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World Society Of Czestochowa Jews And Their Descendants Meet In Poland

During Chol Hamoed Sukkot the sound of singing in a sukkah was heard in Czestochowa for the first time since the Shoah. The gathering was the byproduct of an exhibit remembering the Jewish community of Czestochowa, which has been traveling the world for the past two years.



The people came from 12 countries and totaled more then 200, the remnants of a community of more than 30,000. They came from the U.S. and Israel but also from South America and Australia and all over Europe. All have roots in the same fabled city of Czestochowa.


Survivors came with their children and grandchildren to remember the history of what was. They remembered the time before the Shoah, when Jews intermingled with their non-Jewish neighbors, and spoke of some of the illustrious as well as the colorful inhabitants of the prewar community. Many went to the city archives to try to find information about their families, and discovered details that had been lost to memory. Others searched and found ancestral homes, schools, places of business and other sites that remained in often-repressed memory.


 


Going over Szestochowa town records in the main archives.

The sukkah was built with the help of a local school of fine arts and decorated with materials sent by Jewish schools around the world, including New York’s Park East Day School and Solomon Schechter of Bergen County. The banquet meal in the sukkah was attended by the mayor of the city, Tadeus Wrona, Israeli Ambassador Shevach Weiss, Rabbi Michael Schudrich and many other dignitaries.


Sigmund Rolat, who organized the original exhibit, is also responsible for most of the work being done to preserve the memory of the Jewish heritage of Czestochowa. Mr. Rolat led the march of the survivors (second and third generation) from the place of “selection” to the recently discovered Umschlagplatz. At various points along the way, he stopped and described in great detail what took place in those terrible times 60 years ago.


At the Umschlagplatz, which today is only a cement platform surrounded by high weeds, he explained that this was the last place he saw his father before his father was sent to his death in Treblinka. He said there are plans to develop the site into one of honor and of memory.


At the cemetery there was a moving ceremony recalling the glory of the past and the horrific yet heroic times of the Shoah, in which 30,000 people from Czestochowa were killed.


Those who survived the Shoah in Czestochowa did so by working in the Hasag Arms Factory. During the group visit to the Hasag factory complex, Mr. Rolat and the other survivors described what life was like under those conditions and what each of the many buildings was used for. To a great extent, the buildings are the same as they were 60 years ago, though now some are being renovated. We saw the seamstress house where German uniforms were made, and the munitions plant. At another place stood the kitchen, where two second-generation members of the trip found each other’s parents’ best friend.


At the end of the three-day gathering, people promised to stay in touch with their old and new extended family. This will be made easier through the formation of the World Society of Czestochowa Jews and their descendents, led by its executive director, Lea Sigel Wolinetz.


For more information on the society contact czworldsociety@yahoo.com.

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More Articles from Shmuel Ben Eliezer
Arnold Fine 2008

I REMEMBER WHEN I first started working at the Jewish Press 18 years ago, Arnie who was in charge of the newsroom, took me under his wing…

The official beginning of World War II was September 1, 1939. On that day German soldiers invaded Gdansk after bombarding the city with a military warship. As part of the Polish Government’s official series of events marking seven decades since the start of World War II, Poland’s Jewish community and the Jerusalem-based “Shavei Israel” organization held a special ceremony yesterday in the Gdansk synagogue to commemorate the outbreak of the war, which paved the way for the Holocaust.

The official beginning of World War II was September 1, 1939. On that day German soldiers invaded Gdansk after bombarding the city with a military warship. As part of the Polish Government’s official series of events marking seven decades since the start of World War II, Poland’s Jewish community and the Jerusalem-based “Shavei Israel” organization held a special ceremony yesterday in the Gdansk synagogue to commemorate the outbreak of the war, which paved the way for the Holocaust.

September 1, 1939 is the date on which Germany invaded Poland, starting WWII. While it should be said that the start of the war was not the start of the Shoah, which actually began with the rise of Nazism in 1933, it was a major milestone in the annals of the Holocaust. Within the first few days of the war, Germany had conquered and/or bombed much of Poland, including the capital, Warsaw.

September 1, 1939 is the date on which Germany invaded Poland, starting WWII. While it should be said that the start of the war was not the start of the Shoah, which actually began with the rise of Nazism in 1933, it was a major milestone in the annals of the Holocaust. Within the first few days of the war, Germany had conquered and/or bombed much of Poland, including the capital, Warsaw.

In September 1939 the Germans started establishing ghettos in the occupied territory of Poland. Ghettos played an important role in the Jewish extermination policy. They were filled with Polish and Western European Jewish deportees. The ghettos differed in times of existence, size, internal organization, and living conditions. The Germans called them ” death boxes” (Todeskiste). The city of Lodz belonged to the Wartheland District and the Germans changed its name into Litzmannstadt.

In September 1939 the Germans started establishing ghettos in the occupied territory of Poland. Ghettos played an important role in the Jewish extermination policy. They were filled with Polish and Western European Jewish deportees. The ghettos differed in times of existence, size, internal organization, and living conditions. The Germans called them ” death boxes” (Todeskiste). The city of Lodz belonged to the Wartheland District and the Germans changed its name into Litzmannstadt.

Growing up in the U.S. during the second half of the 20th century, I, along with most people, know very little about the First World War. The little that I did know was about the trench warfare in France and Belgium. The Eastern Front was barely, if ever, mentioned and usually stated that it ended with the Russian Revolution and overthrowing the Czar.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/world-society-of-czestochowa-jews-and-their-descendants-meet-in-poland/2006/10/18/

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