Louis Hertzberg the man and warm Jew
The Hertzberg family was well known in Proshnitz. The head of the family,
Abraham Aba, was, in the main, a grain merchant who exported grain and wool to
Danzig. This, in those years, was something of a rarity. He was a Gerer Chasid,
a learned man, married to a woman from a famous family in Lomza, whose maiden
name was Chava Yelin. They had seven children, three sons and four daughters.
The father died at an early age, leaving the children's education in the hands
of his young widow.
One of the sons, Leibl (Louis), stayed in Proshnitz until his eighteenth year.
Then, not seeing any possibility of his ever becoming independent, and likewise
realizing that he would never gain any intellectual satisfaction in the
conditions under which he lived, he decided in 1905 to go to America. On
arriving there, his lot was similar to that of many other Jewish immigrants of
the time, not knowing "from where the help would come." His mother,
who had stayed in Proshnitz with the other six-orphaned children, would send
him money from time to time in order to help him manage in the "Golden
Land" until such time as he would be able to make his own way.
Louis's first job, in America was in an ice factory. He would arrive at work
while it was still dark, help prepare the ice, then harness horse to cart, load
the produce, and deliver it to shops and private homes until late at night.
From this alone he was not able to make a living, so he augmented his income by
delivering ice cream to shops.
In his letters home to his mother, brothers, and sisters Louis never complained
about his position. He had knowingly and of his own free will, gone to America,
leaving behind his mother and family with a steady income from the
well-established business. Often, while lying in bed at night after a hard
day's work, he would cast his mind back to the quiet town, where life went on
with a steady rhythm, sedately; the whole town would be sunk in a deep slumber,
dreaming sweet dreams, while he was here in the noise, living in a boiling
cauldron, where man had become a machine, active day and night without a stop.
"There's no room for sentiment here," he was told by his
acquaintances in his new surroundings.
Jews have a saying that it isn't businesslike to be regretful, so he therefore
he must follow the example set by many Jewish immigrants who had come before
him and become independent by his own effort. Using some of his hard-earned
savings, he took over an ice factory and after a short while he had enough
capital to invest in several other ice factories, which, in those days, were
Forty years ago, already being a businessman with experience, he realized that
mechanization was becoming important and that ice put in ice-chests would soon
be replaced by refrigerators. He therefore sold all his factories in good time
to make a considerable profit, and with businesslike foresight coupled with his
youthful energy he became involved in the beer industry. He bought a brewery
and by the time his children grew up and were able to help him in the business,
he already owned a chain of breweries in several cities throughout America.
Louis's success did not go to his head and he always kept his mother and family
in mind, sending them large sums of money with which his mother was able to
support many worthy charities in Proshnitz. The whole town knew that Chava
Hertzberg helped all institutions willingly. His love and esteem for his mother
was sincere. It is said that, more often than not, when he was about to
undertake a new business venture, he would consult his mother beforehand,
knowing that her advice would be correct.
When the Jewish state was declared, he was awakened, as were many other Jewish
Capitalists, by an urge to help in the upbuilding of the new State. Several
well-known wine producers from Israel came to America to interest the
capitalists there in investing in Israel. There were also proposals to start
breweries in Israel. Louis Hertzberg was made such a proposition, to which he
reacted positively. Notwithstanding the difficulties of the time, he helped
build the brewery named Abir which today stands overlooking the
Tel-Aviv-Natanya highway, not for the profit involved, but to provide an
industry for Jewish workers.
On his arrival in Israel for the first time, he immediately looked for
compatriots from Proshnitz, spending a large sum on the newly opened Gmilut
Chesed Fund, which gave Interest-free loans, and where one could borrow several
hundred pounds without difficulty. As acknowledgement for his actions the fund
was renamed after his mother: "Gmilut Chesed Fund in the name of the late
The brewery progressed quickly, earning a good name for its product, and at the
same time becoming renowned for the sound relations between management and
Louis Hertzberg came to Israel every year and would visit the factory daily,
taking a personal interest in the life of the workers, helping wherever
possible in order that they could settle in quickly and comfortably, acting
like a father in the interests of every single person. It is needless to
mention that he helped all his family here, both close and distant, to find
living-quarters and work.
His sudden death in 1960 while on a visit to Israel caused great sorrow to
those who came in contact with him, both people in his family and those in the
factory. It was as though a close family member had been taken from them. The
Proshnitzer Society suffered the loss greatly, as the Hertzberg family's good
name came from the days of Proshnitz through its new home in America to Israel.
His children in America, Ben and Abe, have perpetuated their father's name by
donating new equipment to the Laboratory of the Heart Ward at
"Hadassah" hospital in Jerusalem. The ward carries the name of the
late Louis Hertzberg. Respect for the father's good deeds was also expressed by
his sons when they were approached by the Committee of the Proshnitzer Society
to help establish a memorial to the Jews of Proshnitz who met their death at
the hands of Hitler's hordes, which was to be in the form of a "Yizkor
Book." They also ordered an additional sum of money to be spent on a
memorial to their unforgettable father, Louis Hertzberg.
The Book Committee expresses its warmest thanks to the brothers BENJAMIN and
ABRAHAM HERZBERG of New York, the sons of the well known Proshnitzer citizen
and philanthropist, the late LOUIS HERZBERG, for their unstinted financial
assistance, without which this book could not have been published.
Shlomo Bachrach / Givatayim
Proshnitz Jews in the First World War
Proshnitz was at a distance of 31 Verst from Chorshal on the East Prussian
border. The outbreak of the war was keenly felt in Proshnitz. Soldiers of all
kinds passed through the city on their way to, the Front. They would ask how
far it was to Berlin. The Russian army entered Eastern Germany, capturing
several cities, and prepared itself to march on Berlin. After a strong
counter-attack by the German army, the Russian line was broken. Part of the
Russian army was taken prisoner, while other sections managed to escape in
great disorder. The fleeing Russian soldiers looted Jewish shops and plundered
Jewish homes. They beat up Jews, blaming them for spying for Germany. The town
was steeped in a somber mood. Proshnitz changed hands several times and, in the
process, was brought to utter ruins.
Several days before Passover, 1915, Nikolai Nikolaievitch (the uncle of the
Russian Czar Nikolai II) issued an edict, whereby, in the process of 24 hours
all Jews in Proshnitz were ordered to leave the town. The day was a Friday, the
eve of the Shabbat Hagadol. The news of the expulsion spread quickly. The
Jewish carters from Tchechanow immediately set out for Proshnitz to help their
poorer brethren save what they could in the short time. The rich Jews had
previously fled to Warsaw. At that time the Jews from Chorzel and Yanow were
also in Proshnitz, all having left their homes several months before.
The return of the carters was impatiently awaited in Tchechanow. The beadle,
Shlomo, made his rounds calling everyone to the Synagogue. All the shops had
been closed for Shabbat. The Shabbat candles could already be seen twinkling
through the windows. As was his custom, Reb Yosef Perlmuter went around the
streets and back-alleys with his own beadle, Yaakov Dantes, crying: "Bless
the candles! It's late.
Light the candles!"
In the deep stillness of the Friday night, the sound of the returning wagons
could be heard. Without giving much thought to the matter, the carters made
their way directly to the Shtiblach of the Chasidim, where they put the
Proshnitz Jews with all their goods and chattels. There was no shortage of
food. The Tchechanower women had brought much to eat fish, meat, chalot and tea
for the homeless. The carters immediately set out again for Proshnitz with the
intention of bringing back all the fugitives by the following night.
A group of young Zionists and others with no political leaning formed a
committee to help the Proshnitz refugees and many of the homeless found
accommodation in private homes as a result.
The committee supplied coupons for food and every family received an allowance
according to its needs. Money was raised in quite an original way.
"Offerings" from amongst those who studied in the prayer-houses were
used as a ransom for the refugees so that they would not have to go hungry on
Passover eve. Promises of money from those called to read from the Torah and
ordinary donations were collected by members of the committee. Shopkeepers
supplied sugar and tea. These intensive measures ensured that the Proshnitz
Jews had all they needed. It was two days before Passover and the refugees were
to be given all that they needed for the festival. Yentcha and Chana Chava
Roboth gave their ovens for the baking of matzot. Yechezkiel Frombka heated the
oven all night to make it kosher for Passover. The millers gave flour; wood
merchants gave wood and the baking of matzot went on from morning till night.
Tanchum Makover was in touch with Chaim Eliezer the butcher about meat. Mendel
Greenbaum supplied wine and Beinush Konskowalski brought potatoes.
There were also old and infirm people amongst the Proshnitz refugees. In
Tchechanow there were no doctors since they had all been conscripted at the
outbreak of war. There was only an old-time barber-surgeon, Nachum Rosen, and
he helped out day and night on an honorary basis. In difficult cases it was
sometimes possible to 'catch' an army doctor, who would willingly examine a
patient and write out a prescription, with which the committee could buy the
necessary medicine at the pharmacy.
While the refugees from Proshnitz were in Tchechanow, a visit was paid by the
famous writer and editor of the Petrograd Yiddish newspaper "Der
Freind" S. Anski. He had been delegated by the "Jewish Help
Organization for war sufferers" in Moscow. He had already visited several
cities where he had launched similar local aid organizations for war victims.
He also decided on sums of money, which could be used in these schemes. While
in Tchechanow he checked the books and lists of refugees whose number by then
had reached 600 souls.
After he heard a report by the committee members, it was decided that each
family should receive money and supplies according to its size. To this end,
Anski fixed the sum of 650 rubles a month, apart from a separate one-time
amount for the weak and underprivileged. The refugees organized themselves and
little by little began to make their own living. A "Talmud Torah" was
set up for the children in the Women's section of the Synagogue. German planes
would bomb the city from time to time. During one of the raids a bomb fell on
the roof of the Synagogue. It penetrated the roof and ceiling and landed on the
floor of the women's section where the children of the Proshnitz refugees
received lessons. The bomb did not explode and it was taken away by an army man.
The religious people saw this incident as a miracle from Heaven. Tchechanow was
near the Russian-German border, and there was fear in the city that there might
be direct war activities in its domain. The Russian military personnel in the
city, especially the officers, bullied the Jewish inhabitants and treated them
with open hatred. Despite this the Jews of Tchechanow had not hesitated in
taking in the Proshnitz Jews.
However, the Russians were also conquered. At the end of the summer of 1915,
the Germans broke through the Front and the Russians were forced to retreat
from Congress Poland. But previous to this, there had been battles around
Proshnitz and other cities in the area. When the German Army marched in, the
Jews congratulated each other and blessed the fact that they had gotten rid of
the Cossacks. Proshnitz came under German rule, which, despite all its cruelty,
was yet a far cry from the Nazi monster. At that time the Germans were
considered Saviors of the Polish people, as those responsible for gaining her
freedom, and as such they allowed communal and cultural existence, a thing,
which had been prohibited under the Czarist power. As against this, the
economic position of the Proshnitz Jews who had meanwhile returned to their
city, was very poor. The German occupiers confiscated everything they came
across: food, leather and all kinds of other materials. Trade was almost
paralyzed. The Germans placed on the Jewish community an incommutable war
payment, as if the Jews had been responsible for the war
and despite this
the Jews still felt safer under German occupation than they had under the
Russians. The Yiddish language was of great help in their communication with
the Germans. In the course of time, organizations and Parties sprang up in the
city, such as the Zionist Organization, Mizrachi, Poale Zion, Bund, etc.
In general it can be said that although, on the one hand, the German occupation
caused a crisis in trade, unemployment and poverty, it nevertheless made
possible the existence for Jewish youth and Organizations of a wide range of
party and cultural activity. These activities became deeper and more involved
later in free Poland until the demise of the Jews in Poland at the hands of the
However, poverty in the city increased. Sources of income from trade and work
were blocked. Women and children whose breadwinners were in America, England
and other countries west of the sea, suffered from hunger and need, because the
men who were in the countries at war with Germany could send no money. The
Community and other Jewish institutions were helpless in their efforts for the
needy. The majority of Jews was pleased when the Germans left Poland.
Poland proclaimed its independence, but the Jews were overcome by fright when
they saw young Poles armed with rifles. The Pollacks, together with their
revenge on the Jews as soon as the Germans would leave Poland, and they tried
to carry out their threats. Indeed, as soon as Poland was freed, pogroms broke
out and attacks were made on Jews in Warsaw and many other places. The height
of these bloody anti-Semitic outbursts was reached with the terrible pogrom in
Lemberg at the end of 1918. Most of the Polish newspapers, apart from the
Workers' paper "Robotnik" urged, in their patriotic articles for
Polish independence and also incited the public against the Jews by means of
various imagined charges and false blood accusations.
In 1919 there were elections to City Councils throughout Poland, among them the
Proshnitz Council. But, because of the anti-Jewish terror in the country and
the dictated mood of the Jews in the city, only Poles were elected to the
Council. A struggle between the Jewish parties and the electoral lists ensued
in every Council election. There were election meetings in Synagogues, in Party
club premises and in open market places, the mass meetings were attended by
speakers, active party members from Warsaw and other cities. Sharp discussion
and even argument was quite rife at these meetings, which sometimes ended in
In the war between Poland and the Bolsheviks which broke out in January, 1920,
the Polish economy, already weakened by the German occupation, suffered yet
another blow. Poverty was increased due to inflation and this was especially
felt in the cities and towns. Apart from this, the Jews suffered persecution,
pogroms, murder raids and robbery at the hands of the armed Polish soldiers.
The Polish press blamed the Jews for everything. They were labeled as
"Bolshevik speculators and enemies of the country," and even received
the blame for the war. The "Halertchikes" became famous at that
time. The soldiers in General Haler's army went around cutting off Jewish
beards with scissors, swords, or even tearing them out with their hands. They
delighted in throwing Jews out of moving trains.
Among the Jews who then emigrated from Poland, there were also some from
Proshnitz, who by that time, had much practical experience in ways of
emigration gained from Russian times. Once more the men went first-fathers of
families together with youths. The first Proshnitz Jews emigrated in the years
1901-1905. For the later emigrants from Poland conditions were better in the
countries overseas since those who had gone before them paved the way and
helped them in their initial absorption.
The Jews in Proshnitz
It in difficult to document the exact beginning of Jewish life in Proshnitz. It
can, however, be presumed that Proshnitz was not among the first of the Jewish
centers in Mazovia. It is not mentioned anywhere among the Jewish centers which
existed in Mazovia between 1350 and 1500.
A difference must be pointed out between Proshnitz in general and Jewish
Proshnitz. It is accepted that the town was founded at the beginning of the
thirteenth century. Its name appears in connection with Jews only much later.
The first mention of Proshnitzer Jews was made in the year 1569 when King
Zygmund gave his friend, Stanislaw Olshevskin a gift of 50 Zlotys out of the
Jewish taxes, which were collected from twenty-three cities in outer Poland and
Mazovia. Mentioned among the towns are Plotzk, Mlawa, Plonsk and Tchechanow.
Proshnitz is not specifically mentioned here because, at that time, the Jews
had been driven out of there and the Dominicans had built a church on the
place, which had been used for Jewish worship. This is an authentic fact, which
seems to be more unclear than clear. If the Jews had been driven out of
Proshnitz, then surely this is a sign that they had been there some time
before. Several questions can therefore be raised. In what year did Jews first
arrive in Proshnitz? Why and when were they expelled-while at the same time
they were still living in other places? These questions remain unanswered,
especially since the State archives, which dealt with Jewish life in Poland,
were destroyed by the Nazis.
Jews later settled all over Mazovia and particularly in Proshnitz, as they did
in other parts of Poland. The reasons are several, for instance, the political
independence of Mazovia, the economic retardation and the hostility of the
Catholic Church. The immigration of Jews to Poland began at the time of its
devastation at the hands of the Tartars, during the latter half of the 13th and
the beginning of the 14th Centuries. Mention is made of Jews in Mazovia in the
13th century. By the 15th century, Jews were already living in every large
center in Mazovia. It seems that Proshnitz was also included. It was famous for
its fairs and horse-trading. Jews were the main factor in these fairs. It can
be estimated that from the year 1578, Jews were living in Proshnitz.
The 409th and 410th decrees of the Ukrainian anti-Semite, Chmelnitzki, applied
to the Jewish settlements in Mazovia, but did not reach all of them. The
Cossack hordes did not get to Tchechanow and its surrounding districts, The
Jews in that area suffered enough from the local anti-Semite Stefan
Tcharnietzki, who organized Pogroms on them, following the second
Polish-Swedish war. The Jewish communities of Tchechanow and Lipna were wiped
out by his bands. There is no information about Proshnitz at that time. It is
possible that the Jews of Proshnitz managed to escape in time, waiting out the
bad period in other places.
The Proshnitz community was not directly represented on the "Four States
Committee' which was the highest independent administrative body of the Jews in
Poland from 1580 until 1764. Proshnitz came under the jurisdiction of the
Tchechanow community, which was one of the fifteen circuit communities enjoying
autonomy at the time. The Jews of Proshnitz, together with those of Macaw,
Mlawa, Plonsk, Neistat and other places, paid State taxes and community taxes
to the Tchechanow community, which in turn was responsible for their religious
needs. In 1764, the Polish Same dissolved the "Four States
Committee." Its commitments at that time had reached the astronomical sum
of three hundred million Zlotys. Under pressure from powerful creditors, a
personal tax was imposed on every Jew so as to settle the debts. The Proshnitz
Jews were also forced to pay this.
As a result of wars and internal unrest, Poland was annexed among Prussia,
Russia and Austria, three times in the space of twenty years. Under those
circumstances the Jews of Proshnitz suffered, being described as bad,
domineering people. From 1793, when Poland was annexed for the second time,
until 1806, when the Warsaw Principality came into being, Proshnitz was under
Prussian rule. Much material is available dealing with that time. Official
Prussian sources relate that most of the trade and crafts were in Jewish hands.
A German poet is claimed to have said that Jews were the most cultural factor
On the 17th of April, 1797, the Prussian regime publicized a regulation
regarding Jews living in the areas of Eastern Prussia. The aim of this
regulation was two-fold: to organize their lives and to direct them towards
productive work. The identification card system was introduced. Taxes were
raised and marriage was forbidden for those younger than twenty-five years of
age. If one wanted to marry earlier, a special tax was levied on him. In June,
1802, a special plan, which offered rewards, was outlined, whereby Christians
would apprentice Jewish youths and adults in vocations and agriculture. These
plans and others similar were accepted by the Jews of Proshnitz and other
places as heavy anti-Jewish sentences.
In the years 1806-1809 the Napoleonic armies once again freed parts of Poland
from Prussia and Austria, and established the Polish Principality with Warsaw
as the capital city. Napoleon's constitution proclaimed freedom of religion and
equal rights for all citizens of Poland. These laws were never realized in
regard to the Jews.
Once again the Jews were made subject to new decrees: forbidden to buy land,
curtailed in trade, tradesmen driven from towns and villages. In Proshnitz the
local gangs confiscated grain and coffee, and the town suffered from hunger and
After Napoleon's rout in Moscow, the Russian Military took over almost all of
the Polish Principality. In the legislation of 27th October 1815, which the
Russian Czar accorded to Poland, he passed a decree rendering Jews lawless
with no protection. Naturally, because of this, the Jews took an active
part in the Polish uprisings against Russia, hoping that with victory, their
rights would be restored to them as regular citizens of the country. In the
uprisings of 1833 and 1863 there were battles in the fields surrounding the
Proshnitz region. The
Jews helped the rebels with money and arms, equipment, and food.
Proshnitz was among the cities and towns, where special neighborhoods were
set-aside as Jewish quarters. The municipal politics of the regime went hand in
hand with the general anti-Jewish feeling. The Precinct decree-or the Jewish
Ghetto-meant that the local Pollacks were to be given first preference before
Jews in matters of trade, vocation, and industry. The government of the Warsaw
Principality had declared this decree, first in Warsaw (1809)
and then later in Lublin, Fraustadt, Plotzk, Macow, Proshnitz. This Precinct
decree from the time of the Warsaw Principality held only for several cities,
but it was later adopted as a system in the hands of the Polish Kingdom. This
decree Imposed economic hardship. Furthermore these measures did not bring the
expected results and they became uncomfortable for the regime, since they
tended to form a "State within a State," and in 1830
the Jewish decrees were abolished. In Proshnitz there remained a reminder of
the time of the Jewish decrees in the form of the Jewish Street (Olitza
During the Russian occupation Proshnitz had once again become a circuit city,
but with no train-line in close proximity. The nearest railroad station was in
Tchechanow, a distance of some 23 Verst (a measure of distance formerly used in
Russia, equal to about .66 of a mile). Well-surfaced roads were also something
of a rarity. Transportation was by means of a covered wagon, harnessed to two
horses. By this means people traveled to such far places as Plotzk, Lomza, and
even Warsaw. To nearer places people traveled by ordinary horse and cart, and
at a later stage by means of horse cabs. The cart owners were Jews only. They
also employed Pollacks who spoke Yiddish with the fluency of Jews. The cart
trip to Warsaw took about 18 hours. During the winter snows the trip would be
made on skis. In addition to passengers, they transported lambs, fowl, furs,
and other products. On the return journey from Warsaw they brought various
materials for the Jewish traders. At a later stage the trip to Warsaw was made
by means of omnibuses harnessed to four horses. This means of communication,
typically Jewish was called "Post," and was also used by the
Christians. In fact, it was recognized throughout the whole of Poland. The
"Post" method dwindled only after the laying of the railroad. In the
First World War the Austrians built a narrow-gauge railway line Kolaika
This is how it began
As described by Yishaiya Fisherman (24.4.48) to the Central Historical
Commission' of the Central Committee of liberated Jews in the American Zone:
(an historical questionnaire, on the holocaust of the Jewish Communities and of
the Jewish personalities killed, obtained by courtesy of the "Yad Ve
Shem" Archives in Jerusalem.)
By the second day after the outbreak of the war, on Saturday night, the Germans
had already entered the town. The majority of the Jews had managed to flee on
the eve of the Sabbath and all during the Sabbath itself. A small group
numbering about ten families had stayed in the town.
The first demand that was made was that all Jews who had remained alive should
register at the church, where they were forced to lie down facing the floor for
the space of a whole day. On the second day they were transported by truck to
Germany, where they were taken through a number of towns without being given
food, and finally brought back to the Polish frontier where they were told to
disperse in any direction they desired, while being shot at from behind. Some
were killed, others just disappeared and a few individuals found their way back
to the town, which they entered, starving and foot-swollen.
When those who had scattered began to drift back into the town, the occupying
force demanded that the Jews declare everything they owned. Daily, they dragged
men, women and children to work, organized various searches among the houses,
which soon fell into ruin. There were special jests such as making the Jews
march through the streets while onlookers stood by and laughed. The well-known
citizen, Moshe Stavisker was covered in feathers and, while in Talith and
Tefillin, was made to take a broom in hand and was led through the street, to
the jeering of the crowd. As a result of some comment he made, the Shochet,
Shlomo Lerman-, was seized, dressed in Talith and Tefillin and forced to dance
in the market place with a Gentile girl.
Several days before Succoth, the Commandant sent messengers to the Jewish
homes, in order to drive the Jews out into the market place where he ordered a
selection to be made, separating the men, women and children; he arrived later
on by car, at which time he delivered a speech that was translated into Yiddish
by Herschel Vilk from Dolmetsch, urging everyone in the town to leave,
expressing himself in the following words: "Our leader Hitler (may his
name be cursed) hates Jews. You will receive no work, so you may as well leave
the town now." On hearing this, the Jews wept and begged to be allowed to
remain, even if it be without work or rights. After marching around a few times
with the assembled Jews, he told them all to go home, and while they were
dispersing, he began to catch as many as he could, in order to send them to
On the morning of the second day of Succoth the Commandant ordered the Jewish
families to be called together again, and as before, he came with his cortege
and made the same speech as previously, but this time demanded that, by 11 a.m.
that same morning they should all re-assemble with as much hand-luggage as they
could carry. The Gestapo was immediately sent out to round up the Jews before
they could manage to pack.
There were many trucks parked in the market place, where a German woman officer
sat beside a table, listing the name of all the Jews who were ordered to pass
by her, and sign before embarking on the trucks. About fifty trucks were loaded
up, each photographed separately and then all together. Armed soldiers boarded
each truck and ordered those inside to remain seated and not to look outside.
In this way all the remaining Jews were transported out the town, going through
Makov Mazovietsk, Roszan the trucks stopped before the bridge over the 'Nurev',
where the same Commandant with his soldiers was already sitting beside a table
in order to receive every person for inspection after alighting from the
trucks. Those who were not fast enough in taking off their shoes and disrobing
were beaten. After being searched, they were all ordered on to the trucks
again, and proceeded over the 'Nurev' and about two kilometers from the bridge,
in the middle of a field, everyone was ordered off to be left there at God's
Learning of the existence of Polish army barracks about one kilometer distant,
they all set out for this place to stay overnight. During the night they were
fallen on by Germans and robbed. On Shabbat morning, after the above-mentioned night, we sent a
messenger to Astrov Mazovietsk from where wagons were sent cut to bring the
Jews in. But not wanting to await a rescue party which was uncertain in coming,
and being afraid to delay any further, many people hired little barrows from
the surrounding villages and thus left the barracks on foot in the direction of
the town of Dlugoshadle.
This then marked the liquidation of Our Jewish Community, which numbered in the
vicinity of 2,000 residents and existed for almost 200 years. It should be
mentioned in finishing that the non-Jewish population was only too ready to
help the Germans in their mission to destroy any Jewish property.
A tombstone of the Cemetery, a 100 Jearsold 1866, till after last world war.
Thirty-five years ago our town still had its "Jewish address". She
was a part of the Jewish people in Poland, flowing with Jewish feeling, Torah
and learning; ideas, which uplifted the Jews who lived in the cramped little
The confined feeling was probably caused by the material situation, which
forced everyone to wrangle bitterly in order to physically exist. Businessmen,
shopkeepers, laborers, tradesmen - all had the same worries: a difficult battle
for their hard-earned income; overcoming the anti-Semitic tricks on the part of
the Polish regime; and being ever-watchful of the hate and jealousy of the
majority of the people around them.
But there was also a "PROSHNITZ SHEL MA'ALAH" (Proshnitz of above).
The social cultural aspect overcame all difficulties and neutralized the
bitterness of the Proshnitzer reality. Some found it in the Cheder, in the
study-house, in the Shtibl; others found it in the various political
organizations; some in philanthropic institutions; others in women's groups;
some in the Relief-fund workshops and Gemilut Chesed; others in dramatic clubs;
some in professional brotherhoods; and for everyone - the youth groups, which
brought so much effervescence to life in the small town.
All this was cruelly cut down with one stroke by the Jew-hater, the worst enemy
and murderer of the Jewish people, whose name does not merit mention within
these holy pages. All the Proshnitz Kedoshim are a part of the six million
murdered, gassed and tortured Jewish souls
Today, Proshnitz is "clean of Jews"
nothing is left which might
testify, even symbolically, that there was once a three hundred year old Jewish
community there. Even the graveyard has been completely done away with, this
having been carried out by the "progressive" Pollacks of today.
For those who stayed alive and had the good fortune to escape the Nazi
bloodhounds, this "Yizkor Book" will be the only reminder of his
youth, of his parents and closest relatives, of the place where life's battle
and realization of ideas brought him a complete national existence in the
We remember with pain, those who did not remain alive. For all our
"landsleit" living in various countries throughout all the
continents, this "Yizkor Book" will be a legacy, which will bind
together the far-flung "Proshnitz Family".
Table of Contents
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