Jewish Ostrowiec Partisans Gravesite

Several brave young Jewish Ostrowiec residents joined the partisans over the years as mentioned in some of testimonies in the 1971 Yizkor book, including the article Ostrowiec Partisans by Wolf Feinstock.

Below is a translation of the testimony of I. Baharier, relating to the tragic murders and burial of twelve Ostrowiec Jewish partisans.

At the Gravesite of the Jewish Ostrowiec Partisans

From the Yizkor Book of Ostrowiec, editor: Gershon Silberberg, Meir Shimon Geshuri,  1971, pages 452-454

It is Sunday, November 27, 1945, in the morning. In a place not far from the Ostrowiec Jewish cemetery, a cargo truck drives by with a casket covered with a red sheet and black crepe. On the side – are two military men who are guarding the casket. This is the casket with the bodies of the twelve perished Jewish partisans: Yitzchok Kenig, Meyer Leibish Wartzman, Dudek Groiskop, Shloime Sherman, Reuven Jakubovitch, Abush Kudlovitch, Leibish Mauer, Alek Glat, Yosek Fridland, Motel Weinstok, Kalman Grinberg, and Melech Bronfman.

Behind the casket, follows the city president, Kazimierz Buśko; chairman of the city National Council, Novak; representative of the Central Committee of the Jews of Poland, L. Brenner; representative of the Ostrowiec Landsmannschaft [Jewish organization – fraternity – comprised of people from the same city or region] in Szczeczin, Moshe Kleinman; representative of the publication “The New Life” – Meyer Blankman; representative of the civilian military, all the Ostrowiec Jews came from all the cities and towns, as well as a large number of the local Polish population.

At the open gravesite, the first to say farewell to those partisans who perished is the representative of the committee of the Ostroweic landsmannschaft in Szczeczin, Moshe Kleinman.

Destruction and Death

 “We say our farewell to you in the name of all the surviving Ostrowiec Jews, who are scattered and spread out across the veritable world. You went out in combat along with the best sons of our nation, against Hitler’s occupation. But it was not fated for you to fulfill this work until the end. The traitorous bandits from the Local Committees, the enemies of Poland and of the Jewish nation – cruelly cut down your lives early on.

“But your fighting was not for nothing. Poland is a free and independent people’s republic and there is no longer place in our country for national discrimination and racial hatred.

“At your gravesite, we swear along with the Polish nation to put forward the fight for progress, peace, and democracy, so that such murders never happen again.”

The second [speaker] is the representative of the Union of Fighters for Freedom and Democracy – Orczewski:

“You fell in combat for our common cause – for a free and democratic Poland. Those who murdered you so cruelly, are also enemies of the Polish nation. The fight is not yet over. There are still dark powers by us, who do not support the new arrangements, and we have to see to seed them out of our lives. We say farewell to you in the name of all the fighters for freedom and democracy, and in deep, humble honor, we bow our heads over your graves.”

In the name of the local committee of the United Workers Party (PZPR), the representative Bolesław Pożoga says farewell to those who were murdered.

“We,” says the speaker, “pay our respects to those fallen heroes who died in the fight for our and your freedom. We offer a clear judgement and reckoning against international fascism that tries with all its energies to rile one nation against the other in order to lead to a third world slaughter. At this gravesite, we ensure that the Polish workers and folk masses, directed by the Polish United Workers Party, with all its peace-loving strength in the world, will put forward the fight for a better and more beautiful tomorrow for all people, without discrimination of nationality or faith.”

The next speech is from the representative of the Central Committee of the Jews of Poland – L. Brener:

“To me,” says the speaker, “was given the great honor for this sad celebration to represent the Central Committee of the Jews in Poland. This holy obligation has been given to me, to speak at this gravesite of twelve Jews who died in the fight against fascism.

“It is impossible to express with words the deep anguish and pain for these who perished and were killed. We still have not recovered after the gruesome Hitler slaughter.

“In view of all these events, we, the survivors of the gas chambers and death camps, will not be silent. During this day of tragic memorial, if we want to honor or fighters who died, we will not be silent. But we unite our voices with the voices of the fighters against the war inciters and we go in solidarity with the people who are fighting for peace.

“Giving honor to those who fell in the name of the Central Committee of the Jews of Poland, I declare:

“Loyalty to the memory of our heroes and martyrs, and we will always be in the front lines among the fighters for freedom and peace.”

This last person says farewell to the fallen Jewish heroes in the name of the city administration, the city president Kazimierz Buśko.

“We bow our heads with the deepest emotion and respect,” says President Buśkoa, “over the gravesite of these Jewish heroes who fell in the fight for freedom, in the fight for a free and democratic people’s Poland. Sadly, they did not reach the day of liberation, having been cruelly murdered by our domestic reactionaries – the common enemy of the Jewish and Polish people.

“I am saying farewell to you in the name of all the citizens in our city, and assure you that your memory will remain eternally etched in our hearts, and we will never forget you. We honor your memory.”

The memory of the fallen heroes is honored with a moment of silence. The resonance of the “International” is taken up by all those gathered, as the casket is lowered into the ground. The last shovels of earth fall, and wreaths are positioned all around. With the greatest respect, the final glimpses are cast upon the gravesite of the fallen heroes who died in combat for a better and more beautiful tomorrow… After ending the memorial, Nochum Hertzel recited the Kaddish.

* * * * *

The administration of the Ostrowiec landsmannschaft in Szczeczin resolved to place a memento on the gravesite of the twelve fallen partisans. With that closing, the well-known metal-plasterer Benyomin Pacanowski from Lodz concludes the memorial.