To the memory of the child Szaja Wizenberg and his parents Itzhak and Perl ne'e Bursztejn from Wysokie Mazowieckie who perished in Auschwitz.

WE REMEMBER JEWISH WYSOKIE MAZOWIECKIE!


The Memorial of the Jews of Wysokie Mazowieckie in Holon Cemetery, Israel

The Martyrs List of The Holy Communities of Wysokie Mazowieckie and Jablonka; May God Revenge Their Blood 

The Necrology List of Jablonka in JewishGen

  SEFER ZIKARON - The Memorial Book of Wysokie Mazowieckie, editor: Y. Rubin, Published by the Wysokie Mazowieckie Society in Israel, Tel Aviv, 1977, 280 pages, H.Y.E.

Jablonka My Town

                                                                                                            

Jews settled in Wysokie Mazowieckie in the 17th Century.  In the second half of the 19th Century they became and  remained the  majority of the town's citizens, contributing to its economic  and cultural development.  During the German occupation, in August 1941, all  Wysokie Mazowiecki Jews were forced to live in a ghetto. The ghetto was liquidated on November 2, 1942, and its 2000  Jewish inhabitants were sent to the camp in Zambrow, and afterwards, in January 1943 to Auschwitz. 

 

In memory of the Jewish inhabitants of Wysokie Mazowieckie, murdered in the time of the  Shoah by the Germans and their collaborators. 

 

 

The Restoration in Photographs (2006)

Albert Stankowski & Adv. Monika Krawczyk of FODZ (Foundation for the  Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland - Fundacja Ochrony Dziedzictwa Żydowskiego) supervised reconstruction and supplied the photographs. Fund raising for the Project was originally started with PJCRP (Norman Weinberg).

Implementation of The Wysokie Mazowieckie Cemetery Restoration, May 2006

 

View of the Cemetery before May 2006

The Restored Cemetery

 

The Recovered Tombstones

 

Implementation of The Wysokie Mazowieckie Cemetery Restoration, May 2006

 

                                                                                                             The Wysokie  Mazowiecki Cemetery  Dedication & Commemoration Ceremonies will be held at 10:00h on Thursday, November 23, 2006.

 

 

New Works and Photographs July 2009

 

Fundacja Ochrony Dziedzictwa Żydowskiego w Polsce

 

 

Adv. Traison, Michael H.:

Traison "at" MillerCanfield.com

 

Memory and Memorial

 

 
The tombstone of Simcha, son of Baruch Bendit KATINKE (died Sivan 22, 5670 - June 29th, 1910)  in the restored cemetery of Wysokie Mazowieckie

 

I don't think anyone will ever be able to share the emotions felt when looking at these pictures through my eyes. It was almost six years ago to the day when I sat in a Starbucks in West Bloomfield, Michigan, with Wojtek who has grown to be a good friend of mine. It was a dark autumn morning at about 5:30 a.m.  Ignorant then of Wysokie, I asked him about his hometown's Jewish history and he told me there was no physical sign left but there was a place called "the Jewish Forest."

 

Intrigued, I hurried to visit this place a few weeks later.  Here I discovered it was the overgrown field of weeds and trees and dense vegetation.  It had served the teenagers of the town for six decades as a secret gathering place to smoke a cigarette or drink or talk among the foliage and the hidden recesses.  Unlike some similar locations in the hundreds of other such spots I had visited throughout Jewish Poland since 1992, this spot was bereft of litter and had suffered no destruction, other than that visited upon it by the passage of time.

 

I hurriedly arranged a visit with the Mayor and a few thousand Zloty brought about an immediate clean-up.  The clean-up alone revealed that this was one of the two Jewish cemeteries of Wysokie.  The Mayor ordered his clean-up crew to photograph the Macewot (tombstones).  There were said to be 107.  During the ensuing years, I met with local students and encouraged involvement in building a memorial.  Each November 1st, on the Catholic All Saints Day, either I or one of the local people would visit and light a ner zikaron (memorial candle) in memory of the Jews of Wysokie.

 

I recall five years ago this November when I received a call in Israel on my cell phone from a 16 year old back in Wysokie who asked me if Jews lit candles on all saints day as do Catholics.  I told her no we don't and she said she needed to admit that she and her high school friends had gone there to light one on behalf of all Jews.

 

I was moved by this gesture and of the reborn democratic Poland.

 

As the years passed, Ada Holtzman created the beautiful Wysokie website and slowly I received emails from people throughout the world with Wysokie roots.  Slowly life began to be breathed into the lungs of what was for too many a forgotten Jewish community and for others a longed for memory.

 

Then came the involvement of Norman Weinberg and Marvin Brooks.  Marvin's involvement grew and grew and now began the reality as he was able to engineer the fundraising so much needed.  We all opened our pockets.  One family more than any other many times over did so.

 

And, now we have these pictures.  It reminds one of the phrase we say three times a day when reciting the Shemona Esreh: mechayeh maytim b rachamim rabim: He raised the dead in his great mercy.

 

All of this can be traced to one Polish boy, now a 30 year old man living in Vienna, Wojtek Faszczewski.

 

We shall not forget this.

 

And, when we hear from the mouths of some the scurilous words that are sometimes uttered in haste, we also shall not forget the 16 year old girls lighting the ner zikaron on all saints day, the high school teacher in Wysokie who wrote the book about the town's Jewish history, the old woman in Tel Aviv  with whom I sat on a park bench at the Hilton Hotel at the side of the Mediterranean as she spoke over the cell phone to a young woman lawyer from Wysokie four thousand kilometers north of us, or the town's Mayor's excitement over the possibility to reclaim the cemetery, or one November night three years ago when I stood in the blackened dark field of green vegetation and lit a ner zikaron with a local Catholic family who looked at the one flickering flame before us while thousands and thousands of flames burned in the distance in the town's Catholic cemetery beyond and said: "Sometimes, one candle can be more beautifully powerful than tens of thousands of candles".

 

Thanks to these people, the fence, the gate and the monument are now a reality.

 

The Restoration in Photographs

The Cemetery before Restorarion

The Restored Cemetery

The Recovered Tombstones

Implementation of The Wysokie Mazowieckie Cemetery Restoration, May 2006

 

Announcement of Initiation of Wysokie Mazowieckie Poland Jewish Cemetery Restoration Project (November 2003)

To: Survivors and Descendents of Jewish Wysokie Mazowieckie, Poland

The Poland Jewish Cemeteries restoration project (PJCRP) (http://www.pjcrp.org/) is pleased to announce that a cemetery restoration project will be undertaken for WYSOKIE MAZOWEICKE.

The PJCRP is committed for restoration of all 1200 devastated Jewish cemeteries of Poland. Cemetery restoration in Poland is about remembering and honoring the dead and those murdered in the Holocaust and in so many cemeteries and nearby forests. It is also about life and the living, teaching younger generations, reconciliation and about preserving Jewish heritage. For those of you not familiar with the activities of this group please see the wonderful work accomplished at the OZAROW cemetery (http://www.ozarow.org/intro_eng.shtml

There are approximately 107 tombstones visible in the Wysokie Mazowieckie cemetery. (Of the 1200 cemeteries known to still exist throughout Poland only 125 of the 1200 have more than 100 tombstones.) The cemetery is overgrowth with weeds and trees and most of the tombstones are no longer erect and some partially buried. This is one of the two cemeteries that was located in Wysokie Mazowieckie. The second has been covered over by a parking lot. The information transcribed from the tombstones will become part of the JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/Cemetery/

The project will proceed in three phases:

Phase I will be a visit by a representative of PJCRP who will meet with the mayor, the local priest and other officials to discuss the project to gain their support. It is expected that the town will participate in some aspects based upon previous communication of Adv. Michael Traison (see Wysokie Mazowieckie website) (http://www.zchor.org/wysokie/wysokie.htm). Rabbi Michael Schudrich, PJCRP Halachic Coordinator and Rabbi of Warsaw and Lodz will review the work in detail.

Phase II will include a survey of the area to re-establish the boundaries of the cemetery.

Phase III will include the restoration of the cemetery using local labor and materials as as much as possible: cleaning the cemetery; building a cemetery wall and gates; erecting a commemorative monument and placing a descriptive plaque in three languages (English, Polish, Hebrew) at the gate, describing the history of the site and acknowledging those who contributed to the success of the project.

This success of this project will depend upon the donations of interested sources, such as landsmanschaften (town mutual benefit societies), Jewish and non-Jewish individuals and organizations, as well as participation of the local government. The introductory visit and survey will cost $250 and the survey up to $2000, respectively. The final restoration should cost about 20,000, depending upon materials of constuction.

Donation (in any amount) should be made as follows:

1. Send check or money order payable to the Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies and mail to

Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies
787 Delaware Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14209.

2. Credit Card contribution (American Express, Visa, or MasterCard) may be made by calling 877-933-6369 (Toll free) or 716-882-1166.

An accompanying note should contain the donor's contact information, (an e-mail address is very useful) and state the donation is for the Wysokie Mazowieckie Cemetery Restoration Project.

Donors will promptly be sent an acknowledgement by the foundation, and if the donation is $250 or more, US citizens will receive a 501 (c) (3) charitable contribution receipt from the Foundation. Donations are fully tax deductible to the extent of US law.

Thank you for your consideration of support for this important project.

Marvin A. Brooks

PJCRP Coordinator
Wysokie Mazowieckie Cemetery Restoration Project
Tel.: 215-542-0712
Email: Lakebenj "at" comcast.net (replace "at" by @ to avoid spam)

Preliminary Trip Report from PJCRP Visit in Wysokie Mazowieckie by Andrzej Omasta November 2003

 Tombstones in the Cemetery of Wysokie Mazowieckie

PRESS RELEASE from Adv. Michael Traison August 9th 2000

Adv. Michael Traison
Miller, Canfield, Paddock & Stone
313-496-7657 Office
313-496-8452 Fax
810-914-7658 Cell in U.S.
011-48-601-380-746 Cell in Europe
website: www.millercanfield.com
email:
traison at millercanfield.com
mtraison at aol.com

There is an exciting story underway in this small town one half hour's drive from Bialystock. Once eighty percent Jewish and now typical of such towns throughout Poland, Judenrein, the Jewish cemetery had become a sea of weeds and bush and trees covering a few strewn about matzevot dating back two or three centuries. The place was called the Jewish Forest by the local kids. It was unmolested and remained undisturbed for the last sixty years.

Now through a local initiative led by the mayor, the local Polish Catholics have taken it upon themselves to resurrect the cemetery as a memorial to the exterminated Jewish Community of Wysokie. The mayor has directed his city's landscaping and grounds keeping department to remove the brush and clear the growth. Matzevot will be lifted from where they lie and will be cemented to stand again. A small symbolic fence will outline the borders of the cemetery and a monument will be erected at the street inscribed with the history of Wysokie's lost civilization.

This project stands as a memorial to the kedoshim who perished at the hands of the Nazi beast, as a testimony to be read by the youth of Wysokie to know more about those who walked their streets before them, as a sign to the Jewish world that good and decent people, sharing a common faith, if a different religion, exist in this land, and as an example to other towns throughout Eastern and Central Europe as to what they can do.
Adv. Michael Traison

An Appeal to all Wysokie Mazowieckiee Jewish Survivors and Descandants

I am searching for people who have an interest in the town of Wysokie Mazowieckie, Poland, and more particularly, those with family roots in the area. I am working with the town and its people to restore the Jewish cemeteries there and am searching for anyone who might also have an interest in this type of project so they might become involved or even just be aware of the great efforts being made by the town and its people. In my search for interested parties, I have been referred to you and am writing to seek your support and/or interest. Please read the information below and contact me if you have any comments you wish to enlighten me with or if you have any interest in getting involved. I you for your time and your kind consideration.
Adv. Michael Traison

A Map

Surname List: Wysokie Mazowieckie (Lomza Gubernia)
as of 1 October 1999

The Grand Synagogue of Wysokie Mazowieckie


The model of the grand wooden synagogue of Wysokie Mazowieckie, made by Moshe Verbin of blessed memory

  SEFER ZIKARON - The Memorial Book of Wysokie Mazowieckie, editor: Y. Rubin, Published by the Wysokie Mazowieckie Society in Israel, Tel Aviv, 1977, 280 pages, H.Y.E.

Jablonka My Town

The History of Wysokie

Source: Yad Vashem: Pinkas Hakehilot, Encyclopaedia of Jewish Communities: Poland Vol. IV Warsaw and Its Region, pages 190-193 - translation from Hebrew. Submitted by Yale Reisner of the Lauder Jewish Geneology Project at the Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw

Year

Population

Jews

%

1808

861

225

26%

1827

1065

378

35&

1857

1824

1053

58%

1897

3101

1910

62%

1921

3214

1898

55%

Early History

Wysokie Mazowieckiee is first documented as a rural settlement in the year 1239. It is mentioned as an urban settlement in 1494 and acquired town status in 1502 from King Aleksander of Poland. Its privileges were confirmed anew by King Zygmunt III and by Poland's last king, Stanislaw August Poniatowski. It was from King Stanislaw August that Wysokie Mazowieckiee received the right to host annual fairs and weekly market gatherings. Wysokie Mazowieckiee was initially the private holding of the Princes Radziwill of Nieswierz. From 1582 to 1670, the town belonged to the Counts Potocki. In 1580, there were 33 houses on the marketplace and 110 houses along city streets. Wysokie Mazowieckiee was destroyed in the war with the Swedes in the mid-17th century and only 580 residents remained. It was reconstructed in the 18th century. In 1799, there were already 134 homes and 860 residents. During the third Polish partition in 1795, Wysokie Mazowieckiee was annexed to Prussia. In 1807, it became part of the Duchy of Warsaw and in 1815 part of the Russian-controlled Kingdom of Poland. In 1866, Wysokie Mazowieckiee is referred to as a provincial capital. Among those who sustained the local economy were many artisans and Wysokie Mazowieckiee was noted particularly as a center for the fur trade; furriers' and shoemakers' guilds existed as early as the 16th century. At the end of the 18th century, there were 22 furriers, 24 shoemakers and 12 bakers in Wysokie Mazowieckiee In the 19th century, several factories were opened in Wysokie Mazowieckiee (beer breweries, liquor distilleries and others).

We have documentation of the Jews of Wysokie Mazowieckiee beginning with the 17th century. At a session of the Council of the Four Lands [the so-called "Jewish Parliament"] in 1725, there is record of a dispute between the communities of Wegrow and Ciechanowiec as to under whose authority the Wysokie Mazowieckiee community fell. The two communities presented their arguments, but they lacked written documentation and the discussion hinged on oral arguments alone.

The Council decided to put off a decision until its next session which was to take place in the winter of 1725-1726 and "until that time, neither community shall have any authority over Wysokie Mazowieckiee and taxes collected for the royal treasury shall be credited evenly to the two communities." About forty years later, in 1765, the Wysokie Mazowieckiee community is mentioned as an independent community supporting its own rabbi and beadle. In the census of that year, a parnas [community chairman], a deputy parnas and a government supervare also mentioned.

In the 19th century, the numberof Jews Wysokie Mazowieckiee increased. At the start of the cen, a synagogue was built. The building burned to the ground in one of the conflagrations that petown. In 1879, a new brick synagogue was constructed.

As in all Polish towns, most of the Jews made their livings from petty trade and day labor. In Wysokie Mazowieckiee , there were a few lumber traders, grain traders and horse traders. Some dealt in the export of products to East Prussia. Amongst the craftsmen were tailors, shoemakers, hatmakers, carpenters and builders. The main trading days were the market days which took place on Mondays and Thursdays. Only a few of Wysokie Mazowieckiee 's Jews were well-off. The exception was the Frumkin family which was among the wealthiest and best-connected families in Lithuania and Byelorussia and which had extensive land holdings in the area. One branch of the family lived in Wysokie Mazowieckiee Members of the family were philanthropists, giving aid to the local poor. In the early 20th century, the family left Wysokie Mazowieckiee and moved its homestead to Grodno.

At the start of the 20th century, the boycott declared by the extreme Polish nationalists (the Endecja) against Jewish merchants took hold in Wysokie Mazowieckiee. This campaign was led in Wysokie Mazowieckiee by the local priest.

In Wysokie Mazowieckiee the religious lifestyle was maintained with rigor and zeal. Most of the local Jews were Mitnagdim [anti-Hasidic], but, as time went on, many Hasidim came on the scene, gathering about the courts of various Hasidic rebbes. From 1833, Rabbi Meir Horowitz was rabbi in Wysokie Mazowieckiee. After him, in 1853, the rabbi was Elazar Shlomo Weler, who held the post until 1892. His place was taken by his son, Ajzyk Jakub Weler, in 1893, who write "Bris Ojlem," a volume of rabbinical response. After his death in 1902, Rabbi Aron Jakub Perlman was elected rabbi and he officiated until the Holocaust in which he perished.

In Wysokie Mazowieckiee there were traditional cheders in which the youngest children studied. The older ones would travel to yeshivas, usually to Lomza. During WW I, a "reformed cheder" was established and the foundations were laid for a Yiddish-language school. A public library was also opened and a Maccabi sports club formed.

Until the outbreak of WW I, there were no Jewish political parties in town; yet, there appear to have been Zionists in Wysokie Mazowieckiee, since, every year on the eve of Yom Kippur, funds were collected for the Jewish National Fund.

At the time of WWI, under German occupation, social and cultural life developed amongst the Jews of Wysokie Mazowieckiee. At this time, a branch of Tzeirei Zion [Zionist Youth] was formed and an adjacent clubhouse was set up.

In 1916, a Zionist Federation was created in Wysokie Mazowieckiee In 1917, branches of Poalei Zion [Labor Zionists] and Mizrachi [Religious Zionists] were established. With the Second Aliyah, some Wysokie Mazowieckiee Jews left for Palestine and a few served in the Jewish Brigade that was formed during WWI. After the war, these veterans were among the first settlers of Ein Harod. Jews from Wysokie Mazowieckiee were also among the settlers of Hadera.

Wysokie Mazowieckiee was damaged in the battles that surrounded it during WWI and, as a result of the war's paralysis of trade and handicrafts, there developed shortages of food and basic manufactured products. In this situation, the number of unemployed Jews grew. The community tried to help its poorest members and set up a public kitchen, which distributed about 200 meals a day free of charge.

Between the Two World Wars

In 1919, Jews were attacked by soldiers of General Haller's army. These soldiers searched Jewish homes and seized merchandise and valuables. The situation worsened in 1920-1921 during the Polish-Bolshevik War. Then a local division formed including several Jews. This formation fought the Bolsheviks and esucceeded in chasing themout of town. Thirteen Jews died in these battles. As they withdrew, the Bolstook 230 Jews hostage. The Polish Army succeeded in freeing them, but the freed Jews fell victim to the attacks of bandits who beat and robbed the. The newspaper Kurier Warszawski reported at the time that the events in Wysokie Mazowieckiee clearly indicate that the Jews were being "victimized not only where they were accused of supposed treason against, but even where they stood shoulder-to-shoulder and fought alongside them against the enemy." The paper called for the perpetrators to be brought to trial and punished.

The Jewish Parliamentary Caucus in the Sejm submitted a request to the Interior Minister calling for an investigation. The police intervened and life returned to its normal patterns.

During this period, the Jews of Wysokie Mazowieckiee continued to make their livings from petty trade and handicrafts. They purchased agricultural produce from local farmers and sold them manufactured goods and handicrafts. Most Jews were poor; only a few prospered -- they rented stands of timber from the estate owners for cutting. Non-Jewish factories -- sugar mills, beer breweries and brick factories -- did not hire Jews. But even in the flour mill, which was owned by Jews, very few Jews were employed. Since the nearest railway station was about seven kilometers away, some Jews earned their keep transporting people and cargo to and from the station.

In 1925, a Jewish Cooperative Bank was established in W.M, which gave out loans to the needy under favorable conditions. The bank was established by merchants' associations and the craftsmens' guilds. Their cooperation lasted three years. The bank remained in the hands of the craftsmen and the merchants created a "Merchants' Bank" which served them. The two banks co-existed until WWII. In addition to the banks, there was a Gemilus Chasodim [Free Loan Society] which granted interest-free loans.

In Wysokie Mazowieckiee there was an array of traditional Jewish charitable organizations, e.g. Hachnosas Kallah [Aid to Needy Brides], Hachnosas Orchim [Aid to Visitors], and Bikur Cholim [Aid to the Sick]. In the thirties, a small hospital was established.

During the inter war period, Jewish education continued to center around the Talmud Torah which opened ceremoniously with rabbis and community leaders from Warsaw and neighboring cities in attendance. For fifteen years, there was a yeshiva directed by Rabbi Jakub Stawisker. In 1922, the government opened a public elementary school for Jewish children ("Szabasowka" -- closed on Saturdays), but only girls studied there. This school functioned until 1933. In that year, classes began to take place on Saturdays as well and it became a regular public school in which both Jews and non-Jews studied. For a short time, there was a public high school in Wysokie Mazowieckiee and a small number of Jewish students continued their studies there after completing elementary school. The high school soon turned into a trade school. In 1933, when the Szabasowka became a regular school, an effort was undertaken by Zionist leaders to open a Tarbut (Hebrew-language) school. The campaign succeeded and the school opened in 1934. Each year, a new class was added. This school had its own building.

At this time, most of the community was overwhelmingly Zionist. Branches of nearly all the Zionist parties then active in Poland existed. In the early twenties, a chapter of HeHalutz ["The Pioneer"] was formed and it created an agricultural training center on a nearby farm. It soon became a regional center for such training. In 1927, a chapter of HaShomer HaLeumi ["The National Guard"] was formed and later HaNoar HaZioni ["Zionist Youth"]. In the early thirties, a Revisionist Zionist [Betar] group formed. The Zionist parties and their youth movements conducted a broad array of cultural activities and provided evening classes in Hebrew and lectures on a variety of subjects. The balance of power amongst the competing Zionists movements and their influence in the Zionist camp were reflected in the elections of delegates to the Zionist Congresses in which about 300 voters part. In th1935elections, the votes broke down as follows: Al HaMishmar -- 92, Et Livnot -- 10, Mizrachi , Poalei Zion -- 133. In the elections for the final pre-Holocaust con(1939), therwere voters. Mizrhad 45 votes, HaNoar HaZioni 207, and the Labor Israel Bloc 125.

Only a few belonged to the Bund. Agudat Israel was influential among the Hasidim. A small number of Jews belonged to the illegal Communist Party. The Zionists controlled the community council. In the 1931 community elections, the Zionists took 4 of eight seats, Mizrachi had two, Aguda one and the Independent List one. In the 1939 Town Council elections, Jews took three out of twelve seats.

Anti-Semitic propaganda increased during the 1930s and there were riots in 1936. On a regular market day, groups of violent youths, joined by local farmers from the vicinity, attacked Jewish stores and stalls, stole merchandise and beat storekeepers and their family members. There were also attempts to break into Jewish homes. Three Jews were injured and taken to hospitals in Warsaw and Lomza. The police arrested twenty rioters and they were tried for disturbing the peace. Thirteen were sentenced to short prison terms; the others were released. The Warsaw appeals court confirmed the rulings, but waived punishment for six of the sentenced youth due to their young age.

During World War II

German units entered Wysokie Mazowieckiee on 10 September 1939. As they did in many places, the Germans immediately launched attacks on the Jews and set fires, burning most of the homes in the town. On 12 September 1939, the Germans rounded up all the men, about 1000 all told, Jews and Poles alike, from age 17 and up, in the Catholic Church which had survived the fires. After two days, the arrested were taken from the church to forced labor in Zambrow; about 800 men were sent to the Schtalbach camp in East Prussia. On 19 September 1939, the Germans ordered the Jewish residents of Wysokie Mazowieckiee to leave town; within 24 hours, they were forced into the Soviet zone.

On 26 September 1939, the Germans left Wysokie Mazowieckiee, as Wysokie Mazowieckiee had been ceded to the Soviets under the Soviet-German accords. Jewish prisoners in German hands were released and returned to their families. For a year and a half, Wysokie Mazowieckiee was under Soviet rule. The Jews tried to adjust to the new situation. They rebuilt their homes, created cooperatives of craftsmen, the children attended the Soviet Jewish school. Some of the old Jewish communists assisted the Soviet rulers for ideological reasons. Some served in the city administration and in the militia. In early 1941, there were about 1100 Jews in Wysokie Mazowieckiee. In 1940-1941, many of the youth were drafted into the Red Army.

On 23 June 1941, the Germans recaptured Wysokie Mazowieckiee. Murders, persecutions, forced labor and attacks were the order of the day. Anti-Semitic Poles among the local population joined with the occupiers and looted whatever came to hand. In the first days of the occupation, Szymon Tenenbaum and Szmul Grynberg were executed, allegedly as Communists. In July 1941, a Judenrat was formed with 13 members. At the same time, the yellow badge was decreed for Jews: All Jews, men and women, from age 15 and up, were required to wear a yellow patch on their clothing (front and rear) and, initially at least, a yellow ribbon on their sleeve. In late August 1941, a few days before Rosh Hashanah 5702, the ghetto was created. Christians living in the ghetto area were forced out and were given formerly Jewish homes instead. The ghetto, which included the Market Square, was surrounded with barbed wire. The entrance was guarded by Polish police and order inside the ghetto was maintained by a Jewish police force, created by order of the Germans. Into the three streets that comprised the ghetto were herded hundreds of displaced Jews, brought to Wysokie Mazowieckiee from nearby communities: Czyzew, Tykocin, Rutka, Zambro, Jablonka, Dabrowa and others. In autumn 1941,there were about 2000 people in the Wysokie Mazowieckiee gh. The Judenrat was compelled to provide 250 workers a day for road building and wood harvesting in the forests. Craftsmen -- shoemakers, tailors, carpenters and ti-- worked in the countryside and received food in return for their labors. Ghetto residents bartered with residents of the "Aryan side." In return for food, Jews sold off their remaining possaperseffec. They didn't always get a fair trade.

The situation worsened further in autumn 1941. Smuggling food from the "Aryan side" became more dangerous. Poverty grew in the ghetto; hunger and illness claimed many lives. Each day, hundreds were taken off to forced labor. For 12 hours of hard labor, workers received 200 grams of bread and thin soup. The job of the Judenrat was to do the Germans' bidding, yet Judenrat members tried to maintain a semblance of normal life and to assist the hungry. Noted for his aid to the poorest of the poor was Judenrat Chairman Alter Zajk and his daughter, Dr. Golda Zajk, who looked after the sick in the ghetto. Hundreds of people received hot meals in the public kitchen established there. Craftsmen working in adjacent villages and were paid with food paid the Judenrat to be exempted from labor details. The poor and needy received assistance from Jewish community coffers.

Liquidation of the ghetto began in early November 1942. In the wee hours of 2 November 1942, Germans and Polish police surrounded the ghetto. They rounded up all the sick in the ghetto and took them out to execution in the fields outside the town. On that day, there arrived in Wysokie Mazowieckiee 300 wagons impounded by the Polish police from local farmers. Hundreds of Poles gathered around the ghetto fence awaiting the spoils. The Germans drove the Jews from their homes and didn't even allow them to take personal effects. The Jews of Wysokie Mazowieckiee were loaded onto the wagons and sent to the Zambrow camp. The Zambrow camp was liquidated in January 1943 and the Jews there sent to Auschwitz.

Even those who had succeeded in fleeing the ghetto liquidation eventually fell into German hands as a result of reports from Polish informers.

Written by Shmuel Levin and Abraham Kalvan.

Last updated July 14th, 2009 (original web site has been erected in 1999)

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