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[Page 76]
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Drawing by Yaacov Guterman

The Jews of Plotzk in Exile

Several letters of Plotzk-born Jewish refugees, written in 1941, are published under this heading. These letters, whose originals in Polish and Yiddish are part of the "Ringelblum Archives", were written by exiled Jewish inhabitants who had been driven out by the Nazis from Plotzk in February-March 1941 and were temporarily "settled" in some small hamlets where they suffered from hunger and diseases. The victims of that deportation did not know at that time, what their final destiny would be, and they write to friends asking for help.

The common denominator of all those letters is the hope that the days of hunger and suffering and epidemic diseases will one day become a matter of the past. We further learn from them that the Plotzk Jews were discontent with the attitude shown to them by the Jews of Bodzentyn who in their opinion, did not offer them assistance. In fact all of them eventually shared the same fate, prior to their final annihilation.

Among these letters there is also one written by Hayim Flachs, a popular Yiddish writer, who published several novels and stories.

This bundle of letters ends with a detailed report compiled by prominent leaders of Plotzk refugees who lived in 1941 in Warsaw, concerning the position of the refugees in 8 different localities. This document, which is of great historical value, describes the tragic conditions of life of a few thousand hungry, sick and helpless Jews, who waited in vain for salvation, not knowing what awaited them.

[Page 76]

Jews of Plotzk Under the Nazi Terror

by D. Dabrowska

A historical survey based on authentic information gathered by the Jewish Historical Institute in Poland. The survey includes descriptions of all the events, starting on September 8th, 1939 (when Plotzk was invaded by the Germans) through the establishment of the ghetto, the various deportations, until its final liquidation on March 1st, 1941, when the "Jewish Committee" was ordered by the Nazis to bury the dead and join the last group of the deported Jews.

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Drawing by Yaacov Guterman

[Pages 77-78]


Lea Moszkowicz
Dina Inowroclawska (Zylberman)

Testimonies of Mrs. Lea Moszkowicz, the daughter of the melamed (Hebrew teacher) Benyamin Kopyto and of Mrs. Dina Inowroclawska, (ne'e Zylberman)

The former describes the death of her father, who was kidnapped and killed by the Nazis, and the latter depicts her life, from her eleventh year onwards, in various camps in which she spent the war years.

Regina Kalman

Was expelled from Plotzk in 1941, together with 10,000 Jews of the ghetto. She was sent to work under the worst possible conditions in ammunition factories. Starved, beaten by Storm-Troopers and without proper clothes, she survived only by mere chance. She was released by the Soviet army in Leipzig.

Felicja (Fela) Ravitzka

Escaped death by acquiring Aryan papers and disguising herself as a 30 year old widow. With these papers she found employment as a cashier in a big Warsaw suburban store. Her employer never knew her real identity. At the end of the war she left for England.

Unnamed Person

The testimony of the above was obtained from the files of the "YIVO" Institute, New York. He describes the situation of the Jews in the Ghetto before February 20th, 1941, the day of its liquidation. On that date – according to his testimony – the first 3000 Jews of Plotzk were driven from their homes and transported in an unknown direction.

Dr. H. Russak

The above and his wife, both Plotzk-born, studied medicine in Paris at the beginning of the war. In May 1941 he was arrested and sent to a Nazi camp. His wife remained in Paris and maintained contact with his parents who had been deported to concentration camps in Poland. The description of the conditions in his camp, as well as his wife's correspondence with him and his relatives, convey an authentic and true picture of the terrible conditions in those camps and of their inmates' daily endeavors to survive.

Dr. H. Russak's testimony ends with the approach of the Allied forces and the prisoners' last struggle with the typhus epidemic which broke out after the liberation.

R Lichtman

A letter written in Germany in 1946. R. Lichtman survived the Holocaust since he was capable of doing hard work. On his release from the Buchenwald concentration camp, his weight was only 37 kilos. He waited for the moment to leave Germany, whose soil is soaked with Jewish blood.

Simcha Mintz

A letter describing the conditions of work in a saw-mill at a little township in West Ukraine, where he lived as a refugee. He escaped there from Plotzk at the outbreak of the war and did not know at that time the fate which had met his brethren in his native town.

[Page 78]

A Reminder (“Regards”)

by Haya Elboim-Dorembus

From the book in Yiddish: "Oyf der aryszer zeit" , written by the author and published in Tel Aviv 1957

This paragraph was published in the Yizkor book of Plock, "Plock, a History of an ancient Jewish Community in Poland, editor Eliyahu Eisenberg, Tel Aviv , 1967, pages 565-566, and translated from Hebrew by Mrs. Bianca Shlesinger March 1999

…Here is Plock. My Plock. It is barely one year since I left and the town is not the same anymore. Rows of deserted houses on which red flags fluttered bearing large swastikas. Streets empty of people. Everything is full of the life that isn't anymore. At every corner – shadows of the past. The awakened shadows are kind of accompanying me, whispering with sad voices remembrances from the past. The eyes take in, with love and sadness, all that once was so near, so familiar. All the windows are hidden by curtains, most of the shops are closed. Silence everywhere, as in a cemetery. Here is Somkat street and there, by the corner, what was once my house. The shop, the window.

The gate. Should I go in? Go on, go on. My steps resound with a faint and frightful sound. There, the coffee house of Gozakwitz. The door is closed, bolted. Does Rozke sill leave in her previous room? I wish she would be home. Three more houses, and two more.

Suddenly steps. What do I hear, the Hatikva song here? I stand as petrified by the gate and am unable to move. A large group of Jews, with working tools on their shoulders, is nearing. They march in lines of four. A black square under the guard of two Germans.

"Sing, Sing! Loudly! – Shouts one of them, rising the bat of his rifle.

The loud song of Hatikva fills the empty street and rises above the roofs of the houses. The first Jew in the row is drenched in blood. Did they beat him in the eyes? His face is familiar to me, who is he? Yes, yes, it is Weinberg. His shirt and jacket are drenched in blood. He cannot see me. With his lonely eye he looks head, far away, his mouth open, full of blood, mumbling the words of "Hatikva". The German is not aware what kind of song this is…

"Louder, louder !"

* * * *

Kolgialna 11. Breathless I go up the steps and reach the door of Rozke's flat. I stop for a moment and then, gathering strength, I knock. I hear Rozke's voice. A boundless weariness overcomes me. The room spins around, together with me. Rozke holds me in her arms and cries, cries bitterly.

That same evening I went to see Weinberg, in his flat on Seroka Street. In the small room, in the corner by the sink, flickered the feeble light of a candle. His wife went about the room , silently, like a silent shadow. Weinberg lay on the bed, fully clothed. A wet cloth covered his mouth. Suddenly he jumped up and the cloth fell off, discovering a mashed face.

"You are here in Plock? How did you dare to put yourself in danger and come into this hell?"

Broken words were exchanged, words of suffering and answers. I tell him the reason for my coming. Two burning hands press into mines:

- "How I wish you to succeed to reach your home in safety. All my life I have dreamed of the Land of Israel, of a plot of land; of green pastures, of cows and sheep. I wanted to be a shepherd, a Jewish farmer in a Jewish village and eat form my own bread"….

He was completely detached from the reality of his present life and hovered about on the wings of his vision. He looked at me with his one good eye as from the depth of an abyss and whispered to me his dreams. The yellow light of the candle added to the horror of his wounded eye. The eyelashes trembled and twisted. Suddenly, In the heavy silence, a bitter crying erupted. His head fell on the pillow. His wife came forward and put a fresh wet cloth on the would. Under the cloth red tears were flowing.

- "Mr. Weinberg – I muttered – maybe you have a parents or a friend in Israel to whom you wish to send regards? If I will reach it , maybe I will reach it"…

Weinberg sat up brusquely.

- A friend? A parent? All the Jews are my friends and parents; regards? I send them as regards our today's "Hatikva", that is our "hope". Take with you the song to your new life. The day will come and the promise will be realized : "And there they will dwell until they will be commanded, God's words. And I will rise you and return you to this place". -

He fell silent. The tremulous, quivering light wandered around the room as if seeking refuge.

Outside reigned the night, silver-green, and a sense of doom prevailed in the empty streets and in the silent houses, on which hovered the red flags with the big swastikas . A pale, sickly moon crawled toward the sky, with a wounded eye and a mouth twisted by pain.

[Page 78]

Between Warsaw and Plotzk

By Michael Zylberberg

These notes were written down on the "Aryan side" of Warsaw in May 1943. They comprise memories from the period beginning October 1939. The author, who lived at the outbreak of World War II in Warsaw, decided to visit his birth-place Plotzk. He made this journey by boat on the Vistula river, being disguised as a Polish gentile. On the way he and other travelers interrupted their trip at a little Port (Wyszogrod), where they had lunch at a Jewish restaurant. That small and remote township and its tranquil atmosphere, at a time when the discrimination against Jews and the preparations for their annihilation were already in full swing all over Poland – are the main subject of this article.

The author visits Plotzk, whose name was changed by a German decree to Schroetterburg, but decides soon to leave the place. In spite of the danger involved in using the same boat on the return journey, Mr. Zylberberg succeeds, thanks to his "Aryan" physiognomy, in returning safely to Warsaw, where he continued to live in the non-Jewish part of the city.

[Page 79]

I Left the Ghetto

by Helena Mairanc – Meiri

The author of these memories was one of the many people who escaped from Plotzk to Warsaw hoping that a place where there was a greater concentration of people, would spell greater chances for survival.

She and her husband lived in a Polish quarter until the ghetto was closed. After the July-"action" of 1942 many people, especially those with "Aryan" faces, tried to escape.

Mrs. Mairanc-Meiri made contact with non-Jewish friends outside the ghetto and with the help of a Gentile who used to enter the ghetto, succeeded to leave it in his company at the beginning of 1943. Until that time she was employed as a "useful Jewess" in a factory which produced ammunition and spare parts for the German war effort.

After leaving the ghetto she destroyed her "Ausweis" (work-card) and prepared herself for a new life, disguised as an Aryan Polish woman.

[Page 79]

I Was a “Submarine” in a Nazi-Camp

by Judge Michael Koenigsberg

"Submarine" was the name given by the compensation committees, established after the war, to victims of the Nazi slave labor camps, who lived and survived with false papers.

The author of this testimony was such a "submarine". In the possession of Aryan papers, he was sent by the German Labor Office ("Arbeitsamt") to Vienna at the beginning of the war. Throughout the war he worked there under horrible conditions, underfed and poorly clothed, disguising himself as a Catholic Pole.

He tells an interesting episode – a short time before the liberation he met in the camp a Czech who, in a friendly conversation mentioned a certain book written by the Jewish author Shalom Ash. Mr. Koenigsberg pretended that he had never heard this name. He regrets that he never had a chance to meet Schalom Asch after the war in order to tell him of his popularity as a writer among non-Jews.

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[Pages 79-81]

A Revolt in Hell

This article is based on the testimony of Marian Platkiewicz, a Plotzk Jew, one of the few survivors of the Treblinka death camp. He lived until July 1942 in the Warsaw ghetto, when he was suddenly taken to Treblinka in one of the Nazi "Actions" (mass deportations]

There he was assigned to a working squad who collected the clothes of the camp victims, once they had been annihilated. He thus became an eyewitness to the process of killing people in the gas chambers. According to the quantity of clothes and the heaps of personal belongings (gold, watches, etc.) he could tell the number of Jews arriving in the camp daily (about 15,000 people).

The members of the squad to which he belonged were of course doomed to death, once they would have completed their work. The death camp was for many months disguised as a "transfer-camp", from where people were supposedly sent to "work" somewhere in the East. The signposts (like "waiting rooms", "buffet", "hospital") were fictitious, and were planned to deceive the new arrivals who would not believe until their last breath that they were led to their death.

Only those camp workers engaged, as Platkiewicz, in collecting the victims' personal belongings and other tasks, such as burning the bodies, knew the real nature of this disguised camp, which was in operation from August 1942 until August 2nd, 1943, when an uprising broke out.

The preparations for the uprising began at the beginning of that year. The first task was to accumulate the necessary amount of arms and ammunition and this could be done only by careful and extraordinary planning, which took into account the special conditions of the camp, where the various groups of prisoners were completely isolated from one another.

The initiator, planner and commander of this revolt was the unforgettable Captain Galewski, an engineer by profession. He planned, and with the help of others carried out an onslaught on a German depot of arms from which rifles and hand-grenades were taken and well hidden.

The second task was to organize groups which were to assume separate and special tasks in the general uprising. In accordance with the plan, the first act would be a hand-grenade attack on the German officers' club.

The plan worked out well and on the appointed day, late in the afternoon, the workers passed by the club and after having seen the boy taking off his hat (a sign that the Nazi officers were all inside their club) they attacked the premises with hand-grenades, which immediately started to burn.

This served as a signal for several other groups of fighters who attacked the Ukrainian sentries and then destroyed the gas-chambers. Unfortunately, the attackers did not succeed in cutting off the high tension electricity line and many of the inmates who tried to escape, according to the plan, were electrified to death by touching the barbed wire. The commander of the revolt then gave an order to open fire on the wired fence and thereby enabled the people to make a break-through.

The surprised Germans had no idea that a revolt had broken out inside the camp and thought that they were attacked by partisan fighters from the outside. Many of them were killed by the Jewish fighters who, after completing their task, escaped together with the rest of the camp inmates.

Unfortunately, they had no place to hide. They took temporary refuge in a nearby small forest where they could stay only overnight. During the night the Germans encircled the forest with troops and the majority of the fighters were killed by the Germans and their Ukrainian collaborators in the morning.

Platkiewicz, and a few of his friends, dared and succeeded to break through the German lines before dawn and later hid in a nearby village. They lived for several months in a hideout behind the barn of a friendly peasant and later joined the partisan groups which attacked German arms and supply trains and carried out many other acts of sabotage, which all contributed towards the final victory of the allies over the Nazis.

Platkiewicz survived and lives now in Israel. In 1964 he gave evidence before a Dusseldorf court in the criminal case against Kurt Franz, one of the Nazi commanders of the Treblinka camp.

Unlike the revolt in the Warsaw ghetto which is widely known in the world, the uprising in the Treblinka death camp has not yet come to the attention of the public at large.

These two historical events (as many others) refute the widely held belief that Jews were led to the slaughter like lambs, without offering resistance to their cruel oppressors.

The extraordinarily daring and heroic Jewish uprising in Treblinka, under indescribable difficulties, proves that the contrary was true.

[Page 82]

Post-War Efforts of Rebuilding

Jewish Plotzk Can Not Be Rebuilt

by Israel Gershon Bursztyn

The author, who was one of the small number of Plotzk-born Jews who returned after the war to their native town, describes the hopelessness and apathy of this tiny group which found Plotzk "Judenrein". Even after five years of suffering the Polish population of the town and its neighborhood showed its negative attitude to the returning Jews. In 1945 there occurred cases of murder in Poland and Jews were not safe in their homes, on buses or in trains. Even blood libel accusations similar to those known in the Middle Ages, were spread. The authorities, although willing to eradicate anti-Semitism, proved helpless against the bandits of the anti-Government groups, who were influenced by five years of Nazi indoctrination.

The late Mr. Bursztyn, who died several years ago in the U.S.A., was a leader of the Jewish Workers' Party in Plotzk, the "Bund", and as such all the pre-war Jewish places of Plotzk were dear to him. He describes with great nostalgia the town as it was, as well as the subsequent destruction.

We learn from this article that there were people in the town who did not surrender to the Nazis and once they realized that the destination of the deportees was extermination, they fought and encouraged their brethren to do likewise. He recalls the case of a young man who delivered an ardent speech against the Nazis and prayed that God would take revenge on them, right in the truck which took him and many others to their death.

He also describes the social activity of a man who took care of the Home for the Aged and stayed with the old people until the last moment. (A case similar to that of the Warsaw teacher Janusz Korczak, who proudly marched together with his pupils to the death-camp).

After returning to Plotzk, Mr. Bursztyn and his friends arrived very soon at the conclusion that they would have to leave this "valley of death", and find another place of residence. All their efforts to renew Jewish life in Plotzk were in vain. "The plant did not take roots again" – concludes the author.

[Page 83]

I Returned Home

by Israel Gershon Chanachowicz (Kent)

The author, a Plotzk-born refugee, left his native town a fortnight before the Second World War broke out in September 1939. He returned home after spending several years in Soviet Russia, where he worked under deplorable conditions in labor camps, longing for his birth-place without knowing what had happened there during his absence.

He describes the long train-journey from Siberia to Plotzk as a repatriate who still cherished some hope to find somebody of his family there. On returning home in 1946 he found his town empty of Jews. A Polish family lived in the house where he had spent his boyhood. After some hesitation, he entered his former home and asked its new inhabitants whether some pictures of his family were perhaps left there. In reply, the door was closed in his face with, a bang by a hostile woman.

After wandering a few days through town and meeting a handful of Jewish survivors he came to the conclusion that there was no purpose in his staying there.

The author tries to reconstruct his. memories of Jewish Plotzk's glorious past, its institutions, synagogues, organizations and cannot comprehend that this epoch is all a matter of the past. Even the cemetery had been destroyed. The Germans had taken the tombstones to Germany and now no evidence was any longer available concerning the previous existence of a great Jewish community in Plotzk.

[Page 83-84]

Post-War Activities

A Memorial Meeting in Liberated Plotzk

On March 3rd, 1946 a meeting took place in Plotzk of' the handful of survivors, who had returned to town from the death camps, from Russia, from hideouts or places where had they lived disguised as Aryans. The chairman, Alfred Blei, paid tribute to' the memory of the nearly 9.000 Jews who were annihilated.

Messrs David Lichtenstein, Koenigsberg, Zielonka, Eisenberg, Platkiewicz and Margolin described the sufferings of the Plotzk Jews in the war years at all the stations of their torturous road td death.

One of the participants of the Treblinka uprising dedicated his" speech to the Plotzk Jews and other inmates of this death camp who had planned and carried out an attack on their Nazi oppressors, killed many of them and freed hundreds of Jews from that camp. Unfortunately they were eventually overpowered by the Germans and their Ukrainian helpers, and many of' them were killed. But with their death they proved that the Jews, whenever possible, made valiant attempts to fight their oppressors.

The chairman A. Blei encouraged the remnants of the old Plotzk community, among them a number of people from nearby Sierpc, to carry on Jewish life.

Re-burial Ceremony of Nazi Victims

On October 21st, 1946 a re-burial ceremony of 25 Plotzk Jews who were killed by the Nazis near Imielnica village, was held. All the survivors who had returned to Plotzk as well as Government officials attended the ceremony. The dead were commemorated in speeches held by the Committee Chairman Alfred Blei and others.

Judge Koenigsberg gave a historical survey of Jewish life in Plotzk. Representatives of nearby localities were also present.

Summary of the Activities by the Committee of Plotzk Survivors

This is an excerpt of an article published in "Dos Naye Lebn" (New Life) Warsaw, No.20 of 1948, by M. Tirman, after his visit to Plotzk.

He describes the life of the survivors who tried to resettle after the war in Plotzk. Those who returned were assisted by central Jewish institutions in Poland and abroad. Great efforts were made to establish social and cultural institutions and to rebuild Jewish life. Alfred Blei and Mr. and Mrs. Koenigsberg distinguished themselves in this task and helped all those Jews who returned to town. 50 Jewish children were born in Plotzk after, the war and a lot was done to make conditions easier for their young mothers. A drama circle was established in order to restore cultural life, as it had been before the war.

The author also mentions the preparations made by the Architect Benjamin Arye Leib Perlmuter and the heads of the community towards the erection of a monument in memory of the martyrs.

Unveiling of the Monument

A few hundred survivors of the Plotzk Jewish community assembled on October 23rd, 1949 and unveiled a monument in everlasting remembrance of the town's community. Representatives of nearby Jewish communities as well as of the authorities, were present. The Mayor of Plotzk, who was honored by unveiling the monument, noted that Jews had lived in Plotzk since 1237 and had always been loyal to the town.

The white stone monument was erected according to designs drawn by the Plotzk Jewish Architect Benjamin Arye Leib Perlmuter, in the shape of a tent. Its inscription reads "For these things I weep" (Lamentations, 1, 16) and a list of names of the 25 victims, whose bodies were exhumed there from their temporary graves, is added.

Representatives of the Polish army, the Central Committee of the Jewish survivors in Poland and of the Jewish combat organization delivered eulogies in memory of the victims.

[Page 85-86]

Associations of Plotzk Jew All Over the World

Plotzk Jews in Israel

We have no details regarding the first immigrants who left Plotzk for Eretz Israel in the years before the Zionist movement was founded. Only one of them is known: Rabbi Tuvia Rubinstein came to Eretz Israel in 1875, and was known in Jerusalem by the name "Tuvia the Plotzker".

Julian Golde came to Eretz Israel in 1909, and joined the Kinneret group.

In 1925 there were already about 30 former Plotzk people in the country and in that year they held their first rally in Tel-Aviv. Although they did not establish a permanent organization, they used to meet, arrange parties and visit each other from time to time. Most of them lived in Tel Aviv, where the Shoshani home served as their centre.

Organizational activity started only in 1945, when survivors of the war began to arrive in the country. A Committee with members from Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem was elected that year. Its primary function was helping newly arrived Olim (immigrants to Eretz Israel) and sending money and clothing to the survivors in Plotzk, France, Holland etc.

The organization came into contact with former Plotzk people in the U. S. A., Argentine and elsewhere, asking them to render assistance to the survivors.

Once the relief work came to an end, the organization suffered a setback. Only after 1949 a group of members: Itzhak Ben-Shai, Eliyahu Eisenberg and others constituted themselves as an executive committee. Their main task was to help Olim to settle in the new State by granting loans, finding suitable employment and housing for them.

The 28th of Adar – on which the Jews of Plotzk were driven from their town by the Nazis – was proclaimed as a Memorial Day. On that day all Plotzker Landsleit in Israel convene every year in Tel Aviv with their families and after a memorial ceremony and the "El Male Rachamim" prayer, the committee reports on its activities in the past year and a new committee is elected. The 1951 convention was attended by Itzhak Grinbaum, and the establishment of "Irgun Yotzei Plotzk" (the Organization of Jews from P³ock) was then formally announced.

When after 1957 scores of Plotzk-born families arrived in the country, the association increased its activities and the newly established Loan Fund (based on the legacy of the late I. G. Burshtyn) made it possible to grant interest-free loans to all the needy arrivals.

The committee passed a resolution to publish a Memorial Book of Plotzk. Although two such books in Yiddish already appeared, one in the Argentine and the second by the late Shlomo Greenspan in New York, it was felt that a book in Hebrew was needed, since Hebrew is the language of all Plotzk people and their children in Israel.

Eliyahu Eisenberg, the Vice-Chairman of Irgun Yotzei Plotzk, was appointed as Editor and he worked together with an editorial board, consisting of Messrs Moshe Rubin (Chairman' of the organization), Itzhak Ben-Shai, Itzhak Tinski, Benyamin Galewski and the late Shlomo Greenspan.

The Committee found several other suitable ways to commemorate the Plotzk Jewish Community. – A forest of 2.000 trees was planted in the "Martyrs Forest" of the Jewish National Fund near Jerusalem. The funds for the planting of these trees were collected from landsleit in Israel and in U.S.A. A memorial plaque was put up in the Martyrs Chamber on Mount Zion in Jerusalem.

[Page 86-87]

In Memoriam

by Itzhak Barak (Zeligman)

Born 1893, a founder-member of "Maccabi" in Plotzk and gymnastics teacher at the Jewish Gymnasium. From 1923 on one of the leaders of "Hehalutz" in town, he went with wife and daughter to Eretz Israel in 1925. Continued in his profession and became active in the Hagana, where he was put in charge of the underground arms production. He foiled many attempts by the British to discover arms and ammunition, and was very popular with members of the Hagana. Was given the rank of Lt. Col. in the Israel army, and went on several missions to various countries, in order to purchase arms, although his health, and that of his wife Clara, had suffered during the time of the underground. Was active in the Plotzk Association and always tried to help those in need. Passed away in 1954.

Mordechai Licht

Born in Plotzk, educated at the Jewish Gymnasium, where he interrupted his studies to go on Hachshara. At the age of 18 he went to Eretz Israel, worked first in Rishon Lezion and joined afterwards, with his wife and their two sons, the Moshav of Ein Vered. He devoted all his strength to the development of his farm under most difficult circumstances. During the disturbances of 1937 he was ambushed and murdered together with three friends by Arabs on their way home from the fields.

Josef Rosenfeld

Born 1926 in Plotzk, was brought to Eretz Israel by his parents at the age of eight. Worked as a mechanic in British army camps and joined the Hagana in 1943, where he carried out several important tasks with great devotion. Was sent together with another 14 people to destroy a road bridge in Western Galilee – "Gesher Haziv" – where the whole group found their heroic death. He will always be remembered as one of the freedom fighters of Israel.

Eliaiiu Kruvi (Kapusta)

A member of Hehalutz in Plotzk went on Alyia in 1938. Worked at carpentry in Rishon Lezion, where he was socially active on behalf of his fellow-workers. Was killed in the bombing of Rishon Lezion during the War of Liberation (1948).

Itzhak Rosenfeld

Came to Eretz Israel from Plotzk in 1925. Worked at a metal plant in Haifa. Was killed in the air-raid of the Tel Aviv Central Bus station in 1948.

Uri Kinamon

Son of Frida, ne'e Makower, and Josef. Born 1935 at Kfar Hess, he received in his parents' home an education which led him to a life of pioneer ideals and agricultural work. Serving in the Israeli Defense Army he was among the members of a new border settlement, Amatzia. He lost his life on duty in 1956 in the Negev.

Hersh Cohen

A wealthy merchant in Plotzk, which he left in 1921 together with his family to settle in Eretz Israel. He experienced great difficulties of adjustment, but stayed on in spite of many crises. A horse, gone wild in the streets of Tel-Aviv, caused his death.

Yechiel Avivi (Fliderblum)

Born in Plotzk, educated at the local high school, joined "Hehalutz" and immigrated to Eretz Israel in 1926. A founder-member of Kibbutz Givat Hashlosha, afterwards worked in the building trade and with the Railways, where he was elected to the Workers Committee. Later on took a job in Haifa port. After the establishment of the State of Israel he founded a Histadrut company for the handling of imported goods which he headed till 1953, when he established the "Maritime Company" for Customs Brokerage. For many years chairman of the Customs Brokers Organization in Haifa and active in communal work. A serious illness brought his life to an all too early end.

Yaakov Fishman

A leader of Hashomer Hatzair in Plotzk. Studied at Warsaw University and was a teacher at the Prilutzky Hebrew Gymnasium there. Went to Eretz Israel at the end of the thirties, worked hard in building and porterage, but eventually returned to teaching. For many years Director of the Elementary School – in Bet Chanan, he educated the local youth with great love and devotion. A serious illness caused his death in 1966.

[Pages 88-89]

History of the Plotzker Young Mens’ Association
in New York

by Harry Lipner – Secretary

In the last few years of the 19th century many Plotzk Jews left Poland and emigrated to the United States of America. Because of economic necessity, and a desire to keep their social contacts with their fellow landsleit, they organized themselves into a society, under the above name, in the year 1893. The early leaders of this. group were A. Sanitsky, L. Langman, S. Kaufman, M. Heyman, I. Raphael and J. Safian.

The primary functions of the Society were to provide financial assistance when necessary, Sick and Sheva benefits, funeral allowances to the families, and Death Benefits to the widows of deceased members. In later years the Society took a great interest in general and national Jewish organizations, and is making annual contributions to the United Jewish Appeal, Histadrut, Hias, Ort, and Federation of Jewish Charities of Greater New York. Throughout its history our Society has been one of the most active and respected branches of the Federation of Polish Jews in America.

During the depression years of 1929-1930 many of our members were out of work and in great financial need. Through the generous contributions of some of our members a Loan Fund was quickly established. This fund took care of all our members in distress, and has been functioning satisfactorily ever since.

After the First World War our Society, together with a group of Plotzker landsleit, raised a fund of several thousand dollars to help our brethren in our home town. We also sent a sum of money to the Jewish Hospital in Plotzk, to establish a. ward in our honor.

After the Second World War we, together with our Ladies Auxiliary, again raised a fund of over $ 9000.00 which we distributed in cash, clothing, food packages, or machinery, to our surviving landsleit in Plotzk, DP Camps in Germany, Sweden, Canada, United States and Israel. This timely aid helped many individuals and families to start their lives anew, and to tide them over the initial difficulties of readjustment to post-war conditions.

With the establishment of the State of Israel we raised a substantial sum of money to help our landsleit in Israel establish a Loan and Relief Fund; plant over two thousand trees in the Plotzk section of the Martyrs Forest in the Judean Mountains, and prepare and publish a Memorial History in honor of the Martyred Dead of the Plotzk Jewish Community. During the past ten years the Society purchased over $ 5000.00 worth of Israel Government Bonds.

A few years ago, when the Society purchased new cemetery grounds, an impressive Memorial Gate was erected at its entrance to honor the memory of the Martyred Dead of Plotzk Jewry.

Throughout its long history the Society has been – blessed with able and devoted leadership. Among those who have already passed to the Great Beyond, besides those mentioned above, were the late Ex-presidents H. Domb, J. Wollman, D. Goldberg, L. Davis, I. Wisla, B. Dolman, M. Roberts, A. Rosenthal, S. Iron, and J. Gluckson.

The living Ex-Presidents, who have given much of their time and. efforts for the welfare of the Society, are S. Bornstein, Sol. Hyman, H. Lipner; L. Bomson, S. Sturman, M. Levy, J. Gomberg, S. Steinberg, B. Kosh, and M. Magnes.

At the present time the officers of the Society are:

Pres. – Geo. Seeman
V-Pres. – Dr. K. Bach, and C. Okolica
Treas. – S. Bornstein
Fin. Secy. – H. Lipner
Rec. Secy. – J. Gomberg
Trustees - M. Weitzman; J. Bernstein, N. Fink

Looking back at the record of the Society, extending over a period of seven decades, we see a record of many great accomplishments. We are proud of this record. The only sad note in this story concerns the ever-dwindling numbers in our membership. With the complete annihilation of the Jewish Community in Plotzk, and the complete stoppage of immigration to the United States, the main source of new membership has been destroyed. The younger people born in America consider themselves as American Jews only, prefer to join national Jewish organizations, and do not see any reason for continued existence of a traditional attachment to the memory of a Jewish community that exists no more. The active and older members of the Society can hardly 'find any fault in this attitude when we see a considerable number of refugees, born in Plotzk and now settled in the United States, turning a deaf ear to our appeals to join our Society.

[Page 89]

Shlomo Greenspan – in Memoriam

by Bezalel Okolica

Shlomo Greenspan, one of those who helped us in obtaining material for this book, died unexpectedly on November 5th, 1966. He devoted many years of his life to the collecting of everything bearing any connection to Jewish life in Plotzk in the past. He frequently published articles on Plotzk's history in Yiddish journals in the U. S. A. and Canada, as well as a book on this subject.

The Scientific Institute in Plotzk decided after his sudden death, to award him a posthumous medal.

Shlomo Greenspan made arrangements to settle in Israel, but unfortunately he did not live to see the realization of his life-dream.

May his soul rest in life eternal.

[Page 90]

Plotzk Jews in the Argentine

The emigration of Jews from Plotzk to the Argentine started after the First World War and increased especially during the years of the Grabski crisis (1924-25). During those years the Plotzk people in the Argentine did not yet organize themselves, and only with the beginning of the Second World War were permanent activities started.

A temporary Committee was elected at a meeting which took place on November 10, 1939, at the house of Mr. N. Lerman, consisting of Messrs. M. Magnes – Secretary; S. Leibgot – Treasurer; N. Lerman and M. Lutenberg – organizers. The first General Meeting was convened in January 1940 and it elected a Standing Committee under the chairmanship of S. Pencherek. A hall was rented and a loan-fund for needy Plotzk immigrants established.

When the full impact of the Holocaust, which had wiped out the Jewish Community of Plotzk, became known, former Plotzk Jews in the Argentine did their utmost to extend assistance to the survivors. Funds, clothing and medical equipment were sent to the survivors jointly with the Plonsk and Nowy Dwor landsleit. The proceeds of various meetings and shows were also earmarked for this purpose.

Cultural activities were carried out in Buenos Aires, where a library was established, mainly through the efforts of the Hon. President of the Plotzk Association in Argentine, Mr. Israel Schreiber Halevi, who contributed many of his books to it.

A 246-page Plotzk Memorial Book, edited by Mr. Josef Horn in the Yiddish language was published by the Association in 1945.

More than 70 families who hail from Plotzk, mostly employees, artisans and some merchants, live today in the Argentine. Two of these have settled in Israel.

[Page 90]

Plotzk Jews in France

by Hanka Zimmerman

Scores of former Plotzk Jews lived before the second World War in Paris, where they studied and eventually settled down.

At the outbreak of the war some of them joined the anti-Nazi underground movement and found their death in the fight against the oppressors or in the annihilation camps.

The small group of Plotzkers, who survived, established there the "Association of Jews from Plotzk and vicinity", with the purpose of helping survivors financially and morally.

A touching last letter of a Plotzk Jew named Menachem Banach, who, before being put to death in Drancy concentration camp, wrote to his wife and daughter asking them to carry on and wait hopefully for a better life in a new world of peace and happiness, is quoted in the article.

[Page 91]

Plotzk Jews in Various Countries

by Hanka Zimmerman


About 30 families from Plotzk live in Australia, mostly in Melbourne. The activities preceding the publication of this book arose their interest and they raised monies and contributed material. At the head of this undertaking stood the well-known Mr. I. M. Oliver (Ilover), assisted by D. Kowal, R. Strzyg, G. Szwarc, S. Rechtman. Regular correspondence with the Plotzk Association in Israel has been started.


Five families from Plotzk live in London and vicinity. The contact with them is weak and actually only Michael Zylberberg, who occupies an important position in the Jewish cultural live of England, is taking an interest in the commemoration of the Plotzk Jewish Community and has supplied important material for this book. His visits to Israel and various European and American countries have enabled him to meet with many of our landsleit.

USA – West Coast

Approximately 15 former members of the Plotzk Community live in Los Angeles. They have met several times during the last two years thanks to the initiative of Benjamin Grey (Graubart), who has made great efforts to raise funds and assist us in our endeavors.


Ten families, who hail from Plotzk, live in Toronto and Montreal. Mr. Harry Koren (Korzen) maintains contact between them and the Plotzk Association in Israel.

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