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[Pages 15-18]

Foreword

Translated by Renata Singer

Before entering these pages to leaf, read and steep ourselves in the long ago time of our Yizkor-Pinkhes[1], we want to express - as far as this is possible with words and paper - the thoughts and feelings, the aims and aspirations that inspired us to bring out this book.

We, all those who were born and come from our home shtetl Zyrardow, and who through various ways - miracles and chance - are still living; those who survived the Nazi hells[2] and escaped the painful deaths of our nearest and dearest.

We: who are tied and bound to our home shtetl, have long carried in us a deep longing for the birthplace where we were brought up; where we took our first steps in life, where we wanted to build a more beautiful life, where we dreamed about a better world, fought for a more just world, where we had so many close, beloved and esteemed friends.

We, who were sustained by the hope of once again being in our shtetl; dreamed of once more walking the well known streets and meeting beloved faces; hoping to speak with our near ones to reminisce about “once upon a time” - we have become mourners of the dead.

Our Zyrardow no longer exists. Only the name remains, but it is emptied of our loved ones who the Nazi executioner dispatched with the most gruesome deaths

We, who through miracles and chance were saved, have taken upon ourselves the holy burden of creating a everlasting memorial to our annihilated community, her dead martyrs and heroes.

It was only after we had begun this project that that we again saw our shtetl as a whole. Somehow we had erased from our memories the heated debates and battles, which had naturally existed in the shtetl.

Of course in our Zyrardow there were the religious and the free thinkers, Hasidic Jews and simple Jews, the elite and the masses, “left” and “right”[3]. Just as in every other Jewish-Polish shtetl, ours displayed the full rainbow of Jewish social organizations that in all its colors formed the basis of Jewish Poland.

All these “hues” existed until the hangman started on his killing spree. When the Nazi beast attacked our shtetl, all differences disappeared. When they were driven into the ghetto, when the ghetto was deported to Warsaw, at the “actions” and “selections”, when they were taken to the mass graves or the gas chambers, they were all together. The executioner made no distinction between them.

Every spurt of our martyrs' blood is holy to us and so we decided that none should be left out of our Yizkor Book. All shall have everlasting redress; every group that affected our lives, that through its work and activities helped make our people better and stronger, and which, according to its convictions, tried to build our life on just foundations.

We had to overcome many obstacles, we have seeded and spread into every corner of the earth. To create this permanent symbolic memorial we called upon all our townfolk. We sent out our call to wherever we had news of saved, grieving brothers and sisters.

Now that we stand at the door of the completed paper memorial, which we hope will really be an everlasting testament to our annihilated home, can we perhaps say that we have achieved our aim?

Have we paid our debt and are now free of other duties? No, a thousand times, no!

Publishing the Yizkor-Pinkhes is only a means to an end. The real aim is that this memorial book immortalizes our shtetl for all eternity so that we and our children's children will not forget what the Nazi Jew-haters[4] did to our sorely tried people, when the barbarians of our century went on their rampage over the free world. We want this knowledge to live everywhere and forever in our people's memory.

Let the memorial book be found in our houses, let it stand on the topmost shelf like a holy reliquary; let it demand and remind us and our children and our children's children of the terrible khurben[5] of our people in general, and especially of our near ones.

Let us read the painful pages of our Pinkhes and learn with our children and let them know and remember and also steep themselves in our people's catastrophe.

Our memorial book will add another page to the great accusation-record that our people present to the free world for judgement of the savagery of the Nazi beast of yesterday and of every new attempt to revive the Nazi Hydra[6] tomorrow.

The Yizkor-Book will always remain a testament to our martyrs and heroes.

Never forget! Never forgive!

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Footnotes

  1. Memorial Book return

  2. The original refers to the seven parts that hell is divided into. return

  3. i.e. the full political spectrum return

  4. literally from the Old Testament, the name of a "nation" that wanted to destroy the Jews when they wandered in the desert, and that has come to be used more generally. return

  5. Yiddish word for Holocaust, Shoah return

  6. Mythical beast with many heads return



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