The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Memorial Book of Ostrow-Lubelski
To Remember & To Tell
by Brounia Waserman-Eckhaus

In memory of our dear parents, Moshe and Golda Waserman. Ester' Mirium and Josef Eckhaus, sisters and brother, my little sister Sarah, who was 14 years old, who were murdered by the Nazis in Ostrow Lubelski in 1942. In memory of the Six Million Jews, including one and a half million children, who perished in the Holocaust. "Forgetfulness leads to exile" while remembrance is the secret of redemption." The Baal Shem Tov

I have on my desk pages and pages, some handwritten, some typed, some covered by figures only: documents, very important pieces of paper. It took us a long time; it was very difficult to seek them out. Thanks to the good will of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw we now have these document. This is what remains of the history of the Jewish population of Ostrow Lubelski in the past years. These pages tell us about the sufferings of innocent victims murdered in Ostrow Lubelski by the Nazis, by evil people.

These victims were not only the permanent Jewish inhabitants of Ostrow Lubelski, but also refugees from other townships and those forcibly deported by the Nazis. We learn now from these precious documents that Ostrow Lubelski was designated by the Nazis in 1939 as a gathering ghetto in which would be resettled Jews from Lubartow, Poznan, Lublin, Sosnowice, from Czechoslovakia and from Hungary.

Thousands of tortured, exhausted victims were brought to the already overcrowdcd ghetto in Ostrow Lubelski, where they were cramped together, condemned to hunger, cold and disease. Death in all its shocking forms was their fate. There are no words to describe their sufferings, to tell about the anguish of those people.

I read these pages and I see before my eyes the victims -- children, women, men, young, old, sick... their faces, their sad eyes, their thin, emaciated figures. Are these people, these children, guilty? No life for them, no love no hope... Why? How to explain? How to believe? How could it happen?

I read these documents again and again. From these pages we learn about noble persons whose names never will be known, about "heroes in the ghettoes", who to the very last moment strove to help the others, the more vulnerable -- the old people, the sick; the weak, the homeless, the children; to provide them with a piece of bread. a bowl of soup, a piece of soap, medicine.. Honour their memories...

Nazi propaganda tried for years, before and during the war, to convince the world that we are an inferior race. They talked about us as about vermin. They compared us in their propaganda books, speeches and films, to rats. Documents, history books, photos. testimonies, reports by survivors and witnesses, will tell us who the subhumans were, who were at the lowest level of barbarism: we, the unfortunate victims, or the Nazis and their collaborators.

The township of Ostrow Lubelski was one of the many small towns in Poland where Jewish life flourished for a few hundred years before the Nazis, before Hitler's storm broke out. Jews in Ostrow Lubelski were nice, decent people. They earned their livings honestly by work, by trade. They were tanners, saddlers, tailors, shoemakers, shopkeepers, teachers, musicians, talmudists, etc. They were mostly religious people and they observed the traditions. In the town there were a number of synagogues where the Jewish inhabitants met very often for divine services or for studies, for happy occasions such as marriages, bar mitzvahs, festivities or discussions.

They shared their joys and their sorrows. The Jewish residents were friendly with their gentile neighbours.

There are no more Jews in Ostrow Lubelski. All were murdered, killed in "Aktions" by the Nazis at the end of 1942. Mostly the innocent victims were assembled by order of he armed and powerful Nazis and the in collaborators, and shot, then thrown into pits around the city. Many still alive -- all thrown in together and covered with soil. Some were sent to Maidanek, to the gas chambers. How was it possible to form a resistance against something unbelievabie?

The township of Ostrow Lubelski is still on the map of Poland but there is no sign of Jewish life there now. There are quite a number of studies, statistics about the Holocaust, about the millions of human beings who were murdered, but nothing about Jews from Ostrow Lubelski; nothing in the Encyclopedia Judaica, nothing even in the archives of Yad Vashem. It is our duty, our debt, the not so numerous who are alive by sheer miracle, who survived the Holocaust and all its horrors, to tell about the terrible crimes committed by the Nazis. Not to remember the victims would mean to betray ourselves. We should give evidence, organize Holocaust Museums, publish books, Yizkor books. Our memories, testimonies, books, photos, drawings and documents should be collected.

Memory is our strength.

From the Yizkor Book following generations will learn the history of our disastrous experiences during the Holocaust.

They will learn and they will remember.

The Yizkor Book is the best insurance for a future without wars, without genocide, for peace.

A Yizkor Book for Ostrow Lubelski is an eternal monument to our martyrs.

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