WORLD COMMITTEE IRGUN YOTZEY PLOTZK
for the BE-ISRAEL
PLOTZK MEMORIAL BOOK (Plotzker Association in Israel)
A HISTORY OF AN ANCIENT JEWISH COMMUNITY IN
Vice-Chairman, Plotzker Association in Israel
HONORARY PRESIDENT OF THE WORLD COMMIITEE
FOR THE PLOTZK MEMORIAL BOOK
MR. ITZHAK GRINBAUM
Chairman: MOSHE RUBIN
Itzhak Ben-Shai (Fuchs) Shlomo Greenspan
Benyamin Galewski Itzhak Tynski
IRGUN YOTZEY PLOTZK (POLIN) BE-ISRAEL
(PLOTZKER ASSOCIATION IN ISRAEL)
PLOTZKER YOUNG MENS' INDEPENDENT ASSOCIATION
IN NEW YORK
SOCIEDAD DE RESIDENTES DE PŁOCK
EN LA ARGENTINA
ORGANISATION DE LES AMIS DE PŁOCK ET ENVIRONS
PLOTZKER GROUPS IN AUSTRALIA, ENGLAND, CANADA
AND THE U.S. WEST COAST
Drawings: Yaakov Guterman
Title-page design: H. Dayan
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Copyright (C) 1967 by the Plotzker Association in Israel "Hamenora" Publishing House, 24,
Zangwill Street. Printed by "Arazi" Press Ltd., 4, Ayelet Hashahar Street,
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL
(Summaries of Hebrew and Yiddish Texts)
The English part is not a complete translation of the Yizkor book of Płock but rather a synopsis,
summary, and should be treated as such. there are 684 pages in Hebrew and Yiddish but only 96
pages in English.
I have translated and added the titles and page numbers of articles which do not appear in the
English summary. I added the code "H" if article is in Hebrew, or "Y" if in Yiddish.
I have added also the sub-chapters to the various articles, which are not included in the original
Table of Contents. On many occasions I have added from the Hebrew and Yiddish parts of the
book also names of people mentioned in the articles, when that was possible, mainly in the
I have also added the names of people who appear in the photographs to the captions in English
which did not include these names, see pages
I wish to thank the Płock Landsmanschaft who encouraged me and gave me and JewishGen the
permission to post the Płock Yizkor book in the Internet.
It is my hope that this book will serve as commemoration to the Jewish ancient grand and
holy community of Płock, exterminated by the Germans during the Holocaust.
Ada Holtzman April 18th, 2004 – Yom Hashoah , 27 Nissan, 5764
HISTORY OF THE JEWS IN PLOTZK UNTIL THE FIRST WORLD WAR
(1237 - 1914)
History of the Jews of Plotzk from the Middle Ages until Y. Trunk 10
the 17th Century
Legal status of Jews
Communal ("Kehila") Organization
Jewish patens of life
Prominent Kehila personalities
The History of the Jews of Plotzk from the Middle of the Y. Trunk 16
17th Century until World War I
I. From the middle of the 16th century until the end of
the Polish kingdom
II. The Napoleonic period 1793-1813
Under Prussian rule (1783-1807)
Under the Dukedom of Warsaw (1807-1814)
III. A period of prosperity and revolt
IV. Second half of the 19th century
Social and health institutions
The Vaad Hakehila (Community Council) and the
V. The years preceding World War I 1900-1914
Activities of the Plotzk Jewish Community Dr. Y. Schipper 25
The Minute-Book of the Tailors' Union Dr. E. Ringelblum 25
The Privileges of the Jews in Plock Michael Szperling H-74
R' Moshe Ben Israel Wasserzug E.E. 25
Avraham Yaacov Papierna (1840-1919); a Teacher and S. Greenspan 26
Aharon ben Moshe Kahanstam (Konstam) E. Eisenberg 27
Lives of Famous Plotzk Rabbis S. Greenspan 28
R' Yehuda Leib Margoulis
R' Zysza Plotzker
R' Shmuel Ben Azriel
R' Arye Leib Zunz (Reb Leibele Charif)
R' Abraham of Ciechanow – the Plotzker "Ilui"
R' Yissachar Dov Graubart – N. Sokolov's Rabbi
R' Eleazar Cohen
R' Azriel Arye Leib Rakowski, the fighting "mitnaged"
Jewish Life in Plotzk in the light of Hebrew Periodicals S. Greenspan 33
of the Second Half of the19th Century
Itzhak Grinbaum and Aharon Becker - pillars of Zionism in
The pre-Zionist epoch of Nahum Sokolov
Education and cultural life
Public institutions and social work
Relations with Polish neighbors
Nahum Sokolov's Youth F. Sokolov 36
Płock Hassidim and Nahum Sokolov Kurt Blumenfeld H-130
Fragments of Memories I. Grinbaum H-131
Beginnings of Zionism in Plotzk I. Grinbaum 36
Inauguration of the first Jewish Gymnasium Y. M. Zlotnik 37
Memories of the Past S. Rozen 37
The Beth Midrash
Spirit of progress
Rabbi R' Yecheskel Lipszyc
"Amcha" near the "Iron Gate"
Memories of a pupil of the Russian Gymnasium Jakob Brozda H-141
10% only to the children of the Jews
In the school of the teacher Jarzombek
The problems of the Jewish pupils; the teacher of religion:
A. J. Papierna
The value "Płock" in various encyclopedias H-145
A Jewish settlement from the 11th century is discovered H-145
Jewish Plotzk during the First World War I. Tynski 38
THE PLOTZK JEWISH COMMUNITY BETWEEN THE TWO WORLD
COMMUNITY INSTITUTIONS, SOCIAL WORK, ECONOMIC LIFE,
The Jewish Kehila of Plotzk ("Vaad Hakehila" – Y. Ben-Shai (Fuchs) 40
Institutions and Organizations in Płock at 1934 (from "Kalendarz- H-208
Płock – in "Almanach Gmin Zydowskich" 1939 H-208
The Jewish Hospital on the name of Icchak Fogel A. Shmueli (Plutzer) 41
Ezrat Holim 42
The Jewish Orphanage ("Ochronka") G. Puk 42
"Charity saves from death" (the image of a popular Halina Woitkowski H-212
welfare activist) Szlechter, source: Dina
Cooperative Banks and Trade Unions I. G. Chanachowicz 43
The Credit bank
Other financial institutions
The tailors organization in Płock
The transportation workers unions
The trade unions of office workers and salesmen
The Small Traders organization J. Malonek 44
The association of artisans in Płock Jehoszua Zwirek H-220
The "Gildene" Street B. Gincberg 44
The yard of Altman on Szeroka street 10 Natan Lerman H-223
Grunim (published in "Płocker wart", 1936) Chaim Flaks H-224
"Ort" in Płock I. Tynski 44
Anti-Semitism in Plotzk between the two World-Wars E.E. 45
The Mariavits Convent and the Jews I. G. Chanachowicz 45
Who were the Mariavits? (Kent)
The Mariavits and the Jews
The Mariavits and the Germans
They did not help the Jews
What happened to the Jewish property?
EDUCATION, RELIGIOUS LIFE, CULTURAL ORGANIZATIONS,
The Jewish Gymnasium 47
Jewish Primary Education I. Ben Shai (Fuchs) 47
Shmuel Penson B. Grey (Graubart) 48
My Father, R' Shmuel Penson A. Penson 48
Jewish Education in Plotzk Prof. D. Eisenberg 48
Memories of the melamed Yehiel Meir Kravietz A. Sh. 49
The Popular Functions of the Jewish Library Prof. D. Eisenberg 49
Jubilee to the Jewish library in Płock E.E. H-249
Local Theater Groups M. Magnes 49
Childhood Memories M. Zylberberg 50
The "small Beth Midrash" of Płock Israel Zylberberg Y-258
The arrival of a new rabbi to Płock H-259
The Victim Y. Warszawski H-260
The Struggle for Restoring the Good Name of Rabbi H. A. Hartglas 50
Nahum Sokolov and Plotzk Y. Warszawski 50
Nahum Sokolov's visit to Plotzk and Wyszogrod M. Turkow 51
Shalom Ash and Plotzk M. Zylberberg 51
My Uncle, Rabbi Y. L. Avida ("El Zet", R' Yehuda Leib Ruhama Shnir 51
Rabbi Yehuda Leib Avida (Zlotnik) Dr. Nechemia Aloni 52
Alfred Blei, The Last Chairman Meir (Michael) 52
Zysze Landau Melech Rawicz 53
Memories of My Father's Home E. Eisenberg 53
"Jewish Islands" in a Christian neighborhood
The uniqueness of the Jewish gymnasium of Płock
"Hashomer Hatzair" – the oldest scouts movements in Płock
The summer camps of Hashomer Hatzair
The home of grandfather in Dobrzyn
A new social and cultural framework
The Hebrew youth movement "Akiba" in Płock
Two tragic episodes in Akiba movement; the war burst out
Our escape from home
In Gostynin; granting the nobility title for saving life
First brutalities and abuses by the Nazis
We return to Płock
To the east with a torn refugee identity card
POLITICAL PARTIES, YOUTH MOVEMENTS, ZIONIST FUNDS
The first Zionist fulfillment Elisza Jecheskeli H-297
Four friends and their spiritual world M. Rubin 55
"Agudat Zion" 55
The festivities of "L'g Baomer for the national fund M. Rubin H-303
Keren Kayemet Activities 55
"Zeirei Zion" in Płock I. Tynski 56
The Agricultural Farm of Moshe Krakowski E. E. 56
"Hachshara" Kibbutz on the name of "Borochow" F. Fliderblum 57
Hehalutz, Hehalutz Hatzair and Hapoel Y. Rosenblum 57
The objection of the extreme religious
"Hehalutz Hatzair" (Young Hehalutz)
The branch activities
Kibbutz Hachshara in town
The visit of the 2 messengers from Eretz Israel
The experiences of the Alyia
Training of young sportsmen
Dedication to Jewish sport
Summary of 10 years of "Poalei Zion" R. Lichtman H-320
"Mizrahi" Movement 58
"Herzlia" Association M. Rubin 59
"Poalei Zion (Left)" B. Okolica 59
The First World War
The local politic work after the War
The social-professional activity
The cultural public work
The "Freiheit" Movement D. Shahari 59
"Agudat Israel" in Płock and the Region L. Geliebter 60
The founding assembly
The educational activity
The members of Agudat Israel in the Community
Committee and the Municipality Council
The economic activity
The Activities of the "Bund" I. M. Oliver (Ilover) 60
Under the czarist regime
During the war years
The first years of independent Poland
The visits of the "Bund" leaders
Striving for victory
"Hashomer Hatzair" E. E. 61
The beginning of the movement as a scout Jewish
Founding of Hashomer Hatzair in Płock with the Hebrew
Changes of the ideology and the human structure
Two girls of the Płock branch fight against the Nazis
Revisionists and "Beitar" 62
General Zionist Youth Movement B. Galewski 62
("Hashomer Haleumi" – "Hanoar Hazioni" – "Akiba")
"Akiba" in Płock ("Divrei Akiba" 14.12.1933) H-345
From our own ideas (the ideological struggle for Zionism Meir Pagorek H-346
The Local Communist Party Sh. P. 63
The history of "Maccabi" in Płock M. Rubin 63
The last two years of "Maccabi" A. Najman (Nowicki) 64
PLOTZK-BORN JEWISH PAINTERS
Nathan Korzen – the painter H-370
Nathan Korzen Y. Aronson 65
Fishl Zylberberg (Zber) (1909-1942) 65
He will not be forgotten Harry Koren (Korzen) H-376
The exhibition of the works of F. Zylberberg H-378
With Fiszl Zylberberg (Zber) before his tragic death Itzchak Furmansky H-380
Stenia Bender (deported to Auschwitz under name "Guta
Rozenstein", the wife of Fishl Zber
Yechiel Meir (Maks) Eljowicz, Portrait-Painter M. Rubin 66
David Tushinsky, Master of Miniatures E. E. 67
Shmuel Har-Shalom (Fridenberg) M. Rubin 68
PERSONALITIES, PUBLIC PERSONS
RABBIES, WRITERS, ARTISTS, EDUCATORS, TEACHERS, LEADERS,
PUBLIC ACTIVISTS, PARTY AND OTHER ORGANIZATIONS ACTIVISTS<
SPORT Leaders etc.
The Lexicon of Biographies
Collected and Edited by Shlomo Greenspan, Moshe Rubin, Itzhak Ben Ishai (Fuchs) and
rabbi Leib Geliebter
Nachum Sokolov (1860-1936) H-391
Itzhak Grinbaum H-393
Rabbis, dayanim (religious judges) and heads of yeshivot H-395
R' Yehuda Lajb Avida (Zlotnik) (Rabbi)
R' Adelberg Itzhak (Rabbi)
R' Auerbach Itzhak son of R' Chaim (Rabbi)
R' Auerbach Falk (Rabbi)
R' Ajdelberg Mordechai Dov (the last Rabbi of Płock)
Bzura Matatyahu (Dayan)
R' Ginzburg Abraham Chaim
Hftka Zisman (Dayan)
R' Halberstat Naftali Herc (Rabbi)
R' Szymon Zylberberg (Dayan)
R' Ziskind Aleksander H'Kohen - "R' Zisza Płocker" (Rabbi)
R' Zlotnik Yona Mordechai (Rabbi)
R' Kohen Eliezer (Rabbi)
R' Lipszyc Zeew Wolf (Rabbi)
R' Lipszyc Jecheskel (Rabbi)
R' Landau Abraham the Ciechanow Admu"r
Mendelson Mendel (head of Yeshiva)
Mendelson Moshe son of Mendel (Dayan)
R' Mendelson Beniamin son of Mendel (Rabbi)
R' Margalit Yehuda Leib (Rabbi)
R' Menachem Nachum son of R' Yosef (Rabbi)
R' Pinchas son of R' Yehuda (Rabbi)
R' Cwi Hirsz (Rabbi)
R' Zunz Arie Lejb (R' Lejbele Harif) (Rabbi)
Rubinstein Michael (head of the small Beth Midrash
R' Rubinstein Fyszel (Rabbi)
Rodabr Szmuel Zysza (head of Yeshiva)
R' Rozebstrauch Mendel (Rabbi)
R' Rakowski Azriel Arie Lejb (Rabbi)
R' Szmuel Ben Azriel (Rabbi)
R' Shapira Chaim (the Płocker Admu"r)
The Lexicon of Biographies H-400
THE HOLOCAUST PERIOD (1939-1945)
The Jews of Plotzk under the Nazi regime Dr. J. Kermish 70
Until the deportation
Plotzk refugees in exile
Acts of resistance
Plotzk after the Holocaust
Jews of Plotzk in Exile 76
Letters of Płocker Jews from the towns of deportation H-506
Pages in the diary Itzhak Tynski Y-526
Jews of Plotzk under the Nazi terror D. Dąbrowska 76
Felicja (Fela) Ravitzka
Dr. Hersz Russak
The tortures in the Forced Labor Camp Amsee (near Leib Geliebter H-539
Poznan). All prisoners of this camp were murdered. They
worked there for the German Company O. Quast.
Płock in the chronicle of Ludwik Landau (1909-1944) a H-542
Jewish famous economist from Tomaszow Mazowiecki
A Reminder ("Regards") H. Elboim-Dorembus 78
Between Warsaw and Plotzk Michael Zylberberg 78
I left the Ghetto H. Mairanc-Meiri 79
I was a "Submarine" in a Nazi-Camp M. Koenigsberg 79
A Revolt in Hell, Testimony The horrors and heroism in Marian Platkiewicz 79
the camp of Treblinka H-544
Treblinka, historical review
In Płock and with the family
With the slavery labor battalions in Treblinka
The day of the revolt and revenge and its planning
Accumulation of arms and last preparations
The signal is given
Rudek Lubraniecki the hero of Treblinka
The escape from all parts of the camp
In hiding and in action
The trial of Treblinka perpetrator, the German Kurt Franc
I was a mouth of hundreds of thousands murdered Moshe Bahir (Szklarek) H-553
victims – (Sobibor trial)
The testimony of Moshe Bahir (Szklarek) in the H-555
State archive "The Government Counselor against Adolf
Eichman. Testimonies B', pages 1045-1050
Nothing Remain... (a poem) Katriel (Kurt) Hazan H-558
To the Jews of Poland (a poem translated from Polish to Wladyslaw Broniewski H-559
Hebrew by Zvi Yashiv)
Warszawa year 5601 (1941) Itzhak Bernsztein H-560
Our Płocker landsleit in Ghetto Warsaw Michael Zylberberg H-570
The first refugees
The period until the erection of the ghetto
The period of the ghetto
The contact with the deportees in the various towns
Days of the deportations
After the Holocaust
Escaped from the claws of death (Josef-Jorzek Fiszman Prof. Artur Ber H-573
Yizkor – the Martyrs Names (necrology) H-575
POST WAR EFFORTS OF REBUILDING
Survivors of the fire Alfred Blei (30.10.1945) H-606
The activities of the Płocker Survivors Committee
In liberated Płock – the remembrance assembly of
March 3rd, 1946 H-608
David Lichtenstein: the first Płocker victims of the war
Talks by Mrs. Koenigsberg, Zielonka, Mr. Cichi (from
Drobin), Eisenberg, Platkewicz, Margolin and Alfred Blei,
Exhumation (21.10.1946) H-610
Summary of the Płocker Survivors Committee activities M. Tirman H-611
The dedication ceremony of the memorial monument to H-612
Płock martyrs (built by architect Benjamin Arie Leib
Jewish Plotzk cannot be rebuilt I. G. Bursztyn 82
The path of agony of the Jews of Płock H-614
Trials of rehabilitation Y-619
The plant is not revived
I returned Home I. G. Chanachowicz 83
Memories and experiences of a refugee upon return after the (Kent) H-629
In a refugees train to Poland
The first encounter with the city, June 1946
Trials to renew life which were destroyed
The house of Maccabi
A struggle for labor
In the main streets of town
In the "Tumy" boulevard
The grand synagogue
Post- War Activities in Plotzk 83
A memorial meeting in liberated Plotzk (3.5.1946)
Re-burial ceremony of 25 Nazi victims
Summary of the activities by the committee of Plotzk
Unveiling of the monument (23.10.1949)
ASSOCIATIONS OF PLOTZK JEWS ALL OVER THE WORLD
Jews of Plotzk in Israel 85
Until the foundation of the State of Israel H-643
The activities of the organization in the State of Israel
The book of Płock
The first immigrants ("olim") from Płock in Eretz Israel Eng. Mordechai H-648
Memories of my father home Shoshani
Yaacov Tzidkoni (Rechtman) – a Folklore researcher H-651
and a collector
In Memoriam 86
Itzhak Barak (Zeligman) z"l - IDF Lieutenant Colonel
Mordechai Licht z"l - man of Ein Vered
Josef Rosenfeld z"l - fell in Gesher Haziv battle
Eliyahu Kruvi (Kapusta) z"l
Itzhak Rosenfeld z"l
Uri Kinamon z"l
Hersh Cohen z"l - among the founders of "Neve Shaanan"
Yechiel Avivi (Fliderblum) z"l – words about his image
Yaakov Fishman z"l – the Halutz (pioneer) and educator
History of the Plotzker Young Mens' Association in New H. Lipner 88
Members of the committee in 1966:
Pres. – Geo. Seeman
V-Pres. – Dr. K. Bach and C. Okolica
Treas. – S. Bornstein
Fin. Secy. – H. Lipner
Rec. Secy. – J. Gomberg
Trustees – M. Weitzman, J. Bernstein, N. Fink
Shlomo Greenspan, In Memoriam Bezalel Okolica 89
Plotzk Jews in the Argentine 90
Several details about the Płockers in Argentina Y-676
Plotzk Jews in France H. Zimmerman 90
Last Letter from Menachem Banach, 30.3.1942 Y-677
Plotzk Jews in various countries 91
Australia, England, Los Angeles, Canada
Lexicon of Personalities and Pubic Workers (in Hebrew) 389-445
Yizkor Lists 575-605
It is with a feeling of deep respect and in a spirit of awe that we present the remnants of the
Plotzk Jewish community and the Jewish public at large with this memorial volume. After
collecting and editing a large amount of material over a period of five years, we now have the
honor of putting the fruit of our endeavors into your hands. Whilst we, who have been engaged
in this work, express our satisfaction that we were privileged to see it in its final form, we should
nevertheless note that we did not succeed in bringing to light a number of chapters and
happenings in the history of our community, which should have found their place in this book.
Some events and personalities may also not have been fully or suitably reported or described
since relevant information about them was not available.
We should therefore like to ask for the indulgence of all former Plotzk Jews, wherever they
may be, in whose hearts the memory of their community is alive, as well as of all those, who
engage in the study of Jewish history and are familiar with the history of our ancient community,
and of thousands of other Jews, who are tied by family bounds or various memories to Plotzk.
They will, we pray, regard our efforts in a favorable light, aware, as they surely are, that the
flames of the holocaust fire have consumed much which can no more be reconstructed. In spite
of these limitations, whatever we did was done in order to honor the sacred memory of our whole
community; all its sons and daughters without exception. The whole community of ten thousand
Jews, who lived there until the outbreak of the Second World War and who, - but for about 300
souls who survived, - all perished by fire and sword, by hunger and thirst, by epidemics and
strangulation, through the hands of human beasties, the Nazi-criminals and their assistants. All of
them, men, women and children, intellectuals and ordinary folk, rich and poor, all without
difference of their ideologies or affiliation - are holy martyrs in our eyes and in the eyes of the
whole people of Israel and hence entitled to an equal measure of honor and commemoration.
To honor the memory of our martyrs was the guiding light of our work. At the same time we
saw to it that this book should not turn into a collection of family or individual memorial
notations, but rather portray the whole Plotzk Jewish community throughout the ages, its
struggles and achievements, its failures and successes, its greatness and final destruction.
Descriptions of individual lives were included in this book only in as much as they contributed to
an understanding of their period or reflected various trends of public life, or if the personalities
portrayed led the community in one sphere or another.
For lack of reliable source-material it was virtually impossible to describe chronologically
and pragmatically the history and activities of many of the communal institutions and public
organizations in all their various facets of life. We therefore decided to append a biographical
index of personalities, who were active for the common weal. Although we called several times
upon ex-Plotzk people all over the world to let us have relevant background material on the lives
and deeds of men and women who should be recorded in this index, we did not succeed in
compiling a complete index, nor in some cases gather full details concerning individuals. The
quantity of material in any item should therefore not be regarded as an indication of the
respective person's importance and role in the community.
The same goes for the Yizkor-list in this book. We know only too well that it is virtually
impossible to compile a complete name-list of our ten thousand brothers and sisters, who found
their tragic death during the Second World War, since whole families were annihilated without
any remaining survivors. Nevertheless we did our very best to collect over the years all available
names of our martyrs through appeals to Plotzk survivors everywhere, so that they should at least
find in the book some sign of their beloved ones who are no more. In the end only 2640 names
were brought to our knowledge and among them many names of persons who were not residents
of Plotzk before the war.
The editors of this volume are conscious of the fact that they are but treading in the footsteps
of their predecessors, who endeavored to secure Plotzk its rightful place in the annals of Jewish
history. This aim found its practical expression in the activities of the committee set up as long
ago as 1937 to commemorate 700 years of Jewish life in Plotzk, which culminated in the book
published by Yeshaya Trunk in 1939. The present volume contains an abridged version of Mr.
Trunk's work (which never reached the public because of the war), and includes as well the
second part of the historical research compiled by the writer at the special request of the editorial
board. We are convinced that the fruits of his labor are of great historical, social and cultural
importance not only to Jews who hail from Plotzk, but to all those interested in the history of
Efforts by Plotzk Jews to commemorate their community in the form of a book were made
immediately after the conclusion of the war. The first ones to bring out a memorial volume
("Plotzk, Blettlech Geschichte", Buenos Aires, 1945, 260 pp.) were the Plotzker Association in
the Argentine. Dr. Jacob Shatzki in his lengthy review ("Yivo Bletter, Vol.27, 1946") praises
their sincere efforts to commemorate the community in this way, but states that the need for a
fully documented work on Jewish Plotzk still exists. Dr. Shatzki's evaluation and especially the
extensive bibliographical list, which followed his article, undoubtedly contributed to the work of
Shlomo Greenspan, of blessed memory, ("Yidn in Plotzk", New York, 1960, 328 pp.) which,
although not constituting an all-encompassing review of the community, comes close to being a
pure historical work of research. This book was verve favorably received by various reviewers in
the U.S. A. and in Europe. S. Greenspan was regarded during recent years as the expert on the
past of Jewish Plotzk. He left no stone unturned in order to reveal details of its history during the
ages, and published many of his finds in the American Yiddish press. Devoid of the necessary
financial means to bring out a full-fledged issue of his work, he devoted all his efforts to aid us in
editing this book. The series of his articles on the great Rabbis of Plotzk, on A. 3. Papierna and
especially his painstaking work collecting articles about Plotzk, which had appeared in the
Hebrew press in the second part of the 19-th century, as well as the appr. 120 items of the
biographical index which he edited, are evidence of the important contribution he made to the
commemoration of our community. It should also be noted that he made available to us a great
deal of material on the last period in the community's life and on the years of its destruction. This
book, and especially its first part, would not have been the same without the collaboration of
Shlomo Greenspan. We deeply mourn his untimely death and the fact that he did not live to see
this work coming off the printing press.
Great emphasis was put on editing the third and last part of this volume, which describes the
period of the Nazi-holocaust. The agony of our hearts was poured into the writing of this chapter,
but in order to give an objective and true description of that terrible time, we introduce it by a
historical review, specially written by one of the best known authorities on the holocaust, Dr.
Letters written by Plotzkers in exile, which were contained in the Ringelblum archives
found in the Warsaw ghetto, are being published here for the first time. The last cries of our
martyrs call to us from these pages...
Over 260 photos were selected from a wealth of pictorial material sent to us from many
corners of the world. After screening them carefully, we believe that we have produced a
Kaleidoscope of Plotzk Jewish institutions and organizations.
The editors endeavored to give this book an aesthetic form and although this increased the
cost of production, nothing was spared to create an impressive and suitable memorial volume.
The assistance extended in this respect by the Plotzk-born painter Jacob Guterman, who adorned
the book with his masterful drawings and illustrations cannot be appreciated enough.
The editorial board wishes to express its gratitude to all those who helped the work along in
its various stages and who did their part with great devotion and full responsibility.
Mr. Adam Rutkowski of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw sorted and edited letters
from the Ringelblum archives. He also choose for publication important historical material from
the Plotzk Municipal protocols, but unfortunately these papers have not been received and could
therefore not be included in this book. Mr. Zwi Yashiv, journalist and editor, corrected Hebrew
and Yiddish texts and prepared the English synopsis. His professional advice was of value in
editing this book. Mr. Abraham Frank inspected the English summaries and edited the English
part of the book. Mr. Mordechai Sonschein, the publisher, showed great patience and
understanding for the technical problems connected with the publication.
Last but not least: The accuracy and devotion with which the Printing-House "Arazi" Ltd. of
Tel Aviv printed this book is most commendable.
We extend our sincere appreciation and gratitude to all authors of the articles, essays and
reviews published in this book.
Thanks are also expressed to all those who sent us letters, written material and photos and to
all our friends in Israel and abroad, who spared neither time, effort nor money to enable us to
publish this book.
May they all be blessed, and derive satisfaction from their labor upon holding this volume in
their hands and seeing that the work has been completed. We conclude with the words of the
Psalmist (139, 36):
"And in Thy book they were all written ..."
We express our sincere gratitude to our esteemed friend, Itzhak Grinbaum, who honored us
by serving as Honorary President of the World Committee for the publication of this book.
The Editorial Board
HISTORY OF THE JEWS IN PLOTZK UNTIL
THE FIRST WORLD WAR
(1237 - 1914)
HISTORY OF THE JEWS OF PLOTZK FROM THE
MIDDLEAGES UNTIL THE 17 TH CENTURY (1237-1657)
(SUMMARY OF THE BOOK "HISTORY OF THE JEWS
OF PLOTZK" BY YESHAYA TRUNK - PUBLISHED 1939)
The Jewish community of Plotzk is considered, together with those of Kalish and Poznan, as
one of the oldest in Poland. We have reason to believe that there were Jewish inhabitants in
Plotzk prior to 1237.
In the years 1919-1939 (between the two world wars), Polish Jewry was engaged in a fight
against official and unofficial anti-Semitic activities and legislation. It was then that proof was
sought for the fact that the Jewish "Kehila" (community) of Plotzk was one of the oldest in that
country, in order to refute thereby our enemies claims that the Jews were aliens on Polish Soil. A
special jubilee committee was established for that purpose, composed of historians and other
prominent personalities. The first part of a book, written in Yiddish, by Yeshaya Trunk M. A. on
the history of the Jews of Plotzk was published by it in January 1939. This publication was,
unfortunately, lost during the war years and only a few copies remained extant. Its contents form
the basis of the article, of which the following is a summary in English.
The first information about Jews in Plotzk dates back to the year 1237. No evidence of
Jewish life in this town is available for almost two hundred years after that date. In 1425 - we are
told by historical documents - a certain Misterlin, a Jew of Plotzk, appeared before a Court in a
civil case. We learn that a Jewish community existed in Plotzk already in the 15th century from
the fact that a rabbi held office there and that taxes due from the Jews were transferred from one
Count to another. Their legal and political status changed as a result of the incorporation by the
Polish Crown of the Principality of Mazovia (where Plotzk is situated). In the course of the 16th
and the first half of the 17th centuries the Jewish community continued to grow, whilst many
other important Jewish communities vanished, as a result of deportations of Jews caused by anti-
Jewish legislation by the Polish rulers.
An inventory list of 1572 states that "the Jews occupy one whole street of Plotzk and several
houses in other streets". Another inventory mentions 25 Jewish houses there. Knowing the
density of urban population in those times, we may assume the number of Jews to have then
reached five hundred.
The town of Plotzk, on the banks of the Vistula River, served as an important trading center.
Its merchants maintained commercial contacts with those of Gdansk (an important port on the
Baltic Sea), and of other Polish and German cities. The Jews played an important role in
developing trade relations, and many documents mention the names of those who were engaged
in selling textiles, wool and other merchandise, some of whom became rich. Apart from
wholesale merchants, most Jews in Plotzk made their livelihood from the local retail trade.
But, under the influence of Christian townspeople, Polish rulers began to impose trade
restrictions on Jews in many Polish towns, including Plotzk. Rules and regulations confined
Jewish commerce solely to fairs held in market places and their own shops. It is proved that these
restrictions were not fully carried out because the Jews, deprived of their businesses, took
advantage of the rivalry which existed between the local authorities and the King's
representative. Various interventions resulted in the abolishment or gradual decrease in the
enforcement of these restrictions and many historical documents prove that Jewish trade and
commerce continued to prosper. Nevertheless, Jewish-Christian commercial competition
continued to occupy the civil and royal Courts. In some instances Jews convinced the authorities
that the restrictions imposed on them were to the detriment of the country's development. The
King's attitude towards the Jews was in general more favorable than that of the local authorities,
which were negatively influenced by the Christian population.
Some Jews made their living as money-lenders and among their main clients were Christian
townspeople. These loans were extended against securities. Those who benefited from Jewish
credit very often took their pawns back by force. Many such cases were brought before the
Courts. It is also note-worthy that names of Jewish women appear among the moneylenders.
The weaving trade in Plotzk was highly developed and a weavers union existed there since
1494. Jewish participation in this trade was considerable. The names of Jewish glaziers and even
of a Jew, who was licensed to manufacture weapons, are on record. Tension between Christian
and Jewish artisans prevailed during all those centuries, and the former very often used their
influence on the authorities in order to expel Jewish artisans from the Unions and to limit their
rights to pursue their trade. The Christian bakers, for example, influenced King Zygmunt of
Poland to issue a decree prohibiting Jewish bakers to buy wheat before their Christian colleagues
had done so and to sell their bread in public markets.
As we know, Jews used to lease Government taxes from the authorities and collect them
from the gentile population. This concession often caused anti-Jewish feelings and the ruling
noblemen made constant efforts to abolish these concessions.
Even the "Council of the Four Lands" (Vaad Arba Aratzoth), an autonomous Jewish body
which represented the Jewish population of four regions in Poland and Lithuania, prohibited
Jews in 1581 to lease taxes from the authorities, thereby trying to eliminate an important cause of
anti-Jewish feelings. Nevertheless, historical documents of those centuries contain many
references regarding this "Jewish" source of income as well as court proceedings which show
that Jews continued to benefit from their rights to collect several taxes from the population.
Various records mention Jewish farmers in the neighborhood of Plotzk as well as villages
whose names (Żydówka) indicate that their inhabitants were Jews.
Historical documents of the 16th century mention Jewish physicians who lived and practiced
in Plotzk. Some of them married gentile women, severed their relations with the Jewish
community and even left Judaism.
LEGAL STATUS OF JEWS
When the region of Mazovia was coopted by the Crown, the status of the Jews changed. The
general municipal laws regarding the Jews were replaced by special "Jewish" legislation which
constituted special Courts for Jews and fixed special judicial and procedural court rules. These
rules and regulations were sometimes very severe and treated the Jews as second-rate citizens.
Jews were not regarded as "citizens", rather as "residents". Yet in many cases Jews benefited
from special privileges accorded to them by the Kings, who regarded themselves as patrons and
defenders of the Jews against their Christian neighbors, who succeeded to persuade the
authorities to issue orders prohibiting Jewish "expansion", yet we gather from many sources that
in spite of such anti-Jewish measures Jews continued to buy houses and establish themselves in
all parts of the town.
The lists of Plotzk house-owners record at the beginning of the 17th century 25 Jewish
houses and nearly 600 souls.
One of the famous conflicts between the Jewish community (Kehila) and the authorities
concerned the right of the Jewish community to buy land for the establishment of its cemetery.
That conflict lasted for almost 25 years and despite attacks and anti-Jewish outrages, the Jewish
community continued to be recognized as the legal owner of the cemetery.
The Jews were obliged to pay special "Jewish" taxes like all other Polish Jews. There were
two categories of taxes: a) Royal taxes; b) municipal rates. The first category included: 1) Poll-
tax; 2) Property tax (on houses); 3) Tenant tax. The second one consisted of various fees and
payments on immovable property, supply of water, watching and other services as well as special
levies which were very frequently imposed. The Jewish rate-payers, who did not enjoy full civil
rights, appealed in many cases to the higher authorities against illegal rates and even refused to
pay them, as we learn from Court proceedings of the years 1538 and 1540.
In this connection it is worth mentioning that in 1616, when the City Hall was burned down,
a special levy was imposed on the Jewish inhabitants to defray the costs of rebuilding the City
Hall on the pretext that the fire which had consumed the building had broken out in the Jewish
quarter. In some cases Jews were compelled to bribe influential officials in order to cancel evil
COMMUNAL ("KEHILA") ORGANIZATION
The Polish kings used the internal community organization (Kehila) as an instrument for the
efficient collection of the taxes due from Jews (especially the poll-tax). On the other hand, the
Kehila unit served the Jews as the nucleus of broader autonomous organizations, both regional
and countrywide. Foremost among these was - at the end of the 16th century - the famous above
mentioned, "Vaad Arba Aratzoth", representing Great Poland, Little Poland, Russia and
Lithuania. This Vaad (Council) was composed of rabbis and key leaders of the most important
Jewish communities and convened once or twice a year. The powers and duties of a community
leader (Parnas) included: representation of the Jews before the King, ruler and general
community; signing of documents in the Kehila's name; intervention in favor of community
members against whom false charges were leveled; participation in Jewish courts, responsibility
for collecting taxes from Jews, etc.
Lists of Jewish community leaders show that they mostly held office for lifetime and that the
community leadership rested exclusively in the hands of a few families. Nepotism was
characteristic for Plotzk as well as other communities.
Once a year elections to the Committee were held and every time 5 or 6 leaders (Parnassim)
were elected. The results had to be ratified by the Wojwoda (District Governor). Every month a
different leader presided over the Committee; hence the title: "The Leader of the Month"
The synagogue was the most important property administered by the Committee. Nearby
stood the "Mikveh" (ritual bath) and the Hostel for the Poor. The Plotzk synagogue was burned
down in 1616 and was rebuilt a year later on the strength of a license for which. 30 Zlotys were
paid. That synagogue was destroyed once more during the Swedish invasion in 1656.
Many historical records show that the Plotzk Jewish community was the most important and
respected in the whole Mazovian region. It was for that reason that the Polish Jewish King
Stephan Batory in 1580 handed his ratification of the Polish Jewish rights to the leaders of the
Plotzk Jewish community as the representatives of the whole Jewish population of Poland.
JEWISH PATTERN OF LIFE
The cultural level of the Jews in Plotzk was a high one. The fact that among 600 inhabitants
there were, in the second part of the 16th century, 5 persons who held the title "doctor
medicinae", proves this. Some members of the community were richly dressed and possessed
precious clothes, expensive personal effects and household goods. Even the name of a Jew who
possessed a sword, is mentioned.
It is interesting to note that some Jews adopted non-Jewish first names under the influence
of their Christian neighbors. Various court records mention such Polish names, although we may
assume that in some instances the Court official himself "translated" the "odd" Jewish names.
The Jewish quarter was densely populated and its sanitary conditions deplorable. This was
the cause of many complaints by the Municipality although the sanitary conditions in the non-
Jewish part of town were far from satisfactory. When an epidemic disease broke out in 1603
most of the townspeople fled. Six fires broke out between 1511 and 1688 and some of them
reduced the Jewish quarter to heaps of ashes.
Blood libels and other false accusations were leveled quite frequently and the Jews made
great efforts in order to defend themselves against them. To spread such rumors was forbidden
by Royal legislation, but the hostile gentile population very often "invented" stories about the use
of Christian blood for Jewish ritual purposes, stealing the "Holy Bread", etc. Five Jews (four men
and a woman) were executed in 1556 on a charge of stealing and desecrating the "Holy Bread",
brought against them by a Christian woman, who confessed before her death years later, that her
testimony had been false. Some historians maintain that this accusation was staged by a bishop
under the influence of a Papal emissary.
It should be mentioned that Christian women played prominent roles in many blood libel
The relationship between Jews and Christians in Plotzk was never quite normal although
there were long periods of peace and mutual understanding. In some of the civic riots the Jews
acted in self-defense and even attacked their persecutors. The clergymen very often led anti-
Jewish mobs which invaded the quarter, destroying houses and wounding their inhabitants. The
first of these riots, of which we have some information, occurred during Passover 1534. Other
violent disturbances broke out in 1570, 1579, 1590 and 1656. Improper behavior of Jewish
individuals sometimes brought about attacks on the whole community. On the other hand some
documents record agreements entered into by representatives of the Jewish and Christian
communities with a view to secure peace and order, by virtue of which penalties were imposed
on those who disturbed peace and order. We find Jews as arbitrators in inter-Christian conflicts
as well as Christian witnesses who appeared before Courts in the defense of Jews against their
PROMINENT KEHILA PERSONALITIES
One of the outstanding personalities who lived in the second half of the 16th century was
Josef, the son of Miriam. He was one of the rich community leaders, maintained personal
contacts with Polish noblemen and served as an intermediary between the Jewish population and
the King's Court. His son-in-law Shimon was another well-known businessman and money-
lender. A certain Felix Berman is also mentioned as a defender of Jews against blood libels and
Plotzk was frequently being visited by a great number of Jews from outside, many coming
from neighboring localities and some even from as far as Poznan. The municipality tried to
impose restrictions on this influx, and Jews who wished to settle in town, had to pay special fees
for the acquisition of that right. On the other hand many Plotzk-born Jews left the town for
Lublin, Poznan, Lentshitsa and other localities, yet most of them did not sever their attachment to
the place of their birth.
The Swedes invaded Plotzk in 1655. A year later they were driven out again by a group of
Polish partisans who celebrated their victory by attacking, plundering and slaughtering the
Jewish inhabitants. The Poles accused the Jews of assisting the invaders, while the Swedish
attitude to the Jews had not been less hostile.
After a short period the Swedes once more returned to Plotzk but finally left it as a result of
an epidemic disease which ravaged among the citizenry. For three months Plotzk remained a "no
man's land" until a company of Austrian soldiers took hold of the town. Their treatment of the
Jews was no better than that accorded by the Swedes.
A historical document mentions a complaint by the Jews to the effect that many of them
were killed and their houses, including the synagogue, destroyed during the Swedish invasion.
Only seven Jewish houses remained in Plotzk in 1661.
THE HISTORY OF THE JEWS OF PLOTZK
FROM THE MIDDLE OF THE 17th CENTURY
UNTIL WORLD WAR I
By Yeshaya Trunk
FROM THE MIDDLE OF THE 16th CENTURY UNTIL THE END OF
THE POLISH KINGDOM
After the years 1656-1657, the Jewish Kehila of Plotzk remained weak and suffered from
manifold disasters. The Jewish quarter was burned down in 1688 - about 30 years after the
Swedish invasion; a few years later an epidemic disease broke out, and a large number of
Plotzk's citizens, including the Jews, perished. The "Great Northern War" at the beginning of the
18th century brought in its wake a wave of murder, robbery, arson and diseases to town.
Plotzk was recaptured by the Russian army from the Swedes in 1709. Fighting was always
accompanied by attacks on Jewish property and life.
The allover situation of the Polish Jews deteriorated in the 18th century as a result of the
strengthened position of the reactionary Polish Catholic circles, who demanded the imposition of
restrictions on the commerce and the free movement of Jews from one town to another. The
Catholic clergy and the lower and impoverished class of Polish noblemen presented a united
front in their efforts to restrict Jewish "expansion" and decisions to this effect were taken at
The Bishop of Plotzk invited the leaders of the Jewish community in 1775 and accused them
of having built new synagogues. He decreed that Jews were not to trade on Sundays between 9
a.m. and 5 p.m., whilst they were permitted to buy only the most necessary articles before 9 a.m.
During the "Corpus Christi" procession which used to pass through the market square, the Jewish
quarter was blocked off, so that the Jews should not see the Holy Pictures.
Blood libels were common practice in that century and the Jews of Plotzk suffered from
them no less than co-religionists elsewhere in Poland. A Christian infant died soon after its birth
in a village near Plotzk. Rumors were spread that it had been killed by Jews. The "Starosta"
(District Governor) encouraged the circulation of these rumors and ordered the Jewish inn-
keeper of that village to be arrested. After murderous tortures he died in jail. The Governor kept
looking for new victims and the Jewish community leaders were compelled to bribe him in order
to prevent further outrages.
He then tried to turn that bribe into a steady yearly payment and when one of the community
leaders refused to be blackmailed he was imprisoned and tortured. In spite of these persecutions
some community leaders preferred to suffer rather than to have further payments imposed on
their poor community.
The two last decades of the 18th century were marked by growing anarchy and internal
disorders which led to the division of Poland by its neighbors. The Jewish population of Plotzk
suffered greatly from that state of affairs. A then newly-elected Governor kept interfering in
internal community affairs, demanding a substantial bribe for approving the election of the
communal rabbi, although its leaders were in possession of a legal consent, issued by his
When the heads of the community refused to pay the bribe they were arrested, the Rabbi
beaten and the money collected by force. Those were the last acts of lawlessness carried out by
representatives of a government nearing its downfall.
The second division of Poland was put into effect a year later, in 1793, and Plotzk, together
with the greater part of Mazovia, came under Prussian rule.
Although only very little is known about the cultural life of the Jews of Plotzk during the
second half of the 18th century, some names of Plotzk-born prominent rabbis appear in
chronicles of that century. Among them we find Rabbi Zelig Margolies, the author of some
commentaries on the Mishna and Talmud, Rabbi Zvi Hirsh Munk, who officiated as
community-rabbi and others.
THE NAPOLEONIC PERIOD, 1793-1813
UNDER PRUSSIAN RULE (1783-1807)
Plotzk enjoyed considerable expansion in the last decade of the 18th century, having become
the administrative center of the newly-formed "New Southern Prussia". New and imposing
buildings were erected in the town. The Prussian authorities revoked the old decree by virtue of
which the Jews were concentrated in a ghetto, but the Jews took no advantage of this liberation
and preferred to live on in the old Jewish quarter.
Many Jews from nearby localities moved to Plotzk. 731 Jews lived in the town in 1800
among 1874 Christians, two years later there were 1783 Jews. This increase of 150% in the
course of only two years was due to a large-scale influx from the countryside.
These newcomers were attracted to German culture and probably brought with them the
spirit of "Haskala" (Enlightenment). Their influence on the community grew notably, since
many of them were wealthy. German gradually became dominant and the documents of the
community were being composed in that language.
During that period Yehuda Leib Margulies was rabbi of Plotzk. He is the author of some
books on religious subjects as well as of some works on philosophy, ethics, etc. His book "Or
Olam" (The Light of the World) was reprinted several times and enjoyed widespread popularity.
Rabbi Margulies was a conservative "rationalist" who did not see any conflict between religious
faith and science. In one of his books he criticizes the internal Jewish community relations, the
lack of intellectuals and the corruption of the Kehila's oligarchy, which furthered their own
interests rather than those of the people.
His bitterly critical remarks on the deplorable social position of the Jewish masses were
probably the result of his experience as rabbi of several Jewish communities. (He served only a
short time as rabbi of Plotzk). We may assume that he was forced to change positions at frequent
intervals, due to his critical attitude towards the administrative shortcomings of the Jewish
The names of two other influential Jews are recorded in the chronicles and autobiographies
of that period: Itsikel Plotzker, who maintained commercial and social relations with Count
Radziwil and other members of the nobility and acted as their adviser on many issues pertaining
to Jewish life; and Daniel Landau who supplied the French army during the war. The latter
represented the communities of the Plotzk region at the Conference of Jewish Communities of
the Warsaw Principality.
In that period the statutes of the Jewish Tailors' Union were renewed. They contain
interesting rules and regulations concerning the professional relations between its members, and
were meant to prevent competition and supply work to all members on cooperative lines. These
statutes also contain paragraphs which protected the rights of workers seasonally employed by
UNDER THE DUKEDOM OF WARSAW (1807-1814)
Plotzk was made the center of one of the six districts which formed the Duchy of Warsaw,
established as a result of the peace treaty between Napoleon and Alexander I of Russia. The
position of the Jewish population of Plotzk did not improve, although its members were given
equal civil rights with the non-Jews. On the contrary, the burdens and special payments increased
and the community leaders fought hard to reduce the huge amounts which the community -
impoverished by frequent wars - could not afford to pay. A Government decree of 1812
prohibited the production and sale of alcoholic beverages by Jews. This spelt complete economic
ruin for many Jews whose livelihood derived from the production and sale of alcoholic drinks.
The Governor of Plotzk was one of the first who endeavored to enforce that decree. Its
implementation was postponed after many interventions.
A great fire which destroyed the whole Synagogue and 90 houses broke out in 1810. The
homeless moved to other quarters where they were allowed to reside temporarily. The King's
ministers counseled Friedrich August of Saxonia (who was at that time also the ruler of the
Duchy of Warsaw) to expel the Jews from the mixed quarters. They motivated their advise by
insinuating that Jews were dirty and caused fires and filth "because of their natural inclination to
dirt", but the King protected the Jews maintaining that it would be unjust to expel them. A few
years later the King consented to the proposal which allocated the Jews special quarters where
they were allowed to live. Jews were allowed to rebuild their houses only in eight streets, among
them the "Synagogue Street" and "Jerusalem Street". The Jewish Quarter of Plotzk existed till
The famous Rabbi Leibish Charif, author of many religious books, officiated as communal
rabbi of Plotzk in that period. Seventeen of his books were published during his lifetime and
some others after his death. Leibish Charif made a name for himself in rabbinical literature.
A PERIOD OF PROSPEIIITY AND REVOLT
The Dukedom of Warsaw was abolished after Napoleon's defeat and its territory became an
integral part of Russia. As a result of the new division of Poland, Plotzk was made the
administrative center of a new district.
New houses were built in the town and the population grew in the years 1816-1830. 2447
Jews lived in Plotzk in 1822. Many newcomers were absorbed, mostly Jews from all parts of
Mazovia, including those who left villages where they were forbidden by law to engage in the
production and sale of alcoholic drinks.
Government circles initiated in the second decade of that century a special campaign against
the Chassidic movement in order, as they put it, to raise the cultural level of the Jews and to
make them equal with the other citizens. A memorandum on this subject stated that all Polish
Jews were under the influence of the Chassidic sect, except those in the regions of Kalish and
In this spirit the Regional Commission of Plotzk proposed the establishment of special
Jewish secular schools, where the younger generation could specialize in natural sciences and
learn trades. The memorandum mentions a retroactive decree against the approval of elections of
any rabbis, who had no knowledge of Polish.
The Enlightenment Movement reached Plotzk. A circle of Jewish Maskilim, influenced by
German culture through their Prussian neighbors became active under the leadership of a certain
Josef Frenkel. Native-born Jewish doctors lived there at that time; one of them even served as
chairman of the local Doctors' Association.
When the Polish revolt against Russia broke out in 1830, a number of patriotic Jews joined
the Polish fighting units. Nevertheless, Jews were suspected on many occasions of spying for the
In spite of the economic "boom" then prevailing in Poland, Plotzk did not enjoy special
prosperity, because the export of agricultural produce did not pass through Plotzk, since the town
was too far from the nearest railway. Only the hotel branch, which served Government officials
and the landed gentry who used to settle their business in local offices and courts, prospered in
The following table shows the increase of the general and Jewish population of Plotzk
during the first half of the 19th century.
Year General Population Jews Percentage of Jews
1808 4,018 1,932 48.3 %
1822 6,466 2,247 34.7 %
1841 11,556 4,333 37.5 %
1856 12,403 5,251 42.3 %
Between 1840-1850 compulsory recruitment of Jews into the Russian army was enforced,
although more liberally than in Russia proper. This measure caused many family tragedies and
the annual mobilization days were full of tension. Another anti-Jewish decree was specifically
harmful to the Chassidic circles; it prohibited (with some exemptions) the wearing of traditional
Chassidic garb. The Chassidim tried to have this restriction annulled and to bribe the officials
empowered with its implementation, and even the poorest among them were prepared to give
away their last Zlotys in order to be exempted from that decree and be allowed to continue
wearing traditional garments.
Several agricultural Jewish settlements were founded in the Plotzk region in that period. 170
Jewish families settled on the land and the Governor stated in one of his reports that the Jews
"are seriously engaged in agriculture".
The first municipal elections in which the Jewish population participated, took place in
1862. Local Government was abolished just one year later, when the Polish revolt broke out. The
Jewish community was then split into two groups, the "Chassidim", and their opponents, the
"Maskilim", who strove for certain reforms in the traditional Jewish way of life. They established
some modern schools which adopted a progressive educational system. Their leader, Shlomo
Zalman Posner, was a wealthy and influential man who was also instrumental in the founding
of the above mentioned Jewish agricultural settlements.
SECOND HALF OF THE 19th CENTURY
The first decades of this period were influenced by the disputes and controversies between
two leading groups of Jewry: The Chassidim - on the one hand and the "Mitnagdim" (Opponents
of Chassidism) and "Progressive" circles on the other hand. This dispute reached its climax in
Plotzk upon the appointment of Rabbi Azriel Leib Rakovsky as communal rabbi. He
maintained good personal ties with the Governor, belonged to the "Mitnagdim" and was in favor
of secular elementary education alongside religious instruction. He was so greatly persecuted by
the Chassidim that he was eventually forced to abandon his post and move to another town.
The cholera plague broke out in Plotzk in 1867, felling many victims. Many people
considered the plague as God's punishment for the persecution of the rabbi whose absence was
widely felt. He was called back and remained in office till 1880, when he resigned finally, due to
false accusations leveled against him.
EDUCATION AND CULTURAL ACTIVITIES
A secular Jewish school was opened in Plotzk in 1865, following a ceremony at which both
the Mayor and the District Education Officer delivered speeches. This school existed a brief time
only and was probably closed in 1871, as a result of governmental policy which sought to
discourage separatism among Jews and to admit Jewish children into general schools. The great
majority of Jewish children studied in those years in religious schools ("Cheder" and "Talmud
Torah"). The Czarist Government attempted to compel the Jews to close their separate
educational institutions by demanding that the religious Jewish teachers pass examinations in the
Russian language. A compromise was reached, whereby every "Cheder" had to employ a teacher
of the Russian language.
The first high school was founded in Plotzk in the sixties, the only one in the region, and
being attended by many Jewish pupils, it soon turned into a center of secular education and
culture. It also occupied an important position in the community's economic life, since scores of
families derived additional income from the letting of rooms to out-of-town pupils. For a short
period Jewish pupils were exempted from writing on Saturdays and Jewish holidays.
The then famous Hebrew writer and educator Avraham Yaakov Papierna taught Religion
for many years in Plotzk's two high schools. Being a Russophile, he favored the separation of
Polish and Jewish children so that the latter would be educated as loyal citizens of Russia. A
pamphlet of his, advocating these ideas, was brought to the attention of the Russian authorities,
who helped him in many ways. He soon became a spiritual leader, respected by the Jewish
population, and a representative of the community on many occasions. He was the only Jewish
leader capable of making speeches in Russian.
The trend in favor of secular education grew constantly; some of the younger generation,
especially children of "Maskilim", went to other centers to be educated and some of them even
severed completely their relations with Jews and Judaism, while others played active roles in the
Polish struggle for independence and in the Socialist movement.
It is worth mentioning that the famous Zionist leader Nahum Sokolov spent his boyhood
(1865-1878) in Plotzk, where he became famous as the "prodigy" of the little "Beit Hamidrash".
SOCIAL AND HEALTH INSTITUTIONS
A Hospital building committee was established in 1865, at the Governor's initiative. Five
years later the cornerstone was laid, in the presence of Rabbi Rakovsky and the above
mentioned Hebrew writer Papierna, who both spoke on this occasion. This hospital fulfilled an
important role in combating the cholera epidemic of 1892-93 by setting up a special wing for this
A Home for the Aged was opened in Plotzk in 1891, thanks to the initiative and the funds
raised by a group of Jewish women. A performance of a Jewish play ("Uriel d'Acosta") was put
on in Plotzk that year - quite probably the first show in town - and the proceeds from the sale of
admission tickets were allocated to the Home for the Aged.
THE VAAD HAKEHILA (COMMUNITY COUNCIL) AND THE RABBINATE
The powers of the Vaad Hakehila were reduced by law. Only tax-paying community
members enjoyed voting rights. Two-thirds were not eligible for electing their representatives.
These always belonged to the circles favored by the civil authorities.
Due to the grave economic condition and the drain of population through considerable
emigration, the Kehila's revenues constantly decreased until it had difficulties in balancing its
Community rabbis were often compelled to resign their positions as a result of friction
between "Mitnagdim" and "Chassidim", being unable to make peace between the rival groups.
Among the rabbis of Plotzk who deserve to be mentioned are the following: R' Azriel Leib
Rakovsky, R' Yehoshua Falk Auerbach, R' Naftali Yehuda Berman, R' Yehezkel Lifschitz
and R' Yona Mordechai Zlotnik.
In the period under review most Plotzk Jews dealt in agricultural produce, especially in
cereals. According to a census held in 1897 dealers in agricultural produce constituted about one
third of the merchants. Trade connections were mainly with Prussia. The port of Plotzk was a
shipping center for the agricultural produce of the fertile Mazovia region. But the customs war
which broke out between Russia and Germany in the years 1879-1893 as well as the
establishment of "purchasing centers" was detrimental in some ways to the Jewish cereal trade.
Jewish merchants were also affected by the competition of Polish peasants who left the
villages and, with the help of credit institutes, began to trade their own produce. This new class
of farmers sometimes engaged in anti-Semitic activities although historical documents indicate
that some cooperation between Jewish and non-Jewish merchants existed. Jewish-Christian
communal credit institutes also served the town's economy.
But the terrible poverty among some groups of the Jewish population and periodic anti-
Jewish outbursts encouraged overseas emigration, especially to the United States. It started in the
sixties and developed into a mass-emigration in the nineties.
According to current newspaper reports those who left town for the States via Berlin were
completely destitute and could only pay their traveling expenses to Berlin, where they depended
on the Jewish community's assistance for continuing their journey. The number of emigrants was
considerable and gradually reduced the total Jewish population of Plotzk, which only increased
somewhat again in the last decade of the 19th century.
The following statistical table regarding the Jews in Plotzk in 1883-1910 is self-explanatory.
Year General Population Jews Percentage of Jews
1883 20,639 7,633 36.9 %
1887 24,187 10,500 43.4 %
1897 26,966 7,661 28.4 %
1905 30.075 11,780 39.2 %
1910 30,000 12,017 40.6 %
More than a third of the Jews lived on commerce, nearly a third on handicraft and industries
and the remainder included house-owners, capitalists, clerks, etc. About 30% of the merchants
dealt in agricultural produce, 15% - in textiles and clothes and the remainder in various
unclassified articles. The number of people employed in the various trades was: in the clothing
branch - 55%; in the foodstuffs branch - 14%; in metallurgy - 10%; in printing - 6%.
Jewish communal records and taxpayers' lists show that about one third of the Jewish
population was so impoverished that it had to be exempted from payment of Kehila-dues, and
that about 40% paid so little that they lost their voting rights.
THE YEARS PRECEEDING WORLD WAR I 1900-1914
The first 14 years of the 20th century were a period of continuous social and cultural
progress in the life of Plotzk Jews. The unsuccessful revolution of 1905 caused some political
indifference, but on the other hand a great many social energies found their expression through
legal channels. The Zionist and Socialist movements gained followers in Plotzk. Cultural
institutions were being established. The number of Jews in Plotzk increased, both as a result of
curtailed overseas emigration-quotas and of a mass-exit of Jews from small townships. The
"Hovevei-Zion" movement (which preceded the organized Zionist movement) had a branch in
Plotzk since 1891. The "Bund" (Socialist Jewish Workers' movement) and "Poalei Zion"
(Zionist-Socialist movement) also had branches in town. Among the leaders of the Polish
Socialist Party (known as P.P.S.) there were some Jews who played an important part (Josef
Kwiatek and Esther Golda Strozewska) in its activities.
The political events of 1905 were accompanied by clashes between striking workers and
policemen and some Jews took an active part in these events.
After the repressions following the revolt of 1905 and the strengthening of reactionary
political circles, the younger Jewish generation of Plotzk began to show an increased interest in
The famous "Hazamir" association was founded in 1906. It held public lectures and
maintained a theatre group. Another association, called "Tikvat Israel" (The Hope of Israel),
organized literature and history courses. Jews were also active in the general cultural life, and a
Jew (Ludwig Platau) was one of the founders of the local "Popular University".
A Yeshiva was founded in Plotzk a few years before the outbreak of the First World War by
Rabbi Michael Rubinstein, who acted as "Rosh Yeshiva". This Talmudic College became soon
very popular and many students, even from far away, flocked to this institution.
The ancient Jewish Community of Plotzk was regarded at the beginning of the twentieth
century as one of the most enlightened Jewish centers in Poland, and could be rightly proud of
the famous personalities who were either born or brought up there, such as Nahum Sokolov,
Itzhak Grinbaum, A. Y. Papierna, A. Kahanstam and others. Among its great rabbis were Y.
L. Margolies, Z. Plotzker, A. L. Zunz, I. D. Graubart, A. L. Rakovsky, Y. M. Zlotnik. The
generation who grew up in Plotzk during the last decades produced many pioneers and idealists
who fought for the freedom of the Jewish people and general humanitarian aims.
ACTIVITIES OF THE PLOTZK JEWISH
By Dr. Yitzhak Schipper
The author of this article was one of the outstanding Jewish historians in Poland. Having
specialized in the history of Jews in Poland in general, he wrote on the occasion of the 700-year
anniversary of the Jewish community of Plotzk a substantial work on this particular subject.
The first part deals with the years 1650-1793, the Swedish invasion, the pogroms carried out
by the Cossacks and the reconstruction of the community after these disasters. It further
describes the anti-Jewish legislation of that period, the mutual relations between Jews and
Christians in Plotzk and economic life. The period 1794-1858 is the subject of the second part.
During that time the Jewish population grew in number, absorbing newcomers from the German-
held western part of Poland who in time influenced the cultural life of the Jewish community
The author mentions in conclusion the names of prominent rabbis and describes their
cultural and communal activities: R' Arie Lajb, R' Arie Lajb Zunc, R' Natan ben Shimon
Horowic, R' Aleksander Kohen. The author also writes about some "Maskilim": Dr. Philip
Lubelski and Dr. Zygmunt Perkal.
THE MINUTE-BOOK OF THE TAILORS' UNION
By Dr. Emanuel Ringelblum
This article analyzes and describes the rules and regulations of the Tailors' Union of Plotzk.
These laid down the relations between the tailors themselves, between them and their apprentices
and their clients. Its purpose was to prevent unfair competition, as well as to serve as a basis for
the general welfare of the Union's members.
Such "Tailors' Unions" existed in a number of Polish Jewish communities, but that of Plotzk
was exceptionally well organized, devoting much of its endeavors to the social and religious
welfare of its members and their families. The author compares the Statutes of the Plotzk Union
with those of other similar bodies and emphasizes the liberal character of the Plotzk Union,
which had a beneficial influence on labor conditions in other trade branches in Plotzk and
REB MOSHE BEN ISRAEL WASSERZUG
By E. E.
The above - according to his memoirs - served at the end of the 18th century as a "go-
between" of the Jewish community in Plotzk in its relations with the authorities, and as ritual
slaughterer ("Shohet"). But as a result of frictions between him and his superiors in the Kehila,
he was forced to resign.
Thereafter he did not leave town, but being a man of initiative, bought a plot of land outside
Plotzk, where he built an inn in 1803, the first in the town. This large-sized inn served travelers,
merchants and people on official duty who came to Plotzk.
Its owner and manager, Moshe Wasserzug, distinguished himself by his great ability. When
the inn was partly destroyed by fire in 1807, he rebuilt it. "In a short time I succeeded", he writes,
"to build it all again, including stables for 70 horses and sheds for the carts..."
Those were the days of the great French campaign against Russia, civilian traffic stopped
altogether and Moshe Wasserzug lost his livelihood. Thanks to his connections with the
authorities he was granted a license to collect slaughtering fees in Plotzk and Wyszogrod,
although this was not considered an honest occupation, since such license-holders were in the
habit of paying the authorities a certain sum, whilst keeping the remainder. He, eventually,
became rich and sued the Plotzk Jewish communal authorities for their accusations against him
during the years of his service in the community.
Heinrich Loewe, the publisher of these memoirs, states that they contain authentic facts
throwing light on the daily life of Polish Jews at the end of the 18th century.
AVRAHAM YAACOV PAPIERNA (1840-1919)
TEACHER AND LITERARY CRITIC
By Shlomo Greenspan
The above lived in Plotzk for 45 years. He came there when he was appointed as a teacher of
Jewish religion in the Russian governmental secondary school. Being a Russophile, he advocated
adherence of the Jews to Russian culture and dissociation from Polish cultural influences, and
soon became Inspector on behalf of the Russian educational authorities for all the Jewish
religious schools (known by the name of "Heder") and advised the authorities on the possibilities of
modernizing these institutions.
He made a name for himself as a literary critic and his essays on Hebrew literature exerted
considerable influence on his contemporaries. In his essays he fought for the raising of cultural
standards and against the ornate and unnatural pseudo-Biblical style employed by most of the
"Haskala" Hebrew writers. He also wrote books on modern methods for teaching Hebrew and
Thanks to his activities he enjoyed great popularity in Plotzk and although the extreme
religious circles regarded him with suspicion, his personality was respected by the general
Jewish public and his home served as an important cultural center.
The Jewish population of Plotzk celebrated his 70th birthday in 1910.
Avraham Yaacov Papierna is considered the most illustrious of the three great Jewish
literary critics of his time in Poland, who guided Hebrew literature onto new ways.
AHARON BEN MOSHE KAHANSTAM (KONSTAM)
By Eliyahu Eisenberg
This article is a tribute to the memory of Aharon ben Moshe Kahanstam (1860-1920), a
Plotzk-born outstanding Hebrew pedagogue who devoted his life to the spreading of Hebrew
education in several places in Poland and Russia. He was a pioneer of modern Hebrew and
established courses for Hebrew teachers who later contributed a great deal to Zionism and
As a young man he began to practice Law but soon decided to devote his life to education.
Upon leaving his job as an assistant in an advocate's firm in Plotzk, he studied to become a
teacher. When offered the directorship of a Lodz Jewish religious school, he accepted this
challenge enthusiastically and wrote in his diary: "a new epoch begins in my life".
Kahanstam was soon regarded as a central figure of Hebrew education. He showed a lively
interest in his pupils' social background and was very active in social work.
From Lodz he moved to Petersburg, where he spent nine years in the Jewish educational
sphere. During all those years he was constantly in conflict with sponsors, administrators and
other officials who had no understanding of sound educational principles. In 1907 he moved to
Grodno where he founded and directed the "Pedagogical Courses of Grodno", whose influence
on Hebrew education was outstanding.
Students and teachers who were privileged to study under Aharon ben Moshe Kahanstam
admired his fine personality and a number of them published in Tel-Aviv in 1936 a book called:
"Rishonim" (The First), dedicated to their unforgettable teacher and leader. These memories
contain details about his devotion to the cause of Hebrew education, his influence on all those
who came into contact with him, his struggles and zeal for progressive teaching methods, and the
appreciation of the assistance he gave Jewish girls who aspired to the teaching profession from
which they were barred in those years.
His last stage was the Ukrainian city of Kharkov, where he became the guardian of Hebrew
education till the last minute of his life. He succeeded in ignoring the existence of the Bolsheviks
who tried and finally succeeded to liquidate all national and Hebrew schools in Russia.
When he died in 1920, one of the mourners, although an opponent, stated: "With the death
of Aharon ben Moshe Kahanstam the conscience of the Hebrew teacher has passed away".
"Although the venues of his influential and blessed activities were outside Plotzk", says the
author of this article, "we can't publish the Plotzk Memorial Book without paying tribute to a
great son of our town".
LIVES OF FAMOUS PLOTZK RABBIS
by Shlomo Greenspan
RABBI YEHUDA LEIB MARGOLIES - A PIONEER OF SCIENCE
AND FIGHTER FOR JUSTICE
It is to the credit of the community of Plotzk, that its rabbinical seat was occupied during the
eighties of the 18th century by an outstanding personality, who did much to tear down the
spiritual walls of the ghetto, with which the Jews of that period were still surrounded. This man
was Rabbi Yehuda Leib Margolies, also known as Rabbi Yehuda Perle (1747-1811 or 1818).
New winds of freedom and equality, finally culminating in the French Revolution, began to
blow even in the hermetically closed world of Polish and Russian Jewry, which frowned on any
secular education whatsoever. The Talmud was the sole source of knowledge, when Rabbi Y. L.
Margolies took upon himself to spread the knowledge of Nature amongst the Jews, for which he
was not even attacked by the most orthodox, due to the great authority which he enjoyed.
Margolies was labeled by Aharon Zeitlin as an "anti-Mendelsonian enlightener", i.e. a "Maskil"
who remained within the religious camp. Dr. J. Zinberg describes him in his "Literary History
of the Jews" as a fighter for the ideals of enlightenment and against the forces of darkness. Dr.
Joseph Klausner, as well as Ben Zion Katz in his "History of the Enlightenment of the Jews in
Russia" quotes him as advocating the coexistence of secular knowledge and science with piety
and the fear of God.
Rabbi Y. L. Margolies was the author of nine books, mostly dealing with Natural Sciences,
Philosophy, Grammar and others. His foremost work, "Or Olam", first appeared in 1777 and saw
several editions. In this book he showed himself to be a follower of the Aristotelian school of
philosophy, which in his opinion is not in conflict with the Law of Moses. In his book "Tal Orot"
(Pressburg, 1843), he comes out in favor of a more tolerant and liberal attitude towards the
Christian nations, amongst which the Jews dwelled, and preaches higher moral and ethical
standards in the relationship between the well-to-do and the poorer segments of the Jewish
communities. His fearless stand in the forefront of humanitarian and social reform made him
widely known, far beyond the confines of Plotzk, so that he was well remembered as a spiritual
leader in Poland for many decades after his death in Frankfurt on the Oder in 1811 (or 1818).
RABBI ZYSZA PLOTZKER
A Monograph of an outstanding rabbi, who lived in Plotzk in the 19th century. Since 1830
the above served as rabbi of Plotzk where he was very active in establishing peaceful relations
between various groups who fought for influence in the community. His house became a Torah-
center, frequented by many Chassidim eager to hear his discourses on the Sacred Books.
He collected pious sayings of the Hassidic Rabbi of Przysucha, whom he revered, in a book
which was published after his death. Several other books of his were published by his grandson
several years before the outbreak of the Second World War.
In 1940, when the Nazis were about to convert the old Jewish cemetery of Plotzk into a
garden and use the tombstones for street paving, some of his adherers went to the cemetery (103
years after his death) and transferred his remains to another place. The author adds that in spite
of the long time which had elapsed since the burial of Zysza Plotzker, his bones had remained
RABBI SHMUEL BEN AZRIEL
In the second half of the 18th century there served a rabbi in the community of Plotzk,
whose spiritual home was the school of German rabbis. His father, Rabbi Azriel, had been rabbi
of Landsberg and he himself had studied in his youth at the Yeshivoth of Amsterdam. Having
lived some years in Poznan he was appointed rabbi of Kutno and later on of Plotzk, where he
died in 1772.
Rabbi Shmuel published two books : "The pillars of the World" (Amude Olam), Berlin 1741,
and "Samuel's Belt" (Hagurath Shmuel), Frankfurt on the Oder.
His book "Amude Olam" contains several interesting biographical notes, amongst which we
find the description of a ritual-murder accusation leveled against the Jews of Poznan as a result
of which two-third of the Jewish community, together with Rabbi Shmuel, had to flee from this
After lengthy negotiations the matter was finally brought to an end when the Chancellor of
Poland forced six witnesses from the Polish aristocracy to testify to the innocence of the accused
Jews of Poznan.
RABBI ARYE LEIB ZUNZ (REB LEIBEL CHARIF)
The Rabbinical chair of Plotzk was occupied during the first quarter of the 19th century by a
great and well-known sage, Rabbi Arye Leib Zunz, who was appointed at the age of thirty to
the seat of Rabbi Y.L. Margolies. He had already been famous in the Rabbinical world since his
eighteenth year of life, when he compiled a book by the name of "Yaelat Hen".
Having served in Plotzk for a period of ten years, he remained ever after faithful to the town
by giving the title "Rabbi of Plotzk" in all the 25 books written by him. He was known among
the Jews as the "Plotzker Rav".
After leaving Plotzk he served the community of Praga, near Warsaw, after which time he
retired in order to devote his latter years solely to the writing of books. Most of them were
actually published only after he passed away in 1833, a number of them reaching several
editions. Some of the greatest Polish Rabbis were pupils of Rabbi Zunz; most famous amongst
them - the founder of the Chassidic Dynasty of "Ger", Rabbi Itche Meir Alter, the "Baal
Many stories about Reb Leibele Charif made the round amongst the common people and it
was widely believed that all his blessings and wishes would come true. One of these tales
concerns Rabbi Avramele of Ciechanow.
RABBI ABRAHAM OF CIECHANOW, THE PLOTZKER "ILUI"
Rabbi Abraham the Zaddik of Ciechanow, one of the famous Chassidic saintly men who
influenced the Jewish community of Plotzk during the first half of the 18th century, was
descended from simple folk. His father, Reb Rafael Dobrzinski had sent him as a youth to study
Torah in Plotzk where he very soon made a name for himself by his steady learning and
thorough knowledge of the Holy Books. One of the richest men of the community, Reb Dan
Landau, gave him his daughter for a wife. He remained in the house of his father-in-law, even
adopted his family name until he was called to serve as Rabbi of Ciechanow, where he came
under the influence of the Chassidic sect. Although he was not at all eager to act as a Rebbe, the
Chassidim of his town and the surrounding area elected him as their Zaddik. Numerous tales are
told of his wisdom and erudition. (See Yitzhak Rafael - "History of Chassidism", Tel-Aviv
After his death in 1875 several of his books such as "Abraham's Virtues" were printed. The
popular image of the Rabbi motivated his great-grandson Zysche Landau, a poet who was born
in Plotzk, to dedicate one of his poems to the memory of that great man, 40 years after he had
RABBI YISSACHAR DOV GRAUBART - N. SOKOLOV'S RABBI
Rabbi Y. D. Graubart was born in 1842, at Shrensk, where he studied at the local Yeshivah
and from where he was called to serve as Rabbi of Plotzk. He married the daughter of a local
Dayan, Rabbi Ascher. Among his pupils we know Rabbi Yona Zlotnik of Plotzk and Rabbi
Yehuda Leib Zlotnik, who became a well known Rabbi in Canada and carried out a great deal
of research in the sphere of Jewish Folklore. Best known among his pupils was Nachum
Sokolov, later the President of the World Zionist Organization.
Exceptional wisdom and knowledge, simplicity and humility were the outstanding
characteristics of Rabbi Graubart. Great love for and understanding of the average simple Jew
motivated him in all his Halakhic decisions. He gave the Hovevei Zion unofficial support. One
year before his death in 1912 he also participated in the Founding Conference of the Agudath
Israel movement which took place in Kattovitz. Rabbi Graubart passed away in 1913 at
Bendin, where his son Rabbi Yekutiel succeeded him until his immigration to the U.S., where
he served as rabbi in Brooklyn, Chicago and Canada. A daughter of Rabbi Graubart, Rosa
Jacobovitz, was well known in Poland after the first World War as a Yiddish poetess. One of her
poems is dedicated to "My Father".
RABBI ELEAZAR COHEN
When Rabbi Eleazar Cohen was appointed to the Rabbinate of Plotzk, he was already at the
age of 65, but his bonds with the town go back to his early youth. Born in 1791 in Warsaw, he
was sent by his wealthy father at the age of 9 to study at the Plotzk Yeshiva. In Warsaw he
continued his studies under Rabbi Arie Leib Zunz, who had also served, at a different period, as
Rabbi of Plotzk. Many years passed, when Rabbi Eleazar, serving at that time the community of
Makov, received a call to become Rav of Plotzk. However, he was very hesitant to accept this
call, since he was well aware of the fact that various factions, not all of them strictly orthodox,
existed within the community. He consulted, one after the other, Rabbi Abraham of
Ciechanow, the Zaddik of Kotzk and Rabbi Itche Meir, the Zaddik of Ger. Their consensus of
opinion was that he should not be deterred by any hindrances and proceed immediately for
Plotzk. Finally, he consented to serve there on condition that a unanimous letter of appointment
be sent to him over the signatures of all Plotzk community leaders. The full text of the letter of
appointment is quoted in the Hebrew section.
The community received him with great joy, but became divided in their loyalty to him, as
soon as he had preached his first Sabbath sermon in which he demanded the strictest possible
observance of the day of rest. The more enlightened opposed him vehemently, whilst the faithful
were very happy to have him as spiritual guide. During his 6 years of tenure of office in Plotzk
(1856-1862), Rabbi Eleazar was constantly embroiled in various frictions with the Gabayim of
the community; so that he had no interest in renewing his contract and went on to serve in
Pultusk and Sochaczew. His life-work "Hidushey H'Redak" was published after his death (1913)
by his son Yehoshua.
One of Rabbi Elazar's young pupils was a student from Wyshogrod, Nahum Sokolov, who
describes in his memories the movement of the "Enlightenment", which had penetrated the
community and changed its old-worldly atmosphere, a fact which made Rabbi Elazar's position
there so complicated.
RABBI AZRIEL ARYE LEIB RAKOWSKY - THE FIGHTING
The rift which developed within the Jewries of Poland and Lithuania in the 19th century,
when the ideas of progress and enlightenment, originating in Prussia and Eastern Germany,
collided with the Hassidic way of life, did not bypass Plotzk. The sect of the Chassidim became
so strongly rooted there during the second half of that century, that their opponents, who were in
charge of community affairs, decided to invite as their Rabbi a personality, who was known as an
uncompromising opponent of Chassidim. Their choice fell on Rabbi A. A. L. Rakowsky.
When he arrived in town the Chassidim immediately fought him vigorously, so that he was
forced to leave Plotzk for Lomza. An epidemic, which broke out soon thereafter was regarded as
a punishment of Heaven and a delegation of notables was sent to Lomza to persuade the Rabbi to
return to his flock. From then on his position in the community was considerably strengthened,
although the Chassidim never adopted a friendly attitude towards him. He persisted in
introducing modern teaching methods and other progressive innovations in the local Talmud-
Torah. The Chassidim retaliated by denouncing him to the Russian authorities, which almost led
to his arrest.
The establishment of a Jewish hospital in town and various improvements in the situation of
the poor are to his credit. He served the community for 17 years until he could not bear the
communal friction anymore and accepted in 1880 a call for Mariampol, where he passed away in
JEWISH LIFE IN PLOTZK IN THE LIGHT OF HEBREW
PERIODICALS OF THE SECOND HALF OF THE 19th
By Shlomo Greenspan
"HAMELITZ" ON THE BEGINNINGS OF ZIONISM IN PLOTZK
At the beginning of this article the author stresses the fact that the Zionist idea had adherents
in Plotzk, long before the Zionist organization was founded. Yitzhak Lederberg (great-
grandfather of the Nobel-prize winner Dr. Yehoshua Lederberg) went to Eretz Israel in 1830
and a few decades later the Zionist activities of Plotzk-born people were already widely-known.
In 1891, with the foundation of a branch of the "Hovevei Zion" movement in Plotzk, formal
Zionist activities began.
The author quotes excerpts from the then famous Hebrew periodical "Hamelitz", reporting
on Zionist conventions and daily Zionist activities, including money-raising campaigns which
took place in Plotzk.
ITZHAK GRINBAUM AND AHARON BECKER - PILLARS OF
ZIONISM IN PLOTZK
In his essay "The Jews in Plotzk", I. Grinbaum, formerly a leader of Polish Jewry and first
Minister of the Interior of Israel, describes how a Zionist youth-group was founded in Plotzk at
the end of the 19th century. That group was named "Mazkeret Shmuel", in honor of Rabbi
Shmuel Mohilever, a famous leader of the religious wing of the Zionist movement.
I. Grinbaum, and A. Becker (from Lithuania) who had settled in Plotzk, were the founders
and initiators of that group. The latter became soon leader of the younger generation, on which
he exerted great influence.
The above-mentioned "Hamelitz" dedicates a special review to that event and mentions the
obligation undertaken by members of the group to pay between 10 and 25 "kopeikas" (Russian
coin) every month.
The same periodical published an article at the beginning of this century from which we
learn that the local Zionists earnestly endeavored to assume responsibility for the affairs of the
Jewish community (Kehila) in accordance with the Zionist aim and slogan of "Kibbush
Hakehilot" (Conquest of the Communities).
THE PRE-ZIONIST EPOCH OF NAHUM SOKOLOV
The great Zionist leader and famous Hebrew journalist and writer Nahum Sokolov was
brought up in Plotzk. Before he joined Zionist groups formally, and took part in manifold Zionist
campaigns, there had been times when he dissociated himself from Zionism. This information is
contained in an article published in another Hebrew periodical of those times, called
EDUCATION AND CULTURAL LIFE
Articles written by Nahum Sokolov are a faithful source for the reader who wishes to
acquaint himself with the general trend and ideas of the younger Jewish generation of Plotzk,
which at the end of the 19th century strove for the introduction of "general" studies side by side
with Jewish studies. In his articles Nahum Sokolov describes the miserable conditions under
which Jewish youth lived - without proper clothes, half-hungry, arguing with their parents about
the necessity of general studies in order to change the depressing living conditions then
prevailing in the Jewish communities.
Under the influence of the "Haskala" (Enlightenment) ideas, some families began to send
their children to general secondary schools but had to fight for their right to do so with
conservative groups who considered general education as the first step towards the repudiation of
Judaism. The problem of writing on Sabbath-days hindered many parents, faithful to the Jewish
religion, from sending their children to "general" schools.
We also find in these periodicals letters about the financial difficulties encountered by the
Jewish community in maintaining its schools and paying the teachers' salaries. In order to
overcome those difficulties - we learn from the "Hamelitz" - the communal leaders even agreed...
to organize a theatre-show in order to collect some funds.
But in spite of the "Haskala" movement the rabbis were very popular with the general public
and leaders of the community showed them great respect.
In the "Hamelitz" of 1890 we read an interesting story about a rabbi who successfully passed
an examination in Russian. The periodical adds that the examiners admired his "thorough
knowledge of the Russian language".
PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS AND SOCIAL WORK
An 1891 issue of the above periodical describes the growing poverty of the Jewish
population and the necessity for overseas emigration. The retail merchants were forced to pay
high interest for goods purchased on credit from wholesalers. A proposal was made to establish a
wholesale store for the benefit of the retail merchants but for some unknown reasons this plan
There existed in Plotzk a society whose members volunteered to visit sick people at the
hospital as well as to distribute among them tea and sugar. The society "Bikur Holim" did a fine
job in preventing a typhus epidemic in 1867.
Artisans were organized in various professional unions who aimed at rendering social aid to
In another issue of "Hamelitz" we read about a legacy of a rich woman (5000 Russian
rubles) for building an asylum for old people, unable to earn their living. The establishment of
that institution was very important as from other sources we learn that in those days many Jews
in Plotzk reached a very high age.
RELATIONS WITH POLISH NEIGHBOURS
Although there is no special evidence on anti-Jewish riots, we read about an incident which
occurred during a Jewish funeral. Two Polish landowners barred the way of the mourners and
did not let them enter the Jewish cemetery. As a result 30 Jews were injured. Fortunately, the
district governor, who was friendly towards the Jews, helped them in restoring their rights to the
A certain Niemski used in his book, while describing the beauty of the town, offending
expressions with regard to the Jews of Plotzk and their way of life, calling them "a caravan of
From many Polish towns a mass-emigration started at the end of the 19th century. Plotzk's
part in that emigration (especially to the U. S. A.) was not considerable, because its Jewish
inhabitants did not suffer in those days as much from anti-Semitic riots as Jewish communities in
the Ukraine and Bessarabia.
Not far from Plotzk two important industrial centers, Warsaw and Lodz, attracted many
jobless Jewish young people who tried to find employment as factory workers in those towns.
This was not too easy because even Jewish industrialists were not always willing to employ them
out of fear of negative reactions from Christian workers.
The Jewish emigrants had to sell all their belongings in order to be able to buy boat-tickets
to the U. S. A. or to cover at least their travel-expenses to Berlin. Their sufferings on the way to
America, not having any hope to earn their living where they were born - are described in the
periodicals of that time.
A perusal of the Hebrew press at the outset of the 20th century convinces us that the
members of the Jewish community of Plotzk were among the first who adjusted themselves to
the new era of Jewish national renaissance.
NAHUM SOKOLOV'S YOUTH
By Florian Sokolov
The author, who is the son of the famous late Zionist leader Nahum Sokolov, describes his
prominent father's youth in Plotzk.
It appears that young Sokolov was greatly influenced in his time by the Jewish atmosphere
of the community, its youth, Jewish national movements, rabbis and centers of religious and
secular education. Nahum Sokolov, throughout his life, even while a resident of great European
capitals, remembered his childhood in Plotzk. In one of his letters to his daughter he reveals in
nostalgic expressions his great affection for "his beloved Plotzk".
BEGINNINGS OF ZIONISM IN PLOTZK
By Itzhak Grinbaum
The author, who was a leader of Polish Jewry before World War II and the first Minister of
the Interior of the State of Israel, describes the period between the first and second Zionist
Congresses, when the first Zionist group was organized in Plotzk. The author describes in this
connection the various cultural activities as well as the disputes prevailing between Zionists and
their opponents in the community. He mentions the names of local Zionist leaders and of
personalities of the different groups ("Bund", Polish Socialist Party and others) with whom he
maintained contacts during his political career. He portrays, among others, the life of Esther
Golde, a woman fighting for socialism, who played an important role in the general Polish
Socialist Movement and did not display any interest in Jewish problems. Grinbaum visited
Plotzk after the war but found no Jews there.
The classical assumption that the disappearance of the Jews from the economic, cultural and
social life of the town would create a vacuum did not come true.
Itzhak Grinbaum was the Guest Speaker at a Memorial meeting of the Plotzk Association,
which was held in 1951 in Tel Aviv. On this occasion he delivered a thoughtful speech,
containing many reminiscences of the town in which he spend nine years of study at the local
Mentioning the various cultural and educational institutions, he drew loving portraits of the
teachers Shmuel Penson and A. Y. Papierna, the revolutionary leader Josef Kwiatek and
others, who left their imprint on the minds of the young generation, and thanks to whom the
Jewish Youth in Plotzk became spiritually elevated and intellectually more broad-minded.
INAUGURATION OF THE JEWISH GYMNASIUM
By M. Zlotnik
Excerpts from a booklet, published in 1917, which includes the speech delivered by the then
rabbi of Plotzk, R' Yona Mordechai Zlotnik at the inauguration of the first Jewish secondary
school in Plotzk.
The attitude shown by the above to general and secular Jewish education was at that time
quite different from that of other rabbis. He understood the modern spirit of the Jewish youth
well and knew that their assimilatory trends would not be checked by "Chadarim" and
"Yeshivot" alone. For that reason Rabbi Zlotnik saw in the establishment of Jewish secondary
schools a stronghold of Judaism. He demanded from his teachers' devotion to their extraordinary
responsibilities. "We are now on the eve" said the rabbi, "of the establishment of Jewish
secondary schools and you, the teachers, have to be pioneers in this field, and in the future you
will be recognized for your work".
His speech contains a few sentiments directed to the Christian population. He explains that
for the good of both Jews and Christians primary education should be separate because just as it
is impossible to give Christian children a good Christian education in Jewish schools - Jewish
religious education is possible only in schools established exclusively for Jewish children.
The late Rabbi Zlotnik expressed his hope that one day a Jewish central institute for higher
education - a university - would be established. The rabbi expressed already then, in 1917, his
longings for a Hebrew University to rise in Jerusalem.
He concluded his words to his pupils by expressing his hope that they would adapt
themselves through the influence of the new school to the aim of returning to their homeland
MEMORIES OF THE PAST
By Shlomo Rozen
The author pays tribute to some personalities who lived in Plotzk at the beginning of the
century, especially of the Chassidic circles. He describes their orthodox way of life, adherence to
different Chassidic rabbis and their influence on that part of the younger generation which
devoted itself to the study of Torah and its commentaries. He also mentions a famous cantor
whose prayers, together with a choir, afforded the listeners great spiritual enjoyment.
The second chapter describes the various groups of Jewish orthodox youth who gathered in
the local Beit Hamidrash. Some of those young people later became famous in Jewish life in
Poland and elsewhere, among them Rabbi Zlotnik-Avida and others.
The third chapter is dedicated to the new ideas of progress, within both secular and religious
Zionism, which shaped the ideologies of those young people. The author mentions the activities
of Itzhak Grinbaum, Rabbi Lifshitz and others.
The second part of this article deals with the assimilationist groups of the Plotzk Jewish
community (the Kempner family and others) and with the people who lived in the vicinity of the
"Iron Gate" - a market place where simple folk (tailors, butchers, fishmongers) lived and worked.
The author nostalgically describes these types of Jews, who added a special flavor to the
multifaced Jewish population of Plotzk.
JEWISH PLOTZK DURING THE FIRST WORLD WAR
By Itzhak Tynski
The author gives a survey of the pattern of life in Plotzk at the outbreak of the first World
War. He describes in detail how the local Jewish population tried to maintain good relations with
both fighting parties, the Russians and the Germans, in order to survive, but did not always
succeed, since each party suspected the Jews of being on their enemy's side.
Another chapter deals with the life of the Jews under German occupation. The Germans
permitted the Jews (in 1915) to restore commerce and industry which were ruined in the first
year of war. Even cultural activities were permitted by the German authorities and the Jewish
youth organized that year a special sports tournament. The generation of that period could not
possibly foresee how the next meeting with the Germans (after 25 years) would look like...
The survey's third chapter describes conditions under the Polish regime which was hostile to
the Jews and used every possible opportunity to act against them. The author mentions, inter alia,
the tragic case of Rabbi Shapiro, who was sentenced to death and executed "for spying in favor
of the Bolsheviks". This and other cases did a great deal to convince the Jewish population that
they were living among hostile elements and that they would have to leave their "homeland" as
soon as they could. Unfortunately, the Jews of Plotzk became fully convinced of that truth only
THE PLOTZK JEWISH COMMUNITY
BETWEEN THE TWO WORLD – WARS
1 9 1 8 - 1 9 39
COMMUNITY INSTITUTIONS, SOCIAL WORK,
ECONOMIC LIFE, NEIGHBOURHOOD
THE JEWISH KEHILA (COMMUNITY) OF PLOTZK
By Itzhak Ben-Shai (Fuchs)
This article carries the sub-title, "Memories of a Secretary", since its author served for two
years as secretary of the Plotzk Kehila. As in other Polish towns, the Kehila was the
representative Jewish body serving the religious, social and cultural needs of the Jewish
The Secretariat of the Kehila housed many records, among them documents of great
historical value, since the Plotzk Jewish community had been in existence for no less than 700
When entering office as secretary of the Kehila, the author discovered many of these
documents and after perusing them he realized that the Plotzk Jewish community was one of the
oldest in Poland. At that time - before the Second World War - he could not possibly imagine
that in a few years time this ancient community would cease to exist. Referring to these
documents, he describes the Jewish autonomous life before the First World War, during the
German occupation - (1915-1918), and after the establishment of the independent Polish state.
Mentioning some names of personalities who played an important role in the community's
life during the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century (like Salomon
Bromberger, Moshe Lidzbarski, and Benyamin Golde); the author describes the first
democratic elections to the Kehila in free Poland. Three blocks took part in those elections
Zionists (with "Mizrahi"), the Orthodox groups ("Agudat Yisrael") and the Independents. Two
other groups (Zionists-Socialists and "Bund") did not put up lists. The elections-campaign was
very stormy. Both the Zionists and the Orthodox devoted all their resources and energies to
secure a majority of seats, but neither succeeded. Both attained an equal number of seats and the
third group (Independents) turned out to be the strongest by getting more votes than each of the
two other groups. The Kehila Committee was, therefore, composed of a coalition between the
Zionists and the Independents. Two prominent Zionists were put in charge of important Kehila
The author reports on the development of the Kehila, its social, religious and cultural
activities, not ignoring the conflicts between several groups inside and outside that institution,
which at times almost paralyzed the activities of the Jewish autonomous body. The election of a
town rabbi always created differences of opinion. The Zionist block was constantly faced by
Agudat Yisrael efforts to oust them and the fight for rule of the Kehila took very often
unbecoming forms. A campaign was at one time led by the extreme Orthodox against a Zionist
candidate. They informed the government that the candidate was anti-religious and caused
"profanation" of religious feelings. Such means of political strife and stride undermined the
prestige of the Jewish community and caused anguish to all concerned.
The anti-Zionist workers' party "Bund" denounced Zionism and gained influence among
members of the Jewish working class. At that time the Zionist workers' groups had little
influence in town.
The author pays special attention to the struggle between several groups and parties for
influence in the Jewish community of Plotzk. In many instances the authorities, by law, served as
mediators. The Zionists regarded governmental intervention as degrading, in view of the anti-
Jewish feelings of many government officials. In the thirties the author went to Eretz Israel but
did not severe his contacts with his native town. He reports on the last elections to the Kehila,
held in 1939, about half a year before the outbreak of war.
A new consolidated group took then part in the elections-campaign: the "Poalei Zion" (the
counterpart of "Mapai" in Poland of that period) and its local leader, the beloved Fishl
Fliderblum, was elected the last chairman of the Jewish community.
The author emphasizes that all former members of the Kehila, who were forced during the
Nazi regime to cooperate with the invaders had always done their best to help their brethren as
much as they could.
In the first part of the article the author mentions his grandfather Reb Tuvia Plotzker, who
is considered the first immigrant from Plotzk to the Holy Land. He came to Palestine in 1875,
died in Jerusalem and was buried on the Mount of Olives. His grandson visited his grave in the
years before the establishment of the State of Israel, when access to that cemetery was still
THE JEWISH HOSPITAL
By Abraham Shmueli (Plutzer)
The Jewish Hospital was founded in the seventies of the 19th century with a donation by the
Fogel family. It was confiscated by the Germans during the first World War, but later on - in
1926 - reopened by the Jews of Plotzk.
The Hospital contained 35 beds, a surgery, an out-patients' clinic, etc, and was held in high
esteem by both the Jewish and non-Jewish inhabitants of Plotzk.
The hospital's food was strictly Kosher, and it therefore enjoyed great popularity among the
orthodox Jewish population. The hospital contributed a great deal to the state of health in town
and even Christian patients did their utmost to be hospitalized there in case of need.
The Nazis liquidated the hospital's Jewish staff and converted it into a station for infectious
diseases. Jewish doctors and nurses continued to help patients and even hid some leaders of the
community, who were sought by the. Nazis, within the hospital confines.
The building was finally closed in 1940 and its patients transferred to the Old People
Asylum at Dobrzynska Street.
"Ezrat Holim" (help for the sick) - was a voluntary philanthropic organization, whose
members were a group of socially-minded Jews who regarded it as their religious duty to extend
assistance to sick people in their homes, as well as in hospital.
They regularly visited the sick, helped them financially, encouraged and treated them.
Shows and other festivities were organized in order to collect a budget for their activities. "Their
attention did sometimes more to heal the sick than the medical care of the physicians" - wrote
one of the then famous journalists about the members (of "Ezrat Holim" who came from all parts
of the community: Orthodox, European-clad, rich and poor Jews. The idea which united them
was to help their sick fellow-Jews.
THE JEWISH ORPHANAGE ("OCHRONKA")
By Gustav Puk
The author, who was a pupil of the above institute, describes its activities since the first
years after World War I. He mentions with great appreciation and affection several ladies who
headed the orphanage, which housed 32-36 children and was financed by "Joint", and "Toz". In
spite of its limited resources, the children were always kept clean and enjoyed summer vacations.
After they completed their elementary studies there, everything was done to enable them to study
in vocational and high schools.
The author specially mentions Mrs. Paulina Altberg, who devoted her life to the well-being
of the children and symbolized by her activities and devotion the real Jewish mother.
Only five ex-pupils of the orphanage survived, three of them live in Israel, one in Poland
and one in Russia.
The author of this article, was an officer of the Polish army, was one of the liberators of
COOPERATIVE BANKS AND TRADE UNIONS
By I. G. Chanachowicz (Kent)
Three cooperative banks existed in Plotzk until the outbreak of the war in 1939: a general
bank, a commercial bank and a credit bank.
The first one was established after World War I when the economic position of many
citizens became very difficult. The bank assisted small merchants and artisans with long-term
loans to reestablish themselves after the war years. Its activities expanded owing to the financial
help of the "Joint" organization, which invested considerable funds in the bank.
The Commercial Bank was established in 1927 and enjoyed the confidence of both Jews and
non-Jews in Plotzk and surroundings. Its saving plans became popular and many Jews deposited
their savings "for a rainy day" in it. Unfortunately that day came sooner than they imagined. The
Nazis invaded Plotzk and confiscated the bank's funds and property.
The Credit Bank - was active among orthodox Jews. It is worth mentioning that all its
officials wore orthodox garments. This bank cooperated with the Commercial Bank.
Several smaller financial institutions also existed in Plotzk, one of them was the "Rogozik
Bank", founded by Rogozik, who was called the "Plotzk Rothschild". A "Gmilut Hessed" fund
(an institution granting interest free loans) helped merchants and artisans to overcome many
crises. This institution was managed for many years by Abraham Levin.
Most of Plotzk's Jewish workers were organized in trade unions, such as the Tailors,
Transport workers (coachmen and porters), Clerks, Shop attendants and other unions.
They persuaded the employers to agree to an 8 hour working-day and other social demands.
Special Jewish trade unions were a necessity under the circumstances, as the Polish unions were
notoriously reluctant to accept Jewish members.
Several strikes were proclaimed by the unions in the years preceding the Second World War,
as a result of which the working class established itself as a factor in the town's economic life.
The Jewish trade unions also contributed a lot to the cultural life of Jewish workers, who
were deprived of education because of poverty, through evening-courses, etc. They comprised
workers of all parties, of whom "Bund" was the strongest one. Later on, the "Poalei Zion" faction
organized the coachmen, and gained considerable influence.
THE SMALL TRADERS ORGANIZATION
By Joseph Malonek
An organization of Jewish small traders was founded in Plotzk in 1935. Till then they
belonged to the general merchants organization, but the anti-Semitic character of some Polish
groups which called on the population to boycott Jewish shops, compelled them to form their
own Jewish organization.
Its members were granted loans on easy terms from a special fund for that purpose, called
The organization carried out its functions in times of widespread poverty, when many shops
were closed by their owners. The last session of its committee took place three days after the
Nazi invasion, when the remaining cash was divided among the community's poor shopkeepers.
THE "GILDENE" STREET
By B. Gincberg
A poetical essay on the above street in Plotzk, which was inhabited mainly by Jews,
published in the one-time Poalei Zion Yiddish periodical "Plotzker Wort" in January 1936.
It contains a description of this narrow and dark street, its inhabitants who were doomed to
live "between the ghetto-walls", the synagogues, small retail shops, and longings of the youth for
a better life, for freedom, escape from the ghetto and for a Jewish State.
By Itzhak Tynski
The "Ort" society, which established vocational schools for the training of Jewish youth in
the arts and crafts, founded its Plotzk branch in 1938. The founding meeting elected an executive
committee with Dr. Nichtberger as chairman.
Twelve sewing machines were acquired and an instructor was hired. Courses for tailoring,
stitching and weaving were opened, and the small traders who participated in them were turned
After the Nazi invasion all the machinery of the "Ort" schools was confiscated and handed
over to a cooperative of Polish tailors.
ANTISEMITISM IN PLOTZK BETWEEN THE TWO
By E. E.
In spite of the fact that Jews lived in Plotzk for over 700 years, they were always considered
as aliens and were persecuted by the Gentiles. An anti-Semitic campaign was initiated by the
troops of Gen. Haller in the first years of the independent Polish state. Jews were often branded
as supporters of communism and as a result many anti-Jewish measures were enacted both
during the war years and afterwards. The execution of Rabbi Shapiro of Plotzk on a false
charge of espionage and 34 "Zeirei Zion" members in Pinsk, on similar charges, aroused great
Anti-Jewish measures did not always succeed in Plotzk. The Polish "Intelligentsia",
although by nature anti-Semitic, never participated in riots and could not be influenced by the
slogans of "boycott", since they appreciated the Jewish merchants' ability to supply all kinds of
goods at cheaper prices that the new Polish merchants, who were specially brought from other
parts of the country with the purpose of competing with and ruining Jewish trade.
The authorities protected Jews against anti-Semitic riots, yet supported economic pressures
against them, with the aim of eventually taking over their shops and enterprises.
A certain Gustaw Novak from Plotzk wrote a pamphlet "How to clear Poland from Jews"
and brought in the thirties Polish merchants from Poznan district to Plotzk, who attempted to
take over the Jewish trade. Novak later collaborated with the Nazis and after being used by them,
was eventually shot.
The Polish daily "Glos Mazowiecki" which appeared in Plotzk, used every opportunity to
accuse Jews of disloyalty to the State and of extending loans at exorbitant rates of interest, etc.
Even on the eve of the Nazi invasion certain Polish circles continued with their anti-Semitic
campaigns, ignoring the German threat to the existence of the Polish state. These anti-Semites
were so filled with hatred towards Jews, that they did not see where the real danger lay. Many of
them later collaborated with the Nazi invaders against Jews in particular and the Polish case in
THE MARIAVITS CONVENT AND THE JEWS
by Israel Gershon Chanochowicz (Kent)
This article contains several parts. The first part gives a historical survey of this unique
convent in Plotzk, its relations with the Roman Catholic Church in the 19th century and the
sympathetic attitude of its residents towards Jews in peace-time.
The second part deals with the cordial relations between the Germans and members of the
Convent and the special status they enjoyed during the German occupation.
Finally, facts are mentioned concerning the monks indifference to Jewish suffering, who did
not help a single Jew in spite of the fact that they would have been able to do so. Jewish property
was left in their hands by many Jews who trusted them, but consequently perished.
The article expresses deep disappointment over the fact that the members of that Convent,
who maintained good relations with Jews before the War, were deaf to their anguished cries for
help in the hour of distress.
EDUCATION, RELIGIOUS LIFE, CULTURAL
THE JEWISH GYMNASIUM
The "Jewish Gymnasium" (an all-Jewish secondary school) played a very important part in
the cultural life of Plotzk. It was founded in 1915 by a group of nationally minded people, who
understood that suitable secular education for Jewish youth could be provided only by an all-
Jewish secondary school. General subjects were taught in Polish, while special attention was
paid to Jewish subjects (Hebrew language and literature, Jewish history etc.).
The Gymnasium was very soon incorporated in the organization of Jewish schools in
Poland, whose chairman was Mordechai Braude, and which maintained and supervised many
similar national Jewish schools.
Among the Hebrew teachers of the "Jewish Gymnasium" were Hayim Fridman
(Avshalom), Yakir Warshavsky, Pua Rakowska, David Eisenberg, Skarlat, Choronsky and
Their educational influence on the Jewish youth in Plotzk and neighborhood was
noteworthy. The school was recognized by the Ministry of Education as equivalent to
Government-Schools, which enabled graduates to continue their studies in universities. Many
Jewish parents preferred therefore to enable their children to get there a Jewish as well as a
The Jewish public at large assisted the school financially and its founders and directors were
devoted to its cause, yet their efforts were not always crowned with success. It existed only till
1936. The number of pupils constantly decreased in the thirties until the school was forced to
close its gates.
JEWISH PRIMARY EDUCATION
By Itzhak Ben-Shai (Fuchs)
Before compulsory education was enforced by law, the Jews of Plotzk maintained a
primary-school network. The oldest institutions were the "Chadarim", religious day-schools
directed by "Rebbes" who taught their pupils Torah, Hebrew reading, Mishna and Talmud, etc.
Never having obtained teaching licenses, these "rebbes" had to bribe the authorities in order to
engage in their profession.
There also existed a "Cheder Metukan", a reformed elementary school, which taught modern
Hebrew and prepared its pupils for higher secular studies.
A Hebrew kindergarten was established in Plotzk during the First World War, where
Hebrew was taught as a living language.
Other schools were added to the network of private schools during the twenties: a religious
"Mizrachi" school, a school where Yiddish was the language of instruction, the "Yesodei
Hatorah" school founded by the Aguda and various others.
By Benjamin Grey (Graubart)
A biography of the above teacher, educator and youth-leader, who had great influence on the
younger generation of Plotzk. He arrived in Plotzk from Lithuania, married there and became an
influential figure in the community.
Thanks to his pedagogical qualifications, his lessons were favored by his many pupils who
adored him and owed him their knowledge in Judaism, Jewish history and Hebrew.
The author, one of his pupils, describes the death of Penson in 1939 and the funeral which
took place already under Nazi rule and adds: "We were all satisfied that our beloved teacher
Penson died of natural causes before the Nazis succeeded to turn Jewish life into hell. His
memory lives in the minds of his pupils, wherever they are, in Israel as well as in other countries
of the world".
MY FATHER, REB SHMUEL PENSON
By Abraham Penson
The author gives some biographical data on his father, a writer and journalist, who published
translations of works by Heinrich Heine and other poets in "Hatsefira" and other Hebrew
periodicals. He devoted his life and energies to the establishment of Hebrew schools and other
cultural activities. He died in September 1939, a week or two after the Nazi invasion.
JEWISH EDUCATION IN PLOTZK
By Prof. David Eisenberg
This article appeared in a provincial newspaper at Wloclawek in 1927 and deals with the
necessity to expand the Jewish school system by establishing secondary schools for the
education of children of the poorer classes. The importance of adding extra hours for the
teaching of Jewish subjects, in order to promote Jewish national consciousness among the
younger generation, is stressed.
The author urges the members of the Jewish middle class to contribute substantial sums in
order to enable children of poverty-stricken families to benefit from secondary education.
MEMORIES OF YEHIEL MEIR KRAVIETZ
By A. Sh.
Yehiel Meir Kravietz, a melamed by profession, was of phenomenal intelligence. Although
a religious man, he was conversant with secular topics such as Darwinism, Socialism, etc. He
used to quote passages from a great variety of books which he read in the public library, and was
popular with the "Mariavits" sect, whose members he was often invited to address on religious
and other subjects.
Kravietz was very poor but never cared about that. When he once received a rare
manuscript as a present, he would not even think of selling it and thereby improving his
deplorable economic situation. Years later, when Jewish community representatives were invited
to a reception held by a Catholic bishop and wanted to present him with a suitable gift; Yehiel
Meir did not hesitate to offer his precious manuscript to the community for this purpose.
He was killed, as many others, during the Nazi massacre.
THE POPULAR FUNCTIONS OF THE JEWISH
By David Eisenberg
This article was written in 1926, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Jewish
Public Library "Hazamir", founded in Plotzk in 1896.
The author shows that the "Hazamir" library served as a useful instrument in spreading
general education and culture among the poorer segments of the Jewish population. The library,
a non-party institution, succeeded in being of service to all classes of the population, and
especially to the younger generation.
LOCAL THEATER GROUPS
By M. Magnes
The author describes in detail the first beginnings of theater. performances in Plotzk, which
started in 1906. Several Trade Unions organized drama groups in the town. Every performance
became an important event in the cultural life of the town's Youth. Despite political differences,
the activities of the theater groups encouraged all the various sections of Youth to cooperate in
this cultural sphere. The actors were all non-professionals, and the revenue from shows was
always used for cultural and social-aid purposes.
By Michael Zylberberg
The author describes the house of his grandfather Rabbi Shimon, who was a member of the
Plotzk Rabbinical Court, and one of the leading Gerer Chassidim, where Chassidim used to meet
and tell many Chassidic tales. Grandfather Shimon was always very moderate when passing
verdicts at the Rabbinical court. In his childhood he had studied together with the famous Zionist
leader Nahum Sokolov.
he author further describes the "melamdim" of Plotzk who gave their pupils an elementary
Jewish education. They were mostly very poor but devoted to their holy task. One of them was
the unforgettable Fishel Posner, a very strict and demanding person, whose "Heder" was
situated in "Altman's courtyard".
The "Little Beit Hamidrash" was an institute of higher Jewish learning whose graduates
possessed a solid knowledge of the Talmud and other religious books. But many of its students
began to show an interest in secular education, obtained textbooks for the study of Polish,
German and other subjects. Some of them became later on active in various political movements.
THE STRUGGLE FOR RESTORING THE GOOD
NAME OF RABBI H. SHAPIRO
By A. Hartglas
The author, a pre-war member of the Polish Parliament and former Director General of the
Israel Ministry of the Interior, describes the various efforts made by him in the early twenties for
a legal posthumous restoration of the executed Rabbi's good name.
Rabbi Shapiro had been falsely accused of spying for the Bolsheviks, and was put to death
in 1920 by a Polish Military court.
NAHUM SOKOLOV AND PLOTZK
By Yakir Warshawski
(Excerpt from an article in "Hajnt", a Warsaw Yiddish daily,
thirty days after Sokolov's death)
Nahum Sokolov loved Plotzk, that romantic Polish town on the Vistula, where he spent
some years of his boyhood. He used to say "Although I was born in Wyszogrod, I consider myself
a son of Plotzk, because I studied there. My sentiments are based on the Talmudic saying :
Whoever teaches the son of his friend Torah, may be considered as his father".
Nahum Sokolov was regarded a genius and at the age of 15 already had a good knowledge
of five languages : Hebrew, Polish, Russian, German and French. He played a role in public life
and at a young age already became a friend of the Russian Governor, who took a great liking to
The visit of Nahum Sokolov, the prominent Zionist leader, was a holiday for the Jews of
Plotzk, who were proud of him as of one who had grown up in their own midst.
NAHUM SOKOLOV'S VISIT TO PLOTZK AND
By Mark Turkov
A newspaper report on a visit by Nahum Sokolov to Plotzk in the twenties. The author
describes the enthusiastic reception accorded the Zionist leader by the Plotzk Jewish population
which proudly recalled the fact that Nahum Sokolov had spend some of his boyhood years in
SHALOM ASH AND PLOTZK
By Michael Zylberberg
The famous Jewish writer Shalom Ash had connections with Plotzk. He wrote his novel
"The Shtetl" in one of the town's suburbs. Being fond of its surroundings, he and his wife spent a
certain period of their life there.
The author met Shalom Ash in London in 1953. When he told him what had happened to
him during the holocaust period, Shalom Ash listened with great interest for many hours. He
called Plotzk "our Plotzk", and related how it inspired him to write novels about Polish Jewry
and how much he had liked his stay there.
Shalom Ash is quoted as having said in that conversation "The beauty of Plotzk in
indescribable. Everything there was so lovely and Yiddish. The town and the countryside
inspired me to write..."
MY UNCLE, RABBI Y. L. AVIDA ("EL. ZET." –
YEHUDA LAJB ZLOTNIK)
By Ruhama Shnir (Zlotnik)
The article was published in "Davar" 12.11.1962
The writer, a niece of Rabbi Avida, who was brought up in her late father's house, regards
him as a great personality. His life was dedicated to Jewish education and Zionism. He was a
well known public speaker whose speeches always made a lasting impression on his audiences.
After the First World War he settled in Canada, and later on went to South Africa, where he
founded Hebrew schools and a Hebrew Teachers Seminary.
Mrs. Snir met her uncle again after 23 years, when he visited Eretz Israel in the forties. It
was then that he decided to come to Israel, but his plans were realized only after the
establishment of the State, when he moved to Jerusalem. He was happy to spend the last years of
his life in the eternal city.
Rabbi Avida translated "Ecclesiastes" into Yiddish. He was an outstanding intellectual,
whose achievements in the sphere of Zionism and Jewish education in many countries were of
RABBI YEHUDA LEIB AVIDA (ZLOTNIK)
By Dr. Nechemia Aloni
Article published in "Haaretz" 23.10.1962
Rabbi Y. L. Avida's life-work spread over many countries: Poland, Canada, South Africa
and Israel; and many spheres: Zionist education, the Keren Kayemet, Jewish folklore research
and journalism. He wrote three books on legal Talmudic subjects and many articles on Jewish
folklore. While in Canada and South Africa he acquired an excellent knowledge of English and
French and published several poems in English. He was devoted to Yiddish and a Soviet scholar
called him "a rabbi, who is also a Yiddish language scholar".
Rabbi Avida spent his last years in Jerusalem. He was beloved by all who knew him in the
Diaspora and in Israel.
ALFRED BLEI, THE LAST CHAIRMAN
By Meir (Michael) Koenigsberg
A tribute to the personality of Alfred Blei, who in the pre-war years was for a long time
active in the Jewish Community. Being one of the few survivors of the holocaust, he returned
home after the liberation and in spite of his age (he was 70 at the time) dedicated himself to
reconstruction work. He headed a small group of survivors who cooperated with him until his
death in 1958.
In the pre-war years he used to divide his time between his business activities and social
obligations to which he devoted most of his energy. At the age of 60, Alfred Blei divided his
property between his employees, retaining for himself only a modest income. Integrity, modesty,
devotion to public causes, constant readiness to help the needy and to intervene whenever and
wherever it was needed, tolerance and nobility, these were the outstanding characteristics of the
unforgettable Alfred Blei, who was, unfortunately, destined to serve as the last Chairman of the
Jewish Committee in Plotzk.
In the post-war years he made great efforts to locate Plotzk-born survivors and served, as the
author puts it, as the "Post Office Box" of Plotzk-born Jews.
The Polish Government nominated him as a member of a Special Court for the Warsaw
region which tried cases of Nazi murderers.
This article contains many biographical data on Alfred Blei, his communal activities,
business relations and personality.
By Melech Rawicz
Zysze Landau was born in 1889 and emigrated to the U. S. A. in 1906 where he made a
name for himself as a Yiddish poet, and where he published an anthology on "Yiddish Poetry in
America till 1919". First he earned his living as a home painter, but when he became sick and
unfit for physical work he switched to an advertising job.
Landau opposed the trend of Yiddish poetry at that time, which was influenced by political
motivations, advocating instead pure-art poetry. He was very devoted to his fellow-poets and
assisted them as much as he could in publishing their works.
He died of a heart-attack at the early age of 48.
MEMORIES OF MY FATHER'S HOME
By Eliyahu Eisenberg
The author, who is the son of David Eisenberg, the popular Hebrew teacher and scholar of
Plotzk, describes in his memoirs the Jewish life of Plotzk during a period of 20 years (1920-
1940), as seen through the eyes of a young boy and member of a Zionist youth-movement.
The late Prof. Eisenberg devoted his energies to the spreading of Hebrew and Jewish
knowledge among the Jewish youth of the town and their education in the spirit of Zionism. As a
Hebrew teacher in the Jewish Secondary School of Plotzk he fought the prevailing tendencies to
minimize the teaching of these subjects, but did not always succeed. After a valiant struggle for
his ideas which were opposed by factors which did not appreciate sufficiently the importance of
the teaching of Jewish subjects, he had to resign his post and moved to another locality, where he
continued his pedagogical activities.
The author describes the foundation and closing of the "Gymnasium" (the local Jewish
secondary school) and pays tribute to this institution which had an outstanding influence on the
spiritual life of the town's younger pro-Zionist generation.
The first group of scouts, "Hashomer Hatzair", originated in that school. Mr. Eisenberg
devotes part of his article to the developments which took place in the above youth-movement
until it became a left-wing radical movement. After leaving the movement, under the influence
of his father, he found his way to a then newly established Zionist youth organization, "Akiba",
which adhered to the traditional way of life and endeavored to disseminate Hebrew language and
The memories describe the author's early boyhood-years in his grandfather's house near
Plotzk. His grandfather was a "Feldscher" (medical practitioner without diploma). The way he
entered his profession throws light on the pattern of life in Jewish towns in Poland in the second
half of the 19th century.
The way of life of the author's family at the outskirts of Plotzk where "Jewish islands"
existed in a purely Christian neighborhood - is lovingly described.
Although Jewish children suffered sometimes from the Christian boys of their age, the
general relations between Jews and Gentiles were quite satisfactory. The landscape and
childhood experiences in the gardens and on the lawns of those non-Jewish suburbs of the town,
including the Convent of the Mariavits, also find mention.
The author remembers several friends of his father who were active in the sphere of Hebrew
teaching, and describes their influence.
The last part of this article deals with the panic and helplessness of all Polish citizens and
especially of the Jews during the first stages of the war (September 1939). The author and his
parents fled from town in order to escape the invading Nazi armies, but had to return later on to
POLITICAL PARTIES, YOUTH MOVEMENTS,
FOUR FRIENDS AND THEIR SPIRITUAL WORLD
By Moshe Rubin
The author of this article, chairman of the "Plotzker Association of Israel" pays tribute to
four young people, aged 17, (Itzhak Rubin, A. L. Perlmuter, Z. Baran, Z. H. Krook) who
published, in the years of the First World War, a Yiddish periodical "Di Shvere Zeit" (Hard
Times), which included articles, poetry, drawings, etc.
Mr. Rubin tells us details of the biographies of those four friends who were, about 50 years
ago, "carriers of the banner of culture and art" in Plotzk. He quotes a fragment of a Yiddish
poem, published in that periodical, dealing with the tragedy of Jews who fight and die for the
countries of their residence, yet their sacrifice is not appreciated.
Zionism in Plotzk was always influenced by the great Zionist leader Yitzhak Grinbaum,
one of the founders of the local "Hazamir" library, where cultural and Zionist work was carried
out in the years preceding the First World War. The Zionists in Plotzk named their organization
"Agudat-Zion" (Zion Association). It raised money for the Zionist funds, arranged national
celebrations, propaganda tours and election campaigns to the Jewish communal organs.
Other activities included yearly "bazaars", whose proceeds were handed over to the Keren
In 1934, when the General Zionist Organization was split into two groups (General Zionists
"A" and "B") the Plotzk branch remained faithful to its beloved and popular leader, Yitzhak
Grinbaum. As a result of that split, the "Hanoar Hazioni A" and "Akiba" youth-organizations
were set up.
"Agudat Zion was often visited by representatives of the National Executive of the Zionist
Organization in Warsaw. It took part in all national gatherings, conferences and campaigns of the
"KEREN KAYEMET" ACTIVITIES
The Plotzk "Keren Kayemet" Committee was composed of representatives of all Zionist
factions, under the presidency of Dr. Itzhak Feinberg and Azriel Kowalski as representatives
of the Central Committee. The year 1931 was proclaimed as an anniversary year (50 years since
the "Hibbat Zion" movement and 30 years since the Keren Kayemet were founded). The town
was divided into zones and the local youth in the form of a "Gdud Keren Kayemet" went from
door to door to collect money for the National Fund.
Its most popular source of income was the "Blue Box". Youth movement members installed
these boxes in almost every Jewish house where it symbolized the link between the Jewish
family and the upbuilding of the National Home in Eretz Israel.
The 1931 anniversary year was outstanding as regards the sums collected and the positive
response of Plotzk Jewry.
Keren Kayemet continued its fundraising until the outbreak of World War II. Its last
successful drive took place in May 1939, when Wizo ran a K. K. L. bazaar. Nobody knew then
that this would be the last K. K. L. function in Plotzk.
"ZEIREI ZION" IN PŁOCK
By Itzhak Tynski
This faction, affiliated to the Zionist Workers movement, was established in Plotzk just after
the First World War. Its members were active for Zionism by raising money for the Keren
Kayemet (in which it distinguished itself), organizing festivals and helping those immigrating to
Fishl Fliderblum, one of the leaders of this movement, served as the last Jewish
Community chairman and was elected a delegate to the last pre-war Zionist congress, which took
place in Switzerland.
Zeirei Zion eventually united with "Right Poalei Zion" and other smaller groups and
together formed the "United Party", (equivalent to Mapai of Israel).
THE AGRICULTURAL FARM OF MOSHE
By E. E.
An agricultural farm owned by Moshe Krakowski existed in Plotzk for 20 years prior to
World War II. - Krakowski was born in a village near Izbica and at the age of 36, in 1918,
acquired a farm in Milodroz, about 12 kms from Plotzk. He, his wife and children devoted all
their energy to restoring the farm and within a few years, the Krakowski farm became an
example. The Polish peasants had always regarded Jews as traders in flour or agricultural
produce, but had never known Jewish farmers, who own and cultivate their land. Hence
Krakowski was at first looked upon as someone unusual, but later the gentiles got used to the
fact and held the new cultivation methods of this Jewish farming family in high esteem.
Krakowski's place was used as a "Hachshara" (Training Farm) for Jewish youth preparing
for Aliya to Eretz Israel. Many pioneers of various youth-organizations worked on that farm. The
Jews of Plotzk were proud of its existence, which was proof that Jews were able to do
agricultural work, and do it well.
The Krakowski family's desire was to establish a new agricultural settlement in Israel,
which would absorb immigrants from Plotzk. Only one of the families - Tuvia - managed to go
to Israel and he is now a member of Kibbutz Merhavya in the Yizrael Valley.
"HACHSHARA" KIBBUTZ ON THE NAME OF
By Fishl Fliderblum
A translation of an article, published in January 1936, in a Yiddish periodical called "Dos
Plotzker Wort". The author gives a short history of the kibbutz which served as a training center
for Jewish boys and girls prior to their Alyia (immigration to Eretz Israel) to Eretz Israel. At
"Hachshara" they were trained to accustom themselves to physical work and to Kibbutz life.
They were trained in various branches of manual labor (at a saw-mill, oil factory, tannery,
etc.) and in spite of the fact that most of them came from well-to-do families, they were always
happy and satisfied with their way of life. They were idealistic and saw themselves as pioneers
of great Jewish masses who would follow them to Israel where they would turn into workers and
The author describes the daily way of life of these youngsters. Their hard work and the
nature of their leisure hours: reading and exchanging views on their future life as pioneers in
He concludes by demanding that the Jewish public of Plotzk help the "Hachshara" center,
since it contributed so much both to Zionism and to the preparation of pioneering immigrants to
the Land of Israel.
HEHALUTZ, HEHALUTZ HATZAIR AND HAPOEL
By Y. Rosenblum
The first group of "Hehalutz" began its activities in our town in 1923. The organizers made
it clear that the real aim of this new organization was the "Alyia" (immigration to Eretz Israel) of
its members and manual labor in Eretz Israel. In spite of the fact that the orthodox circles in town
opposed this newly-established group, the number of the "Halutzim" (pioneers) grew from year
to year and the local branch of "Hehalutz" became a center of various Zionist activities.
While the "Hehalutz" organization consisted of young people over the age of 18, who were
preparing to go to Eretz Israel, its sister-organization "Hehalutz Hatzair" (The Young Pioneer)
had as members younger boys and girls. This last-mentioned organization prepared the youth for
their future life as pioneers and concentrated on cultural activities (teaching of Hebrew, history
of Zionism and the Jewish Workers' movement, etc.).
In 1931 a "kibbutz" was established in Plotzk by two young boys (Benzion Altman and
Aron Bricker) who were delegated for that purpose by the Central Committee of the
organization. A year earlier two young men from Eretz Israel came to town and exerted a great
influence on the younger generation there.
In the thirties many young boys and girls left town for Eretz Israel where most of them lived
as pioneers, either in kibbutzim or in other forms of settlement. The number of "Alyia" candidates
constantly increased until the outbreak of the Second World War.
The young pioneers of Plotzk who did not succeed in reaching Israel (then under British
Mandatory Government) were murdered, like so many others, by the Nazis during the Second
Among other sports organizations there existed in the thirties a local branch of "Hapoel",
affiliated to the central organization of this name. All sorts of sport activities were carried out by
"Hapoel" football, ping-pong (table-tennis), athletics, physical exercises, gymnastics and bicycle-
This organization was established in 1931. Its members distinguished themselves especially
in football and some of them were members of the regional team.
Thanks to the devotion of some of the founders and sponsors of this and other sports
organizations (like "Maccabi", "Stern" and "Morgenstern"), various spheres of sport became
popular among Jewish boys and girls in town. Their activities made the Jewish public proud of
their younger generation.
Like others, most of these Jewish young sportsmen and sportswomen perished in the years
A branch of the Zionist-religious movement "Mizrahi, was founded in Plotzk after the first
world war. It distinguished itself primarily in its devoted work for the National Fund and in
popularizing Zionist ideas among the religious segment of the community, in synagogues, etc.
The first Hebrew kindergarten in Plotzk was founded through the initiative and with the help of
"Mizrahi" members cooperated with other Zionist groups and had considerable influence in
town. In 1937 two of their representatives were elected to the Kehila Council.
The author regrets that lack of material on this subject does not enable him to publish a more
detailed report on that movement. Very few "Mizrahi" members succeeded to come to Israel in
time and even fewer survived the Holocaust.
Among its founders: Jakob Aszkenazi, Szlomo Wilenski, Abraham Flaks. Jeszayahu
Muszkat, Reuwen Kanarek, Herszel Majranc, Efraim Dawid Elberg, Jechiel Wosulk,
By Moshe Rubin
The author was one of the founders of the youth organization "Herzlia". In 1918 several
members of "Hashomer Hatzair" left that movement, because it had turned, in their opinion, into
a political party, and consequently founded "Herzlia".
"Herzlia" developed educational activities in Plotzk, organized Hebrew courses and trained
its members to become devoted Zionists and go on Alyia.
The development period of the organization continued till 1922, when most of its leaders left
Plotzk. Despite its relatively short existence, "Herzlia" played an important role in the Zionist
education of the young Jewish generation in that period.
"POALEI ZION" (LEFT)
By Beza1el Okolica
A branch of the "Poalei Zion" movement was founded in Plotzk in 1904. After the Russian
revolution of 1905 its activities were outlawed by the Czarist police, and "Poalei Zion" members
went underground. Only after the First World War and the establishment of the Polish State, did
the movement succeed in founding branches in almost every town and township, as also in
"Poalei Zion" took an active part in the elections of the Jewish community, the municipality
and the Parliament. They also established evening courses for workers and organized them in
trade unions, which were responsible for strikes in several workshops, as a result of which the
employers had to pay higher wages.
A dramatic circle and a sports club named "Stern" (Star) were established in 1925.
"Poalei Zion" members distinguished themselves in their bitter fight against anti-Semitism
in the pre-war years and as anti-Nazi fighters during the war. Some of them survived and live
today in Israel, but the majority perished with the whole community during the holocaust.
Members mentioned: Chaim Makowski, Olesznik, Lamaniec, Zilberstein, Czok,
Ostrower, Kowal, Cukier, Josef Malanek, Sendzen Wint, Magner, Okalica.
THE "FREIHEIT" MOVEMENT
By Dov Shahari
Two small groups of young Zionists-Socialists, one from Wloclawek and the second from
Plotzk met in May 1926 and founded jointly the youth movement called - "Freiheit" (Freedom),
which comprised mainly Yiddish speaking Jewish youth of the working classes.
The author describes how study-groups and summer-camps were organized, the first of
which took place in a village near Plotzk in 1929. That camp was attended by Zeev Sherf as a
representative of the Central Committee in Warsaw.
Several young boys distinguished themselves in leading the movement, especially Fishl
Fliderblum, who helped those youth groups in many ways. He was elected member of the
Plotzk Municipal Committee and served as the last Chairman of the Jewish Kehila before the
Some members of the "Freiheit, organization immigrated to Israel both legally with
immigration certificates and illegally on "Maapilim" ships. The last of its members arrived in
Haifa in September 1939.
"AGUDAT ISRAEL" IN PLOCK AND THE REGION
By Leib Geliebter
"Agudat Israel" was established in Plotzk in 1919, about seven years after the world
conference at Katowice, where the world organization of orthodox Jews was founded.
The speakers at the first meeting emphasized that the Jewish Kehila (community) was run
by assimilationists who constituted a minority in town, and that the time was ripe for giving
orthodox Jews their rightful place in the Kehila.
In the following years the Aguda established several Jewish religious schools in town. The
movement secured a prominent place in the Kehila for itself, and its representative was elected
its Chairman. It took part in the municipal elections and its representative who became councilor,
obtained the agreement of the municipal authorities to employ religious Jews in their service
without their having to desecrate the Shabbat.
The economic activity of the Aguda included the establishment of a prosperous bank, which
extended loans on easy terms to small merchants and artisans.
When the Nazis invaded Plotzk they confiscated the property of the bank, arrested the author
of this article who was tortured and wounded, but survived thanks to the medical treatment of the
unforgettable Dr. Feinberg.
Members mentioned: R' Iczel Burstyn, R' Jakob Jaszjewicz, R' Jeszayahu Spierstein, R'
Kalman Lajbisz Kilbert, R' Fiszel Benet, R' Icchak Meir Zilberberg, R' Dawid
Warszawiak, R' Mosze Mordechai Geliebter, R' Jakob Nagel' R' Arie Kosowocki, R' Sinai
THE ACTIVITIES OF THE "BUND"
By J. M. Oliver (Ilover)
Like other leftist movements, the "Bund" party's primary aim was the organization of trade
unions among Jewish workers. Only after the First World War were they free to engage legally
in their work.
The "Bund" movement was very popular in Plotzk and most Jewish workers voted for its list
at election time. In 1920 it had two seats on the municipal council.
The local Bund branch organized the Jewish working youth in a special group, called "Skif".
A Bund representative, Israel Gershon Burshtyn, was Lavnik (senior municipal councilor) of
Plotzk and was very popular with all Jewish and non-Jewish citizens. He particularly
distinguished himself in frequently preventing the eviction of poor tenants from their homes for
non-payment of rents.
In the last years preceding the war the Bund tried to combat anti-Semitism in joint action
with the Polish Socialist Party (P. P. S.).
I. G. Burshtyn survived the holocaust and spent the last years of his life in America where
he felt lonely, without contact with the Jewish working masses to whom he had devoted his
whole life. He wrote his memories on the destruction of Jewish Plotzk, and bequeathed his
legacy to the Plotzker Association in Israel, who established a Loan Fund for new Olim
(immigrants to Israel) from these funds.
By E. E
This youth movement, which combined Zionist aspirations with "self realization" (i. e. going
to Eretz Israel and becoming a worker and pioneer) found its first adherents in Plotzk after the
end of the First World War. The history of "Hashomer Hatzair" in our town may be divided into
a) From 1921 to 1927, when this youth organization was linked to the local ''Jewish
b) From 1927 to 1939, as an independent unit.
In its first period its pattern was that of a purely scouting organization, on the lines of the
"Blau Weiss" Zionist youth movement in Germany and the "Wandervogel" groups there. Two
local teachers, Baruch (Bernard) Silber and David Eisenberg had then a great deal of
influence on the local branch of that organization. Especially the latter made great efforts to
acquaint the young boys and girls with Judaism, teaching them Hebrew, Jewish history, etc.
During the second period (1927-1939) the local branch became more dependent on other
factors in the community and distinguished itself by its activities. It exerted great influence on
the younger generation and many of its members played an important part in re-settling Israel,
among whom there were some of the founders of the famous Kibbutz Negba in the Negev.
Although "Hashomer Hatzair" later turned to the left and became very radical, it still exerted
Two young girls of the Plotzk branch of "Hashomer Hatzair" (Tova Beatus and Rozka
Korezak) belonged to the anti-German Partisan units, who fought in the ghetto of Wilna against
the Nazis. The first one perished on one of her missions and the other lives now in a Kibbutz in
REVISIONISTS AND "BEITAR"
As in other towns and townships in Poland there existed also in Plotzk a branch of the
Revisionist party and Beitar, its youth organization. In spite of the tension, which prevailed in
those years (prior to 1939) between this movement and other Zionist groups, no clashes occurred
The Beitar youth movement had a number of adherents in Plotzk and like other youth-
groups organized summer-camps and pre-military training. It called upon its members to
immigrate to Eretz Israel and take part in its struggle for independence.
Due to the lack of documents the editor is unable to quote figures and mention names
connected with Beitar. None of its members survived after the war, and no photos are left.
The editor concludes by paying tribute to this extreme Zionist group which played its part in
the sphere of Zionist education in Plotzk.
GENERAL ZIONIST YOUTH MOVEMENT
("HASHOMER HALEUMI" – "HANOAR HAZIONI" – "AKIBA")
By Benyamin Galewski
This movement comprised two groups: "Hashomer-Haleumi", later known as "Hanoar
Hazioni" and "Akiba". The first group was founded in Plotzk in 1929 after a lecture held there by
its leader Dr. R. Feldshuh (Ben-Shem). It had a considerable influence on the Jewish youth in
town and distinguished itself in educational and other activities. "Summer colonies" (camps),
where intensive Zionist work was done, were organized every summer. In 1930 the movement
split into two groups. One of it joined the Progressive General Zionist faction, led by I.
Grinbaum. The second movement, called "Akiba" was founded in Plotzk in 1931, and
comprised mainly students. This movement adhered to Jewish tradition, although it was not
orthodox in character. A summer-camp held in 1933, in which a youth group from Plotzk took
part, had a considerable influence on the future of "Akiba" in town. The author quotes, in this
connection, some excerpts from periodicals which praise the important work done by "Akiba" in
Three members (Meir Pagorek, Benyamin Galewski and Eliyahu Eisenberg) were elected
members of the Central Committee of the movement. The activities of "Akiba", continued until
the outbreak of war in September 1939.
THE LOCAL COMMUNIST PARTY
By Sh. P.
The Communist party in Plotzk, as in all other towns of Poland in that period, was illegal. Its
aims were of a general political nature, but a considerable number of its members were Jews. Its
main spheres of influence were the trade unions, a library and a sports circle called "Wicher"
When the frontier between Nazi-occupied Poland and Russia was opened for refugees, many
young Jews took advantage of the opportunity and escaped to Russia, thereby saving their lives.
Being later on confronted with the realities of the Soviet regime, they left the U. S. S. R. and
emigrated to Western countries and to Israel after the war.
THE HISTORY OF "MACCABI" IN PLOCK
By Moshe Rubin
The author of this article was one of the top leaders of the "Maccabi" organization in Plotzk,
who served many years as its Honorary Secretary and Vice-Chairman.
First steps to organize Jewish youth in a sports-organization were taken during the First
World War (in 1915). A group of Jewish boys used to gather on a free plot near the "New
Market" and do exercises under most primitive conditions. They were assisted by ex-students of
the Russian Secondary School. When the town was under German rule, a special Jewish
committee of sports-minded citizens was constituted and attempted to obtain the necessary
license from the German authorities in order to organize the until then sporadic sports activities.
That year a special sports-gathering took place in the local theatre which marked the
beginning of Jewish sports activities in town.
"Maccabi" organized a great festival in 1916, in which hundreds of its members from Plotzk
and neighboring localities took part. When the town came under Polish rule, the authorities did
not view Jewish sports activities with favor and tried on many occasions to limit them, but in
spite of it, "Maccabi" grew in members and opened various branches of sports activities. Its
members also took part in many general Jewish and Zionist campaigns. The outbreak of the
Polish-Soviet war 1920 restricted the "Maccabi" activities, but later on, when Poland was re-
established and battles ceased, many instructors and leaders of "Maccabi" left for Warsaw to
study. A newly-elected committee redecorated the sports-hall, bought equipment and organized
new groups. The years 1923-1934 marked a steady development of "Maccabi", which became a
part of Jewish life in Plotzk and played an important role in the physical training of Jewish
youth. New sections were organized: for light athletics, boxing, bicycle-riding, ski, etc. Members
of "Maccabi" were in that period engaged in general cultural and Zionist affairs, besides their
The author recalls one of the most significant events in the community's life: The arrival of
Jewish sportsmen from Eretz Israel. It was a motorcycle group which toured many countries of
Europe in 1930 and while in Poland, visited Plotzk. That event - says the author - was
unforgettable and all those who witnessed it, will forever remember it.
The dedication of the "Maccabi" flag became a Jewish national festival. An article published
in the Warsaw Yiddish daily "Haynt" (The Day) gave a detailed report of that important event
and its influence on Plotzk's nationally minded Jewish youth.
At the end of 1934 the author left for Eretz Israel. He was confident that his followers and
the younger generation in Plotzk would continue his work for "Maccabi" which was inspired by
the slogan "mens sana in corpore sano".
THE LAST TWO YEARS OF "MACCABI"
By Adam Najman (Nowicki)
The "Maccabi" sports-organization played an important role in the sport-life of the Jewish
youth in Plotzk. It contained all possible sections: football, gymnastics, light athletics, basket-
ball, hockey, boxing, table-tennis, etc. The local Jewish youth of the town, being prevented from
joining gentile sports organizations due to the prevailing anti-Semitic trends, flocked into the
Jewish sports-organizations, and especially to "Maccabi".
The author describes various sports activities which were the pride of the Jewish public and
mentions the last football-match which took place in the summer of 1939 between the local
"Maccabi" team and the Wloclawek "Maccabi" team. He also recollects one of the cases which
proved that the "Maccabi" members did not confine themselves to sports activities only, and
were always prepared to protect Jews and Jewish honor: a group of Jewish boys and girls was
sitting on benches in a local public garden, when they were attacked by hooligans who wanted to
expel them from the park. "Maccabi" members rushed to the help of the attacked youngsters and
beat the attackers up.
The author mentions with appreciation the activities of the following: Felix Margulis, and
Henryk Shenvits, the last two chairmen of "Maccabi"; Vice-chairman Artek Galevski and
General Secretary Abraham Altman. They contributed a lot to the prosperity and success of
Sportsmen mentioned (partial list): Artek Galewski, Leon Szczyg, Israel Lisser, Israel
Goldman and his brother Romek, Leon Strach, Szlomo Szczyg, Szymon Prusak, Menczyk,
Lubranicki, Dawid Krajcer, Dr. Matias Marknstras, Henryk Szenwic, Malgot, Gad Tynski,
Eliyahu Baran, Pawel Gombinski, Rudek Lubranicki, Jarzyk Goldberg, Gutek Flajszer,
Hela Goldman, Sala Plocer, Sala Kot, Mitek Wasserman, Salek Zilberstein, Alek Rusak,
Altrowicz, Gold, Salek Lichtenstein, Adam Najman, Zosia Goldberg, Fela Koza, Teresa
Strach, Sabinka Eisenberg, Heniek Najman, Adam Goldberg.
PLOTZK-BORN JEWISH PAINTERS
Nathan Korzen, who perished in the bloom of his life in the Wilna ghetto, was a member of
a young group of Polish painters, and was considered one of the important Jewish artists in
Poland. The members of his family in Plotzk were engaged in various arts and crafts, and little
Nathan loved to observe the handwork of his uncles, who were goldsmiths and silversmiths. His
grandfather and father owned a workshop for the manufacture of copper goods, among them
Jewish ritual objects.
Eager to take up formal art studies, Nathan left his home and went to Warsaw. Professor
Tadeusz Pruszkowsky of the Art Academy there recognized right away his outstanding talents
and enabled him to enroll at the Academy. While still a student, Korzen already exhibited his
work at a Jewish Gallery in Warsaw. Having finished his studies successfully, he soon became
known as one of the finest painters of portraits in Poland. Leading personalities commissioned
him to do their portraits and he was never short of work.
He also painted from nature, and whenever he visited Plotzk, which is set in beautiful
surroundings, he went out of town to paint the countryside. He spent many days at the
picturesque village of Kazimierz, which attracted many painters because of its lovely setting.
As the art critic Yehiel Aronson states in his appreciation of Korzen, he was not affected by
the surrealistic school of Post-Impressionism, since he was gifted with the ability to express his
longings realistically on canvas.
Korzen lived in Wilna at the outbreak of the war, as he thought that from there it would be
easier to escape to the West. His hopes did not materialize, and he stayed on in the Ghetto, where
he took part in the cultural life of the oppressed Jews.
Murderous hands put an end to his creative life. His brother Harry, who resides in Toronto,
published there a book in his memory in 1948.
Regrettably only very few of his pictures were saved from destruction and some of them are
to be found in the collection of Dr. Simchowicz of Tel Aviv.
FISHL ZYLBERBERG (ZBER)
"Poems are talking pictures and pictures – are silent poems"... Melech Rawicz
A series of articles in memory of the above named outstanding Plotzk-born painter.
The first article is written by Harry Koren (Korzen) who was a friend of the artist. After
describing the surroundings and countryside of Plotzk which inspired talented young Jewish
boys, he portrays the artistic personality of F. Zylberberg. "He was endowed with the gift of a
real master and thoroughly analyzed his ideas. He handled the strokes of his brush with great
self-assurance and vigor", says the author.
He also recalls their meetings before the war, the exhibition of Zylberberg's graphic works
at the "Hotel Poznanski" and describes him as an enthusiastic hard-working painter who had
nothing in common with the frustrated "cafe-type artists".
Zylberberg exhibited his works at the "Warsaw Salon of Fine Arts" and was praised by art
critics of that time.
He lived during the first war-years in Paris, but was deported to Auschwitz where he was
murdered by the Nazis.
Born in 1909, he was seen painting since early boyhood. Thanks to his teacher, Ms.
Gutkind, a painter herself, he continues his studies in Warsaw and very soon distinguishes
himself at several exhibitions as a talented artist.
In spite of being a Jew he is being chosen, due to his talent, to represent Polish graphic art in
Paris and his works are being exhibited in 1937 at the Polish Pavilion of the International
Exhibition in Paris. He studies in that city, takes an active part in its artistic life and is known
there by the name "Zber".
In 1941 the Nazis arrested him and sent him to a concentration camp. On 26th October,
1942, he perished in the gas chambers of Auschwitz, only 33 years old.
Another article concerning the above is written by Itzchak Furmansky, Chairman of the
Jewish Deportees in France. He describes mainly his behavior in the Bon-La-Roland camp, his
modesty and devotion to art in spite of the inhuman conditions of life there. Zber was
recognized by a Pole, who intervened in his favor, and thanks to whom he enjoyed better
conditions for a short time.
In his last days in spite of his illness, the optimistic Zber was sure that he would not be sent
A few lines are dedicated to Zber's wife, Stenia, who took part in anti-Nazi activities in
Paris and murdered in a Nazi-camp in 1944. She was deported under the name "Guta
Rozenstein". She managed to hide some of her husband's works.
JECHIEL-MEIR (MAKS) ELJOWICZ - PORTRAIT-
By Moshe Rubin
The above was born in Raciąż but moved with his parents at a young age to Plotzk. He
specialized in painting the portraits of persons from the well-to-do classes, (writers, famous
During the years before the war, Eljowicz worked as an internal decorator and in 1937 was
awarded the First Prize for the nicest show-window by the Warsaw municipality. That year he
was sent by the Polish Government to arrange the Polish Pavilion at the Levant Fair in Tel-Aviv.
After the Nazi invasion, Eljowicz stayed in the Warsaw ghetto where he, and others artists,
were engaged in decorating the Kehila meeting-hall. One day he was sent by the Jewish
committee to decorate the walls of a deportees' transit-station. He and his Colleagues painted a
most impressive picture of a Jewish smith at work. This picture later irritated an S/S officer so
greatly that he ordered to destroy it.
Maks Eljowicz, who contributed a lot to the artistic education of the Jewish public, perished
at the extermination camp of Treblinka.
DAVID TUSHINSKY - MASTER OF MINIATURES
By E. E.
David Tushinsky, the miniaturist, is faithful to the tradition of Jewish religious ornamental
art. His grandfather was engaged in writing the letters of Torah Scrolls. David was influenced in
his art by three factors the loss of his family and his desire to perpetuate their sufferings, his
inability to strike roots in Israel's art world, his desire to become a member of the Jewish-French
When only one year old, his parents moved from Brzezany (near Lodz) to Plotzk, where he
lived for 20 years, until the outbreak of war. The romantic scenes of the town inspired him just as
they influenced other Plotzk artists, such as Korzen, Zylberberg and Eljowicz.
He studied in Lodz, was recruited into the Polish army and soon after the defeat of 1939
moved eastwards. Eventually he got to Israel, but here he felt that his special brand of art would
not be appreciated. For several years he worked for a living, unable to further his art-work.
Then he moved to Paris, where, due to his natural ability to make friends and his desire to
make his work known, he has succeeded in his career.
Two exhibitions of his work took place in Paris in 1948 and he was awarded an international
He maintains his relations with Israel and comes here from time to time, both to exhibit his.
work (Haifa, Eilat, Petah Tiqva and other places) and to find new subjects for his art.
His drawings are greatly influenced by three factors: The Holocaust, Jewish national rebirth
and Europe's culture. One of his critics said that Tushinsky's art is "a mirror of his epoch".
SHMUEL HAR-SHALOM (FRIDENBERG)
By Moshe Rubin
The painter Har-Shalom was born in Lodz, and grew up after the First World War in
Plotzk, where he was drawn to the world of painting from early youth on. He was inspired by the
teacher Strzalka and the painters Korzen and Eljowicz, but was unable to take up formal art-
studies for lack of financial means and the need to support his parents.
Only later in life, once he was already settled in Kiryat-Haim, Israel, he returned to his first
love - art. After his daily chores at the local glass factory, he devoted all his free time to the
creation of copper etchings. After a period of study in Paris, he showed his work at two
exhibitions, (1961 and 1963) in Haifa. His work was very favorably reviewed by Israeli art-
critics, and he continues to create scenes taken from the landscape and the day-to-day life of the
workers and ordinary folk of Israel.
THE HOLOCAUST PERIOD 1939-1945
THE JEWS OF PLOTZK UNDER THE NAZI REGIME
By Dr. Joseph Kermish
Director of Yad Vashem Archive, Jerusalem
UNTIL THE DEPORTATION
The first bombs fell in Plotzk on September 1st, 1939, at 6 AM. People first thought that
these were air force exercises but very soon realized that the war had begun. Shops were closed
down and peasants who had come to the market, rushed home.
On the second and third days several wealthy Jewish inhabitants fled town and escaped to
Warsaw. On the fourth day began the evacuation by order of the authorities. People fled in three
directions to Warsaw (by motor-boats), to Gombin and Gostynin.
Plotzk was captured by the German army on September 8th, 1939. During the initial 2-3
weeks the town was under military rule and no anti-Jewish measures were taken by the military
forces. German soldiers even did their shopping in Jewish stores. In some cases, German soldiers
warned Jews against danger from the Gestapo. Plotzk refugees, who had gone to nearby Gombin,
being under the impression that the Germans meant no harm, even returned to town.
In the last days of September it seemed that life in town became normal. But on October 7th,
1939, when according to Hitler's decree, Plotzk was annexed to West Prussia (Gau West-
Preussen), and the rule over those territories was handed over to Nazi party-organs (especially
the Gestapo), the persecution began: confiscations of Jewish shops, kidnappings of Jews for
forced labor, sadistic treatment of religious Jews, etc.
On October 15th, 1939, 10 Jewish notables were summoned to the Judendrat, and notified
that a collective fine of 1 million zlotys had been imposed on the Jewish population as a penalty
for its disloyalty towards the German authorities. They were ordered to collect this amount
within a few hours, while three of them were retained in custody as hostages, where they were
maltreated and beaten. After negotiations the Germans agreed to accept half a million only and
the hostages were released.
At that time Jews began to leave the mixed residential quarters. Individual Germans started
to loot Jewish homes, taking away pieces of furniture, house utensils, etc. Jews were forced to
greet uniformed Germans by taking off their hats and forbidden to use the side-walks. Many
Jews disappeared after having been arrested at night. The constant looting by Gestapo-men made
daily life unbearable.
The Rabbi of town was forced to leave Plotzk, after having been taken several times to do
forced labor and having suffered greatly. The Great Synagogue was converted into a garage, the
Little Synagogue was demolished, and the Beit Hamidrash at Szeroka Street was turned into a
concentration place for workers and a guard-room of the "Jewish police". Many German offices
used Scrolls of the Law for stair coverings. Kidnapping of Jews and forced shaving of beards and
side-locks became a daily occurrence. Religious Jews in prayer-shawls and Tefillin were forced
to dance in the streets to the amusement of Germans who took snapshots of these scenes.
In the last days of October 1939 all industrial and commercial undertakings were officially
closed and confiscated. Yellow notices were affixed to them: "Jewish-Closed". The Mayor
published a decree forbidding Jews to engage in commerce and industry as of October 31st, and
specifying in 7 paragraphs the ways and means by which Jewish enterprises were to be taken
over by Germans. All Jewish property was thus confiscated "according to Law". The Germans
set fire to the Jewish mill and accused its owners of having caused the conflagration themselves.
At the end of November 1939 the Jews were forced to wear yellow "Magen David" badges,
and to sign their identity cards with their finger-prints. Many Jews escaped from town to Warsaw
and other places.
At the end of 1939, after liquidating the Kehila Committee, the German authorities
nominated a "Judenrat" consisting of a few known personalities, and of some new people, who
until then had not taken any active part in public affairs. One of the first steps of the "Judenrat"
was to set up the "Jewish Police". The "Judenrat" became responsible for carrying out German
orders, supplying manpower for the German military and other authorities and regulating the life
of the Jewish population.
The "Judenrat" managed to keep some shops open for the Jewish population, which was
deprived the right to buy from non-Jewish shops-owners.
A Jewish pharmacy, clinic and post office branch were also opened. The Jewish Ghetto was
established by order of the Nazis in September 1940, and enclosed Synagogalna, Szeroka, and
part of Bielska Street. Jews were forbidden to leave this area without special permits
(Strassenschein), all contacts with the outside world were cut off, daily routine centering around
the "Judenrat", which opened a bakery and some shops for food and fuel distribution.
7600 Plotzk Jews and 3000 refugees from Dobrzyn, Rypin, Sierpc, Raciaz etc. lived in the
ghetto in December 1940. The terrible congestion, hunger, epidemic diseases, lack of medicines,
made life unbearable. Ghetto residents used doors and window-frames as fuel to heat their
At that period the Nazis began to persecute the Polish intelligentsia. Some of the Polish
lawyers, doctors and teachers were being sent to concentration camps or killed, and the churches
Inside the Ghetto the "Judenrat" tried with all means at its disposal to prevent the
deportation Jews from Plotzk by bribing the Germans with money, drinks and presents.
Nevertheless the "Judenrat slowly turned into an instrument of the Germans by which their
discrimination orders were carried out. The poorer segments of the Jewish population suffered
more than the people who had some means left.
The ghetto was shocked one Saturday in September 1940 when the Germans brutally
expelled all the inmates of the Home of Aged, which had existed for many decades, and killed all
of them in nearby Działdowo, but for 12 who managed to escape. Later the "Judenrat" was
ordered to compile a list of incurables, sick and crippled people. All of them disappeared. A
fortnight later the "Judenrat" was told to draw up a list of Zionist leaders. Instead a list of dead
personalities and of those who escaped to Russia was handed in. The authorities then arrested
five Jews, who were picked up at random on the street and sent them to a camp.
The day of general deportation from the ghetto approached. A few days before February 20,
1941, 25 men were arrested and killed. This was the first mass-murder of Jews in Plotzk. The
verdict said that the executed had planned an attempt on the Gestapo. The "Judenrat" members
had to be present during the execution as hostages "in order to prevent re-occurrence of such
acts". The names of the victims were identified according to the documents found in their mass
grave after the war. The last victim, Samek Szatan escaped but perished later. The victims of
that execution were: Grynszpan Mosze age 38, Sadzowka Mosze age 55, Bogacz Reuwen age
25, Płocker Hersz age 38, Przachedzki Dawid and his son Abraham 17 years old, Flaks
Abraham age 55 and his son Pinchas age 23, Rotblat Simcha Lajb age 32, Szwarc Moniek
age 30, Porzka Jakob age 38, Bursztyn Abram age 32, Bursztyn Israel age 25, Kredit Mark
age 27, Zilberberg Hersz Reuwen, Fajka Efraim, Papierczyk Fiszel, Korstein Mosze, Szmit
Aharon Lajzer, Goldberg, Graubard Efraim, Rifenholc Icchak, Kamzel, Herszkowicz
Cadok, Zgal Alter. (Source note 43 in the Hebrew version, page 459).
After that the general feeling of Plotzk Jews was that the day of calamity was approaching.
People slept at nights with their packed bags, and were ready for everything. In order not to be
taken away by surprise they organized a guards system every night from 7 PM. onward.
On February 20, 1941 the news about the impending general deportation of the Jews from
the ghetto was spread. On that day the "Jewish Policemen" were summoned to Gestapo
Headquarters, where they were beaten with whips which the "Judenrat" was commanded to
supply earlier. In the evening rumors were circulated in the ghetto that the deportation had been
postponed and that money had been raised to bribe Commissar Burg. But on the morrow the
deportation began. At 4 o'clock in the morning the patients of the Jewish hospital were taken out,
and about half of them were beaten to death on the spot. At that time, S.S. men in four lorries
arrived at the corner of Szeroka and Bielska Streets, shouting "Juden heraus!".
All the Jews were driven from their homes and concentrated on Szeroka Street. There they
remained from early in the morning until noon. Packages, handbags, etc. were taken away. They
were told to enter trucks, while those who were unable to do so, such as elderly and sick people,
were shot. About 200 people were loaded on each truck. 4000 Jews were expelled to Działdowo
camp during this 21st of February 1941. The remaining Jews, including "Judenrat" members
who were held responsible for the presence of the deportees at the concentration point, were
ordered to return home.
The second and last deportation took place on March 1st, 1941. A day before, all the
"Judenrat" members were arrested. The second deportation followed the pattern of the first one.
The expelled reached Działdowo in 4 hours time, making their way through villages and
townships, where gentiles threw bread and sausages into their trucks.
About 7000 Jews arrived at Działdowo, where they were accommodated in dirty huts, which
had been emptied of their former prisoners. The Germans continued looting clothes, shoes and
personal belongings. Every day a transport of 1,000 people was sent from the camp, arriving at
the railway station barefoot and half-naked.
Plotzk became "Judenrein".
The author quotes the Historian Dr. Ringelblum, who had written in connection with the
deportation of Jews from ancient communities like Kalish and Plotzk:
"There was no period in their 800-year history, when Jews were not living there".
Jews mentioned in this chapter (partial list, translated from the Hebrew part):
Karasz First victim. (page 449)
Killed in Gombin during the attack of 39: Tilman family, Gombinski family,
Warszawiak family, Bursztyn family, Goldberg family, Manczyk family,
Toibenfligel family, Ben-Cjon Parwa, Marisia Sziber. (page 449)
10 hostages among the notables of Płock: Alfred Blei, Natan Graubart, Lewek
Kilbert, Chanoch Szilit, Mosze Sochacower, Adv. Flag, Klinkubstein, Globus,
Flaks. (page 450)
Among the first Victim: the baker Rozenstein. (page 450)
Elderly Jews tortured: Sender Chmiel, Meir Kohen. (page 451
Abused by the Nazis: the son of Yosef Finkelstein. (page 451)
Cohen from Tomska Street – his property confiscated. (page 451)
Płockers refugees in Warsaw: Kiper the watchman, the dentist Kanarek, Mosze
Bodnik, Mosze Sochacower, Izak Hazenszprung who was active in the Judenrat of
Ghetto Warsaw and helped his brethren, Eng. Szajnwicz, Eng. Cybolski,
Koenigsberg, Jagoda and others. (page 452)
Refugees fled to Russia via Bialystok: Simcha Minc and his wife, Pianknagura,
Becalel Okolica and others. (page 452)
Refugees arrived to Wilna: Pianknagura, Majranc, young Krutenberg,
Wajngram and others. (page 452)
Members of the first Judenrat in Płock: Chairman Dr. Bromberger, Samek Szatan,
Szperling, Y. Zeligman, Szachtman, Szajnwicz Guzik and more. (page 452)
Kidnapped to work for the Gestapo on May 1st, 1940 and badly abused: L.
Geleibter and the brother of Pinchas Buchman, Muszkat, Segal, Kredit, Berman
and others. (page 453)
Dr. Bresler and Mrs. Firstenberg tried to keep sanitary conditions in the ghetto.
Szatan, chairman of the Judenrat (page 454)
Szymon Kriszek, a popular activist in the Płock Ghetto. (page 454)
Jehoszua Hoichman, a Gestapo attack on his house led to expelling all its tenants to
prison and execution later. (page 454).
Document: letter of the Red Cross to Chaim Ber Rubin from Mojzesz Leib Rubin
in Palestina. Returned with German stamp: "no more in Płock 20.2.41." (page 456)
Mother of B. Okolica bitten to death during the first deportation 20.2.41. (page 456)
Hersz Natan Asz arrived dead to Działdowo in the second and last deportation.
Among the deportees: the blind man Grabowski, the father of Mordechai Florek.
Among the refugees who escaped to Russia were also: Gitl Grossman, Dawid
Gold, Plocer and others. (page 458)
Mosze Tinski tried to assist the old people from the old men hospital but was
kidnapped as well. (page 459).
Testimony by the deportee Abraham Mosze. (page 458)
PLOTZK REFUGEES IN EXILE
The majority of the expelled Plotzk Jews was sent to Bodzentyn, in the Kielce region.
Another transport arrived on March 11th at Tomaszow Mazowiecki wherefrom the refugees
were sent to nearby townships; a third transport was directed to Kielce and from there to three
About 1500 Plotzk Jews, mostly of the poorer classes were concentrated at Bodzentyn,
where they arrived without clothes, shoes or money. The local Kehila organized a kitchen for
them which prepared every day about 1500 meals and distributed bread rations of 150-200 gram
per person, free of charge.
A committee of Plotzk refugees was organized in Bodzentyn and an appeal was sent to
Warsaw, asking for help. A letter of May 5th describes the position of the refugees. Epidemic
diseases had caused many deaths. "We had to bury 100 of our brethren" communicated another
letter. Mortality was high. People wore rags, were hungry and were covered with wounds. About
800 refugees arrived by train at Chmielnik. The Jews of that township, who were still
unmolested, could not believe the horror stories they heard from the refugees. Some of them
found hard work there as wood-cutters. Their committee received small sums of money from
Plotzk refugees in Warsaw and used them for constructive help. In April 1941 a ghetto was
instituted in Chmielnik, from which the people were later on, in October 1942, sent to Treblinka.
Another group numbering 700, was sent to Suchedniow, where they remained under similar
conditions until September 22, 1942, when they were deported to Treblinka.
Smaller transports of Jews from Plotzk arrived at Wierzbnik (about 300 refugees), at
Starachowice, Daleszyce, Zarki, Drzewica and other places. Everywhere conditions were
unbearable. Lack of food, lack of sanitation, hopelessness. Many died of epidemic diseases since
it was impossible to obtain medical aid. Initially efforts were made to organize some food
supplies or to raise funds but later on all efforts proved futile as the majority of Plotzk refugees
were sent from all these places to Treblinka and the rest of them to other death camps. A few
escaped during deportation but were killed later on. At the final conclusion of the war only a
Jews mentioned in this chapter (partial list, translated from the Hebrew part):
Josef Diamant – in charge of mutual aid activities in Radom, sent the messenger Y.
Winer to check the situation of Płock refugees in the Tomaszow Mazowiecki region.
(page 460, 461)
Committee of Płock Jews in Bodzentyn: Dr. Jakob Blumen Chairman, Hersz
Cytrin secretary. (page 461)
The new Committee in Bodzentyn was: H. Cytrin, A. Groyer, Horowicz, Eng.
Rubin, Y. Ajzik and L. Granat. (page 466)
Families who died in Bodzentyn due hunger, typhus and unbearable conditions:
Szperling family, Alberg family and others. (page 461)
Among the refugees to Chmielnik were: Goldkind family, Zeligman family, the
dentists Fuks, Brigrad, old Rotman with his daughter Marila Kolska, the brothers
Najman, Mosze Florek and his family, the Cytrinblum family, the Bomzon family,
the Barkenfeld family and others. (page 466)
The Committee in Chmielnik consisted of: Jakob Zeligman chairman, Zelda
Parwa, Azriel Najdzwidz, Nachman Szyk, Jechiel Fliderblum, Abraham
Cytrynblum and Icchak Kronenberg.
Murdered during the deportation to Treblinka from Chmielnik on October 5th, 1942,
the old man Globus, Dr. Ugenfisz killed himself. (page 462)
Escaped from deportation to Treblinka from Chmielnik: Gerszon Mendelson and
Motek Glowinski. (page 462)
In Czestochowa the refugee, Szperling, a Zionist activist died only after one week
since he lamented a Płocker friend in his funeral. (page 463)
Dawid Mendelson tried to escape the Aktion in Czestochowa (22 September – 5
October 1942) but was shot. (page 463).
Refugees who remained in Czestochowa after the akcja: Rywka Glanc, the brothers
Lichtman and others. (page 463)
Temporary Committee of the Płocker refugees in Wierzbnik consisted of: Jakob
Lewin, Mordechai Glowinski, Nisan Wajnstok, Gerszon Bergson and Dawid
Buch. (page 463)
Among the refugees in Starachowice: Icchak Asz, Kurstein and Firstenberg. They
were killed and buried in the local Jewish cemetery. (page 463)
During the deportation from Starachowice, Nunik Kurstein hid in a bunker but was
found and he and his friends were all killed by the Germans. (page 464)
Refugees Committee in Zarki consisted of: H. Stern, D. Rubinstein, Y. Strach.
In Drzewica the Płocker Committee consisted of Burstein and Szibek. (page 464).
In Bialaczow Szlomo Puterman served as the leader of the Płocker refugees.
In Gelniow managed the public kitchen Dr. Widawski. (page 465)
The Kalman family arrived to Skarzysko. The parents and the young sister were
deported to death. Regina Kalman survived. (page 465, 466)
In Skarzysko worked Tynski, Najdorf, Muksel, Szapira, Fajka, Adolf Kohen, the
sisters Fierstein, Berman, two boys 14 years old: the son of Kohen who repaired
sewing machines and the grandson of Chaim Gutman. (page 466)
In Hassag Forced labor camp in Czestochowa worked Tynski, Kleinman, Szapira,
Jagoda the milkman, Jagoda the municipality clerk, Lichtenstein, Zilberberg.
Among the elders survived only Dr. Bresler. (page 466)
In Majdanek death camp were Y. Tinski, Motel Grobman, Dawid Szlomo
Zajdman, Winogron, the optometrist Szajnwicz, the agronomist Minc, Kriszek,
Gunszar. (page 466)
In Buchenwald were the 4 brothers Lichtman, among them Reuwen, the general
secretary of "Poalei Zion" in Płock. One brother died of hunger. (page 466)
In a camp near Landsberg, among some Płockers was Mana who perished. (page
In Bergen-Belsen was Chanka Grosman.
Rachel Tiber survived a few Nazi camps and drowned later while trying to reach the
shores of Eretz Israel illegally after the war.
Szmuel Hering, Chaim Milchman and Mosze Mordechai Laks gave testimonies
about the horrible condition in ghetto Suchedniow. (page 466)
Abraham Ibiczki testified about ghetto Czestochowa (page 466)
ACTS OF RESISTANCE
In spite of the unbearable conditions under which the Plotzk Jews were forced to live, they
never lost their hopes of survival. In the early stages they tried to take advantage of commercial
connections with Christian neighbors in order to obtain foodstuffs. There are some sources
indicating that a group of Jewish women used to smuggle food into the hands of those doomed to
be deported to death. The Committee of Plotzk Jews in Warsaw succeeded a number of times to
send money and food to their native town. Even cultural and education activities were still
carried out in town until the deportation.
After the German authorities closed the synagogues, Jews continued to organize illegal
services in private homes. Some orthodox people who were about to be deported, sewed their
prayer shawls into their coats, as they wanted "to die as Jews", and refused to eat non-kosher
food. One man took a scroll of the Law with him and paid with his life for refusing to be
separated from it. At a public execution of 25 Jews at Imielnica one of those about to die called
on the survivors to take revenge. But above all Jews from Plotzk took a very active part in the
heroic Treblinka uprising.
A Plotzk Jew called Adolf, who worked before the war as Inspector of the bus route Warsaw
- Plotzk, one day threw a hand-grenade on the Ukrainians who brought a transport of Jews from
Warsaw and killed many of them. He found his death in the shooting which followed. A porter,
called Kozibrodski, whom the Germans at Treblinka employed at collecting jewels from the
doomed to death, was instrumental in providing means for obtaining clandestine arms. Some
Plotzk Jews helped Captain Galewski, who was in charge of the prisoners, in the organization
of the uprising, which took place on August 2nd, 1943. Several of the Jewish prisoners from
Plotzk joined the heroes who overpowered the Ukrainian guards. One of them, Rudek
Lubraniecki, caused a number of casualties among them and blew up a petrol station. Another
group entered the arms-depot, took out rifles and distributed them among 200 people. Others
attacked the Germans with axes, hoes, etc. Gas chambers were set on fire. A few escaped but
many were killed by German reinforcements, who were rushed to the camp to crush the revolt.
The last part of this chapter enumerates some deeds of individual heroism, shown by Plotzk
Jews wherever they were, as for example, Moshe Bahir (Szklarek), who participated in the
heroic uprising in the Sobibor death-camp.
PLOTZK AFTER THE HOLOCAUST
The destruction of the ancient Jewish community of Plotzk was complete. Only a negligible
number of Jews survived, those who had managed to get "Aryan" papers or had found shelter in
forests or in hiding places. These survivors came back to their former hometown in May-June
1945 and were joined later by those who had escaped to Russia at the beginning of the war.
Altogether 300 people (out of 9000 before the Nazi invasion) returned. The whole Jewish quarter
was demolished, while the rest of town remained intact. The Germans destroyed the interior of
the Great Synagogue and looted all its ornaments. The tombstones of the Jewish cemetery were
removed and the cemetery was converted into a pasture. Only the quotation from the prophet
Ezekiel "Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways for why will ye die, o House of Israel" remained
inscribed on the gatepost.
The survivors organized a committee, which tried with all its means to restore Jewish life to
town. The first task was to find work for the survivors. The Central Jewish Committee in
Warsaw allocated some sums from which more than 20 workshops (tailors, furriers, glaziers etc.)
were set up. The new Polish authorities showed the survivors sympathy and readiness to help. In
1946-1947 the Committee established an orphanage, a club, a library, a dramatic circle etc. A
monument, planned by the architect Perlmuter, was erected in honor of the Plotzk Jewish War
But in spite of all these efforts, and especially those of A. Blei, who was most active in
restoring Jewish life, the few survivors did not find it possible to remain in their native town.
Some cases of renewed anti-Semitism, even of blood libel occurred. Townspeople spread rumors
that the Jews had killed a Christian boy for ritual purposes. The notorious Kielce pogrom
occurred in that period. And though the authorities protected the Jews in general against
onslaughts, a feeling prevailed among the Plotzk Jewish survivors that there was no place for
them even in the new Poland. The "exodus" began in 1947. Some immigrated to Western
countries, but the majority joined their brethren in Israel.
Only 98 Jews lived in Plotzk in October 1947. In 1959 their number had decreased to 3.
The old Chairman of the Committee who had devoted his last years to the restoration of
Jewish life in Plotzk, died there without attaining this goal. Even the monument to the dead -
according to witnesses - is in a stage of disintegration, as there is nobody to take care of it...
THE JEWS OF PLOTZK IN EXILE
Several letters of Plotzk-born Jewish refugees, written in 1941, are published under this
heading. These letters, whose originals in Polish and Yiddish are part of the "Ringelblum
Archives", were written by exiled Jewish inhabitants who had been driven out by the Nazis from
Plotzk in February-March 1941 and were temporarily "settled" in some small hamlets where they
suffered from hunger and diseases. The victims of that deportation did not know at that time,
what their final destiny would be, and they write to friends asking for help.
The common denominator of all those letters is the hope that the days of hunger and
suffering and epidemic diseases will one day become a matter of the past. We further learn from
them that the Plotzk Jews were discontent with the attitude shown to them by the Jews of
Bodzentyn who in their opinion, did not offer them assistance. In fact all of them eventually
shared the same fate, prior to their final annihilation.
Among these letters there is also one written by Hayim Flachs, a popular Yiddish writer,
who published several novels and stories.
This bundle of letters ends with a detailed report compiled by prominent leaders of Plotzk
refugees who lived in 1941 in Warsaw, concerning the position of the refugees in 8 different
localities. This document, which is of great historical value, describes the tragic conditions of life
of a few thousand hungry, sick and helpless Jews, who waited in vain for salvation, not knowing
what awaited them.
JEWS OF PLOTZK UNDER THE NAZI TERROR
By D. Dąbrowska
A historical survey based on authentic information gathered by the Jewish Historical
Institute in Poland. The survey includes descriptions of all the events, starting on September 8th,
1939 (when Plotzk was invaded by the Germans) through the establishment of the ghetto, the
various deportations, until its final liquidation on March 1st, 1941, when the "Jewish Committee"
was ordered by the Nazis to bury the dead and join the last group of the deported Jews.
Dina Inowroclawska (Zylberman)
Testimonies of Mrs. Lea Moszkowicz, the daughter of the melamed (Hebrew teacher)
Benyamin Kopyto and of Mrs. Dina Inowroclawska, (ne'e Zylberman)
The former describes the death of her father, who was kidnapped and killed by the Nazis,
and the latter depicts her life, from her eleventh year onwards, in various camps in which she
spent the war years.
Was expelled from Plotzk in 1941, together with 10,000 Jews of the ghetto. She was sent to
work under the worst possible conditions in ammunition factories. Starved, beaten by Storm-
Troopers and without proper clothes, she survived only by mere chance. She was released by the
Soviet army in Leipzig.
Felicja (Fela) Ravitzka
Escaped death by acquiring Aryan papers and disguising herself as a 30 year old widow.
With these papers she found employment as a cashier in a big Warsaw suburban store. Her
employer never knew her real identity. At the end of the war she left for England.
The testimony of the above was obtained from the files of the "YIVO" Institute, New York.
He describes the situation of the Jews in the Ghetto before February 20th, 1941, the day of its
liquidation. On that date - according to his testimony - the first 3000 Jews of Plotzk were driven
from their homes and transported in an unknown direction.
Dr. H. Russak
The above and his wife, both Plotzk-born, studied medicine in Paris at the beginning of the
war. In May 1941 he was arrested and sent to a Nazi camp. His wife remained in Paris and
maintained contact with his parents who had been deported to concentration camps in Poland.
The description of the conditions in his camp, as well as his wife's correspondence with him and
his relatives, convey an authentic and true picture of the terrible conditions in those camps and of
their inmates' daily endeavors to survive.
Dr. H. Russak's testimony ends with the approach of the Allied forces and the prisoners'
last struggle with the typhus epidemic which broke out after the liberation.
A letter written in Germany in 1946. R. Lichtman survived the Holocaust since he was
capable of doing hard work. On his release from the Buchenwald concentration camp, his weight
was only 37 kilos. He waited for the moment to leave Germany, whose soil is soaked with
A letter describing the conditions of work in a saw-mill at a little township in West Ukraine,
where he lived as a refugee. He escaped there from Plotzk at the outbreak of the war and did not
know at that time the fate which had met his brethren in his native town.
A REMINDER ("REGARDS")
By Haya Elboim-Dorembus
The author recalls various events since the beginning of 1940. She had lived in Warsaw at
that time and managed to escape to Plotzk in order to try and save her family there. She crossed
the frozen Vistula river together with a group of Poles. In her birthplace she found only
destruction and death. She describes her last meeting with a friend who was tortured by the
By Haya Elboim - Dorembus
From the book in Yiddish: "Oyf der aryszer zeit" , written by the author and published in Tel
This paragraph was published in the Yizkor book of Plock, "Plock, a History of an ancient
Jewish Community in Poland, editor Eliyahu Eisenberg, Tel Aviv , 1967, pages 565-566, and
translated from Hebrew by Mrs. Bianca Shlesinger March 1999
...Here is Plock. My Plock. It is barely one year since I left and the town is not the same
anymore. Rows of deserted houses on which red flags fluttered bearing large swastikas. Streets
empty of people. Everything is full of the life that isn't anymore. At every corner - shadows of
the past. The awakened shadows are kind of accompanying me, whispering with sad voices
remembrances from the past. The eyes take in, with love and sadness, all that once was so near,
so familiar. All the windows are hidden by curtains, most of the shops are closed. Silence
everywhere, as in a cemetery. Here is Somkat street and there, by the corner, what was once my
house. The shop, the window.
The gate. Should I go in? Go on, go on. My steps resound with a faint and frightful sound. There,
the coffee house of Gozakwitz. The door is closed, bolted. Does Rozke sill leave in her previous
room? I wish she would be home. Three more houses, and two more.
Suddenly steps. What do I hear, the Hatikva song here? I stand as petrified by the gate and am
unable to move. A large group of Jews, with working tools on their shoulders, is nearing. They
march in lines of four. A black square under the guard of two Germans.
"Sing, Sing! Loudly! - Shouts one of them, rising the bat of his rifle.
The loud song of Hatikva fills the empty street and rises above the roofs of the houses. The first
Jew in the row is drenched in blood. Did they beat him in the eyes? His face is familiar to me,
who is he? Yes, yes, it is Weinberg. His shirt and jacket are drenched in blood. He cannot see
me. With his lonely eye he looks head, far away, his mouth open, full of blood, mumbling the
words of "Hatikva". The German is not aware what kind of song this is.....
"Louder, louder !"
Kolgialna 11. Breathless I go up the steps and reach the door of Rozke's flat. I stop for a moment
and then, gathering strength, I knock. I hear Rozke's voice. A boundless weariness overcomes
me. The room spins around, together with me. Rozke holds me in her arms and cries, cries
That same evening I went to see Weinberg, in his flat on Seroka Street. In the small room, in the
corner by the sink, flickered the feeble light of a candle. His wife went about the room , silently,
like a silent shadow. Weinberg lay on the bed, fully clothed. A wet cloth covered his mouth.
Suddenly he jumped up and the cloth fell off, discovering a mashed face.
"You are here in Plock? How did you dare to put yourself in danger and come into this hell?"
Broken words were exchanged, words of suffering and answers. I tell him the reason for my
coming. Two burning hands press into mines:
- "How I wish you to succeed to reach your home in safety. All my life I have dreamed of the
Land of Israel, of a plot of land; of green pastures, of cows and sheep. I wanted to be a shepherd,
a Jewish farmer in a Jewish village and eat form my own bread"....
He was completely detached from the reality of his present life and hovered about on the wings
of his vision. He looked at me with his one good eye as from the depth of an abyss and
whispered to me his dreams. The yellow light of the candle added to the horror of his wounded
eye. The eyelashes trembled and twisted. Suddenly, In the heavy silence, a bitter crying erupted.
His head fell on the pillow. His wife came forward and put a fresh wet cloth on the would. Under
the cloth red tears were flowing.
- "Mr. Weinberg - I muttered - maybe you have a parents or a friend in Israel to whom you wish
to send regards? If I will reach it , maybe I will reach it"......
Weinberg sat up brusquely.
- A friend? A parent? All the Jews are my friends and parents; regards? I send them as regards
our today's "Hatikva", that is our "hope". Take with you the song to your new life. The day will
come and the promise will be realized : "And there they will dwell until they will be commanded,
God's words. And I will rise you and return you to this place". -
He fell silent. The tremulous, quivering light wandered around the room as if seeking refuge.
Outside reigned the night, silver-green, and a sense of doom prevailed in the empty streets and in
the silent houses, on which hovered the red flags with the big swastikas . A pale, sickly moon
crawled toward the sky, with a wounded eye and a mouth twisted by pain.
BETWEEN WARSAW AND PLOTZK
By Michael Zylberberg
These notes were written down on the "Aryan side" of Warsaw in May 1943. They comprise
memories from the period beginning October 1939. The author, who lived at the outbreak of
World War II in Warsaw, decided to visit his birth-place Plotzk. He made this journey by boat on
the Vistula river, being disguised as a Polish gentile. On the way he and other travelers
interrupted their trip at a little Port (Wyszogrod), where they had lunch at a Jewish restaurant.
That small and remote township and its tranquil atmosphere, at a time when the discrimination
against Jews and the preparations for their annihilation were already in full swing all over Poland
- are the main subject of this article.
The author visits Plotzk, whose name was changed by a German decree to Schroetterburg,
but decides soon to leave the place. In spite of the danger involved in using the same boat on the
return journey, Mr. Zylberberg succeeds, thanks to his "Aryan" physiognomy, in returning
safely to Warsaw, where he continued to live in the non-Jewish part of the city.
I LEFT THE GHETTO
By Helena Mairanc – Meiri
The author of these memories was one of the many people who escaped from Plotzk to
Warsaw hoping that a place where there was a greater concentration of people, would spell
greater chances for survival.
She and her husband lived in a Polish quarter until the ghetto was closed. After the July-
"action" of 1942 many people, especially those with "Aryan" faces, tried to escape.
Mrs. Mairanc-Meiri made contact with non-Jewish friends outside the ghetto and with the
help of a Gentile who used to enter the ghetto, succeeded to leave it in his company at the
beginning of 1943. Until that time she was employed as a "useful Jewess" in a factory which
produced ammunition and spare parts for the German war effort.
After leaving the ghetto she destroyed her "Ausweis" (work-card) and prepared herself for a
new life, disguised as an Aryan Polish woman.
I WAS A "SUBMARINE" IN A NAZI-CAMP
By Judge Michael Koenigsberg
"Submarine" was the name given by the compensation committees, established after the war,
to victims of the Nazi slave labor camps, who lived and survived with false papers.
The author of this testimony was such a "submarine". In the possession of Aryan papers, he
was sent by the German Labor Office ("Arbeitsamt") to Vienna at the beginning of the war.
Throughout the war he worked there under horrible conditions, underfed and poorly clothed,
disguising himself as a Catholic Pole.
He tells an interesting episode - a short time before the liberation he met in the camp a
Czech who, in a friendly conversation mentioned a certain book written by the Jewish author
Shalom Ash. Mr. Koenigsberg pretended that he had never heard this name. He regrets that he
never had a chance to meet Schalom Asch after the war in order to tell him of his popularity as a
writer among non-Jews.
A REVOLT IN HELL
This article is based on the testimony of Marian Platkiewicz, a Plotzk Jew, one of the few
survivors of the Treblinka death camp. He lived until July 1942 in the Warsaw ghetto, when he
was suddenly taken to Treblinka in one of the Nazi "Actions" (mass deportations
There he was assigned to a working squad who collected the clothes of the camp victims,
once they had been annihilated. He thus became an eyewitness to the process of killing people in
the gas chambers. According to the quantity of clothes and the heaps of personal belongings
(gold, watches, etc.) he could tell the number of Jews arriving in the camp daily (about 15,000
The members of the squad to which he belonged were of course doomed to death, once they
would have completed their work. The death camp was for many months disguised as a
"transfer-camp", from where people were supposedly sent to "work" somewhere in the East. The
signposts (like "waiting rooms", "buffet", "hospital") were fictitious, and were planned to
deceive the new arrivals who would not believe until their last breath that they were led to their
Only those camp workers engaged, as Platkiewicz, in collecting the victims' personal
belongings and other tasks, such as burning the bodies, knew the real nature of this disguised
camp, which was in operation from August 1942 until August 2nd, 1943, when an uprising broke
The preparations for the uprising began at the beginning of that year. The first task was to
accumulate the necessary amount of arms and ammunition and this could be done only by
careful and extraordinary planning, which took into account the special conditions of the camp,
where the various groups of prisoners were completely isolated from one another.
The initiator, planner and commander of this revolt was the unforgettable Captain
Galewski, an engineer by profession. He planned, and with the help of others carried out an
onslaught on a German depot of arms from which rifles and hand-grenades were taken and well
The second task was to organize groups which were to assume separate and special tasks in
the general uprising. In accordance with the plan, the first act would be a hand-grenade attack on
the German officers' club.
The plan worked out well and on the appointed day, late in the afternoon, the workers
passed by the club and after having seen the boy taking off his hat (a sign that the Nazi officers
were all inside their club) they attacked the premises with hand-grenades, which immediately
started to burn.
This served as a signal for several other groups of fighters who attacked the Ukrainian
sentries and then destroyed the gas-chambers. Unfortunately, the attackers did not succeed in
cutting off the high tension electricity line and many of the inmates who tried to escape,
according to the plan, were electrified to death by touching the barbed wire. The commander of
the revolt then gave an order to open fire on the wired fence and thereby enabled the people to
make a break-through.
The surprised Germans had no idea that a revolt had broken out inside the camp and thought
that they were attacked by partisan fighters from the outside. Many of them were killed by the
Jewish fighters who, after completing their task, escaped together with the rest of the camp
Unfortunately, they had no place to hide. They took temporary refuge in a nearby small
forest where they could stay only overnight. During the night the Germans encircled the forest
with troops and the majority of the fighters were killed by the Germans and their Ukrainian
collaborators in the morning.
Platkiewicz, and a few of his friends, dared and succeeded to break through the German
lines before dawn and later hid in a nearby village. They lived for several months in a hideout
behind the barn of a friendly peasant and later joined the partisan groups which attacked German
arms and supply trains and carried out many other acts of sabotage, which all contributed
towards the final victory of the allies over the Nazis.
Platkiewicz survived and lives now in Israel. In 1964 he gave evidence before a Dusseldorf
court in the criminal case against Kurt Franz, one of the Nazi commanders of the Treblinka
Unlike the revolt in the Warsaw ghetto which is widely known in the world, the uprising in
the Treblinka death camp has not yet come to the attention of the public at large.
These two historical events (as many others) refute the widely held belief that Jews were led
to the slaughter like lambs, without offering resistance to their cruel oppressors.
The extraordinarily daring and heroic Jewish uprising in Treblinka, under indescribable
difficulties, proves that the contrary was true.
POST-WAR EFFORTS OF REBUILDING
JEWISH PLOTZK CAN NOT BE REBUILT
By Israel Gershon Bursztyn
The author, who was one of the small number of Plotzk-born Jews who returned after the
war to their native town, describes the hopelessness and apathy of this tiny group which found
Plotzk "Judenrein". Even after five years of suffering the Polish population of the town and its
neighborhood showed its negative attitude to the returning Jews. In 1945 there occurred cases of
murder in Poland and Jews were not safe in their homes, on buses or in trains. Even blood libel
accusations similar to those known in the Middle Ages, were spread. The authorities, although
willing to eradicate anti-Semitism, proved helpless against the bandits of the anti-Government
groups, who were influenced by five years of Nazi indoctrination.
The late Mr. Bursztyn, who died several years ago in the U.S.A., was a leader of the Jewish
Workers' Party in Plotzk, the "Bund", and as such all the pre-war Jewish places of Plotzk were
dear to him. He describes with great nostalgia the town as it was, as well as the subsequent
We learn from this article that there were people in the town who did not surrender to the
Nazis and once they realized that the destination of the deportees was extermination, they fought
and encouraged their brethren to do likewise. He recalls the case of a young man who delivered
an ardent speech against the Nazis and prayed that God would take revenge on them, right in the
truck which took him and many others to their death.
He also describes the social activity of a man who took care of the Home for the Aged and
stayed with the old people until the last moment. (A case similar to that of the Warsaw teacher
Janusz Korczak, who proudly marched together with his pupils to the death-camp).
After returning to Plotzk, Mr. Bursztyn and his friends arrived very soon at the conclusion
that they would have to leave this "valley of death", and find another place of residence. All their
efforts to renew Jewish life in Plotzk were in vain. "The plant did not take roots again" -
concludes the author.
I RETURNED HOME
By Israel Gershon Chanachowicz (Kent)
The author, a Plotzk-born refugee, left his native town a fortnight before the Second World
War broke out in September 1939. He returned home after spending several years in Soviet
Russia, where he worked under deplorable conditions in labor camps, longing for his birth-place
without knowing what had happened there during his absence.
He describes the long train-journey from Siberia to Plotzk as a repatriate who still cherished
some hope to find somebody of his family there. On returning home in 1946 he found his town
empty of Jews. A Polish family lived in the house where he had spent his boyhood. After some
hesitation, he entered his former home and asked its new inhabitants whether some pictures of
his family were perhaps left there. In reply, the door was closed in his face with, a bang by a
After wandering a few days through town and meeting a handful of Jewish survivors he
came to the conclusion that there was no purpose in his staying there.
The author tries to reconstruct his. memories of Jewish Plotzk's glorious past, its institutions,
synagogues, organizations and cannot comprehend that this epoch is all a matter of the past.
Even the cemetery had been destroyed. The Germans had taken the tombstones to Germany and
now no evidence was any longer available concerning the previous existence of a great Jewish
community in Plotzk.
A MEMORIAL MEETING IN LIBERATED PLOTZK
On March 3rd, 1946 a meeting took place in Plotzk of' the handful of survivors, who had
returned to town from the death camps, from Russia, from hideouts or places where had they
lived disguised as Aryans. The chairman, Alfred Blei, paid tribute to' the memory of the nearly
9.000 Jews who were annihilated.
Messrs David Lichtenstein, Koenigsberg, Zielonka, Eisenberg, Platkiewicz and
Margolin described the sufferings of the Plotzk Jews in the war years at all the stations of their
torturous road td death.
One of the participants of the Treblinka uprising dedicated his" speech to the Plotzk Jews
and other inmates of this death camp who had planned and carried out an attack on their Nazi
oppressors, killed many of them and freed hundreds of Jews from that camp. Unfortunately they
were eventually overpowered by the Germans and their Ukrainian helpers, and many of' them
were killed. But with their death they proved that the Jews, whenever possible, made valiant
attempts to fight their oppressors.
The chairman A. Blei encouraged the remnants of the old Plotzk community, among them a
number of people from nearby Sierpc, to carry on Jewish life.
RE-BURIAL CEREMONY OF NAZI VICTIMS
On October 21st, 1946 a re-burial ceremony of 25 Plotzk Jews who were killed by the Nazis
near Imielnica village, was held. All the survivors who had returned to Plotzk as well as
Government officials attended the ceremony. The dead were commemorated in speeches held by
the Committee Chairman Alfred Blei and others.
Judge Koenigsberg gave a historical survey of Jewish life in Plotzk. Representatives of
nearby localities were also present.
SUMMARY OF THE ACTIVITIES BY THE COMMITTEE OF
This is an excerpt of an article published in "Dos Naye Lebn" (New Life) Warsaw, No.20 of
1948, by M. Tirman, after his visit to Plotzk.
He describes the life of the survivors who tried to resettle after the war in Plotzk. Those who
returned were assisted by central Jewish institutions in Poland and abroad. Great efforts were
made to establish social and cultural institutions and to rebuild Jewish life. Alfred Blei and Mr.
and Mrs. Koenigsberg distinguished themselves in this task and helped all those Jews who
returned to town. 50 Jewish children were born in Plotzk after, the war and a lot was done to
make conditions easier for their young mothers. A drama circle was established in order to
restore cultural life, as it had been before the war.
The author also mentions the preparations made by the Architect Benjamin Arye Leib
Perlmuter and the heads of the community towards the erection of a monument in memory of
UNVEILING OF THE MONUMENT
A few hundred survivors of the Plotzk Jewish community assembled on October 23rd, 1949
and unveiled a monument in everlasting remembrance of the town's community. Representatives
of nearby Jewish communities as well as of the authorities, were present. The Mayor of Plotzk,
who was honored by unveiling the monument, noted that Jews had lived in Plotzk since 1237
and had always been loyal to the town.
The white stone monument was erected according to designs drawn by the Plotzk Jewish
Architect Benjamin Arye Leib Perlmuter, in the shape of a tent. Its inscription reads "For these
things I weep" (Lamentations, 1, 16) and a list of names of the 25 victims, whose bodies were
exhumed there from their temporary graves, is added.
Representatives of the Polish army, the Central Committee of the Jewish survivors in Poland
and of the Jewish combat organization delivered eulogies in memory of the victims.
ASSOCIATIONS OF PLOTZK JEW ALL OVER
PLOTZK JEWS IN ISRAEL
We have no details regarding the first immigrants who left Plotzk for Eretz Israel in the
years before the Zionist movement was founded. Only one of them is known: Rabbi Tuvia
Rubinstein came to Eretz Israel in 1875, and was known in Jerusalem by the name "Tuvia the
Julian Golde came to Eretz Israel in 1909, and joined the Kinneret group.
In 1925 there were already about 30 former Plotzk people in the country and in that year
they held their first rally in Tel-Aviv. Although they did not establish a permanent organization,
they used to meet, arrange parties and visit each other from time to time. Most of them lived in
Tel Aviv, where the Shoshani home served as their centre.
Organizational activity started only in 1945, when survivors of the war began to arrive in the
country. A Committee with members from Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem was elected that year.
Its primary function was helping newly arrived Olim (immigrants to Eretz Israel) and sending
money and clothing to the survivors in Plotzk, France, Holland etc.
The organization came into contact with former Plotzk people in the U. S. A., Argentine and
elsewhere, asking them to render assistance to the survivors.
Once the relief work came to an end, the organization suffered a setback. Only after 1949 a
group of members: Itzhak Ben-Shai, Eliyahu Eisenberg and others constituted themselves as
an executive committee. Their main task was to help Olim to settle in the new State by granting
loans, finding suitable employment and housing for them.
The 28th of Adar - on which the Jews of Plotzk were driven from their town by the Nazis -
was proclaimed as a Memorial Day. On that day all Plotzker Landsleit in Israel convene every
year in Tel Aviv with their families and after a memorial ceremony and the "El Male Rachamim"
prayer, the committee reports on its activities in the past year and a new committee is elected.
The 1951 convention was attended by Itzhak Grinbaum, and the establishment of "Irgun Yotzei
Plotzk" (the Organization of Jews from Płock) was then formally announced.
When after 1957 scores of Plotzk-born families arrived in the country, the association
increased its activities and the newly established Loan Fund (based on the legacy of the late I. G.
Burshtyn) made it possible to grant interest-free loans to all the needy arrivals.
The committee passed a resolution to publish a Memorial Book of Plotzk. Although two
such books in Yiddish already appeared, one in the Argentine and the second by the late Shlomo
Greenspan in New York, it was felt that a book in Hebrew was needed, since Hebrew is the
language of all Plotzk people and their children in Israel.
Eliyahu Eisenberg, the Vice-Chairman of Irgun Yotzei Plotzk, was appointed as Editor and
he worked together with an editorial board, consisting of Messrs Moshe Rubin (Chairman' of
the organization), Itzhak Ben-Shai, Itzhak Tinski, Benyamin Galewski and the late Shlomo
The Committee found several other suitable ways to commemorate the Plotzk Jewish
Community. - A forest of 2.000 trees was planted in the "Martyrs Forest" of the Jewish National
Fund near Jerusalem. The funds for the planting of these trees were collected from landsleit in
Israel and in U.S.A. A memorial plaque was put up in the Martyrs Chamber on Mount Zion in
ITZHAK BARAK (ZELIGMAN)
Born 1893, a founder-member of "Maccabi" in Plotzk and gymnastics teacher at the Jewish
Gymnasium. From 1923 on one of the leaders of "Hehalutz" in town, he went with wife and
daughter to Eretz Israel in 1925. Continued in his profession and became active in the Hagana,
where he was put in charge of the underground arms production. He foiled many attempts by the
British to discover arms and ammunition, and was very popular with members of the Hagana.
Was given the rank of Lt. Col. in the Israel army, and went on several missions to various
countries, in order to purchase arms, although his health, and that of his wife Clara, had suffered
during the time of the underground. Was active in the Plotzk Association and always tried to
help those in need. Passed away in 1954.
Born in Plotzk, educated at the Jewish Gymnasium, where he interrupted his studies to go on
Hachshara. At the age of 18 he went to Eretz Israel, worked first in Rishon Lezion and joined
afterwards, with his wife and their two sons, the Moshav of Ein Vered. He devoted all his
strength to the development of his farm under most difficult circumstances. During the
disturbances of 1937 he was ambushed and murdered together with three friends by Arabs on
their way home from the fields.
Born 1926 in Plotzk, was brought to Eretz Israel by his parents at the age of eight. Worked
as a mechanic in British army camps and joined the Hagana in 1943, where he carried out
several important tasks with great devotion. Was sent together with another 14 people to destroy
a road bridge in Western Galilee – "Gesher Haziv" - where the whole group found their heroic
death. He will always be remembered as one of the freedom fighters of Israel.
ELIAIIU KRUVI (KAPUSTA)
A member of Hehalutz in Plotzk went on Alyia in 1938. Worked at carpentry in Rishon
Lezion, where he was socially active on behalf of his fellow-workers. Was killed in the bombing
of Rishon Lezion during the War of Liberation (1948).
Came to Eretz Israel from Plotzk in 1925. Worked at a metal plant in Haifa. Was killed in
the air-raid of the Tel Aviv Central Bus station in 1948.
Son of Frida, ne'e Makower, and Josef. Born 1935 at Kfar Hess, he received in his parents'
home an education which led him to a life of pioneer ideals and agricultural work. Serving in the
Israeli Defense Army he was among the members of a new border settlement, Amatzia. He lost
his life on duty in 1956 in the Negev.
A wealthy merchant in Plotzk, which he left in 1921 together with his family to settle in
Eretz Israel. He experienced great difficulties of adjustment, but stayed on in spite of many
crises. A horse, gone wild in the streets of Tel-Aviv, caused his death.
YECHIEL AVIVI (FLIDERBLUM)
Born in Plotzk, educated at the local high school, joined "Hehalutz" and immigrated to Eretz
Israel in 1926. A founder-member of Kibbutz Givat Hashlosha, afterwards worked in the
building trade and with the Railways, where he was elected to the Workers Committee. Later on
took a job in Haifa port. After the establishment of the State of Israel he founded a Histadrut
company for the handling of imported goods which he headed till 1953, when he established the
"Maritime Company" for Customs Brokerage. For many years chairman of the Customs Brokers
Organization in Haifa and active in communal work. A serious illness brought his life to an all
too early end.
A leader of Hashomer Hatzair in Plotzk. Studied at Warsaw University and was a teacher at
the Prilutzky Hebrew Gymnasium there. Went to Eretz Israel at the end of the thirties, worked
hard in building and porterage, but eventually returned to teaching. For many years Director of
the Elementary School - in Bet Chanan, he educated the local youth with great love and
devotion. A serious illness caused his death in 1966.
HISTORY OF THE PLOTZKER YOUNG MENS'
ASSOCIATION IN NEW YORK
By Harry Lipner – Secretary
In the last few years of the 19th century many Plotzk Jews left Poland and emigrated to the
United States of America. Because of economic necessity, and a desire to keep their social
contacts with their fellow landsleit, they organized themselves into a society, under the above
name, in the year 1893. The early leaders of this. group were A. Sanitsky, L. Langman, S.
Kaufman, M. Heyman, I. Raphael and J. Safian.
The primary functions of the Society were to provide financial assistance when necessary,
Sick and Sheva benefits, funeral allowances to the families, and Death Benefits to the widows of
deceased members. In later years the Society took a great interest in general and national Jewish
organizations, and is making annual contributions to the United Jewish Appeal, Histadrut, Hias,
Ort, and Federation of Jewish Charities of Greater New York. Throughout its history our Society
has been one of the most active and respected branches of the Federation of Polish Jews in
During the depression years of 1929-1930 many of our members were out of work and in
great financial need. Through the generous contributions of some of our members a Loan Fund
was quickly established. This fund took care of all our members in distress, and has been
functioning satisfactorily ever since.
After the First World War our Society, together with a group of Plotzker landsleit, raised a
fund of several thousand dollars to help our brethren in our home town. We also sent a sum of
money to the Jewish Hospital in Plotzk, to establish a. ward in our honor.
After the Second World War we, together with our Ladies Auxiliary, again raised a fund of
over $ 9000.00 which we distributed in cash, clothing, food packages, or machinery, to our
surviving landsleit in Plotzk, DP Camps in Germany, Sweden, Canada, United States and Israel.
This timely aid helped many individuals and families to start their lives anew, and to tide them
over the initial difficulties of readjustment to post-war conditions.
With the establishment of the State of Israel we raised a substantial sum of money to help
our landsleit in Israel establish a Loan and Relief Fund; plant over two thousand trees in the
Plotzk section of the Martyrs Forest in the Judean Mountains, and prepare and publish a
Memorial History in honor of the Martyred Dead of the Plotzk Jewish Community. During the
past ten years the Society purchased over $ 5000.00 worth of Israel Government Bonds.
A few years ago, when the Society purchased new cemetery grounds, an impressive
Memorial Gate was erected at its entrance to honor the memory of the Martyred Dead of Plotzk
Throughout its long history the Society has been - blessed with able and devoted leadership.
Among those who have already passed to the Great Beyond, besides those mentioned above,
were the late Ex-presidents H. Domb, J. Wollman, D. Goldberg, L. Davis, I. Wisla, B.
Dolman, M. Roberts, A. Rosenthal, S. Iron, and J. Gluckson.
The living Ex-Presidents, who have given much of their time and. efforts for the welfare of
the Society, are S. Bornstein, Sol. Hyman, H. Lipner; L. Bomson, S. Sturman, M. Levy, J.
Gomberg, S. Steinberg, B. Kosh, and M. Magnes.
At the present time the officers of the Society are"
Pres. - Geo. Seeman
V-Pres. - Dr. K. Bach, and C. Okolica
Treas. - S. Bornstein
Fin. Secy. - H. Lipner
Rec. Secy. - J. Gomberg
Trustees - M. Weitzman; J. Bernstein, N. Fink
Looking back at the record of the Society, extending over a period of seven decades, we see
a record of many great accomplishments. We are proud of this record. The only sad note in this
story concerns the ever-dwindling numbers in our membership. With the complete annihilation
of the Jewish Community in Plotzk, and the complete stoppage of immigration to the United
States, the main source of new membership has been destroyed. The younger people born in
America consider themselves as American Jews only, prefer to join national Jewish
organizations, and do not see any reason for continued existence of a traditional attachment to
the memory of a Jewish community that exists no more. The active and older members of the
Society can hardly 'find any fault in this attitude when we see a considerable number of refugees,
born in Plotzk and now settled in the United States, turning a deaf ear to our appeals to join our
SHLOMO GREENSPAN - IN MEMORIAM
By Bezalel Okolica
Shlomo Greenspan, one of those who helped us in obtaining material for this book, died
unexpectedly on November 5th, 1966. He devoted many years of his life to the collecting of
everything bearing any connection to Jewish life in Plotzk in the past. He frequently published
articles on Plotzk's history in Yiddish journals in the U. S. A. and Canada, as well as a book on
The Scientific Institute in Plotzk decided after his sudden death, to award him a posthumous
Shlomo Greenspan made arrangements to settle in Israel, but unfortunately he did not live to
see the realization of his life-dream.
May his soul rest in life eternal.
PLOTZK JEWS IN THE ARGENTINE
The emigration of Jews from Plotzk to the Argentine started after the First World War and
increased especially during the years of the Grabski crisis (1924-25). During those years the
Plotzk people in the Argentine did not yet organize themselves, and only with the beginning of
the Second World War were permanent activities started.
A temporary Committee was elected at a meeting which took place on November 10, 1939,
at the house of Mr. N. Lerman, consisting of Messrs. M. Magnes - Secretary; S. Leibgot –
Treasurer; N. Lerman and M. Lutenberg - organizers. The first General Meeting was
convened in January 1940 and it elected a Standing Committee under the chairmanship of S.
Pencherek. A hall was rented and a loan-fund for needy Plotzk immigrants established.
When the full impact of the Holocaust, which had wiped out the Jewish Community of
Plotzk, became known, former Plotzk Jews in the Argentine did their utmost to extend assistance
to the survivors. Funds, clothing and medical equipment were sent to the survivors jointly with
the Plonsk and Nowy Dwor landsleit. The proceeds of various meetings and shows were also
earmarked for this purpose.
Cultural activities were carried out in Buenos Aires, where a library was established, mainly
through the efforts of the Hon. President of the Plotzk Association in Argentine, Mr. Israel
Schreiber Halevi, who contributed many of his books to it.
A 246-page Plotzk Memorial Book, edited by Mr. Josef Horn in the Yiddish language was
published by the Association in 1945.
More than 70 families who hail from Plotzk, mostly employees, artisans and some
merchants, live today in the Argentine. Two of these have settled in Israel.
PLOTZK JEWS IN FRANCE
By Hanka Zimmerman
Scores of former Plotzk Jews lived before the second World War in Paris, where they
studied and eventually settled down.
At the outbreak of the war some of them joined the anti-Nazi underground movement and
found their death in the fight against the oppressors or in the annihilation camps.
The small group of Plotzkers, who survived, established there the "Association of Jews from
Plotzk and vicinity", with the purpose of helping survivors financially and morally.
A touching last letter of a Plotzk Jew named Menachem Banach, who, before being put to
death in Drancy concentration camp, wrote to his wife and daughter asking them to carry on and
wait hopefully for a better life in a new world of peace and happiness, is quoted in the article.
PLOTZK JEWS IN VARIOUS COUNTRIES
About 30 families from Plotzk live in Australia, mostly in Melbourne. The activities
preceding the publication of this book arose their interest and they raised monies and contributed
material. At the head of this undertaking stood the well-known Mr. I. M. Oliver (Ilover),
assisted by D. Kowal, R. Strzyg, G. Szwarc, S. Rechtman. Regular correspondence with the
Plotzk Association in Israel has been started.
Five families from Plotzk live in London and vicinity. The contact with them is weak and
actually only Michael Zylberberg, who occupies an important position in the Jewish cultural
live of England, is taking an interest in the commemoration of the Plotzk Jewish Community and
has supplied important material for this book. His visits to Israel and various European and
American countries have enabled him to meet with many of our landsleit.
USA - WEST COAST
Approximately 15 former members of the Plotzk Community live in Los Angeles. They
have met several times during the last two years thanks to the initiative of Benjamin Grey
(Graubart), who has made great efforts to raise funds and assist us in our endeavors.
Ten families, who hail from Plotzk, live in Toronto and Montreal. Mr. Harry Koren
(Korzen) maintains contact between them and the Plotzk Association in Israel.
IMAGES OF THE PAST ILLUSTRATIONS
I have added all the names of the people in the photographs which appear only in Hebrew or
Yiddish captions! I apologize in advance for any spelling error I might have had and will correct
if be advised of such error.
I believe that the order of the people is usually from right to left, but in most of the
photographs it is unfortunately not mentioned. I also added source of the image when was not
available in English and the date it was taken, when available but not mentioned in the English
caption. My hope is to scan all the photographs and post in the Internet in the near future. I
welcome any volunteers who agree to help me in this important task. "There is a whole world
behind each name"... Every martyr had a name and a face and a history... The photograph which
captured it commemorated the person for eternity.
Ada Holtzman, April 19th, 2004, Yom Hashoah 5764
No. Illustration Page No.
A Jewish Płock – A map cover
B Poland, – a map 1
1 General View of Plotzk in 1627 (source: "Notatki Płockie" 5/39, 1966 15
2 Page of the Plotzk communal inventory-book (1616) (Historical Archives 26
3 An appeal by the Jubilee Volume Committee, published on the occasion of 35
the Community's 700th anniversary 1237-1937. Names on the appeal: M.
Altberg, I. Sarna, Sz. Nichtberger, A. Plonskierowa, A. Blay
4 The old market square in 1870 69
5 Ahron Kahanstam, the teacher and educator 82
6 The Jewish Hospital 119
7 Old Age Home, founded by the Flatau family 120
8 Danziger Synagogue ("dos kleine beit-nudrashl") - Nahum Sokolov studied 129
here in his youth
9 Nahum Sokolov 130
10 Great Synagogue - Front view 198
11 The Mikve (Ritual Bathhouse) 199
12 "Milk for Babies" Committee 1936 ...Mrs. Plonsker, Lyfszyc, Mrs. 200
Kowalska, Mrs. Goldkind, Blay
13 Children's Welfare Board 200
Standing (from right to left): Dr. M. Marinstras, Mrs. Ostrower,
Byrzunski and more
14 Passover Seder with Jewish soldiers. 203
Sitting: Drabynka, Szymanski, Puterman, Zwirek, Turkeltaub, Dr.
15 The members of the "Vaad Hakehila" with the Talmud Torah Committee 204
(1936). Sitting: Puterman, Sochaczower, Alberg, Dr. Bromberger,
Szymanski, ..., Zylberberg Eliahu (the community secretary), Zylberberg
icchak Meir, Lajb Kilbert (chairman of the community), German, Rabbi
Ajdelberg, Kanarek, Szperling.
16 The wall and inscription which remained at the cemetery 206
17 The road to the cemetery 206
18 Fishl Fliderblum, the last Chairman of the Kehila (1939) 207
19 Lejb (Levek) Kilbert - chairman of the community 208
20 A. Samson, chief Cantor of the Synagogue 209
21 The Jewish Hospital on the name of Icchak Fogel 209
22 Physicians and nurses of the Jewish Hospital, 1930 210
Sitting: Madelion sisters, Rozenfeld, Plocer; doctors: Dr. Kadisz, Dr.
Bresler, Dr. Fajnberg, Dr. Frankowski, Benjamin Luszynski, sister Sz.
Hazan, "feltcher" Rozenfeld (standing).
23 The public worker Mrs. Altberg, with her daughter Emma, the Piano player 212
24 The regional conference of the Jewish Cooperative Bank Workers in Plotzk, 215
In the middle: the regional inspector: Eng. Szalman.
25 The management and staff of the Jewish Cooperative Credit Bank 215
Sitting: Sz. Epstein, Y. Kruk, M.Alberg – the chief director, A.
Graubard, N. Graubart
Standing (on top): Szwarc, Nachmanowicz, Kroin, Mendelson, Taub,
Standing (in the middle): Flaks, Y. Magnes, Grynszpan, Kalman
26 Management of Merchants Bank and its staff, 1930 216
Sitting: members of the board: J. Galewski, M. Sochaczower, L. Kilbert,
J. Zeligman, K. Kohen
Standing: Alter (Kriszek), J. G. Chanachowicz, Gecel, Jasziewicz,
Menchyk, Keselman, Zylberberg (Globus), Medalion
27 General Offices of the Merchants Bank 216
28 The entrance to the Jewish quarter – corner of the Jerozolimska, Grodzka, 221
29 A lane in the old Jewish quarter 222
30 A lane in the old Jewish quarter 222
31 The Main street of the Jewish quarter 223
32 The Prashker House on Szeroka Street 223
33 Bielska Street 227
34 An anti-Semitic leaflet 1938 228
35 Corner of the Tumska and Grodzka streets. 229
Among the standing are: Zylber, Rozenblat, Kurstein, Berland and Szyf
36 Grade Four of the Jewish Gymnasium (1919/20) 233
In the middle: the manager Sz. Heling
37 The students editorial committee of the Jewish Gymnasium, 1920 233
Standing: Glowinski, Staszyk, Holcman, Beker
Sitting: Kotowicz, Wydawski, Szybek, Stern, Mucny
38 Class with their teacher, Chava Meisels and Director Hirschberg 234
39 A class with their teacher. Miss R. Cohen 234
40 A class with Director Hirschberg and teachers D. Eisenberg and H. Zemel 234
41 Grade seven of the Jewish Gymnasium with the director and their teacher 235
Mr. Tzofes, 1925
42 Grade Five of the Jewish Gymnasium with the director and their teacher 235
Mrs. Goldkind, 1925
43 Grade Five of the Gymnasium (1932) 237
Sitting in the middle: the director Zylber, the Hebrew teacher Szkarlat
44 Graduates of the Jewish Elementary school (1928) 240
In the middle: the director Kagan and the teacher H. Rozental
45 Graduates of the Jewish Elementary school (1937) 241
Teachers: Eisenberg, Romner (Waserman), Cybolska, Bromberger,
Hadasa Warsza, Nordenberg, Klajnman
46 The teacher, Shmuel Penson in his thirties 242
47 David Eisenberg, teacher at the Jewish Gymnasium 245
48 Graduates of the Jewish Gymnasium (1927/8) 245
On top: Kursztajn, Bezura, Gelbert, Winter, the teacher Goldman, the
teacher Jarzombek, Lichtenstein, the teacher Hefter, Domb, Rusak,
Gmach, Prusak, Kowalska.
In the middle - the teachers: Goldkind, Fleming, Zylber (the director),
Kohen, Horonski, ...
At the bottom: Gmach, Kursztajn, Sakowa.
49 Literary circle with the writer I. M. Weissenberg upon his visit to Płock. 247
On top: Korzen, Berkenfeld, Ch. Flaks, Hazan, M. Flaks, J.J. Bursztyn
Sitting: Wolret, J. Zeligman, J. M. Wajsenberg, Wajslic, Winter
50 Programmes of the "Hazamir" performances, 1916-1917 248
51 The building of the municipal theatre – destroyed by the Nazis 250
52 Programme of a Purim Ball, 1914. 251
Names mentioned: Bromerger, Nojman.
53 A group of "Keren Kayemet" workers in their Purim costumes 251
In the center: Josef Kohen, KK"L activist.
54 Publications regarding the performance of "Agudat Zion" 252
Names mentions in the announcement: Mrs. Lajzerowicz, Mr. Katowicz,
Mr. Balban, Mr. Horowicz, Mrs. Nafrastek, Mr. Fliderblum, Mrs.
55 Performance of Sholem Asch's play "Our Faith" in 1929 252
In the middle: the director Pesach Wolrat.
56 Interior of the large Bet Hamidrash 258
57 Interior of the Great Synagogue 259
58 The Chassidic Rabbi, R' Chaim Shapiro 260
59 The tombstone of Rabbi Chaim Shapiro hy"d – killed for Kiddush 262
60 Yakir Warshawski during his trip to Egypt, 1914 264
61 View of the town from the Vistula river 267
62 Rabbi Yehuda Leib Avida (Zlotnik) 270
63 Alfred Blay 273
64 Zyshe Landau, the Yiddishe poet. 275
65 The Building of the Jewish Gymnasium in the Kolegialna street. 280
66 Grade Four of the Jewish Gymnasium (1922) 281
The teachers: Dawid Eisenberg. Zilber (standing), Heling (the director),
67 Manifest by the Jewish Gymnasium 282
Names mentioned: F. Szperling, Dr. H. Bronberger, M. Bursztyn, A.
Beker, F. Bzura, F. Wohlrat
68 Grade Four of the Jewish Gymnasium, 1925 283
69 Educational Board of the Jewish Gymnasium, 1924 284
Standing: Dawid Eisenberg, Gozik, Berek Zeligman.
Sitting: ..., Pinkowska, Chawa Meisles, Czopes, Chana Zemel, Szwarc
Sitting (in the front): ....., Hirszberg (the director), Goldkind
70 Broadsheet of the "Relief Committee" of the Jewish Gymnasium. 285
Name mentioned: Dr. A. Tartakower
71 A group of "Akiba" youngsters, 1937 289
In the middle the leaders: Dawid Eisenberg, Benjamin Galewski
72 Graduates of the Jewish Elementary school (1936) 291
Teachers: Cybolska, Cinamon,Mrs. Nordenberg, Altman, Mrs.
Bromberger, Fliderblum and Mrs. Raciazer, Eisenberg, Rozental
(standing), Warsia Hadasa (standing).
73 A group of youth-leaders prior to the Aliya of the first pioneers, 1920 297
On top: Gunszar, Blotnik (Josefun) Jecheskel, Mordechai Krubiner.
In the middle: Icchak Krubiner, Szmidt, Elisza Czrnobroda (Jecheskeli),
Naftali Rozanski (Shoshani), Josef Zyg.
At the bottom: Horowic, Roza Goldkind Fruma, Goldkind Towa, Rubin
74 From the collection of the "Di Shweren Zeite" "Difficult Times" 298
75 Part of the Memorial Monument 299
76 Collection of programmes of "Agudat Zion" 300
Names mentioned: Nafarstek, Finkelstein, Rozenberg, Lajzeowicz,
77 Hebrew course of the "Agudat Zion", 1918 301
On top: Cymbalist, Plonsker, Kowadlo, Olszewer, Gutman, Szapira,
In the middle: the two sisters Rozenblum, Nordenberg, ..., the teacher
Chaim Fridman, the teacher Indelman, Nafarstek, Rozenblum Sczyg,
At the bottom: Czarnobroda, Horowicz, ... Balaban, Kohen.
78 Honor Guard in honor of the opening of the Hebrew University, 1925 301
79 "Agudat Zion" Committee prior to the Aliya of Itzhak Fuchs (Ben-Shai) 302
Standing: Azriel Kowalski, Kalman Kiper, Jecheskel Rotkopf, Mosze
Sitting: Mosze Sochaczower, Krur, Itzhak Fuchs, Dr. Fajnberg, Yoseg
80 Meeting of Jewish National Fund volunteers, 1924 303
In the center: Aharon Beker, chairman of "Agudat Zion"; Mordechai
Bromberger, the certified representative of KK"L, Chaja Kowadlo, chair
person of the Zionist women organization and Rabbi Jakob Aszkenazi.
81 Azriel Kowalski 304
82 Jewish National Fund Bazaar, 1932 304
Standing: Berland, Cyterblum, ..., Josef Rubin, Bronia Lichtenstein,
Herszek Przincza, Chana Stern, Berta Lichtenstein, Azriel Kowalski,
Mrs. Bzura, Rozencwaig, Eisenberg, Lichtenstein, Rotkopf, Prof.
83 Regional conference of Jewish National Fund, 1925 305
Sitting (people of Płock): Dawid Eisenberg, Aharon Beker, Mordechai
Standing at the top: Yitzhak Fuchs (Ben Ishai), Gdalia Cymbalist, A. M.
Alter, Yechiel Fliderblum
Standing in the second row: J. Warszawiak, Sz. Fridenberg (Har Shalom)
At the bottom: Josef Rubin, Z. Liser, Pazanczewska, Azriel Kowalski
84 The Wizo and Jewish National Fund Ladies' Committee (1926) 306
Sitting: Mrs. Kruk, Kowalska, Widrowicz, Lichtenstein, Stern, Taub
Standing: ..., Lajzerowicz, Wisinska, Rotkopf, Renbaum, ..., ..., Rotkopf,
85 Publications regarding the last Jewish National Fund Bazaar, 1939 306
Name mentioned: H. Hartglas (from Warsaw).
86 "Keren Aliya" Committee, 1933 306
Sitting: Kowalski, Komorowska, I. Rubin, Bronka Florek, J. Fuchs (Ben
Standing: Prusak, Fridenberg (Har Shalom), D. Grinspan.
87 Committee of the "Zeirey Zion", 1919 307
Standing: Josef Kohen, Balaban, Gold, Kalman, Fiszel Fliderblum,
Kaliszer, Alter, Gonszur, Horowicz, ..., ...,
Sitting: Zilberberg, Dawidowicz, Fiszel Wiszynski, Klara Lajzerowicz,
Icchak Rubin, Szraga Warszawiak, Pinchas Czochowicz
88 The first group at the agricultural training farm at Milodroz 309
89 A group at the agricultural training farm at Milodroz with the owner Mr. 309
Krakowski and representatives of the "Hehalutz".
90 Members of the "League for Working Eretz Israel", 1933 312
91 "Poale Zion S. Z." members with Leib Perlgritz upon his Aliya (1925) 313
92 A group of friends prior to the Aliya of Berek and Clara Seligman, 1925 314
93 A group of friends with Sh. Warshawiak and A. Papierczyk (Agmon), 314
94 A group of Poale Zion S. Z. members, prior to the Aliya of the Zimbalist 314
and Fenigstein families, 1926
95 The "Hechalutz" organization, 1926 315
96 A group of Poale-Zion S. Z. and "Hechalutz" members (1930) 316
97 Members of "Hechalutz" at a farewell party for Olim (new immigrants to 317
98 Jewish National Fund Bazaar (1932) 318
In the photograph: Rothopf, Lichtenstein, Jecheskel Kohen, Cytrynblum,
Barland, Klamar, Morstein, Mrs. Cytrynblum, Jehoszua Rozenblum,
Tonia Kowalska, Bzura, Lichtman
99 Footballers of "Kraft" (later "Hapoel"), 1928 319
At the bottom: Rzelka, ..., Roza, ... Rozenblum.
In the middle: Zender, Zielonka, Buchman.
At the top: Taub, Bibola, Szwarc, Hewel, Kosowocki, Rozenblum,
100 A group of Chalutzim (pioneers) in Eretz-Israel 320
At the bottom: Perlgryc – Lubranicka, Perlgryc, Lajzorowicz,
First row: Agmon (Papierczyk), Icchak and Klara Zeligman and their
children, Fliderblum Jechiel, Laboranicka, Zehavi-Goldszydt
Second row: Ben Jakob-Jasziewicz, Agmon-Szlezinger, Fenigstein, ...,
Kohen Menucha, Simchoni Goldszydt Mala, Simchoni-Wosolk
Abraham, Iszai Jaszjewicz Azriel.
At the top: ..., Ginosar-Gunszar, Lajzerowicz, Melnik-Hamburger,
Melnik Icchak, Dancyger Szmuel, Kohen-Neszer irena, Neszer Arie.
101 Committee of "Herzlia" Association, 1921 321
Standing: Mosze Rubin, Meir Kenigsberg, Mosze Zylberberg.
Sitting: Wasserman, Szmidt, Zielonka, Dina Baran (Rubin)
102 Committee of the "Herzlia" Association, 1919 322
Standing: Mosze Rubin, Plocer, Josef Rubin, Israel Galewski.
Sitting: Szmidt, Benjamin Graubart, Dina Baran.
103 "Agudat Zion" Committee prior to the Aliya of its Secretary, M. Rubin, 322
Standing: A. Kowalski, Kiper, Rotkopf, M. Sochaczower. B. C. Globus
Sitting: J. Galewski, Kruk, M. Rubin, Dr. Fajnberg, Rozencwajg
104 The "Freiheit" stand at the JNF Bazaar, 1932 326
Standing: Zalke, Sz. Grinszpan
Sitrting: Walfisz, ...
105 Members of "Freiheit" upon the visit of the Chaverim (comrades) 327
Yschaevitz and Perlgritz from Eretz Israel, 1930.
In the center: the chairman Dawid Krotenberg.
106 Entrance to the great Beth Midrash and the offices of the community 328
107 The funeral cortege of Leib Cohn, passing through Synagogalna street 329
108 Pinhas Schwarz (Kruk) 331
109 Opening ceremony of the "Bund" Workers Library on the name of 332
Sitting, part of the presidency: J. M. Ilower, A. Cyprian, Korita, M.
Ziskind, J. G. Bornsztein, Lichtemstein, Stupaj
110 "Bund" leaders, 1936 334
Sitting: B. C. Jagoda, J. G. Burstyn, J. M. Ilower (Oliver), A. W.
Zylbernerg, M. Ziskind
Standing: L. Eliasz, A. Papiercyk, S. Lichtenstein, A. Cyperian, M.
111 Instructors of the scouts' movement "Hatzofim" leaders, 1916 336
In the center: Jakob Zeligman
112 "Hashomer Hatzair" instructors, 1917 337
Standing: Stczygm Lew, Parwa, Sara Kivshani, Rozenberg, Szechtman,
Lonia Prawa, Fema Kowalska, Meir Kanarek, Abraham Ostrower,
Sitting: Mania Fliderblum, Rozka Kanarek, Glowinska,
The teachers: Indelman, Wigodski, Frydman, Zeligman, Dina Baran,
At the bottom: Szmuel Kruk, Mosze Rubin, Kuba Lichtenstein
113 A "Hashomer Hatzair" group (1922) 338
At the top: Waserman, Zalcberg, Fiszman, Kruk, Komorowski,
In the middle: Koenigsberg, Syma, Zlotnik Ruchama, Artur Ber
Sitting: Zylberstein Chawa, Kohen Fela, Kryszek Andzia, the instructor:
114 A group of "Hashomer Hatzair" leaders (1927) 339
At the bottom: Warszawiak, Rega Ber, Prusak, Hamburger, Kohen.
In the middle: Kurstein, Altman, Prusak, Jaszjewicz (Ben Yaacov),
At the top: Kosoy, Rozental, Tilman, Melnik, Waserman, Borenstein
Roza, Taub, ..., Kowadlo, Parwalonia
115 Tobka Beatus Hy"d 340
116 A group of "Hashomer Haleumi" (1929) 341
At the top: Ojer, Najdorf, Makowicz, Koenigsberg, Pagorek, Szperling,
In the middle: Czerkas, ..., ..., ..., Zylberberg, Szymanska, Galewski
At the bottom: Stern, Eisenberg, Rechtman
117 A group of "Akiba" activists (1936) 343
At the top: Mordechai Kalawierski, Jochewet Graubard-Braun, Dawid
Eisenberg, Batia Glogowska, Chanka Borenstein, Eliahu Eisenberg.
Sitting: Zehava Szapira, Beniamin Galewski, Efraim Makowicz, Meir
Pagorek, Lew Goldberg.
118a Invitation to the Opening of the "Akiba" Training Center
Names mentioned: Dr. Jehuda Oharensztejn, Izaak Fajnberg, Rabbi J.
Askanas, Prof. D. Ajzenberg, Dr. R. Ber – Kanarkowa, Dr. J. Bresler, J.
Farbowa, J. Galewski, Z. Kowalska, H. Rotkop, B. Rotman, W.
118 A group of "Akiba" girl members (1937) 344
At the top: ..., Graubart Zosia, Borenstein Chanka.
In the middle: Parwa Rozka, Altman Fela, Eisenberg Dawid (instructor)
Przedcz Chania, Najdorf Franka, Graubart Jadzia.
At the bottom: ..., Przanica Marisia, Biniamin Galewski (instructor),
Morstein Rozka, ....
119 A group "Akiba" scouts (1936) 345
At the top: Josef Krajcer, A. Szulman, A. Jeszon, ..., ..., M. Klawrajski.
Sitting: H. Rawina, B. Zeligson, Beniamin Galewski (instructor), ...,
Jakob Krajcer, Libson.
120 A group of "Akiba" seniors (1937) 346
At the top: Eisenberg Eliahu, Goldberg lea, Glogowska Batia, Nasielska,
Sitting: Galewski Beniamin, Szapira Zehava, Pagorek Meir, Okolica
121 A group of "Maccabi" founders 348
Sitting: J. Przenica, L. Goldberg, K. Hazan.
Standing: M. Plonskier, W. Marjenstras, B. Zeigman, J. Penson
122 A group of "Maccabi" members with their sport equipment, 1915 349
123 The leaders of the first "Maccabi" calisthenics group 349
Plonskier, Zeligman, Marjenstras, Penson
124 Calisthenics at the first public appearance of "Maccabi", 1916 350
125 A parade of guests from Warsaw, Wloclawek, Kutno and Lodz pass through 350
the streets of Płock.
126 Programme of a regional sports show of "Maccabi", 1916 351
127 Members of Wloclawek "Maccabi" with their bands arrive by steam boat 351
128 Part of the large public attendance at a "Maccabi" performance 351
129 A group of "Maccabi" members, 1916 352
At the top: H. Baran, J. Nordenberg, J. Wingoron, Epstein, D. Zeligman
In the second row: Weicman, L. Waserman, I. Rubin, Bromberger, M.
Sitting in the third row: L. Hazan, B. Zeligman, K. Hazan, W.
Marinsztras, J. Przenica, J. Penson, L. Perlmuter
At the bottom: H. Przenica, Szlosberg, H. Kruk, J. Penson
130 The public at the Municipal Theater during the first "Maccabi" display, 1915 352
131 "Maccabi" Commission for helping the victims of the Lwow pogrom, 1918 353
Standing: Dudek Zeligman, Poczycha, Katriel (Kurt) Hazan, Leon
Goldberg, Hersz Stern, Bolek Koenigsberg, Jakob Penson, Icchak
Sitting in the middle: Szlomo Przenica,Jarzej Penson, Jakob Nordenberg,
Hela keselman, Klara Lajzerowicz, Rozka Szenwicz, Chawa Maizels ,
Luba Kanarek, Josef Kanarek
Sitting at the bottom: Genia Kruk, Fiszman
132 "Maccabi" Committee, 1921 354
Sitting: Icchak Rubin, Lajb Perlmuter, Katriel Hazan, H. Racionzer, H.
Standing: N. Dorbynka, B. Koenigsberg, M. Rozental, Berek Zeligman,
133 The first football team of "Maccabi", 1926/7 354
At the bottom: Blotnik, Mucny, Kowal
In the middle: Kroyn, Licht, Segal
At the top: Mendelson, Lewkowicz, Tynski, Roza Kosowocki,
The trainer: I. Rozenfeld
134 "Maccabi" girls group with their leader Berek Zeligman, 1918 355
135 A group of "Maccabi" girls, 1919 356
At the bottom: Markowicz, Kruk – the instructor
In the middle: Sdzawka, Zeligman, the instructor M. Plonskier, Zylberger,
At the top: Wyor, Rozenfeld, ..., Taub, ...
136 Calisthenics at the first public appearance of "Maccabi", 1916 356
137 A group of "Maccabi" girls, 1924 356
The instructors in the middle: I. Kohen, I. Rozenfeld, A. Lewkowicz
138 "Maccabi" Football team, 1929 357
139 Farewell party in honor of Berek Zeligman and family, 1925 357
140 "Maccabi" sports leaders course, 1933 358
Sitting in the middle: Eng. Szajnwicz, Dr. Bresler, Eng. Margolies,
Kaplanski (the instructor), M. Rubin (manager of the course)
141 Visit of the "Maccabi" motorcyclists of Tel Aviv in Plotzk, 1930 359
(the first one from the left is the group commander, engineer Arazi).
142 A group of "Maccabi" members, prior to the Aliya of the Hazan family, 360
Standing: Eliahau Baran, Malgot, Magnes, Mosze Rubin, Artek
Galewski, Josef Rubin, Kruk, Gad Tynski
Sitting: Zajderman, Firstenberg, Katriel Hazan, Feliks argolis, Michla
hazan, Eng. Szenwicz, Hersz Stern
143 A "Maccabi" parade in the streets of town, 1932 360
144 "Maccabi" marchers through Plotzk streets 360
Leading the group: Gad Tynski
145 Parade of "Maccabi" on Sports-day, 1934 361
146 Public Committee for the dedication of the "Maccabi" Flag, 1933 362
147 The stage of the City Theatre at the dedication ceremony of the "Maccabi" 362
Presidency: Kruk, Szkarlat, Nymczyk (representative of the center), Eng.
Szajnwicz, Mrs. Szajnwicz, Eng. Margolis, M. Rubin, Mosze Altberg,
Dr. Rotfeld (delgate to the Polish Sajm and representative of the center),
Sochaczower, Dr. Marienstras
Standing at the front: Baran Eliahu, Malgot Mosze.
148 "Maccabi" Committee prior to Aliya of Rubin family (1935) 363
Standing: Gombinski, Lewkowicz, Magnes, Gad Tynski, Kruk.
Sitting: Prusak, Eng. Margulies, Mosze Rubin, Dyna Rubin, Malgot,
149 Farewell banquet in honor of Dina and Moshe Rubin (1935) 363
150 The "Maccabi" canoes on the Vistula 364
151 Bicycle race of "Maccabi" in 1933 – ceremonyfor the winners 365
Second from left: Rudek Lubranicki – the hero of the Treblinka revolt.
In the center: Eng. Margulies, M. Rubin, M. Rubin, Dr. M. Marienstras
152 Programmes of various sports events of "Maccabi" 365
153 A group of Maccabi girls with their leader Lichtenstein (1938) 367
154 A "Maccabi" group with leaders (1938): 368
Goldberg, Szenwicz, Lichtenstein, Baran.
155 Calisthenics at the first public appearance of "Maccabi", 1916 369
156 Nathan Korzen 370
157 Nathan Korzen: House 371
158 Nathan Korzen: Portrait of S. Segalowicz 371
159 Nathan Korzen: Portrait of the writer I. M. Weissenberg 372
160 Nathan Korzen: Plotzk Landscape 372
161 Nathan Korzen: Boy with flowers 373
162 Fishl Zylberberg-Zber 374
163 Fishl Zylberberg-Zber: The Prisoner 375
164 Fishl Zylberberg-Zber: My uncle 375
165 Fishl Zylberberg-Zber: Peasant and a cow 377
166 Fishl Zylberberg-Zber Among the houses in Jews' Street 379
167 Fishl Zylberberg-Zber: View from Szeroka Street 379
168 Jechiel Meir (Maximilian) Eljowicz 382
169 Max Eljowicz: The Warsaw Dayan, R' Hershl Weiss 382
170 Max Eljowicz: Meir Dizengoff in 1936 383
171 Max Eljowicz: A Jewish porter 383
172 David Tuszynski 384
173 David Tuszynski: Memories of Plotzk 385
174 David Tuszynski: Goats Lane 385
175 David Tuszynski : Spice box 386
176 David Tuszynski: Anna Frank 386
177 Shmuel Har-Shalom (Friedenberg) 387
178 Shmuel Har-Shalom: The Old Man 387
179 Shmuel Har-Shalom: From Bondage to Freedom 387
180 Shmuel Har-Shalom: Water Drawers 388
181 Nahum Sokolov 391
182 Itzhak Grinbaum 393
183 The Nazi murderers walk on the "Tumy", third from left: the murderer 451
Himler (Photo: "Notatki Płockie" Nr. 17/18, 1960).
184 The last sign of life - a month before deportation, sent by the Red Cross 455
Names identified: Herman, Renia, Iciek, Bela, Luba - 28.1.1941.
185 The only document from German sources attesting to the fact that the Jews 456
of Plotzk were deported on February 20, 1941
Names in the document: Mojzesz Leib Rubin, Tel Aviv, Chaim Ber
186 February 1941: The last day of the ancient community - deportation! 457
187 Gate to the Działdowo concentration camp 458
188 A map of exile and extermination places of the Plotzk Jews 460
189 Arrival of the Plotzk deportees at the Chmielnik railway station (1941) 462
190 Arrival of the Plotzk deportees at the Chmielnik railroad station 488
191 A memorial assembly of the Sheerit Hapleita (the survivors) in Germany, 504
192 Part of letter by the Committee of the Płocker refugees in Bodzentyn 507
Signed (the Committee): Dr. Bluman J., Ajzyk J., Cytryn H., Ankan J.
(?), Horowitz J. Eng. Rubin J.
193 A letter sent by Icek Szpilman and his mother from Zarki (March, 1941). 516
194 A page of a letter written by Chaim Flaks 525
195 Reconstruction model of the Treblinka death camp (made by Jakob 544
Wiernik) at Beth Lochamei Hagetaot
196 Marian Platkiewicz, son of Jakob and mother ne'e Girek. 545
197 Rudek Lubraniecki, one of the heroes and victims of the Treblinka revolt 550
198 Moshe Bahir (Szklarek) 553
199 One of the hells on earth: Sobibor 554
200 Wladystaw Broniewski, the Polish poet 559
201 Itzhak Bernsztein H"yd – a writer and an activist 560
202 "Treblinka", Sculpture in stone by Prof. A. Ber 574
203 YIZKOR 575
204 Memorial Tablet of Plotzk Jewry on Mount Zion 576
205 The first Seder night of the Sheerit Hapleita (surviors), 1946 606
206 "Oneg Shabbat" of Plotzk returnees, 1946 607
207 A group of Germans who were brought to the grave of Jews murdered by the 610
208- Exhumation - Opening of a mass grave, in which 25 Jews murdered by the 610
209 Nazis had been buried. Their names were: Grynszpan Mosze, Sadzowka
Mosze, Bogacz Reuwen, Płocker Hersz, Przachedzki Dawid and his son
Abraham, Flaks Abraham and his son Pinchas, Rotblat Simcha Lajb,
Szwarc Moniek, Porzka Jakob, Bursztyn Abram, Bursztyn Israel,
Kredit Mark, Zilberberg Hersz Reuwen, Fajka Efraim, Papierczyk
Fiszel, Korstein Mosze, Szmit Aharon Lajzer, Goldberg, Graubard
Efraim, Rifenholc Icchak, Kamzel, Herszkowicz Cadok, Zgal Alter.
210 Unveiling of the Memorial Monument 612
211 The Memorial to the Holocaust victims, erected in 1949 on the grounds of 613
the cemeetry (designed by Architect A. Perlmuter).
212 The Synagogue in its loneliness and destruction 614
213 Israel Gerszon Bursztyn, speaking at a meeting of Plotzk Jews 617
214 A memorial assembly of the Sheerit Hapleita (survivors), 1947 619
215 Memorial service for the martyrs of Plotzk and vicinity (Płock, Wyszogrod, 620
Gombin, Ciechanow, Mlawa, Bodzentyn).
216 A kindergarten of the Sheerit Hapleita. 625
In the middle: Alfred Blaj
217 Memorial meeting at Landsberg (Germany), 1947 629
218 A newspaper published by the Cultural Committee of the Sheerit 632
219 Those who "came back" in 1946. 633
In the center: Alfred Blaj
220 The road to the river – nowadays 639
221 Sheerit Hapleita (survivors) Committee. 642
Sitting: J. G. Chanachowicz, Mrs. Giterman, Mrs. Koenigsberg,
Standing: Nachmanowicz, Eisenberg, Margolin, Buch.
222 Gathering of people from Plotzk in Tel Aviv, 1928 643
223 First post-war convention of the Plotzk Association in Israel with the
participation of Itzhak Grinbaum, 1951 644
224 Unveiling of memorial stone in the Plotzk Martyrs' Forest 645
225 "El Male Rachamim" recitation at a "Yizkor" meeting in Tel Aviv, 1965 645
Standing: A. Berland, I. Tynski, M. Aharonowicz, M. Rubin, A.
Eizenberg, Sz. Rozen.
The cantor: A. Samek
226 "Yizkor" meeting at the "Yad Vashem" hall, Jerusalem 645
227 Audience at a Plotzk Association memorial meeting in Tel Aviv, 1965 646
228 Committee members of the Plotzk Association in Israel, 1966 647
Standing: Sz. Kriszek, B. Galewski, Ester Bar-Am, A. Meiri, M. Zehavi,
D. Grynszpan, M. Aharonowicz, A. Berland, I. Zylberberg, Chana
Sitting: Franka Okonowski, I. Tynski, E. Eisenberg, M. Rubin, I.
Rozenblum, G. Kriszek, I. Ben Ishai (Fuchs).
229 The first Plotzk-pioneers - Halutzim in Eretz-Israel, 1920 649
Standing: Zyg Yosef, Rozanski-Shoshani Naftali, Kruwiner Mordechai,
Sitting: Czernobroda-Jecheskeli Elisza, Blutnik-Yosifun Jecheskel
230 Meeting of Plotzk-born people in Tel Aviv 650
231 Plotzk Halutzim of the "Primus" group, 1928 651
The group carried with her primus stove in all her tours in Erezt Israel and
so "Primus" became its name.
At the top: A. Perlgryc, Tzidkoni, Azriel Jaszewicz
At the bottom in the middle: Dancyger, Kohen.
232 Sgan-Aluf (Lieutenant Colonel in IDF) Itzhak Barak (Zeligman) 653
233 Mordechai Licht 656
234 Josef Rosenfeld 656
235 Eliyahu Krouvi (Kapusta) 657
236 Uri Kinamon 657
237 70th Anniversary Jubilee Committee of the Plotzker Young Mens'
Association in New York 659
B. Okolica, I. Bernstein, S. Ejron, I. Gomberg, H. Lipner
M. Magnes, S. Borenstein, M. Lewi, L. Bomzon, S. Sztejnberg
238 Committee members of the Plotzk Association in Paris at a flag dedication
239 Convention of Plotzk people in Israel with the participation of Itzhak
240 Pilgrimage to the Plotzk Memorial Section of the Martyrs' Forest in the
Judean mountains near Jerusalem. 665
241 Kindling of Memorial Light at the "Yizkor Tent" of "Yad Vashem" in
242 Memorial tablet for the Plotzk Community at the Holocaust Chamber on
Mount Zion in Jerusalem 666
243 Audience at a Plotzk Association memorial meeting in Tel Aviv, 1958 667
244 Festive gathering in honor of the 70th anniversary of the Plotzk Association
in New York 671
245 Shlomo Greenspan z"l 673
246 Title-page of the book "Yiden of Plotzk" by Shlomo Greenspan (New 673
247 Title-page of the book published by the Plotzk Society in the Argentine 675
248 Committee of the Plotzk Society in the Argentine on the occasion of 676
Michael Zylberberg's visit 1949
249 Executive dais at the dedication ceremony of the Plotzk Society flag in Paris 678
From the left: Dr. Sz. Luszynski, Dr. Tonia and Hersz Rusak, Chanka
Cymerman, her husband and others
250 Image in the English Part : The Plotzk fortress in 1627 E9
Drawings by Yaakov Guterman