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[Page 5]

A Word from the Gostyniner
Yizkor Book Committee

(Instead of an Introduction)

by Yosef Keller

Translated by Pamela Russ

Now, Gostynin is destroyed and wasted, regardless that the city remained almost untouched by the war operations; the houses, the plazas, the parks, all unharmed in their places – nonetheless, Gostynin, our Gostynin, the beautiful Jewish town, that was proud of its Jewish youth, of its Jewish institutions, no longer exists on the large Jewish world–map. Gostynin experienced the same fate that so gruesomely befell all the large and small cities in Poland. At the time of the last catastrophe, our brothers and sisters who lived there were murdered and destroyed through horrific tortures that demonic Hitlerism contrived.

Of the entire Jewish Gostynin population only those who left to America or settled in Israel in time remained. Only a small number managed to save itself from the destruction. Individual members that were saved from the terrible fires found their refuge in the Land of Israel or in the United States.

In everyone's hearts, there glows a painful longing for those times when a lively Jewish life pulsated in our beloved home town.

The nostalgia for those holy memories of those who died and of the alter heim [old homeland] that was destroyed, did not allow for any peace of mind. It beckoned and called. And when finally the end of World War II came, and the great Jewish tragedy became known, the idea to set up an eternal tombstone for our home town Gostynin arose.

At one of the meetings of the “Gostynin Social Club,” which …

[Page 6]

… was established in New York after the devastation, with the goal of bringing material help and relief to the Gostynin survivors around the world, and especially to those who set up their lives in the Jewish homeland, the idea of publishing a Yizkor Book came about, which would perpetuate our decimated holy community of Gostynin.

As soon as the “Gostynin Social Club” came in close contact with the union of Gostynin Jews in Israel under the name of the “Irgun of the Emigrés of Gostynin,” it seemed that there they had the same idea. After long negotiations, it was decided that the book should be published in partnership with the Gostynin Jews in the New York and in Israel.

Hundreds of Yizkor books were published in the course of the post–war years, in the holy memory of the Jewish communities. Many of these books have great historical value, but they have hugely important sources for the future writers of the Jewish history of Poland. The majority of the material in these books was not written by professional writers. The contributors were all those who had information to relate about the general social life in their settlements, and all kinds of memories that give color to the descriptions of the communities. Separate sections are dedicated to the bloody chapter of the Jewish destruction. Out of all of these books, there pours out love, sentiment, and longing: once there was …

This is exactly how the book about Gostynin was assembled. Those who contributed to this book had the mission for themselves of eternalizing their hometown that possessed a significant Jewish community that dipped itself into the light of the great rabbi who was renowned across the Jewish world, possessed a well–brought up Jewish youth, a great many parties and organizations, a nest of social and benevolent institutions. The majority of article writers had no writing ambitions, so the book does not pretend to be the latest expression of literary art.

[Page 7]

The fact that separate committees in the various global continents – in America and in Israel – took care of the materials, the fact that they had to get the items from people who were scattered and spread out, slowed down the work of the book. Publishing the book was prolonged as well because of these same reasons: It took a long time until both main groups came to a full agreement.

Besides all the other difficulties, the publishers of the book also confronted difficult financial problems. Let the joyful fact be underscored here, that almost all the members of the Gostyniner Social Club contributed to the book fund; significant sums were contributed by the members of the book committee. A completely separate acknowledgment must be given to our compatriot, friend, and close collaborator of the book committee, Herman Krauz (Hirsh Kruczyk), whose contribution to the book fund was substantial, and he served as the foundation for the entire book's undertaking.

Here also should be expressed a heartfelt thanks to all those who in the course of a few years have helped in a practical sense in the follow–through of the Yizkor Book project. Especially to the small group that consisted of Yisokhor Motil, Yosef Keller, Meyer Dovid Tremki, and Yakov Gostinski. The name of our beloved friend, Shmuel Keller, should be especially mentioned here. He worked with us tirelessly, and tragically, in the middle of the work, he left this world. There were innumerable meetings and they worried about each detail of the book, and each detail interested them and concerned them.

If this book, as a whole, will be received with reverence, and will appeal to the broader readership, this will be thanks to the editor of the book, the esteemed writer and educator, Y.M. Biderman. His work was greatly valued by all those who worked along with him.

[Page 8]

The publication of this book is a realization of a long–time dream, of a holy wish to perpetuate the history of Jewish Gostynin, to create a monument for the Gostynin martyrs who died in the years of the terrible rage – 5700–5705 [1940–1945].

Yosef Keller
Secretary of the Book Committee

[Page 9]

Remarks from the Editor

by Y.M. Biderman

Translated by Pamela Russ

The task of an editor of a Yizkor Book is threefold: a) to plan the issue, b) to divide up the themes that individual writers should work on, and finally c) to prepare all the material for printing.

In the case of the “Pinkus [Book of Records] of Gostynin,” the task of the editor was a lot more straightforward: The material was already written, but for this precise reason the task became more complicated because he [the editor] had to struggle with some moments that could possibly have been avoided if he would have planned this book from the onset. It could be that he may have agreed to include the requisite articles, drafts, and memories written by professional individuals, the complete and full gamut of Jewish life in Gostynin, and all its discoveries – from the very beginning of the Gostynin Jewish settlement until the very tragic end. Maybe in that way, there would not have been unnecessary duplications in the various accounts.

The editor reckons with himself that the contributors to the Yizkor Book are not professional writers and that the members of the book committee have for the first time had something to do with publishing a book. But it should be underscored that the writers of these published works wrote with the best intentions to perpetuate those pieces of Jewish social life in Gostynin of which they were part or about which they had knowledge. In this collective venture, however, they overlooked a series of aspects that should have been taken into careful consideration. The fact that the contributors of the book are spread across the United States, Israel, and a series of European countries did not help them watch out for the required totality of a historical overview.

[Page 10]

Therefore, after the fact, and with this existing situation, after reading the material and preparing it for print, the editor had, to some extent, to fill in the missing parts. He found information about the establishment of the city and knowledge that also shows the beginnings of the Jewish settlement and its development. Not everything was able to be corrected and a series of mistakes remains in the compilation of the Pinkus [record book], and a series of stages of public life in Jewish Gostynin have not been covered in this book.

A series of articles were cut, some rewritten because they contained details that others had already extensively described, or other details that were intimately private or familial in nature. Because of the fact that the editor is not a Gostyniner, and he has no connections with this or that Gostynin family, and has no conflict with absolutely anyone in and around Gostynin – he was able to do his work without any partiality. But the editor never changed the central ideas of the writers. Certain manuscripts unfortunately arrived too late, and therefore were not able to be published.

Acknowledgement must be expressed to all the Gostynin compatriots in New York, who demonstrated a sincere respect for the Pinkus, and much understanding for this work, and did everything that was in their power to have the book published with the best possible appearance and to its fullest, and so that it can serve as a worthy monument for the decimated Jewish community in Gostynin.

Particular thanks go to our friends Yosef Keller, Yissachar Matil, and Yakov Gostynski, for the huge interest that they demonstrated in the daily work, and for their active participation in all the preparatory tasks of the Gostynin Pinkus. They are also responsible for the final section of the book, the “Yizkor,” that they compiled and edited.

Y.M. Biderman


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