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Translation of Mordy chapter from
Pinkas Hakehillot Polin
Published by Yad Vashem
Published in Jerusalem
Ada Holtzman zl
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This is a translation from:
Jewish Communities, Poland,
Volume VII, pages 295-297, published by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem
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(Siedlce District, Lublin Province)
Mordy was established in 1488 by two Polish magnates Jan Kosciuszko and Stanislaw Korcewski. In 1515 the estate was distributed among some heirs. One of them Mykolaj I married the daughter of Friedrich Wilhelm I, king of Prussia.
In 1563, Stanislaw Lutomirski the head of the Catholic Church in Small Poland sent a group of ministers to settle in Mordy in order to strengthen the Catholic influence in the district.
Mordy is situated between Losice and Siedlce, 14 km west of the Bug River, thus became a commercial center on the way to and from Warsaw. German merchants settled in Mordy in the early 19th century.
Jews settled in Mordy in the second half of the 17th century. They suffered no limitations and the relationship with the Mordy Poles was in good terms. The 1800's saw a rise in Jewish population. Most Jews were merchants and peddlers. The merchants bought agriculture products from the farmers around Mordy and sold it in the towns. Some Jews were professionals mainly tailors and cobblers.
Jewish public and social life in Mordy circled around the Synagogues and Beth Hamidrash (house of Jewish study). Chasidic influence in Mordy was vast. There were a few Shtiblach (small synagogues): Gerer, Radzyn and Miedzyrzec Rabbi followers. In 1880's Rabbi Mordechai David son of Rabbi Chaim Szabtai Alpert, author of the books Yad Mordechai and Binyan David, served as the community's rabbi.
In the autumn of 1915, a year after WWI started, Mordy was occupied by the Germans. The Germans abolished previous limitations on Jewish public and political life. A public Jewish library was erected in Mordy in 1916. After a year, political groups of Zionists and the Bund were organized.
In 1920 during the Poland U.S.S.R. war, the Red Army occupied Mordy for two weeks, after which the Polish Army took over. In mid September 1920, the Polish soldiers, executed a Pogrom in Mordy, destroyed vast Jewish property and murdered the Bund leader in Mordy, Israel Lederman. Four other Bund activists were blamed in supporting the Bolsheviks, judged and executed as well.
In the period after war, the Jewish political activity intensified: the strongest Zionist party was Poalei Zion Zion Workers. Strong Youth Movements were Hechalutz Hatzair Young Pioneer and Tzeirey Zion the Young of Zion. In the early 1930's the revisionists established the Brit Hachayal Soldier's Alliance organization whose number of members constantly increased. In 1937, the Eretz Israel Haovedet Land of Israel Workers block, won all 58 eligible voters for the 20th Zionist Congress, but number of eligible voters to the 21 Zionist Congress dropped to 33.
In the last vote before WWII to the Jewish Committee which occurred in 1937: out of the 7 seats: 3 Agudat Israel won, 2 Revisionists and 2 from the Workshops Union.
In 1922 Tarbut Culture Club was established. Around 1925, a dispute rose about the Jewish library's activity. Young Communists complained that the activity is devoted too much to Zionist activities. In 1925, the public leaders in Mordy tried to found a Jewish school but the educational authorities of town declined their request. Parents who wanted Jewish education for their children had to send them to schools in Siedlce (some 20 km to the west of Mordy).
In 1940 the Mordy Jews had to pay the Germans high ransoms and in order to collect them, some government Germans came to Mordy. In the first year of occupation, many Jewish refugees came to Mordy; on May 1940, 172 refugees arrived from Lodz, Siedlce and Mlawa and in June, additional 259 refugees arrived from Lodz, Kalisz, Poznan and Krakow. This was on top of the 2,000 Jews that resided in Mordy by the end of 1940. A Judenrat Jewish Council was established in Mordy in September 1939 under orders from German authorities in Siedlce. Some of the last Community Committee served in the Judenrat as well: the last chairman of the Community Committee was Mosze Gerszon Lewenberg, and three Revisionists: Aron and Arie Fajnzilber and Mordechai Furman.
A Slave Labor Camp was erected in an estate near Mordy. Jews from Mordy, Siedlce, Sokolow and Wengrow were forced to drain swamps. In the spring of 1941, 500 Jewish forced laborers from Warsaw arrived at this camp. The Judenrat in Warsaw used to send them packages of food and cigarettes
On June 1941, upon the outbreak of the war between Germany and the U.S.S.R., a Ghetto was erected in Mordy. In the end of 1941, many Jewish refugees concentrated in the Mordy Ghetto. By May 1942, the Mordy Ghetto inhabitants count was 3,817. The Ghetto was an open Ghetto, thus the Jewish daily commercial connections with the Polish population could proceed. Eckhardt, the responsible of the ghetto, was relatively liberal. A few times he responded to Judenrat's requests to exempt Jews from forced labor.
On January 1942, 15 Jewish youngsters ages 15-17 escaped from the forced labor camp in the Paszblocki Estate and returned to the Mordy's open Ghetto. As the Germans heard about it, SS units arrived in Mordy and demanded the Judenrat to surrender the escaped prisoners. The Judenrat had to turn the youngsters over to Germans. Their fate was unknown. During this period, some Jews were executed, after they were found smuggling food into the ghetto.
The Mordy Ghetto was annihilated in an Aktzia that took place on Sabbath, 22 August 1942. All the Ghetto residents and refugees, some 3,500 Jews, were herded to Siedlce and from there deported to Treblinka together with Siedlce, Losicer Jews and other Jewish refugees on the same transport.
Mordy was liberated by the Red Army at the beginning of 1945. After liberation about 20 Jews from Mordy returned and re-settled in town, among them a family with two children. On May 1945, 12 of the returning Jews, among them Szymon Garbarz, age 25 and his brother Abram Garbarz, age 21, were murdered by A.K. Armija Krajowa Polish fascist partisans. After this Pogrom, the few Jewish survivors who resided in Mordy left the town and moved to Warsaw.
Yad Vashem Archives 03/3423, 3544, 3546
Central Zionist Archive: S6/1868; S5/1707, 1801.
Y. Ziglman (editor), The Radzyn Book, Tel Aviv 1957, page 269
Yizkor book for the Sarnaki Community, Haifa 1968, pages 271-273
M. Zanin, Iber Stein un Stok, Over Stones and Sticks, Tel Aviv 1952, pages 123-126.
S. Rosen, Out of the Ruins, Tel Aviv, 1944, page 45.
A. Wein, Pinkas Bractwa pogrzevowego w Mordach, The Mordy Book, BZIH (1967), No. 63.
Das Ydishe Tadblat Jewish Daily Paper, 8.6.1938.
Der Tag The Day, 17.9.1920.
Heint Today 19.4.1912, 16.12.1925.
Gazeta Zydowska Jewish Newspaper, 23.5.1941.
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