The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Life and Fall of Wlodowa

Translated by Shoshana Leszczynski

[Transcription comments: The documents which follow have been transcribed to the best of my ability. Although some obvious spelling differences exist, and English spelling errors as well, I have done no editing or spell-checking beyond the searches for my own typographical errors. The text that follows is as close to an exact transcription as it is possible for me to provide. Obvious errors have been flagged with , or with whatever letter or text I _think_ may be correct entered within similar brackets. The translations are pretty rough in some spots, and it was not always possible to determine exactly what was intended. In such cases, I did not change the translated text. knm]

Remember and do not forget
Sisha Fuchs

The pages of this documentary book, written by more than 120 Jews of Wlodawa from all over the world, are a memorial to a Jewish congregation that resided in the city of Wlodowa and its surroundings -- a modest part of the past Jewish community.

For hundreds of years the Jews of Wlodova had built their homes. In the course of time the Jews prospered in institutions, parties and unions that were found in the rest of the Jewish communities of Poland. The atmosphere in Wlodowa was completely Jewish, in the home, in the street, on weekdays and on holidays. It was not only the scholars who dealt in religious studies, but laymen as well, after a long day's work, spent time at the synagogues, houses of religious learning and "Shtiblech", where they studied a page of the "Gemora" or just recited the Psalms. These were the spiritual hours of the Jews in which their hearts were revived and refreshed. Such were the sensitive and silently beating hearts of the Jews of Wlodova and the neighboring villages.

The Jews of Wlodowa kept up an urban social life, founding social institutions, charity institutions, and especially educational institutions: "Heders" and schools. Even in the poorest of houses mother and father saw to to it, above all, that their children acquired the knowledge of Judaism. In the course of time this passion for knowledge also included secular studies. The education of children was the main concern and ambition of the Jews.

The coming of the railroad brought about a rise in the economic and cultural positions of the inhabitants of the city. The Jews dealt in business and trade and set up ties between the urban community and the rural population. They developed the branch of woodcutting in the surrounding forests and showed great initiation and ambition in the export of wood abroad. This export, in time expanded, filling the state treasury with foreign currency and supplying work for thousands of workers in the city and in the village.

The Jews of Wlodowa also developed and active trade in wheat and fish that spread to all the large cities of the country and even abroad. Along with the economic initiation the spiritual life of the Jews also prospered. Every Friday at twilight everybody ceased working and, breath held, listened to the coming of "Sabbath the Queen". The blessing of the candles by our mothers was one of our most cherished moments. On the Sabbath and holidays the streets were silent, as if enveloped in holiness, and all the houses were in a holiday spirit.

The social activity of the Jews of Wlodowa was seen in all fields of life. The Jews were represented in government institutions and in the city municipality, and in every place they fought against disturbances and limitations. Evil winds began blowing from Hitler's Germany and found a fertile land in Poland. Signs of hard times appeared everywhere. More than once were the Jews of Wlodowa forced to wander and look for a new place for their livelihood. Many of the youths of Wlodowa immigrated to Israel after World War I. They saw their future in the national salvation of the Jewish nation. The immigrants of Wlodowa took an active part in the building of the community and the defense of the land.

In 1939 Poland broke down and surrendered to Hitler's army. The Nazis occupied our area as well. The Poles and Ukrainians, wanting to flatter their conquerers, began cruelly harassesing those very Jews who had lived in their midst for hundreds of years. Very few of the population, just several influential individuals, helped the persecuted Jews. The large majority assisted the Germans in their task of annihilation and did all they could to increase the suffering of our brothers.

The Poles and Ukrainians, not wishing to leave traces of their horrible deeds, pursued every Jew in hiding who could testify to their cruel actions. The blurring of traces in the ghettos, death camps and mass graves in Sobibor, Treblinka, Auschwitz, Babi-Yar, Ponar and Polgin has continued since the war. The suffering and struggle of our brothers has been distorted in a systematic way until this very day.

The memorial book for the Jewish community of Wlodowa is a sign of warning to the coming generations. It is also a trumpet blast that cannot be silenced, calling for revenge for the blood that was spilled on the lands of Poland with the active help of the Polish Nazis.

The task and destiny of this book is: not only to recall that which has been forgotten, not only to memorialize those who have died in God's hame, not only to light a candle for the pure and holy souls, but to call for prosecution written in letters of fire and blood:

Remember what Amelek has done to you!

This includes all the Ameleks of the twentieth Century, the Poles and the Germans who murder at all times, whose hands are stained with blood, those who continue in their hatred of Israel to this very day.

In this book, the several individuals of the Jews of Wlodowa who had miraculously survived annihilation, call forth for prosecution. During days and nights of horror they wandered in fields and forests in order to join the Partisans who fought bravely and courageously. They slept outdoors, in snow and in frost, suffered from hunger and disease, saw with their own eyes the deeds of horror. They are living witnesses to the murder which is now being sought to be erased.

Therefore, this is the holy task which is upon us: to see to it that the crimes that had been committed by the Germans and their helpers the Poles and Ukrainians in the ghetto and Sobibor and in every other place -- will not be forgotten and not be erased.

At the ruins of the Jewish community in Wlodowa and in cities and villages of the region, across the desecrated synagogues and destroyed cemetaries where the bones of our fathers and forefathers lie, the builders of the city -- we stand with our heads lowered. We are erecting an eternal monument to our martyrs in this memorial book.

In agony and in anger we will unite with their memories, night and day we will listen to their last call:

Do not forget us!

Let this cry of theirs penetrate into the hearts of our youth. In the present and in the future let this memorial book to our community be a holy scroll that tells of the suffering of our brothers and that calls us to keep and strengthen the state of Israel as a guarantee that the holocust will not be forgotten and as a fortress against our enemies.

The will of our martyrs was: remember and do not forget.

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