Translated by Pamela Russ
With the feelings of an orphan, since so few of us have remained alive, and with an obligation on our conscience, that there is still so much that we have to do in order to perpetuate the memory of our city [and] the thousands of martyrs of the community of Nowy Dwor we bring this Pinkus Nowy Dwor [Book of Records] to print.
September 1964. Twentyfive years have passed since those fateful, horrifying days, when the first Nazi flyers appeared over our city, between the fortresses and bridges of the Vistula and Narew Rivers. We did not know then that they carried not only plans of war and siege, but also the judgment decreed over our nation. Soon, Nazi soldiers entered and marched across the streets and roads of our city, and we now saw them face to face every single stick of fire brought the four deaths [arba misos beis din refers to the four means of capital punishment meted out by the Sanhedrin (Jewish government) in Talmudic times] to the community of thousands of Jews in our city, as well as to all the millions of our nation.
This was not the first time that the Jewish community in Nowy Dwor had suffered through trials and oppressions, hunger and expulsions. As a city with fortresses, rivers, and bridges, the various regimes, with talk of military tactics and strategic plans in every critical war situation, ordered us to leave our homes, migrate with the hazards of abandonment, homelessness, and hunger. But always, Jewish perseverance and faith whispered: … until the anger passes. And together with this pain, the hope for better times was strengthened.
It was not like that under the Hitlerist regime. The speedy deathwork of the Nazi devilmachine did not allow anyone to create an illusion of change and improvement for themselves. [The Nazi devil machine] always increased the numbers of its servants, slaves to the Angel of Death the local Folk Germans [ethnic Germans living outside of Germany] and Polaks our neighbors for generations. Together, they manoeuvered the murderous devilmachine until they drove the Nowy Dwor Jews, through hunger and killings, to their final days, to the death wagons going to Auschwitz.
We have remained so few. And today, twentyfive years after those terrifying days the Days of Awe, that until today remain in everyone's soul bring with it the feeling of Hineni He'oni, these teardrenched pages of this Pinkus, and with awe and love we ask ourselves: Should this be the total remainder of the grand Book of Life Jewish life in Nowy Dwor?
There is no more Jewish community in Nowy Dwor. At the Vistula …
… and Narew Rivers, you no longer hear the melody of prayer and Torah study; nor the spirited Shavuos [springtime Jewish holiday marking the receiving of the Torah, also the wheat harvest in the Land of Israel] and the singing of the rebellious generation; it is as if Jews had never lived there, lived and created. Even the cemetery was destroyed, [a] and there is no longer any memory of the entire community that for generations lived, bore children, and hoped that … let further generations pass on the knowledge, and … the Nation of Israel is eternal.
On the shores of Babylon…, there [on the shores of] the rivers Vistula and Narew, our forefathers and the melodies of Torah study crafted a Jewish life that broiled and grew, reaching the youngest of the new generation; the new generations took over the melodies, with devotion, responsibility, and caring for the individual and for the whole, for each Jew and for all Jews. This is a melody that was silenced when the fiddles were crushed, and where the roots, ripped out, were the last traces of that wondrous trunk [race] that wandered through its exiles to the shores of the Vistula and Narew.
There, by the rivers, between the bridges, opposite the fortresses, where everything bristled with soldiers' energy and brutality, a community of Jews, the sun of the People of the Book, developed a center for Jewish books. From there, from the Nowy Dwor printing presses, Jewish books were dispersed, [as well as] words of the Torah, across the entire Poland, Lithuania, and Russia. It came particularly from there because … not with military and not with might, only with spirit…
And then, when new times came, …new birds, new songs, then Jewish libraries, culture and art circles filled in all the blanks that the times had brought about; so that the legend of the People of the Book should once again be a reality, and the Jewish book was central and lit up the life of the Jews for the whole year, [they] who in their daily struggle for bread remembered that …the world does not stand on bread alone, and once again strummed the melody of the generations.
Until everyone left on their final journey. Neither his faith nor his ideas stood by him. Modlin and Pomiechowo spoke only one language, of military and power… brutal violence, torment of people, pain, and extermination, until the road led to Auschwitz, to the gas chambers, and incineration.
For only a few, in the entire chapter of the gruesomeness, was it fated to be a support to the heroic chapter of strength, as the Nowy Dwor fighters merited to be in the Warsaw ghetto, in the uprising in Treblinka, and in the forest partisan groups. In relation to them, the accounting of their numbers is not valid. [translator's comment: They great amount that they accomplished makes no sense according to how many people they were, so great was their work.] The quality of their deeds remains …
… the only comfort when we do the bitter calculations for us all, those few who miraculously survived.
We cannot forget the clumsy deeds of some individuals, and the hellishly painful road of thousands; [we can]not forget the deaths of millions, and [we can]not forget the nation of Ashmedai [biblical, King of Demons] the Nazi Germans with all their assistants and children of the devil; and most important, [we can]not allow the memory of Nowy Dwor to be erased. Nowy Dwor, one of the communities and settlements of Jews in Poland are these pages, these teardrenched pages, the lamentations, memories and cries of the Pinkus of Nowy Dwor.
It took many years until we collected our tears for this book.
For the first years after the Holocaust, all the Nowy Dworer dedicated themselves to the mitzvah [positive deed from the Torah] of saving lives; helping other survivors after the destruction, to find a roof over their heads, and all the Nowy Dworer in the entire world have helped with their physical input and love to set up the housing complex for Nowy Dwor in Holon, so that the tormented, miraculously alive, should once again, with the Small Face [revealed aspects of God as per Jewish mysticism] forge the connection with the murdered Nowy Dwor Jewish community.
Afterwards, the time came for the Remembrance Book, the Pinkus Nowy Dwor. All the Nowy Dwor, wherever they are, put in great effort to do everything so that their sorrow and love towards our darkened community should find its fullest expression. Our energies were not always enough for this. Not every circle of Jewish life in our city left inheritors who could remember and tell about the most important and main things of his essence and accomplishments. Also, this book of sadness is an expression and exhibition of the destruction and loss of Jewish life.
With a sense of responsibility to continue presenting and not to become exhausted in the efforts to perpetuate the horrors and tragedies of our yesterday so that the next generations should learn from this for the future we bring the Pinkus Nowy Dwor to print. We are lighting an eternal candle for Nowy Dwor, so that its name will shine for generations.
The building was completed before World War II, later destroyed by the Nazis
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