Speeches at Toronto Ostrowiec Monument Unveiling at Lambton Cemetery
We have come to honor the martyrs of Ostrowiec and the surrounding areas, who were murdered by the Nazi beasts. We do not know where their remains are, if maybe they are in a mass grave, where they were buried alive, or maybe the ashes from their burned bodies are still floating around somewhere. Was it Auschwitz, Treblinka, Majdanek, Sobibor, Birkenau, Dachau, or other ugly death places which planted and spread death, devastation, and destruction, particularly for our Jewish nation.
When we, the survivors of the Holocaust from our Ostrowiec, returned from the horrific hell, we immediately undertook a project of exhuming our holy martyrs who were spread in the city and outside of the city, and brought them to their burial in a mass grave in the Ostrowiec cemetery.
We did not put up a tombstone.
That is why, we are here today – to uncover the tombstone. We will come here every year, to unite with our dear ones, recite the Kaddish, and pour out our tears for their and our better fate.
With a feeling of great respect, honor, piety, and reverence for this day, which is dedicated to the martyrs of Ostrowiec, Konin, and the surrounding areas, to our mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, wives and children, friends and acquaintances, an entire city of Jewish life, an entire city of Jewish toil, Jews who died in honor of G-d’s name under the ruling barbaric altar, which was called Nazism. May those thugs be cursed in every corner of the globe, wherever their bones may be found!
It is already a quarter of a century that separates us from the time when the toxic flames of hatred burned in the first lines of Eastern European Jewry, and wiped them out. When I say “Eastern Europe,” I mean to underline the areas where a strong Jewish life thrived. Which gave us the famous classics, Mendele, Sholom Aleichem, Peretez, Ash, Weissenberg, and also the two incomparable giants of Jewish spirit – the Vilna Goan and the “Ostrowiec Gaon.” And all this is no longer here.
At the same time, the enormous tragedy has separated us from: the beloved and beautiful Ostrowiec, our splendor and glow, our pride and jewel, which has exhaled its soul. Jewish Ostrowiec is no longer, that means: that none of us will ever hear again the musical voices from the shul, houses prayer, study halls, schools, libraries. Never again will the sounds of the sweet voices of the Sarah’les, Avrama’les, Moishe’les, and Shloime’les reach us. Who had the right to slaughter them so mercilessly? No more will there be any debates between the right-wing Poalei Tziyon and the left-wing Poalei Tziyon, Hashomer Hatzair, Hashomer Haleumi, the communist workers, socialist workers, Agudah, Mizrachi. A settlement was destroyed, torn up by its roots, demolished by its stem. A religious Jew in my place, would say: “Nafla ateres roshno,” the crown fell off our head. “Ki hayinu lil’agu’lekales begoyim,” we became embarrassed and a mockery for the nations. Jewish life became lost, an Ostrowiec people’s expression: Jewish blood ran from doors and gates. They could do anything they wanted with the Jews. Worse, the entire world knew of our tragedy, but – the entire world remained silent!
Therefore, I turn to you, my fellow survivors of the Holocaust, and to you, fortunate Jews of the continent of America, who physically did not experience all the Seven Gates of Hell, which we will give over to our children, and our children’s children, until the end of all generations, what the German nation did to our people.
May they be cursed and erased from the surface of the earth, and may they have no rest, even after their death. May the holy Mother Earth not accept them, not forgive them, and not forget them!
A Worthy Memory for Us and for Our Martyrs
My heartfelt blessings to the memorial committee, for the Ostrowiec Society nd its Ladies’ Auxiliary (women’s division), and the Ostrowiec congregation (shul), who contributed a lot to perpetuate our decimated Ostrowiec Jewish settlement with a grandiose monument as a memorial of our martyrs, who died in the Name of G-d, in a horrific manner, murdered by the barbaric Nazi beast.
This memorial will be a symbol and motivation that each year, as we should remember our beautiful origins, and our martyrs who paid with their blood for our freedom.
I would also like to take this opportunity to express with a few words my deep appreciation for the esteemed activists who, alongside with me, worked actively day in and day out, so that this monument, where we are now gathered, should be a worthy memory of our heroic martyrs.
Shmuel Friedman and all other committee members.
It is also important to mention the dedication of the chairman of our committee, Yeshaye [Shaya] Zweigman, to his relatives and dear ones. We carry their memory deeply. And the finance secretary Heindel Linzman, of the treasury, his parents, his sisters and brothers, until the end of our days.
There is no one left in our old home, that place which contributed greatly to our heart’s achievement, and we will carry this towards putting up this monument beside the heavy tears that will pour on their graves. No one, other than us, will remember them. With deep agony and pain, we remember that horrific autumn of 1942, when the axe of the Nazi lepers was released onto the heads of our close and dear ones in Ostrowiec and the surrounding towns.
I went to visit Ostrowiec after our nation’s destruction and, with my own eyes, I saw our nation’s disaster. In the Ostrowiec Jewish cemetery, of all the trees, only one tree remained, a large old one, which symbolizes with it loneliness our terrible tragedy, the tragedy of decimated Jewish lives. That is the tree that stands at the gravesite of the great Ostrowiec genius and tzaddik [righteous Jew], Harav Reb Meir Yechiel Halevi Halstock, may his memory be blessed.
We should also mention here, with great reverence, the heroic resistance of our 14 Ostrowiec Jewish partisans, who were cruelly killed by the Nazi henchmen.
May their memory be honored!
It is difficult for us to find a comfort after the gruesome destruction of one third of our nation. At best, it is expressed by our unforgettable writer Z. Segalovicz in one of his songs:
How do we comfort you, my residents,
There is no comfort in our times
How distantly helpless we are
And maybe even farther than far,
There is no comfort.
May the memory of the decimated Jewish settlements be sanctified, [also] of the eradicated Jewish communities upon which the rage of the Nazi barbaric enemy was poured out.
We call for revenge on their murderers from our slaughtered brothers and sisters on their final, painful road, their final cry before death:
Do not forget us, do not forget!
We will heed this holy command until the end of all generations!