"My beloved mother, I am writing to you. I want to see you…"
13-year-old Hersch Paluch wrote these words in his last letter from the Końskie ghetto to his mother Helena in Argentina.
Yaakov-Mordke Paluch, his wife Helena née Wajnrajter and their four children – Israel Leib (b. 1919), Itzik Mendel (b. 1921), Sonya and Hersch (b. 1929) – lived in Końskie, in the district of Kielce, Poland. Yaakov-Mordke and Helena divorced, and in 1935 Helena and her daughter Sonya immigrated to Argentina. Yaakov-Mordke moved to France and settled in Marseille, while his three sons lived in Końskie with their maternal grandparents, Samuel and Rachel Wajnrajter. Helena remained in contact with her children, and corresponded with them over the years.
After the war broke out, Israel Leib and Itzik Mendel fled to the Soviet Union, and Itzik enlisted in the Red Army. Hersch and his grandparents were incarcerated in the Końskie ghetto. Desperate to get Hersch out of Poland, Helena succeeded in obtaining an entry permit to Argentina in January 1941 from the Agriculture Ministry's immigration office. Tragically, her efforts failed, as the Argentinian Consulate in Berlin refused to sign the permit. Hersch wrote his last letter to his mother after his grandmother and grandfather had both died of pneumonia in the ghetto and he had been left entirely alone. In November 1942, the Końskie ghetto was liquidated and all the Jews living there were deported to Treblinka. Israel Leib and Itzik Mendel survived.
In 1971, Helena Paluch submitted Pages of Testimony in memory of her son Hersch and her parents, Samuel and Rachel. Hersch's last letter was donated to Yad Vashem by Sonya Paluch Pepperling's daughter, Liora Sadeh.