by Golda & Pesach Moscovitch
Translated by Sara Mages
The postal service completely stopped close to the Nazi invasion of Raciaz. The Nazis prevented any contact between the Jews and the outside world. It is necessary to note this fact: four days before the expulsion of the community of Raciaz, convoys of Jews from Sierpc, Bieżuń and Żuromin, passed by the outskirts of the city, and none of us knew about it or imagined the magnitude of the disaster.
The Yellow Star
Usually, the Nazis imposed decrees and humiliations during the Jewish holidays to increase the insult and the pain. On Hoshana Rabbah [the last day of Sukkot], at five o'clock in the evening, they rounded up all the Jews, men, women and children, in the city's market square. The SS men approached each one of them and pinned a yellow star on his lapel. The size of the patch was - 5 by 4 centimeters. The name Jude was stitched in Jewish black letters in the middle of the patch. As the Nazis pinned the yellow star they threatened: Anyone who removes this patch - outside in the street - will be shot! The Jews were also forbidden to walk on the sidewalks. Anyone who disobeyed - was punished by brutal beatings. My sister's son, a ten year old boy, tells Golda, didnít know about this disgraceful decree and walked on the sidewalk and not on the market square. It was the day after the decree of the yellow star. An SS man passed by, and when he saw that the boy was breaking the law, he stopped his motorcycle, jumped like an evil beast on the boy, and slapped him twice on his face.
In addition to the torture inflicted by the SS men, that Mr. Altus already told earlier, we must add: that during the ten weeks that Raciaz's Jews were under the Nazi occupation, we had to report every day before the SS with brooms in our hands and sweep the streets. We were also recruited for agricultural work in the neighboring Christian estates, because the Nazis confiscated their crops. The Jewish work was conducted under the supervision of the Nazis, and it's easy to imagine the suffering of the Jewish workers at that time. Even when they confiscated Strogovsky's dairy with all of its produce - they were assisted by the Jews. Every morning they forced the workers to start the work day with the humiliating and depressing song: I am a Jew pig!
The Polish population in Raciaz referred to the suffering of the Jews with the utmost indifference. There were individuals who showed some sympathy to the Jews from a patriotic or humane point of view. There were also isolated instances of real solidarity. A few hours before the deportation, Raciaz's Gentiles brought
the Jews provisions for the road. Also, several Jews, who trusted the Poles, left some of their possessions in their hands. When the war ended, they came to them and they returned the deposited property to their owners.
On Yom Kippur, the evil Nazis cut the beard of the city's rabbi, Dov Berish Neufeld zl, and forced him to drink libation wine. In addition to the torture and the cruel treatment that Altus told earlier, we should also mention this sadistic practice: the son of Elhanan Kolnierz zl was chubby and short, and also Kinster's son-in-law was fat and heavy. The villains placed one on top of the other, and forced them to crawl on all four around the market square to their satanic laughter.
The Jewish activities during the invasion
A committee was organized in Raciaz during the Nazi occupation. Its role was to provide mutual aid to the needy and to those who were affected economically, and to organize a group of young people (about eighty) who would agree to go to work in place of the sick and the old.
The committee members were: Mordechai Goldberg zl, Pesach Moscovitch May he lives a long life, Chain Leizer Berkowich zl, Yoel Lipa Friedman zl. They also planned a revolt by force and arms against the Nazis, but by the time they were ready for real action - we were expelled from the town.
Pages about Plonsk from the Ringelblum Archives
Translated by Sara Mages
The following section was received from the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw. These worn-out pages were written in Yiddish by an unknown person, who apparently arrived to the Warsaw Ghetto from Plonsk. The pages were concealed in the Ringelblum Archives, together with all the archive's material, until it was discovered after the war. Unfortunately, a large number of pages were damaged, and many, if not most, were totally lost. Below is the translation of the eleven pages, some are incomplete (because they were found damaged when they were removed from their hiding place). Their main importance is their authenticity. The missing or damaged places are marked by dashes or completed within parentheses.
Page 1: 13 July. At two o'clock at night a raid was held in Plonsk and all the people were brought to the square. There about four hundred Gestapo men surrounded us holding clubs in their hands. Each (of the Jews) was searched and checked if he had a document. Those who didnít have a document in their hands were ordered to stand on one side and the Gestapo men stood on the other side and everyone was forced to pass between these rows and during the act received murderous blows from their clubs, they tripped him so he would fall and those of us - - -
Page 2: They transferred us to Ponyhovsk in trucks. When we arrived to Ponyhovsk they put 165 people in one room. The stuffiness and the overcrowding were terrible and we also didnít get food for three days. People fell and died of hunger. On the fourth day they brought a barrel of water, and everyone ran to get some water. Then several people were shot, later the police was brought - - -
Page 3: We suffered terrible torture. It is impossible to describe it. Many people became ill with diarrhea from the torture and from the lack of food, Melech handed all the sick to the Gestapo and demanded money, those who had no money, were shot, and so was shot the woman Yenta Prost, Dvora Balaban, Miriam Fant, Rachel Heler and Zitrinowski a seventeen year old boy. All of them came from Raciaz (it was originally written - Ratnwanz - the editor) later - - on the - - with - - the sick and those who - -
Page 4: They gave everything they had and they let them go. Two children were taken from the Akelelit (probably a mistake - the editor). He gave 10 Marks and all of his belongings and they let them go.
The young woman, Etka Yoliart, was given by the commander of the 9th hall, a Jew named Tame, to the Gestapo because she had fever. But because she defended herself well, said that she wasn't sick, just hungry, to let her eat --- she told them and she was given---
Page 5: They raped the girls and later beat them with great brutality. Every day the Gestapo man Schultz took the men into the yard and did all sorts of exercises with them. Once he ordered to bring him fifteen men to dig a pit. Immediately he was given fifteen men. He ordered them to dig a pit large enough for fifty people. The pit was dug and for the slightest offense a person was shot and thrown into the pit which was not covered until there were 50 people inside it. Among those who were shot were - - - Itzke Danziker - - - - Shtat from Drobnin - - - Hena Vrobel, Burstein - - - Neta from Nowy Dwór. And so - - every day, and the worst was.
Page 6: At nightfall. Then they entered with clubs in their hands and beat right and left, and then they shot through the windows. Once at night, a woman who had to relieve herself went out. A Gestapo man stopped her and asked her where she was going at night, When she told him that she was going to relieve herself, he replied: well, Iíll show you, brought her to a darkened room and in the morning he ordered two young men to dig a pit. - - the young men were - - from Raciaz. When the - - and ordered the woman - - - the woman wept bitterly and asked: let me live, after all I have children, why do I deserve this? But nothing helped. The two young men were forced to obey the command and it was the woman Karash from Nowy Dwór.
Page 7: Every day when people relieved themselves different scenes occurred. A pit 10 meters long was dug and men and women sat naked together and were forced to sing and later dance and they threw stones at them, and so it went on for several hours every day.
The Gestapo man gathered - - - and asked what - - - at night when they stand on guard - - - big to shoot - - - they don't go - - - enough people.
Page 8: On his conscience and suddenly he is afraid of the dogs and so he shoots. Once they brought two wagons with food packages from Plonsk, and Shlomo Fuks came to distribute the packages. The police chief Melech took a number of packages for himself. Fuks didnít let him and Melech gave him a slap on the face, so Fuks ordered to return the wagons and not to distribute the packages. When he returned to Plonsk there was an outcry: why didnít he distribute the packages. Fuks told them about everything that was happening in the camp - - - the Gestapo from Plonsk - - - Ratt according to the name - - - from Ponyhovsk and they brought - - - to Plonsk, there
Page 9: they gave him sever beating, and he gave the names of all of those who were shot and those who were going to be shot.
They hung him because of this sin and since then the situation became a little easier. On the third day a German committee came and questioned everyone. We approached and - - - or to release. The food ration consisted of one hundred grams of bread a day and some water and later the ration was reduced to fifty grams. The committee answered that - - - we can dismiss, the Jews send - - - to release you soon - - - in two weeks - - - they informed us.
Page 10: - - - that we will clean the floors and the yard because they were going to release us today. At 6 o'clock about three hundred wagons came. We were ordered to go out into the yard and everyone had to pass through a narrow doorway and then they beat us with great cruelty. And so it continued until 11 o'clock at night, later they searched for all the old people, fed them pork sausage and asked them if they have any complaints against the Germans. Then the wagons were ordered to move from their places. So we traveled under heavy guard until seven kilometers from Legyonovo, there - - - and was revealed to us - - - horror - - - already shouted - - - the first wagons, the nights
Page 11: Increased. We thought that they would burn all of us. When we got closer they ordered us to get off the wagons and burnt everything that was in the wagons, they beat us and ordered us to run fast to Warsaw and those who couldnít run fast were shot and burned. The woman Markowitch from Warsaw was burnt, Moshe Kashinski and Mendel Schweiger from Nowy Dwór were shot. After we ran without - - - through the fields we arrived to a different - - - immediately they gave us - - - with clubs, that - - - later on from Legyonovo - - - they brought to Warsaw. And - - - the police who - - - (the pages end here - the editorial board).
Few details about the death camp in Ponyhovsk were also given by other witnesses, and also the name of the Jewish police chief, Melech, was mentioned in other places. Also the fact that the same traitor was brought to Plonsk, and was killed by the Jews, is confirmed by the testimony of others. Unfortunately, no one knows what happened to the owner of these pages, presumably, he arrived to Warsaw where he gave his pages to the Ringelblum Archives for safe keep. From all indications, he was a simple man who wrote his words directly and without literary pretension. We can draw this conclusion from the fact that there are very few punctuation marks, and during the translation [from Yiddish to Hebrew] it was necessary to arrange the sentences by their logical order. (The editorial board)
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