« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

[Page 409]

Destruction

 

ost409.jpg
Nazis laughing at Jew saying Kaddish

 

[Page 411]

Of the Ruins of My Town[1]

By Meir Bosak[2]

Translated by by Ros Romem

The houses in the lanes – ladders to the sky,
The silence rises in the gray
The expanses on high turn to blue in the windows,
Poverty, shadows and desolation.

Ruined houses, roofs with holes,
Gates, great darkness, deep terror,
Rotten wooden steps up to the rooms,
Steps of earth to the cellar.

No Jewish shoemaker will raise his hammer,
In the window no tailor will patch
And the voice of mothers will not croon over a cradle
In the yard a beggar will not sing

A short while ago thousands of Jews
Searched for bargains in the market.
The masses of Israel earned its keep,
To live even in the shadow of death and disaster.

Houses of God became storage places,
Yeshivot – factories,
The shadow of death and orphaning pressed to the walls,
The scream strangled in the mud.

Yet memories of yesterdays arise
And the heart is like a bell with terror,
And the reality of ruin, the great silence,
Will turn purple to a legend.

 


[Pages 412-413]

The Town and Vicinity, Raped and Robbed

By Arija Margolis

Translated by Judie Ostroff Goldstein

The towns with Jewish communities were raped, robbed, burned, destroyed and wiped off the face of the earth. The people were shot and buried alive; their hard-earned possessions gathered by hard, strenuous work, with their sweat and blood, were stolen.

The enemy, Hitler's bandits, these criminal murderers of Jewish people, perpetrated the greatest crime in world history. This scum of the earth, these vandals set the terrible fires to cremate and kill the Jewish people with unusual cruelty. Six million were murdered. They declared war on the Jewish people.

Like sheep they took them to be slaughtered, to their doom, to destroy them in death camps, in crematoria, where in terrible suffering and torture their lives ended.

The vandals burned, choked and suffocated millions and millions of Jews in the gas chambers, through tyranny, savagery, sadism and refined torture.

The blood of men and women, old and children, brother and sister flowed together, mixed together, and scream from the earth for revenge.

So much bad luck, it is hard to bear. Such a large disaster has befallen us, sobbing and lamenting the dark, bitter destiny that befell our near and dear ones, parents, children, brothers and sisters, our relatives and the Jewish people. The terror must not be forgotten. The moans, the sighs, the tears, the separation of the children, the mothers' laments, the fathers' helpless silence …we must carry them always in our memory, engrave them deep in our hearts and souls – their memorial, the memorial of the fallen.

The same fate claimed Ostrowa, the town where we were born and brought up, the town of our childhood of which we have a lot of memories.

Ostrowa was known throughout the region as a town of Torah. It was famous for its great rabbis, scholars, wise men, Misnagdim, Hasidim, property owners and artisans; manufacturers and merchants; workers and labourers; honest Jews who worked hard to earn a living and found such joy in life, thanking G-d everyday.

Ostrowa is no more, it was destroyed and its Jews murdered. The massacre was on the 29th Heshvan 5700 [11 November 1939]. Five hundred sixty souls were shot and buried in a mass grave. The rest had left Ostrowa for other towns and villages where they were later killed.

Let us always speak well of them and remember those sacrificed, the pure souls - the martyrs. And let us say together “Yisgadal v'yiskadash shmay raba” [start of the mourner's prayer].

 

ost414a.jpg
Ulica Rożan at the corner of Ostrołęka
At the site of the old besmedresh – now a warehouse,
next to the Otwocker shtibl – seen in its entirety

 

ost414b.jpg
The site of the new besmedresh – now a storage place for planks,
all the houses at the marketplace and ulica Brokowska – burned down

 


[Pages 415-420]

Surviving the War
(under the Nazis)

By Tuwia Makower, Bnei Brak
Former secretary of the Jewish community

Translated by Judie Ostroff Goldstein

Thursday, throughout the entire night until the1st of September 1939 groups of people were discussing whether the Germans would invade Poland or not? But by Friday at dawn the discussion became superfluous - German airplanes had already dropped bombs on Ostrowa and people had already been killed. And it had already brought confusion. People were running from one place to the other. Friday at noon the roads were already full of desperate Jews from the surrounding towns: Ostrołęka, Myszyniec, Różan, Goworowo, etc., all of them fleeing. There were also women with tiny children in their arms. The city was full of refugees, all the public buildings were occupied and many slept in a dormitory. There was great hardship among the refugees. The kehilla, headed by Rabbi Zinger, met to organize relief for them.

Sunday and Monday, the 3rd and 4th September, a frightening rumour circulates from one to the other that the Polish Military is running back and forth in confusion without any plan.

Tuesday, the 5th, at eight o'clock in the morning the city is deafened by a frightening explosion - the first bombs fell on the city. When the explosions ceased, people saw their effect; a bomb had fallen on Lustig's house, on ulica Ostrołęcka opposite the old besmedresh. It killed Josel Prawda's fourteen year old son, Icchok Gerszon, an old Jew Lejbl Armus who was eating at their house and a tradesman who had been doing work there; Josel Prawda only had his feet severed.

Wednesday night, the city is already overcrowded with those from the surrounding, burned-out villages. The roads are jammed with Polish Military, farmers' wagons and cattle. The question of the hour is whether the Germans will enter the city. The Jews are in confusion. People stood around waiting for news about the Germans. People stayed up an entire night discussing whether they should leave or stay. At present the roads in the vicinity are jam-packed with retreating military and people would die on these roads.

Thursday, the 7th of September, the government offices are already evacuated, as well as the police. The Polish military is still retreating without a plan or guidance. Our situation becomes more desperate minute by minute.

Friday, 8th September at noon German tanks appear and the inhabitants lock themselves in their houses, hiding in terror.

Shabes [Saturday] morning I am shaken by the information that at dawn the Nazis took Mordchai Ber Tarnowski, one of his sons and Krysztal (Szymon Studnik's son-in-law) from their homes on ulica Malkińska and shot them dead.

 

Sunday, 10th September - A Day of Frightening Events

At one o'clock in the afternoon hundreds of SS men with rifles surrounded the Jewish houses and forced the men into the street with rifle blows. After gathering all the Jews together on ulica Ostrołęcka, as far as the Town Hall on the old marketplace, the Germans ordered everyone to stand with their hands in the air. People stood like that for four hours; once in a while they put their hands in their pockets, trying to endure.

When Jakob Domb's daughter looked out of the window on this sad scene, they shot at her and she was wounded in the head.

Standing in this position for so many hours caused many to faint and fall to the ground.

Then came an order that everyone must run. Being struck by rifles, they were chased to the Gymnasia Square on ulica Zambrowska. Those unable to run quickly enough received blows to the head. Many arrived at the square with bloody heads, among them Abraham Jakob Frydman, Nachum Lewartowicz, and others.

Then came another order: everyone must lie-down on the ground and everybody stayed like that until twenty after six in the evening. Then the German officer ordered everyone to stand up and made two announcements:

  1. If a German is shot at, the entire city will be destroyed.
  2. It is forbidden to be in the streets after six o'clock in the evening

and then he ordered everyone to run home.

The entire mass stampeded to the gate and the pushing there was frightening. It was then six thirty in the evening and we are at the back of the city. The result was terrifying. We ran and they shot. The next morning, more than thirty men were found dead in the street.

From then on, they would stop us in the street and hold us until after six o'clock in the evening, in order to shoot us.

 

Thursday - Friday - Rosheshoneh

The first day of Rosheshoneh many neighbours gathered together along with the refugees (many living with me), locked in a dark house and stood praying like the secret practitioners of Judaism in Spain. We stood praying, always alert and watchful. Every minute we interrupted our prayers so that the passing SS men would not hear. With great fear and tradition we kept praying.

 

Sunday after Rosheshoneh - 17th September, 1939

There are more than twenty people living in my room, refugees from Ostrołęka (my relatives from the Cukier and Rabinowicz families) with their packs, sacks and small children. This one large room is loaded with goods they brought from home. Moving around is difficult and getting a meal for the children is even more so. There is a constant commotion in the house which is being torn apart. This should be our biggest problem. People come home earlier in the evening now so as not to be in the street close to curfew (by five o'clock there is nobody on the street), otherwise they risk being shot (which has already happened). Suddenly a lot of SS men appear at the door, headed by a Lieutenant who gives strict orders. Close the windows and shutters. Do not go out of the house and do not look through the cracks of the shutters. As usual the order is accompanied with the threat of being shot to death if we disobey. So, we sat for a little while caged in the dark, but curiosity got the better of us. We dared to look out through the cracks and saw them lead out all the Jews, young people. They ordered them to stand at the wall of my house, with their faces to the wall. As they had already gathered fifteen people, they drove two large trucks into the courtyard. Seeing this, I thought there would be an aktion and that was the reason for the trucks. Immediately the leader and helpers entered the house and ordered everyone to take everything and load it all on the trucks. All the men were beaten and yelled at to load faster. It did not take long and all the goods, worth many hundred thousands of zlotys, were loaded, along with the valuables from the house and the SS drove away with everything. After the Germans had left, the Jews were thankful that only their goods were taken and not their lives.

About an hour after praying, a special messenger arrived, bringing us the sad information that German soldiers were on the balcony of the old besmedresh. They ordered that the Kehilla Secretary come immediately. It never crossed my mind not to go - they would immediately shoot me - I had to go - if only to find out what they wanted. My family's despair is hard to take. My wife and daughter faint and my sister is frightened and does not want me to go. Arriving at the besmedresh, just the look of the murderers turns my limbs to jelly. They take me inside and Rabbi Zinger is there as well. I hardly recognize him. They sit us down on the bench at the Holy Ark. They come up to the Holy Ark that held about thirty Torah scrolls and start throwing them out, tearing them up and throwing them in a pile on the ground. They have brought the Chief of the murderers to us and he stood at the pulpit facing us and five others stood around us with revolvers to our heads. The Chief says he will ask questions and I will answer all of them correctly and accurately. For one incorrect answer, I will be shot. So started a torment that lasted four hours. They took out a list of all the political organizations in the city and started to ask questions.

What is the Jewish population of Ostrowa?

How many synagogues are there in the city, how many schools?

What kinds of schools are these- understand - Religious? What are they called?

They knew the name of each political party and asked where the leaders and principles are - who are the chairmen? Are they in the city or have they left? There was a great deal of emphasis on the Revisionists. I found myself in a desperate situation - still, I had to answer, but in such a way that I would not be sorry. My own life is at risk, but what should I do?

From the way they spoke, I had the impression that they wanted to shoot the leaders of the Revisionists immediately, so I gave them the name of one leader who had already left Ostrowa and they sent for him, but he never arrived...

The torture went on for hours and with each word spoken, the possibility of being shot to death. They ordered that within twenty-four hours we were to deliver a list of all the Jews in the city, in quadruplicate, with accurate particulars on birth dates, professions, addresses, a to z. After close to four discouraging hours, the Chief winked at one of them who brought over a big pair of scissors and ordered me to cut the Rabbi's beard threatening to shoot me if I did not comply.

At my release, they ordered me to bring the lists to the “Jews'-office”. When I tried asking the Chief how to compile this list in time as the kehilla does not manage any Jewish population registers, only City Hall does, he answered: it must be done in twenty-four hours according to his instructions. If not, I will be shot.

By means of various efforts and justifications, I succeeded in delaying the delivery of the list and copies until Sunday. With this I was free for a few days. Reb Zinger and the head of the kehilla, Anszel Knorpel were taken Shabes night to the “Jew's-office” and beaten. They cut off the small beard that I had left on Rabbi Zinger, and they cut off Anszel Knorpel's beard. When they were released, Rabbi Zinger was ordered to be there the next morning, Sunday, to brush their horses.

 

ost419.jpg
Men studying

 

Yonkiper

On Yonkiper, in order to avoid being beaten and put to work, the majority of Jews decided not to go anywhere to pray, but to stay at home. My brother Chaim, who lived not far from the Otwock shtibl, had gone there with a minyan to pray. A truck arrived with SS men and took them all to the pond [sadzavka] on ulica Warszawska where they were ordered to wash the trucks. The Jews, who were in shoes and socks, were forced into the water up to their waists; then they hunted for young men, especially yeshiva students, put them in the pond and poured pails of cold water over their heads. The Germans tormented them the entire day of Yonkiper. Many of these people became ill from being in the cold water all day.

I went nowhere. Suddenly, two SS men came into my house at noon and demanded two men to dig potatoes. One SS told the other that they should take only one man, not the old man, only two other young men. So I was forced to work on Yonkiper.

Several days after Yonkiper there is a rumour that the Russians will return to the city. The Germans themselves have said that they are leaving and the Russians will be coming back. I did not believe the story. We did not have any newspapers. But on Yonkiper the rumour proved to be true. We received information that a lot of Russian soldiers were ten kilometers from the city and they would arrive the second day of Sukes at ten o'clock in the morning. We could see that this was true. The Germans withdrew their soldiers and took the telephones. By the first day of Sukes before noon, no Germans could be seen. The Jewish population demonstrated in the streets and many Poles stopped in the villages.

The third day of Sukes, like a thunderbolt, the news came that the Germans were coming back. Before noon a taxi drove away from the marketplace with the Head of the county and his aide. The mood had changed. The Jews went back to hiding and the Poles went around beating heads and giving greater assistance to the Germans than previously.

With the German's return, their cruel regime began on a large scale. Robbing, torturing, desecrating the prayer houses by dragging Torah scrolls into the street. It was already an unbelievable existence. Rabbi Zinger and I moved goods all day. In one day: fifty shovels, thirty kg of sugar, ten kg of cotton; the second day the same, if not - the death penalty. All the stores had been robbed, in the street people keep their eyes down. The situation became unbearable.

Tuesday the fourth day of the festival of Sukes the commandant is out in the market place and spoke to the Jews advising them to leave, as life would only get worse for them. My family and I soon left. Soon after my departure, the SS came looking for me.

After that, nearly the entire city fled to the Russian border. Most got through without any problem, except the Germans robbed most of them of everything. We learned afterwards that a small number of people (Ostrowers, Pułtuskers, Wyszkowers, etc.) who for various reasons had not left earlier, went to the border when they later had the opportunity. Unfortunately they came to a tragic end as the Russians had closed the border only days before, not letting anyone through and even shot some of them.

29th day of Heshvan [11th November], through a provocation, a fire broke out in the old market at Berel Tejtel's home. After that, the Germans gathered all the Jews still in the city, a total of five hundred sixty and put them in the ice-cellar at Tejtel's brewery overnight. The next morning they were taken away and shot to death. (A Jew who had remained at a Christian's, was found and denounced to the Germans). According to later information, the Germans buried many alive.

That is how one of the pretty Jewish villages in Poland, Ostrów Mazowiecka, was erased along with her scholars, Hasidim, community leaders and social institutions.

 


[Pages 421-428]

A Diary of Four Weeks With the Nazis in Ostrów

By Jakob Widelec
(“Tsum Ondenk” [“In Remembrance”], New York, 1946)

Translated by Judie Ostroff Goldsten

From the first day, when Hitler started his blitzkrieg against Poland, the Jews felt the devastation that war brings. Still, people believed that the Polish Army would succeed in counterattacking along the Narew River, at Ostrołęka and Różan. The government and all the authorities were so demoralized and rotten to the core that the entire state apparatus fell like a house of cards and they all fled.

Knowing what awaited them, the Jewish population of Ostrołęka, Różan, Myszyniec and Komorowo began leaving their homes and by the third day, large masses were streaming towards Ostrowa, because it was the largest and most significant Jewish community in the area. On ulica Komorowo wanderers were seen; old and young, husbands, wives and children with baskets and bundles in their arms. Every minute the stream of unfortunates became longer and longer. Within a few hours all the public buildings and private homes were full to overflowing. In this strained atmosphere Friday and Shabes - September 1st and 2nd, 1939, arrived.

 

Four weeks under Nazi rule

Sunday, September 3rd

Today Rabbi Zinger called together the Jewish representatives of all the community organizations to discuss how to alleviate the hardships of the refugees. The report was frightening. Many more hundreds had arrived and people were sleeping in the open. The community immediately created a fund for food and a committee to deal with housing for the refugees.

 

Monday the 4th

We are cut off from the world. There are no newspapers because the German airplanes have disrupted the railroad. The only source for news is the radio. As the Polish Army retreats further, for strategic reasons, we hear nothing. Rumours are rife and each new one is more terrifying than the last. We are filled with fear and uncertainty about tomorrow.

 

Wednesday the 6th

Six o'clock in the morning - suddenly we heard the well-known buzz of German airplanes. Abruptly the city was deafened with terrible explosions. People fell out of bed. Windows shattered. A thick dust enveloped everything. The first bombs had been dropped on our city. One hit Mieczkowicz's brick house and a second - hit Bromberg's. A third hit Lustig's house on ulica Lubiejewska and brought about the first Jewish casualties. Josel Prawda's ten-year-old son and a refugee were killed. Josel Prawda lost both feet. Everyone was frightened. Women were hysterical and ran into the cellars with their children. Throughout the entire day, people were filled with fear and uncertainty and in the city, a dead quiet ruled. In the evening when the sun had set, everyone came out into the streets. Groups of young people had immediately organized and in the dark of night they left the city in order to cross the border to the Soviet side.

 

Thursday the 7th

Last night all the government employees and policemen left the city, abandoning the civilians. The Polish Army is retreating along ulica Ostrołęka. We learned from them that there was a large battle at Rożan and that our army suffered a terrible defeat. Now they are wandering without purpose, they do not have any specific orders. In their opinion, the Germans will enter the city in a few hours. At night we see large fires from the towns and villages that are burning. Desperately we ask one another what tomorrow will bring.

 

Friday the 8th

Today is a hot and sticky summer day. We are all out in the streets where an oppressive quite reigns. Is it the calm before the storm? It is already one o'clock. In our hearts there is still a small hope that the Polish Army will counterattack.

Suddenly we heard a loud noise from ulica Komorowo. Everyone turned and looked in that direction and we recognized, from a distance, a large, heavy tank with a swastika on the front. In a minute the streets were empty. I went into my house and from a window that looked out onto ulica Ostrołęka I was able to observe everything.

Ten minutes later a large German motorized squad arrived. They set up machine guns opposite the old besmedresh. At five o'clock the German army marched in. Everything is mechanized. Seeing this, people realized why the Polish horse-and-wagon-army could not put up any resistance. My Polish neighbours wept bitter tears over their lost freedom?...

All night long everyone sat in dark, shuttered houses listening to the hurried movement of the German Army. Suddenly I heard heart rending screams which cut the air. Struck with fear, we remained sitting - wary of the coming morning.

 

Shabes the 9th

The screams of last night came from ulica Pułtuska. The SS broke into Jewish houses and took the men away. In the morning people informed the wives that their husbands had been at the Polish Gymnasia, on ulica Małkińska, all night long. They were permitted to bring the men food. A little later, groups of Polish hooligans were seen in the streets pointing out Jewish stores to the German soldiers. It did not take long before the doors were forced open. More Poles arrived, especially those from the areas around the city. They took great joy in robbing Jewish property and goods. Among them I noticed my Polish neighbours who had recently cried bitterly for their lost freedom. We Jews had to watch all of it, but no one dared say a word for fear of causing bloodshed.

However, it did not end there. In the course of the night, Nazis broke into many Jewish houses and a number of Jews, Ostrowers and refugees, were killed in cold blood. Among those tragically killed during the night were Mordchai Ber Tarnowski, his son Menachem and Kryształ from ulica Małkińska.

 

Sunday the 10th

This morning the head of the city Gestapo sent for Rabbi Zinger and the secretary of the Jewish community, Tuwia Makower. On arriving in his room, he gave Rabbi Zinger a pair of shears and threatening him with a revolver forced him to cut off Tuwia's beard. Then Tuwia was forced to do the same to the rabbi. Then this Gestapo hero murderously beat them and commanded that they immediately carry out the order to have all Jewish men from sixteen to sixty assemble at noon at the City Hall. Those who do not come will be shot immediately.

The news spread with lightening speed through the city and everyone was frightened. Nobody was able to make up his mind whether to go or not. But by eleven o'clock I noticed a large number of Nazis going from house to house dragging men out into the street where armed soldiers were waiting to send them to the City Hall at the old marketplace.

Arriving at the building, we were met by several thousand men lined up in rows of four with their hands raised. From both sides, the Nazis searched everyone to make sure we did not have any weapons. They searched everyone in an effort to provoke a fight. Putting a revolver to the head or heart they asked: “Jew, do you have any weapons?”

The older men quietly appealed to the younger ones for restraint and not to answer, because not only was this a question of our lives, but also the lives of the women and children.

The stream of people became larger and larger. The Nazis ran around like wild animals chasing everyone out of their houses. There goes old Nochym Lewartowicz. Unable to go fast enough, a beast hit him on the head with a rifle and his face was a torrent of running blood. Fryd, the tailor, is standing nearby, covered entirely with blood.

The lines stretch all the way to ulica Komorowo because the marketplace is full. It is already four o'clock. Many older men are unable to stand any longer with their hands in the air and they fall to the ground.

Suddenly, the mass started to move - A horrible procession of thousands of frightened men with hands in the air, directed by Nazi animals with terrible weapons. They brought us via ulica Małkińska to the square at the Polish Gymnasia and ordered us to sit on the ground. They set up machine guns around us. The religious Jews started recite “confession”. Others sat stone-faced, awaiting their fate.

Six o'clock in the evening, a German officer announced in Polish that we should behave ourselves and obey all the orders and that we can go calmly home. The whole mass stood up from their places and leisurely began to leave. Suddenly the Germans started shooting at us. A terrible panic broke out. Near me I noticed Szmul Jozef Glikman fall after being shot and soon I was pushed further away. I ran with five men into a courtyard, where we stood in the house entrance the whole night listening to the shooting.

 

Monday the 11th

During last night's shooting, twenty-one Jewish people were killed and twelve were wounded. Some of them were refugees from Ostrołęka, Rożan and Goworowo. One of the badly wounded was my nephew. The funerals were quiet.

 

Tuesday the 12th

The Gestapo ordered the Jewish stores and warehouses to be opened. Groups of Poles, with beaming faces, stand eagerly waiting to take their share of the stolen goods. The Nazis stood at each warehouse and handed out what they found. From Nyska's large warehouses, Poles are leaving with full sacks of sugar, salt and rice. Excitedly they hurry home with their heavy packages and return for more.

The Nyskas turn to a few Jews and beg them to join the line, hoping that they will also get some food. Several poor Jewish women, with shawls covering their heads, try, but the Poles recognize them. With the word “Jude” [Jew], which they had quickly learned from the Nazis, they point out the Jewish women to the Germans, who chase the women away with blows.

 

Shabes night, the 16th

Four days have passed since I last wrote. I am now sitting by candlelight, with the shutters closed so that the glow cannot shine outside. On Wednesday, several Nazis stormed into the old besmedresh. They tore and violated holy books and Torah scrolls and broke all the doors, window frames and panes.

Thursday and Friday were Rosheshoneh. I remember how magnificent Rosheshoneh was in previous years. Poor and rich, young and old, religious and non-religious...everyone observed the Holiday.

On this Rosheshoneh, the observant Jews prayed in cellars or in empty rooms. In front of the house were guards who watched for the Nazis. Men were forced out of their homes to do hard labour. Several have not yet returned.

 

Sunday the 17th

Several of those who had escaped to the Russian border came back today with the news that the Russian army is advancing. The border between Germany and the Soviet Union will be at the Bug River. This means that Ostrowa will belong to the Russians. People were hugging each other and crying tears of joy.

 

Thursday the 21st

Today I witnessed a terrible tragedy. Among the bakers who work in the large mechanized bakery on ulica Różańska are Baran from ulica Pułtuska and his seventeen-year-old son, Jozef. I was standing at my window and looking in that direction. Suddenly I see Jozef Baran leaving the bakery. The boy passed the gate where a Nazi was standing. In less than a minute, the Nazi pulled out his revolver and shot three bullets into young Jozef's head. He fell down in a puddle of blood and the murderer continued his walk. A few minutes later his mother came running. She fell to the ground, hitting her head on a rock, but she was too late to save her son.

 

Sunday the 24th

Friday was erev Yonkiper. The majority of the prayer houses have been destroyed. Some of the religious Jews are not able to accept spending the holy night in cellars. At dusk, they quietly left their homes and keeping close to the walls, stealthily made their way to the Gerer shtibl, which was still intact.

Wrapped in white robes and prayer shawls, they began Kol Nidrei. Just then, large Nazi trucks arrived with storm troopers and they surrounded the shtibl. The Jews were dragged out and thrown into the trucks. They were driven down ulica Warszawska to the sadzavka [natural water basin or pond]. A lot of dirty trucks were parked there and the Jews were given the honour of cleaning them. They were forced to remove their white robes, prayer shawls and even their clothing and go into the water halfway, wet all their things and wash the trucks with them.

When the work was done, all the men were ordered to go into the water again, until it was over their heads. When they came out from the filth, the Germans cut off all their hair. Some of the men had half their beards ripped from their faces. Then they were photographed and ordered to go home. A Nowarodok Yeshiva student caught a very bad cold and died a few days later.

Shabbes Yonkiper, the Nazis, like wild animals, hunted the Jews, especially the Orthodox. They were dragged out of cellars and taken to do hard labour especially to places where food had to be carried to soldiers.

 

ost426.jpg
Shma Yisroel
[Hear O Israel]

 

Monday the 25th

My Polish neighbours, along with many other Poles, were suddenly “unemployed”. All the Jewish food stores and haberdasheries had already been robbed. Today they were happy once again as they broke into Bendet Lichtensztejn's cellar and iron warehouse. Although a few have businesses, they will not be able to make a profit from these goods. Still, in the course of several hours they destroyed or stole everything. The men dragged out pieces of iron, pipes, welding irons and sheet metal.

 

Tuesday the 26th

Masses of refugees continue going through Ostrów. Today the surviving Jews from Pułtusk wandered through. Their story is terrible. They were given ten minutes to leave the city and had to abandon everything to the mercy of G-d. Two hours later, the Długosiodło Jews wandered through. There were not allowed to rest. They were forced, without pity, to continue on to the Zambrów forest.

 

Wednesday the 27th

Today Podbielewicz quietly reported what he heard on the radio (the Nazis confiscated all the radios. Podbielewicz had one hidden). The border will be drawn at Zambrów forest. This means that Ostrów will be under Nazi rule. The idea made a painful impression.

 

Monday, the 2nd of October

The majority of Jewish Ostrowers have decided to leave the city. We see that our human rights no longer exist under Nazi rule. We are all condemned. Hunger is intensifying.

The Nazis announced that all inhabitants who come from the eastern provinces under Soviet control are allowed to apply for a special permit in order to travel home.

I seized the opportunity and went to the former Polish Governor's residence on Warszawska. I met hundreds of Jews there. After waiting several hours, I entered a room where a man in civilian clothes was sitting. I told him that I come from Białystok and am willing to go back. I received the permit immediately.

 

Wednesday, the 4th

A mystic feeling dominated me today and I left my house to visit the new cemetery. I wanted to look at my mother's grave one last time. At ulica 3go Maja and Małkinska, I met Mosze Pokrzywa. He told me that there is a large contingent of German soldiers on the road. He thinks that there is a German camp nearby and I should not risk my life by going there.

With deep pain I turned back. Will the beasts leave the dead in peace? Will we be able to return to our beloved Ostrowa and find the graves of our dearest relatives undisturbed?

I took a few essentials, dirtied my suit and coat and left to go to ulica Zambrów. At the railroad tracks, a Nazi guard ordered me to stop and raise my hands in the air. They searched me for money. When they had taken all that I had, they ordered me to go. At the Zambrów forest, I met Soviet soldiers who called out friendly greetings to this wanderer.

I sat down on a rock to catch my breath. I looked at our dear, Jewish Ostrowa and how it was being so cruelly uprooted. Powerless, I clenched my fists and cried bitterly.

 

Footnotes
  1. Introduction to a collection of poems “Kezohar Rakia Mazhirim” (The Glow of a Shining Sky”) Return
  2. Stanley Diamond of Montreal, Coordinator of the Ostrow Mazowiecka Research Family, remarked on an amazing twist of fate relating to the translation of this Hebrew poem. The translator, Ros Romem and her husband Meir, former Israel Consul General in Toronto, Canada are friends of Stanley, which led him to ask Ros to volunteer to do translations of Hebrew pages in the Ostrow Mazowiecka Yizkor Book.
    Meir Bosak, the author of the above poem was Meir Romem's Hebrew Literature teacher. But Romem only learned of the poem when he saw his wife in tears as she laboured over the translation. Return

 

« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »


This material is made available by JewishGen, Inc. and the Yizkor Book Project for the purpose of
fulfilling our mission of disseminating information about the Holocaust and destroyed Jewish communities.
This material may not be copied, sold or bartered without JewishGen, Inc.'s permission. Rights may be reserved by the copyright holder.


JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material for verification.
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.

  Ostrow-Mazowiecka, Poland     Yizkor Book Project     JewishGen Home Page


Yizkor Book Project Manager, Lance Ackerfeld
This web page created by Lance Ackerfeld

Copyright ©1999-2014 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 8 Jan 2011 by LA