by the Editorial Staff
Translated from Hebrew by Harris Werksman (Zvi BenShalom),
whose mother Mindl Buks was born in Pschaich
© by Roberta Paula Books
With fear and trembling due to our sacred mission, we publish this memorial book in order to preserve the memory of our dear martyrs, the Jews of Pschaich who were murdered during the Holocaust in the years 19391945 by the Nazis and their helpers, may their names be blotted out.
The terrible Holocaust where six million Jews were killed and obliterated, for the sole reason that they desired to live as Jews, struck us as individuals and also as survivors of the city Pschaich, and we were left bereft of parents, brothers and sisters, women and children, relatives, friends and acquaintances, and the community of Pschaich.
This city is where we were born and lived, breathed its air, and dwelt in the bosom of our families, where we spent our beautiful youthful years among friends, and where each one dreamed and dreamed, each in his own way, of a better and more rosy future.
This city was drained of its Jews.
After the Nazis conquered Poland and entered our city in September of 1939, their first operation was to burn the synagogue. In addition, they blamed the Jews for burning the synagogue, and if this was not enough, the Jews of our city had to pay a fine for burning the synagogue, in gold, silver and jewelry, to the conquering Nazis.
Furthermore, there were selections where a significant portion of the Jews in our city were moved to work and extermination camps where dozens of the people of Pschaich were killed by many unusual and cruel deaths that had no parallel in history.
On 7th day of Iyar 5702 4.24.1942, the community of Pschaich (in Polish, Przedecz) was destroyed after all of the Jews who were left were rounded up in the Christian church, and from there were transferred to the Chelmno extermination camp where they were murdered with poison gas in closed trucks.
We, the survivors of Pschaich, some of whom survived all these horrors within the extermination camp Chelmno, a small step away from death, are shaken and shocked, to the depths of our hearts, and we ask:
Why Oh Why?
This book is meant as a memorial and yahrzeit candle for the martyred citizens of our city Pschaich.
In this book, we reveal events and deeds in the lives of our dear ones, suffering and joy, laughter and silence, pleasure and sorrow, times of welfare and times of distress, years of persecution and years of tranquility, the suffering and happiness of each family, up to the years of the Holocaust and destruction, and the elimination of our loved ones.
It is clear to us that no book has the ability to express the depth of the sadness, the pain and the grief of a prospering Jewish community, along with its institutions, that was cut down. However, we felt obligated to memorialize the memory of our loved ones in a memorial book that would record the deeds of the citizens of our city, and to engrave in history the eternal condemnation, the deeds, horror and murder of the despicable Nazi beast, predatory and blood thirsty, the severity of whose crimes where not previously known to mankind, and as we were commanded:
Remember what Amalek did to you.
Remember and do not remove the pain from your heart. Remember and don't relinquish from your mouths the eternal curse of the Nazis and their helpers who maliciously destroyed one third of our nation.
This memorial book will immortalize our loved ones, the Jews of Pschaich, and shall serve in place of a graveyard. Any time we peruse its pages we shall feel as if we are standing by their graves, because this, too, was not granted them by the murderers. The bones of our loved ones were ground and used to fertilize corn fields surrounding the camps. Holy martyrs, rest within this memorial book. It is your graveyard which we shall always visit. It is your Jewish grave which we take in our hands and let fall the tears mixed with our hearts' blood, and say with sadness and anguish:
Yisgadal v'yiskadash shmai rabbo … ! [the mourner's prayer]
Our Pschaich, as we knew her and as she is engraved upon our hearts, shall never be reestablished, but her memory shall never be forgotten by the Jewish people.
The images of our relatives, friends and acquaintances will remain engraved upon our hearts forever. We have sworn never to forget them.
This book, which will serve in every house as an eternal candle in memory of our loved ones of blessed memory, is not intended solely to memorialize the souls of our brothers and sisters. Its main purpose is that the young generation which we have raised will study it, will learn about the great suffering and annihilation that the Nazis perpetrated upon the fathers of their fathers, and will learn the lesson of the horrific Holocaust.
In addition to the book serving as a memorial to beloved martyrs and an eternal candle for their souls, this book shall serve as a rebuke and a witness in an indictment that will be served one day on the wicked and malicious world, and against the leaders of the enlightened world who watched with indifference the destruction of our people, and stood aside without taking action and without pangs of conscience, thus indirectly contributing to the annihilation of one third of our people.
Let this book be a stratum in the literature of the Holocaust, and a source of study for those who will research, in the future, the history of Israel. This, then, is the purpose of this book.
In this book, which is a commemorative monument to the memory of the citizens of our city who were murdered in the Holocaust, we felt the need and the obligation to also mention those citizens of our city who fell in the ranks of the Jewish Brigade that fought within the framework of the British Army which fought against the Nazi beast at the Italian front, and in the war of liberation of our people to establish the State of Israel, and also those who fought in the Polish Army and the divisions of partisans, and who fell on the battlefield.
Writing and editing this book is a heavy task involving a high degree of responsibility. Together with the disappearance of our loved ones, the sources of information concerning the lives of the Jews hundreds of years ago also disappeared. A portion of the few survivors who escaped the terrible events after going through the seven levels of hell, are satisfied with the silence concerning this subject. They do not wish to reopen their wounds which have yet to be healed. At every stage of our work, difficulties were encountered. Only the commands of our conscience drove us onward, and because of the great efforts expended and the difficult and painstaking work, we succeeded in gathering, sorting, rehabilitating and putting the finishing touches on the material, inserting layer upon layer to raise up this monument in the form of a memorial book.
In an objective manner, we tried to describe the city with all of its institutions, parties, personalities, wheelerdealers and leaders, events and destruction, and also noteworthy observations regarding its way of life.
Even though we did not economize the time, effort and work in publishing a perfect job, we know that this book is not complete, and if we missed events, institutions, names, facts, or if we presented incorrect dates or inexact facts, we deeply regret this and beg the forgiveness of all who are related to the matter.
Here it is worth noting that in spite of our remaining few in number after this tremendous destruction, there was a drawing together of the hearts of all the survivors of our city all over the world as we all saw ourselves as one broken family, decimated and orphaned, with one common goal, and that is to raise up this memorial monument (literally grave marker) in the form of this remembrance book to the memories of our loved ones who were murdered in the Holocaust.
We hope and believe that publishing this book will strengthen and bring together all of the citizens of our city wherever they may be, and this will give us some small consolation for our martyred loved ones who were murdered in the tremendous destruction during the years of the Holocaust.
Our utmost thanks go to all who enabled us to complete this project. Blessing on all of our friends and all of the survivors of Pschaich in Israel and the Diaspora who supplied us with material and participated in financing this book, which is an eternal memorial monument to our beloved martyrs of Pschaich, may Gd avenge their blood.
by the Editorial Staff
Translated from Yiddish by Roberta Paula Books
© by Roberta Paula Books
With solemn trembling and honest emotions, we act to publish this memorial book in order to preserve for all time the memory of our dear and beloved Pshaytsher Jews (Jews from Przedecz, called Pshaytsh in Yiddish) who were so cruelly murdered in the great Holocaust during the years 1939-1945 by the monstrous Nazis and their collaborators.
This great destruction, in which six million Jews were killed solely for the crime of wanting to live their lives as Jews, happened to us both as individuals and collectively. As individuals we were orphaned, losing our parents, sisters, brothers, wives and children, and as a group Pshaytsher (Przedecz) Jewry no longer exists.
This town is where we were born, lived, breathed the air, were surrounded by our families, enjoyed our childhood years among friends and pals, dreamed and struggled, everyone in their own way, for a better future. The town which bubbled with beautiful sophisticated Jewish youth and with loving Jews is now empty and devoid of Jews.
When the Nazis occupied Poland and also entered our town in September 1939, their first act was to burn the synagogue, and as if this was not enough for them, they also accused the Jews of Pshaytsh (Przedecz) of having set the fire. To add insult to injury, Pshaytsher Jews also had to pay taxes: -
Money, money and jewelry, required as a fine for burning the synagogue Afterwards the selections began whereby a large part of our Pshaytsher (Przedecz) Jewry was sent to labor and extermination camps, and there tens of our relatives and friends were exterminated, and on that wretched day of April 24, 1942, the 7th of Iyar 5702, the last Jews of Pshaytsh (Przedecz) were crowded into the Catholic Church and from there they were sent to the extermination camp Chelmno (a village near Kolo) where they were gassed and burned.
And we are the remnants, the small last living fragments of Pshaytsher (Przedecz) Jewry, most having lived through the holocaust, and endured a terrifying hell in the SS camps, where only a thin thread separated us from those who were killed. We stand here now, shocked and scattered, and asked with pain in our hearts: why and for what?
We, the broken and orphaned survivors, have decided to commemorate our beloved Pschaytsher Jews in the form of a memorial book.
This memorial book is a monument and a memorial candle for the martyrs from our city.
In this Yizkor book we bring to you history and fact, anguish and joy, prosperity and deprivation, years of suffering and years of happiness, each family in its suffering and fulfilment, up until the years of the Holocaust and the physical destruction and annihilation our loved ones.
It is true that a book cannot express the deepest grief, anguish and sorrow of a Jewish community which was eradicated in such a terrifying way. However our obligation is to perpetuate the memory of our dearest and erect a tombstone in the form of a memorial book where the lives of Pshaytsher Jews will be written down, covering all areas, as well as the frightful facts about the Nazi beasts who cannot be compared to anything in human history.
Remember What Amalek Did to You
It is our holy obligation to the martyrs to carry the deep grief in our hearts, and it is also our obligation carry on our lips an eternal curse for the Nazis and their collaborators who so savagely murdered one third of our people.
This memorial book which will preserve the memory of our Pshaytsher (Przedecz) relatives and friends and will also serve as substitute for a grave, and every time we take this book into our hands we will feel as if we are standing at their graves as this too was not provided to us by the murderers. The bones of our relatives and dearest were ground up and spread as fertilizer on fields, after the pain of their tortured bodies burned in crematoria.
Here in this book will you have your eternal rest, my beloved friends and relatives. This is your cemetery, where we will come regularly, this is your Jewish grave where we will shed our tears and say
yisgadol ve yisgadash sh'mei rabo (magnified and sanctified be God's great name the mourner's prayer).
The town of Pshaytsh (Przedecz) as we knew it no longer exists. But it will remain forever in our memory. Also eternally etched in our hearts are the images of our relatives, friends and acquaintances, the appearance of personalities and community workers, elderly Jews, women and children, who were so brutishly wiped out, and our oath not to forget them.
This book, an eternal light to the memory of our relatives and friends of blessed memory, has an obligation to be more than a memorial book; its task is also so that our children and grandchildren learn and teach about this terrifying period.
In addition to serving as a tombstone for our martyrs of blessed memory, and an eternal light for their souls, this book will also be a brick in building the great attested act of accusation against the criminal Nazi government. And also against the world's welfare providers and humanitarians who stood by calmly and watched the destruction of the Jews, how an entire nation, millions of people, women and small children, were annihilated, and did not react. This book will also be a contribution to Holocaust literature and a source for future researchers who will describe this terrifying period.
This is the goal of this book.
In this book which serves as a tombstone to remember our relatives and friends who were killed in the Nazi Holocaust, we feel it necessary to remember and to mention our friends who fell in battle against the German army on the Italian front in 1944, in the Jewish fighting battalion Chayil (Force) and The Fighting Jewish Division. And also the freedom fighters in the War of Independence in Israel for the establishment of the Jewish state.
We also remember our friends who fell while fighting in the Polish army against the Nazis, as well as those who fell fighting the Nazis in the ranks of various partisan units.
Writing and editing this book is a difficult and responsible work. Together with the disappearance of the Pshaytsh (Przedecz) Jewish community, the sources of information have also disappeared which could have provided us with an exact picture of Jewish life in Pshaytsh tens and hundreds of years ago. Our friends who lived through and survived the Holocaust prefer to remain silent and not reopen the infected
wounds which are still bleeding. The victims who were killed in the gas chambers and Nazi concentration camps can no longer speak. Only our strong belief that we must fulfill this holy task of immortalizing for all time the memory of our martyrs and of our Pschaycher (Przedecz) community gave us strength and courage to erect this tombstone.
We tried to present our town with total objectivity, with all its institutions, political parties, personality, descriptions and religious life: the characteristics of Pshaytsher Jewish life, Jewish professions, joys and suffering and the horrific frightful history of the Holocaust extermination and destruction.
Although we did not skimp or spare any effort, insofar as possible, to publish this book, we know it is far from perfect. Through no fault of our own, we are probably missing documentary material, institutions and names in the list of those who perished. If anyone feels hurt or insulted, we beg your forgiveness.
It is worthwhile here to mention that even though few Pshaytsher Jews survived the great Holocaust, when this book was published our townspeople gave with all their hearts. From all around the world they began to contact one another, and suddenly we saw how a broken orphaned family had a common goal, to erect a tombstone for our dear martyrs in the form of a memorial book.
It is to be hoped that publication of this memorial book will embrace and bring even closer together the hearts of Pshaytsher Jews and will provide a bit of comfort for the murdered martyrs of the Jewish catastrophe of our times.
We express our heartfelt thanks to all our friends and townspeople in Israel and abroad who helped assemble material for this memorial book as well as financially helping to create this monument to remember our dear martyrs of blessed memory.
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