The Liquidation of the Plonsk Ghetto

The deportations of the Jews of Plonsk and the liquidation of the ghetto took place during the fall of 1942. Rumors of the deportation from the ghetto spread at the end of October 1942. Before that, during the summer, the Jews of Plonsk heard about the murder of Jews in the camps from the brother-in-law of Dr. Arthur Ber, who had escaped from Treblinka and arrived in Plonsk.

At the end of October, the Germans ordered the Judenrat to make a list of people purportedly to be sent to labor camps. In light of the order, the Jundenrat chairman, Ramek, gathered a group of public figures and told them that the Germans were considering deporting Jews from the ghetto. He speculated that the first transport would be the elderly and the sick. The Judenrat and public representatives prepared the lists of those destined for deportation. The day before the deportation, the people to be transported were gathered by the Jewish police and brought to the beit midrash to sleep. The next day, 28 October 1942, the police brought them to the train station and from there, some 2,000 elderly and sick Jews were deported to Auschwitz.

When they were about to deport my family, Ramek [the Judenrat chairman] asked me to stay in the bakery to bake bread until the last moment. I refused, and told him that I would not let my parents go alone on the first transport. I didn't want to say goodbye to them, for we had a large family… I walked to the transport together with the rest of my family.

Yaakov Stamberg, Sefer Plonsk, p. 467

On 2 November 1942, all the residents of the ghetto were called to witness the hanging of two Jews, the Jewish ghetto policeman Avraham Epstein, and Hirsch Klatzman. The Germans were preparing to hang seven other Jews that day, but their execution was delayed thanks to the efforts of the Judenrat. These included the dentist Dr. Irena Ber, the wife of Dr. Arthur Ber.

Two weeks after the first deportation, another 2,000 Jews were sent to Auschwitz, and on 30 November 1942, 2,000 more were transported, including Jews from the Nowe-Miasto (Yiddish, Neishtat) Ghetto that had arrived in Plonsk only a few days earlier.

Lazenski and Korman, two Jews that had worked as intermediaries between Heinrich Vogt of the German criminal-police (Kripo) in Plonsk, Schmidt - his aide  (known among the Jews as  BlaueLippen” - blue lips) and the Judenrat during 1940-1942 and had brought plundered Jewish property to the Germans, were murdered by Schmidt before the transports left.

All the Jews were gathered in the square, and were ordered to hand over all of their valuables, such as silver, foreign currency and jewelry, except for wedding bands. The first person in the line was stripped practically naked… the people broke the heels of their shoes, removed their hidden valuables and dropped them into the bags. During this aktion, they murdered Lazenski, the one who had established contacts between the Judenrat and Schmidt and therefore knew too much, as well as Korman, who was an intermediary with the gendarmerie. This was the chance to kill both of them so that after the deportation, they wouldn't be able to relate the atrocities committed by the Germans in Plonsk. Lazenski died quickly, but Schmidt abused Korman terribly…

Dr. Arthur Ber, Sefer Plonsk, p. 482

On 16 December 1942, the last transport of Jews from the Plonsk ghetto left for Auschwitz. This transport contained young people, professionals, and those considered "privileged" by the Judenrat. They included the Judenrat chairman Yaakov Ramek, his wife and two children, as well as 340 children from the children's home in the Plonsk ghetto, accompanied by their teacher, Ms. Grünberg.

At 4 am, we all stood in the square fully dressed, with our packages in our arms… we were placed in rows, and between 5-6 am we left in a long line towards the train station. The non-Jews watching us bowed their heads and crossed themselves. Immediately, the Germans began screaming, and then there was pushing accompanied by whips. We were barbarically forced into an ordinary passenger train… we used our elbows to get in faster, faster, without thinking of anyone else, so we could avoid the blows. After we were inside, they closed the doors. In the car in which I sat with my family were Franka Kirsztejn, her sister and her mother, the teacher Fela Sitko and her son, Marsha and Erik Horowitz, and Yaakov Zeitak from Mława. I believe that was all.

Of all those I listed, nobody returned from Auschwitz except for Franka Kirstein and me.

Shoshana Szydlo-Kahane, Sefer Plonsk, p. 513

During the liquidation of the ghetto, a few members of the underground managed to flee and join the Armia Ludowa. They fought the Germans and fell in battle or were killed by the Gestapo after they were caught with a group of fighters in December 1943.