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Introduction

Translated by Pamela Russ

Sefer Wyszkow” [Wyszkow Book] – the timely production of an eight-year writing and editing project, of communal efforts, and financial toil – is now being given over to the people of Wyszkow. The 356 double-sided pages recount in words and in pictures the history, development, and destruction of a Jewish community in Poland.

We, the survivors of the Holocaust from the Jewish town on the Bug [River], cannot think of this book simply as a memorial book – but we see it as the one and only permanent tombstone on the unknown graves of our dear, very familiar Wyszkower Jews who died as martyrs for the Name of God.

Externally, Wyszkow was not different from other similar settlements in pre-war Poland. But we, born and raised in the town, know that Wyszkow had in it something unique and specific not only in its landscape, appearance, and size, but mainly it was that its Jews were outstanding – the Shabbath ones and the weekday ones, the religious and the secular ones, those who believed in Zionism and those who were anti-Zionists. In particular, our Wyszkower Jewish youth was baked into our hearts, we who wanted to free the entire world and envisioned our own nation, as well as [in the hearts of] those who strove for the Ultimate Redemption, and thought that through that merit other nations would be redeemed as well….

The main intention of the Sefer Wyszkow is: to give life to the dead and all their shining faces, show them in their pains and joy, describe their efforts and struggles for their own existence and for national existence, tell how they formed the social, religious, and political life in Wyszkow and passed on to generations their tragic deaths in the ghettos, bunkers, forests, and wagons, sharing the fate of European Jewry, upon whom the Nazi murderers had put a death sentence.

The reader will judge whether these intentions were met. Unfortunately, some writings are missing about the activities of certain parties, friends of the organizations, and also a list of social activists who should certainly be perpetuated in our book-monument. The editor is not at fault here, but those landsleit who did not find it necessary to describe their activities and friends. We also ask for your understanding and forgiveness for any printing errors, mistakes in names and events – something that is impossible to prevent in a book of this sort.

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Sefer Wyszkow is divided as follows:

  1. history of the town, general memories and descriptions
  2. parties, societies, organizations, and institutions
  3. religious life
  4. personalities, businessmen, figures, and types
  5. destruction of Wyszkow
  6. Wyszkower in Israel and around the world
  7. Yizkor section
  8. addenda

As much as the available material permitted, the chronology and a certain order were maintained. However, it was impossible to avoid the “sneaking in” of the “outside” material into individual sections. Thus, the reader will find much information about the parties, religious life, and personalities – in the general descriptions and remembrances. We are certain that the larger and smaller works will give a full, but not complete picture of the town.

In reference to the destruction of Wyszkow, there are no extensive descriptions in this book of the death of the town, because it was in the first few days of the war that the town was bombed and burned down, the residents fled, and only a few survivors held it in their holy obligation to describe the road of hell they experienced in strange places, in other ghettos, in the death camps, or in partisan units.

Another problem that there was for us was the so-called “language question.” Our landsleit from abroad requested more Yiddish, and the Wyszkower in Israel were in favor that Hebrew be dominant in the book. The compromise that resulted: The works that were written in Hebrew – were included in the book in the original. Also, some important works were translated into Hebrew.

*

To conclude, our brotherly, warm thanks to the Wyszkower landsmanschaften–organizations and individuals in New York, Los Angeles, Argentina, Uruguay, France, and last but not least – in Israel (with the secretary of the Irgun, Mr. Yerakhmiel Wilenski at the head), for their true great, moral and material assistance in publishing our book.

A special thank you goes to our esteemed book editor, Mr. Dovid Shtokfish, for his boundless work in collecting, gathering, and editing the material, and also in putting it all together – literarily and graphically – the Sefer Wyszkow. Also noteworthy is the work of “the typesetter” [graphic designer], Mr. Yisroel Freedman, who poured a piece of his heart and soul into the pencilled lines so that our book should be better and more and more beautiful. The printing team, and the directing team of “Defus Hakhodesh” [Print (sheet) of the Month], deserves a thank you for their assistance. The merit for all those who helped with all their means to publish the Sefer Wyszkow, must be made known, that thanks to their strength, a small, but important town in Poland has been eternalized.

Menakhem Shtelung
Chairman of the Irgun Yotzei Wyszkow be'Yisrael [Society of Those from Wyszkow in Israel]
Tel Aviv, January 1964

 

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