During the years when the book of Kozienice was prepared for print, our children were still small. We didn't realize that most of our children in the United States, after they will grow up will not read Yiddish or Hebrew. We had therefore to translate this book into English, so that our children would be able to read about their heritage and understand why they don't have a family like all other people of this world.
We the survivors of the Holocaust have now reached the age of retirement and we know that someday our children will take over and continue the work we would never finish. Those who died in the Holocaust had left a message never to forget them. We turn this message over to you, and ask you to remember. The martyrs that died from hatred should not be forgotten for generations to come.
We had lost 6 million people and one million Jewish children among them. Our nation needs the help of each one of you. Think of your people first and stretch out a helping hand. If you are Jewish, stand up and be counted. Join any Jewish organization and become active. Preserve Jewish heritage and Jewish tradition because without it there will be no Jewish nation.
Be vigilant against our enemies. Those Neo Nazis or whatever names they hide under, are not just playing soldiers. They are preparing themselves for the day when they will be able to slaughter you, your children and every Jew they could get their hands on. We were as naïve as some of you may be. Even those who were sent to the gas chambers did not believe that such a thing is possible in a civilized world. But it was possible and it is still possible even here in the United States.
And now a few words about this book.
This book is translated for you the children of the survivors. You will find in this book stories, sometimes repeated, or sometimes contradicted. The people that wrote these articles are not trained authors. They wrote these stories as they remembered them.
But read this book anyway. Find out how your grandparents lived and how they died. Read about the life of their town and especially about the destruction and the Holocaust. Try to understand how a peaceful decent civilian population, unarmed, was suddenly caught by a brutal army, armed to its teeth and destroyed. Find out how they were betrayed by so many of their neighbors and how some had, at the risk of their own lives helped them. Should the death of our Jewish martyrs serve as a warning to the living to stand on guard and assure that another Holocaust will never happen again.
|I have never been to Kozienice.
I have not seen Magitowa Street, nor gone walking on Lublin Street. I have not looked into the Maggid's shtibl, have not set foot upon the doorstep of the Cold Shul and the great bes-medrash.
I do not know where Yossel Citrin's barracks stood, and I never paid a visit there on the sand. (OIFN ZAMD)
I have not drunk from the running well (Plimpl), not strolled along the avenues and green lawns of the Liarsky Palace with the lovers.
I have never gone along with the groups of Hasidim who came on the twelfth of Elul to visit the Maggid's tomb, eat with the rebbe and run from one rebbe tot eh next with written requests and donations.
I never secretly read the heretical Peretz with the study-house boys at Itche Nashelsker's, and I never talked politics in Yankel Zeigermacher's shop.
I never saw the specialty shoemakers, the boot makers and makers of uppers for shoes at work.
I never met the shoe hammerers and shoe shiners, the button-sewers and box-makers whose Kozienice shoes were worn in Nizhni Novogorod, Smolensk and Odessa.
To this day I do not know by what miracles the agents, home manufacturers, water-carriers, porters, messengers, carters and plain people of Kozienice managed to make a living.
Yet I see them alive and vibrant in my mind's eye, as if we were old friends.
I see them going about their business, running and bustling, buying and selling, and having nothing to make shabbes with.
I see them now rocking piously at the shabbes table, drawing out the melody of Menukha ve-Simkha (a Sabbath song) with great devotion, and dancing a mitzvah dance to the tune of Paidyom.
Now I see them in the study house between the afternoon and evening services, getting the news from old Zalmen-Barukh, who reads the Ha-Tzfirah, is well acquainted with every minister, and knows exactly whether he's good or bad for the Jews.
Now I see Hasidim in long capotes marching with a sefer-torah under a flag. They are singing under a flag. They are singing Od lo avdah to the tune of the closing service for Yom Kippur, and are going to Israel to redeem the swampy soil from desolation.
Now I see them at Yisroel Ziferman's house on Warsaw Street, at the local headquarters of the Zionist organization, having a friendly discussion or an evening of questions and answers.
Now, too, I see the band of strikers at the 1926 May Day demonstration. Their flags blush red, the banners cry Down with Fascism! The next morning the shackled demonstrators are taken to prison in Radom.
And here are the girls who monogram and embroider pillow-cases and blouses, and fight against Black Ethel for an eight-hour working day.
Where are they all? Where?
The soil of Kozienice, Pionki, Wullsa and Skarzysko has soaked up their blood. The wind has scattered their bones, dispersed them in the field of Starachowice, Szydlowiec, Blizin and Wolanow. Their ashes have fertilized the field of Treblinka, Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen.
Only a small group of Kozienicers managed to save themselves. They live today in Israel, France, Belgium, the United States, Australia and everywhere else.
I write these few words to you, the surviving Kozienicers, spread over the entire world:
Jews of Kozienice!
All that remains of Kozienice's Hasidim and preaching, Zionism and socialism, its leaders and common people, societies and organizations is the parcel of memories, the pages and few pictures of the book which we are bringing before you.
Where you are in Jerusalem or Paris, Brussels or New York, Rio de Janeiro or Melbourneopen this book, leaf through its pages, look at its pictures. Remember Kozienice, and do not forget its martyrs. Remember their daily struggle for Jewish survival, for Israel, for freedom and for independence of the Jewish people.
Tel-Aviv, November, 1969
Sabrina Goldstein born Weinstock
After five years or more facing many difficulties, financial or technical, the book of Kozienice in English translation will finally come to light.
The book was translated by Michael Wax, Doctorial candidate of literature of Toronto University and Jack Weinstein, librarian at Ivo.
Revised and set for printing by Sam Goldstein, President of the Kozienice Association. This book was translated with thoughts and completely dedicated to the second generation, that is to our children and theirs. You will learn how your close and distant relatives lived and died. People you never knew, you will laugh with them, cry with them and love with them. You will experience feelings you never had feelings of missing someone dear someone like grandparents, missing their love and caresses.
But let me describe Kozienice as I knew before the war and relive the happy times.
Kozienice, as provincial town, was surrounded with the most beautiful, dense forests. Pine trees so tall and stoic in their splendor. And young trees just coming up, so green and fresh.
Extremely picturesque was the small birch forest. So unique among the vast pine trees. Tall, white trunks, branches covered with silver-green leaves. And when the sun set on them and the wind caressed the shimmering leaves, it seemed like crystal bells ringing, whispering gently. Kozienice had a waterfall, lakes and small brooks. The youth many times went swimming to cool off in the hot summer days. Kozienice, if properly cultivated, could be a resort place. Many people came for vacation, to breathe the fresh fragrance of pine. In the surrounding neighboring villages, the Polish peasant lived and worked plowing the rich, golden wheat fields.
The Jews lived in town. Having small businesses, workshops mainly artisans, seamstresses, shoemakers, tailors pious Jews learned Talmud.
Young men and women working in these workshops, mainly located in the very houses they lived, with extremely small earnings, dreamed of a better life. Although with education not higher than elementary, and some not even this, but intelligent, eager to read and discuss and politically aware. Kozienice had even a high school where Polish families sent their children. But very few Jewish students attended. Only sons or daughters of families with better income, which were not too many.
The town came to life on Thursday every week. This was a market day. The peasants brought their goods, butter, eggs, poultry, fresh and tasty berries. And when the Jewish housewife brought them home, the house had a sweet fragrance of fresh food. In exchange, the villages bought groceries, materials, hardware, house appliances, clothing and shoes from the Jewish merchants. Businesses were profitable both ways.
Friday was another busy day, with preparations for Sabbath cleaning the house, baking, cooking. You could see elderly Jews in traditional Hassidic attire coming back from the house of prayers. Through the open windows in summer days, you could see the Shabbot candles and hear the zmirot singing after the meal. Young people also dressed for Sabbath and could not wait the minute after the meal to rush out in the street to meet each other.
The Lubelska and Radomska Streets was the promenade. You could see boys and girls strolling back and forth endlessly, lovers dreaming to set their lives together.
On the corners of Lubelska or Radomska Streets, groups of young adults involved in hot political discussions from the extreme left to the extreme right. Zionists, Bundtists and even Communists. A real U.N.
With little education, they were still well read and politically informed. Around midnight the street became deserted. On Saturday, young and old spent a leisure day in the woods, having a picnic, singing, dreaming and resting. The gray weekdays brought them back to the workshops. The Jewish youth of Kozienice was an interesting group clever, talented, worthy of proper education. The town had Misnagdim Hassidim and enlightened young people. No matter how apart they were in their way of thinking, they were close to each other. Hitler destroyed the hopes, the people and the dreams.
It is quiet now in Shtetel deadly quiet. The woods stay abandoned and wonder no more singing, young laughter, no more sweet whispers of lovers. It is quiet now in Shtetel deadly quiet.
And to the Jewish people of the town Kozienice, I dedicate my poem, The Martyrs.
Many, many thanks to our son, Paul, for finding a way to print this book within our finances. Without his help, the book never would be printed. We thank you, Paul.
By Sabina Weinstock Goldstein
|My head high erected
Dry eyes they cry no more,
Feeble a trembling voice,
Heart overflooded with grief,
I speak to you in a language
You never understood
And we did not use
You understand all the languages now
Because somewhere in all the corners
Of the world #150; Someone like I
speaks to you. Almost every minute
Of the day silently
And I say You Are Not Dead!
Your bodies just stiffen,
Your soul is alive.
Your murderers have been tickled
With vicious, brutal laughter,
When in the moments of your agony
Your scorched lips whispered the
Last Shma called a name of your child.
And yet I say you are not dead,
Your soul is alive,
Your soul is Israel. Your soul is an inspiration
For every Jewish soldier, civilian, diplomat.
And they say: We shall never be slaughtered again,
I bow my head now, and my body is stiffening,
Just like yours. I feel your pain, share your fortune,
And say Be In Peace.
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