WORLD COMMITTEE                                  IRGUN YOTZEY PLOTZK

for the                                                                     BE-ISRAEL

PLOTZK MEMORIAL BOOK                       (Plotzker Association in Israel)

 

 

PLOTZK

(PŁOCK)

 

A HISTORY OF AN ANCIENT JEWISH COMMUNITY IN POLAND

 

 

 

Editor:

ELIYAHU EISENBERG

Vice-Chairman, Plotzker Association in Israel

 

 

 

 

"HAMENORA"

Publishing House

Tel-Aviv, 1967

 

The Yizkor Book  in MS Word File Format 

The Yizkor Book  in MS Acrobat Format

Book Donated to JewishGen Yizkor Books Database

 

 

Notes

The English part is not a complete translation of the Yizkor book of Płock but rather a synopsis, summary, and should be treated as such. there are 684 pages in Hebrew and Yiddish but only 96 pages in English.

I have translated and added the titles and page numbers of articles which do not appear in the English summary. I added the code "H" if article is in Hebrew, or "Y" if in Yiddish.

I have added also the sub-chapters to the various articles, which are not included in the original Table of Contents. On many occasions I have added from the Hebrew and Yiddish parts of the book  also names of people mentioned in the articles, when that was possible, mainly in the Holocaust chapters.

I have also added the names of people who appear in the photographs to the captions in English which did not include these names, see pages

I wish to thank the Płock Landsmanschaft who encouraged me and gave me and JewishGen the permission to post the Płock Yizkor book in the Internet.

 

It is my hope that this book will serve as commemoration to the Jewish ancient grand and holy community of Płock, exterminated by the Germans during the Holocaust.

 

Ada Holtzman April 18th, 2004Yom Hashoah , 27 Nissan, 5764

 

 

 

THE PLOTZK JEWISH COMMUNITY BETWEEN THE TWO WORLD WARS 1918-1939

 

COMMUNITY INSTITUTIONS, SOCIAL WORK, ECONOMIC LIFE, NEIGHBOURHOOD RELATIONS

 

The Jewish Kehila of Plotzk ("Vaad Hakehila" – secretary memoirs)

Y. Ben-Shai (Fuchs)

40

Institutions and Organizations in Płock at 1934

(from "Kalendarz-informator Mazowsza Płockiego

H-208

Płock – in "Almanach Gmin Zydowskich" 1939

 

H-208

The Jewish Hospital on the name of Icchak Fogel

A. Shmueli (Plutzer) 

41

Ezrat Holim

 

42

The Jewish Orphanage ("Ochronka")

G. Puk 

42

"Charity saves from death" (the image of a popular welfare activist)

Halina Woitkowski Szlechter, source:  Dina Berland

H-212

Cooperative Banks and Trade Unions

Banks

The Credit bank

Other financial institutions

Professional associations

The tailors organization in Płock

The transportation workers unions

The trade unions of office workers and salesmen

I. G. Chanachowicz (Kent)

43

The Small Traders organization

J. Malonek

44

The association of artisans in Płock

Jehoszua Zwirek

H-220

The "Gildene" Street

B. Gincberg

44

The yard of Altman on Szeroka street 10

Natan Lerman

H-223

Grunim (published in "Płocker wart", 1936)

Chaim Flaks

H-224

"Ort" in Płock

I. Tynski

44

Anti-Semitism in Plotzk between the two World-Wars

E.E.

45

The Mariavits Convent and the Jews

Who were the Mariavits?

The Mariavits and the Jews

The Mariavits and the Germans

They did not help the Jews

What happened to the Jewish property?

I. G. Chanachowicz (Kent)

45

 

COMMUNITY INSTITUTIONS, SOCIAL WORK, ECONOMIC LIFE, NEIGHBOURHOOD RELATIONS

 

 

THE JEWISH KEHILA (COMMUNITY) OF PLOTZK

By Itzhak Ben-Shai (Fuchs)

Pages 40-41

 

This article carries the sub-title, "Memories of a Secretary", since its author served for two years as secretary of the Plotzk Kehila. As in other Polish towns, the Kehila was the representative Jewish body serving the religious, social and cultural needs of the Jewish inhabitants.

 

The Secretariat of the Kehila housed many records, among them documents of great historical value, since the Plotzk Jewish commu­nity had been in existence for no less than 700 years.

 

When entering office as secretary of the Kehila, the author dis­covered many of these documents and after perusing them he realized that the Plotzk Jewish community was one of the oldest in Poland. At that time - before the Second World War - he could not possibly imagine that in a few years time this ancient community would cease to exist. Referring to these documents, he describes the Jewish auto­nomous life before the First World War, during the German occu­pation - (1915-1918), and after the establishment of the independent Polish state.

 

Mentioning some names of personalities who played an important role in the community's life during the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century (like Salomon Bromberger, Moshe Lidzbarski, and Benyamin Golde); the author describes the first democratic elections to the Kehila in free Poland. Three blocks took part in those elections Zionists (with "Mizrahi"), the Orthodox groups ("Agudat Yisrael") and the Independents. Two other groups (Zionists-Socialists and "Bund") did not put up lists. The elections-campaign was very stormy. Both the Zionists and the Orthodox devoted all their resources and energies to secure a majority of seats, but neither succeeded. Both attained an equal number of seats and the third group (Indepen­dents) turned out to be the strongest by getting more votes than each of the two other groups. The Kehila Committee was, therefore, com­posed of a coalition between the Zionists and the Independents. Two prominent Zionists were put in charge of important Kehila depart­ments.

 

The author reports on the development of the Kehila, its social, religious and cultural activities, not ignoring the conflicts between several groups inside and outside that institution, which at times almost paralyzed the activities of the Jewish autonomous body. The election of a town rabbi always created differences of opinion. The Zionist block was constantly faced by Agudat Yisrael efforts to oust them and the fight for rule of the Kehila took very often unbecoming forms. A campaign was at one time led by the extreme Orthodox against a Zionist candidate. They informed the government that the candidate was anti-religious and caused "profanation" of religious feelings. Such means of political strife and stride undermined the prestige of the Jewish community and caused anguish to all concerned.

 

The anti-Zionist workers' party "Bund" denounced Zionism and gained influence among members of the Jewish working class. At that time the Zionist workers' groups had little influence in town.

 

The author pays special attention to the struggle between several groups and parties for influence in the Jewish community of Plotzk. In many instances the authorities, by law, served as mediators. The Zionists regarded governmental intervention as degrading, in view of the anti-Jewish feelings of many government officials. In the thirties the author went to Eretz Israel but did not severe his contacts with his native town. He reports on the last elections to the Kehila, held in 1939, about half a year before the outbreak of war.

 

A new consolidated group took then part in the elections-campaign: the "Poalei Zion" (the counterpart of "Mapai" in Poland of that period) and its local leader, the beloved Fishl Fliderblum, was elected the last chairman of the Jewish community.

 

The author emphasizes that all former members of the Kehila, who were forced during the Nazi regime to cooperate with the invaders had always done their best to help their brethren as much as they could.

 

In the first part of the article the author mentions his grandfather Reb Tuvia Plotzker, who is considered the first immigrant from Plotzk to the Holy Land. He came to Palestine in 1875, died in Jerusalem and was buried on the Mount of Olives. His grandson visited his grave in the years before the establishment of the State of Israel, when access to that cemetery was still possible.

 

Home

 

 

THE JEWISH HOSPITAL

By Abraham Shmueli (Plutzer)

Page 41-42

 

The Jewish Hospital was founded in the seventies of the 19th century with a donation by the Fogel family. It was confiscated by the Germans during the first World War, but later on - in 1926 - reopened by the Jews of Plotzk.

 

The Hospital contained 35 beds, a surgery, an out-patients' clinic, etc, and was held in high esteem by both the Jewish and non-Jewish inhabitants of Plotzk.

 

The hospital's food was strictly Kosher, and it therefore enjoyed great popularity among the orthodox Jewish population. The hospital contributed a great deal to the state of health in town and even Christian patients did their utmost to be hospitalized there in case of need.

 

The Nazis liquidated the hospital's Jewish staff and converted it into a station for infectious diseases. Jewish doctors and nurses con­tinued to help patients and even hid some leaders of the community, who were sought by the. Nazis, within the hospital confines.

 

The building was finally closed in 1940 and its patients trans­ferred to the Old People Asylum at Dobrzynska Street.

 

Home

 

EZRAT HOLIM

page 42

 

"Ezrat Holim" (help for the sick) - was a voluntary philanthropic organization, whose members were a group of socially-minded Jews who regarded it as their religious duty to extend assistance to sick people in their homes, as well as in hospital.

 

They regularly visited the sick, helped them financially, en­couraged and treated them. Shows and other festivities were organized in order to collect a budget for their activities. "Their attention did sometimes more to heal the sick than the medical care of the physi­cians" - wrote one of the then famous journalists about the members (of "Ezrat Holim" who came from all parts of the community: Orthodox, European-clad, rich and poor Jews. The idea which united them was to help their sick fellow-Jews.

 

Home

 

THE JEWISH ORPHANAGE ("OCHRONKA")

By Gustav Puk

Page 42

 

The author, who was a pupil of the above institute, describes its activities since the first years after World War I. He mentions with great appreciation and affection several ladies who headed the orpha­nage, which housed 32-36 children and was financed by "Joint", and "Toz". In spite of its limited resources, the children were always kept clean and enjoyed summer vacations. After they completed their elementary studies there, everything was done to enable them to study in vocational and high schools.

The author specially mentions Mrs. Paulina Altberg, who devoted her life to the well-being of the children and symbolized by her activities and devotion the real Jewish mother.

 

Only five ex-pupils of the orphanage survived, three of them live in Israel, one in Poland and one in Russia.

The author of this article, was an officer of the Polish army, was one of the liberators of Plotzk.

 

Home

 

COOPERATIVE BANKS AND TRADE UNIONS

By I. G. Chanachowicz (Kent)

Page 43

 

Three cooperative banks existed in Plotzk until the outbreak of the war in 1939: a general bank, a commercial bank and a credit bank.

 

The first one was established after World War I when the economic position of many citizens became very difficult. The bank assisted small merchants and artisans with long-term loans to re­establish themselves after the war years. Its activities expanded owing to the financial help of the "Joint" organization, which invested considerable funds in the bank.

 

The Commercial Bank was established in 1927 and enjoyed the confidence of both Jews and non-Jews in Plotzk and surroundings. Its saving plans became popular and many Jews deposited their savings "for a rainy day" in it. Unfortunately that day came sooner than they imagined. The Nazis invaded Plotzk and confiscated the bank's funds and property.

 

The Credit Bank - was active among orthodox Jews. It is worth mentioning that all its officials wore orthodox garments. This bank cooperated with the Commercial Bank.

 

Several smaller financial institutions also existed in Plotzk, one of them was the "Rogozik Bank", founded by Rogozik, who was called the "Plotzk Rothschild". A "Gmilut Hessed" fund (an institution granting interest free loans) helped merchants and artisans to over­come many crises. This institution was managed for many years by Abraham Levin.

 

*

 

Most of Plotzk's Jewish workers were organized in trade unions, such as the Tailors, Transport workers (coachmen and porters), Clerks, Shop attendants and other unions.

They persuaded the employers to agree to an 8 hour working-day and other social demands. Special Jewish trade unions were a neces­sity under the circumstances, as the Polish unions were notoriously reluctant to accept Jewish members.

Several strikes were proclaimed by the unions in the years preceding the Second World War, as a result of which the working class established itself as a factor in the town's economic life.

 

The Jewish trade unions also contributed a lot to the cultural life of Jewish workers, who were deprived of education because of poverty, through evening-courses, etc. They comprised workers of all parties, of whom "Bund" was the strongest one. Later on, the "Poalei Zion" faction organized the coachmen, and gained considerable influence.

 

Home

 

THE SMALL TRADERS ORGANIZATION

By Joseph Malonek

Page 44

 

An organization of Jewish small traders was founded in Plotzk in 1935. Till then they belonged to the general merchants organization, but the anti-Semitic character of some Polish groups which called on the population to boycott Jewish shops, compelled them to form their own Jewish organization.

 

Its members were granted loans on easy terms from a special fund for that purpose, called "Gmilut Hassadim".

 

The organization carried out its functions in times of widespread poverty, when many shops were closed by their owners. The last session of its committee took place three days after the Nazi invasion, when the remaining cash was divided among the community's poor shopkeepers.

 

Home

 

THE "GILDENE" STREET

By B. Gincberg

page 44

 

 

A poetical essay on the above street in Plotzk, which was inhabited mainly by Jews, published in the one-time Poalei Zion Yiddish periodical "Plotzker Wort" in January 1936.

 

It contains a description of this narrow and dark street, its inhabitants who were doomed to live "between the ghetto-walls", the synagogues, small retail shops, and longings of the youth for a better life, for freedom, escape from the ghetto and for a Jewish State.

 

Home

 

 

 

ORT

By Itzhak Tynski

Page 44

 

The "Ort" society, which established vocational schools for the training of Jewish youth in the arts and crafts, founded its Plotzk branch in 1938. The founding meeting elected an executive committee with Dr. Nichtberger as chairman.

 

Twelve sewing machines were acquired and an instructor was hired. Courses for tailoring, stitching and weaving were opened, and the small traders who participated in them were turned into artisans.

 

After the Nazi invasion all the machinery of the "Ort" schools was confiscated and handed over to a cooperative of Polish tailors.

 

Home

 

ANTISEMITISM IN PLOTZK BETWEEN THE TWO WORLD-WARS

By E. E.

Page 45

 

In spite of the fact that Jews lived in Plotzk for over 700 years, they were always considered as aliens and were persecuted by the Gentiles. An anti-Semitic campaign was initiated by the troops of Gen. Haller in the first years of the independent Polish state. Jews were often branded as supporters of communism and as a result many anti-Jewish measures were enacted both during the war years and afterwards. The execution of Rabbi Shapiro of Plotzk on a false charge of espionage and 34 "Zeirei Zion" members in Pinsk, on similar charges, aroused great anger everywhere.

 

Anti-Jewish measures did not always succeed in Plotzk. The Polish "Intelligentsia", although by nature anti-Semitic, never participated in riots and could not be influenced by the slogans of "boycott", since they appreciated the Jewish merchants' ability to supply all kinds of goods at cheaper prices that the new Polish merchants, who were specially brought from other parts of the country with the purpose of competing with and ruining Jewish trade.

 

The authorities protected Jews against anti-Semitic riots, yet sup­ported economic pressures against them, with the aim of eventually taking over their shops and enterprises.

 

A certain Gustaw Novak from Plotzk wrote a pamphlet "How to clear Poland from Jews" and brought in the thirties Polish merchants from Poznan district to Plotzk, who attempted to take over the Jewish trade. Novak later collaborated with the Nazis and after being used by them, was eventually shot.

 

The Polish daily "Glos Mazowiecki" which appeared in Plotzk, used every opportunity to accuse Jews of disloyalty to the State and of extending loans at exorbitant rates of interest, etc.

 

Even on the eve of the Nazi invasion certain Polish circles con­tinued with their anti-Semitic campaigns, ignoring the German threat to the existence of the Polish state. These anti-Semites were so filled with hatred towards Jews, that they did not see where the real danger lay. Many of them later collaborated with the Nazi invaders against Jews in particular and the Polish case in general.

 

Home

THE MARIAVITS CONVENT AND THE JEWS

by Israel Gershon Chanochowicz (Kent)

Page 45-46

 

This article contains several parts. The first part gives a historical survey of this unique convent in Plotzk, its relations with the Roman Catholic Church in the 19th century and the sympathetic attitude of its residents towards Jews in peace-time.

 

The second part deals with the cordial relations between the Germans and members of the Convent and the special status they enjoyed during the German occupation.

 

Finally, facts are mentioned concerning the monks indifference to Jewish suffering, who did not help a single Jew in spite of the fact that they would have been able to do so. Jewish property was left in their hands by many Jews who trusted them, but consequently perished.

 

The article expresses deep disappointment over the fact that the members of that Convent, who maintained good relations with Jews before the War, were deaf to their anguished cries for help in the hour of distress.

 

Home

 

 

 

To Continue...

 

Table of Contents

 

P.R.I.

 

Last updated May 17th, 2004