by Dovid Schnipper, Ramat Gan
Translated by Jonathan Gadir and Michael Gottlieb
I do not have exact facts as to when the first Jews settled in Plontch (Polaniec). However, there are many indications that an organized Jewish community was established approximately 400 years ago. The known dates of the establishment of the Synagogue, its architectural configuration, and its multicolored paintings bear this out as well. The Synagogue's antiquity attracted to well-known artists throughout Poland, who came to seek the wisdom of building and artistry of those days. Also it was an antiquity that the Polish Government cared for and took an interest in, by placing the Synagogue under its patronage.
Geography and Demographic facts
The town is in the Tzuzmir (Sandomierz) District. The closest city is Stashev (Staszow). To the South-East of the town flows the well-known Vistula River, and the river Czarna flows through the center of town. The town is surrounded by mountains and forests, and orchards, whose produce blesses the entire region. The general population is 6,000, including about 300 Jewish families (some 1,500 people).
Until World War I the Vistula River served as a natural boundary between Russia and Austria. The fact that it was a 'border settlement' stamped its seal on the town. The effect was that the Russian Government did not find it necessary to build roads to the town, nor to organize normal transportation to the town at all.
Even with the re-establishment of the Polish Government in 1918, the situation changed little. The Poles built a road to the central town of Tzuzmir, but in the other directions the transportation was still on dirt roads, as it had been for centuries.
The closest railroad station was Mialtz, across the Vistula, a distance of 17 kilometers. The narrow-gauge railroad (trolley), 'kulika' in Polish, which came from the direction of Stashev, was about 3km from the town.
At this point it is noteworthy to mention that Plontch holds an important place in Polish history, because of what happened there during the Polish Revolution against the Russian conquerors. In the forests surrounding the town, Kosciusko, leader of the Revolt, organized and mobilized his troops. From here, too, was issued the famous manifesto in Polish history, known as the Polaniec Manifesto ('Manifest Polaniecki'). In the forest, near the village Rishech, can be found the wooden bench upon which Kosciusko sat when he wrote this document to the Polish people. The wood, partially rotted, is supported by a brick structure in order to preserve this historical monument.
The Economic Situation; and Emigration
Business relations between the Jews and the surrounding Gentile neighbors were very close, and were conducted in a good spirit and maximal reciprocal understanding. Jews purchased surplus agricultural produce: wheat, barley, fruit, poultry, etc. from the Polish populace, which was agriculturally-based, and sold them to both nearby and distant city-dwellers. And the local farmers acquired their necessities in towns, in stores, whose storekeepers were Jewish. The town storekeeper viewed the farmer not only as a 'customer', in business terms, but as a friend; with whom one had to establish a bond and 'lighten his load', assisting during periods of agricultural crisis - by extending long-term credit or lending money, usually at no profit. But due to the high Jewish birth rate and the economic possibilities that existed elsewhere, there was no motivation, especially for the younger generation, to maintain this economic way of life, and they became anxious to leave the town. As it happened, not just the youth, but entire families left their hometowns to go to the larger cities to seek other employment.
With the liberalization of emigration policies during World War I, began the emigration movement to all parts of the world, especially to the United States.
Social and Cultural Life
Religious fervor characterized the town. Patterns of life that were set in previous generations established the town's character and placed their stamp on everything. Observance of the Mitzvos (Torah commandments), large and small, and going to Shul (Synagogue) morning and night, were the outstanding facets of the town. Hours before the prayers began, even before sunrise, those who were learned in the Torah were stooped over the Gemara (Talmud). They sat and learned and discussed the debates between Abaye and Rava in a tone that stirred the heart. There was no time better spent than in a sharp Talmudical argument, which caused one to forget all other problems. Here, in this place, the men shed their normal lives and immersed themselves in a world that was completely good, completely spiritual, a world in which 'the righteous sit with crowns on their head and enjoy the radiance of G-d's presence'.
Hasidism is deeply rooted in the place. Some follow the Trisk dynasty - named after Rabbi David of Czenstochow and Rabbi Nahumchi of Warsaw. The Rebbis come to visit their followers for a week every year and bring with them a heavenly atmosphere. Each night the followers gather around the Rebbi and every word he utters is discussed in detail. On Shabbat, in the Beit Hamidrash, the Rebbi delivers his sermon after the partaking of the 'sherayim', which all believe give them protection against evil spirits. They read the weekly parsha and only the knowledgeable really understand in depth exactly what the Rebbi means. Nevertheless, the Hasidic enthusiasm comes to a peak and they all feel as though they are before God himself. The Hasidim are like the angels, sitting in the splendor of his holiness.
Another source of impressive experiences during the Rebbi's visit is the Kiddush on the eve of Shabbat, the Havdalah at the end of Shabbat, and the people singing and dancing as they accompanied the Rebbis from the Beit Hamidrash to their dwelling places. During these visits, the Hasidim and others would present their requests - called Qvitlach - to the Rebbis. The requests are put to the Rebbi together with payment (to the best of their ability), which is the only income the Rebbi receives. People put to him all their family problems, their work and money problems, and they seek advice and direction. There were also many Hasidic followers who traveled during the holiday periods to the Rebbi's permanent home in order to be under his roof, to absorb the holy atmosphere and to become strengthened in their faith.
New Directions and the Influence of Staszow
The changes that came to the Polish Jewish community in the early 20 th Century appear in our town especially because of the social, cultural and economic links with nearby Staszow. Staszow was a spiritual center to the surrounding smaller towns. The social, cultural, spiritual life of the Staszow youth in all its variations, the visits of the youth leaders and activists to our town, the difficult economic situation and the meaninglessness of the traditional education in stagnating Diaspora conditions - all of this together was toppling the old structures and preparing the ground for the penetration of new ideas, ideas that gave expression to the new era.
With the help of the Staszow people, who were 'shlichei mitzva' (doers of good deeds), there was a substantial Zionist movement organizing itself. At the head of Mizrachi, there was Yaacov Margalit. The 'All Zionist' movement was run by his brother, Eltar Margalit. Both of them were very cultured and had great persuasive capabilities which served the ideas to which they devoted their energy and knowledge. Their activities got new impetus after the Balfour Declaration, an event which was seen as the harbinger of the redemption. It must be said, the Margalit brothers not only spoke well, they also embodied the ideas they preached to others, and they immigrated to Israel in the early 1920s. This step of theirs significantly influenced the youth - and many followed them.
I mentioned here in passing, the influence of Staszow on our town generally and on our town's youth especially, but because this influence was quite complex and broad, it is worth going into the matter in detail.
Staszow was the wholesale supplier of Plontch. Every morning, the shop-owners would come in a convoy of horses and carts to Staszow to get supplies for the town and surrounds. On the two market days, Monday and Thursday, many came from the whole district. Some to buy, some to bring their produce for sale. Various branch representatives from suppliers in Staszow also came to our town's market day - Tuesday - to sell their goods in Plontch. Many Plontch'ers were members of banks in Staszow and our mercantile activities benefited from their services.
In regard to the medical connection: For many years, the Staszow doctor served our town dwellers just as they served surrounding areas. Even after WWI when we had our own doctor, frequently people went to Staszow to get separate advice. The hospital there was of importance.
The processes of the legal system also led to Staszow. Most legal matters were brought to the court at Staszow.
In many other areas which I haven't mentioned, there was a continuous link with Staszow, a link which became stronger due to the activities of Pesach and Shlomo, the match-makers. Every now and then, these chaps succeeded in matching a Staszow guy with one of our girls and vice versa. This brought close relations between the two towns. In addition, there were the Klezmer performers and the comics, especially the famous comic Tuvia Marshalek who came from Staszow. It reached the point that every cultural event that was organized over there, had our youth turning up in large numbers, either by cart, bicycle or on foot.
The enormous help of Hashomer Hatza'ir played a special role in the relationship between the communities. The discussions of the talented instructor Getzel Erlichman (may he rest in peace) accompanied by Israeli singing and dancing made every visit of his into a celebration. Also POAZ (Poalei Zion - Left) was organized in Plontch because of supporters from Staszow. I think Bloch was one of our regular visitors.
It also should be said that a large proportion of our town-dwellers were born in Staszow and vice-versa. When one of us went to visit Staszow, we were obliged to visit all of the many relatives there, and the same went for Staszow visitors to us. When I remember all this, it seems to me that we were really all one town despite the distance of 14km separating us. Its quite natural then, that the initiators of this Yizkor Book saw it necessary to bring people from the entire district into the project in order to create a memorial for them within the memory of the nation. In their faithfulness to the common past, the initiators of the book continue our forefathers tradition, and for that they should be blessed. We are very grateful that we had the incredibly important opportunity to participate with our bigger sister - the Staszow community - in commemoration of our community which was totally eradicated.
In the early 1920s, the foundations were laid for the establishment of the library by the Zionist youth, and the library was called 'the Rennaisance'. Over time, this cultural institution was expanded and became a source of blessing to all the local youth movements which saw the library as a spiritual center where they could quench their thirst for knowledge and gain insight into the problems which the generation confronted.
"Where To?" by Feierberg, "This is not the Way" by Achad Ha'am, and "In the Slaughter City" by Bialik served as reading material for the students of the Beit Hamidrash and once they made the first step they could not stop midway. The pain of the nation which was raised in these works, made them into conscious Zionists.
Hashomer Hatza'ir (HH)
In 1926 the heads of Hashomer Hatza'ir, Aryeh Weinrib, Aryeh Krakower, Kalman Weizman and Leiser Betel, with the help of members from Staszow, succeeded in broadening the influence of the group in Plontch such that most of the youth aged 14-15 were attracted to it.
A lot of cultural and educational activity went on at the library, mainly in the open air. Shabbat days were dedicated mostly to outdoor trips and meetings. In those meetings, they ironed out the problems of the movement, played sport, and did dancing and singing. Cross-visits were undertaken between the two towns' regiments and they held leadership seminars whose purpose was to prepare educators who could, in time, replace the old guard.
In 1928, the first group went for preparatory agricultural training at a quarry near Kielce together with people from Slonim and Zvirche, and in 1929 the first two people made Aliyah - Aryeh Weinrib and Efraim Wertheim. In addition to other Zionist youth movements, the 'Halutz' was also active. Under the influence of Hashomer Hatza'ir and with its help, Halutz organized courses in Hebrew, cultural activity mainly in relation to topical Zionist issues, and also sent people to agricultural training.
Twelve Leave For Russia
A destructive factor for the local Zionists were the Communists. Their fight against agricultural training and Aliyah - the sole hope of the youth - was to some degree successful, and created restlessness and desperation among many of the best local youth. In 1932, there was a group from these Communist circles that stole across the border into Russia because of the staunch belief that in their dreamland they would have the ability to continue their education for free.
Amongst these naive migrants were Shraga Miodovnik, Shmuel Goldhersh, Yaacov Shnifer, Nissl Raved, Brendl Schlachter, Rachel Levinstein, Moshe Hershkopf, the two brothers Lustgarten and three others whose names escape me. Altogether 12. Their disappointment did not take long to arrive. When they got to Russia, they got their education in hard labor in the forests.
In the deportation of Polish citizens to Siberia in 1937, they all found their tragic deaths - except Brendl Schlachter who survived. By the way, she arrived in Israel recently.
This Yevsektsian activity not only destroyed most of the initiators but also others who were on the verge of undertaking agricultural training but retreated from their Zionist pioneering ways - a retreat which made them stay in the depth of the Diaspora, from where they could have extracted themselves.
Sixty People Saved
At the beginning of 1933, when I saw that under the influence of these groups, a large proportion of the youth was abandoning the Zionist solution - and this applied to many local members of Halutz and Hashomer Hatza'ir - I decided to go with others for agricultural training, despite the fact that there was nobody left to conduct it.
Despite the hardships on our road to Aliyah, about sixty of us succeeded in realizing our pioneering ideal. And so, thanks to our firm stand against the magical allurements of "tomorrow's world" and our boundless loyalty to the Zionist ideal, we were saved from the coming fate of our community.
The Days of the Shoah*
*Testimony taken from Moshe Schlachter (now in Israel) who survived in the district of Plontch during the Shoah. This was provided to the editor by David Shnifer.
The hatred of Jews which the majority of Poles held normally became even more intense immediately after the invasion of Poland, especially when the intentions of the Nazi conquerors became clear --- the liquidation of the Jews. In our area there was another major problem, the Volksdeutsche [ethnic Germans] from Poszczow and Lyczba. Immediately after the conquest, these Germans started wearing swastikas to prove that they were worthy, faithful assistants to the Nazis. Before the war, these people had very close business relations with Jews and frequently were helped by Jews with financial loans for the development of their farms, which were the most prosperous in the area. They also welcomed travelling Jewish traders. Suddenly, overnight they changed their colours and started the sacred task of persecuting Jews. They came with firearms to the town and robbed the Jewish shops of whatever they could take. They accosted Jews and cut off their beards, beating them up cruelly. In short, the SS had someone to rely on even though they were not permanently stationed in our town.
After a while SS men arrived, set up in the elementary school near the church, and collected used firearms from the front. For the cleaning of the firearms, they got hold of Jews and forced them to work under a reign of terror and cruelty. They beat them up, tortured them, and interrogated them about what their occupations were. The son of Zhilonki who came back from Lodz was among those caught and interrogated. When he answered under interrogation that he was an accountant, he was beaten until he lost consciousness, then revived with water so the torture could resume. Similar treatment was given to many others.
The second act of the conquerors was the selection of the Judenrat. The Judenrat were supposed to be responsible for ensuring that Jews obeyed the instructions of the Germans. The Judenrat was composed of Shachne the carpenter [may be the name Hanger] who lived near the bridge, Avraham Nogel, Meir Schlachter (my father), Nehemiah Schnifer, Shlomo Zucker and others.
In 1941 the SS arrived and chose two of the Judenrat people, Nehemiah Schnifer and Avraham Nogel, took them to the German gendarme in the village of Loniow, ten kilometers from our town. There, they were imprisoned in a cellar for three days, tortured, and used as hostages to obtain a ransom from the town of a huge amount of silver and copper ornaments. After they collected the ransom they released the two men, who were both in very bad condition.
In the same year, they published the decree prohibiting Jews from travelling under penalty of death, and forced Jews to wear the Magen David. The aim of the restriction on movement was very clear --- to cut the Jews off from the outside world. And since most of the Jews of the town obtained their livelihood from commerce and trade, its easy to imagine the effect it had.
Eve of Rosh Hashana 1942
On this day the German gendarme came with the Polish policeman Faksi to the home of Yeshayahu Rothenberg, took him to the bridge near the church, shot him, and buried him on the spot. At the same time they also shot the head of the municipal council. After the gendarme left, the local Jews bribed the policemen of the town so that they would be allowed to retrieve Rothenberg's body and give it a proper burial. He was the first victim of the town, and this event had ominous portents.
Despite the travel prohibitions, and our disconnection from the outside world, there was no stopping the dark rumours that kept circulating about people being deported to unknown destinations. It was said that the people were taken to labour in the east, but the fact that they took old people, women, and babies who could not possibly work raised serious doubts. One thing was clear - they were gradually uprooting one village after another and bringing total disaster.
17 October 1942
On Saturday, this date, a girl named Yadzya Offman arrived [now Moshe Schlachter's wife], having escaped from the nearby village of Koprzywnica. She told a horrible story of the deportation of the town's Jews. Groups passed the story along in the market and the panic increased. It was clear that the encirclement was getting tighter and that our time was coming. With this fear, many looked for ways to get out - to escape to the woods or to the Poles - the so-called friends we had in the area. Being aware that the ground was burning under their feet, many got out during the day and the following night.
18 October 1942
On Sunday in the early hours of the morning, the SS men arrived together with the Polish police and fire brigade and announced that all the Jews had to assemble in the marketplace within half an hour. Immediately after, they began searching the homes and driving out the weak and the slow who had not left yet. The sick and the old were shot in their beds including the paralyzed wife of Shlomo Zucker. All were in the market with their clothing and belongings -the old and the young, the women and the babies. There began the humiliation and torture. Whoever looked weak or old was immediately shot. The first victim was Israel Ravad. The wounded and the dead were lying in their blood in the open. In this devilish playground, we saw this horrible scene: the three little children of Azriel Knobel were walking amongst the dead without understanding what was going on. But the SS eye was very keen and they immediately shot the children. After this bloody beginning, the order was given to assemble in lines and start marching. The direction was the bridge over the river toward Staszow. Shots were fired into the crowd and the road kept being stained with the blood of the wounded and dead.
Broken mentally not less than physically, those still alive arrived at Staszow and remained there until it too was annihilated. The common fate of our town and Staszow was thus sealed.
After The Deportation
Immediately after the deportation, the masters of the 'new order' began to take over the abandoned properties and belongings. They destroyed the wooden houses, the stone houses they sold to the enthusiastic Poles for token sums. The Poles then began intensive searches for hidden valuables, digging in the courtyards and all other possible places. These cultured barbarians reached the lowest level when they sold the wooden synagogue, which had stood for 500 years, to the Volksdeutsche who dismantled it and used it for firewood. In this synagogue, generations had poured their hearts out before their God, and great tzadikim prayed, including Rav HaGaon Rabbi Chaim Horowitz of the Ropshitz dynasty, his son, and his grandson Rabbi Moshe who was the last rabbi of the town. About a hundred Torah scrolls, and various wonderful drawings which drew many researchers from all over Poland, were destroyed. The synagogue with all its ancient art was destroyed -- what do barbarians want with art? -- the main thing was to wipe out all signs of Jewish existence.
Some escaped to the woods and some managed to pay substantial sums to various Polish acquaintances in the area. There were whole families who succeeded in escaping using the method of our Forefather Jacob - dividing themselves into two or three groups, the older ones separate, the women and children separate. Sometimes the parents in one place, the children in another. If anything happened, the entire family would not die. Also our family, the Schlachter family, followed this course: the parents with a peasant in Przychody, the wives of the brothers and the children in another place. I and my two brothers Baruch and Yechiel David hid in Budzisk in Mazor's house.
One of the serious problems apart from persecution by the Germans and the Volksdeutsche was the necessity to pay the huge amount of money that was demanded by our hosts. We three brothers decided to go to our storage place and retrieve the goods we had buried in a courtyard. But the fear that we would be discovered by the Poles and killed - killing Jews was considered an admirable act - made us decide to involve a Polish policeman who, with some bribery, helped us to get some of the goods. Meanwhile, our father told us from his hiding place, that because of the entirely non-Kosher food his hosts offered, he would not stay there. We exploited the fact that the ghetto in Pacanow was still standing, and moved our parents and my older brothers wives there with the help of Shlanovsky, who was a Jew originally from our town who had converted to Christianity.
Not many days later, tragic fate knocked also at their door. With the deportation of the Pacanow Jews, they were taken to Szczucin. A Polish guy who we hired, followed their train to the woods of Majdanek. There they took them through a wide gate, and after a few hours the same train returned just with their clothes. So we realized that the Germans were lying about sending people to work at the front. We were despondent. Just a month ago, the whole family was together at home. Now no parents, no house. We remaining orphans being chased with disaster coming at any moment. Indeed, after only a few days the peasants, who we were paying a lot of money to keep us hidden, told us that the Germans were coming to search for Jews. Immediately they demanded that for the good of all of us, we should leave the house until things settle down and then we could come back. With no choice, we left at night and we went to hide in a camp in the woods near the Vistula south of the town. In the morning, we learned that from the whole area, the peasants had all gotten rid of the Jews they were sheltering with the same trick --- saying that Germans were coming to search --- in order to get rid of us permanently.
Before we had a chance to collect ourselves and decide what to do, peasants came, particularly from Masnik, surrounded us and started crying "catch the Jews!" In this hunt, they caught 16 people, among them my three brothers, Yosef, Baruch and Yechiel David, Dan and Moshe Friedman, Shlomo Horen the butcher, Pinchas Pfefferman, Rachel and Zissl Nissenzweig and others.
These poor victims were put in a cow shed not far from where they were caught. The Volksdeutsche were invited from Przeczow. They were very loyal to their Nazi role - they took the victims clothes off and shot them. I learned about their fate the same night from the peasant Pochedli, a kind-hearted man from the village Rybitwy. Learning this, I wept so hard I could not speak. The peasant had pity on me and gave me some food for the road, but because of his fear he did not take me in. He promised me that if I came back occasionally, he would help me with food.
It was winter. Horrible cold. I was lonely, hungry and broken. Walking around the woods with death waiting in ambush around any corner. In this physical and emotional state, I decided to sneak into our former landlord's house. There I found Nafthali and Ezra Friedman, Leah Raved, Avraham Kaufman and his brother Velvl. Together we wept bitterly, but without making any noise for fear of being discovered. In the company of these brothers in strife, I felt some relief. We stayed there for two weeks. Suddenly the Volksdeutsche arrived looking for Jews and hidden valuables. They came also to our house. But because the landlord didn't know about us and where we were hidden - our hiding place was very well concealed - they didn't find us.
The day after the search the landlord discovered us. When he saw us he actually crossed himself! He was not happy at all about his unwanted guests! He told us immediately to get out. The same night we succeeded in finding refuge with another peasant and there we stayed for two months. When other peasants arrived to interrogate him, he vowed, despite the beating they gave him, that there were no Jews in his house. They cursed him, called him a communist and threatened to kill him if he didn't tell them about any Jews he had hidden. He became afraid as a result of this visit and we had to leave.
After a few days of wandering in the woods, another peasant took us in in the village Winnica - into a bunker. He didn't last more than two weeks. Again fear that someone would inform on him. Again we were in the woods. The days were passing and our problems were remaining the same.
Spring had already arrived but the nights were still cold and the fields had nothing much to eat. We got hungrier and hungrier. The suffering was not just personal. We also were thinking of those who died. Then we were told of the family of Yacov Glattstein, a tall and strong man, who were taken by the Polish policemen to the cemetery and shot there. The same fate met Liebish from Jadowniki and his cousin Avraham Schlachter.
The time came when there was a turnaround on the front. The Germans were being defeated and were retreating. Despite our deep despair, there was a spark of hope that we may live to see the defeat of the destroyers of our people. But the activities of the Poles, who were intensifying their search for the few remaining Jews, returned us to reality. The Poles caught Avraham Pincus together with his bride, tied their hands to stones and threw them into the Czarna. Yaacov Meir Weisbrod, Asher Goldschmidt, and others were also caught by our Polish neighbours in the woods near the village Strzegom and were killed. The same fate met Mendel Gottlieb, his wife and children who had been hiding for nearly a year in the camp near the Vistula.
Chaim Pichivsky found refuge for a substantial payment with the Pole Buczik not far from the synagogue. In June 1944 he ran out of money. One night he went out to the flour mill owner in the village Niedzialki, with whom he'd had dealings before the war. He was taken by the AK men to the woods and shot. His wife and kids remained without any money and so the Pole told them the usual story about the Germans coming to conduct a search. He took them to the river Czarna and shot the woman and the small child. Little Shoshana, 11 years old, succeeded in knocking the barrel of his rifle aside, jumped into the river and managed to swim to the other side. As she was looking for a way to save herself, she told a peasant on the other side that her parents had been killed on the front and he took her in to shepherd his sheep. She thereby succeeded in "cheating" the Poles and avoid the horrors of the war. (She came to Israel with the program Aliyat Ha'Noar and she lives in Kibbutz Ma'aleh Hachamisha).
Added to the list of the AK's victims was the Silberberg family who were caught in a bunker in the village Wymyslow. While we were wandering in the woods, we came across the surviving members of the Glattstein family. They invited us into their bunker in the village Kamieniec. After a few weeks the AK killers came there, surrounded the house and demanded we vacate the bunker. We tried to commit suicide by bringing down the columns which held the bunker up, but we didn't succeed. After Moshe Glattstein, I emerged. The killers searched our clothes, and with their pistols ordered us to face the wall. When I saw that I had nothing to lose, I bolted out, stumbling and running. They tried to shoot me but missed. I succeeded in saving myself again. My friends from the bunker - all seven of them - were killed.
After I escaped to the woods, I lay on the ground in deep despair. I asked myself, after all these horrors that I had seen, there was certainty that sooner or later they would catch me. Is there any point in all this torture? How long can a human being continue to suffer this torture? I felt the need to cry and get some relief, I felt my nerves were going to crack. In those days however, tears were rare --- it seemed my tear ducts were blocked. Being so tired, I finally fell asleep. When I awoke, I went to the caretaker of the church, who I'd known from before the war. He fed me and hid me in the attic. The next night the AK came again to search for Jews. They must have been following me. Half-naked, I jumped out from the attic and landed in the courtyard. I was injured but with my remaining strength I fled into the woods. The next day I sought refuge with Korczak, a resident of the town. I found the three Kaufman brothers hiding there, and together we remained there until the liberation. If despite everything, we still remained alive, it must be due to that Pole Korczak who endangered his life for us. While he did receive payment from us, it was a brave deed and there were only a very few such as him.
After the liberation, about twenty of us - mostly young - emerged from our various hiding places and assembled in the town. All went back to their parents homes hoping to begin life afresh. They did not understand the fundamental change that had taken place in the Polish environment. The poison of anti-Semitism had penetrated deep and the Poles were not prepared to accept the Jews into the new society even though they were so few.
Already on the first night of liberation, at the Berger family's home, just after I had been there (the only family to have survived fully except for the father), the AK arrived and killed some of them. They even shot at Hanan Berger and injured him, but he somehow remained alive. It was just before this incident that some powerful, unexplainable internal force impelled me to leave the town. So I was saved again for the last time from certain death - and - this was after the liberation! I was saved from the Poles, who did everything in their power to finish what the Nazis had started. In these days of liberation several others perished at the hands of the AK: Peres Scheinfeld and his wife who had been tailors originally in Tursk, the daughter of Lustgarten and her husband, and Pinchal Strumel and his son Dudel, wagon-owner.
Only those who successfully fled Plontch immediately after the liberation remained alive. A few of them reached Israel and the rest immigrated to America, amongst them the Kaufman brothers, Mottl Saltzman, and the surviving Berger family except for Mordechai who came to Israel. In the town there was not a single Jew remaining. Those who left the town in earlier years are in large numbers in the United States. Those in Israel were the ones to commemorate their community - in the Shoah memorial in Jerusalem - in addition to this Staszow Memorial Book, where the name of our town will remain forever.
Translated by Jonathan Gadir and Michael Gottlieb
Notes: The first name listed is typically the 'Head of Household' (Parent).
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