Cemetery Cleaned and More Tombstones Found, Cleaned and Photographed
The Jewish cemetery in Wysokie Mazowieckie (1)
Email from Michael H. Traison, 3.7.2009
sharing this with you because I know you are sensitive to these. The story is of
hundreds of towns represented for now by Wysokie. The "tall" city.
Wysokie Maz. lies about 2 hours northeast of Warsaw and a half hour southwest of Bialystok, not far from Lomza and Zamborow, Tykocin and Bransk and Ciehanowiece and dozens of other towns from whence came our forbears. Until the partition of Poland, its dwellers were Polish Jews. For 5 generations, from 1795 until 1920, its residents lived in Russia and prayed for G_d protection of the Czar. For 19 years thereafter the town reverted to being a Polish city, until its streets echoed with the clop clop sounds of German jack boots.
Its now 64 years since the Germans were pushed out by the Red Army. The attached photos of the remains of one of the two Jewish Cemeteries of Wysokie were taken by a middle aged Polish Catholic local resident in July 2009. Wladzio Zaremba and his wife have toiled under a brutal sun and intermittent heavy rains these last 10 days.
They have scrubbed the faces of the stones and cut the brush and wild grasses. These photos and the Matzevot one sees, like the reconstructed fencing and gate and the memorial monument, represent people and meaning far beyond the simple and crude inscriptions on the stones themselves.
Like a "Rorshak Test" one can see what they will see from the lives of individuals, with all their pains and joys, to those of an entire community over centuries. One can almost feel the tumultuous and tragic short period commencing around Rosh Hashana 1939 when the Germans briefly occupied the sztetl, only to cede control of it for 22 months to the Soviets, until they returned here in June 1941 and exterminated this and all the other kehilot in Poland.
One can also see the efforts of "the 2nd Generation" to preserve, in some fashion, the token reminders of that centuries' old Polish Jewish history. And one can see the universal understanding and simple compassion of men and women born after the end of the Jewish centuries, where Jewish civilization lay in not more than the particles and ashes, remnants of temples and hospitals, yeshivot and mikvaot, community buildings and private homes.
1200 other such cemeteries, many no more than barren plots of land, lay unrecognized and unadorned, except for those whose physical remains lie beneath the wild underbrush but yet remain the burial ground of the generations whose wisdom and character lives on in Israel and in the Children of Israel in the Jewish Diaspora.
This weekend, for the 12th time in as many years, 10 righteous Poles will be honored for their work preserving Jewish Memory in Poland. 150 people have been so honored and their work, and ours, continues. With G_d's help. And your help.
Michael H. Traison
From: Sorell, Louis S
<LSorell" at" goodwinprocter.com>
To: Traison, Michael H.; weinberg36 "at" gmail.com <weinberg36 "at" gmail.com>; monika.krawczyk "at" fodz.pl Herbert.Block "at" jdcny.org <Herbert.Block "at" jdcny.org>
Cc: daggna "at" gmail.com
Sent: Thu Jul 02 15:19:11 2009
Subject: RE: progress of works on the Jewish cemetary in Wysokie
That's quite a touching story. It is completely consistent with my own experiences during my trip to WM a year ago.
The older woman must have been at least in her 70's. My mother's first cousin, Paulina Dolengewicz, emigrated with her family from WM in 1938 to Argentina as a young girl (she was about 12 years old at the time). Paulina died last week in Argentina. Insofar as I am aware, she was the last living relative of mine that actually lived in WM at one time.
Louis S. Sorell
Goodwin Procter LLP
The New York Times Building
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10018
lsorell "at" goodwinprocter.com
Tears fill our eyes, on the death of our son, our beloved young important man Arie son of Symcha Abraham Icchak died 7 Tevet 5640, December 22, 1879
Michael H. [mailto:Traison "at" MillerCanfield.com]
Sent: Thursday, July 02, 2009 3:03 PM
To: Sorell, Louis S; 'weinberg36 "at" gmail.com'; 'monika.krawczyk "at" fodz.pl'; 'Herbert.Block "at" jdcny.org'
Cc: 'daggna "at" gmail.com'
Subject: Fw: progress of works on the Jewish cemetary in Wysokie
Read this all the way through. While you read it remember 2 Catholic Polish guys have done all this for us.
Rupieta <foksapass "at" hotmail.com>
To: Traison, Michael H.;
Sent: Thu Jul 02 14:50:41 2009
Subject: progress of works on the Jewish cemetary in Wysokie
I went to see the cemetary today. More than half of it has already been cleaned. Since the last time we met, Wladyslaw has worked 37 hours and I paid him 1155 zloty. Wladyslaw made an agreement regarding the cost of the removal of the cut grass and trash - it will be 150 zloty. This price is very low since it costs 200 zloty to dump one trailer on the dumping ground. Wladyslaw bought also a herbicide for 30 zloty. Moreover, Wladyslaw removed all grass and weed around matzevas with his hands as he had found out that this is how matzevas look like in Israel.
18-200 Wysokie Mazowieckie
ul. Ludowa 11A m 24
Yesterday, a tour guide brought 3 people from a family livinng in America to the cemetary in Wysokie. The oldest woman grew up in Wysokie. When she saw Wladyslaw working on the cemetary and the way the cemetary looks right now, she was really touched and bursted into tears. She wanted to give 100 zloty to Wladyslaw but he refused to accept the money. The tour guide took Wladyslaws phone number and asked him if he could bring tours to the Jewish cemetary in Wysokie. Wladyslaw said that of course it would be possible and suggested that he or myself are contacted in advance.
Hope you are well
Last updated July 12th, 2009