Table of Contents

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English Abstract of Nowy Dwor Pinkas

Abstract of materials included in the Novy-Dvor Memorial Volume,
collected and edited by Aryeh Shamri and translated into English by Jacob Litman

 

Dates and Events in the Life and Destruction
of the Jews of Novy-Dvor

Retyped by Susan Dressler

As we close this Memorial Book of the Novy-Dvor Jewish Community, the “Pinkas Novy-Dvor”, with the deep sorrow that abundantly exudes from its chronicles, testimonies, accounts, and portrayals, we ask ourselves this question: Will the new generation, the fortunate children and grandchildren of the Jews of Novy-Dvor, have access to the content of this book?

The “Pinkas” is written mainly in Yiddish, the language of practically all Jews who lived in Novy-Dvor. Certain parts of it are written in Hebrew, the language of the State of Israel where these parts were penned. But what about the young descendants of Novy-Dvor Jewry who live in America and who have not been given the opportunity and privilege of knowing our two national tongues and their vast treasure?

We hope that some day this entire book will be translated and published in English (beside complete editions in Hebrew and Yiddish), but until such a time we find it both necessary and appropriate to give our English-speaking brothers and sisters an abbreviated version of this Memorial Volume. They ought to know its salient subjects and features, its most important facts and events. The few translated pages will perhaps stimulate a new interest and a desire on the part of children and grandchildren to listen to the story of their fathers, the story of pain and tears --- painfully and tearfully related in this book.

We have a specific purpose in opening this Memorial Volume to Jews of Novy-Dvor descent whatever their age and wherever they may be. We want them to remember the glorious saga of the Jewish community of Novy-Dvor from its inception in the Middle Ages until the fateful day when the Nazi assassins shed the innocent blood of the Jewish inhabitants of Novy-Dvor and put an end to their honorable existence. We want them to be aware of the history of this community and share with us our boundless pride in it. In our deep sorrow and mourning over the brutal and tragic destruction of our dear ones in

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Novy-Dvor We must all together, everywhere and always, be concerned with the preservation of Jewish life and with its creative continuation in the future. For our dear relatives and friends in Novy-Dvor, regardless of their status and outlook, were all truly dedicated and committed to Jewishness. They always aspired to and dreamed of an ever richer and fuller Jewish life.


The Origin and Development of Novy-Dvor

According to the Historical Work

by Dov Berish First

Retyped by Susan Dressler

Novy-Dvor and Its Jewish Community

Novy-Dvor has always been part of the district of Warsaw. The distance between it and the capital city is no more than 31 kilometres.

The name “Novy-Dvor” means “New Manor”. Apparently, some Polish nobleman established a new monor on the left back of the Narev river and the lean soil of the Mazovsha province. In time a village grew around the manor and, as generations came and went, this village developed into the town of Novy-Dvor as it was known up to 1930.

A document dated 1355 describes Novy-Dvor as one of the best fortified castles in Mazovsha. It seems that Novy-Dvor already assumed at that time the importance of a strategic point where three major rivers, the Vjstula, Narev, and Boug come together. Novy-Dvor has always been connected with the wider world through the Vistula used for shipping merchandise down to the harbor of Danzig at the Baltic Sea. In modern times, additional contact with the outside world has been provided by a railway running parallel to the river from Warsaw northward to the town of Mlava at the Prussian border. When Poland gained its independence following World War I the railway was extended farther north to Danzig. From Novy-Dvor the train made its way through many Jewish hamlets and towns.

Novy-Dvor was officially designated a town in 1782. The number of its Jewish inhabitants as compared with the total population from 1797 till the years preceding World War II were as follows:

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Year Total
Population
Jewish
population
%
1797 578 ---- ----
1806 600 150 25
1808 745 183 24
1827 1,234 334 27.5
1856 2,806 1,403 50
1857 2,766 1,305 48.6
1860 3,149 2,197 69.7
1872 4,405 2,773 63
1881 5,298 ---- ----
1897 7,302 4,737 65
1921 7,800 3,900 50
1931 9,386 3,061 42
1934 9,397 ---- ----
1937 10,150 ---- ----
1956 7,600 ---- ----

 

The Jewish population in Novy-Dvor began to decrease gradually since the beginning of the 20th century. The decrease was related to certain general developments and economic changes.

The close-by capital city of Warsaw was luring many, particularly those who had acquired some wealth. The town became too small and confining for them. With the advent of modern industrialization a class of workers came into being in Novy-Dvor. Many a member of this new class, in search of work and a livelihood turned to the big city where workshops and industries began to develop at a faster rate as they found ready markets for their products in Great Russia following the abolition of the old border between that country and Poland.

A number of other factors contributed to the decline of the Jewish population, among them the Russo-Japanese war, the suppressed revolution of 1905, the great conflagration of 1907 in which the greater part of the town was burned down and 7,000 inhabitants were left without a roof over their heads, the fear of servitude in the vast stretches of the Siberian taiga. All this forced great numbers of Novy-Dvor Jews to look for ways of getting out and, like so many other Jews in Poland at that time, they joined the emigration stream to the “golden land”, America. Still, during the years 1921-1925, Jews constituted one-half of the total population in Novy-Dvor. By 1931, however, they represented 42% and after that still less. This decline was directly

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related to the anti-semitic policy of the municipality which closely followed the anti-semitic policy assumed by the government of pre-war Poland, a country which only about twelve years earlier had gained its own freedom, having been denied that freedom for about 150 years.

The Polish government used all kinds of legal and illegal means to dispossess Jewish majorities of their rights in bigger and smaller municipalities. They annexed to towns with a predominant Jewish population outlying hamlets and villages populated only by Christians, to create Christian majorities.

Under circumstances of normal development, Novy-Dvor, like many other towns in Poland, would have retained a Jewish majority.

When World War II broke out in 1939, the general population of Novy-Dvor was over 10,000 of which 1,000 were Jews…still 10% of the total population.

After World War II, Novy-Dvor, like all Jewish cities and towns in Poland was “Judenfrei”, free of Jews. Today about 7,600 inhabitants live in this town and among them there is one single Jew, the only remaining Jew of the Jewish community in Novy-Dvor.


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The Religious Life
of the Jewish Community of Novy-Dvor

Retyped by Susan Dressler

In their daily struggle for a livelihood, the Jews of Novy-Dvor maintained customary and steady relationships with the local Christian population. One of the main sources of income was the nearby military base, the well know fortress of Modlin, where Jews were engaged as contractors, suppliers, agents, etc. Nearby Warsaw, with its ever increasing commercial industrial momentum, drew the young generation from the traditional and provincial pattern of Jewish life in Novy-Dvor to the modern, urban ways of the rest of the world. Yet, in spite of strong foreign influences, the Jewish community, as a whole, kept and carried its own mode of life, as it had been transmitted by previous generations, right into the 20th century. The mode of life was based on a well-preserved religious tradition. Jews found their spiritual and social satisfactions in their synagogues, their Bet Midrash (public study house), Hassidic circles, and various gathering places where they prayed and studied together. Children received

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nowe007a.jpg
Novy-Dror 1939

 

nowe007b.jpg
Novy-Dror 1942

 

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their daily education in a Heder, a Talmud Torah, or a Yeshiva. They were taught to be observant at home as well as outside, on weekday as well as on the Sabbath and holidays. They were instructed to perform good deeds, to obey and live according to the precepts and customs of the tradition in an environment which was Christian and in which Jews, who had been living here, in the very heart of Poland, near the gates of Warsaw, for many centuries, were still looked upon with suspicion and mistrust. They were still considered an outlandish and mysterious people.

There are three articles in this Memorial Volume which deal with the origin and development of the printing shop in Novy-Dvor. Dov First, the researcher of Novy-Dvor, writes the following in his general work on the history of the town: “The Jewish printing shop which opened in Novy-Dvor made this rather unknown place quite famous. In the whole Jewish world of Poland, Lithuania, and Russia the name “Novy-Dvor” assumed a special distinction. The printing shop attracted rabbis, authors, book sellers, paper merchants, bookbinders, etc.”

The noted historian, Dr. Emanuel Ringelblum, to who the entire Jewish People is indebted for a whole archive of documents and historical papers from the Warsaw Ghetto, records in his book entitled “Johann Anton Krieger, The Neuhof (Novy-Dvor) Printer of Hebrew Books” that “the remarkable and enterprising owner of the spring shop in Neuhof occupies a most prominent place in the history of the Jewish book of Poland during the 18th century.”

Dr. Ringelblum relates that in the years 1781-1795 the number of endorsed books in the toll chamber of Novy-Dvor was 38,089 and in the toll chamber of Warsaw - 19,260, together - 57,369 books.

Over one hundred volumes were published in the printing shop, and Dr. Ringelblum as well as Hayim Dov Friedberg have a great deal to relate about Jewish printers, typesetters, binders, book sellers who were kept busy around the shop in Novy-Dvor (at that time the town bore the Prussian name of Neuhof). As the years went on, the printing shop ceased to exist and was hardly remembered. However, the tradition of reading and study continued to occupy the Jews of Novy-Dvor. In fact, it was at the very heart of their existence.

Jewish life in Novy-Dvor, in its religious as well as everyday sense, was directed by the Rabbis. In tracing the history of Novy-Dvor, Dov Berish First recalls the great sages of Novy-Dvor.

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Rabbi Uriel from Ritshevall (1775), Rabbi Shimshon (1838), Rabbi Henokh who eventually settled in Alexander (1859), Rabbi Jacob Moses Teomim (1863), Rabbi Moshe Aaron Zvoliner and Rabbi Menahem Mendel Hayim Landau, both in the beginning 20th century. Dov Berisch First devotes to the last Rabbi of Novy-Dvor, reb Reuben Judah Neufeld, a special monograph. Having been the secretary of the Jewish Kehilah (community) in Novy-Dvor, the author used to be a regular guest in the Rabbi's house. He often met with the Rabbi to discuss community problems and had unusual opportunities to observe closely the man considered to be one of the leading religious figures in the whole country, the secretary of the Rabbinical Council of pre-war Poland. The monograph is based upon personal experiences and lasting recollections of the author who spent more time than anybody else with the last Novy-Dvor Rabbi. According to First, the Rabbi was always sensitive and responsive to the needs, problems, worries, and cares of his people while studying Torah and religious volumes days and nights.

Menashe Unger, the American Jewish journalist and author of many monographs on Hassidic leaders and Rabbis, describes in an article devoted to the Rabbi of Novy-Dvor to what extraordinary extent and with how much dedication this man, once on the day preceding Yom Kippur, intervened with and petitioned Czarist government officials and generals stationed in Modlin to save the lives of two doomed Jews.

At the outset of the 20th century when, due to the spreading waves of pogroms, the Jewish community faced the grave alternatives of either self-defense or reliance on the “conscience” of the local Czarist officers, the Rabbi took the side of the youth who decided not to count on their good Christian neighbors but take matters in their own hands. The Rabbi, too, saw in the Jewish youth the only safeguard against the attackers.

The deceased leader of the Bund (the Jewish Socialist Party), Hershel Himelfarb, reports on the same period in his article, “The First Socialists in Novy-Dvor” as follows: “in our conflict with the proprietors, Rabbi Reuben Judah Neufeld came to our aid. I remember a small meeting with Benjamin Youngvitz, Yankel Feinstein, and Itshe Meyer Mundlak in the Rabbi's room. The Rabbi made it clear to us that help from the Modlin base was not to be expected or counted on; that, at best, individual Jews who had contact with certain officers might get protection for themselves only, and that, therefore, the youth of Novy-Dvor

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ready to defend the community with their bodies and lives deserved the community's support and gratefulness.

Despite the contradictions between the old and the new, the traditional religious mode versus the modern and secular, the socialist activists knew well how to use in their educational work among the poor and working people religious verses of social content which pointed to the ideals of equity and justice.

Thus the late Simha Vago relates how he used to travel from town to town, from meeting to meeting to lecture about the idea of Karl Marx and how he interpreted verses of the Pentateuch to show their socialistic meaning and intent. The use of this method was a decisive factor in winning over the masses.

But the seeming harmony between the religious elements and the new socialistic gospel did not last too long. As modern society continued to evolve in the years following 1905, the contradictions within the social structure of this society became even sharper. They were reflected in everyday life and in the outlook of the people. In his portrayal of the elections to the Novy-Dvor Kehilah, Moshe Babitz brings to light the disputes and quarrels with Rabbi Neufeld concerning the elections as wells as the conflicts between the Rabbi and synagogue worshippers who had already gained a political orientation of their own consistent with that of the “Bund” rather than with the Rabbi's views.

Already at the turn of the century, the famous actor Boaz Young heard the “Oath”, the anthem of the Bund, in the Novy-Dvor Bet Midrash, instead of the traditional Torah melody. But this fact should not mislead anyone into thinking that the religious people, always zealous, ardent, and meticulous about the religious precepts and observances, lost their influence. They continued to constitute a powerful group displaying, under the pressure of the new social conditions, a remarkable understanding of those who, prompted by the new social and national consciousness were striving aggressively for the new worldly mode of life, free in the submissive beliefs of yesterday.

In his comprehensive article about Jewish life in Novy-Dvor in the years immediately preceding the outbreak of World War II, Aaron Pinker writes: “While making forward steps and gradually introducing into their religious schools secular subjects, the religious schools secular subjects, the religious elements conducted their work in an intensive manner”. Pinker emphasizes that judging by the ongoing intensive activity of the various groups and ideological shadings within the Jewish community as well as by the continuous creative develop of Jewish life in all its forms, one could only

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conclude that this life was bound to go on in Novy-Dvor, and that generations to come would continue to maintain it.

This illusion was common to all classes and groups of the Jewish population, but even more so among those who always relied on the grace of heaven.


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Jewish Social Life
in Novy-Dvor Until World War II

Retyped by Susan Dressler

The great majority of Jews in Novy -Dvor were never fortunate enough to enjoy a comfortable income, let alone a life of plenty. Only a limited number may have attained a secure economic position.

Describing the economic situation of the Jewish population, Hayim Babitz states in his article about the “Bund” that: “only families that engaged in commerce, owned businesses and buildings, or worked as contractors and had access to the military base in Modlin were well-to-do. The number of such families was small. The businesses in which hundreds of families engaged were petty. They consisted of trading on the roads from Zakrotshin and Pomyekhov where Jews used to buy small quantities of flour and pearl barley to sell for delivery to Warsaw”. This description is directed to the years of World War I, years of war and impoverishment. But one can see in the review of Sam Bernstein, Abraham Goldberg, Meyer Blake, Simha Vago, Ester Malka Knaster, Hershel Himelfarb, and Fayvish Kronenberg that even prior to World War I Jewish homes in Novy-Dvor could hardly be characterized as flowing with milk and honey.

The so-called “new times” did not turn out to be what the progressive and enlightened individuals had envisaged. These intellectuals created only an insistent urge to change existing conditions on the part of the young who left the Bet Midrash and eventually became the Jewish working class of Novy-Dvor.

Those of the Novy-Dvor Jews who at the beginning of this century went o America reveal in their articles the whole panorama of transformations within the social structure and milieu of the Jewish community resulting from the fermentation, protests, revolts, enthusiasm and disappointment, current around the year 1905.

Sam Bernstein recalls well the first Zionist meetings at which elated speeches of national contents studded with pro-

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phetic verses were heard. In those troubled days of pogroms, Jews in Novy-Dvor received the Zionist speakers like Biblical prophets. He also describes how the people at that time became imbued with a love for the Yiddish word and the Yiddish book, how following the period of Heder education and the German Hochschule (High School) an entirely new generation of Yiddish-oriented folk-intellectuals appeared on the Novy-Dvor scene; how this new folk intelligentsia was completely dedicated to the propositions of social progress and the cultural development of the not fully educated, search youth; how after years of disillusion in the 1905 revolution people tended to look for some gratification and fulfillment in dramatics; how many of the Novy-Dvor youth aspired to become actors, and how some of the eventually got to play in the Yiddish theatre of New York.

Abraham Goldberg tells about his way from the Torah bench in the Bet Midrash to the revolutionary movement of 1905. His story contains descriptions of the strikes, secret meetings, the struggles prompted by idealism, hope and youthful fervor, and the final defeat which left no alternative except that of going to America where efforts on behalf of the working class could be continued.

Meyer Blake portrays the tight deteriorating economic situation at his father's tailor shop until both father and son left for America.

Similarly, Simha Vaga presents the picture of total poverty in the house of “Lame Mendel”, the home of utter destitution as well as idealism, self-sacrifice, and the first signs of social awakening.

Esther Malka Knaster traces the emancipation process among the girls. May of the pious Jewish Daughters in Novy-Dvor became embroideresses, one of the important occupations in the town, and as such they were drawn into social actions, strikes, and the general struggle of the new working class. Thus, the once modest and shy girls assumed a place in the changing Jewish community as co-workers and fighters for a better and more worldly life.

All those who describe that period in the history of Novy-Dvor were themselves pioneers in the struggle for a new Jewish society. They had been members of the various ideological groups which began to evolve at the turn of the century through the years of crises and disappointments until the end of World War I when these groups reached a level of maturity. During the years

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of Poland's independence, coinciding with the years of revolutionary changes in the world-at-large and of the Jewish national renaissance in Palestine, they grew into vigorous local centers of social, political, and cultural activities as well as recognized strongholds of the great Jewish ideological movements in Poland.

The social agitation among, and the aspirations of, the Jewish masses found their expression in the newly organized political party, the “Bund”. It is recounted in Hershel Himelfarb's article, “The first Jewish Socialists in Novy-Dvor that by the end of 1904 and the beginning of 1905 our organization (the Bund) occupied the first place in the social life of Novy-Dvor”. Moshe Babitz, a Bund leader, who himself experienced all the horrors of World War II and miraculously survived the wholesale massacres of the Nazis, writes eloquently about the history of the Bund movement, in all its manifestations, between the two world wars. In this work he has erected a fine monument to the personalities and activities of the Bund movement in Novy-Dvor.

Beside Moshe Babitz's, there are other articles dealing with the programs and activities of the Jewish workers in Novy-Dvor. These articles written by Faivish Kronenberg, Lazar Kirstein, and Sarah Roseman contain many interesting details.

Articles about the Zionist movement, the various Zionist youth circles, were written by Greener and Joseph Shimkovitsh. The Zionist idea had gradually pervaded the Jewish community, particularly the youth for whom Zionist groups in town organized manifold educational and recreational activities. In time, as the Zionist program gained strength, an Aliyah (emigration) of Jews from Novy-Dvor to Israel became a fact.

The development of the various Zionist socialistic orientations (Poale Zion, Freiheit, Halutz movement, Ha-Oved) is described by Shalom Kartzovitsh and Shmuel Kokhalsky. In their articles one can see how in Novy-Dvor, as in all Jewish towns in Poland, the wish and hope to go to Palestine became a dominant factor and how this factor began to exercise its influence in the social, political, and cultural spheres of Jewish life.

In the field of education, Zionism played a decisive role. The newly established Hebrew School, “Tarbut”, soon became a center for Zionist activities and one of the most prominent institutions in the community. This school as well as the Yiddish School Constituted a solid educational foundation for the Jewish upbringing of the young in Novy-Dvor.

In children's notebooks and other materials preserved from that time, photostatic copies of which are reproduced in this Mem-

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orial Volume, one can easily observe to what extent the children in the Novy-Dvor “Tarbut” school were imbued with and dedicated to the idea of a Jewish rebirth in Israel and how they dreamed about living in a home built in their own country.

This great dream of the lovely Novy-Dvor children never came true. Nor did the dreams of so many other people who hoped for a better world, the lovable girls who played on stage before an inspired audience, as described by MalkaTopf, the Jewish athletes who performed beautifully at various sport exhibitions, as portrayed by Pitulsky, and so many, many others.

This vibrant Jewish community, all its classes, groups, organizations, and institutions, all its material and spiritual possessions, all and everything disappeared at one time in fire and smoke.

So many luminous personalities of Novy-Dvor perished in that time of abominable barbarity: Rabbi Neufeld, the last religious leader of the community, secretary of the Rabbinical Council of Poland, a man completely devoted to his people, a fighter for religious ideals and standards in Jewish life, tolerant and open minded towards the ideas of the new times; the leading figures in the Bund: Leon Grabman, Hayim Issac Rudavsky, Herzl Dubnikov, Hershel Himelfarb, Mendel Rosenfeld, Dudek Siberthal, Nissim and Lean Stinberg, Tanhum Kronenberg, Mates Papyer, Barukh Kelerweiss, Shamai Kalikstein; the leading figures in the Zionist movement: the Rabbi's son, Nahum Neufeld, Shimson Notel Srebrnik, the father of Zionism In Novy-Dvor, Tovia Fried, the bearer of the white-blue banner, the Solomon family, prominent for its dedication to Zionism, Berele Wengosh, an Active and devoted Zionist worker; outstanding men like Kaufman, the socialist radical, Abraham Guterman, the artist of Novy-Dvor, Hersh Ben Pinker, the tragically lost soldier - all these and many other individuals memorialized in the gallery of personalities represent shining examples of the human material of the Jewish community in Novy-Dvor, a community which produced upright, faithful, and dedicated human beings reflecting the best in the Jew and the noblest in the human race.

The daily life of Jews in Novy-Dvor, before the murderous axe of Hitler cut it off, is described with both love and pathos by a number of people who grew up in this town and in whose memory it left an indelible and eternal impression.

The article “There on the Highway”, by First presents a

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full portrayal of the main road to Warsaw where young people used to stroll in a gay mood of carelessness and laughter.

“The Black Stripe of the World” by Pinker, “The Balkan of the Piasek (Sand Hill)” by Anshel Fried, “My Town and My Lanes” by Joseph Topf - all these short stories truthfully depict the landscape of Novy-Dvor, the Jewish town which once existed.

There are also people who sing about this landscape, the poets Shmuel Topf, Etka Pinker, and Shlomo Vronsky.

The stories, particularly those of Boaz Young, bring to life figures and types who lived in Novy-Dvor in different periods of its history from the seventies of the 19th century until the very last day of Jewish pulse beating.

All the descriptions, portrayals and pictures constitute a monument to a world which has disappeared. Future generations may look for a trace of that community of Jews which in spite of brutal times, the reign of monstrous evil, constant deprivation and danger, continued to sweeten its existence with an old Jewish melody.


The Struggle and Dissolution
of the Jewish Community in Novy-Dvor

Retyped by Susan Dressler

The pages devoted to the final pain and destruction of the Jewish community in this Memorial Volume are filled with the testimonies of those who endured all deadly blows and yet, somehow survived.

Jews of Novy-Dvor who ran to seek refuge in Warsaw right after the first German bombs had exploded in September of 1939 provided the first testimonies about the initial war occurrences in town. Their statements can be found in the materials of the Ringelblum Archive discovered in the ruins of the Warsaw Ghetto. According to these statements, “Novy-Dvor had been a nice town with great possibilities… : until the first day of war hostilities when the town got its share of casualties as German aircraft carried out a bombing operation over and around the wood-mill.” Following a registration in December of 1939, the German ordered all 2800 Jewish inhabitants to leave town. At that time they also arranged for the burning of all Jewish books in the market place. An old pious Jew was ordered to put fire to the books and all Jews summoned to witness the event were ordered to sing. Some were forced to jump into the flames. On

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December 28th, the libraries of Rabbi Neufeld and his son, Nahum, were put to fire in the base of Modlin.

According to the testimonies of Abraham Goldbrach and Wolf Shlamovitsh, large groups of Novy-Dvor Jews who had fled to Warsaw to escape the Nazi barbarisms and outright assassinations, found themselves forced to return to Novy-Dvor in 1940 because of the extremely hard conditions which prevailed in the Ghetto of this ruined capital. In the beginning of 1941 the section called “Pyaski” (Sand Hill) was separated from the rest of the town with barbed wire and proclaimed the Jewish ghetto of Novy-Dvor. Under orders from the Gestapo, Jews in the ghetto chose their Judenral (Jewish Council). Its chairman, Rolstein, realizing that he could not help his brethren in their misery, resigned from his post. It was then taken over by Joseph Gershon.

Because of the food rations in the ghetto were very meager, people had to resort to smuggling. The smugglers were often caught and executed in the presence of all other ghetto inhabitants. Frequently the Gestapo came to riddle the ghetto with bullets. In May, 1941, all Jews in the ghetto were summoned to assemble in the market place. Of the 4,000 gathered there, only 750 were selected as fit for work and the rest were driven to the terrible torture-camp in Pomekhov near Novy-Dvor. There the sick were shot immediately and the others brought to a slow death by starvation. The main occupation of those who somehow could hold out under these inhuman conditions was digging graves for their unfortunate brethren.

As soon as the occupying Germans contracted typhus, the whole camp was liquidated. Of the transported camp-inmates many were poisoned with contaminated meat and others burned in flames on the Yablonna road to Warsaw.

At the same time, in the ghetto of Novy-Dvor, the German death machinery continued to work uninterruptedly until the final expulsions in November, 1942.

The expulsions came one after the other. The remaining Jews of Novy-Dvor were driven to the railway station, loaded into cattle cars and shipped to Auschwitz. Then came the day on which the completed liquidation of Jews in Novy-Dvor was announced - the 12th of December 1942. On the 14th of December, the last transport of Jews from Novy-Dvor arrived in Auschwitz where all, but a small, select group fit for hard labor, reached the end of their road in the gas-chambers.

The directors of the German extermination program in Novy-Dvor were the Folkdeutshen (local Christians of

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German descent) who for generations had been living in town next to their Jewish neighbors. Two underworld gangsters of the Novy-Dvor Folkdeutshen, the brothers Wendt, assumed leading positions in town in order to annihilate the Jewish population.

As a result of the humiliating and degrading conditions, the demoralization planned by the Germans set in among certain elements of the Jewish community, and the Germans knew well how to use local Jewish trash for their devilish schemes. The lowest characters and scum of the Jewish underworld cold hardly resist the nomination conferred upon them by the Gestapo henchmen. They became the leaders and policemen. Thus, in the camp Pomyekhov, a Jewish degenerate named Maylekhel played the role of the leading oppressor. He helped put an end to the harrowed Jewish inmates. But Maylekhel's sway did not last. Jews of Plonsk, who together with the Jews of Novy-Dvor experienced his brutal rule, did away with him. Sander Blank, who article deals with the Jews of Novy-Dvor under the Nazis, writes the story of Maylekhel in detail.

The tragedy of the Jewish children is described by Judity Pshenitza who at the time was only eight years old. Her family was expelled and she had to support herself as she wandered in constant fear among the nearby villages. A Christian priest who wanted to give her shelter was cut to pieces by the Germans while the girl found a hiding place in an empty cemetery grave. Having experienced hell on earth, she somehow survived in spite of everything.

Haya Litman-Perlovitsh, currently a member of Kibbutz Ef'al, was likewise on the move between Novy-Dvor and Warsaw for quite a long time. She was eventually shipped to Maydanek, after having spent some time in the “bunkers” (underground hiding places) of the Warsaw Ghetto. In addition to Maydanek, she went through the tortures of other concentration camps. She writes with a deep wound in her heart: “Even today I can see before me Maydanek and I still feel the pain and the sorrow of the day when my brother Sheyele, was driven to his death together with Jews from Lipova to the accompaniment of music. He screamed to a man who witnessed his last moments that the day of his death, November 3, 1943, should not be forgotten.”

Sander Blank and Leybl Kokhalsky have a great deal to tell about the behavior of the Jewish “Ordungsdienst” (police) who, beside from doing what they were forced to do, often assumed the role of vicious, wicked and cruel masters. This and other distressing facts should not be erased nor remain covert.

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We all ought to know the bitter truth regarding the level to which people may sink in times when the devil is the commanding ruler.

The road of many Novy-Dvor Jews led to the Warsaw Ghetto. There they were subjected to the misery of famine, sickness, and pain. They also participated in the battles of the uprising. Some witnessed the final liquidation and shipment to the death camps.

Following the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto, Hava Shklanka-Wolanska endured Maydanek and Skarzhisko-Kayenne, and Gilka Sheinbaum went through Maydanek and Auschwitz. These were the infamous concentration camps saturated with torture, suffering, and evil; places in which all turns were cleverly designed to lead to the furnaces. Fortunately these girls found ways which eventually brought them to Israel where they regained hope and a new desire to live again.

Jacob Jacob Domb has a story to tell about the uprising in Treblinka. There, Novy-Dvor Jews, the Budnik brothers, carried out a decisive assignment in planning the uprising that made it possible for the inmates to get access to the arms arsenal in the camp. The arms were transported by Jacob Domb in the wagon in which he was carrying the camp garbage. At a solemn Memorial Assembly held in the city of Plock (Poland) on the third anniversary of the uprising in Treblinka, the Budnik brothers were recalled with reverence and respect as distinguished heroes of the great historic event.

In the list of heroes who fell in the great battle of the Warsaw Ghetto there are names of Novy-Dvor Jews: Hirsh Issac Vronsky, Shoshana Yakobovitsh, Joseph Litman, and Zisha Papier. Pninah Papier, who now resides in Israel, actively participated in the Warsaw Ghetto battles and, having survived all countless moments of tottering on the brink of utter despair inside the blazing Ghetto, continued to fight with the partisan forest groups until the day of liberation.

Such was the road of pain, suffering, and extinction which the Jews of Novy-Dvor trod under Nazi reign. Clinging to the old and typically Jewish belief that evil and evildoers must come to their doom, the Jews of Novy-Dvor struggled in these dark years to last out every day. But only a few lived to see the day of victory , and too many could act with human dignity and heroism under the indescribably savage and ghoulish conditions.

After the war some of the Novy-Dvor survivors returned to their town. They found there nothing but ruins and desolation, an empty town with a destroyed cemetery. The eyes of the local

[Page XIX]

Christians looked upon the survivors with disbelief, curiosity, and fear. Did the Jews who outlasted the death camps come to claim their dispossessed homes and businesses, the properties which the local gentiles “inherited” as a matter of course?

Only a single Jew remained in the town of Novy-Dvor, a faint image of a Jewry which once was great and bright, which for countless generations had lived in this place and which is no more.

Where did the roads taken by the surviving Novy-Dvor Jews lead? They led mainly to Israel. Here, on the land of the Jewish National Fund in Holon, a Shikun (Housing Development) was established for the Jews of Novy-Dvor Descent. In this Shikun, Jewish children grow up in freedom. They are being told the sad and painful story of the destroyed town of their parents and grandparents. They are made conscious of the fact that their Shikun in Holon is the continuation of the Jewish community of Novy-Dvor. All who reside here nurture the wish and hope that the noble Jewish ideals adhered to by our ancestors in Novy-Dvor will find their fulfillment in the lives of generations to come and in a future that will be both bright and blessed.

The “Shikun Novy-Dvor” in Holon was built with the collective interest and effort of all Novy-Dvor Jews in the world and by means of the organized and constructive aid received from Novy-Dvor Jews in American and other countries.

Now, a literary monument in honor of the destroyed Novy-Dvor community and the thousands of its martyrs is being erected through this Memorial Volume. Let the pages of the “Pinkas” sound an echo of that holy melody which gave the people of Novy-Dvor the courage to live their lives for many generations, and let the young children and grandchildren of Novy-Dvor Jews continue to walk the same glorious Jewish road forever.

 

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