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[Page IX]

For Eternal Memory

Forward

Translated by Ala Gamulka

There are very few of us remaining after the hellish fire which the Nazi vultures spread over the Jewish world. The sources of our being were depleted and yet, we must tell future generations what we suffered and what we lost. The embers of the past still glow in those who survived, but, from year to year, grows the fear of memories getting lost in the depth of our being.

 

wieIX.jpg
A glimpse of the marketplace, towards the street where the Church stood

 

However, we have inherited the last will of those who were murdered: we must remember what the Nazi Amalek did to us. We must, also, give the coming generations a reflection of what it was like, the sorrow and the orphaning, the unspeakable events. This is what our generation suffered.

We, the survivors of Wierzbnik, have the holy duty of preserving the memory of our sainted fellow citizens.

[Page X]

They lived there, to the bitter end, until they were cut down by the Nazi murderers and their collaborators.

The community of Wierzbnik–Strachovitz did not put on airs. It was not a pretentious group, but it was full of good Jews. They were plain, down–to–earth people and were devoted to God and to their fellow man.

When we recall the old times when the Jewish community existed, we see a multi–faceted Jewish life. In the mornings, dozens of Jews first went to the House of Learning and then to work in all parts of town. We see the mass of workers on one side and the intelligentsia on the other side. There were Rabbis and teachers and just ordinary people. Each one had his own way of living, his own memories and his own view of the world.

***

For many generations, when the Jews settled in Wierzbnik, our ancestors were imbued with deep and honest beliefs, good deeds and study of Torah, hard work, love of God and fellow man.

On Shabbat and Holidays, the streets of the town were filled with Jews rushing to synagogues and Houses of Learning. There, they prayed for good health, decent earnings and a happy life.

On other days of the week, one would hear in the streets the sounds of tools at work, the echo of life happening, the merchants selling, the carriers and the wagon drivers in the marketplace. In good times the marketplace was a center of Jewish life, but in the dark days of the Nazi occupation– the bloody station for transporting Jewish masses to their destruction.

In addition to the need for making a living, there was the excitement of intellectual and societal activity. Also, there was the beginning of national awakening of the Jewish youth. They were involved in the various streams of the Zionist movements. They dreamed of a life of enjoyment of man and nation and they prepared themselves to achieve the return to Zion and the rebuilding of the Land of Israel– homeland of the Jewish people.

Between dreaming and reality, there was a multi–colored and rich actuality, alert, lively activity in all phases of life.

***

The Jews of Wierzbnik were an important part of the population of the town– economy, industry, commerce and other aspects. They showed initiative, energy and knowledge and were highly involved in constructing factories and shops. They contributed greatly to the growth of the town.

Truth be told, the Wierzbnik Jews lived in a quiet, serene atmosphere. They conducted their affairs slowly and each person did his utmost. Suddenly, horrible winds began to blow. The sky was covered with black Vulcans. Satan entered and quickly destroyed the contented life. A stormy, bloody stream flooded the towns and villages of Europe. It was a terrible catastrophe that had not happened before in human history–not even in sad times of Jewish martyrdom.

[Page XI]

The bright day was darkened with somber clouds and the Angel of Death entered the rows. He murdered without any pity.

How was the forest filled with people? How were the souls of Jews torn away from their bodies? How is it that our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and friends were hurt, tortured and eliminated? There were thousands, more than thousands, perhaps a million Jews who suffered through seven stages of hell. They were hit by the first bombs in Strachovitz. They were in the nightmare of the “counting” in the marketplace. They were, to the end, in the death camps and crematoriums of Auschwitz, Treblinka, Ravensbruck, and other murderous locations. The stories are told by the survivors, by a miracle, and were written, in blood and tears, in memorial books.

The tale of the struggle and the defiance of our fellow residents against the Nazi Satan is written in fiery letters. The Nazis had intended to annihilate the entire Jewish people. They fought, as best they could, not to give in to this terrible situation.

The majority of them did indeed pay with their lives, but they had not surrendered. They struggled hard and their heroic efforts will forever be etched in our memories.

***

The dark days were over and the world began to emerge from its nightmare. The nations began to repair, rebuild and construct anew whatever had been destroyed during the war and the occupation. There was a beginning of healing the wounds of war. Only one nation could not do it because its annihilation was almost total.

Only some survivors, remnants of the destruction, were able to breathe easily. They needed to stand on their own two feet because many others were too hurt and injured– physically and mentally. Among those remnants were some survivors from Wierzbnik. They were now scattered throughout the world.

Alas, on the banks of the Kamina river, there will no longer be Jewish life. The sounds of Yiddish or its melodies will not be heard. Everything is destroyed and nothing is left.

***

Despite the sad story of our existence, ignoring the terrible suffering, pogroms and persecutions, which our people had experienced for generations and despite the unbelievable catastrophe that annihilated a third of our members, we were fortunate to find the miracle of the Jewish state. However, our nation did not have peace. The initiative for this Yizkor Book, its editing and preparation, occurred here, in Israel. It is a time when our people are waging a bitter struggle for its existence, against our enemies who outnumber us many times. This is our lot, but just as in the dark days of the Nazis, we stand firm against the Arab neighboring countries who wish to find a solution for the “Jewish problem”.

[Page XII]

wieXII.jpg
Members of the Book committee in Israel

Standing from right to left: Malka Weisbloom, Pinhas Hochmitz, Reuven Lis–Shualy, Yeshaya Dekel–Dar Kessler, Hannah Tentzer, Rivka Grinberg (Mintzberg)
Seated from right to left: Menahem Mintzberg, Moshe Sali, Simcha Mintzberg, Yerachmiel Zinger, Menahem Feigenbaum, Zvi Ungar

 

The difference between our status then and now is that our situation has changed. Then we were in foreign lands, but now we are in our own state and we wish to fight for our homeland. We are strong and steadfast because this is our land, our life and our being.

In order to describe clearly this change that has happened to the Jewish people, the ability to stand up to their enemies and fight for their being, it is necessary to tell the youth and the coming generations how it was before. It was different in exile.

It is important to tell how cheap Jewish life and Jewish blood were. This was when the Anti–Semitic murderers attacked the Jews. How we were kicked and stepped upon.

It is essential for the Jewish youth and the entire world to know how the people of Israel fight at the front. Their boldness and readiness to fight come not only from love of their homeland, but to show there will never again be a second Auschwitz.

For all the survivors and for all those who did not survive, to the thousands of Jews from Wierzbnik who were killed by the Nazi murderers, may these fiery letters in this Yizkor book, be a goblet filled with tears. These tears flow from crying hearts and bitter suffering of the survivors.

May these lines be a memorial on unknown graves standing on earth that is saturated with Jewish blood.

 

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