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[Column 45]
Remember What Amolek1
Did To You

The Editorial Board

Translated from Yiddish by Judie Ostroff Goldstein

Words alone are the matzevah-Czyzewo (gravestone) unfolding before our eyes. It is difficult to do because my heart bleeds so, for the atrocious destruction and the tragedy of the huge grave on which the “gravestone” will now be erected.

This memorial book does not need a preface or an explanation. This is the only matzevah that we can erect for the martyrs from our town who drained the cup of Hitler's poison to the bottom. As long as there are still living witnesses, it is our holy duty to gather all the material possible, everything that we remember, know and feel about our shtetl.

This material was gathered from the small number of those who clawed their way out of the mass graves. Some of them, in those terrible days, wandered through fields and forests, staying there overnight in the snow and cold and imbibed in their limbs the lot of every dark day and listened in the quiet to the rattle of our dying brothers during their last minutes.

None of us are professional writers or historians. Only the shocking agony that appeared with the horrible Holocaust opened our mute lips and made them speak. Every note, even when it was written with a gentle smile and light humor, is still an expression of concentrated grief. Therefore, every line has a place in this matzevah book in memory of our nearest and dearest.

Only a part of the Czyzewer Jews were saved from the Nazi authorities. Several only remained alive to be able to tell about the Holocaust. In Czyzewo, as in hundreds of other towns and villages, there aren't any Jews. Therefore, it was many years after the Hitler deluge before we found in ourselves the courage and gathered the strength needed to erect this memorial, this Yizkor Book from our shtetl Czyzewo.

It is clear and understandable, that in most notes and dissertations that are in this book, one hears the mourning cries; in the memoirs everyone can hear the sounds of lament and elegy, the lament of the destruction. For the participants in this book, the destruction of Czyzewo, like the general tragedy of the Jews in Europe, is a personal tie to the tragedy, with grief for our own dear ones. Perhaps you will see here and there repetition in some of the articles, mentioning some of the same affairs, events and people, but the first reinforces the second and creates the picture of a way of life, of the disappointments and accomplishments. Everything together tells the story of how much we have lost, how large and truly incomprehensible this loss is.

The heart cries for the tortured, the lost. But their illustrious memory requires us to be strong of spirit and to take heart in order that their deaths can fight to build and improve our future.

Telling the story about these people and personalities permeates our hearts with affection and longing for all of them – those who were and are no more. Reading about them, we still see the faces of our brothers and sisters, for all of them were a part of us body and soul.

Those of us who have had the honor to be saved from that immense conflagration, always see before our eyes our ancestors' commandment that remains engraved with letters of fire and blood: “remember what Amalek did to you” – the Amalek of the twentieth century.

This is actually the designated role of this book; not an ordinary memoir of the distant and not so distant past, not just a memorial light for the pure and holy souls who were murdered, put to death through various, horrible means. By recording our memoirs we felt that we needed to bring out the distinct illustriousness of the Jewish people in our shtetl. This book should give future generations

[Columns 63-64]

an idea of the beauty that was killed.

With our heads bowed and wringing our hands, we stand at the modest monument to our murdered Jewish community in Czyzewo. We are united with the holy memory of the murdered martyrs.

Alas for those who have been killed, but will not be forgotton!

This yizkor book should stand for generations as a remembrance. For all those who read this book it should be a document that reflects the rich way of life that is no more.

Their screams that come from this book should not be stilled and should not cease to demand their due for generations to come.

[Column 49]

So We Started

Translated from Yiddish by Judie Ostroff Goldstein

Excerpt from the resolution that was passed during a meeting of the Czyzewer landsmanschaft in Israel in 1957.

For hundreds of years our ancestors built their homes in Czyzewo, to create a place of repose in the shtetl, to build a warm home for future generations.

To our great regret and pain their hopes became drowned in blood. Our parents, sisters, brothers, friends and comrades were savagely murdered. The enemy did not even spare young children or infants. Our town was suddenly transformed into a murderous slaughterhouse, from which it was impossible to get out alive.

True, the daily needs and problems of each of us have compelled us to forget the great misfortune that our people met. It is also possible that we simply are not able to comprehend the horrible Holocaust that took place in our former home.

But the day must come, in which all of us who came from Czyzewo and are now located in all the countries throughout the world, must mention our martyrs. We must mention our dear ones and loved ones. In the very recent past they lived and hoped to see a better, calmer and more beautiful life in the future. But they did not live to see it.

We must mention and therefore care that they should not be forgotten by us, all of them for whom the possibility of living was so brutally discontinued.

We must remember that not so long ago, we had received living greetings full of warmth, affection and worry and today all of this has become silent. Dead!

We must remember that there in Szulborze, murder “was the solution” through which the German assassins and their Polish assistants answered the Jewish question in Czyzewo. There lies in one

[Columns 51-52]

large “mass grave” the bones of all of those whose last wish before giving up their holy souls was: – that we, all the survivors, wherever we find ourselves, should live united and keep their memory holy!

In the ruins of the two Czyzewo desecrated, shamed and destroyed cemeteries lie the bones of our great-great grandfathers, the founders and builders of the town. We stand today with bowed heads, to erect a memorial, for the murdered martyrs, in the form of a Yizkor Book that must serve all of them as a “cemetery” in which the souls of our nearest and dearest may rest.

For all of us survivors there lies a holy duty to erect a matzevah (gravestone) for all of those we will never forget. This we will do in the Yizkor Book for our annihilated shtetl Czyzewo.

Every Czyzewer is duty bound to help create this Yizkor Book, in which he must see a matzevah for his dear ones. He must see in this Yizkor Book not just any printed, mute words, but the voice of the souls of his so brutally murdered relatives who call out:

Remember! You should not forget us!

As a result, the following appeal
Was sent to all countries:

[Columns 53-54]

To Our Fellow Czyzewers In All Cities, In All Countries!

Sixteen years have passed since the murderous catastrophe, like a hellish fire, that engulfed the town where we were born, Czyzewo.

A dreadful slaughter, unequaled in the history of our martyred people, was carried out by Hitler's hordes in our shtetl.

It is only sixteen years later and already there is not even a trace remaining of the place where the bloody tragedy, in our old home, was played out. Every bit of ground there is drenched with Jewish blood, with the blood of our holy ones and dear ones, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, relatives, friends and comrades, all of them our own dear people with whom we spent the best years of our youth.

From generations of Jews and yiddishkeit (Jewishness) there remains only enormous mass graves without gravestones, without the smallest memorial that should shout out to the world about the terrible tragedy that happened there.

On the huge mass graves wild grass is already growing. It covers and erases the traces of the horrible murders and they will be forgotten along with our entire past life in Czyzewo.

We must not tolerate this!

This would be a great injustice on our part, a desecration of the honor of our martyrs who knew in the last minutes of their lives to believe in us.

Therefore a large, holy duty lies on all of us. We must answer to that tragically mowed down Czyzewo community in which we lived together, grew up, dreamed, struggled and strove for better times, for a better life.

We must erect a matzevah, an eternal memorial! A matzevah that should tell our children and the future generations about this tragedy and to perpetuate the memory of our martyrs!

[Columns 55-56]

We know what an appropriate matzevah should be. And if we would be able to build it, it would be a large cultural or holy building in Israel. It would simultaneously symbolize the realization of the ideal of all Czyzewer Jews who were permeated with the idea of “love of Zion” and suffered, not living to see the great miracle of our time – the establishment of the Land of Israel. But, due to enormous monetary difficulties, with which such a project is tied, we must, with great regret, resign ourselves.

To begin with:

To perpetuate the memory of our town in a matzevah book. We must create a memorial book for Czyzewo.

Our shtetl was small and poor, but it had a rich way of life, firmly established in yiddishkeit and Jewish traditions. Jews had lived in Czyzewo for hundred of years, withstanding afflictions and tortures, pogroms and hooligan attacks, evil decrees and persecution. And yet they struck deep roots.

In Czyzewo there was everything that characterized Jewish life. Our town had an interesting variety of wholesome ordinary Jews, learned men, Hasidim and various superb figures. There are too many to tell about here and would necessitate an article in itself.

For this purpose, the Czyzewer landsmanschaft in Israel created a committee that will be in charge of collecting material, written articles, pictures, historical data that is relevant to Czyzewo, to take testimonies and documents from Czyzewer Jews.

To start with, local committees

[Columns 57-58]

should be created wherever there are fellow Czyzewers, for the purpose of taking charge of the work.

All together we will establish this holy work. Every Jew who comes from Czyzewo must give a hand to this holy work either by writing or receiving from others, memoirs, facts, happenings, events, legends, everything related to Czyzewo, to life in Czyzewo, to Czyzewo's Jews. It must be written in simple language, in a language that is comfortable, without artificial fanciness, without stylistic effort, only genuineness and truth, like the hearts of the simple Czyzewer Jews. This must be the holy task of every Czyzewer regardless of where he is.

At the same time, we must make every effort to create a monetary base to publish the mentioned collective creation. The responsibility lies with every one of us, a holy duty to contribute according to one's means, in order to help. The Czyzewo memorial book should be rich and valuable in its contents, as well as esthetically pleasing in its outward appearance.

The Czyzewo landsmanschaft in Israel will direct the subscription collection among our fellow Czyzewers to create the first basic sum needed for the task. We will then rely on the local committees that will be created in every country and city to find the appropriate means to collect money for this holy task.

No Czyzewer Jew should refuse to give his fair share for this modest keepsake the Czyzewo memorial book, that will remain as an everlasting remembrance for our children and also for everyone for generations.

Sister and brothers, fellow Czyzewers!
Step forward immediately to work.
Create local committees.
Let us know the addresses of your committees soon.

With brotherly greetings:
The committee in Israel.
Okon, Isachar / Tel-Aviv Jablonka, Ahron / Tel-Aviv
Brukarz, Dov / Tel-Aviv Surowicz, Gedalia / Ein Harod
Bodla, Izak / Yerushalayem Eliasz, Yechiel / Tel-Aviv
Gorzalczany, Dov / Tel-Aviv Cukrowicz, Avraham / Haifa
Gorzalczany, Arija / Petach-Tkod Kandel, Jakob / Tel-Aviv
Gora, Gerszon / Bnei Brak Kupiec, Fiszel / Tel-Aviv
Gora, Eliahu / Tel-Aviv Rabinowicz, Alisza / Tel-Aviv
Held, Josef / Yerushalayim Szlaski, Yitzchak / Tel-Aviv
Worona, Chaim / Haifa

[Column 59]
To the Natives of Czyzewo in All Places

Translated from Hebrew by Jerrold Landau

Sixteen years have gone by since the terrible disaster passed over us like a fiery downpour upon our native town of Czyzewo.

The Nazi warriors perpetrated a terrible slaughter in our town, which has no comparison in the annals of the tribulations of our people.

Only sixteen years have passed since then, and already there is no remnant from that place, our old birthplace, where the bloody tragedy took place, where every clod of earth is saturated with Jewish blood, the blood of our holiest and dearest to us, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, relatives, acquaintances and friends, people like us, with whom we spend the pleasant years of our youth.

Out of generations and generations of Jews and Jewessess, all that remains are silent communal graves, without monuments or memorials that would testify forever about the tragedy that took place to them.

Wild weeds already grow and flourish out of the massive communal graves, covering them completely and removing from them the marks of iniquity and cruelty that was done with them. Along with this, our past lives in Czyzewo are forgotten.

We cannot permit things to reach this situation!

This would be a terrible travesty. This would be a disgrace to the honor of our holy martyrs, who in their last moments, surely thought about us. Can we let it reach this situation?

A holy obligation is placed upon us regarding the community of Czyzewo that was destroyed in such a tragic manner, to that community together with which we lived, suffered, dreamed, struggled, and aspired to better days and a happier life.

We are obligated to erect a memorial monument, an eternal perpetuation, so that we can relate to our children and future generations about the tragedy that once took place. With this, we can perpetuate the memory of our martyrs forever.

We know that a fitting memorial would be to erect a large cultural-communal building on the soil of the holy Land of Israel, that could symbolize the realization of the ideal of all of the natives of Czyzewo, who were imbued with the idea of the love of Zion, but to their ill fate, did not merit to the great miracle of our time – the establishment of the State of Israel. However, due to the great material difficulties involved with such an endeavor, we must abandon this idea at this time.

[Columns 61-62]

We have decided:

To perpetuate the memory of our town with a book-monument, to create a Yizkor Book for the town of Czyzewo.

Our town was small and poor; however a rich, variegated way of life was conducted in it, based on firmly rooted traditional Judaism. Jews lived in Czyzewo for hundreds of years and suffered from tribulations and poverty. Many tribulations, invasions, pogroms, evil decrees and persecutions passed through, and nevertheless, the Jews were able to strike deep roots in their town.

Czyzewo had everything that characterizes Jewish life. Our city had within it interesting personalities of strong members of our people, scholars, Hassidim, and many other lofty personalities. There is much that can be related about them, and a great work is needed to capture all of this.

To accomplish this end, we, the natives of Czyzewo in Israel, have selected a committee to gather material, descriptions, photographs, historical dates, names, testimonies, and sources that are connected to the town of Czyzewo and the Jews that lived there.

All of us together must contribute to this holy endeavor. Everyone who hails from Czyzewo must lend a hand to that idea, whether to register alone or to obtain from others memories, facts, occurrences, episodes, and legends. Everything that relates to Czyzewo, to its life and its Jews must be written in simple, popular language, in language that is comfortable for everyone, without professional or stylistic embellishments. This must be written only in a straightforward, honest style, as befits an ordinary person of Czyzewo. This must be in the holy language that befits each person of Czyzewo.

Along with this, we must gather all of our strength to create a monetary foundation for this joint endeavor. Each of us has a holy duty to participate in this endeavor to the best of our abilities, in order to insure that this Yizkor book of Czyzewo will be as rich as possible in content, and as beautiful and splendid as possible in its external presentation.

Our organization in Israel is undertaking a major subscription amongst its members to collect the necessary monies for this purpose.

No native of Czyzewo should refuse to give his donation for the benefit of this modest endeavor – a Yizkor book for Czyzewo, which will remain as an eternal memory for our children, and for the entire nation of Israel for generations to come.

Brothers and sisters of Czyzewo émigrés, let us get to work immediately. Let us establish local committees. Please let us know the addresses of these committees very soon.

The deep burden that has burdened our hearts for these many years since we have known about the terrible and frightful tragedy of the murder of our dear ones and family members – is now let loose from the heart with the publication of this Yizkor Book.

We have struggled for all these years with the question of how, and by what means, to perpetuate the memory of the martyrs and to establish a suitable memorial that is befitting of its name. Such a memorial must express in a significant fashion, on the one hand, the magnitude of the tragedy that overtook the natives of Czyzewo with the brutal murder of our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, relatives, friends, and the Jews of the entire town; and on the other hand, must serve as our mouth and tongue for future generations to relate about the Jewish community of that town during days gone by, about the simple and humble life of previous generations. It must describe the images and portraits of the townsfolk, as well as various events. In short, it should serve as a faithful lens, as it delves into that bygone era which is no longer. With the passing of that era, all of the people that created and lived their quiet and peaceful lives in that town have disappeared and gone down to the grave.

Therefore, there is a strong desire in our hearts to create a great thing. However, there are restrictions on the possibilities, for natives of Czyzewo in every place aspired to a bold plan, such as: the establishment of a splendid synagogue building or some other public institution in the names of the holy martyrs. We indeed very greatly desired to actualize that which we thought.

This very fact of the lack of any symbolic monument did not let our souls rest. Each year on the memorial day observed on the 8th of Av, the day that the natives of Czyzewo in Israel gather together en masse for a memorial ceremony, this problem was presented to the gathered crowd, and the difficulties were discussed, until a decision was made that the monument would take the form of a Yizkor Book.

We did not reach this decision easily. Many of us who belong to those “of low faith” hesitated due to lack of faith in our physical and spiritual abilities to actualize the publication of a fitting Yizkor Book. This meekness is very typical of people who have only recently been redeemed from the fate of the town, which often depresses the spirit and subdues faith in one's own abilities to some degree. Therefore, the advice to publish a book was pushed off from year to year. After the final decision was taken, a committee was chosen that began to act with great diligence to collect material for the book. It very quickly became clear that the fear of these people was in vain.

Significant abilities and talents were uncovered amongst us. Many of us desired to pour out the bitterness of our hearts by writing our memoirs, stories and various descriptions of the town and the terrible Holocaust that took place in it. They tried and succeeded. Thus was most of the material gathered for the publication of this book. We are now proud and happy to present this book to every man or woman who is a native of Czyzewo, with the purpose of it serving as a symbolic monument for the holy martyrs – a monument that will reside in the house of every one of the natives of our town, in every country that they might reside.

Our community that went up in flames will not arise again, just as the long suffering and highly creative Polish Jewry will not arise again. The new residents of the town have taken the place of the Jews who were murdered; however they have not wiped out their memories from the survivors in our country that has risen to life and in any other country in the Diaspora. Their memories will illuminate the eternal way of life of the Jewish people with a precious light.

[Column 65]



[Column 67]

Translated from Yiddish by Judie Ostroff Goldstein

The Book Committee would like to extend their gratitude to our comrades, who with their advice and deeds helped create this yizkor book:

ARJE GORZALCZANY, who did not miss an opportunity to remind everyone of their duty to hlep put together and publish the yizkor book. At every gathering and at every meeting he mentioned it, lured and urged people to take up this holy work;

ISACHER OKON, for whom no task was too difficult, whether administrative work or Society activities, especially helping to create this book;

Josef CHELD, for constantly being prepared work for the benefit of the Society and especially for organizing the erection of the matzevah (memorial stone) on Mount Zion in Jerusalem;

Freidel Levinzon, the daughter of our last well-known rabbi and Itsl KIRSZENBOJM (New York), who carried almost the entire burden of procuring the necessary money to publish the yizkor book and helped with advice whenever the book committee in Israel called.


Translator's footnote:

  1. Amolek, Amolekeit – the name of a people that wanted to divide the Jews in the desert. Designation for anti-Semites. [Judy] return

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