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[Page 626]

A Tear on Your Grave

by Betzalel Madanes, of Blessed Memory

Translated from Hebrew

There, to the green, grassy grave
dews come from all ends
Birds fly from great distances,
To say the Kaddish over your grave.

Stalks of corn rustle in the fields,
Birds sing in the forest,
Heavenly quiet, sad songs
From the depths of their hearts, about their homeland.

The light of mourning burns, it burns,
For you, the one and only of the nation;
Dark, black, flaming shadows
Show the way to the grave there.

The light is not extinguished
They light the shadows of your resting place,
when at night there is heard sometimes
A cry, a plea, for a word from you.

Yummering, crying in the depth of night,
They drank your blood with mockery,
A Jew has just fallen, a Hero,
With the words: God is One!

Tired, broken from the torture,
You went out there to do battle,
Mourned your brothers who fell,
Mourned the night of exile.

Only late at night, like a cry
The silence passed,
Lonely, all alone,
You reminded yourself of the great destruction.

He sits alone, like a stone,
The eyes pour out a lake of tears,
No one feels his torture,
Only a voice from afar let's itself be heard.

Now, brothers arm themselves; there the battles
In the cellars by the murderers there,
Tied in chains, we give our souls,
“Hear O' Israel” – their last word.

Soon the last word disappears,
There already lie new victims, a number.
There grow already new, fresh graves,
Like mountains in the midst of a valley.

Resounding, storms, rustle the winds,
The moon ceased to shine
There under the black clouds,
The fallen heroes – they will be bewailed.

The stars do not cast light,
Everything is enwrapped in sadness,
Nightingales have ceased their singing,
It darkens more and more.

The voice calls further,
From deepest pain and heartfeltness,
The voice gets louder, louder
to the throne of glory, to the Holy Bench.

Tear the chains of your children
Who are tied to the Diaspora,
Let the sun shine in the east already,
To heal their wounds.

–Light the day became,
The sun already rises in the east,
The black cloud has disappeared,
The Jewish Nation – Arises!

Tzalke Mandanes was born in 1909. Already in the Heder, he had distinguished himself with his extremely sharp mind. As a youngster he joined the Zionist Organization, and instantly became beloved, thanks to his good sense, and his literary and dramatic abilities. His closest friend was Naftali Mandel of blessed memory. They were inseparable, and suffered the same tragic fate at the hands of the Nazi murderers. WE HONOR THEIR MEMORY!


[Page 628]

The Last Time in Kozienice

by Moshe Ruchman, Pardes–Hannah, Israel

After a mighty effort, the Polish Government was successful in obtaining the release of her citizens from Russian prisons. Their only crime had been that they were Polish citizens. For this crime I was sentenced, under the famous Article 58, to 10 years imprisonment. In November, 1948 I returned to Poland.

 

The Same Wagon and the Same Horse

At 11:00 p.m., I arrived at the city of my forbearers, Kozienice. At the railroad station, I encountered the same wagon and the same mail horse, and the two old–time workers, who knew me. They were happy to see me and asked about my experiences. Since not even a single Jew now lived in Kozienice, they advised me to go and sleep in the Leshish Hotel. There everyone knew me, and after questions from me and from them, I went up to my room, to spend my first night in Kozienice, since 1939. On the morrow, I borrowed from my friend, the Pharmacist, Yanechek, 4000 Gulden, since I didn't have a cent in my pocket. I visited a number of government offices. I spoke with inhabitants, and heard a great deal about the War, the Ghetto that had been eliminated, the sufferings of the Jews, and the details about my family, until their extermination in Treblinka. I saw and visited the entire length and breadth of the city. The entire Jewish quarter, from Targova Street, along Lubelska and Bzhuska Streets – there wasn't a sign of a Jewish house. Of all the Holy and Historical edifices, like the home of the Maggid, of blessed memory, the House of Study, the Great Synagogue, there was no sign of Jewish life.

 

I Searched for the Remnants of Kozienice

On that same day I left Kozienice, on the way to Lodz. After I obtained the address of Dorfman, the husband of Malkale Mandel, I found in Lodz some Kozienice families. From there I traveled to Vorotzlav, to my cousin, Abraham Gutmacher, who had married Shevale Burshtein, the sister of my friend, Yisroel Burshtein, who died, after torture, in a Nazi camp.

I also visited Valdbzheg and towns in the vicinity, since in western Poland there had been heavy concentrations of Jews, who had returned after the War. Among them I found Jews from Kozienice, who were survivors. They all recognized me, and greeted me nicely. I also visited Yerachmiel and Rachel Pearlstein, and established a warm relationship with them. After a few months had passed, in March, 1949, I returned to Kozienice as the representative of the city's Jewish committee, at whose head stood Abraham Tennenbaum, in order to prepare for the exhumation of the martyrs who had been slain by the Nazis in the Kozienice area.

[Page 629]

This required a great deal of courage on my part. Not only because of the difficult work, but also because of the danger, since not a single Jew had remained living there. I rented a room in the village of Budi, near the city, from the peasant Voitchik. First of all, I had to locate each grave. After questions and explanations from local people and all sorts of officials, we located the graves that were at least partly within the city boundary, and partly within the boundary of surrounding villages. Only after I had a list of all the graves, was I able to tackle the technical arrangements connected with exhumation. After meetings and discussions with all sorts of authorities, we set the exhumation for April 25, 1949. I hired workers, I opened graves, I prepared coffins and shrouds, in order to gather the martyred bones, and remove them to an assembly point, from where the funeral would be conducted. The coffins and shrouds for each martyr were ordered and prepared by my friend, David Golomb, who represented the Jewish Community of Poland. He was active in this till the end of the exhumation, and deserves praise for it.

 

April 25, 1949 – The Day of the Exhumation

Almost all of the Kozienice Jews, who were in Poland, about 15 men and women stood from the early hours of that day, on their feet, in the Leshish Hotel. From Lodz, there came: Moshe Dorfman, Ben–Zion Mandel, Nissan Greenspan. From Vorotzlav: Avrahamele Gutmacher; from Valdbzheg and the surrounding area: Abraham Tennenbaum, Rachel Pearlstein, Ratza Vasserman, Chaiml Zaltzberg, Feivel Reisman, Yisroel Sherman; and from Lignitz: Yitzhak Hoffman. The committee of Kozienice Jews worked hard. Each one obtained workers, transport, coffins, shrouds and went according to instructions to open a grave. They assembled the bones in the coffins, and brought them to the assembly place, which was the hall of the fire department, on Lubelska Street, opposite the flour mill of Pinchas Freilich. A number of graves were opened right on Hamarnitzka Street – in the center of the city. Abraham Tennenbaum opened the grave of the wife of Arthur Bornshtein and her children. According to the stories on the street, they were taken to be shot when the woman who hid them informed on them, because she wanted their possessions. .

On the same street, closer to the cemetery, in the courtyard of Yoshkowitz, they opened the grave of Yosef Shvartzberg, son of Shmerl. The Nazis had found him in the storehouse, when he was making soap.

In the village of Budi, I opened the grave of Yehezkel Weisbord, his brother–in–law, and the brothers Feigenbaum from Glovatz'ov. They had been taken there to be killed, after they weren't successful in their attempt to flee the Ghetto, after they had learned that on the morrow the evacuation to Treblinka was to take place. Their hiding place became known to a Jewish informer, Abraham Kreitzberg, who brought the Gestapo, which took the martyrs away and shot them close by. After this, I opened the grave in Stzhelnica. Here there were buried the martyrs, Chayale Freilich and the wagoner of the Tzemach family. I was also present at the opening of the grave on the way to the Vistula River.

[Page 630]

I was invited there specially, since we couldn't find the place. Finally we found the grave on the left side of the road. We also opened the graves on the road to the village of Volka. There the martyrs were slain by the Nazis, because they had gone to buy food. After we brought the coffins with the martyrs to the assembly point, we set the funeral for 4 o'clock in the afternoon.

 

The Funeral Procession

At exactly 4:00, we put the coffins in a truck and a wagon, in order to bring the martyrs to a Jewish grave and eternal rest in the Jewish cemetery. The funeral procession began to move from the assembly point. At its head there marched Abraham Gutmacher with a large floral bouquet. At his side were Rachel Pearlstein and Ratza Wasserrnan. After them there marched the band of the fire department. Afterwards marched the government representatives: The governor of the province (Starosta) and all of the senior officials; the leaders of the political party; the members of the city council and its chairman; the representatives of the official agencies, and the citizens. After them came the coffins of the martyrs which were escorted by all of the Jews of Kozienice who had come to the funeral. To the rear marched many Poles. It seemed to me that all of the inhabitants of Kozienice had turned out to pay final tribute to the martyrs of the city. The funeral procession went through Lubelska Street, turned into the 11th of November Street and continued towards the Jewish cemetery. On the cemetery there was already a large communal grave prepared, about 20 meters from the entrance. After we unloaded the coffins, I gave a eulogy in the Polish language. After me, the head of the city council, the secretary of the Communist Party, Abraham Tennenboim, and my friend, David Golomb, eulogized the dead. We closed up the grave, recited the Kaddish, and dispersed. We, the remnant of the Jews of Kozienice, were photographed for the last time at the fresh grave. We felt that the rich past of the Jews of Kozienice, that had begun hundreds of years ago – was eliminated by the Nazis, during WWII, and came to its end with this final photograph. This past we were able to memorialize with two memorials. One was a large tombstone on the fresh grave, and the second memorial we were able to set up with the help of my friend, Yoel Litman. It was a marble plaque on the wall of the Holocaust crypt on Mount Zion in Jerusalem.


[Page 631]

The Exhumation of Kozienice Martyrs

by Ratze Vasserman, Holon, Israel

I feel a shiver when I remind myself of what the German vandals did to our magnificent city and her thousands of Jewish inhabitants. I tremble at the memory, that in the town where I was born and raised, there, in that town, where I spend my childhood, there where my fondest hopes, and childhood fantasies were woven, that there, a terrible destruction overcame our nearest and dearest, and put an end to the magnificent Jewish community – .made it a heap of destruction!

 

The Heart is Tense

The heart is tense at the thought that we are a remnant that has remained after the destruction of our town, and that we are the “Last of the Mohicans” of our magnificent Jewish community, which had with its rays of light and learning, enlightened Polish Jewry. Who could have imagined that a small group of Kozienice Jews would have to mourn our community, in which there lived and taught one of the founders of Polish Hassidism, the world renowned scholar, the Maggid of Kozienice, of blessed memory. No! Nobody would have imagined it, that the Hitler murderers would destroy the city, which had a history of hundreds of years of Jewish life and achievement. Unfortunately, it is sadly a tragic truth that the Hitler murderers and their cohorts were successful in erasing our city, and we don't even know where the final resting place of our families is!

 

With Tears I Write These Lines

I remind myself of the beautiful youth that existed in Kozienice. The youth was thirsty for knowledge. All of the organizations were filled with young people. The libraries were always filled with readers. From Warsaw there came speakers who lectured on literary and political topics. The youth attended and listened and then discussed all of the topics. The Kozienice youth brought light and knowledge to the town, and Kozienice was proud of its youth. Kozienice also had a large number of labor and professional associations. Almost all of the workers belonged to associations, which were well organized and informed. Until a sharp knife fell and cut off this dear, beautiful youth.

 

No One Will Ever Forget This!

And how can we forget this enlightened city, in which I was raised as a free soul? With respect we'll mention the heroic struggle which our parents, sisters and brothers carried on against their oppressors, until the last day of their lives. We will set up a living monument to our tortured community.

[Page 632]

This will be – a Yizkor (Memorial) book. When we will open our book, there will be spread out before us your torture and difficult life which you experienced. Your lives will serve as an example for all of our future generations. You will constantly be our inheritance and support! Your last words will be for us a holy will and testament, so that we may never forget the fearful crime which the Nazi murderers carried out on our nearest and dearest. WE WILL NEVER FORGET IT!

 

It Was Right After the Great Destruction

Our town was destroyed and laid to waste. The Jewish quarter had been entirely erased, and to return to Kozienice could not even be considered. We, the small group of survivors, Kozienice Jews, either from the Soviet Union, or from the camps, came together in 1948 in Lower Silesia, by our friend, Abraham Tennenboim. The major topic at our first get–together was: the exhumation of our murdered Kozienice Jews. We turned to our fellow townsmen in Brazil, for the financial support necessary to carry out the exhumation. Our fellow townsmen, in Brazil, responded positively and immediately provided the material help that was needed. We immediately delegated Tennenboim to go to Kozienice, to take care of the formalities necessary for the exhumation. In April, 1949, we a group of 18, consisting of: Benzion Mandel, Chaim–ltshe Provizor, Moshele Rochman, Abraham Gutmacher, Shmuel Sherman, of blessed memory, Chaim Zaltzberg, Chemya Reizman, Rachel Pearlstein, Yitzhak Kleinman, Mindi Bieganyetz, Moshele Dorfsman, Nissan Greenspan, Abraham Tennenboim, the writer of these lines, and two other Jews, whose names I do not remember, and the representative of the Central Jewish Committee in Poland, Chaver Golomb. Terror seized us when we tread on the earth of our home–town. The Ghetto was destroyed, only grass. It couldn't be recognized that here there once lived a flourishing Jewish community.

It took 4 days for us to gather the bones of the murdered and shot Jews. On all the roads around Kozienice and also in the city there lay the remains of men, women and children, who had been shot. For example, near the lake, not far from the hospital, were dug up the remains of Alter Bornstein's wife and two children. By the Shtshelnitze, we dug up Chantshe Dantziger, Chayale Freilich and the Jew, whom the Germans had forced to dig their grave. This was the Jew, who used to distribute beer from Yonah Tzemach's brewery. He had been thrown live into the grave and then covered up. Shmuel–Abraham Tzeitfinger's bones were dug up not far from R' Yenkele's home. There they also dug up the bones of Yankl Shmeiser. Near the barges there were dug up the corpses of the Kutsher brothers from Glovotshev, Yehezkel Veisbord, his wife's sister, Sarale Mekler, and also Tzalke Kreitzberg. On the way to the village of Dombruvke, there were dug up the corpses of five Jews. Among them was Moshe Kestenberg's wife, Rivke. The names of the other four, we weren't able to establish with certainty.

[Page 633]

Behind the courtyard, on the Vitestve, they dug up the corpse of a 17 year old girl, who, according to the information provided by the Polish inhabitants, was shot by German gendarmes. In the village of Dudof, on the field, near a small lake, they dug up the corpses of four Jews, whose names, unfortunately, were not identified. In a portion of the not yet rotted clothing, we found a gold engagement ring, a pocket mirror, and a portion of a document with the name Grinshpan, which had been issued in 1942 in Radom. On the “sands” was found the corpse of Moshe Fine's wife, Brandl. She went outside of the Ghetto in order to search for food for her children. Coming back she encountered a gendarme, who knocked her down, and choked her to death with his boot. Near the stream, not far from the bridge, we dug up three Jews, whose names we couldn't establish. Not far from that spot where the Zamoisky family lived behind the hill, we dug up three Jews. Not far from the village of Vilke we found the bones of Tsharne Shermeister. A bit further away from the railroad station there were found the corpses of two Jews, but unfortunately we were unable to identify them.

Altogether, 32 Jews were exhumed. During the exhumations a Polish government doctor was present. The bones of those who had been shot and murdered, we wrapped in white linen, and placed in a coffin. Afterwards we arranged a funeral procession, accompanied by an orchestra, with the participation of Polish officials. The funeral procession proceeded through the area that had formerly been the Jewish Ghetto, through Radomer Street up to the cemetery. There they had prepared a communal grave. The coffins with the martyrs were lowered into the grave. Eulogies were said by Abraham Tennenboim, Moshele Rochman, the representatives of the Jewish Committee and a representative of the Polish government. The entire crowd recited the Kaddish, and in a sad mood, with broken hearts, we parted from our martyrs, who had been murdered, only because they were Jews. WE HONOR THEIR MEMORY!


[Page 634]

The Exhumation in Kozienice Martyrs

by David Golomb, Holon, Israel

When I, the authorized representative of the Central–Committee of the Jews in Poland, David Golomb of Lovitsh, sat after the War with Moshe Rochman of Kozienice in the Lodz Kibbutz, he requested that I carry out the exhumation in his home city. I honored his request and set to work. In Kozienice, I didn't find a single Jew. This pained me greatly, because as I well knew, Kozienice was, before the War, one of the nicest Jewish cities, which was renowned throughout the world.

 

And You Shall Bring Up My Bones

I set about doing the exhumation and carried out the words of the biblical verse: “And you shall bring up my bones!” I immediately posted placards signed by the mayor, that in the hotel in Room 10, the representative of the Central–Committee is to be found and anyone who had information concerning Jews, who were murdered by the German bandits and their cohorts, can and must give this information in Room 10. Already on the 2nd day, people came to me and told me about various incidents. I immediately ordered coffins, according to the instructions of the health department. I bought linen and hired 4 people, who would help me dig up the corpses, and bring them to a Jewish grave.

I remember that the carpenter, who made the coffins, told me a secret: that a Christian, who had taken away from a woman with two sons, her jewelery and money, had in an unashamed manner turned them over to the SS men. The unfortunates were shot near the home of this Christian and there they were buried. We did, indeed, find them there. I remind myself of another incident. We stood near a grave more than 4 hours, till we were able to remove all of the bones. At another grave we found an identity card and an engagement ring. I gave it all to Abraham Tennenboim for the Historical Institute. In another grave we found a pearl, a bottle and a small box. A saying states that “shrouds do not have any pockets”, but even so we found things among the victims.

 

A Miracle Occurred

When I returned to my hotel, there came to my room a Christian, who told me that not far away, there lives someone who knows where a Jew, who was shot, lies buried. I immediately went to that address. A little girl told me that her father wasn't at home. Later it turned out that her father had killed a Jewish passer–by, the day before. A miracle!

It wasn't easy to carry out the exhumation. We set the funeral. A few days before the exhumation the remnant of Jews from Kozienice had begun to gather. It was already dark. All of us and the department of health workers, who accompanied me all day, went out of the hotel. We were approached by a young Goy, who drew a revolver and ordered us to “Halt!” You can well imagine that we were frightened.

[Page 635]

I thought to myself: “Saved from the War, and now to find my death in Kozienice!” He led us a long way. Suddenly we were approached by Avramele, Moshe Rochman's cousin, with the militiaman, who had accompanied me during the entire day of the exhumation. I asked the militiaman to take us to the O.B. As it turned out later, nothing would have happened to the drunk if he had shot us, because the very next morning, early, he was marching through the streets, free as a bird. –

 

They Honor the Jews

When I met with the representatives of the O.B. in the county building, they proposed that the funeral be accompanied by music. I told them that for Jews it is forbidden. They made this a condition for the funeral to take place. You can therefore actually see in the pictures that leading the funeral procession is the State Orchestra, and following the orchestra are the surviving remnant of Jews. The intent of the Polish officials was to display before the Polish populace, the fact that Jews are being honored. I would have appreciated their not honoring us so! When the procession went through Kozienice streets, all businesses were closed. Through the entire route the orchestra played the funeral march of Chopin. Many Christians came to accompany the funeral. While they were preparing the large communal grave for the 32 martyrs, the remnant of Jews surrounded and sealed off the tomb of the Maggid, of blessed memory. After lowering the 17 coffins into the grave, the survivors recited the Kaddish and “Lord full of mercy….” in unison.

 

My Eulogy

I eulogized the newly interred in a Jewish grave, with the following words: “Fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, children and parents, Tzaddikim and Hassidim, tailors and shoemakers, porters and wagoners, intelligentsia, youth, and doers of every sort, you who were so cruelly deceived in your hopes; workers who hustled all week, in order to prepare bread and herring for the Sabbath; all of you, who all of your lives awaited the Messiah, and in the end were in a murderous fashion tortured and shot. For you I will, today, here, in the name of all of the Jews of the entire world, we express our protest, and tell the world, who saw all this take place and remained silent! NEVER AGAIN! We cannot forget so many tears for the innocent blood, which you, dear souls, shed. We can still hear the screams of the children, who were torn away from their mothers, who did not have the privilege of being able to bear and give birth to their own children.

We Demand Revenge!

[Page 636]

If someone should remain alive from those who survived the Hell, take revenge for our innocent blood! We, those who've remained alive, and had the privilege to gather up from the woods and fields the remains and bring them to a Jewish grave in your home city, swear, over this fresh grave, that we will not rest, until the murderers and their cohorts are punished. May my words serve as a Kaddish, and Eternal Light for those, who we weren't able to bring to a Jewish grave. There is no consolation, which could possibly console your premature and murderous deaths. May their souls be linked into the chain of life!


[Page 637]

Kozienice, 26 April 1949 - Permit and Exhumation Protocol

by David Golomb, Holon, Israel

(Translation of Polish Document)

 

KOZIENICE, 26 APRIL, 1949 COUNTY–CITY HALL OF KOZIENICE
COUNTY DOCTOR HEALTH CERTIFICATE: 13 SEPTEMBER, 1949

PERMIT

Based on the Statute of 17 March, 1932, about the burial of the deceased and establishing the cause of death (no. 35, section 359) and Disposition from Ministry of Welfare from 30 November 1933, about the above matter (no. 13, section 103), I permit the Representative elected by the Central–Committee of Jews in Poland, Mr. David Golomb, to execute the exhumation of the bodies of Jews murdered by the Germans, during the period of the occupation, in the area of the County of Kozienice (town Kozienice, County Brzeznica and County Kozienice) and transfer of the above mentioned bodies, to the Jewish Cemetery in Kozienice.

The permit is issued under the following conditions: 1) The bodies can be exhumed and transferred to the Cemetery in the presence of the County Sanitation Department. 2) The bodies have to be stored in sealed wooden crates. 3) The exhumation is to be carried out only during evening hours. 4) The burial of the Jewish bodies is to take place on the 27 April, 1949 on the Jewish Cemetery in Kozienice.

The responsibility for the execution of the above conditions is delegated to Mr. David Golomb.

 

Exhumation Protocol

On the 26 April, 1949, there took place the exhumation of the Jewish population, murdered by the Nazis in 1942 in the region of Kozienice and surrounding villages, carried out by the Jewish Committee: Head, Abraham Tennenboim; members: Moshe Rochman and David Golomb, in cooperation with the representatives of the local Mayor's Office, Mr. Marian Woinovski and County Office, Mr. Juseph Domanski.

The burial grounds of the murdered were in the following places: Town of Kozienice – 15 victims; area of County Kozienice – 14 victims; and County of Brzeznica – 3 victims.

At the time of the exhumation, the document of Abraham Grynsztajn (food card); two pocket mirrors; wooden cigarette box and a gold wedding ring were found.

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All bodies in a state of decomposition were deposited in 17 wooden crates (coffins) and buried on the 27 April, 1949 on the Jewish Cemetery in Kozienice, on Radomska Street, in a common grave. Items found by the bodies, were removed by the head of the Committee so that they could be presented to the Historical Society of the Jewish Committee in Poland. The Jewish inhabitants of Kozienice, representatives of the City Mayor's Office, Communist Party and Public Security took part in the burial ceremony. The burial ceremony ended on 27 April, 1949 at 8:00 p.m. This Protocol was finished and signed in six exact copies.

Head of County Office Representative of Police Head of Exhumation Committee Members of Exhumation Committee

Kozienice, 28 April, 1949


[Page 639]

Kozienice – Judenrein

by Levi Reznik, Bogata

The mind cannot accept that Kozienice, which was renowned and world–famous, is today – Judenrein. Kozienice, where Goyim, when they would pass the holy Maggid's shack, would bend their heads out of respect, and mumble a prayer with their lips, that the Maggid should help them – is today Judenrein. Kozienice, which on the 12th day of Elul (August) became one great boarding house, when from all over Poland, Jews and dewesses would come to the Maggid's tomb; old men and women, children and entire families, in order to request a good year that was to begin the next month, for all of Israel – that Kozienice is today dudenrein. Kozienice! You, my town. There where the cribs of my nearest and dearest stood, you are today, O'voe dudenrein!

 

How Could It Have Happened?

How could it have happened? And why did you, democratic world, stand by and look on while people born in the image of God, be led like dumb lambs to the slaughter? Why were you quiet, O' world?! A curse on you, world, for our fearful tragedy. You, the Germany, of Heine and Goethe, of Wagner and Strauss, cursed forever. A world of curses on your dirty, cannibalistic body. O’ God of Revenge do not rest, but bring plague after plague, for our brothers and sisters, for our fathers and mothers, for our children and for the infants in the schools. Our days were beclouded. Our laughter became wailing. Our food was salted with tears, and our drinks were mixed with blood. Lord, full of mercy!

Can you ever console your orphaned people?! Gravediggers did not dig graves, Mourners didn't sit the 7 days of mourning; no Kaddish was recited and no tombstones were set up. An orphaned nation doesn't know when to light the annual memorial candles. It only knows the names of Treblinka, Auschwitz, Maidenek, Chelmno, and Bergen–Belsen – all of Poland one mass grave. Death by choking, death by burning. Six million Jews, mine, yours and ours, gave up their souls in the death factories. May the Nazi–German name be erased forever!

 

Blood Drips From Every Letter

Our history is pitch black. Blood drips from every written letter. Death cries out to us from every corner. The hands of 6 million Jews hide the sun in the heaven, begging revenge for burned–out lives, for the scattered ashes on Poland's bloody fields. You were small in area, my town of Kozienice. Your population wasn't large. You were poor all week. Your shoemakers, needle workers, tailors, smiths, carpenters, and others worked late into the evenings in order to support wives and children. But you were festive in your ways, and Sabbath–like in your talk. Joy and laughter echoed from your humble homes. Mystical, Hassidic melodies, and work songs were mixed together in one great symphony.

[Page 640]

Kozienice feet danced Hassidic and modern dances. From your poverty stricken streets, my Kozienice, your libraries shone like streaks of light. Also your institutes and associations. And all around this like a wreath of flowers you were encircled by the Hassidic legend of the Holy Maggid. Today you lie, holy princess, Kozienice, in ruin. Your streets and homes stand wrecked by the murderous German bombs. Your Jewish streets, your Jewish houses are abandoned, and there is no memory of the Maggid1 s shack, of the cemetery, where your former Kozienice inhabitants had found their eternal rest.

Kozienice, you've become Judenrein. All is destroyed, that was Jewish in you. An eternal curse should hang over Kozienice skies, for those who destroyed you, and on those who stood by and watched your destruction …

 

Be Consoled, Surviving–Remnant

Israel is not a widower. The Jewish nation has not been wiped out. The prediction of the greatest monster and his Nazis has not been fulfilled: That the Jewish people and Jewish nation will be exterminated!” The Jewish nation lives, and will live. The 2,000 year–old dream of a reborn Jewish State in Israel has been fulfilled, so we are once again a nation among nations. From the ruins of the Warsaw Ghetto, and from the destroyed ghettoes in all of Poland, they, the surviving ghetto–fighters, escaped through filthy tunnels, and across thorny roads, carried on leaky ships over stormy seas, until they were united with the heroic Israeli youth, and established a Jewish state, renewing and revitalizing the Heroic Names of the Ancient Maccabees.


[Page 641]

Kozienice In 1966

by Abraham Tennenboim, Warsaw

Kozienice without Jews. These words before 1939 ago would have rung in my ears as an unbelievable nightmare. Today it is an actuality. The ruin of Kozienice can be seen, as soon as you cross over the bridge, where Lubliner Street begins. On this Street there once lived thousands of Jews. From all of the houses, which belonged to Jews, there have remained only those which were considered the biggest and nicest houses in the city: Leizer–Itshe's house, Pinchas Freilich's mill and two small houses. They are on one side of the street. On the other side of the street there stand only two houses: Aaron–Berish Feigenboim's and Moshe Medalyon's. All along Lubliner Street, from the bridge to Leshitze's house there is no sign of the former active Jewish life. Waste! Only the waterfall from “Plimpl” still flows, as formerly, during the good Jewish times.

 

The Brovarne Street – That There Was Once

There is no sign remaining of all the surrounding big or small streets, where Jewish poverty had existed. The Brovarne Street, that had once existed here! Here there lived: water–carriers, washer–women, Laufers (who went to the villages), smiths, and just general impoverished people, who would go from house to house, begging. Here we would see the rope–maker, in front of his home, braiding the strands of rope. Here was the messy place where the unfortunate poor would sleep. The steam bathhouse and Ritual Bath were also located here. The Brovarne Street was located near the bank of the river, and therefore it was often, in springtime, flooded, when the river overflowed its banks. Also the big house of Ite Leibish disappeared. On the site, apple trees are now growing.

For all eternity the neighborhood has disappeared where religious life had been concentrated. On the street of the Central Synagogue, House of Study, the Rabbi's house, and the Maggid's prayer house there are now built up large apartment houses. From Magitova and Targova Streets all Jewish homes have disappeared. Like one in a daze, I step on the ground of the former hundreds of years old Jewish life, and I just don't know where I am!

 

Here I Was Born!

Here at number 29 Lubliner Street, I was born. Hundreds of thousands of Jews now stand before my eyes. My feet lose their steadiness. My memory tortures me, that the objective to erase every sign of Jewish life was accomplished. Now as I walk on this earth, I remind myself, that when we carried out the exhumation of the Kozienice martyrs, we found everywhere where we dug, the graves of murdered Jews. It simply means that the soil of Kozienice is drenched with Jewish blood. The picture of destruction ends on Radomer Street.

[Page 641]

This was the boundary of the Ghetto. The right side of the street is unharmed. And that half of the city is just as it was one hundred years ago. The substantial house of Mintzberg, the brewery and big house of Yonah Tzemach, the house of Yankl Birnboim and some other Jewish houses have not been changed. But Yiddishkeit (Jewishness) – has disappeared. In place of the Friday night Sabbath candles, which used to sparkle in the windows – there hangs a cross.

 

Who Vandalized the Tombstones?

The ruin of Kozienice can also be seen when you come from Radom. In the Radomer Woods stood the cemetery, which was completely destroyed. To this very day, I haven't been able to establish with certainty who was responsible for vandalizing the thousands of tombstones and where the bricks of the fence had disappeared to. Here and there stand some broken tombstones. Only four complete tombstones are to be found in the graveyard, lying turned over with the lettering facing the ground. The mass grave of the 32 exhumed martyrs, with the memorial stand as if orphaned. When we mention the mass grave, we must indicate that the condition of the monument and its foundation require a fundamental renovation and reconstruction. The grave is the only sign of Jewish life in Kozienice.


[Page 643]

Kozienice, the First Saturday in May, 1926

by Mosze Rochman

At three thirty A.M., I heard a light knock in the window of my room. I grabbed my jacket and in a few seconds I knocked in the window of Shmuel Kohn. He walked out on his toes. From a side street of the Rabbi came out Shlomo Bukhner and Lutshi, after them ran Moshe Shwartzberg. We started to walk towards the Radomer Street. On the way we met already Moshe Kestenberg, Hillel Waserman, Israel Burstin, Aron Tabatshnik, Isokhor Frish, Levi Shabason, Jankel Zilberberg and Velvel Korman. It started to dawn. The air smelled with the smell of Acacia, it was so quiet around. It made the impression that because of the Sabbat, God spread out his wings over the roofs of Kozienice, not to disturb the sweet Sabbat rest of His Kozienicer Jews. From the Radomer Street we walked through the forest to the village of Budy. Before the village we sat down to rest on the grass. Shlomo Bukhner collected 20 cents (Groshi) from everyone. This money everyone saved up for this morning hike.

A few minutes later we were all sitting around a wooden table in the back yard of Mrs. Voitshikova. On the table we were served: butter, cream, hard boiled eggs and two homemade large pumpernickle breads. We ate with such an appetite, like we wouldn't eat for months, and we had the impression that such a breakfast we couldn't get anywhere except at Mrs. Voitshikova. At the end we drank fresh warm milk just taken from the cow.

Mr. Bukhner paid for the breakfast and the woman invited us to come the next weekend again.

We went back to the forest and everyone felt now rested and refreshed. After a while we parted into two groups and started to play handball. The game became interesting and we became so involved, that we did not notice how fast time was running and if not the fact that we noticed an older group going home, God knows how long we would still be playing. The older group was Melekh Waserman, Shlomo Kestenberg, Eli Huberman with Sara Kohn, Hershel Rokhman with Brandl Olshina, and Ber Zilberberg with Khaia Flamenbaum.

For the remaining money we bought a bucket of Acacia for everyone and we were on our way home. Coming back to the city we found only two stores open on the Radomer Street. The streets were already full with people strolling in their Sabbat clothing. We realized that we missed already the evening prayers. Who knows what a spanking we would get from our parents if not for the big bucket of Acacia that everyone brought home.

 

The Village Budy, April 1949

On the field across the little house of Mrs. Voitshikova were assembled around a wooden casket, covered with white linen: Nissen Greenspan, Moshe Rokhman, Khaim Zaltzberg, Ratze Tokhterman, Moshe Dorfman, Ben–Tzion Mandei and Favel Reisman. Inside the casket were the bones and pieces of the bodies of Khaskel Weisbord and his sister–in–law and the brothers Feigenbaum from Glovatshov. They were just dug out from the grave full of water.

 

Mrs. Votshikova just told me this story:

Because of the rumors that the following morning the Jews of Kozienice will be deported to Treblinki, the four youngsters sneaked out at night from the ghetto, and were hiding in the silo of Mrs. Voitshikova in the village of Budy. They may have survived if not for the traitor Avrom Kreitzberg may his name be blotted out. He brought the Gestapo over and showed them the place where the four victims were hiding. They were forced out into the field and were shot while

this dog Kreitzberg was watching on. One of the brothers Feigenbaum tried to escape but was hit by a bullet from the Nazi. To hide the murderous act they forced Mrs. Votshikovas husband to dig a grave and bury the four Jewish victims. Now we took out the remains of the four murdered victims, brought them to the Jewish cemetery and laid them to rest in one mass grave together with other martyrs dug out in different places around Kozienice. This dirty informer Kreitsberg died later. Like all other Jews the Germans used him as long as they needed him and then he was to them a Jew like all other Jews.

 

Israel 1953–54

From here, from Israel I am sending this message to all survivors of Kozienice. The voice of our martyrs raped and slaughtered in Treblinki, in the village of Budy, in the village of Vulka. On the hills and roads in the vicinity of Kozienice calls you not to build another Kozienice among other nations. Enough slaughters, pogroms and executions. Build a Kozienice in your own land, where you can meet your enemies on the battlefield like all other nations of the world. Make an end to the Jewish diaspora, make an end to the unpunished slaughter of Jews. Come together with your children to live in our own land of Israel

 

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