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[Page 372]

Our People in the Land of Israel (cont.)

Only in late 1942, when Yaakov Kurtz was able miraculously to return to Palestine from Piotrkow (he went there for a visit right before the war started and was stuck), and gave first-hand reports about the systematic massacres of Polish Jewry, a meeting of our people took place, during which Kurtz gave a report about the annihilation of Piotrkow Jews, and a committee to rescue the remaining Jews of Piotrkow was organized on the spot. The first activity of the committee was to publish Kurtz's Sefer Edut (Book of Testimony), which was the first book to be published about the slaughter of Polish Jews. The book was published by Am Oved and shocked the Yishuv in the land of Israel.

In the hills of Jerusalem, April 1953
In the hills of Jerusalem, April 1953. A group of Piotrkower participate in the dedication
of the “Yar Kedoshei Polania,” the Forest of the Jewish Martyrs of Poland

 

The first committee of Piotrkow Jews in Israel was headed, of course, by Yaakov Maltz. The committee collected over 800 pounds (a huge sum in those days) to buy food, clothes, medicine, etc. When the word arrived at the end of the war that hundreds of survivors had returned to Piotrkow from the death camps, the bunkers and the “Aryan” side, large crates were sent via Teheran with provisions. Food packages were also sent by air to Piotrkow. The committee kept in touch through mail and messengers with the survivors in Piotrkow and in the UNNRA a nd Joint camps in Europe. Hundreds of replies were sent to inquiries about relatives, immigration, etc. Immigrants from our town who arrived in Israel were received warmly and were given help. The organization arranged loans for settlement and housing, and helped find work. (It should be mentioned that all the loans were repaid, which shows that our town's people were successfully settled.)

The Matzeva at Yad Vashem, unveiled by Irgun Yotzei Piotrkow in 1963
The Matzeva at Yad Vashem, unveiled by Irgun Yotzei Piotrkow in 1963

 

Piotrkow Jews in Israel did not forget their town or their loved ones who perished in Europe. Each year, on the second of the month of Heshvan, the date of the final liquidation of the Piotrkow community, a memorial service is held for the Martyrs of Piotrkow, attended by a large crowd of our people.

Our people in Jerusalem at the unveiling
Our people in Jerusalem at the unveiling

 

The organization of Piotrkow Jews in Israel has established a number of commemorative enterprises to perpetuate the memory of the victims.

Elazar Prashker
Elazar Prashker, the Editor-in-Chief of the periodical Heidim

 

The monument erected in memory of the Martyrs of Piotrkow
The monument erected in memory of the Martyrs of Piotrkow
at the Holon, Israel cemetery in 1980

 

Henia Grinberg
Henia Grinberg, the Honorary President of the
Irgun Yotzei Peiotrkow. She headed the organization
for the past 15 years until 1989 when she was succeeded
by Yechezkel Gideoni

 

This, then, is a brief summary of the link between the community of Piotrkow and its sons and daughters in Israel.

Jerusalem – April 1991

 

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