[Page V English] [Pages 13, 16 Hebrew, Yiddish]
Ner Tamid--the Eternal Light
In the following pages an attempt is made to give the surviving townsfolk of Staszów and their families as lively and accurate a picture as possible of the community from which they sprang as we remember it and as it will never be again.
Staszów was one of the countless small Jewish towns of Poland, one of the stetlech. There was nothing very remarkable about it. It did not harbour any particularly outstanding writers or great scholars. But what it had, above ail else, was a Jewish population that was deeply rooted and fully steeped in the traditions of many, many centuries. It had a lively, effervescent Jewish community whose members were concerned for the existence and future of the Jewish people; a group who felt themselves to be part and parcel of the Jewish whole.
Here was a community with its lights and shadows, its pains and its longings, its griefs and hopes. It was another of those many congregations which devoted themselves wholly and entirely to the constant purpose of maintaining and fostering their national and human character, their religious and national being. Now it has gone forever, because of the deeds perpetrated by the Nazis.
We all know that had it not been for this dire calamity, the living Staszów would never have been in a position to spare time from the struggle for existence, in the hopeless conditions of the Exile, and make a permanent record of itself and all that had befallen it. Nor, it seems to me, would we have sensed any need for such a record, since none of us would ever have felt the slightest desire to become writers. We would certainly have left it to the professional historians to turn over the brittle, yellow pages of old records and documents.
Yet Jewish Staszów was wiped out among all the other holy congregations. And that in itself is sufficient to lay upon us the awesome duty of commemorating our mother-city. It is laid upon us to hallow the memories of the scholars and disciples of the sages, the Jews in her streets, the Hasidim and pious Jews who held to the traditions of our fathers and those Jews who tried to move on and away from them; all of whom lived and laboured in that community.
And at this point I should make a confession. In the month of March 1959, when the Publication Committee asked me to undertake the collection, preparation and editing of material, I was taken aback not so much by surprise as by the very idea. I did not feel myself worthy of this holy and difficult task. Besides, the difficulties of making a living left me with the feeling that it would never be finished in time. I could not make up my mind whether to agree or refuse.
However, two attempts to entrust the editing to talented and suitable persons, not from our town, both failed. That made matters even worse. Yet I consoled myself with the thought that the two persons in question were both complete strangers to ail that had once made up Staszów, whereas I had known every detail about it. This was no trifle in a task of such a kind, and might even atone for any lack of talent and experience. In addition, the Committee suddenly became absolutely helpless. It seemed for a while as though the whole idea of the volume, in which so much toil was already invested, would fade away; as though that beloved Staszów whose spiritual air we were still breathing would vanish entirely, leaving nothing behind for our children and those who would come after. And so finally, fully aware though I was of my own limitations, I agreed to undertake this task.
I must aver that I approached the task praying and hoping that I might not fail, that I might show no bias but be as objective as was humanly possible. I have set out to give a faithful picture of the Staszów which is engraved in our common memory. I do this for ourselves, for the new generation that never knew the city or our desperate struggle in the Exile when we did our best to preserve valid spiritual and human qualities that were the heritage of past ages; and in order to record the malice and evil of those among whom we lived for hundreds of years.
Finally, if this volume adds some authentic details to the tale of what befell our people during those years of inconceivable inhumanity on the part of the Nazis and their henchmen--that will be our reward. For thereby we shall he paying an elementary debt to the hallowed martyrs of our birthplace on the one hand, while on the other making a modest contribution to the growing and terrifying literature of the Shoah--the Extermination of European Jewry.
It is impossible to end this Foreword without expressing my thanks and appreciation for the ample help given me by a number of persons; help without which it would have been impossible to produce this volume at all. They are:
The late Hershel Pomerantzblum of New York. He was an aged, wise, devoted and responsible maskil who, though he was thousands of miles away, always provided sound and sensible advice on all that concerned the contents of this volume. He also devoted much effort to his search for material, using his connections with success for the greater part. Though he has not lived to see this volume appear, it is only fitting to add: May his memory be blessed!
Shlomo Heiman and Menahem Lipschitz, members of the Publication Committee, have regarded this as a veritable life-work. They have devoted their time, energy and talents to helping complete this onerous task.
Moshe Rutenberg, for his great devotion as a member of the Committee and for the collection of pictures which he made available for the book.
Mordechai Sossevitz has helped to obtain subscriptions from the Staszów townsfolk all the world over, and has been of the utmost assistance in all technical work.
And all other contributors and participants, as well as all those who have helped to ensure its publication.
[Page VI English] [Pages 20, 21 Hebrew, Yiddish]
When those of us who were actively concerned with the memory of the Staszów Community and congregation first met about ten years ago in order to consider the best way of preserving their memory, we found that opinions were widely divergent. It was indeed clear that there could be no better form of commemoration for the People of the Book than a book. We knew that there was nothing to compare with a book that, by means of its words and pages, can contain and present the living essence and death throes of our centuries-old community, which was destroyed by the Nazis never to rise again. At the same time, and in spite of this deep awareness, there were some who suggested other forms of memorial. The reason was the reluctance felt on account of the great difficulties involved in preparing a book of this kind, and the well-founded apprehension that no matter how much good will we showed, we would not have sufficient strength or power for the task. Hence, even after the decision had been taken and while the collecting and preparing of the material was going on, the doubts and discussions were difficult and depressing; so that it sometimes seemed that under our conditions and with our possibilities the entire idea was unrealistic, and it would he beyond our powers to carry it out in practice.
In spite of this we reached the point at which I can, indeed must, write these few lines. Still, it is my elementary duty to stress that the achievement of this difficult objective was made possible thanks only to the obstinacy and boundless devotion of a handful of people who by slow, patient and ant-like-labour overcame both the technical difficulties and the spiritual doubts, until they finally gained their objective: The publication of this Memorial Volume to the Jewish Community of Staszów.
It is not for us to express an opinion as to the value of this work of ours. Yet it may be said at once: Under no conditions should a work of this kind be judged or assessed by normal literary standards. The measuring-rods used for literature cannot be applied here. The essence of a Memorial Volume lies in its presentation of the deeds and achievements of actual individuals and a community that, in our case, existed for hundreds of years.
Its purpose is to provide an everlasting memorial to all those dear souls -- men, women and children who in their innocence and faith, by dint of boundless toil and weariness, hoped to continue and find continuation -- the natural and elementary right of every human being fashioned in the image of God -- and who were led to destruction by a Satanic band so that their memory has been lost from off the earth.
But the value of such a work is to give expression, for history's sake and for the handful of survivors, to the spiritual and physical image of our community as this was reflected in its existence and struggle, its joys and sorrows, its hopes and its destruction.
Participants in this volume, including the editor, are not professional writers. We are simple people, mostly manual workers, clerks, shopkeepers and the like, and our craft does not lie in the pen. This fact also largely determines the level, style and language of the book. In many cases it has also made it necessary to re-work the material very thoroughly. At the same time stress has constantly been laid on the individual character of each essay, while devoting maximum attention to preserving what is different and specific.
Much toil has been devoted to expanding the circle of participants, and not without success. Yet it should be noted that those from whom we expected most were the ones who disappointed us most bitterly. Some, indeed, did not reply at all. This was an important element in our difficulties and also caused a great deal of time to be wasted
Yet we can remark with much satisfaction that there were also encouraging factors. First, let us mention the generous material aid of our comrades and brethren in the Diaspora who came from Staszów, without whom it would have been impossible to realise this project at all.
Second, the members of the Publication Committee, particularly those who actually engaged in the task from beginning to end, namely: Menahem Lipshitz, Moshe Rotenberg, M. Sussowicz and the undersigned and, of late, also Jacob Shiloni and Meir Bluestein.
Finally, the Editor, our fellow-townsman Elhanan Ehrlich, thanks to whose great devotion to the task imposed upon him the book to which we all aspired has become a reality.
For the Publication Committee
[Page VIII English] [Page 513 Yiddish]
by Elhanan Ehrlich
(Address delivered at the gathering held in Tel Aviv on the 16th Memorial Day)
And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life.
Deuteronomy XXlX, 66
Bowed and bent in grief we have gathered here this evening, on the Sixteenth Memorial Day, on that day of the year when the sentence of absolute destruction was fulfilled on the ancient congregation of Staszów, with its old people and its young, its babes and women, its rabbis and Hasidim, its teachers and maskillim, including -- the school-children.
Within the setting of the destruction and extermination campaign which overwhelmed the Jews of Europe wherever the hands of the Germans reached them -- our little town was destroyed on that sad day of the 28th of Marheshvan, 5703, the day on which Staszów our former home was overwhelmed and subjected to a slaughter that makes us tremble.
The gay and happy voices of the children have become silent forever. Their activities were paralysed eternally, those activities which united a nation and the whole world, the activities of sons and daughters. Everlasting silence has been decreed for the wisdom of the aged.
As we join ourselves this evening to their holy memory -- let us honour those who dwell in silence by rising and standing silent.
Stunned by a stupefying thunder that paralyses the senses, shaken and terrified by the force and dimensions of the horror which poured forth in all its fullness of cruelty on our people, all counsel and the very image of man lost, when before the ravening beast and its assistants we were brought face to face with that sole occasion in human history, that nightmare which was transformed into true reality. We faced the murder of a whole people, calculated and organised in a form and fashion that can not be believed when it is told.
Likewise our own history, a history that is filled to overflowing with startling and tempestuous drama, drama that is brimful of the distress and anguish, persecution and riots, from which out people suffered during its long exile; that history in the course of which our people met such cruel peoples and rulers as Amalek, Titus, Torquernada, Chmelnitsky, Petlura and others, peoples and rulers who wrought their plans against us, some in order to fetter our spirits in bonds and some in order to offer our bodies to the whippers ~ even our blood-stained history shows no example or likeness comparable to what the Nazis have done to us.
For while all our oppressors who have already been referred to aimed at degradation, oppression, assimilation or blood-letting -- those Nazis with their cursed and satanic thoroughness such as eyes have never seen, ears have never heard and no human comprehension can grasp, were aiming at complete and total annihilation. And indeed the Nazi demon, that monster in its most abominable incarnation, with its host of destructive ministers and partners belonging to the lowest of human kind succeeded in carrying out their evil purpose among the overwhelming majority of European Jewry. Indeed, in but a little while longer not even a vestige or remnant, God forbid, would have been left!
In that fateful and horror-filled night, the night of the 28th of Marhershvan 5703, which was the 8th of November 1942, those angels of wickedness the Nazis and their assistants the Poles, the Lithuanians and the Ukrainians, swooped down on our little town Staszów, surrounding it from every side and approach. They brought forth all our dear ones into the street at the dawn, mishandled them cruelly and brazenly, set them in rank in accordance with their love of order and led them away under an unceasing fusillade of shots ~ to the place from which none return!
And Staszów, our small city, drank the goblet of venom to the very dregs -- drank and reeled and fell.
And our town, steeped in Jewishness and filled with Jews of all types and circles with their old and their young, their babes and their womenfolk, their toilers and merchants, Workers and members of the middle-class, men of Torah and scholars, rabbis and slaughterers, full believers and progressives, pious and free, intellectuals and plain folk, Zionists and stay-where-we-areists – this small town which until that accursed day had longingly awaited a miracle, some miracle that would befall and redeem it from the rending claws of the beasts, looked round in all directions, above and below, yet there was no vision and none to hearken, -- storm and night alone.
The last words of Malka Chaveles to the German murderers: Know, your defeat is near. All those who tried to destroy Israel, were themselves utterly destroyed. We have had many oppressors in our history and outlived them all--we will outlive you as well. Hitler's fate will be like the fate of Titus
That colourful community with all its roots and branches known as Staszów Jewry, with its educational and vocational, economic and political, traditional and secular institutions, almost all of which were imbued with and seethed with life and energy and fostered hopes for a better future, some by the work of ants at the spot -- and others by preparing the body and soul for the old yet ever new homeland; that community, formerly so vital and lively, active and acted-on, influenced and influential, learning and guiding -- with a single wave of a wicked hand its breath was cut off forever. And the town became a heap of ruins and a place of desolation where jackals in the form of murky figures swooping on the spoil went wandering about.
And we, who were brought face to face with this dreadful horror, this horror which even the most pathological and abominable human imagination would be incapable of inventing; we, who were orphaned of fathers and mothers; bereft of wives and children, brothers and sisters; surrounded by a sea of animosity, vengeance and joy at our discomfiture -- not only were we deprived of every possibility of taking an active part, no matter how meagre, in any avenging measures whatsoever which the local youth tried to organise but were prevented, but we were left without even one chance in a thousand of being privileged to see with our own eyes how vengeance would come to those crazed beasts and their assistants -- those most abominable barbarians of all times and generations.
For of all the frozen and slain feelings -- the only one remaining to us was: A feeling of endless and boundless hatred and vengeance, a feeling which was potentially capable of leading to armed resistance, no matter how miserable in its dimensions, if only the objective conditions in our immediate vicinity had permitted this in any form whatsoever.
And this is said not only in order to purify ourselves of the stigma of being led like sheep to the slaughter but in order to state the fundamental fact of a historic situation that could not be changed, a situation which nipped in the bud any thought of resistance to the Nazis insofar as it may have existed.
To our misfortune and shame, not only ours -- maybe not ours at all but chiefly of the supposedly cultured world ~ the idea of physical and active resistance in our Staszów surroundings was absolutely unreal.
For the reality was so dreadful that while part of the Polish population, incidentally the best of all, were indifferent and passive to the distress and destruction brought on us, save for individuals who naturally did not have the strength to change the general situation even by a hair's breadth -- the remainder, spurred on by some inner urge, enthusiastically collaborated openly with the murderous conquerors, investing toil and effort in order, even before our eyes, to hand over every Jew who fell into their hands.
And meanwhile the impure and abominable horde continued to advance from strength to strength, drowning one Jewish community after another in mire and mud, in tears and blood. As for the holy and pure, innocent and upright victims, their transgression was too heavy to bear and their sin was beyond all atonement, for they were born children of an ancient and noble-spirited race -- the race of Israel on which destruction had been decreed.
And ~ horror was not carried out in secret, casually or by chance. It was implemented in the full light of the sun, and as it were with the silent approval of the leaders of the world who did not raise a finger in order to prevent it. It was carried out for years in organised and calculated fashion, with the precise and accursed German accuracy, and with a cruelty that has no comparison in human history since Man first appeared on earth.
And the unclean and hateful oppressor arrogantly imagined that he would be able to mount the clouds and impose his evil and satanic, sadistic, pathological rule and demonic kingdom in all its bare nakedness in order to make it the dominant force over men and world alike.
Heavy mourning came down on those who escaped the sword in our city.
Dejection and depression brought our stature low.
Suffering and degraded, blood-stained and bleeding we wandered.
Like shadows we moved furtively along the walls. Helplessness and dread despair consumed our flesh.
Shame that was scorching, piercing and penetrating to the deeps of the soul burnt within us.
It burnt within us, the remnants, the brands plucked from the fire of bell.
And the pent abysmal pain found no relief!
In bringing back the memory of those bitter and broken days for the purpose of uniting ourselves with the souls of our beloved martyrs who were rent away from us in the flower of their 1ives when they had done no ill;
THOSE DAYS in which the sword bereft without and there was dread in the rooms;
THOSE DAYS -- in which in the morning thou shalt say would it were evening and in the evening thou shalt say would it were morning;
THOSE DAYS--when God-fearing saintly believers and hasidim charged the heavens with their piercing and heartbreaking claim -- if it did not rend the skies apart--wherefore and why hast thou done such a thing to us? Wherefore and why does every nation dwell in its own place -- yet thou hast decreed this annihilation only for thy people?--
IN THOSE DAYS it was impossible even to console ourselves in the terms of the once familiar song, Why does the soul come down so low ~ it must come down in order to rise.
For in this case not only had the souls descended but the bodies had been brought low with them, and the wrath had gone forth not only in order to purify transgressions in the World of Judgment, but it was a descent to the very grave, to a grave from which there was no arising any more; and the fury was poured forth not only on individuals but, as it were, the entire nation had been sentenced to be blotted from the face of the earth.
And this general distress could not even serve us as half a comfort, in the words of the proverb. On the contrary, it served as a source of deep and very real concern and apprehension, leading to dreadful and overwhelming despair. For maybe, and God forbid, it was after all false that Israel would be eternal. Maybe the Eternal One of Israel does lie! Maybe, God forbid, the glowing coals would be entirely extinguished and all memory of out existence would be blotted out!
For on the-one side of the barricades were:
A NEFARIOUS POWER, equipped with the most destructive weapons there were;
A NEFARIOUS POWER, in boundless control throughout the areas of occupation;
A NEFARIOUS POWER, which with sadistic satisfaction and satanic perfidy carried out its most degraded purposes without the slightest hesitancy and with no human feeling whatsoever;
A NEFARIOUS POWER, whose main fury was poured forth on our suffering and tortured nation;
A NEFARIOUS POWER, which had firmly resolved to exterminate, slay and destroy men, women and children to the very last one of them;
A NEFARIOUS POWER, whose technical resources were the most up-to-date and best that existed, whose methods were organisation, order and astounding precision, whose partners were the lowest of the low among the conquered peoples within whom ravening beastliness slumbered in normal times; yet in these terrifying and apocalyptic days the beast had awakened from sleep, snapped its shackles and set to work with might and power, with fervour and zeal as equal partners in this impure and contemptible task of destruction and murder for their own sake.
And on the other side of the barricades were:
A JEWISH COMMUNITY into which during more than three years of conquest by the polluted ones there had been introduced, in accordance with the principle of divide and rule and in thousands of other fashions, the black feeling that there was no escape or refuge from the bitter fate marked for them by the murderous conqueror;
A JEWISH COMMUNITY which had been brought in systematic and calculated fashion to a state of helplessness on the further side of despair;
A JEWISH COMMUNITY for whom the Biblical curse: And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee and thou shalt fear by day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life, was not only no mere literary phrase but on the contrary that bitterest curse of all the curses in Deuteronomy together, yet it was not even one hundredth part of an expression of that tragic reality, a reality which demanded its victims day by day like Moloch;
A JEWISH COMMUNITY whose most active element, the youth, had planned armed resistance in its vast despair, and for this purpose appealed to the supposedly progressive circle of the Polish Communists who were themselves being persecuted by the conqueror, that conqueror who was waging a war of destruction in Russia the land of their dreams, with the fervent request presented to them a special messenger -- herself an honoured member of those circles - that they should place a few weapons at our disposal at any price -- and was answered in summary fashion and with open cynicism: We do not want to have any link with the Jews, and you have nothing at all to expect from us!;
A JEWISH COMMUNITY which not only found no support or encouragement in the outer world but saw that it was living among a hostile and largely collaborating population with the impure conqueror, openly rejoicing at our sorrow, with the evil purpose of speeding up the process of destruction and extermination;
THAT JEWISH COMMUNITY, which was surrounded on every side by mortal enemies, was entrusted for weal or woe to the S.S., the Schutz-Polizei (Schupo), the Polish Police, the A.D., and the zoological and pathological murderers;
THAT JEWISH COMMUNITY had lost its capacity for suffering, its spirit of resistance was broken, and the last tenth of them who came back to the final conflagration dragged out their lives unknowingly and unwillingly, dragged out their lives because of the atavistic and incomprehensible will to exist, dragged their lives like the shadow of a magnificent past which had been tom away from them in so dramatic a fashion.
In this depressing spiritual climate, in this dread and stupefying atmosphere, in that life without meaning, purpose or prospect, we believed without belief, we hoped without hope, that maybe some miracle would nevertheless befall and we, we the last remnants, we the despised and rejected and traduced, would yet merit to see with our very own eyes the fulfillment of our only aspiration, our last desire and prayer: Vengeance!
This gathering where we have come to commune with the memory of our martyrs is certainly no place to raise dividing problems, Problems about which opinions differ. In this connection permit me to quote a Midrash dealing with the first section in the Torah, the Creation. There is a well-known question: Why is it that in each of the six days of the Creation we find written at the end of that day's labours: And God saw that it was good, with the exception of the second day where this dosing phrase is missing? And the Midrash explains: What was the Creation of the second day? ~ The firmament. And what was the function of the firmament? -- To divide the upper waters from the lower waters. And every division, meaning separation, is entirely against peace and unity. So the Holy and Blessed One, who is the symbol of unity and peace, could not define something as good which is the contrary of unity and peace.
The principle which finds expression in this fine Midrash must be the guiding line for all our activities. Yet we shall not be honest with ourselves if, after the analysis and description of the historic reality mentioned above, as a result of which the abyss opened wide at the feet of our people and our congregation, the abyss which swallowed six-sevenths of our people in Europe -- if we deafen our ears and harden our hearts against the command and lesson which are concealed and follow of themselves in and from that historic reality.
Facing the holy graves, facing the graves of our dear ones and our beloved ones -- let us not be so nice and polite that we should refrain from probing painful wounds. Like a surgeon who cuts into the living flesh, so we are required to use the cold keen lancet of logical analysis in order to learn the lesson of the past and thereby to pierce and understand what is hidden in the future.
And if that is the way, we should certainly know how to rise and raise ourselves above all the spiritual distinctions and ideological differences of opinion which in the period before the Holocaust divided Jew from Jew and Zionist from Zionist. Therefore let us confess and beat our breasts for the sin we sinned in our shortsightedness towards the Jewish people and the sons of the Jewish people. Today, when we come to investigate those events honestly and with open hearts -- we can realise how blind we were not to see, how greatly we were smitten with blindness, and how little we understood the signs of the times and the message inscribed in letters of blood, like the Biblical Mene, mene, tekal ufarsim.
Then, even when there was a Daniel standing head and shoulders above us, who saw what was hidden from the eyes of the entire generation, and who presented the idea of rescue at any price, by all methods and in all circumstances, which was the daring and revolutionary idea of the Evacuation -- we all mocked at him, we the blind mocked at the one who saw the future, the only watchman who could interrupt the mysteries of those days, who pointed to the one and only way of saving the masses.
To our immeasurable regret it is impossible to turn the wheels of history backward. Nor is there any sense in settling accounts on the basis of if that had happened. Yet in order to understand the historic processes which operate in human society there is certainly reason, and furthermore it is our holy duty ~ towards our exterminated nation on the one hand and our future generations on the other -- to investigate deeply, not at memorial days but chiefly during memorial days, in order to learn and understand the lesson of those events.
Let us therefore inscribe the tragic lesson of those bitter days on the tablets of our hearts, in all our future ways and deeds!
[Page XIII English] [Page 309 Yiddish]
The years of childhood in the place of one's birth have a tremendous and decisive influence on the life of every mortal. Each one of us has his own memories of his childhood home, where his cradle stood; where he took his first shaky and uncertain steps; where he began thinking and understanding what was going on round him. That contact with the past is so pleasant, so delicate, that whenever you remember it, you suddenly notice how your eyes begin to glow and become moist and you feel a sense of happiness which you would like to retain as long as possible. The autobiographies of famous men, and their works in general, usually reflect their early childhood. Longingly and lovingly they remind themselves many years later of all kinds of details and trifles belonging to their infancy. These trifles, unimportant and meaningless as they are, still have a great effect in shaping the character and spirit which find expression in their life and work. So many people often go back to their old homes, in order to absorb afresh that specific human atmosphere and landscape which set its stamp on their spiritual and moral development, and give them some fresh energy and incentive for their further life. After having left their childhood homes many years ago, folk often make journeys of thousands of miles in order to catch a glimpse of the source of their being and renew the contact with their native clime, which is an integral though often unconscious part of their human essence.
Unfortunately we no longer have the possibility of visiting our small Jewish town in order to renew that spiritual contact. Our Jewish Staszów, like all small Jewish towns which fell into the hands of the Hitler regime, was blotted out savagely and cruelly, and no longer exists. That tragic circumstances is actually the reason why we, the handful of survivors, who can no longer physically establish contact with the Jewish Staszów which lived and struggled, studied and hoped -- why we have the vast responsibility and duty of commemorating out beloved fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters; friends and near and dear ones; all those hallowed martyrs who can no longer give an account of their daily and physical struggles or their almost total extermination.
Seen from without, Staszów was just a small Jewish town like all the others. The people there had the same bitter worries about their daily bread, because of the discriminatory policy of the ruling powers. They had the spiritual problems which engaged the Jewish Communities and groups in the Diaspora. You would find these in all sections of the Staszów Community. And yet Staszów did represent something unique and all its own. True, that difference is very hard to define and fit into a specific logical, verbally concrete frame. Yet in spite of this the singularity, whose existence is beyond any doubt as far as I am concerned even though it was nor recognised by the surrounding Jewish communities, could be felt at every step. Staszów had spiritual problems which it did not treat lightly; just as it treated the whole of life seriously. Among us we thought earnestly and for the sake of Heaven. We were concerned with principles and approaches old and new. We refused to treat the various problems of Jewish standards and life in the same way as the urgent current issues. The combating sides were all equally marked by their deep faith in their accepted truths and chosen ways of life.
And therefore we were proud of our town, which swarmed with social and cultural activities; which was full of Houses of Study, Hasidic stieblech, organisations, parties, lecturers, libraries, theatrical performances, amateur groups of our own, choirs, sports clubs, etc.
All the existent groups in the town developed a widely branching activity, both organisationally in order to reach continually expanding circles, and also in the spiritual field so as to deepen their knowledge and be capable of defeating the opponent by stronger arguments than were at his disposal.
In this connection one must stress the particularly important part played by the Shomer Hazair group in the education of Staszów youth, and its general influence on the town. In my time, at least, the Shomer Hatzair far surpassed all the other organised youth groups, and won itself a special place in the seething atmosphere of local social life and activities.
The vast influence of Staszów on the local townsfolk can be illustrated by the fact, among others, that when Staszów people went out into the larger world they rarely assimilated, but maintained close and warm ties with townsfolk in Israel, both as individuals and as Committees in the various countries of the Diaspora. It also finds expression at meetings with Staszów people who left the town many long decades ago, as well as their friendly relations with us when they visit Israel.
Our small town has well earned the right to be put on record, and to have an everlasting memorial set up for it. A lasting memorial for the most tragic generation which hoped for life and has vanished forever, scarcely leaving even the faintest trace.
It is the holy duty of those who remember to record for coming generations, for our children and their descendants, the human, spiritual picture of our dear town and its bitter struggle for existence in the midst of a hostile environment; together with its horrifying destruction.
The souls of those innocents who were slain keep us company in this sacred task; and with the establishment of this memorial by the handful who are left over, we make their existence everlasting.
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