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

 

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 HOLOCAUST PERIOD (1939-1945)

 

The Jews of Plotzk under the Nazi regime

Until the deportation

Plotzk refugees in exile

Acts of resistance

Plotzk after the Holocaust

Dr. J. Kermish

70

Jews of Plotzk in Exile

 

76

Letters of Płocker Jews from the towns of deportation

 

H-506

Pages in the diary

Itzhak Tynski

Y-526

Jews of Plotzk under the Nazi terror

D. Dąbrowska

76

Testimonies

Lea Moszkowicz

Dina Inowroclawska

Regina Kalman

Felicja (Fela) Ravitzka

Unnamed person

Dr. Hersz Russak

R. Lichtman

Simcha Mintz

 

77

The tortures in the Forced Labor Camp Amsee (near Poznan).  All prisoners of this camp were murdered. They worked there for the German Company O. Quast.

Leib Geliebter

H-539

Płock in the chronicle of Ludwik Landau (1909-1944) a Jewish famous economist from Tomaszow Mazowiecki

 

H-542

A Reminder ("Regards")

H. Elboim-Dorembus

78

Between Warsaw and Plotzk

Michael Zylberberg

78

I left the Ghetto

H. Mairanc-Meiri

79

I was a "Submarine" in a Nazi-Camp

M. Koenigsberg

79

A Revolt in Hell, Testimony The horrors and heroism in the camp of Treblinka

Treblinka, historical review

In Płock and with the family

With the slavery labor battalions in Treblinka

The day of the revolt and revenge and its planning

Accumulation of arms and last preparations

The signal is given

Rudek Lubraniecki the hero of Treblinka

The escape from all parts of the camp

In hiding and in action

The trial of Treblinka perpetrator, the German  Kurt Franc

Marian Platkiewicz

79

H-544

I was a mouth of hundreds of thousands murdered victims – (Sobibor trial)

Moshe Bahir (Szklarek)

H-553

The testimony of Moshe Bahir (Szklarek) in the Eichman trial

State archive "The Government Counselor against Adolf Eichman. Testimonies B', pages 1045-1050

 

H-555

Nothing Remain... (a poem)

Katriel (Kurt) Hazan

H-558

To the Jews of Poland  (a poem translated from Polish to Hebrew by Zvi Yashiv)

Wladyslaw Broniewski

H-559

Warszawa year 5601 (1941)

Itzhak Bernsztein

H-560

Our Płocker landsleit in Ghetto Warsaw

The first refugees

The period until the erection of the ghetto

The period of the ghetto

The contact with the deportees in the various towns

Days of the deportations

After the Holocaust

Michael Zylberberg

H-570

Escaped from the claws of death (Josef-Jorzek Fiszman – Makowski)

Prof. Artur Ber

H-573

Yizkor – the Martyrs Names (necrology)

 

H-575

 

THE HOLOCAUST PERIOD 1939-1945

 

THE JEWS OF PLOTZK UNDER THE NAZI REGIME

By Dr. Joseph Kermish

Director of Yad Vashem Archive, Jerusalem

Pages 70-75

 

UNTIL THE DEPORTATION

pages 70-73

 

The first bombs fell in Plotzk on September 1st, 1939, at 6 AM. People first thought that these were air force exercises but very soon realized that the war had begun. Shops were closed down and pea­sants who had come to the market, rushed home.

 

On the second and third days several wealthy Jewish inhabitants fled town and escaped to Warsaw. On the fourth day began the evacuation by order of the authorities. People fled in three directions to Warsaw (by motor-boats), to Gombin and Gostynin.

 

Plotzk was captured by the German army on September 8th, 1939. During the initial 2-3 weeks the town was under military rule and no anti-Jewish measures were taken by the military forces. German sol­diers even did their shopping in Jewish stores. In some cases, German soldiers warned Jews against danger from the Gestapo. Plotzk refugees, who had gone to nearby Gombin, being under the impression that the Germans meant no harm, even returned to town.

 

In the last days of September it seemed that life in town became normal. But on October 7th, 1939, when according to Hitler's decree, Plotzk was annexed to West Prussia (Gau West-Preussen), and the rule over those territories was handed over to Nazi party-organs (especially the Gestapo), the persecution began: confiscations of Jewish shops, kidnappings of Jews for forced labor, sadistic treatment of religious Jews, etc.

 

On October 15th, 1939, 10 Jewish notables were summoned to the Judendrat, and notified that a collective fine of 1 million zlotys had been imposed on the Jewish population as a penalty for its disloyalty towards the German authorities. They were ordered to collect this amount within a few hours, while three of them were retained in custody as hostages, where they were maltreated and beaten. After negotiations the Germans agreed to accept half a million only and the hostages were released.

 

At that time Jews began to leave the mixed residential quarters. Individual Germans started to loot Jewish homes, taking away pieces of furniture, house utensils, etc. Jews were forced to greet uniformed Germans by taking off their hats and forbidden to use the side-walks. Many Jews disappeared after having been arrested at night. The constant looting by Gestapo-men made daily life unbearable.

 

The Rabbi of town was forced to leave Plotzk, after having been taken several times to do forced labor and having suffered greatly. The Great Synagogue was converted into a garage, the Little Synagogue was demolished, and the Beit Hamidrash at Szeroka Street was turned into a concentration place for workers and a guard-room of the "Jewish police". Many German offices used Scrolls of the Law for stair cover­ings. Kidnapping of Jews and forced shaving of beards and side-locks became a daily occurrence. Religious Jews in prayer-shawls and Tefillin were forced to dance in the streets to the amusement of Germans who took snapshots of these scenes.

 

In the last days of October 1939 all industrial and commercial undertakings were officially closed and confiscated. Yellow notices were affixed to them: "Jewish-Closed". The Mayor published a decree forbidding Jews to engage in commerce and industry as of October 31st, and specifying in 7 paragraphs the ways and means by which Jewish enterprises were to be taken over by Germans. All Jewish property was thus confiscated "according to Law". The Germans set fire to the Jewish mill and accused its owners of having caused the conflagration themselves.

 

At the end of November 1939 the Jews were forced to wear yellow "Magen David" badges, and to sign their identity cards with their finger-prints. Many Jews escaped from town to Warsaw and other places.

 

At the end of 1939, after liquidating the Kehila Committee, the German authorities nominated a "Judenrat" consisting of a few known personalities, and of some new people, who until then had not taken any active part in public affairs. One of the first steps of the "Juden­rat" was to set up the "Jewish Police". The "Judenrat" became responsible for carrying out German orders, supplying manpower for the German military and other authorities and regulating the life of the Jewish population.

 

The "Judenrat" managed to keep some shops open for the Jewish population, which was deprived the right to buy from non-Jewish shops-owners.

 

A Jewish pharmacy, clinic and post office branch were also opened. The Jewish Ghetto was established by order of the Nazis in September 1940, and enclosed Synagogalna, Szeroka, and part of Bielska Street. Jews were forbidden to leave this area without special permits (Strassenschein), all contacts with the outside world were cut off, daily routine centering around the "Judenrat", which opened a bakery and some shops for food and fuel distribution.

 

7600 Plotzk Jews and 3000 refugees from Dobrzyn, Rypin, Sierpc, Raciaz etc. lived in the ghetto in December 1940. The terrible con­gestion, hunger, epidemic diseases, lack of medicines, made life un­bearable. Ghetto residents used doors and window-frames as fuel to heat their homes.

 

At that period the Nazis began to persecute the Polish intelligentsia. Some of the Polish lawyers, doctors and teachers were being sent to concentration camps or killed, and the churches were closed.

 

Inside the Ghetto the "Judenrat" tried with all means at its disposal to prevent the deportation Jews from Plotzk by bribing the Germans with money, drinks and presents. Nevertheless the "Judenrat­ slowly turned into an instrument of the Germans by which their discrimination orders were carried out. The poorer segments of the Jewish population suffered more than the people who had some means left.

 

The ghetto was shocked one Saturday in September 1940 when the Germans brutally expelled all the inmates of the Home of Aged, which had existed for many decades, and killed all of them in nearby Działdowo, but for 12 who managed to escape. Later the "Judenrat" was ordered to compile a list of incurables, sick and crippled people. All of them disappeared. A fortnight later the "Judenrat" was told to draw up a list of Zionist leaders. Instead a list of dead personalities and of those who escaped to Russia was handed in. The authorities then arrested five Jews, who were picked up at random on the street and sent them to a camp.

 

The day of general deportation from the ghetto approached. A few days before February 20, 1941, 25 men were arrested and killed. This was the first mass-murder of Jews in Plotzk. The verdict said that the executed had planned an attempt on the Gestapo. The "Judenrat" members had to be present during the execution as hostages "in order to prevent re-occurrence of such acts". The names of the victims were identified according to the documents found in their mass grave after the war. The last victim, Samek Szatan escaped but perished later. The victims of that execution were:  Grynszpan Mosze age 38, Sadzowka Mosze age 55, Bogacz Reuwen age 25, Płocker Hersz age 38, Przachedzki Dawid and his son Abraham 17 years old, Flaks Abraham age 55 and his son Pinchas age 23, Rotblat Simcha Lajb age 32, Szwarc Moniek age 30, Porzka Jakob age 38, Bursztyn Abram age 32, Bursztyn Israel age 25, Kredit Mark age 27, Zilberberg Hersz Reuwen, Fajka Efraim, Papierczyk Fiszel, Korstein Mosze, Szmit Aharon Lajzer, Goldberg, Graubard Efraim, Rifenholc Icchak, Kamzel, Herszkowicz Cadok, Zgal Alter. (Source note 43 in the Hebrew version, page 459).

 

After that the general feeling of Plotzk Jews was that the day of calamity was approaching. People slept at nights with their packed bags, and were ready for everything. In order not to be taken away by surprise they organized a guards system every night from 7 PM. onward.

 

On February 20, 1941 the news about the impending general deportation of the Jews from the ghetto was spread. On that day the "Jewish Policemen" were summoned to Gestapo Headquarters, where they were beaten with whips which the "Judenrat" was commanded to supply earlier. In the evening rumors were circulated in the ghetto that the deportation had been postponed and that money had been raised to bribe Commissar Burg. But on the morrow the deportation began. At 4 o'clock in the morning the patients of the Jewish hospital were taken out, and about half of them were beaten to death on the spot. At that time, S.S. men in four lorries arrived at the corner of Szeroka and Bielska Streets, shouting "Juden heraus!".

 

All the Jews were driven from their homes and concentrated on Szeroka Street. There they remained from early in the morning until noon. Packages, handbags, etc. were taken away. They were told to enter trucks, while those who were unable to do so, such as elderly and sick people, were shot. About 200 people were loaded on each truck. 4000 Jews were expelled to Działdowo camp during this 21st of February 1941. The remaining Jews, including "Judenrat" members who were held responsible for the presence of the deportees at the concentration point, were ordered to return home.

 

The second and last deportation took place on March 1st, 1941. A day before, all the "Judenrat" members were arrested. The second deportation followed the pattern of the first one. The expelled reached Działdowo in 4 hours time, making their way through villages and townships, where gentiles threw bread and sausages into their trucks.

 

About 7000 Jews arrived at Działdowo, where they were accommodated in dirty huts, which had been emptied of their former prisoners. The Germans continued looting clothes, shoes and personal belongings. Every day a transport of 1,000 people was sent from the camp, arri­ving at the railway station barefoot and half-naked.

 

Plotzk became "Judenrein".

 

The author quotes the Historian Dr. Ringelblum, who had written in connection with the deportation of Jews from ancient communities like Kalish and Plotzk:

"There was no period in their 800-year history, when Jews were not living there".

 

*

 

Jews mentioned in this chapter (partial list, translated from the Hebrew part):

 

·        Karasz First victim. (page 449)

·        Killed in Gombin during the attack of 39:  Tilman family, Gombinski family, Warszawiak family, Bursztyn family, Goldberg family, Manczyk family, Toibenfligel family, Ben-Cjon Parwa, Marisia Sziber. (page 449)

·        10 hostages among the notables of Płock: Alfred Blei, Natan Graubart, Lewek Kilbert, Chanoch Szilit, Mosze Sochacower, Adv. Flag, Klinkubstein, Globus, Flaks. (page 450)

·        Among the first Victim: the baker Rozenstein. (page 450)

·        Elderly Jews tortured: Sender Chmiel, Meir Kohen. (page 451

·        Abused by the Nazis: the son of Yosef Finkelstein. (page 451)

·        Cohen from Tomska Street – his property confiscated. (page 451)

·        Płockers refugees in Warsaw: Kiper the watchman, the dentist Kanarek, Mosze Bodnik, Mosze Sochacower, Izak Hazenszprung who was active in the Judenrat of Ghetto Warsaw and helped his brethren, Eng. Szajnwicz, Eng. Cybolski, Koenigsberg, Jagoda and others. (page 452)

·        Refugees fled to Russia via Bialystok: Simcha Minc and his wife, Pianknagura, Becalel Okolica and others. (page 452)

·        Refugees arrived to Wilna: Pianknagura, Majranc, young Krutenberg, Wajngram and others. (page 452)

·        Members of the first Judenrat in Płock: Chairman Dr. Bromberger, Samek Szatan, Szperling, Y. Zeligman, Szachtman, Szajnwicz Guzik and more. (page 452)

·        Kidnapped to work for the Gestapo on May 1st, 1940 and badly abused: L. Geleibter and the brother of Pinchas Buchman, Muszkat, Segal, Kredit, Berman and others. (page 453)

·        Dr. Bresler and Mrs. Firstenberg tried to keep sanitary conditions in the ghetto. (page 454)

·        Szatan, chairman of the Judenrat (page 454)

·        Szymon Kriszek, a popular activist in the Płock Ghetto. (page 454)

·        Jehoszua Hoichman, a Gestapo attack on his house led to expelling all its tenants to prison and execution later. (page 454).

·        Document: letter of the Red Cross to Chaim Ber Rubin from Mojzesz Leib Rubin in Palestina. Returned with German stamp: "no more in Płock 20.2.41." (page 456)

·        Mother of B. Okolica bitten to death during the first deportation 20.2.41. (page 456)

·        Hersz Natan Asz arrived dead to Działdowo in the second and last deportation. (page 457)

·        Among the deportees:  the blind man Grabowski, the father of Mordechai Florek. (page 458)

·        Among the refugees who escaped to Russia were also: Gitl Grossman, Dawid Gold, Plocer and others. (page 458)

·        Mosze Tinski tried to assist the old people from the old men hospital but was kidnapped as well. (page 459).

·        Testimony by the deportee Abraham Mosze. (page 458)

 

Home

 

PLOTZK REFUGEES IN EXILE

pages 73-74

 

The majority of the expelled Plotzk Jews was sent to Bodzentyn, in the Kielce region. Another transport arrived on March 11th at Tomaszow Mazowiecki wherefrom the refugees were sent to nearby townships; a third transport was directed to Kielce and from there to three other localities.

 

About 1500 Plotzk Jews, mostly of the poorer classes were concen­trated at Bodzentyn, where they arrived without clothes, shoes or money. The local Kehila organized a kitchen for them which prepared every day about 1500 meals and distributed bread rations of 150-200 gram per person, free of charge.

 

A committee of Plotzk refugees was organized in Bodzentyn and an appeal was sent to Warsaw, asking for help. A letter of May 5th describes the position of the refugees. Epidemic diseases had caused many deaths. "We had to bury 100 of our brethren" communicated another letter. Mortality was high. People wore rags, were hungry and were covered with wounds. About 800 refugees arrived by train at Chmielnik. The Jews of that township, who were still unmolested, could not believe the horror stories they heard from the refugees. Some of them found hard work there as wood-cutters. Their committee received small sums of money from Plotzk refugees in Warsaw and used them for constructive help. In April 1941 a ghetto was instituted in Chmielnik, from which the people were later on, in October 1942, sent to Treblinka.

 

Another group numbering 700, was sent to Suchedniow, where they remained under similar conditions until September 22, 1942, when they were deported to Treblinka.

 

Smaller transports of Jews from Plotzk arrived at Wierzbnik (about 300 refugees), at Starachowice, Daleszyce, Zarki, Drzewica and other places. Everywhere conditions were unbearable. Lack of food, lack of sanitation, hopelessness. Many died of epidemic diseases since it was impossible to obtain medical aid. Initially efforts were made to organize some food supplies or to raise funds but later on all efforts proved futile as the majority of Plotzk refugees were sent from all these places to Treblinka and the rest of them to other death camps. A few escaped during deportation but were killed later on. At the final conclusion of the war only a handful survived.

 

Jews mentioned in this chapter (partial list, translated from the Hebrew part):

·        Josef Diamant – in charge of mutual aid activities in Radom, sent the messenger Y. Winer to check the situation of Płock refugees in the Tomaszow Mazowiecki region. (page 460, 461)

·        Committee of Płock Jews in Bodzentyn: Dr. Jakob Blumen Chairman, Hersz Cytrin secretary. (page 461)

·        The new Committee in Bodzentyn was: H. Cytrin, A. Groyer, Horowicz, Eng. Rubin, Y. Ajzik and L. Granat. (page 466)

·        Families who died in Bodzentyn due hunger, typhus and unbearable conditions: Szperling family, Alberg family and others. (page 461)

·        Among the refugees to Chmielnik were: Goldkind family, Zeligman family, the dentists  Fuks, Brigrad, old Rotman with his daughter Marila Kolska, the brothers Najman, Mosze Florek and his family, the Cytrinblum family, the Bomzon family, the Barkenfeld family and others. (page 466)

·        The Committee in Chmielnik consisted of: Jakob Zeligman chairman, Zelda Parwa, Azriel Najdzwidz, Nachman Szyk, Jechiel Fliderblum, Abraham Cytrynblum and Icchak Kronenberg.

·        Murdered during the deportation to Treblinka from Chmielnik on October 5th, 1942, the old man Globus, Dr. Ugenfisz killed himself. (page 462)

·        Escaped from deportation to Treblinka from Chmielnik: Gerszon Mendelson and Motek Glowinski. (page 462)

·        In Czestochowa the refugee, Szperling, a Zionist activist died only after one week since he lamented a Płocker friend in his funeral. (page 463)

·        Dawid Mendelson tried to escape the Aktion in Czestochowa (22 September – 5 October 1942) but was shot. (page 463).

·        Refugees who remained in Czestochowa after the akcja: Rywka Glanc, the brothers Lichtman and others. (page 463)

·        Temporary Committee of the Płocker refugees in Wierzbnik consisted of: Jakob Lewin, Mordechai Glowinski, Nisan Wajnstok, Gerszon Bergson and Dawid Buch. (page 463)

·        Among the refugees in Starachowice: Icchak Asz, Kurstein and Firstenberg. They were killed and buried in the local Jewish cemetery. (page 463)

·        During the deportation from Starachowice, Nunik Kurstein hid in a bunker but was found and he and his friends were all killed by the Germans. (page 464)

·        Refugees Committee in Zarki consisted of: H. Stern, D. Rubinstein, Y. Strach. (page 464)

·        In Drzewica the Płocker Committee consisted of Burstein and Szibek. (page 464).

·        In Bialaczow Szlomo Puterman served as the leader of the Płocker refugees.

·        In Gelniow managed the public kitchen Dr. Widawski. (page 465)

·        The Kalman family arrived to Skarzysko. The parents and the young sister were deported to death. Regina Kalman survived. (page 465, 466)

·        In Skarzysko worked Tynski, Najdorf, Muksel, Szapira, Fajka, Adolf Kohen, the sisters Fierstein, Berman, two boys 14 years old: the son of Kohen who repaired sewing machines and the grandson of Chaim Gutman. (page 466)

·        In Hassag Forced labor camp in Czestochowa worked Tynski, Kleinman, Szapira, Jagoda the milkman, Jagoda the municipality clerk, Lichtenstein, Zilberberg. (page 466)

·        Among the elders survived only Dr. Bresler. (page 466)

·        In Majdanek death camp were Y. Tinski, Motel Grobman, Dawid Szlomo Zajdman, Winogron, the optometrist Szajnwicz, the agronomist Minc, Kriszek, Gunszar. (page 466)

·        In Buchenwald were the 4 brothers Lichtman, among them Reuwen, the general secretary of "Poalei Zion" in Płock. One brother died of hunger. (page 466)

·        In a camp near Landsberg, among some Płockers was Mana who perished. (page 466)

·        In Bergen-Belsen was Chanka Grosman.

·        Rachel Tiber survived a few Nazi camps and drowned later while trying to reach the shores of Eretz Israel illegally after the war.

·        Szmuel Hering, Chaim Milchman and Mosze Mordechai Laks gave testimonies about the horrible condition in ghetto Suchedniow. (page 466)

·        Abraham Ibiczki testified about ghetto Czestochowa  (page 466)

 

Home

 

ACTS OF RESISTANCE

page 74

 

In spite of the unbearable conditions under which the Plotzk Jews were forced to live, they never lost their hopes of survival. In the early stages they tried to take advantage of commercial con­nections with Christian neighbors in order to obtain foodstuffs. There are some sources indicating that a group of Jewish women used to smuggle food into the hands of those doomed to be deported to death. The Committee of Plotzk Jews in Warsaw succeeded a number of times to send money and food to their native town. Even cultural and education activities were still carried out in town until the deportation.

 

After the German authorities closed the synagogues, Jews con­tinued to organize illegal services in private homes. Some orthodox people who were about to be deported, sewed their prayer shawls into their coats, as they wanted "to die as Jews", and refused to eat non-kosher food. One man took a scroll of the Law with him and paid with his life for refusing to be separated from it. At a public execution of 25 Jews at Imielnica one of those about to die called on the survivors to take revenge. But above all Jews from Plotzk took a very active part in the heroic Treblinka uprising.

 

A Plotzk Jew called Adolf, who worked before the war as Inspector of the bus route Warsaw - Plotzk, one day threw a hand-grenade on the Ukrainians who brought a transport of Jews from War­saw and killed many of them. He found his death in the shooting which followed. A porter, called Kozibrodski, whom the Germans at Treblinka employed at collecting jewels from the doomed to death, was instrumental in providing means for obtaining clandestine arms. Some Plotzk Jews helped Captain Galewski, who was in charge of the prisoners, in the organization of the uprising, which took place on August 2nd, 1943. Several of the Jewish prisoners from Plotzk joined the heroes who overpowered the Ukrainian guards. One of them, Rudek Lubraniecki, caused a number of casualties among them and blew up a  petrol station. Another group entered the arms-depot, took out rifles and distributed them among 200 people. Others attacked the Germans with axes, hoes, etc. Gas chambers were set on fire. A few escaped but many were killed by German reinforcements, who were rushed to the camp to crush the revolt.

 

The last part of this chapter enumerates some deeds of individual heroism, shown by Plotzk Jews wherever they were, as for example, Moshe Bahir (Szklarek), who participated in the heroic uprising in the Sobibor death-camp.

Home

 

PLOTZK AFTER THE HOLOCAUST

 

The destruction of the ancient Jewish community of Plotzk was complete. Only a negligible number of Jews survived, those who had managed to get "Aryan" papers or had found shelter in forests or in hiding places. These survivors came back to their former hometown in May-June 1945 and were joined later by those who had escaped to Russia at the beginning of the war. Altogether 300 people (out of 9000 before the Nazi invasion) returned. The whole Jewish quarter was demolished, while the rest of town remained intact. The Germans destroyed the interior of the Great Synagogue and looted all its ornaments. The tombstones of the Jewish cemetery were removed and the cemetery was converted into a pasture. Only the quotation from the prophet Ezekiel  "Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways for why will ye die, o House of Israel" remained inscribed on the gatepost.

 

The survivors organized a committee, which tried with all its means to restore Jewish life to town. The first task was to find work for the survivors. The Central Jewish Committee in Warsaw allocated some sums from which more than 20 workshops (tailors, furriers, glaziers etc.) were set up. The new Polish authorities showed the survivors sympathy and readiness to help. In 1946-1947 the Committee established an orphanage, a club, a library, a dramatic circle etc. A monument, planned by the architect Perlmuter, was erected in honor of the Plotzk Jewish War Victims.

 

But in spite of all these efforts, and especially those of A. Blei, who was most active in restoring Jewish life, the few survivors did not find it possible to remain in their native town. Some cases of renewed anti-Semitism, even of blood libel occurred. Townspeople spread rumors that the Jews had killed a Christian boy for ritual purposes. The notorious Kielce pogrom occurred in that period. And though the authorities protected the Jews in general against onslaughts, a feeling prevailed among the Plotzk Jewish survivors that there was no place for them even in the new Poland. The "exodus" began in 1947. Some immigrated to Western countries, but the majority joined their brethren in Israel.

 

Only 98 Jews lived in Plotzk in October 1947. In 1959 their number had decreased to 3.

 

The old Chairman of the Committee who had devoted his last years to the restoration of Jewish life in Plotzk, died there without attaining this goal. Even the monument to the dead - according to witnesses - is in a stage of disintegration, as there is nobody to take care of it...

 

Home

 

THE JEWS OF PLOTZK IN EXILE

Page 76

 

Several letters of Plotzk-born Jewish refugees, written in 1941, are published under this heading. These letters, whose originals in Polish and Yiddish are part of the "Ringelblum Archives", were written by exiled Jewish inhabitants who had been driven out by the Nazis from Plotzk in February-March 1941 and were temporarily "settled" in some small hamlets where they suffered from hunger and diseases. The victims of that deportation did not know at that time, what their final destiny would be, and they write to friends asking for help.

 

The common denominator of all those letters is the hope that the days of hunger and suffering and epidemic diseases will one day become a matter of the past. We further learn from them that the Plotzk Jews were discontent with the attitude shown to them by the Jews of Bodzentyn who in their opinion, did not offer them assistance. In fact all of them eventually shared the same fate, prior to their final annihilation.

 

Among these letters there is also one written by Hayim Flachs, a popular Yiddish writer, who published several novels and stories.

 

This bundle of letters ends with a detailed report compiled by prominent leaders of Plotzk refugees who lived in 1941 in Warsaw, concerning the position of the refugees in 8 different localities. This document, which is of great historical value, describes the tragic conditions of life of a few thousand hungry, sick and helpless Jews, who waited in vain for salvation, not knowing what awaited them.

 

Home

 

JEWS OF PLOTZK UNDER THE NAZI TERROR

By D. Dąbrowska

Page 76

 

A historical survey based on authentic information gathered by the Jewish Historical Institute in Poland. The survey includes descriptions of all the events, starting on September 8th, 1939 (when Plotzk was invaded by the Germans) through the establishment of the ghetto, the various deportations, until its final liquidation on March 1st, 1941, when the "Jewish Committee" was ordered by the Nazis to bury the dead and join the last group of the deported Jews.

 

Home

 

 

TESTIMONIES

Pages 77-78

 

Lea Moszkowicz

Dina Inowroclawska (Zylberman)

 

Testimonies of Mrs. Lea Moszkowicz, the daughter of the melamed (Hebrew teacher) Benyamin Kopyto and of Mrs. Dina Inowroclawska, (ne'e Zylberman)

 

The former describes the death of her father, who was kidnapped and killed by the Nazis, and the latter depicts her life, from her eleventh year onwards, in various camps in which she spent the war years.

 

Regina Kalman

 

Was expelled from Plotzk in 1941, together with 10,000 Jews of the ghetto. She was sent to work under the worst possible conditions in ammunition factories. Starved, beaten by Storm-Troopers and without proper clothes, she survived only by mere chance. She was released by the Soviet army in Leipzig.

 

Felicja (Fela) Ravitzka

 

Escaped death by acquiring Aryan papers and disguising herself as a 30 year old widow. With these papers she found employment as a cashier in a big Warsaw suburban store. Her employer never knew her real identity. At the end of the war she left for England.

 

Unnamed Person

 

The testimony of the above was obtained from the files of the "YIVO" Institute, New York. He describes the situation of the Jews in the Ghetto before February 20th, 1941, the day of its liquidation. On that date - according to his testimony - the first 30000 Jews of Plotzk were driven from their homes and transported in an unknown direction.

 

Dr. H. Russak

 

The above and his wife, both Plotzk-born, studied medicine in Paris at the beginning of the war. In May 1941 he was arrested and sent to a Nazi camp. His wife remained in Paris and maintained contact with his parents who had been deported to concentration camps in Poland. The description of the conditions in his camp, as well as his wife's correspondence with him and his relatives, convey an authen­tic and true picture of the terrible conditions in those camps and of their inmates' daily endeavors to survive.

 

Dr. H. Russak's testimony ends with the approach of the Allied forces and the prisoners' last struggle with the typhus epidemic which broke out after the liberation.

 

R. Lichtman

 

A letter written in Germany in 1946. R. Lichtman survived the Holocaust since he was capable of doing hard work. On his release from the Buchenwald concentration camp, his weight was only 37 kilos. He waited for the moment to leave Germany, whose soil is soaked with Jewish blood.

 

Simcha Mintz

 

A letter describing the conditions of work in a saw-mill at a little township in West Ukraine, where he lived as a refugee. He escaped there from Plotzk at the outbreak of the war and did not know at that time the fate which had met his brethren in his native town.

 

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A REMINDER ("REGARDS")

By Haya Elboim-Dorembus

Page 78

 

The author recalls various  events since the beginning of 1940. She had lived in Warsaw at that time and managed to escape to Plotzk in order to try and save her family there. She crossed the frozen Vistula river together with a group of Poles. In her birth­place she found only destruction and death. She describes her last meeting with a friend who was tortured by the Germans.

Regards...

By Haya Elboim - Dorembus

From the book in Yiddish: "Oyf der aryszer zeit" , written by the author and published in Tel Aviv 1957.

Thw Yizkor book of Plock, "Plock, a History of an ancient Jewish Community in Poland, editor Eliyahu Eisenberg, Tel Aviv , 1967, Hebrew,  pages 565-566, and translated from Hebrew by Mrs. Bianca Shlesinger March 1999

...

...Here is Plock. My Plock. It is barely one year since I left and the town is not the same anymore. Rows of deserted houses on which red flags fluttered bearing large swastikas. Streets empty of people. Everything is full of the life that isn't anymore. At every corner - shadows of the past. The awakened shadows are kind of accompanying me, whispering with sad voices remembrances from the past. The eyes take in, with love and sadness, all that once was so near, so familiar. All the windows are hidden by curtains, most of the shops are closed. Silence everywhere, as in a cemetery. Here is Somkat street and there, by the corner, what was once my house. The shop, the window.

The gate. Should I go in? Go on, go on. My steps resound with a faint and frightful sound. There, the coffee house of Gozakwitz. The door is closed, bolted. Does Rozke sill leave in her previous room? I wish she would be home. Three more houses, and two more.

Suddenly steps. What do I hear, the Hatikva song here? I stand as petrified by the gate and am unable to move. A large group of Jews, with working tools on their shoulders, is nearing. They march in lines of four. A black square under the guard of two Germans.

"Sing, Sing! Loudly! - Shouts one of them, rising the bat of his rifle.

The loud song of Hatikva fills the empty street and rises above the roofs of the houses. The first Jew in the row is drenched in blood. Did they beat him in the eyes? His face is familiar to me, who is he? Yes, yes, it is Weinberg. His shirt and jacket are drenched in blood. He cannot see me. With his lonely eye he looks head, far away, his mouth open, full of blood, mumbling the words of "Hatikva". The German is not aware what kind of song this is.....

"Louder, louder !"

* * * *

Kolgialna 11. Breathless I go up the steps and reach the door of Rozke's flat. I stop for a moment and then, gathering strength, I knock. I hear Rozke's voice. A boundless weariness overcomes me. The room spins around, together with me. Rozke holds me in her arms and cries, cries bitterly.

That same evening I went to see Weinberg, in his flat on Seroka Street. In the small room, in the corner by the sink, flickered the feeble light of a candle. His wife went about the room , silently, like a silent shadow. Weinberg lay on the bed, fully clothed. A wet cloth covered his mouth. Suddenly he jumped up and the cloth fell off, discovering a mashed face.

"You are here in Plock? How did you dare to put yourself in danger and come into this hell?"

Broken words were exchanged, words of suffering and answers. I tell him the reason for my coming. Two burning hands press into mines:

- "How I wish you to succeed to reach your home in safety. All my life I have dreamed of the Land of Israel, of a plot of land; of green pastures, of cows and sheep. I wanted to be a shepherd, a Jewish farmer in a Jewish village and eat form my own bread"....

He was completely detached from the reality of his present life and hovered about on the wings of his vision. He looked at me with his one good eye as from the depth of an abyss and whispered to me his dreams. The yellow light of the candle added to the horror of his wounded eye. The eyelashes trembled and twisted. Suddenly, In the heavy silence, a bitter crying erupted. His head fell on the pillow. His wife came forward and put a fresh wet cloth on the would. Under the cloth red tears were flowing.

- "Mr. Weinberg - I muttered - maybe you have a parents or a friend in Israel to whom you wish to send regards? If I will reach it , maybe I will reach it"......

Weinberg sat up brusquely.

- A friend? A parent? All the Jews are my friends and parents; regards? I send them as regards our today's "Hatikva", that is our "hope". Take with you the song to your new life. The day will come and the promise will be realized : "And there they will dwell until they will be commanded, God's words. And I will rise you and return you to this place". -

He fell silent. The tremulous, quivering light wandered around the room as if seeking refuge.

Outside reigned the night, silver-green, and a sense of doom prevailed in the empty streets and in the silent houses, on which hovered the red flags with the big swastikas . A pale, sickly moon crawled toward the sky, with a wounded eye and a mouth twisted by pain.

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BETWEEN WARSAW AND PLOTZK

By Michael Zylberberg

Page 78

 

These notes were written down on the "Aryan side" of Warsaw in May 1943. They comprise memories from the period beginning October 1939. The author, who lived at the outbreak of World War II in Warsaw, decided to visit his birth-place Plotzk. He made this journey by boat on the Vistula river, being disguised as a Polish gentile. On the way he and other travelers interrupted their trip at a little Port (Wyszogrod), where they had lunch at a Jewish restaurant. That small and remote township and its tranquil atmosphere, at a time when the discrimination against Jews and the preparations for their annihilation were already in full swing all over Poland - are the main subject of this article.

 

The author visits Plotzk, whose name was changed by a German decree to Schroetterburg, but decides soon to leave the place. In spite of the danger involved in using the same boat on the return journey, Mr. Zylberberg succeeds, thanks to his "Aryan" physiognomy, in returning safely to Warsaw, where he continued to live in the non­-Jewish part of the city.

 

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I LEFT THE GHETTO

By Helena Mairanc – Meiri

Page 79

 

The author of these memories was one of the many people who escaped from Plotzk to Warsaw hoping that a place where there was a greater concentration of people, would spell greater chances for survival.

 

She and her husband lived in a Polish quarter until the ghetto was closed. After the July-"action" of 1942 many people, especially those with "Aryan" faces, tried to escape.

 

Mrs. Mairanc-Meiri made contact with non-Jewish friends outside the ghetto and with the help of a Gentile who used to enter the ghetto, succeeded to leave it in his company at the beginning of 1943. Until that time she was employed as a "useful Jewess" in a factory which produced ammunition and spare parts for the German war effort.

 

After leaving the ghetto she destroyed her "Ausweis" (work-card) and prepared herself for a new life, disguised as an Aryan Polish woman.

 

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I WAS A "SUBMARINE" IN A NAZI-CAMP

By Judge Michael Koenigsberg

Page 79

 

"Submarine" was the name given by the compensation committees, established after the war, to victims of the Nazi slave labor camps, who lived and survived with false papers.

 

The author of this testimony was such a "submarine". In the possession of Aryan papers, he was sent by the German Labor Office ("Arbeits­amt") to Vienna at the beginning of the war. Throughout the war he worked there under horrible conditions, underfed and poorly clothed, disguising himself as a Catholic Pole.

He tells an interesting episode - a short time before the liberation he met in the camp a Czech who, in a friendly conversation mentioned a certain book written by the Jewish author Shalom Ash. Mr. Koenigs­berg pretended that he had never heard this name. He regrets that he never had a chance to meet Schalom Asch after the war in order to tell him of his popularity as a writer among non-Jews.

 

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A REVOLT IN HELL

Page 79-81

 

This article is based on the testimony of Marian Platkiewicz, a Plotzk Jew, one of the few survivors of the Treblinka death camp. He lived until July 1942 in the Warsaw ghetto, when he was suddenly taken to Treblinka in one of the Nazi "Actions" (mass deportations

 

There he was assigned to a working squad who collected the clothes of the camp victims, once they had been annihilated. He thus became an eyewitness to the process of killing people in the gas chambers. According to the quantity of clothes and the heaps of personal belong­ings (gold, watches, etc.) he could tell the number of Jews arriving in the camp daily (about 15,000 people).

 

The members of the squad to which he belonged were of course doomed to death, once they would have completed their work. The death camp was for many months disguised as a "transfer-camp", from where people were supposedly sent to "work" somewhere in the East. The signposts (like "waiting rooms", "buffet", "hospital") were fictitious, and were planned to deceive the new arrivals who would not believe until their last breath that they were led to their death.

 

Only those camp workers engaged, as Platkiewicz, in collecting the victims' personal belongings and other tasks, such as burning the bodies, knew the real nature of this disguised camp, which was in operation from August 1942 until August 2nd, 1943, when an uprising broke out.

 

The preparations for the uprising began at the beginning of that year. The first task was to accumulate the necessary amount of ­arms and ammunition and this could be done only by careful and extraordinary planning, which took into account the special conditions of the camp, where the various groups of prisoners were completely isolated from one another.

 

The initiator, planner and commander of this revolt was the unforgettable Captain Galewski, an engineer by profession. He planned, and with the help of others carried out an onslaught on a German depot of arms from which rifles and hand-grenades were taken and well hidden.

The second task was to organize groups which were to assume separate and special tasks in the general uprising. In accordance with the plan, the first act would be a hand-grenade attack on the German officers' club.

 

The plan worked out well and on the appointed day, late in the afternoon, the workers passed by the club and after having seen the boy taking off his hat (a sign that the Nazi officers were all inside their club) they attacked the premises with hand-grenades, which immediately started to burn.

 

This served as a signal for several other groups of fighters who attacked the Ukrainian sentries and then destroyed the gas-chambers. Unfortunately, the attackers did not succeed in cutting off the high ­tension electricity line and many of the inmates who tried to escape, according to the plan, were electrified to death by touching the barbed wire. The commander of the revolt then gave an order to open fire on the wired fence and thereby enabled the people to make a break-through.

 

The surprised Germans had no idea that a revolt had broken out inside the camp and thought that they were attacked by partisan fighters from the outside. Many of them were killed by the Jewish fighters who, after completing their task, escaped together with the rest of the camp inmates.

 

Unfortunately, they had no place to hide. They took temporary refuge in a nearby small forest where they could stay only overnight. During the night the Germans encircled the forest with troops and the majority of the fighters were killed by the Germans and their Ukrainian collaborators in the morning.

 

Platkiewicz, and a few of his friends, dared and succeeded to break through the German lines before dawn and later hid in a nearby village. They lived for several months in a hideout behind the barn of a friendly peasant and later joined the partisan groups which attacked German arms and supply trains and carried out many other acts of sabotage, which all contributed towards the final victory of the allies over the Nazis.

 

Platkiewicz survived and lives now in Israel. In 1964 he gave evidence before a Dusseldorf court in the criminal case against Kurt Franz, one of the Nazi commanders of the Treblinka camp.

 

Unlike the revolt in the Warsaw ghetto which is widely known in the world, the uprising in the Treblinka death camp has not yet come to the attention of the public at large.

 

These two historical events (as many others) refute the widely held belief that Jews were led to the slaughter like lambs, without offering resistance to their cruel oppressors.

 

The extraordinarily daring and heroic Jewish uprising in Treblinka, under indescribable difficulties, proves that the contrary was true.

 

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Last updated July 2nd, 2004