The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
Subject: Life and Fall of Wlodowa: The Tombstone Street        
Summary: from the Yizkor book of Wlodawa
Reply-To: kmcvay@nizkor.org
Followup-To: alt.revisionism
Organization: The Nizkor Project (CANADA)
Keywords: Wlodowa

Archive/File: places/poland/wlodawa/wlodawa.009
Last-modified: 1993/04/15

              The Life and Fall of Wlodawa and Surroundings
                   Translated by Shoshana Leszczynski
             (Transcribed by Ken McVay, kmcvay@nizkor.org)

        [Please refer to Wlodawa.001 for transcription comments]

	                THE TOMBSTONE STREET
	                 Ben-Zwia Holzmann

World War I, when the town was developing beyond the orchard of
Plasczynski towards the Okoniki road, the City Council was intending to
purchase part of the orchard in order to lengthen Solna street, often
called "die Schul gass" and thus connect the two parts of the city. But
as the budget of the municipality was quite limited this plan was
temporarily laid aside.

Only with the outbreak of World War II in the year 1939 when the Germans
occupied the town this plan was realized. It, however was not
accomplished with the help of the budget but rather by the toil, sweat
and blood of Jews. The "Judenrat" was daily compelled to send a great
number of Jews to perform the work on this new street.

In order to save costs of material, the Gestapo-engineer presented a
devilish plan: paving the street with the tombstones of the Jewish
cemetry .

Hundreds of Jews were lead to tear out the tombstones with their bare
hands. The work was done under the threat of getting shot and was
accompanied by ruthless strikes. This was one of the most horrible kinds
of work the Jews of Wlodowa were forced to do. They cried silently and
beat their heads against the tombstones, whispered psalms and asked for
forgiveness of the dead whose tombs they profaned.

David Holzmann had to join the group who "worked" at the tomb of the
Rabbi R. Leibele Sezel, and next to it stood the tomb of his own father
Matetjahu, blessed be his memory. David made up his mind not to let
anybody else tear out his father's tombstone -- he himself would do it,
slowly, carefully, delicately... when he started digging the great
marblestone on which it glittered in golden letters: "Here lies a
chassid who will see the heaven Matetjahu Ben Israel", it seemed to him
as if the letters were jumping from the stone and dispersing in the air
and they hovered over the heads threateningly and imploringly. David
could not hold himself in and broke out in a bitter cry and shouted deep
from his heart: "Father, father, look who is beating you..." and as if
mad he started to beat his head against the tombstone and could not calm
down.

The Hews who were occupied tearing out the other stones came running in
order to silence him, because his shouts were likely to cause them new
troubles, but their words did not reach his ears. He fell over the tomb
and cried like a little child: Look father where we have arrived, father
forgive me!

Suddenly he became quiet. He spread-out his arms as if he wanted to hug
the tomb in order to save it from desecration of the dead and started in
a stifled voice: "Yitgadel wyitkadesh Shma raba...."

The cemetry  of Wlodowa in whose earth passed generations are
buried and which knows to tell about great sorrows, has never heard in
its entire existence such a heartbreaking crying as it did at the time
of the uprooting of the tombstones.

The tombstones standing already hundreds of years could not be easily
torn out. There was a peculiar feeling that those buried beneath were
graspong the stones with all their strength imploring not to disturn
their rest and not to destroy the last memory for the following
generations.

Accompanied by the SS-muderers Wlodowa's Jews led the tombstones from
the cemetry  back to city for the first time of their existence
profaning their sanctity.

This was the most ruthless funeral Wlodowa ever saw.

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