Płońsk before the Holocaust
Jewish-Political Activity in Płońsk
David Ben-Gurion was born in Płońsk in 1886 as David Grün. His father, Avigdor Grün, instilled in David a love of Zionism. In 1900, Ben-Gurion established the Zionist "Ezra" organization in Płońsk, named for Ezra the Scribe, in order to study the Hebrew language and its heritage. "Shlomo Zemach and I would gather the youth at the synagogue, between Mincha and Ma'ariv, and teach them advanced Hebrew language skills. Over time we managed to persuade the older people to speak Hebrew, by answering them and engaging them in conversation in Hebrew. And there was another very unusual thing: the municipality spoke Hebrew" (Ben-Gurion, Beit Avi (My Father's House), Hakibbutz Hameuchad, 1966).
The "Ezra" youth were among the founders of the "Poalei Tzion" party in Poland. Ben-Gurion was a founder of the branch in Płońsk. Bund emissaries to Płońsk had an argument with the "Poalei Tzion" representative in the city synagogue. "The Bund sent the best of its speakers from the surrounding cities to storm Płońsk," wrote Ben-Gurion, "and at the Great Synagogue there were public disputes between me and the Bund emissaries. The whole city got heartily involved in the polemic. Aside from the traditions of enlightenment, the Hebrew language and Zionism, a 'local-patriotism' was active here: I, who fought against the Bund, was a local boy, and the Bund emissaries were strangers. There were times when they would close the stores during the debates, and the whole city would come to the synagogue." "The Bund emissary would appear at the Płońsk Synagogue, wearing a pistol and accompanied by two bodyguards. Opposite him, David Grün would get up on the stage. In a dramatic, tense atmosphere, they would look at each other; silence filled the synagogue and the verbal duel would begin. After a few days, David Grün… halted the Bund attack on Płońsk and restored 'Poalei Tzion' as the main stream among the youth of the city" (Michael Ben Zohar, Ben-Gurion, Am Oved, 1975, p. 41)."Together they [David Ben-Gurion and Rachel Nelkin] emigrated to Eretz Israel. They sat next to each other with their friends, who had come to say goodbye to them, in the yard of Avigdor Grün, their arms crossed over their chests, their expressions joyful and serious, she in a long dress with an embroidered collar and he in a white rubashka shirt, peaked cap and black boots. Above the friends that had gathered around them, Avigdor Grün looked into the camera from the open window of the house, and next to him flew a "Poalei Tzion" flag. Together, David and Rachel and their friends stood up and faced east. They sang, as was 'Poalei Tzion' tradition, the 'Song of the Oath'" (Michael Ben Zohar, Ben Gurion, p. 43).