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All is over with Kosów Jewish community, woe unto us!

What follows is the torturous episode of the people of the Kosów community. The information was given by Meir Kuliszewski who was tortured and suffered together with everyone else until the first slaughter. The latter part includes information that was given to him by Szmuel Lejb, whom he met at the Bliżyn camp.

The journal is edited in three parts as follows:

Part A. Including the following chapters:

  1. The Conquering of the City and the New Order
  2. The Labor Camps Episode
  3. In the Ghetto
  4. The Slaughter
  5. The Artisan's Genocide

Part B. A list of the martyrs killed in Kosów

Part C. A list of those who left and fled

Regarding those who left and fled Kosów to the neighboring towns, including the Partisans: It is notable that despite the slim chance [[page 2]] that a few of the people were still alive, because the Germans slaughtered the entire area, one should still hope and foresee that someone would one day notify us about their survival. There is still hope regarding those who joined the Partisans or fled or were deported to Russia.

Finally, we have found it necessary to add to this journal an appendix of the list of the Kosów people who are in the Land of Israel, May They Live Long, Amen!

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[[page 3]] After the journal was already in order and ready to print, we realized that we would be publishing something that would not be proper if we did not include photographs that could represent public life in Kosów Poleski. In addition, we felt we should enable our fellow townsmen to set up a memorial for their relatives, friends and acquaintances by printing their photographs in the journal. We worked hard and found about fifty photographs. Some of them are from private collections of the dear Kosów people who were exterminated there, “May the Lord Avenge Their Deaths,” and that were printed at the expense of the owners of the photographs. Many of the group photos are valuable in that they represent the public life of the Kosów youth in the past twenty-five years. They were printed at the Association's expense. Among them are four photographs of the streets of Kosów Poleski. The Aid Association of the Kosów Community in Israel sent three circular letters to the Kosów community members living in Israel and asked them to hurry and send in private and public photographs from Kosów. We printed all of the photographs that we got (except for a few that were disqualified), despite our limited funds. We regret not being able to get more photographs!

For this reason, the printing of the journal was delayed, but we believe it was worthwhile, because we were able to present a worthy monument to the city and the people who were destroyed in it, according to our abilities and strength. [[page 4]]

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The Kosów Community Seal dated 1920[2]
It was brought to Israel at the time by Shmuel Ben-Gershon[3] (Wolański). Given to the Bezalel Museum.[4]

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Head of the Aid Association of the Kosów Community in Israel and his wife:
Reb[5] Ze'ev Hillel Zarchi (Zorochowicz), “May His Light Shine”
and his wife Chaya Rachel, “May She Live.”

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1. Meir Kuliszewski, the sole survivor who witnessed the slaughter of his entire community, his wife and his children with his own eyes. He is the source of the historical information in this journal, today in the Land of Israel.
2. Sergeant Zalman Morocznik. He found Kuliszewski in Italy, put this material in writing and brought it to us.

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The Kosów Group that was in Israel
(Most of them immigrated to the United States.)
1. Ajzyk Epstein. 2. Pausner. 3. Awraham Nowik. 4. Motel Słonimski. 5. Szmaja Kosowski. 6 Awraham Kapłan. 7. Dow Licki. 8. Chanan Lewkowicz. 9. Tewel Ragotner. 10. Israel Sapożnik. 11. Lejbel Milikowski. 12. Aharon Milikowski (Jankiel-Man's[8])

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There is a Jewish saying that asks, “When do Jewish people get together? In case of a simcha[10] or G-d Forbid, a calamity.” And another saying says, “if you did not get together for a simcha, you will end up getting together for a calamity.” We are the same. If we did not get together for a simcha, and since we had not arranged the Kosów community journal while the members of the community were still alive, we ended up arranging the Memorial Book of Kosów Poleski, including its sons, daughters, elders and young on the loose soil of their graves.

Many great and good people wonder about the wondrous vision and unbelievable apathy, the hardening of the heart, the stupidity and numbness that characterize our Jewish community in Israel regarding the annihilation of six million Jews as if they were not our own flesh and blood. As if we are not referring to our parents, our brothers and sisters, our wives and children and our closest relatives! I myself heard our brothers and sisters say: “I don't want to because I can't hear about the torture and suffering in which my parents, brothers and sisters had died there. They were exterminated and all of them died, and I don't have any acquaintances, and that's the end of it! What good would it do me if I look into the pogroms that they went through before they died and if I knew how they had expired? It is not according to my abilities and I don't want to hear about it.” And us, so called “the others,” what do we do? We dedicate an hour to read a book or an article or listen to a lecture and a description of the process of the annihilation. Those of us who are a little sensitive might shed a tear and a moment later [[page 6]] all is over, everyone returns to their doings and pleasures, and some even go directly from the annihilation lecture to the movies! As if the lecture was about the annihilation of the Blacks in Africa or the Chinese in China. Is this the way to mourn someone? The mourning of a father, a mother, a brother and sister, the wife and the child! And what about losing the entire family at once: wouldn't a man lose his mind?

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But I think we are not to blame for losing our ways. The reason for our apathy is in the intensity of the blow that hit us suddenly and all at once. We will briefly explain. Man's psycho-spiritual strength is the same as his physical-bodily strength. If one would hit a man bit by bit, he would then feel each and every blow, it would hurt him, it would scorch his skin, the man would react, shrink, twist and turn in agony and suffering, and he would shout and scream. But if one would hit one great and instant blow on the head of an animal or a man, then he would be astonished and would be at a loss, he would lose consciousness, and then he would not feel a thing, even though he would still be alive, and you would be able to hit him as you wish and he would not feel a thing and would not react! Such are we. The intensity and suddenness of the calamity amazed us, confused us and blunted our senses and we were like an animal that does not sense a prick of the needle in its flesh.

This journal contains dry factual material that gives a short and simple description, not artistic at all, but it accurately records the last minutes of our fellow townsmen and the method of their death. Despite this, this material brings to life the entirety of Kosów just as it was! As I read this material 25 years since my arrival from Kosów Poleski, [[page 7]] I envision our town and community just like they were on the day I left it! Here are its people, its Jews and their families, here is Kosów with its streets, the hill, the little lanes, the town square, the old synagogue, and the new one, the tailors, the schoolyard, the Słonimy[11], two rabbis, the Tarbut school, in which I only participated in the laying of its foundation. I did not get to see the completion of the Tarbut school because I made aliya[12], and I just heard about it. I envision the houses and their owners one by one: the friends with which we spent the best years of our youth. Where are they now, my friends, my dearest? Have they indeed died strange deaths, having been tortured and suffered? And I am alive and present, and my heart is not shuttered! It is difficult, very difficult. It

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is unbelievable. But this dry and silent material speaks! It speaks and speaks and does not give one a break! It pinches the heart, floods the eyes with tears and blinds them! For a moment you continue reading, but immediately tears flood your eyes and choke you, choke you…

Indeed, the atrocities of Treblinka, Auschwitz, Majdanek, Sobibór and others illuminate the facts about Kosów Poleski, but ultimately this is your Kosów Poleski! After all these are the people with whom you mingled and lived with for twenty years!

Exactly two years ago, during the Holiday of Sukkot, we gathered and founded the Kosów Poleski Association. Ever since, we said, we have grand tasks for our fellow townsmen considering the end of the war was approaching. We would probably need to offer aid to the poor, the wretched, the hungry, the burnt, the homeless, [[page 8]] the result of the terrible war, just as we recalled from the previous war. True that we had already heard rumors about the genocide, but we could not consider nor imagine such a total extermination. We thought that in addition to our above-mentioned task, we should add another one, searching for relatives, ever since we heard about the chaos that was occurring there. We collected about 250 Palestine pounds[13], quite a respectable amount for our townsmen, considering the fact that there are hardly any rich people among them. But this amount was about to double and triple in case the need came up. And here the money rests, no one needs it, and all that remains is one task, to put the Memorial Book in order and to say Kaddish[14] for them.

But even this task, finding the factual material about Kosów Poleski, was not very difficult. We did not labor nor tire ourselves in the searching and collecting of the material. And for that, blessed will be our excellent townsman Sergeant Zalman Morocznik, whom while in Italy, searched and found our refugees there, and among them Meir Kuliszewski, most likely the only one from Kosów who was present and witnessed all of the slaughtering and exterminations and stayed

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alive. And Morocznik sat with him for four consecutive days and recorded the entire precious material, and brought it to us.

Bravo, Sergeant Zalman Morocznik, you will be blessed by all of your townsmen.

According to these materials, many of our townsmen and especially the youth, were not exterminated because they fled. Many of them fled to Russia, many to the forests and the Partisans. The Russians expelled many from Kosów as a punishment; therefore, we have to hope [[page 9]] that many more of our townsmen will be found, especially in Russia! We do not know the fate of the Partisans and those who fled to the forests. We are hopeful that many of them are in Russia and were annexed to the Red Army, but we have to consider a big part of them as being lost, and perhaps the biggest part of them, since they were probably also exterminated during their two-year wanderings in the forests.

We know only that our Partisans and their leader Josel Bron, the son of Majrim Bron, killed many Germans and farmers from that area who collaborated with the annihilation of the Jews. The entire surroundings were terrified of Josel Bron. He was the source of fear and terror to the beasts, the devil. Everyone was scared of him and his name was uttered in fear and terror, like that of a demon. According to stories of refugees[15] from the neighboring towns Różana and Łysków he attacked Kosów three times and killed all the Nazis and the destroyers of the Jews and he took his revenge! Meir Kuliszewski tells us about one of his attacks. Two others, if we were to believe the stories of the neighbors, probably took place after the annihilation, and that's why Kuliszewski does not know about them. We could believe the neighbors because Różana and Łysków remained for a long time after there was nothing left of the Kosów Jews. And this is our only consolation! We have not any other consolation.

Jerusalem, Cheshvan 5707 [October-November 1945]

Sh. Ben-Gershon (Wolański)

[[page 11]][16]


  1. This designation does not appear in the original text. return
  2. The seal text says “The Kossova Community Committee” and in Polish “Management Board of the Jewish Community in Kossovo.” return
  3. Polish spelling rules are not used with his new name. As indicated in the text, his surname was Wolański in Poland. return
  4. Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design is Israel's national school of art. Wikipedia return
  5. A Yiddish honorific traditionally used for Orthodox Jewish men. It is not a rabbinic title; it is the equivalent of the English “mister.” Wikipedia return
  6. Polish spelling rules are not used with their new names. Their surname was Zorochowicz in Poland. return
  7. Morocznik's son explained that these are British uniforms. Zalman Morocznik was a sergeant in the British military serving in northern Italy. After the war's end he searched for survivors. Kuliszewski wears a British uniform that was used to help smuggle him from Italy to Palestine. return
  8. Throughout the text, parenthetical notes in the possessive form presumably identify the person's parent or spouse. In this case, “Jankiel-Man” is a Yiddish form of “Jakow-Menachem,” Aharon's father's name in all likelihood. return
  9. This designation does not appear in the original text. return
  10. Gladness, joy, a happy occasion. return
  11. This appears to be a reference to something from or concerning nearby Słonim, but exactly what is unclear. return
  12. “To make aliya” means to immigrate to Israel. return
  13. The currency of the British Mandate of Palestine from 1927 to May 14, 1948. It was equal in value to the pound sterling. Wikipedia return
  14. The Mourner's Kaddish, said as part of the mourning rituals in Judaism. Wikipedia return
  15. People who fled to Kosów Poleski from their home towns. return
  16. Page 10 is blank. return

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