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[Page VII]

The Jewish Community of Jadow

(The life, struggle and destruction of a Jewish community in a Jewish townlet)

The Jews of Jadow, remnants of the Nazi holocaust, who at various times migrated to America, Eretz-Israel, France and other countries, carry memories deep in their heart of the colorful Jewish Community of Jadow with its splendid culture and variegated society.

Jewish Jadow is no more. The Nazi annihilator and his Jew-baiting henchmen have obliterated this community from the face of the earth. Let us, however, revive its memory in the bond of perpetuation. Let us relate to our children and to generations to come what this Jewish community meant to us.

 

Formation of the Jewish Community at Jadow

In hoary antiquity, when the Jews wandered over the face of Europe in search of a place of rest where they could settle down and build homes for themselves, form communities and erect houses of prayer, they began arriving to Poland, bringing with them a great load of diligence, energy and know-how. The Jews transformed villages into townlets in which they established workshops and engaged in trade. In the course of their wanderings a number of Jews arrived in the rural settlement of Jadow on the banks of the river Osowice. It is impossible to establish exactly when it was that the first Jews arrived in this place. Apparently, it happened before the division of Poland in the 60's of the eighteenth century, when considerable numbers of Jewish townlets were formed in the heart of Poland.

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At the end to the 18th and the beginning of the 19th centuries, they there met Polish squires who had become impoverished and sought a livelihood in the Jewish townlets. These, in common with the Catholic clergy, launched a campaign against the Jews and laws were promulgated which limited the right of residence of the Jews to special narrow lanes on the outskirts of the townlets. This was the case also at Jadow.

Jadow being a rural area had some connection with the estate of Count Zamojski and in 1823 was granted urban status and six fairs were held there annually. The Jews who had already succeeded in taking up a position in this townlet had their right of residence limited to a small area on the outskirts of the townlet where they were permitted to acquire building sites and to erect houses. Only well-to-do Jews, who wore European clothing and sent their children to school, were permitted to live in the centre of the town.

At that time, Count Zamojski established two factories at Jadow – a spinning mill and a paper factory. There can be no doubt that the Jews played an important role in these enterprises, in that Jewish merchants traded in the products of these factories, spreading them to all parts of Poland. As in all the towns and townlets of Poland in those days, the Jews of Jadow persevered in their struggle against limitations as to areas of residence, and from time to time occupied additional areas in the townlets. In 1827, there were as many as 48 Jews at Jadow out of a total population of 466, thus constituting 10.3%.

After the failure of the Polish revolt of 1831, Count Zamojski liquidated his factory and the Jews purchased a number of looms from him and began producing taleithim (prayer shawls) which were sold in all parts of Poland. In actual fact, the Jews in that time saved the status of Jadow as an urban settlement, because the Christian population engaged mainly in agriculture whereas the Jews kept shops and engaged in trade.

In 1857, Jadow had a population of 764 of whom 331 were Jews, thus constituting 43.2% of the town's inhabitants. Only in the 60's of the 19th century, when the rulers of Pland, headed by Count Alexander Wielopolski, granted the Jews full civil rights on June 5, 1862, were all the limitations on the rights of residence of the Jews lifted, and they were given the possibility of settling in whatever street of the town they

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desired. Henceforward, the Jewish population of Jadow began to grow and reached the figure of 870, thus becoming a majority (67.6%) among the town's inhabitants of 1287.

From that time on, the Jews in Jadow began to grow in number and in 1897 constituted 70.8% (or 1272 out of a total population of 1797). Such a Jewish community was regarded already as a large Jewish settlement. The Jews built themselves a synagogue, a bais-midrash and founded a rabbinate, the learned rabbi becoming the leader of his flock. According to the laws of Poland in those days, every community was granted the right to appoint itself leaders who were called “dozor bozniczy”, a supervisory committee of the synagogue. This gave rise in the course of time to the term “Dozor” which means “communal leader”. The Jewish community of Jadow also boasted of such leadership.

 

Jewish Life and Forms of Livelihood in the 19th Century

The Jews of the townlet formed a cultural and economic form of life of their own. When the Orly railway station was built in the townlet's environs, which greatly assisted in the economic development of Jadow, an improvement set in also in the form of livelihood of the Jews; trade developed, the woods on Graf Zamojski's estate were turned into summer resorts. During the summer vacation many people from all parts of Poland were in the habit of spending their holidays in the environs of Jadow which enjoyed beautiful scenery and this proved benefactory to the Jewish artisans in the townlet. The tailors and the shoemakers had their hands full of work and petty trade in Jadow, particularly the grocery trade, flourished.

As in the other townlets in Poland, the Jews of Jadow served as a link between the town and the countryside. Merchants and peddlers brought to the townlets agricultural implements, textiles, haberdashery and manufactured goods from the large cities, and the peasants who flocked to the townlets on fair days could make all their purchases in

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the Jewish shops where they found everything they required for their homes and farmsteads. The Jews were in the habit of purchasing from the peasants the agricultural produce that they brought with them and took it to Warsaw which was 48 kms. distant from Jadow.

Jakob Minsky, a native of Jadow now living in Brooklyn, publishes in the present memorial volume a characteristic description of Jewish life in his native town.

“Jadow formed part of the estate of Count Zamojski who was generally well disposed towards the Jews. There are no stories of oppression against the Jews of Jadow. The Jews lived in security in this townlet in those days, engaged, in trade with the peasants who evinced no feelings of hatred towards the 'infidels'. Generally the Jews in the 19th century lived a life of calm and security in this place, without let or hindrance. The Jews did business with the Gentiles and with the squires.

“My forefathers Moshe Riwes and Zelig Gruenberg had leased land from the squire: others kept inns, leased the 'entrance to the townlet', or traded in timber, because Jadow was surrounded by forests.

'I still retain the picture in my mind's eye of the rabbis – the spiritual leaders of Podow Jewry: Rab Leibele, the Rabbi of Dubno, Rab Israel Leimanovitz and the Rabbi from Menshawa who, together with all the members of his family, were tortured and killed by the Nazis.”

At the same time, as they became economically well established, the Jews of Jadow took steps to develop their own specific forms of life. The young men would engage in the study of the Torah, in the Bet Hamidrash, the young children attended chadarim or studied at the hands of private teachers. Jewish houseowners were in the habit of studying in their holy books from time to time and debating the difficult passages in the Talmud, and the sing song of Talmudic study could be heard all over the place. In the houses of prayer of the Chassidim stories of miracles sought by the Chassidic Rebbis were circulated and generally the Chassidim made merry. On Sabbaths and festivals complete rest reigned in the townlet, all the shops were closed and the workshops were idle. The Jews in festival garb walked the streets at their leisure, paraded to the bridge or the shores of the river: young lads and lasses

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would go out to the fields and the forests in the summer and indulge in innocent flirtations which ultimately ended in marriage. Marriages were generally contracted between the families of the “Baalei Batim” of the townlet and most of the engagements were celebrated on the intermediate days of the festivals of Passover and Sukkot when relatives and acquaintances from other localities were in the habit of visiting the townlet.

The Jews of Jadow generally had two days of great festivity. Whenever a marriage took place, it was an occasion of great merriment for all the inhabitants of the town. Likewise, whenever a Scroll of the Law was presented to the synagogue. Also on occasions of mourning and misfortune, many of the inhabitants of the townlet would join in the sorrow. The whole community was cast into gloom on the occasion of the 9th of Av, when there was mourning for the destruction of the Temple. The Jews of Jadow also founded and established charitable institutions, as was customary in all other Jewish communities in Poland: societies for visiting the sick ; hostels for wayfarers; societies for aiding poor brides, etc.

 

Great Departure in the Life of The Jews of Jadow

The first great crisis in the life of the Jews of Jadow came during the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, which brought in its wake the revolution of 1905/6. The economic situation deteriorated. Young men and women had nothing to do when they grew up, and so left for Warsaw in order to learn a trade. In Warsaw, in 1903, one could find already illegal political parties of all trends: Zionist, Bundists, Polish Socialists, etc. The youth of Jadow found places in these public movements.

Memoirs of Warsaw during that time are given by Max Goodmann, a native of Jadow, in the present memorial volume “Fun Chassidim stiebel zu revolutionaerer Taetigkeit” (From the Chassidic Prayerhouse to Revolutionary Activities). He writes as follows:

“…My first meeting in Warsaw was with the General Zionist Move-
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ment. Within the movement there arose various parties which called themselves by Hebrew names, such as 'Hatechiah', 'Poalei Zion'. We were in the habit of meeting at frequent intervals, in the evenings, in the labour bureau, like the other socialist parties: Bund, Polish Social Democrats (PPS – which had a terror squad in those days)'”.
The youth of Jadow who returned to the townlet as artisans: tailors, shoemakers, harness makers, seamstresses, brought with them something of a public-revolutionary fervor. And so even in this calm townlet there arose Zionist, Bundist and Poalei Zion organizations. Strikes were declared in the small workshops in which, apart from the owner, several apprentices were employed.

In the memoirs by Samuel Lichtboim, published in the present memorial volume, mention is made of Jewish revolutionaries at Jadow who were arrested and exiled by the Czarist authorities: Mottl (Max) Goodmann who was exiled to Siberia for three years and later escaped and came to America; Chaim Vons and Zalka Greenberg, who had been accused of participating in the bombing attack on the Lechov Railway Station and were liberated during the trial; Godzitsky and Hirschel, the son of Samuel the butcher, spent many years in prison, were exiled to distant places in Russia for terms of hard labour and were liberated during the March Revolution that broke out in Russia.

The pogroms against the Jews which were organized by the Czarist authorities in Russia in 1905, had their repercussions at Jadow. During one of the fair days, rumors were spread abroad that the Gentiles were preparing for a pogrom and to pillage Jewish shops and businesses. That actually came about. Young Christian lads began breaking down shop doors. Mottl Gutmann who was a member of the “Jewish Self-Defense” in Warsaw and happened to be on a visit to Jadow, succeeded in driving the pogromists off with his revolver. They had already begun their attacks against the Jews. He was assisted by Aaron Meltzer of Jadow. The peasants who had come to the fair took fright at the Jewish reaction and fled in their wagons and on their horses, back to their villages.

The excesses that broke out at Jadow, as in all places in Russia, the rise of anti-Semites, particularly among the circles of the Polish nobi-

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lity, led to the fact of many Jews being forced to leave the country. Emigration to America increased. Among the emigrants were also many natives of Jadow. This is borne out by the fact that the increase of the Jewish population of the townlet during the period 1897-1908, was only very small, reaching a figure of only 113 souls. In 1908 there were only 1385 Jews at Jadow out of a total population of 2154, constituting 64.3% and showing a drop of 6.4% since the 1897 census.

 

World War I and its Influence on Jewish Life

The outbreak of World War I in August 1914, brought to Jadow, and to the Jews in particular, a wave of difficulties and tribulations. The Jews, like the Polish peasants in the vicinity, were conscripted to the Czarist Army. There were heart-rending parting scenes between women, children, parents, grandfathers and grandmothers, and the soldiers who were sent to the front.
After several months of war, during which the Russian armies were defeated and retreated from the German onslaught on the road to Warsaw, the Jews of Jadow were overtaken by fear. The Commander in Chief of the Russian Armies, Nikolai Nikolajewitch, the Czar's uncle, who was a rabid anti-Semite, brought a libel against the Jews that they were engaged in espionage and issued orders to evict the Jews from the townlets as the battlefront drew near. By miracle, Jadow was not affected by this terrible order.
The stream of Jewish refugees who were driven out of the townlets flowed along the road to Warsaw, and under the leadership of J.L.Peretz, a relief enterprise was organized in their behalf. Jewish communal workers and writers in Warsaw issued an appeal for the assistance of the refugees who were driven out of the townlets. In Jadow, too, a relief committee was founded. Its members were Esther Jadowska-Lustigman, “Esterke, the Rabbi's daughter”, Samuel Hoffmann, the brothers Samuel and Hatzkel Rosenbaum, Hinda Pravda-Loeketsh and Sa-

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muel Lichtblum. This committee collected articles of clothing and underwear and them to Warsaw for the refugees.

About a year after the outbreak of the War, the Russian authorities began retreating from Jadow. For reasons unknown the police arrested at the last moment before leaving the townlet, the following citizens: Samuel the butcher, Samuel-Yossel Ashmedai, Abraham Neumann and Leib Greenberg the Scholar, and they were sent to the heart of Russia. The Russians left Jadow before Rosh Hashana of the year 1915, and a civil militia composed of Jews and Poles was founded. To begin with, Austrian battalions captured the townlet, but they passed on and immediately after them there arrived battalions of the German Army headed by their commander.

In World War 1, the Germans were not the wild beasts that they turned out to be in Hitler's time, and the Jewish population breathed freely after having been liberated from the yoke of the Cossaks. The Jews left their hiding places and women and young girls who had hidden for fear of the Cossaks were able to go about freely.

 

Secular Jewish Cultural Activities in Jadow

In those days when religious orthodoxy ruled Jewish life in Jadow, there were also people who wished to introduce enlightenment among the youth circles in the townlet. The leaders, however, declared an outright war against them. The revolutionary movement of 1905 succeeded in weakening the pressure of the orthodox circle.

According to the memoirs of Samuel Lichtblum there arrived in 1912 in Jadow a Yeshiva Student from Brest-Litowsk by the name of Leibele Greenberg. He was dressed in European fashion and conducted propaganda among the youth of Jadow to read books and to take an interest in the Zionist aspirations to settle in Eretz Israel. Leibele succeeded in acquired associated of like mind. In secret, the young men were able to collect several roubels, purchase books, and in the mosdes home of Leibel's mother, Hudes the widow, the library was housed in

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secret in the wardrobe. The readers used to exchange books twice a week.

In 1861, when Jewish life in the townlet was rehabilataded under German occupation rule, young people of secular outlook began establishing organizations for cultural and social activities. Samuel Lichblum describes this period in his memoirs:

“…When life settled down, they began thinking about the creation of social organizations and about ramified information activities among the youth. Two libraries were officially founded and two types of ideology were crystallized among the readers: a Zionist-national ideology and a Socialist-Bundist ideology. And so two groups arose in the townlet. Each wished to take possession of the small number of books, so as to turn it into a basis for a party library of its own. Quarrels and squabbles and threats broke out which almost ended in blows. At that time we, a small group of Zionist youth, decided to establish a special library of our own under the name “Hatachiya” which would have a distinct Zionist character. The books in the possession of our members for reading purposes formed the basis of the Zionist “Hatechiya” library.

The “Bund” Organization also established a library and founded a trade union. There was difficulty in acquiring premises because the religious Jews did not agree to let any rooms. The young people, however, did not rest until they found Jewish house-owners who were not among the orthodox sections of the population, who allotted room in their homes for these libraries.”

The groups appointed suitable leaders from among their members. From Pinsk there arrived with the stream of refugees a young man named Joseph Chessler, who had a secondary education, knew Hebrew and Yiddish, was a gifted orator and became the leader of the Zionist movement. He was in the habit of delivering lectures on such subjects as: “What is national culture?”, “Pinsker's Autoemanicipation”, or Herzl's “Altneuland.” At the same time, there arrived from Lodz the brothers Heinach and Zalman Littwak and their brother-in-law Katz, who conducted the “Bund” movement. They delivered lectures on Marxism and Jewish literature. Stormy debated would be held between

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the Zionist Organization and the Bund, often in the course of the lectures by the representatives of the two trends. In the summer, the lectures and the debated used to be held in the wood outside the town. At the end of these meeting the Zionists would sing “Hatikva” and the Bundists their hymn, “Die Shvuah.” The enthusiastic youth would then return to the townlet, each thoroughly convinced that his party was the true one.

Attached to the libraries run by the two trends, dramatic circles were formed which presented plays on the stage. Each such performance was a veritable festival for the young people of Jadow. The preparations for the performance, the efforts at identification with the characters presented on the stage, were occasions of great enthusiasm, and the day of the performance was eagerly awaited. The plays were often performed jointly with the Zionists and the Bundists.

Obviously, the orthodox “Ba'alei Batim” in the townlet did not look upon such secular activities with favour. Strife would break out between the fathers and their children and, in the end, the parents acquiesced in the conduct of their sons and daughters who were good children at heart and even helped the family to earn a livelihood.

The orthodox Jews of Jadow clung to their old way of life. They used to go to prayers, attend study circles, and were meticulous in the observance of the Sabbaths and festivals. The rabbi of the community was Rabbi Yisrael Leimanovitz, an enlighted man who exerted every effort to bridge the rift between the fathers and their sons.

 

Jewish Life in the Townlet Between the Two World Wars

At the end of World War 1, in November 1918, when the independent State of Poland emerged, a new form of life crystallized at Jadow, similar to that of the other towns and townlets in liberated Poland. The attacks by anti-Semitic hooligans which spread to all towns and townlets in Poland, somehow passed over Jadow. Jews began to rebuild

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their lives again. The situation was difficult. There came the period of the inflation of the German mark which was still acceptable currency from the time of the German occupation.

The Polish army was formed and the Jewish youth of Jadow were mobilized. The greatly weakened public activities in the town. But very soon another trouble appeared on the horizon – the Polish war against the USSR. The Soviet army, in pursuing Pilsudski's battalions, arrived in Jadow. The Soviet authorities at once set up a “revolutionary committee” (“REVKOM”) in which the following Jews participated: Yaakov the son of Ester Beile, and Aharon Tennenholz. They conducted the “REVKOM”, the civilian militia that was established and they also delivered propaganda speeches.

The end was very sad. Following the victory of the Poles, the Red Army retreated and the “REVKOM” went with it. The Polish Army, which had encircled the Soviet battalions, took the two Jews of the “REVKOM” captive. They were brought before a summary military court, sentenced to death and shot.

After the war and the disarmament, Jadow returned to a regular form of life. The Jewish public-cultural activities were restored. Political events in the world, the ratification of the Balfour Declaration, international political conferences, the British Mandate which had as a goal the upbuilding of the Jewish National Home in Palestine – all these tended to strengthen the Zionist movement. The Zionist Organization at Jadow was housed in spacious premises and new cultural institutions were formed. “Tarbut” founded a Hebrew kindergarten. Kindergarten teachers arrived from Warsaw and they also took an active part in the Zionist Organization. The movement became ramified. Branches were established of Hashomer Hatzair, Betar, Mizrahi, and others. The Aguda Organization evinced particular activity in the educational institutions that it established.

A great change set in the Labour Movement in Jadow. Following the split in the ranks of the Bund, occasioned by the Communists, they took over the party and the trade union at Jadow. In actual fact, however, the nature of the labour institutions was not greatly changed.

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The trade union endeavored to improve the situation of the Jewish labourers in the townlet.

The “Ba'alei Batim” also organized themselves and founded the Artisan's Association, the Merchant's Bank and the Popular Bank which assisted mainly small traders and artisans in need of capital.

In 1930 there broke out at Jadow a strike of needle workers, under the leadership of the trade union. The workers demanded the introduction of a ten-hour work day, and the acceptance and dismissal of workers through the trade union alone. The Artisan's Union rejected these demands and declared a lock—out. The strike was a prolonged one and the workers suffered hunger. The Trade Union opened a public kitchen which provided free meals. A relief campaign was launched. The dramatic circle arranged performances, the proceeds of which went in aid of the strikers.

There was the case of a strike breaker being forcefully removed from his work, and this led to much scandal. The police arrested the strike committee, but released it after investigations. In order to force the employers to accept the worker's demands they declared a general strike for one day. The bakers did not bake any bread. This thing helped, and led to talks between the two parties. The employers accepted the worker's demands and the strike ended after a six weeks' stoppage of work.

Barely a few weeks had passed than the Polish authorities brought to trial the strike committee for employing terrorist methods. The trial was conducted at the court in Jadow and the accused defended themselves without the services of a lawyer. Israel Zabroniecky, a member of the strike committee, made a speech in which he defended himself and his colleagues. The item in the indictment accusing them of terror was cancelled and the members of the committee were sentenced to two week's imprisonment for disturbing the public peace. They appealed to the High Court in Warsaw. The centre of the needle worker's union, with which the needle workers in Jadow had become affiliated, provided two lawyers for their defense. The sentence was commuted to two days' imprisonment only.

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In the period between the two World Wars, public-cultural activities were given a great spur. There were General Zionists. Poalei Zion, Hashomer Hatzair, Communists (in the underground), Bundists. Mottl Gejinda has the following description in his memoirs about “the activities of Tarbut in Jadow”:

“Every Sabbath there were lectures on literary and political topics. Each party desired to bring to the fore its best speakers. In this townlet, the following were regarded by the public as orators: Shlomo Leufer, Jacob Kowadlo, Hirsch Goldstein, Yadkowski and others. Actors and stage managers also came to Jadow to stage plays. Each party had a dramatic circle of its own. On the occasion of each dramatic performance, cart loads of young people from the neighbouring townlets and villages would arrive at Jadow. The dramatic circles also performed in the townlets of Vishkov, Stock, Dobr, Volomin and others.”
There were three libraries in the townlet attached to the three parties. Between them they had 4,000 books. The young people devoted much time to reading and studying. There was also a sports club which provided physical training. The Zionist Organization, and in particular the Hashomer Hatzair, arranged other festivities as for example Lag Ba'omer festivities, a bazaar, JNF collections.

The orthodox section of the Ba'alei Batim lived in a world of its own, one of study and prayer. They came under the influence of the Mizrahi and Agudat Yisrael. Zvi Stuchko in his memoirs gives a general survey of Jewish life in Jadow.

“On Sabbath morning, the Jews who had set aside their daily cares were in the habit of walking slowly to the synagogues, the “stiblech” and the minyanim. The youth employed the time for meetings, lectures, but took care to come home at the same time as their parents returned from prayer. When they had finished their Sabbath meal and the cholent, the old people would retire for a Sabbath nap, but the young people knew no rest. They went for walks, played football, held meeting on their party premises and ended the Sabbath with theatre performances, parties or other form of recreation.”
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On the election days, the townlet was agog, such as on the occasion of general elections to the Town Council, to the Sejm and to Jewish institutions, such as the Community Council, the appointment of a rabbi, etc. There was a struggle already at the time of the election of the Rabbi, Yehoshua Simcha Bunem Weingott. In the last Community Council which functioned down to the time of the destruction, the following parties were represented: Zionist-2; Agudat Yisrael-2; Arisans and non-party members-3. The budget covered the expenditure of all the community institutions, the salaries of rabbis and the shochtim. At Jadow, there functioned another three Chassidic prayer houses of the Rabbis of Gur, Alexander and Jerock, a Yeshiva, nine Chadarim, one modern Cheder, a Bet Yaakov school for girls, a Hebrew kindergarten and a Government school for Jewish children.

In the first decade of that period, Jewish life at Jadow was conducted in regular fashion. With the assistance of the “Joint” and the Jadow Landsmannschaft in America, the artisans and petty traders were able to establish their workshops and stores. In 1921, there were 942 Jews in Jadow, constituting 75.9% of the total population of the town. The Jews included also several wealthy people: the brothers Perles and Loewenstein who had large metal factories in the vicinity which employed thousands of workers, including people from the townlet, professional workers and officials. Cederbaum, a Jew from Warsaw, and his partner Schisko, maintained the Jadow mill which supplied electricity to the townlet.

In the last decade of Jewish life in Jadow the economic situation greatly deteriorated. Anti-Semitism grew among the Poles and anti-semitic organizations conducted strong anti-Jewish propaganda. Young hooligans – Polish students who came for their vacations – would attack Jews in dark lanes. The young Jews returned the attacks by beating them up. This led to clases and life was no longer secure. The organized boycott of Jewish trade and workshops accompanied by signs: “Do not buy from Jews”, undermined their economic existence. There were cases of attacks by Polish pupils on their Jewish colleagues. This was the situation of the Jews on the eve of the dark period of the Nazi destruction.

 

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The Annihilation of the Jews of Jadow by the Germans

When World War II broke out, there were about 2,000 Jews in Jadow. Until August, 1939, life went on as usual. When holidaymakers began escaping from their summer resorts, fear broke out in Jadow. When mobilization orders were issued by the Polish army, Jewish youth joined the colours like the Poles, and they were at once sent to their battalions.

In the early part of September, German planes began bombing Poland and life in the townlet became disrupted. Whole families consisting of men, women and children, fled from Jadow to the neighbouring villages, while Jews from other townlets sped to Jadow in the hope that they would be safer in this place. Suddenly, a German plane appeared overhead and bombs descended on the town. The first victims were claimed. Confusion increased. In a few day's time, German soldiers occupied the townlet.

The Jews who had fled returned to the townlet and refugees from other places arrived. The German soldiers began attacking the Jews, beating them up with whips, tearing out the hair of their beards or shaving their faces, hair, skin and all. The occupation authorities began issuing edicts: supplying food to the soldiers, collecting all work implements, etc. Famine broke out. The bakers could not bake enough bread for the inhabitants and the refugees; the Jews who queued up for their bread rations were driven away by the Germans and the Poles assisted them in their work.

A Jewish Council (Judenrat) was formed which was forced to collect money in order to pay their communal fine of 150.000 zloty which the occupation authorities demanded of the Jews. Failing to provide the ransom 50 Jews were to be executed. The Jews succeeded in raising only 80,000 zlotys. It was only after great importunation that the Germans agreed to accept the sum. The difficult situation notwithstanding, the Jews came to the aid of their refugee brethren from other townlets.

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As time passed, the German decrees increased; every Jew had to wear a yellow arm-band with the shield of David on it; Jews were forbidden to engage in trade, to walk on the pavement with a non-Jew. Jews were taken from the streets to do forced labour, tortured, degraded and beaten until they lost consciousness. At the same time Jewish shops were broken into, the goods thrown into the street and looted by the Christian mob.

In 1940 they set up, under orders of the Nazi authority, a ghetto for the Jews who were cruelly hounded into their fenced-in area, which included about one third of the houses of the Jews, in which they were forced to live. At that time 90% of the Jewish population of the town was Jewish – 2591 souls. The Jews were ordered to set up the barbed wire fence of the ghetto at their own expense, yet there was no possibility of obtaining the material for it. After much trouble and at exorbitant price, they succeeded in setting up a pen for themselves. In one of the testimonies the life of suffering in the ghetto is described as follows:

“Life in the ghetto became most difficult. The noose began to be tightened under the plan of destruction drawn up by the Nazis. New decrees were issued daily. “Actions” took place incessantly – actions for furs, actions for iron and skins, actions for manpower, all of which meant supplying the Nazi authorities with furs, iron, skins and Jews for forced labour over whom sadistic overseers were appointed who tortured and beat them cruelly. But all this proved insufficient, because the Germans announced that all Jews were outlawed and their murder would go unpunished. “The people or German birth” (deutsche Volksgenossen) who had moved to the townlet made use of these decrees, persecuted the Jews, extorted money from them and treated them as they wanted.”

Pestilence broke out in the ghetto and there were neither medicines nor physicians, and then suddenly, the German authorities ordered the Jews to set up hospitals and they appointed as inspector Dr. Drijinsky, a Polish anti-Semite from the Ministry of Health in Warsaw, who tortured and degraded every Jew. Another physician, Dr. Goldberg, a Jew from Warsaw, was brought to the hospital. The hospital was set up in

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order to bring to it sick Jews who were the first to be deported to the death camps.

Before the actions for the sending of the Jews of Jadow to Treblinka commenced, the Nazi authorities played havoc with the Jews of the townlet. German sentinels were in the habit of shooting at the Jews in the streets or cruelly beating them up. Thus, they shot the Rabbi of Tlusch who had come to Jadow. It was then that the “action” commenced. The Nazi sent to the death camp at Treblinka people in the following order: first the sick and then the children. On the 13th of Tishrei October 22, 1942, they gathered all the Jews of the townlet into a field adjoining the cattle market. The persecuted and beaten Jews were surrounded by sentinels – Polish policemen who assisted the Germans, armed with rifles, hand-grenades and machine guns. All around there were machine gun posts from which there was incessant firing. Many of the Jews who did not report to this field, were shot in their houses and in the streets.

The Jews who kept in the field for several days without food were forced to hand over to the Germans all things of value. Then they were arranged in lines and under careful guard by armed patrols and dogs, were led to the death camp at Treblinka where they were suffocated in the gas chamber by the German “Sonderkommando”.

This was the horrible end of the Jewish community in the townlet of Jadow, Poland, which in the course of 200 years of toil and suffering had transformed a village into a flourishing townlet on Polish soil both economically and culturally.

This description was written on the basis of memoirs, testimonies and historical documents included in this “Book of Jadow”.

 

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