The Plonsk Ghetto

In May 1941, the Jews of Plonsk were concentrated into a closed ghetto situated on either side of Warszawska Street (which was not included within the ghetto). The doors and windows of the houses that faced the street were boarded up. The two sides of the ghetto were connected by Kozna Street, which was part of the ghetto. Some 8,000 Jews were imprisoned in the ghetto, half of them refugees. Three or four families lived in every room. Many inhabited stables and warehouses, and some Jews built rickety booths exposed to the elements.

In the fall of 1941, the Germans forced the remaining Jews of the Plonsk and Sierpc districts into the Plonsk ghetto.

During the period of the ghetto's existence, the number of Jewish policemen increased to forty. Levin from Dobrzyń and his deputy Hanan Ramek, the brother of the Judenrat chairman, continued to head the force. At first, the policemen wore a cap with a light blue band; later, they wore a dark blue uniform.

The Jews in the ghetto suffered from persecution by Heinrich Vogt of the German criminal-police (Kripo) in Plonsk and his aides. Vogt would come to the ghetto and abuse his victims by burning their beards and side locks. Vogt allegedly killed Jews with his own hands.

On 6 or 13 July 1941, the Germans brought all of the Jews of Plonsk to the courtyard behind the synagogue and batei midrash, where they carried out a selection. Jews without documentation were ordered to stand on one side and the Germans formed a line opposite them. Every Jew without documentation was then forced to pass by the Germans, who beat them with clubs. That day, 1,200 Jews who lived in the Plonsk Ghetto without the necessary permission were deported to the Pomiechowek camp together with those that had worked for Polish farmers in the area, likewise without permission.

They brought us by truck to Pomiechowek. When we arrived, they pushed all 165 of us into one hall. The suffocation and overcrowding was terrible, and we didn't receive any food for three days. People collapsed and died from hunger. On the fourth day they brought us a can of water, and everyone ran to take some. Then they shot some of the people.

Anonymous, from the papers on Plonsk from the Ringelblum Archive, Sefer Plonsk, p. 508

Jews and Poles in Plonsk conducted black market trade and smuggled food into the ghetto at risk of death. Many of the smugglers were caught and murdered, including the Polish baker Tadeusz Ostrowsky, who smuggled large amounts of flour into the ghetto.

There was a family in Plonsk called Grossman. There were three brothers: Azriel, Fischel and Joseph. They all looked non-Jewish, and so they would frequently go outside of Plonsk in order to smuggle food. But one time, their luck ran out. Fischel was caught and imprisoned, but managed to escape. Meanwhile, the other two brothers were sent to hospital with typhus. They were shot dead in the hospital, and then they searched for Fischel. After two weeks he was found… and brought to Plonsk. The torture he suffered goes beyond all human imagination. First, he was cruelly beaten. Then two gendarmes bound him with rope and dragged him through the streets of the ghetto. As was custom, the entire Jewish population was ordered to leave their homes to watch the punishment that criminals could expect. In the middle of the street, they lynched him.

David Kalmanowsky, Sefer Plonsk, p. 441