Table of Contents

Pamphlet precursor to Sefer Przytyk

Translated by Jerrold Landau

 

 

Sefer Przytyk

 

Tel Aviv 8.3.1964

{Photo on title page: Monument from the cemetery of Przytyk – 1930.}

[Page 2]

To all Przytyk natives
in the Land and in the Diaspora

Our preparations to publish this Yizkor book – are in full force. To this point, we have received a great deal of interesting material from Y.I.V.O. in New York, from the Polish National Library in Warsaw, and from the Przytyk Town Council (see page 15). As well, several Przytyk natives have given us memoirs and photographs of the town. We have begun to gather and edit the material in a practical way.

Since we desire that this Yizkor Book survey the entirety of social, religious, political and cultural life in our city – we turn to you with the request to send us lists, memoirs, letters and pictures that relate to the life of the Jews of Przytyk, including information about people, institutions, factions, societies and organizations.

Similarly, those who were in our city during the time of the Holocaust or who have testimony about Jewish life during the Holocaust period, and find it difficult to give it over in writing are requested to get in touch with the committee or the editor so that they can give over their testimony.

Documents, pictures and letters that are important to their owners will be returned after the publication of the book.

Please help us actualize our objective to perpetuate the martyrs of Przytyk.

The Committee
The Editor of the Book

Address for the transmission of material:
Mendel Honig, 3 Haknaim St. Kiryat Shalem, Tel Aviv.

 

To all Przytyk Jews
in the Land and the Diaspora
[1]

The committee of the Przytyk Landsmanschaft in Israel, together with the book committee that was created, has decided to publish a Yizkor Book dedicated to the holy memory of one of the glorious Jewish communities of Poland.

In this literary monument, we wish to perpetuate the historical past of Przytyk Jewry, its colorful and ebullient societal, political, religious and cultural life – until the tragic destruction and martyrdom of the Second World War.

We therefore turn to our fellow natives in Israel and the Diaspora with a warm call:

Help us actualize this holy goal! Send memories, depictions, and newspaper clippings for the book. Tell us about the activity of parties, societies, institution, organizations, groups, shtibels, cheders, etc. – so that we can present in the book a multi-sided and objective portrait of the struggles, woes, and joys of the Jewish community of Przytyk.

Up to this point, we have received valuable material about Przytyk from Y.I.V.O. in New York, from the Polish National Library in Warsaw, and a very friendly letter from the Przytyk Town Council (see page 15). Now it is your turn to help in the publication of this book.

We await your active assistance.

Pictures, historical documents, letters, and the like will be returned at the request of the senders.

The Committee
The Editor of the Book

Send your material immediately to the following address:
Israel – 3 Haknaim St. Tel-Aviv, Mendel Honig

 

[Page 3]

There Once Was a Town…

I would not be misstating the truth if I were to state that trembling and respectful awe level the path of my return to my town. Everything existed just like yesterday and the day before – and it passed like a comet, never to return. My town, its people and its streets appear before me like wandering stars and disappear in shame.

Who does not remember the years of youth? At times they are covered in innumerable sorrows, poverty, hunger and hard work. However, with the passage of time, these years are remembered as years of splendor. It is not important that there were many difficulties during this time – nevertheless the memory of the town will not disappear from your memory.

Przytyk! It is a town like many others scattered throughout Poland. Nevertheless – it was a town with challenges in that era.

Przytyk! A name that turned into a symbol and a warning of problems, of a call for salvation from the danger of destruction, which for some reason did not instill fear into many of our hearts… and for that we paid a great price.

Who does not remember the newspapers from those times, with the gigantic headlines about the “Przytyk Pogrom”? As well as news about the extreme reaction; the “brazenness” of the “Zhydon[2] Yechiel Lasky, who was so brazen as to take out a revolver and shoot into the agitated crowd and to thereby prevent the rioters from breaking into his home.

Yosef Minkowski and his wife of blessed memory paid with their lives in a cruel fashion. Lasky's sentence of eight years of imprisonment bared the blatant and tragic iniquity before the world. The Polish population relentlessly threatened revenge, but refrained from carrying it out when they considered the fact that the Jews were liable to defend themselves appropriately. From that time, much water flowed in my town…

The voice of the Jews of Przytyk will never again be heard among the multitude of streams of water. They will never again be found amongst the oak trees in the forest outside the city. The theater in the open hall of the firefighters will never again hear the applause and the joy of the Jews of Przytyk. The well in the center of the town will remain orphaned of its Jews. The lower flourmill will continue on slowly and rhythmically – without Jews. All of this once was – and today is like a heat that is simultaneously pleasant and scorching.

Chaim Goldman, Kibbutz Shefayim

{Photo page 3: The house of the Lasko[3] family in Przytyk. Lasko shot the rioters from the window marked (x). }

 

[Page 4]

{Photo page 4: A group of sportsmen in Przytyk, 1932.}

 

About the History of Przytyk

Przytyk, an agricultural and forestry based[4] town, was founded in the year 1333 by Piotr and Podlodów Janina. His son Jan already signed his name as Podlodówski of Przytyk. The church, which belonged to the dissidents, was taken over by the Catholics in the 16th century. The greatest number of Jews in the entire district (powiat) settled here. They conducted wide-branched commerce.

Przytyk lies on the Radomka, 2.5 kilometers from Radom. The Podlodówskis leased the town until 1731.

(Frantiszek Swierrczynski: Description of the Radom District, Warsaw, 1847).

The settlement of Przytyk lies on the Radomska Stream, 18 kilometers from Radom[5]. The entire population was liquidated during the occupation. The settlement served as a training field for the Hitlerist aviators. The town was completely destroyed. Presently, it has been rebuilt from its foundations.

Przytyk became a town at the beginning of the 14th century. In 1704, the Swedish King Karol XII[6] marched through Przytyk with his army. On August 11, 1831, brigades of the Duchy of Württemberg fought with Polish brigades.

(Tadeusz Włodarczak: Radom and its Region: Warsaw 1956)

 

[Page 5]

The Year 1905 in Przytyk

The Russian revolution of 1905 reverberated in Poland. There was very great hatred against Nikolai II. Even Przytyk was overcome with the revolutionary trends. There were revolutionaries with revolvers and kindzholen[7] in town. Their meeting point was in the teahouse of Chana Esther-Rachel's (my mother of blessed memory). There, they sang workers' songs and determined the activities and work that was needed to be done. They also conducted passionate discussions.

The primary activity of those revolutionaries in Przytyk in that year was to collect money from the wealthy Jews and distribute it among the poor workers. There was a wealthy Jew in town – a percentnik[8] and therefore stingy. He was called Avraham-Mendele. His wife was called the Shvartze (black) Chana. Once, the revolutionaries came to him and demanded money. Avraham-Mendele did not even want to hear about it. One of them took a revolver and shot the window. The glass shattered into thousands of pieces. The terrified Jew did not put up any resistance. He just uttered a quiet question – “How much?”, and paid the demanded amount…

*

Here is another episode from that year.

On a winter night, approximately ten peasants who were forest workers in a neighboring village entered the store of Fishel Beker and demanded bread. They did not want to pay, and threatened those present with the axes and sticks with which they were armed. They even began to beat all those present in the store, including those who were coming in. The news of a pogrom spread very quickly in town. People locked doors and shutters and they were afraid of going out into the street.

At that time I was studying in cheder with Mote the teacher. Someone came to tell us that they were beating Jews in the street. Mote the teacher ordered us sternly to remain in cheder, and not to dare to move until he returned. He went into the kitchen and took a small axe from there. Just then, his son Shalom arrived – the “Caesar” of the revolutionaries as he was called. Shalom took out a small revolver from the closet, and the father and son jumped out into the street… They broke the bones of several peasants very well. When the other Jews saw their bravery, they fell on the pogromchiks and drove them out of town.

*

The day after the incidents, 40 revolutionaries from Radom came to Przytyk. Most of them were armed with revolvers. They conducted a meeting in the center of the market with the purpose of opposing the Czarist regime…

Yitzchak Milstein, Jerusalem

{Photo page 5: After being freed by the Polish courthouse, six young men of Przytyk enter a restaurant in Radom: From the left: Furszt, Cuker, Krengel, Zajde, Bornsztajn, Honig.}

 

[Page 6]

{Photo page 6: A group of Poalei Zion members, 1935.}

 

A Town – an Island

Przytyk gave the impression of an island. It was surrounded by water, fields, forests and gardens. The town itself was divided into three sections: the market, Zachente and Podgajek.

As a thoroughly Jewish town, Przytyk included all parties and organizations. The Zionist organization stood out with its fine library. There was also Beitar and a professional organization. In Beitar, to which I belonged, we sang and danced. When the chief of Beitar, A. Propes, came to Przytyk, we, dressed in uniforms and in a military fashion, took the guest and marched through the market as if in a true march-past.

There was also an illegal Communist party. Who does not remember Mote Bornsztajn, who died in the Wronker Jail? The yellow Chaya, Mendel Honig, Hershel Malc and many others? Passionate discussions took place on the street, in the home, and in the Beis Midrash. Everything was ebullient with life.

The town also had its local Hassidim, but with strange names: Aleksander, Warker, Gerrer. I recall that when the Warker Rebbe visited Przytyk, the Hassidim led him behind the city and danced in the streets there. The important guest stayed with our relative by marriage Yosef-Chaim Shochet.

Przytyk did not have its own Yeshiva. Nevertheless, we were not short of Yeshiva youths. They studied in the various shtibels and in the synagogue.

We also had a religious girls' organization called “Banot”, and the Beis Yaakov Synagogue gave a strong traditional and Hassidic education to the Jewish girls.

Poalei Agudas Yisrael also functioned in town. My brother Yisrael-Avraham Szwycka was the chairman. I recall that he and other youths went to Czanow for Hachsharah[9].

The sports club was primarily involved engaged with football. Rusak and Blajcher were among the good players. The matches always attracted a large crowd.

Dina Grobstein-Szwycka

 

[Page 7]

Jewish Self-Defense in Przytyk

Przytyk had a population of approximately 500 families, of which 90% were Jewish. A few German landowners also lived in town. The Jews were employed in business, handworking crafts, labor and also lived off of town commerce and agriculture.

After the First World War, when Poland became independent, the Przytyk Jewish youth created an “organization” without a political-factional leaning. Only later did a Zionist movement and the workers' movement began to crystallize.

At first, Hashomer was the strongest Zionist party. It agitated for aliya to the Land of Israel for everyone.

The workers' movement, under the influence of the Bund, began to develop in parallel. Their activity was primarily conducted in the cultural and professional realms. Both parties were certainly equal in numbers, but the Zionist influence was felt in the town to a greater degree. Thanks to this, several Przytyk youths succeeded in making aliya to the Land of Israel.

The Zionist movement grew into separate streams and embraced an array of groups, such as Mizrachi, Beitar, General Zionists and Poale Zion. Poale Agudas Yisrael was also considered by us to be close to Zionism. Each group conducted its cultural and sporting activities separately.

The process of radicalization of the Jewish youth also did not pass over Przytyk. Therefore, the beginning of a Communist Party was declared in the town. As well, the middle class of the town organized themselves into a merchants' union and a handworkers' union, the activity of which centered primarily in the social and societal realms.

Anti-Semitic incitement increased throughout the entire region during the 1930s. Endek[10] picketers would stand with sticks near the Jewish businesses and shops in the town, especially on market days, and perpetrate incidents and clashes. Police intervention was not very helpful. The hooligans completely ignored the six Przytyk policemen and were not even afraid of the Radom police who at times did display sufficient determination despite the fact that the entire region was controlled by the Endeks and the Sanacjers[11] were not so strong.

Witnessing the growth of the Endek bands and the inability or unwillingness of the Police, the self-aware youth of the town came to the unanimous conclusion that they must create a self-defense group in order to not abandon Jewish lives and property. The anti-Semites in the town itself were not so organized and strong, but they had constant assistance from the surrounding towns of Kojf , Odsziwul, Dziewice, Opoczne, Nowe Miasto, and Kosuw[12].

On one occasion, we received the news that on a Friday in September 1935, there would be an Endek “March on Przytyk” in order to drive out the Jews. On the designated day, the anti-Semites, in accordance with military fashion, barricaded the highway from Radom in several places in order to prevent police assistance from the district. However, the Jews also did not want to depend on the police. The already organized self-defense, whose spirited kernel consisted of approximately 20 men, armed themselves with brass knuckles, revolvers and sticks, had the ability to mobilize several hundred battle-ready and able Jews in case of need. (The writer of these lines was a leader of the self-defense.) The members received ample instruction about where to be and how to react to any possible provocation and conflict. It seems that those who were to march in Przytyk had proper information about our decision to launch resistance. At the last minute, they backed down from their plan…

We have to admit that many members of the P.P.S.[13]and ordinary liberal Poles helped a great deal with propaganda and explanations in fighting against the anti-Semitic pestilence in Przytyk and the region.

Yitzchak Friedman, Tel Aviv

{Photo page 7: The market in Przytyk.}

 

[Page 8]

The Przytyk Pogrom
(Fragment)

Jews actually perpetrated a pogrom against the gentiles in Przytyk! Did you know about that before now? We in Poland also did not know about it. Only now does the writ of accusation lay before my eyes, which comes to the conclusion that the Jews of Przytyk perpetrated a pogrom against the Christians! For months before the pogrom, the anguished and persecuted Przytyk Jews, who were afraid to appear with merchandise in the market, who were terrorized by every little “shegetzl[14]– those Przytyk Jews, on that well-known frightful day of March 9, during the fair when thousands of village farmers were present in town, attacked the Christians with sticks and iron bars. Not only did they beat them, but they also shot them several times. The Jews caused a pogrom through shooting and beating the gentiles.

{Photo page 8: Friends bidding farewell to Chaim Friedman on the occasion of his aliya to the Land of Israel –1930.}

The act for which they were accused began with the 14 Jews who sat in the dock of the accused. Those Jews indeed might have received harsh penalties. There was no word about the fact that they were forced to defend themselves, to protect themselves from a beastly crowd, from an incited mob which had already robbed and beaten and were prepared to murder. Of course, it is difficult to determine precisely when a person has a right to utilize the strongest means: at the beginning when one attacks him, when he still has the power and means to truly save himself from the wild attackers; or rather when he lays wounded, beaten and unable to move? Perhaps only then does he have the right to pick up a revolver? That is the question that the investigatory committee posed and about which they had to deliberate: Did those few Jewish youths shoot when the pogrom was already in progress, or prior to the onset of the pogrom. It was indeed unimportant if the pogromchiks had murdered the Minkowski family before or after the shooting. That the pogromchiks would have murdered in any case, if not the Minkowskis, is irrelevant. The writ of accusation stated that the pogromchiks were satisfied when they smelled the smell of Jewish blood, when they saw the blood sullied bodies

[Page 9]

of the Minkowskis, who could no longer be recognized.

What was in the writ of accusation against events in Przytyk? It began when several farmers rose up against the police and did not let them make order. It was logical, then that they would rise up against the events and present the image of a pogrom – against the wild, armed mob, against the agitators who incited and called people to pogroms and murder, who would attack the Jews and beat them in a true pogrom. It would later be told about how Jews tried to defend themselves, some with a revolver and some with a stick. The writer of the writ of accusation presented it as completely different. He dragged the Jews into the first plan. He placed those people, who were so brazen as to defend themselves, in the front, before all. The writ of accusation begins as follows: “The Jews Yankel Avraham Choberberg, Leizer Feldberg, Yankel Zajda, Rafael Honig, Moshe Furszt, Shaul Krengel, Moshe Cuker, Leib Lenge, Yitzchak Bande and Yitzchak Frajdman are accused that, simultaneous to the confrontation between the police and the farmers, they attacked the farmers who had began to return home. They beat them with sticks and with other instruments and threw stones at them. They thereby wounded Jozef Szimanski in the head, giving him a concussion. They wounded many other farmers, giving them bruises and sores.”

Soon they began to come out, turning over the dish[15] with their heads erect. As farmers began to flee from the market and return home, Jews began to beat them. Innocent lambs were attacked by wild, Jewish beasts, who did not let the lambs return home calmly and happily! That is what the Przytyk Jews did!

And we did not know what type of heroes we had in Przytyk!

Yaakov Lescinski

From the book “The Eve of the Destruction” – About Jewish life in Poland in 1935-1937. Published by the Central Organization of Polish Jews in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1951.

{Photo page 9: Friends bidding farewell to Chaim Friedman on the occasion of his aliya to the Land of Israel –1930.[16]}

 

[Page 10]

{Photo page 10: The funeral of Chaya Minkowski in Radom, 1936.}

 

In the Dwelling of the Minkowskis

I was led through the now famous Warsaw Lane in Przytyk, where the historical Monday played itself out.

The small houses on the lane were low and faded. They looked so poignant, marked with the newly installed washers. Before the eyes, one could see the newly installed shutters and doors. From the renovations, one realized that better off people had left here. One saw new washers and new shutters – a sign that here, people had things somewhat better. As one sees the new washers with the new shutters and new doors, it is a sign that people left here, as one says, “through the doors and the gates”.

The house in which the Minkowskis had lived was indeed completely renovated.

A daughter of the Minkowskis brought the key and opened for me the door of the home in which they had lived. I do not know why my eye rested upon the crushed straw that lay scattered around the bends. A bed sheet with streaks of blood was hanging on the wall. There was also a jacket of the Minkowskis that was splattered with blood, and on the floor – blood, blood, blood…. I could not take my eyes off the footsteps in the straw, apparently human steps made by boots, which had their effect. Things were so poignant here that the smallest scratch, even a crease, tells one about everything… hunger in the wild jungles, it came to my mind, I learned from the footsteps – the steps of the beasts: what type of struggle took place, where someone was devoured, where someone fled with the spoils. The footsteps in the jungle were indeed an open book. I also feel the same atmosphere here in Minkowski's room.

The room, as I recall, had three parts. One part was a broken table with beds, a broken door and windows. The second side, as it seems to me, was the peaceful side. There was the home life of the Minkowski family. I want to state the truth, that the second side had no less of an effect on me. I imagine:

[Page 11]

A noodle board was hanging on the wall, a poor, Jewish noodle board, with dark kneaded dough, certainly from coarse meal, for a pair of little cakes for the Sabbath. Furthermore, in the kitchen with the old-fashioned bedspread, there was a lantern and a beat-up washing basin. The Minkowski's daughter told me that the lantern was her brother's, which he used to come home from cheder. Now it stood with all four panes open…

And now the “ornaments” in the house: a towel container on the wall. A gypsum figure of a girl lay in the straw. The figure lay on it side and was smiling foolishly…

A piece of pipe was hanging on a wire in the room and crying out with such a black mouth, telling how it became broken in the middle.

There was the shoe workshop… A menacing fear raced forth from there. An awl with a prong lay on the table and … was waiting. For what? For boots? For leather? Who knows what the pointed tools are waiting for today?

A shoemaker's bench was twisted around with the three foot forms atop. Thus did it lie helpless, like a bound calf… It was saying: turn me right side up, and I will lie…

*

{Photo page 11: Keila Minkowski}

I had entered a wooden house immersed in hominess. A short, wrinkled, old woman was standing near the kitchen. The wrinkles were over her entire face, as if scratched by a thread – one by one…

This was not a deep episode of life. The years took their toll on her face as if on a tree.

The wife of a small-town Jewish tradesman knows all of the sorrows and joys of such a life. The 70-year-old Keila had a husband until not too long ago.

Since that day when her son was murdered, the face of the old women had hardened like a shell, and she could not move on from that difficult experience. She had wept so much that she wept constantly. Her mouth with the bare gums was half open. Her wrinkles on her face came from this alone. Her matted eyes were blinking, and one could not tell when she was weeping and when she was not.

What did I not want to ask her: how old was she, from what does she live on, how many children she has, whether she feels well – she looked at me with her straight, weeping eyes.

Is this a wonder? An axe had been placed before the old woman's eyes, an axe which will never go away. “Since”, she said, “they spoke about 'Sond', when her Yossele was murdered with an axe, the axe stands before my eyes. I wake up at night, and the axe falls upon me… I go into a corner – I see the axe. I go into the room with another pair of wooden sticks. I return to flee: I saw the axe…”

The little house where the murder took place stands nearby. The old women laments: “I cannot go at all to see Yossele's room. I set out for it ten times and my feet were unwilling to take me there, so I return…”

As her wrinkles, each one of which weeps separately, demonstrate to me, such an old woman will not merit that her child will make a request from his mother.

Sh. Bernlinski

(From the YIVO material)

 

[Page 12]

Personalities and Activists

 

Rabbi Yisrael Szapira of holy blessed memory

The rabbi of the city was the son of the rabbi of Koznice, a G-d fearing man. He fulfilled his task with honor. The entire city honored him because of his uprightness of heart and dedication. Like his father, he almost did not recognize the form of a coin. This world was as if it did not exist for him…

He loved to study mathematics, and was expert in algebra and geometry. He was of the lovers of Zion and desired to own land in the Land of Israel and redeem it from the Arabs. He knew every point and corner of the Holy Land. Each and every pathway was clear to him.

He delivered a sermon to the community on Shabbat Hagadol [17] each year. He always preached the love of one's fellow Jew and brotherliness. He called on people to live for their fellow.

His father-in-law was also a rabbi in Przytyk, who was the father of a generation of rabbis. One of them, Rabbi Chaim of holy blessed memory of Plock, was killed during the First World War as he was performing the ceremony of Sanctifying the Moon at the end of the Sabbath. He was accused of… spying.

Rabbi Yisrael Szapira was trampled by the Nazis, may their names be blotted out, along with a large portion of our people and the natives of our town.

 

Reb Danele Hoffman

He was short in height, always thinking, and immersed deeply in the supernal worlds. He was not too concerned about his clothing, even though he had the means. He was frugal and sensible, with a love for philosophy, for saying a good word which vividly displayed his sharp mind. He used to think up difficult mathematical problems and take them to the Polish intelligentsia in Przytyk, debate about the problems with them, deliberate – and would always emerge as the victor. This did not prevent him from delving into Talmud, studying a page of Gemara, and being an observant Jew.

The Jews as well as the Poles in the town would take Danele's advice into account, as well as his wisdom. They would listen to his words with full seriousness.

He was in the wood business. As is customary in this business, the higher earnings are not measured… However, everybody was certain of Danele's measures and honesty. Therefore, people would purchase from him and feel that they had not been taken advantage of.

If he would take out a loan from someone on occasion, he would give a promissory note to the lender even though everyone trusted that trusted him and did not demand such guarantees from him.

Reb Danele was a very prominent and sought after arbitrator in the town.

He was murdered by the Nazi murderers along with his large family.

 

Moshe Rivka Menucha's[18] (Soltis)[19]

Despite the fact that his family name was Pacanowski, and he filled the office of Soltis of the Jewish community of Przytyk, he was known in town as Moshe Rivka Menucha's. His honesty and dedication, as well as his willingness to help – were well known. He was always busy and occupied from 4:00 a.m. until late at night as the breadwinner for his family as well as with his communal work.

The First World War brought a misfortune to his entire family. The Cossacks were the murderers and the pillagers of his entire means. His very large manufacturing enterprise was completely emptied, and for many years thereafter it was difficult for him to get back on his feet.

Nevertheless, one could never see signs of anger on Reb Moshe's face.

The most difficult day of the week for Moshe was Monday, when the town was full of incoming farmers, merchants, tradesman and purchases from the near and far regions. He also had appointments with people from Przytyk itself. They, just like Reb Moshe, would wait for the market day to earn a livelihood fro the entire week…

The tax office for Przytyk was located 18 kilometers from the town, all the way in Radom, but its arms reached all the way here, especially to the Jewish population. An office staff and sequestrators worked intensively to embitter the lives of the Jews.

As Soltis, Reb Moshe had to escort the sequestrators and witness their struggle with the Jews. He would calm the mood to the extent that he could, and, most importantly, he would send timely information through his children about the impending visit of the officers.

Just as the fair day was for some people a joy or a hope for a good income, for Reb Moshe it was only tribulation and heart palpitations. He had to be the witness of brutal actions, at which the last bit of merchandise was confiscated from a poor Jew.

Still now, it is difficult for me to understand from where Reb Moshe drew his strength and perseverance for such a difficult task. If he succeeded in having a decree repealed or in helping a Jew in trouble – there would be a happy, joyous smile on his face.

M. Honig, Tel Aviv

 

[Page 13]

{Photo page 13: In the Przytyk Ghetto, 1941. Reb Mendel Melcmacher with his son-in-law Yaakov Plant and their families.}

 

The Destruction of Przytyk

Rosh Hashanah, 1939

A truck laden with German soldiers set out from Radom. After a long drive, the driver asked some gypsies on the street whether the road was cleared. After receiving a positive answer, they continued on their way in the direction of Przytyk. The Germans, like the gypsies did not know that the bridge had been destroyed. The truck overturned when they reached there, and a number of soldiers were injured or even killed. Those that succeeded in saving themselves and reaching Przytyk were quickly convinced a Pole by the name of Janek, a military man by profession, that the Jews were responsible for the deaths of the Germans. They commanded the Jews to gather in the Beis Midrash. That military man continued on to torture the elderly Jews, women and the ill, dragging tallises and cutting their beards. Finally, a fine of 80,000 zloty was imposed on the Jews, which was to be paid within a few days. Several Jews were arrested as guarantors that the sum would be paid.

After some time, the Germans established a Judenrat consisting of David Rywa, Shemayahu Schmedri, Ezriel Bornsztajn, Yaakov Leib Zajda, Chaim Aharon Berkowicz, Moshe Reuven (the father-in-law of Rivka “Di Hoykerin” (the Barker)), and others.

The Judenrat set the liquidation of the military man as its first objective. The shoemaker Moshe Reuven and the tailor Mordechai Honig gave a pair of boots and a suit as a gift to the German captain – and he sent Gestapo men to Janek, who found two passports in his possession, one German and one Russian. Of course, these passports were placed there by the Jews to ensnare him. The operation was crowned with success.

Despite the liquidation of this collaborator, the Germans did not cease to torment the steps of the Jews through decrees, beatings, forced labor and murder. The Judenrat provided the Germans with butter, eggs, fruit and sums of money in order to ease the situation of the Jews – but this did not help very much.

Things continued in this manner until March 5, 1941. On that day, the Jews were commanded to leave the town and to spread out in the nearby region. They were forbidden to move to Radom, Warsaw or Lublin. All the Jews of Przytyk, along with the refugees who had arrived in 1939, were deported to 30 towns and settlements in the Radom district. After that an additional German decree came. The Jews were to gather in Przysucha and Szydłowiec. Many of the Jews understood that the meaning of this gathering was a deportation to Treblinka.

Related by Shifra Friedman of Paris
Recorded by Mendel Honig

 

[Page 14]

The Destruction of the Jews of Przytyk

… Out of the general population of 3,500 residents, approximately 2,700 Jews (625 families, and approximately 300 refugees) lived in Przytyk in 1941. The occupation authorities ordered that the entire population that lived in Przytyk and its surrounding 160 villages, without exception, must leave their current places of residence by March 5th, 1941. That expulsion was connected with the decision of the Wehrmacht to create a military training field in that region on the left bank of the Wisla, related to the preparations for the invasion of the Soviet Union. The expulsion aktion of the Jewish community was conducted by the Przytyk Judenrat together with the district provincial division of the Radom Judenrat, having been ordered to do so by the Hitlerist authorities.

… Jews who had the means left Przytyk on their own accord, going to relatives of acquaintances in other towns. On the other hand, the poor people literally had nowhere to go. On April the 2nd, 1941, the Judenrat, having been ordered to do so by the Hitlerists who were anxious to hasten the completion of the expulsion, provided the Przytyker poor people with “directions”. The expulsion from Przytyk ended almost one month after the Germans had planned.

The Jewish population of Przytyk was deported to the following places: Białobrzegi (53 families), Przysucha (108), Skaryszew (46), Wyśmierzyce (40), Wiezszbyca (28)[20], Wolanów (27), Zwoleń (24), Kazanów (26), Jedlińsk (30), as well as to Stromiec and Gniewoszów.

 

The Hitlerists in Poland Take Interest in the Jewish Opposition in Przytyk in the Year 1936

The fighting traditions of the Jewish populist masses in the Radom District, together with their determined stance during the era of the anti-Semitic Pogroms of Przytyk organized by the Sanacja regime during the 1930s, were known by the occupiers and caused them discomfort. The Hitlerist authorities were especially concerned about the Jewish self-defense activities in Przytyk in 1936, during the well-known anti-Semitic pogrom. It was completely non-accidental that during the second half of January 1942, and also immediately after the well-known conference in Berlin, the Nazi authorities of the Generalgouvernement in Krakow began to take interest in the matter of Przytyk. The available documents strengthened our conviction that prior to preparing the large scale annihilation of the Jews, the occupiers decided to investigate the sources, the driving force, leadership, conditions and reasons for the Jewish self-defense in Przytyk, in order to apply the non-verbal means at the appropriate time so as to inhibit the organization of Jewish self-defense, not only in the Radom region but throughout the Generalgouvernement. Any other attempt to explain the interest of the occupiers in the history of the Jewish settlement in Przytyk during that time, at the end of January 1942, leads nowhere, since at that time there were no Jews in the town. As we have already mentioned, the last Jews were driven out of their hometown in March 1941.

From the remaining fragmented documents, we can infer that the Hitlerist rulers requested from Josef Diament, who worked for the governor of the Radom District, that he deliver the Przytyk material of interest through the means of the presidium Jewish Social Self-Assistance in Krakow. The telephone conversation between the chairman of the J.S.S. in Krakow (Magister Sztern) and Radom (Magister Winer) did not produce any results, for in Radom, they did not at all understand the motivation of the Germans, since there had not been any Jews in Przytyk for a long time. It appears that the occupiers quickly obtained the material of interest, for already on February 2, 1942, the presidium of the J.S.S. in Krakow informed Y. Diamant about what the Hitlerists wanted…

In any case, the well-known events of Przytyk that were dug up by the occupiers at the beginning of 1942, took on a distinct expression and testified to Hitlerists' panicky fear of a possible uprising of the Jewish masses…

(From A. Rotkowski's article in “Bulletin of the Jewish Historical Institute”, Warsaw, July-December 1955, numbers 16-51: “Martyrology, Struggle, and Destruction of the Jewish Population in the Radom District during the Hitlerist Occupation”.)

 

[Page 15]

A letter from the leadership of the Przytyk Municipal Council
to the Organization of Przytyk Natives in Israel.
[21]

Chairman's Office 28th Oct, 1963
National Council  
Przytyk's Branch  

In reply to your letter dated 16th June 1963, this is to kindly inform you that due to the holiday period, we are only now in a position to offer help with regards to the materials and documents that you require.

We are treating this matter with the utmost regard and shall begin to gather the materials with agility. The Culture section of the council has formed the Editorial Committee, which comprises: the chairman of the council citizen Stanislaw Czechowski, the manager of the Culture section citizen Genowefa Wojcicka (the chairman of the Editorial Committee), councilor Doctor Jozef Erben Holan, the chairman of the Parish Cooperative citizen Mieczyslaw Wojcicki and the deputy chairman citizen Jozef Trzos, and editor Jerzy W. Helbich (former councilor at the HQ of the Ministry of Culture and Arts in Warsaw). Materials relating to the martyrdom of Przytyk Jews during the occupation will be provided by the eye witnesses. We propose three chapters:

  1. History of the Przytyk settlement
  2. Martyrdom of Przytyk Jews (up to 1945)
  3. The new Przytyk (1945 to 1963).

We shall keep you informed of progress. We propose to publish a self contained leaflet, please provide approval, in three languages: Polish, Hebrew and English. This will be funded by the monies sent by the Przytyk Society in Israel.


Please keep in touch.
Genowefa Wojcicka

{Translator's notes: By the way, G.S. refers to Gmina Spoldzielcza, which is a local authority.}

{Photo page 15: Przytyk natives meeting in Tel Aviv (1954) with fellow natives of the town visiting from the Diaspora: Chaim Maltzmacher and Mrs. Schneider from London.}

 

[Page 16]

{Photo page 16: Przytyk natives in France next to the memorial monument for the martyrs of Przytyk in the Paris cemetery.}

Plan of the book:

History of Przytyk

Between the Two World Wars (general overview; factions, movements, groups and organizations; religions and communal life; personalities and institutions; pictures)

The Events of 1936

The Holocaust Period

Przytyk After the Liberation

Przytyk Natives in the Diaspora and in Israel

Family Memorials

Members of the committee: Dvora Burstyn (Zaltzschirer), Chaim Gill (Gelibter), the lawyer Meir Shapira, Gedalyahu Bleicher, Yitzchak Friedman, Mendel Honig

Editor of the book: D. Shtokfish


Translator's Footnotes

  1. The top of this page is in Hebrew. The bottom part is the same message in Yiddish, but with a slightly different terminology. Therefore, I decided to translate the Yiddish in full as well. Return
  2. A derogatory term for a Jew. Return
  3. In the text the name is spelled Lasky, whereas in the photo caption it is spelled Lasko. Return
  4. Literally 'wooden', but I have interpreted this in its industrial sense. Return
  5. Note the difference from the previously quoted source. Upon looking it up on an atlas, it seems that the second source is more accurate. Return
  6. Charles or Karl XII. Return
  7. I have not been able to identify this word. Return
  8. I looked up this word on the web, and it is indeed found in some contexts. It seems to mean a person who is obsessed by percentages of interest and therefore stingy with his money. Return
  9. Hachsharah is a program for practical preparation for aliya. Return
  10. A far right wing, anti-Semitic political party. Return
  11. Members of the Sanacja Party. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanacja Return
  12. I was unable to identify these towns, except for Nowe Miasto. Return
  13. Polish Socialist Party. Return
  14. The diminutive of the derogatory term “sheigetz”, meaning a gentile (literally, a disgusting thing). Return
  15. A Yiddish expression. Return
  16. Although the caption is equivalent, the photo is different from that of page 8. Return
  17. The Sabbath prior to Passover. Return
  18. This form of matrynomic nickname was common in Jewish Poland at the time. It means Moshe the son of Rivka Menucha. Return
  19. A 'Soltis' is a type of town leader who would serve as an intermediary between the Jews and the authorities. Return
  20. I could not identify this locality. All other localities in this list were identifiable. Return
  21. The letter on this page is in Polish. The translation, including the translator's note at the bottom, was provided by Beata Matusik. The top caption before this footnote marker and the bottom photo caption were in Hebrew and Yiddish, translated by Jerrold Landau. Return

Table of Contents


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