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Yad Vashem The Story of the Jewish Community of Plonsk

Commemoration of the Płońsk Community

Płońsk Without Jews

Monument erected by the surviving Jews from Płońsk, 1946. In the center, in glasses – Kalman Gelbard Monument erected by the surviving Jews from Płońsk, 1946.
In the center, in glasses – Kalman Gelbard

Płońsk after the war. The site where the Jewish cemetery once stood. Avraham Bamblevich appears in the photograph Płońsk after the war. The site where the Jewish cemetery once stood.
Avraham Bamblevich appears in the photograph

Holocaust survivors from Płońsk in the Zeilsheim DP camp Holocaust survivors from Płońsk in the Zeilsheim DP camp
Marburg, Germany, 1946. Center, with no shirt: Heinrich Vogt of the German criminal-police (Kripo) in Płońsk after his arrest by the American Armed Forces Marburg, Germany, 1946. Center, with no shirt: Heinrich Vogt of the German criminal-police (Kripo) in Płońsk after his arrest by the American Armed Forces

After the war, the few survivors of Płońsk began to search for their lost family and friends:

In the hearts of the survivors nestled the hope that, despite everything, they would find a family member… but miracles such as the resurrection of the dead, murdered and burned did not come to pass and it was so difficult to become accustomed to the bitter reality that you would never see your dear family, friends and neighbors again… we couldn't even lay a wreath upon their graves, because Asmodeus [the king of the demons] has spread their holy ashes to the four corners of the earth."

Yaakov Neta, Sefer Płońsk, p. 527

The only things that remained from the once lively, Jewish Płońsk were the ruins of the ghetto and a few destroyed alleyways where there was once Jewish life. In 1946, there were only 11 Jewish families in Płońsk. Most of the survivors had gathered in the DP camps in Germany, the majority in the town of Zeilsheim, near Frankfurt. At the Zeilsheim DP camp, there was a committee of ex-Płońsk residents in contact with those living in the US that sought to rehabilitate the survivors from the town.

After the Holocaust, most of the remaining Jews from Płońsk left Germany for Eretz Israel on illegal immigrant ships. They fought in the War of Independence, and built their homes there.

Fourteen people born in Płońsk or descendents of families from Płońsk were killed in the Arab riots of 1936, fighting with the Allied forces during WWII, and during the War of Independence.

Zina-Shoshana (Royzeleh) Lazenski was born in Płońsk in 1919 to Yitzhak and Rachel. In 1935, she and her parents emigrated to Eretz Israel. Eight months after their arrival, she was murdered during the Arab riots of 1936.

Haim Przygoda was born in Płońsk in 1913 to Yissachar and Leah. Haim emigrated to Eretz Israel with his parents at the age of 11. He was killed in Jaffa during the Arab riots of 1936.

Moshe Aharon Halaf was born in Płońsk in 1916 to Yehoshua and Roda. In 1936, he emigrated to Eretz Israel. During WWII, he volunteered in the British Army and was sent to the North African front. In 1941, he was mortally wounded when his car drove over a landmine in Libya. He died of his injuries eight months later.

Aharon Groshkowicz was born in 1920 to Lev-Aryeh and Ita. His father had been born in Płońsk and was a Zionist activist in the town. At the age of five, Aharon emigrated from Poland to Eretz Israel with his family. They settled in Haifa. In June 1939, Aharon travelled to the US to study, and when the US joined the war, he volunteered to join their forces. On 18 November 1943, the plane in which he was flying was damaged during a sortie over military targets near Oslo. The entire crew perished.

Haim Yitzhak Bolman was born in Płońsk in 1924 to Shmuel-Eliyahu and Freida. When he was a year old, he and his parents emigrated to Eretz Israel. Haim was a fighter in the Givati Brigade, and was killed on 19 October 1948 during the War of Independence fighting over territory in the Negev.

Mordechai (Motek) Gutman was born in Płońsk in 1924 to Aharon and Feiga. Mordechai survived the Shoah and was only survivor of his entire family. During the War of Independence, he fought in the Harel Battalion. He was killed on 1 June 1948, in a battle over HaRadar in the Judean Mountains.

Yitzhak Dubno, the son of Moshe and Rachel from Płońsk, was born in 1913 and emigrated to Eretz Israel in 1933. During the War of Independence, he headed the defense of Kibbutz Negba. He was killed in battle on 21 May 1948.

Yisrael Danziger was the son of Yehoshua and Hava from Płońsk, and the great-grandson of Rabbi Moshe Gershon Hacohen from Płońsk. Yisrael was born in 1931 in Tel Aviv. During the War of Independence, he served as a paramedic in the Negev Battalion, and was killed on 6 June 1948 in a battle over Ashdod.

Avraham Zisserman, the son of Shlomo and Nechama and the grandson of Zeev Kanaster from Płońsk, was born in 1921. When he was three years old, his family emigrated from Poland to Eretz Israel. During the War of Independence, he fought in the Jerusalem area, and was killed on 8 January 1948.

Avraham (Avrahamik) Cohen (Goldstein), the son of Uri and Rivka, and the grandson of Moshe Cohen from Płońsk, was born in Jerusalem in 1931. Avraham was killed in battle over Nabi Yosha in the Galilee on 20 April 1948.

Yerubaal Lavi was born in 1924, the son of Shlomo Lavi, who was born in Płońsk and immigrated to Eretz Israel during the "Second Aliyah" (a large wave of immigration during the years 1904-1914), and Rachel, one of the founders of Kibbutz Ein Harod. Yerubaal was killed in the War of Independence, in a battle that took place in the Gilboa Mountains, on 19 March 1948.

Hillel Lavi was born in 1929, the son of Shlomo Lavi, who was born in Płońsk and and immigrated to Eretz Israel during the "Second Aliyah", and Rachel, one of the founders of Kibbutz Ein Harod. Hillel was killed during the first lull of the War of Independence, accompanying a supply convoy to the besieged Kfar Darom in the Negev on 14 June 1948.

Yikhat (Yakush) Rubenstein, the son of Shlomo and Henia, and the grandson of Yekutiel (Koffman) Levkowitz from Płońsk, was born in 1927 in Kfar Malal. Yikhat was killed on 9 June 1948 in a battle at Latrun, during the War of Independence.

Levi Speigelman was born in 1902 in Płońsk to Avraham and Haya. In 1921, he emigrated to Eretz Israel. On 16 December 1947, he was mortally wounded in an attack on a convoy in which he was travelling from the Dead Sea to Jerusalem. He died of his wounds on 4 January 1948.

*   *   *

In 1959, only four Jews were living in Płońsk. The building of the synagogue that had held prayers for over 150 years had been destroyed in 1956 "in order to widen the street." A warehouse was erected where the Beit Midrash had once stood. The mikveh had been destroyed by the Germans and the "Community House" on Warsawska Street given to Poles for housing. The Beit Midrash of Yitzhak Cohen, where Zionism had once flourished in Płońsk, was torn down, and its stones taken for a different purpose. The Jewish cemetery in Płońsk was an expansive, open field, without a fence.

Once there were graves here, where generations upon generations were buried, among them tzaddikim [righteous people] and talmidei chachamim [learned scholars], important rabbis and laypeople, and regular Jewish men and women.
Where are the gravestones and the fence? I asked.
It was all destroyed by the Germans…

Mordechai Halmish, Sefer Płońsk, p. 541 

The online exhibition was made possible through the generous support of:

Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany works to secure compensation and restitution for survivors of the Holocaust.

Since 1951, the Claims Conference - working in partnership with the State of Israel - has negotiated for and distributed payments from Germany, Austria, other governments, and certain industry; recovered unclaimed German Jewish property; and funded programs to assist the neediest Jewish victims of Nazism.