the sacrifice of young Jews who fight  in foreign countries, for their foreign homelands, but their sacrifice is forgotten, and so the poet cries "WHY?!"

2) Eng. Benjamin Meirtchak, "Jews - Officers and enlisted Men in the Polish Army, Prisoners of war in German captivity 1939-1945", Tel Aviv 2003.
In page 36 I read the following details about Perlmuter:

Perlmuter Benjamin  -  son of Majer & Roza, born in Plock on 22.03.1898.
Military reference: 2/lieut, 79 infantry regiment 563, Stalag II B- Oflag II C

Thank you for publishing the story. May be the memory of one son of Plock, his murdered wife and boy,  and his destroyed monument erected after Holocaust in Plock,  will be revived and kept and thus you do a real "Mitzvah"   מצווה (great deed of virtue in Hebrew).


Ada Holtzman

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Last updated March 5th, 2004