The Terrible Disappointment of the “Liberated” Jews of Ostrowiec

Excerpted from Ostrowiec; A Monument on the Ruins of an Annihilated Jewish Community (Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski, Poland, translation of  Sefer Ostrovtsah: le-zikaron ule-'edut, Editor: Gershon Silberberg, Meir Shimon Geshuri, Tel Aviv 1971

In September 1945, a few months after the end of the war, the emigres from Ostrowiec in America and Canada received the following letter from the Jews who had returned to Ostrowiec with the hope of rebuilding their homes there, which had been so bestially destroyed:

…We are entirely orphaned here. For many of the non-Jews, our huge tragedy isn’t huge enough. That is testified to by the conduct of various Polish groups. They spread all sorts of slander, such as that we use the blood of Christian children for matzos or for transfusions. Many Jews who were miraculously saved from the crematorium ovens and barely survived to see the end of the the war were murdered by Polish “patriots” after they returned to Ostrowiec. The crematorium ovens of the murderers burned 16,000 Jews of Ostrowiec. That is not an exaggeration, because not long ago over 17,000 Jews lived in this town.

In a word, Jewish Ostrowiec has ceased to exist. Of the rebbes, none is left alive; of the synagogues and batei midrashim, there is no trace. The criminals razed them to the ground. Even the cemetery was not left alone: the graves have been desecrated, the fence dismantled. Cows and sheep graze there. The barbarians spit on the dead and murdered the living.

Jewish Ostrowiec is completely gone. You cannot restore Jewish Ostrowiec. Will you be able to give us back our parents, brothers, sisters, children and all of those who were close to us? Will you be able to restore a family life from shards and broken pieces? We thank you for your warm Jewish outreach. But we do not ask for monetary support. We ask for open doors where we may immigrate. We have no place to live. We need rescue, not reconstruction. We keep coming here, and they lie in wait for our barely-rescued children. Yes, Hitler’s education has had its effect, and our life is uncertain because hooliganism rages.

The yahrzeit days of the Ostrowiec Jews are October 10, 11 and 12, 1942, and January 10, 1943. On these two days of mourning, 16,000 Jews were murdered.