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[Page 316]

Roman Mogilanski (Abram Mogilaner) Z.L.

Dr. Michael Lubliner – Los Angeles

Roman Mogilanski
Roman Mogilanski


It is heart breaking, as well as a cruel and bizarre irony of fate, that Roman Mogilanski, the initiator and planner of this anthology, its editor and fund-raiser, was not privileged to see it published or to leaf through its pages, tenderly and proudly. His sudden and unexpected passing caught him in the midst of the hard work of completing this anthology. He went through all its birth pangs: the laborious screening of materials and the painstaking search for new, authentic documents pertaining to the ghettos of Poland during the blackest years in Jewish history—from the end of 1939 through 1944. He established contacts with reliable institutions, at home and abroad; he sought out highly placed dignitaries, and, with his personal charm, managed to obtain valuable papers and records. His initial successes were accompanied by setbacks and disappointments. Yet, in spite of all obstacles, he went on with his work boldly and arduously, weathering all impediments, and even finding eminent scholars to contribute to the anthology.

Roman addressed himself to the “walking documents,” the survivors, upon whom it is incumbent to perpetuate the memory of our martyrs by setting up proper monuments, not only of marble and stone, but written ones. “Righteous men need no tombstones, for their words in themselves are their memorial (Jerusalem Talmud, Shekalim, 2,5). One must not tarry with the realization of this project, because our walk is slowing down. Let us not forget that “life (the life we know) has never given us a round-trip ticket…” Roman became more eager to speed it up, noticing that the passing of time diminishes the memory of tragic experiences and that the once vociferous condemnation and the unparalleled atrocities by their nefarious Nazi perpetrators were subsiding. (This was before “holocaust” and “survivor” had become household words in the United States.)

His idea of refreshing our memory was to introduce us to the cataclysmic and grueling trials of the ghettos of Poland, whose Jews – the heart and soul of the world's Jewry – were crammed, sadistically tortured and tormented. Needless to say, these ghettos were designed as stepping stations to the death camps and mass extermination, which took place as the “civilized” world stood by undisturbed.

Roman reasoned that the retelling of these stories, accompanied by heartrending facts, would be a stimulus for recalling what happened to our people during the Holocaust, keeping us alert and sensitive to any attempt to infringe upon our rights or weaken the state of Israel, whose vigorous and independent existence is the surest guarantee against the repetition of a holocaust, wherever and in whatever guise it may occur.

We are the nation of Yizkor, which has survived and outlived all those who have endeavored to destroy us, and this only by remembering, looking back and clinging tenaciously to the past. It is possible to glimpse life, according to Kierkegaard, only when one looks backwards, but to live it requires a forward look.

We have been commanded to remember two events that happened during the formative years of our nationhood. The first is the Exodus from Egypt, which began with slave-labor and culminated with the casting of male Hebrew infants into the Nile. The second is the unprovoked attack by the Amalekites on the Israelites – who had just taken their first breath of freedom after centuries of bondage – in which only the feeble and defenseless were attacked.

While the punishment of Egypt was mitigated by the prohibition against hating them (because, after all, we had been guests in their land for many years – see Deuteronomy 23.8), there is no letup in the ongoing war against Amalek, “from generation to generation.” We are commanded to blot out any trace of Amalekism (see Exodus 17.14-16, Deuteronomy 25.17-19) as if it were an infestation of poisonous germs.

The requirement to maintain the memory in writing, besides retelling it, may have served Roman, consciously or intuitively, as a pattern for his project. Himself a ghetto and concentration-camp survivor, hardly recovered from torture and misery, Roman enlisted in the dedicated army that pledged to fight Amalekism in any form and to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive by harnessing his energy and his journalistic skill. Upon arriving in New York he immediately became active as secretary of the Polish-Jewish Club and as co-editor of Nasza Trybuna (published by the veteran journalist Jacob Appenszlak, who before the war had been editor-in-chief of the distinguished Polish-Jewish Warsaw daily, Nasz Przeglad). Later, he was elected president of the Association of the Nazi Victims of Piotrkow Trybunalski (where he had been born and raised, graduated from the Hebrew Gimnazjum, and had begun his journalistic and accounting careers). He held this position for twelve years, and at the same time edited the Association's Bulletin, so popular among the Landsleit of Piotrkow all over the world; all this in addition to his professional work as a financial expert employed in important position by the U.S. Research and Development Corporation and the City of New York.

In the last years of his life Roman devoted all his efforts to the publication of the Ghetto Anthology, which his sudden demise impeded. His cherished family – his beloved wife Musia and their gifted sons, B. Marc Mogil and Roy Brian Mogilanski – made all possible efforts for its publication. Fortunately, they found the right man for this challenging job: Benjamin Grey, an attorney and civic leader in Los Angeles who has been a leader in organizations of Holocaust survivors from their inception. Upon accepting the family's offer he almost single-handedly accomplished his mission, despite many restrictions.

May the Ghetto Anthology be a solace to his family and a monument to our dear Romek, a proud Jew, a devoted Zionist and a lover of Israel, who had, ever since first settling in New York, been haunted by the dream of a written memorial to our martyrs, and who had come so close to fulfilling it.

New Bulletin

A Salute to the People of Piotrkow

Dr. Michael Lubliner of Los Angeles, a gentleman and a scholar in the true sense of the word, sent us his essay to the publication of the Ghetto Anthology, a project of the people of Piotrkow initiated in tribute to the sacred memory of those who perished.

The essay, is a moving testimonial for the late Roman Mogilanski, the main initiator, arranger and fund raiser for this project, who sadly, did not have the privilege to see it finished.

According to the article, the publication becomes a reality now and we all welcome this volume as one more link in the sacred chain of remembrance.

Although the Anthology is being published by people that we do not know, we feel proud and satisfied that the Herculean labors of Roman Mogilanski and the works of our own people were not in vain; that despite obstacles and difficulties, the dream will finally come true.

In his credo “Why an Anthology?” (Bulletin No. 48), Roman wrote: “… The very first link in the chain or our common tragedy was the Jewish town of Piotrkow Trybunalski… Our Anthology will give a prime emphasis to this ghetto prototype in our hometown…”

We greet the birth of the book with acclaim. Roman Mogilanski worked on this project boldly and arduously. We do thank attorney Benjamin Grey, a Jewish leader in Los Angeles for his devotion in accomplishing the mission. But if not for the People of Piotrkow, the true sponsors, supporters, aides and main contributors to the project, there would not be a Ghetto Anthology.

So, my dear Piotrkow friends!

Just ponder a moment and please… TAKE A BOW!

Ben Giladi
New Bulletin, No. 14 -1986

*Dr. Lubliner passed away in 1988

[Page 319]

Megilat Piotrkow

Shayek Pudlowski – Tel Aviv

The Piotrkow “landsleit” in Israel may be justly proud of their glorious “kehila,” which once contained communal institutions and colorful political parties with prominent leaders in the pulsating community life of the city.

Piotrkow was especially known for its book publishers, who were instrumental in making the name Piotrkow known throughout the world. In all Jewish settlements, Yiddish books with the inscription “Piotrkow” helped to perpetuate the severed Jewish community and created glory for her as well.

The Zionist organizations in our city, which in time sent part of its youth to Eretz-Israel, have also rooted here and today are represented in almost all the kibbutzim throughout the country, as well as in vital government positions in the land.


The Archives

Among the most important of their accomplishments must certainly be that the Piotrkower in Israel have an archive of their city, collected over a period of decades by our longtime communal leader, Jacob Maltz, z”l. He guarded every detail related to our city with his life.

Following his death, the Piotrkower Committee decided to place the archive in experienced hands, so that all our city's historic materials should be properly catalogued.

Because of the efforts of Mrs. H. Grynberg, who for a number of years has been the Chairperson of our Farband, we succeeded in contacting the famous Holocaust researcher at the Tel-Aviv University, Dr. Yoel Raba, and he was willing to organize and restore the archive of our city.

Dr. Raba and his assistants worked for many months erecting yet another monument to the memory of our perished Piotrkow community. Because of his self-sacrifice and devotion to this holy mission, Dr. Raba was successful in overcoming many difficulties and created an archive of which we can be justly proud.

Thus, we express our gratitude to Dr. Raba for his personal interest in our archive and for his special efforts in exhibiting a number of documents from our archive for the visitors of the University, under the heading of “The Kehila That Once Was – And Is No Longer.” The exhibit is open daily to all visitors and is located in the foyer of the “Holocaust Era Research” Building of the Tel- Aviv University.

It is important to indicate that our archive is registered with the annual “Catalogue of Official National Archives,” which is published annually and in which we are mentioned.


The Megila

Among the most important goals of the Piotrkow Organization in Israel is to memorialize the murdered martyrs of the Hitler era. Therefore, every form of perpetuation is a great achievement. Thus, for instance, in Netanya there is a Torah Institute named “Ohel Moshe” (Moshe's tent) for our last Piotrkow Rov, Harav Moshe Chaim Lau, z”l. As we all know, he was the father of Harav Israel Lau, Sh'lit”a, who is the Chief Rabbi of Netanya, and his brother Lavie, who, for numerous years, was a consul in Washington.

Upon the initiative of several active “landsleit,” headed by their chairperson, Mrs. H. Grynberg, as well as by M. Ish-Horowitz and Prashker, and after many attempts, they finally succeeded in convincing the “Yad Vashem” leadership to allow a place for the “Megila” containing the names of murdered martyrs of Piotrkow.

For some time now, there has been in the “Heychal Hasheymot” (Tent of the Names) in “Yad Vashem” a Megila in the shape of a Sefer-Torah, in which a scribe has written the names of all the Piotrkower Jews who perished in the ghetto and in the camps during the Hitler Era.

It is certainly no coincidence that our City of Piotrkow feels privileged to be able to perpetuate its Martyrs for future generations in a Megila for which survivors throughout the world have sent names. It appears that tragic destiny chose the Piotrkower Jews to be the first in Europe to be entrapped in a ghetto, which was enforced by the Germans in fall of 1939. This date is engraved on the memorial plaque located on the wall in “Yad Vashem.” It is beneath the Megila-Sefer, visible only through a protective glass cover which protects this sacred monument.

Thus, a small group of “landsleit” sit and, in their free time, copy all the holy letters and names which are received so as to transfer them at a later date to the sacred Megila of those who perished. They are continually updated by an experienced scribe, who immortalizes the Martyrs in the Tora-K'tav (the written Torah), which will remain an eternal reminder.

The “Irgun Yotseyi Piotrkow” (the organization of those from Piotrkow) in Israel is now making preparations to summon a world gathering of all its “landsleit” to honor this monument located in the “Heychal Hasheymot” of the “Yad Vashem.”

This is only a part of the activities engaged in by the Piotrkower in Israel, who devote themselves with deep respect and pride to their monumental task.


[Page 321]

Notes From Piotrkow

Jakub Rener – Paris

I came from Paris to Piotrkow in 1988 just in time to attend the popular science session commemorating the 46th tragic anniversary of the liquidation of the Ghetto of Piotrkow. The sponsors of the event were The Pax Christian Society, the Jewish History Institute of Warsaw and a number of other distinguished organizations. Among others present were delegations of various Polish groups such as ABOWID, Armia Krajowa, Armia Ludowa and others. Also present were the Righteous Gentiles of Piotrkow, people who saved our Jewish brethren from the hands of the Nazis, Maria Spiewak, Danuta Trybus, Wieslawa Chynowska and Adam Ratajczak, the son of the late Wiktor Ratajczak.

The keynote speaker, Dr. Zygmunt Hoffman of the Jewish History Institute, outlined in his speech the history or Piotrkow Jewry from early times until the very end. The only Piotrkower survivors present were Roman Hipszer and myself. After the session we all went by bus to the Jewish Cemetery. Commemorative wreaths were laid on the graves of the Martyrs of Rakow and of the “Purim Action.” We also unveiled the newly restored monument of the Heroes of “Bund,” who perished in Auschwitz for their underground activities.

Piotrkow, November 3,1988
Piotrkow, November 3,1988 –
Jakub Rener from Paris is greeted by Dr. Zygmunt Hoffman
from the Warsaw Jewish History Institute at the science session.
The Polish sign (in translation) says: “The righteous among the nations
of the world,” in tribute to the saviors present at the ceremonies


Over the next two days, I roamed the streets where the Yiddish language had once been dominant. I walked through the town, from one end to the other. From the Szczekanica to the Bugaj, from the Jewish Cemetery to the Stacja Towarowa at Bujnowska Street. I came to Jerozolimska Street No. 33, where we used to live, just opposite the windows of the Hashomer Hatzair movement site, and I went inside our apartment. I passed the Starowarshawska, once Yidngass, and came to Garncarska No.1/3, where the premises of the Bund organization had been located. Here was where I had spent my youth. I was a member of the Skif Youth and the Morgensztern sport section of the “Bund” party. Here the Szlamowicz family – my Aunt and Uncle with their five children – used to live. Not one of them survived.

How many memories came back to me during these walks? Despite the biting poverty, these were the dearest years of our lives. In the evening I strolled through the central Slowackiego Street. Everything was so deserted and gloomy. There were no more vigorous Jewish youngsters around. All was so quiet, as if in mourning. Here I came to the Bernardynski Garden, with its memories of the evenings spent here, our fights with the Endecja, the Polish Fascists, and anti-Semitic friction. When the Endecja wanted to throw us out of the garden, we resisted. We fought them bravely. The Polish Socialist groups of the P.P. S. and the TUR gave us a helping hand, especially the three brothers of the Palac family. The eldest of them perished in Auschwitz.

The confrontations with the Endecja were a prelude to the atrocious events of years 1939-1945, the tragic years of the Holocaust

New Bulletin

Piotrkow, November 3,1988
The Chief Rabbi of Poland embraces the last Jew of Piotrkow at a ceremony in Lodz, in 1990

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