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References to Radzilow in the Yedwabne Yizkor Book

Radzilow is located only 9 miles NNE of Jedwabne. It is mentioned quite often throughout the Yizkor Book, and I've chosen some of those references to highlight here. I have additional information and records for many Jedwabne Jewish families. There were also many marriages between residents of Radzilow and Jedwabne, and you may have branches in Radzilow you don't know about. Please contact me if you are from this area.
The Destruction of the Beautiful Synagogue and the City of Yedwabne in 1913
Cooperation between Radzilow and Yedwabne in times of trouble
My Recollections of the Yedwabner Shul in New York City
By: Ralph Tish
Includes a reference to the Radzilover Shul in New York City
Mr. Kalman Lasky Reminisces
By: Kalman Lasky
Cooperation between Radzilow and Yedwabne in times of trouble
Yedwabne Nickname - Krichers (Trudgers)
By: Eliezer
Includes a reference to a nickname for Radzilovers
Great Yedwabne Legend
By: Itzchok Yankel Neumark
Fascinating account of a young boy's heroic actions to prevent a pogrom by delivering the Radzilover Rabbi's letter to the Arch-Bishop of Lomza
The Pilgrimage
By: Rabbi Julius L. Baker
Emotional account of his return to visit Poland in 1966; includes passing through the town of Radzilow
The Destruction of the Jewish Community of Yedwabne, Poland
By: Rabbi Julius L. Baker
Summation about the destruction of Yedwabne; includes mention of Radzilover families
World War Two Years Remembered
By: Herschel Piekarz Baker
Account of the fate of some of the Radzilover Jews who were taken to Yedwabne
Jack & Leika and Their Polish Rescuer Mrs. Antonina Wyrzykowska
By: Jack Kubran
Mentions the Pogrom in Radzilow, conducted by the Poles, three days before the one in Yedwabne; Account of his survival
Reports: "The Burning Alive of the Entire Jewish Community of Yedwabne on July 10, 1941
(15th of Tamuz 5701)
By: Itzchak Yaacov (Yanek) Neumark
Mentions that Radzilover Jews were also among those killed in Jedwabne
My deep appreciation to Rabbi Jacob L. Baker, the author of Yedwabne: History and Memorial Book, for granting me permission to reprint some of the sections which mention Radzilow. Note that all spellings in the portions reprinted here are written exactly as they appear in the Yizkor Book. You will find Radzilow (highlighted in bold throughout the text) written several different ways. To read the entire English section of the Yedwabne Yizkor Book, click here.

Eliezer Piekarz
[Rabbi Jacob Baker]
Jedwabne, 1936

The Destruction of the Beautiful Synagogue and the City of Yedwabne in 1913
(Pages 9-10):

The Old Wooden Shul
in Jedwabne


All those who remember the Old Wooden Shul in Yedwabne, find that there are no words to describe the beauty of the structure, inside and outside. It was praised by many periodicals of that time. From the Archives of Poland we learn that the Synagogue was already in existence in the year 1771. That was the year it was expanded. Therefore, it is believed that the original Synagogue was built when the first group of Jews from Tykocin moved to Yedwabne in the year 1660. In September of 1913, a fire started in a barn, burned three quarters of the homes of Yedwabne to the ground and completely destroyed the beautiful Synagogue and its precious books.

Exterior of Congregation per Israel Anshe Yedwabne, NYC,
built in 1925


A woman was milking her cow by the light of a candle. The candle toppled over and set fire to the straw in the barn. Instead of immediately using the milk to put out the blaze, she ran to the house for a bucket of water. By the time she returned, the fire had already engulfed many houses and reached the Synagogue, where were stored tanks of naphtha used for the hanging lamps. The wind then carried the flames through the entire community.

Rabbi Eliyahu Winer, the Rabbi of Yedwabne, was visiting his son in the United States. When he heard the terrible news, he immediately called a mass meeting at the Synagogue of Yedwabne in New York for the purpose of raising funds to help the sufferers. With the assistance of Pinchas Turberg and his father-in-law, the famous orator Tzvi Hirsh Maslansky, Rabbi Winer accumulated an enormous sum of money that was forwarded to Yedwabne.

In the newspaper Hatzfirah of September 17th, 1913, Z. Tasmovsky writes that a request for assistance was sent to the neighboring cities of Shtucin, Wisna, Radzilowa, Lomza, Suwalk and Grodno. The appeal stated, "During the night of September 17th, three fourths of the community, including the beautiful Synagogue and its precious books, was destroyed within two hours. People ran from their homes without shoes or proper clothing. Hundreds are in the streets, without shelter, shivering from cold, hungry and thirsty. The more fortunate found shelter in the pits in the fields .. . Families of means are now totally impoverished. Those who had little, now have nothing They walk about with pale faces begging for food and clothing. Now, winter approaching, we fear the danger of an epidemic of cold weather diseases. Something has to be done before it is too late.

Signed: Rabbi Eliyahu Winer
R. Yaacov, the son of Shmaryahu Brams
Yonah, the son of Yitzchok Tikucinsky".

Most of the above-mentioned cities answered with some help, but the city of Lomza, so close to us and with whom Yedwabne had business connections had not done a thing until a small group of noble people formed an organization and undertook to help us with cash. They also lowered the cost of building material for the reconstruction of the many houses that were burned in the fire in Yedwabne.

My Recollections of the Yedwabner Shul in New York City, By: Ralph Tish, Sec'y Chevra Per Israel of Yedwabne in New York City (Pages 14-15):

I remember my father taking me to shul when the Chevra were tenants of the Stutziner-Graevo Shul about 1917. We occupied the street level floor of the building located at 242 Henry Street. That was where I was Bar Mitzvaed.

Ralph Tish's grandfather was Boruch Itzchok Bejnsztejn,
Dayan of Radzilow
Died in Radzilow, 1910


Ralph Tish, NY, 1945


The Tish family had their regular seats which was the first large bench to the left of the Bima. My father was the envy of all the landsleit. His entire brood of seven sons traipsed into Shul and we as children carried on like small children would, mischievously.

Occasionally my father would take us to the Redzilover Shul on Division Street near Montgomery Street. That was where my mother's family came from. [The Bejnsztejn family goes back to at least the mid-1700's in Radzilow documents.] Radzilova was a close neighbour, some 15 kilometers from Yedwabne, Poland.

I recall that in 1922 when the Yedwabner were housed in their own Shul located at 216 Henry Street, my oldest brother had graduated from medical school and my father gave a kiddush for the landsleit and my brother was called up to the Torah on that Saturday and recited the Haftorah. It was one of the highlights at that time to have a professional man in their midst.

In 1926 we moved out of the East Side to East New York, Brooklyn and my affiliation ceased, however my father continued to attend all the meetings of the Chevra and was on many committees.

I recall attending in 1935, the 50th year anniversary banquet. It was a lavish affair and the committee was commended for a wonderful job they did.

Mr. Kalman Lasky Reminisces, By: Kalman Lasky (Page 15):

I was born and raised in Radzilovo which is situated about 15 kilometers from Yedwabne. During my childhood years which were in the beginning of the century. Yedwabne as well as Radzilovo was burned a number of times.

Kalman Lasky, NY


I recall, evenings when everyone was looking out to the horizon pointing to Yedwabne. If the sky reddened, this was a certain sign that our neighboring shtetel Yedwabne is G-d forbid, burning.

The Radzilovo Jewish community came to their assistance at once, by first loading full wagons of loaves of bread and other immediate necessities which were dispatched quickly to the "Nisrofeem" (burned out people) of Yedwabne.

The same was vise-versa. Yedwabner Jewish people looked to our horizon and when they noticed it red they knew that Radzilovo is in trouble, so they quickly came to our assistance.

The reason for the oft burnings was due to the straw roofs on most of the dwellings in the shtetel.

These childhood reminiscences about such true devotion between the two towns Radzilovo and Yedwabne, must have been the main reason why I joined the "Chebra Par Israel Anshe Yedwabne", and I am honored to be its active president for the past number of years.

Yedwabne Nickname - Krichers (Trudgers), By: Eliezer (Pages 20-21):

Every city or town surrounding us, for one reason or another, acquired a nickname. For instance, at the weekly market-day on Wednesday, when almost every comer in Yedwabne was filled with businessmen from everywhere, you could hear adjectives for each town's-folks, such as, "Lomzer Baallonim" (Prospectors), "Radzilover Kozes" (Goats), "Kolner Pekelach-Pekewach" (Packages) and "Yedwabner Krichers" (trudgers).

Great Yedwabne Legend, By: Itzchok Yankel Neumark (Pages 52-54):


Itzchok Yankel Neumark
After Liberation, 1945


It was a short time after my Bar-Mitzvah, in the year 1920, when the Polish army shattered and chased the Germans from the Polish soil.

The notorious anti-semite, General Haller decided to crown his triumph against the Germans by celebrating a pogrom against the Jews of Poland.

In Haller's army were then enrolled the most notorious anti-semites who, unconscionably plundered, beat, and murdered, tore out beards, and threw Jewish men, women and children from trains.

On the eve of Yom Kippur the Hallerites killed a gentile and hid the body under the house of the Rabbi of Radzilovo, which was situated 16 kilometers from Yedwabne. Afterwards they let pigs out from their stys to uncover the body. They immediately spread a rumor that the Rabbi had murdered the man and thus called publicly to take revenge from the Jews at once - by arresting 10 Rabbis and 50 Community leaders from the towns surrounding Radzilovo and publicly executing them all. They arrested the following towns' Rabbis: Radzilovo, Yedwabne, including Reb Faivele, Stavisk, Grayeevo, Raigrod, Goniondz, etc., together with the laymen, 60 people.

The Radzilover Rabbi knew personally the arch-bishop of Lomza for he had previously saved the life of the arch-bishop from the Russians. He was the only one who might have an impression on the anti-semites and therefore could save the 60 lives. The problem was, though, how to reach him in a time when all the roads to Lomza were fenced out by Haller's men.

The Radzilover Rabbi wrote a letter to the arch-bishop which was signed by all the Rabbis. But they still needed an able young horse rider to carry out the most dangerous undertaking of delivering the letter into the hands of the arch-bishop in Lomza, and in the quickest possible time, for the execution was scheduled for the next 1 A.M.

Then a delegation of the following community leaders came to me: Sholom, Hershl Mendl's Shtein, Avrom Aaron Ibram, Chonche Goldberg, Chone Zaidenstat. They pleaded that I undertake to be the messenger. Although I was much afraid, for I understood the serious danger that awaited me on the roads, the thought and deep conviction that I was thereby going to save such great Zadikim (righteous people) and Chasidim (of highest generosity) put me at peace. So I accepted, donned a gentile type hat, borrowed my gentile neighbor's horse (my own horse had conspicuous brown coloring) and as an arrow I flew until I reached Piontnica. A Hallerite noticed me and tried to restrain me, but I escaped from him and arrived in Lomza.

I then saw what the anti-semites do to the Jews. Near the old church lay dead Reb Yochanan, the salami maker, further on Zondova Street the vinegar maker lay dead. Near the old market place in the gutter was the candlestick maker's corpse. I then went to the Rabbinate in order to inform them of my message. Their faces were all covered with black shawls for the Hallerites had their beards torn out until blood; they all wept. They wondered how I made my way in such a terrible time. But they blessed me that no evil shall come to me and that I shall carry through my whole message in peace.

Since the Lomza streets were then empty of people, I took courage and quickly rode to the Dvorna Street to the residence of the arch-bishop. When I knocked on the door a nun came out and asked me what I wanted. I informed her that I had a letter to the Holy father which I had to hand over to him personally. Then came out a priest who requested that I hand him the letter. I refused, explaining that I'm forced to hand the letter personally to the arch-bishop for the Hallerites were about to shoot many righteous Polish people. He then allowed me in, where the Archbishop dressed in a purple, gold covered vestment accepted the letter from me. Immediately after he read the letter he wrote a letter which he quickly sent out with his special messenger (all the phones were then cut off). He then bid me farewell and said everything will be all-right. The arch-bishop's messenger reached the destination 20 minutes before the execution of the 60 people was to take place.

I immediately rode back to Yedwabne in order to be home for Yom Kippur. Until midway, which was the village of Yezurk, I saw no one. But within the village I was held up by a Hallerite, and while they were searching for a cord to tie me to the horse and then let him run while dragging me on the ground to death, I utilized that moment to jump up on the horse and quickly escape, galloping towards my home town. The Hallerites pursued after me while shooting, but I made my way to come home healthy in body and spirit, although my horse had been shot through the ear. The Jewish people greeted me with hugging and kisses. They wanted to pay me for my heroic accomplishment, but I told them that such a Mitzvah they may never buy for money.

After the Shovuos Holiday, there arrived to Yedwabne a full bus of Rabbis in order to meet me and to convey their gratitude and blessings upon me. Then someone disguised made believe that he was the one who carried through the message, but when he was questioned to give the details, he immediately admitted and pointed to me as being the true messenger. After a brief exchange of words with me on the details of the entrance to the Bishop's residence, etc., the Zadik of Radzilova took my hands in his and said the following prayer: "Through fires and waters, though thunders and lightning, nothing shall ever touch you." There after did all the other Rabbis, one after the other bestow their blessings upon me.

I truly believe and whole heartedly that in virtue of their blessings I was saved, first from the flaming barn in Yedwabne, and later through 5 years in the most dangerous concentration camps.

Thank G-d I always came through without even a scratch - so shall the Heavenly Father continue to help me and my family in virtue of the Righteous People's Blessings and we shall all live to see the coming of the Messiah who will bring Peace to Israel and to the entire world. Amen! So be his will.

The Pilgrimage, By: Rabbi Julius L. Baker (Pages 71-76):

. . . On our return we stopped in the city of Lomza, where I spent many years learning in the famous Talmud Torah and Yeshiva. I walked through the streets with the hope of finding some trace of Jewish existence there. To my sorrow, I found only the distinctive bricks of the beautiful synagogue built into a garage on Dluga Street.

All the cities and towns through which we drove had totally destroyed every trace that might show Jews had lived for hundreds of years among the inhabitants, and had also considered themselves as Poles. Everything looked very alien to me.

From, Lomza we drove the 21 kilometers to Yedwabne in about 15 minutes. During my youth I walked quite often from Yedwabne to Lomza and back. I knew every village and its people. Many Jews of Lomza were murdered in those villages during the Second World War.

As we approached the outskirts of Yedwabne, I recognized every building we passed. And I recalled every Jewish family that had lived in those buildings. And now they were occupied by the Polish murderers. We drove past the house that belonged to the Zelenitz Family, and it brought back many memories of the happy days when I was a young boy. On the opposite side had stood the remains of the famous wooden Synagogue (it had burned down before the First World War), and the Bet Hamedrash, the Chevra-Tehilim, the Chevrah Bachuriin. And now we passed an empty lot.

We drove through the market place, where the Magistrate still existed. The structures and stores belonging to Jewish merchants were now occupied by non-Jews. We turned towards the road to Pshitula. We passed the old water well, the house that belonged to Shirke-Reizel Tzinowitz, and her big garden. We drove by an orchard that belonged to the priest, and Shilaviuk's house in front of which was a waterwell. I recognized Franek Shilaviuk - he ran into the house. He must have recognized me and feared an encounter. He was one of the chief murderers of the Jews of Yedwabne. There were witnesses to his killing of my Uncles Pecinowitz (the millers) and their families. May G-d avenge their blood !

We continued to the city of Radzilovo, passing the Zaganik (small forest), and many familiar villages. Even in this area there was left no indication whatsoever of the many Jewish families that had lived in its soil. On our return we again passed Yedwabne and drove to the cemetary. Near this area were burned alive all the Jews of Yedwabne and many from the cities of Radzilowa and Wizna on that fateful day of July 10, 1941. For almost two hundred years our ancestors were buried in that cemetary. Now, not one tombstone could be seen. Our neighbors, the Poles, had plowed under even the remains of dead Jews. We returned to Warsaw that evening physically and emotionally broken.

The following day we went to the Praga Cemetary near Warsaw. My Father of blessed memory, was buried there when he died in Warsaw during the Bolshevik-Polish War of 1920-21. There too, we could find no sign of a grave.

I had been steadfast in my belief in man. Suddenly, my ties were cut. My past was a memory only for me. Wherever I looked for the known, for the familiar, I found only emptiness. To stop the terrible depression which was overcoming me from every direction I had to get out of Poland as quickly as possible. I needed the comfort of my own people around me to regain my stability.

We left Poland for a very brief visit in Copenhagen. The dreary weather, the lack of all we needed for our Jewish souls shortened that stay. On we flew to London, where kindness from friends and sunny weather helped us over the weekend. And on Monday we boarded the plane for the United States of America and home.

The Destruction of the Jewish Community of Yedwabne, Poland, By: Rabbi Julius L. Baker (Pages 87-89):

Deaf were the heavens to the screams of agony of our unfortunate brethern who were tormented and then killed in the most vicious manner that has no equal. Dulled were the brains and hearts of the Gentile neighbors of Yedwabne, when they perpetrated such violence against our loved ones, who were a defenseless minority in their midst, and finally burned them alive.

The curse of G-d rests upon the filthy earth of Yedwabne. Nothing remains of its Jewish community. The courtyard of the old synagogue is no longer there. The Bet Hamedrash, the house of learning and prayer which was located in the midst of the city and was partly destroyed after the Jews were murdered, has been totally wiped out by the order of the city government. In its place they built dwellings that are now occupied by the murderers of our people. Among the Jews of Yedwabne were manufacturers, businessmen, public officials, social workers, and many scholars, both secular and Torah.

The Jewish community came into being two to three hundred years ago, and it ended with the beginning of the destruction of all Jewish presence in Poland. The Jews of Yedwabne were the first to be burned alive - because they were Jews. This was the accomplishment of the Gentile neighbors, the depraved and the defilers of humanity, with the permission of the Nazis, the monsters of history.

I feel it is my duty to do the Mitzvah of Kibud Av V'Em, honoring parents, grandparents, relatives and friends, by ensuring that the memory of these beloved ones remains with us forever. The horrible day of the 15th of Tamuz, 5701, corresponding to July 10th, 1941, must be made known to the world. The names of the murdered Yedwabne Jews must be added to the large list of the thousands of Jewish communities that existed before the Holocaust, and have been memorialized in books. The descendents of Yedwabne have tarried too long. In other cities, like Kolno, a common grave still exists as a memorial to the holy martyrs. Only in Yedwabne was there not even an indication that a Jewish community ever existed.

Yedwabne had famous Rabbis, Chazanim, Shochtim, Melamdim, world-renowned schools, modem teachers, and charity institutions. It was a thriving, lively place for and because of our people. Therefore it is frightful that not a word was mentioned in the newspapers of that time on the exact occurrences of that dreadful day of the destruction of the Yedwabne Jewish community. We can find only small paragraphs here and there. One is written by a woman from the Nilowicki family of Wizno, who came to Yedwabne for refuge. She, like many others thought this might be a safe place. A woman of the Finkelstein family of Radzilows, near Yedwabne, related that after the war was over, she was in Yedwabne and saw goyim occupying former Jewish homes. The children were dressed in clothes that had been worn by Jewish children. Through a window of Sorchie's bakery she saw some Jews and one was wearing a piece of yellow cloth on his arm. He told her that he worked in the food storage house in what had been the synagogue. He related also that the few remaining Jews suffered greatly because of the converted Jew, Israel Grondowski, who told lies about them to the anti-Semitic Polish gangs.

The son-in-law of the Shochet and Chasid, Dovid Nishtzonski from Radzilovo, at that time worked in Yedwabne. His wife and children refused to leave their father and grandfather, the Tzadik, alone in Radzilovo, so they remained with him. The wife wrote a note to her husband telling him that his being in Yedwabne would be worse than hers. She then wrote to someone else that only twenty Jews remained in that city by the end of November, when they too were sent to the extermination areas together with those from the Jewish Ghetto of Lomza.

A woman by the name of Rivke Kaizer from Wizno escaped from the market place in Yedwabne. In the Memorial Book of the city of Sokola, printed in Tel Aviv in 1962, she related that after the Churban of the Jewish community of Tykocin, they got word through escapees from Yedwabne and Radzilovo, about what had happned there. The goyinm ordered all the Jews, including the Rabbi and the leaders of the people, to go to the market place. There they were told to put on their Talaisim and Tfilin, and to dance and sing. Afterwards they were locked into a big barn near the Jewish cementery. The barn was then splashed with benzine and ignited. All were burned alive. May G-d avenge their blood !

World War Two Years Remembered, By: Herschel Piekarz Baker (Pages 91-99):

Hershel Piekarz
Jedwabne, 1933


. . .  On July 14, 1941 my mother arrived in Goniandz. She had been running through the woods and fields from Yedwabne to Goniandz and was exhausted. She had been en route for three days and had escaped the slaughter which the Poles perpetrated on the Jewish community of Yedwabne. (She was able to escape because she habitually dressed in the manner of Polish women, spoke Polish without an accent, and could not be recognized as Jewish.) She related the following: On the preceeding day several wagons arrived from the surrounding villages. These were to have been used to take the Jews to concentration camps to work. The Poles, however, decided to kill the Jews right there. The Poles herded together all the Jews of Yedwabne and some from Wisneh and Radzilovo, a total of about fourteen hundred people. The aged Rabbi Avigdor Byalistotsky stood at their head as they were kept in the marketplace in the heat of the day. The Poles struck and mercilessly beat whomever they chose. The Jews were ordered to march along the road to the cemetery; and the Poles drove them into the barn, locked the doors, poured kerosene over the entire barn and ignited it. The Poles stood singing and pounding wooden noisemakers to drown out the piercing cries that emanated from the burning barn -- "Sh'ma Yisroel --" . . .

Jack & Leika and Their Polish Rescuer Mrs. Antoninia Wyrzykowska, By: Jack Kubran (Pages 106-109):

In 1941, when the war broke out, a panic started among the Jewish people. All kinds of rumors were spreading throughout the town.

It was at this time that a Polish friend of mine came and told me that in the town of Radzilow, all of the Jews were burned without mercy by the Polaks. I was told that this was precisely what they planned to do in our town of Yedwabne.

[Bottom row L-R]: Antonina Wyrzykowska
(Righteous Gentile who saved seven Jews),
Szmul Wasersztajn, Leja Kubrzanska (Kubran);
[Back row L-R]:
Janek Kubrzanski
(Jack Kubran),
unidentified man.


I came home with this terrible news and told my parents and others about it. They thought that I was totally crazy.

As it turned out - and regretfully so - I was not crazy after all. The nightmarish rumor became a reality. I was taken away by the German military to work for them, while within the town, the liquidation of the Jews went on.

From every corner of the town, Polish murderers chased the Jewish people into a large barn. One Pole had the pleasure of pushing everyone through the doors of the barn to their deaths. They were burned alive.

My ear drums felt like bursting from the pitch of human voices screaming and crying in the barn. The smell and smoke of burning flesh was impossible to take. Knowing that my family was among them made it even more unbearable.

At this time, the Polaks came to the Germans for whom I was working and demanded that they release us to the fate of the buming barn. The Germans refused, preferring to keep us as laborers, but later changed their minds and let us go. We Jews ran in every direction to escape the awaiting Polaks, who succeeded in killing many of us. Luck was with me and I was neither caught nor killed.

I ran to Lomza, a ghetto where a cousin of mine lived. There, much to my joy, was my father, who had run away from the fire. It was here, living with my father also, that I met a girl from Sczuczyn named Leika Amrofel, who was to become my wife. Living with us were Mojszo Olszewiez from Yedwabne and his wife Elka Sosnowska, also from Sczuczyn. Mojsze's brother, Berek Olszewiez, shared the household with us as well.

My joy in having found my father was short-lived, for he was soon to be taken away by the black truck-that ominous vehicle which used to come into the ghetto, catch people, and take them away, never to be seen again.

I was crushed. In this atmosphere of not knowing who would be taken next, life went on. I was taken to work in Zambrow at the "shteinbrook" during the weekdays, and returned home to join my wife and friends in the ghetto on the weekends.

One Sunday in 1942, a great panic broke out in the ghetto. News came that the ghetto would be liquidated and that all the Jews will be sent to concentration camps. I decided that the time had come to run. With my wife and many of the other ghetto Jews, we broke the barbed wire fence and ran into the night in different directions.

We had no idea where to go, but knew with certainty that we had to find a place to hide before dawn. Without knowing it, the local farmers became our protectors, for we crawled without their knowledge under the hay piles in their barns and remained there unnoticed by the Germans and Polaks.

We realized we had to find another more safe place. We knew that Szmulek Waserstein was working at the home of a woman named Antonina Wyrzykowska in Jancewko while we were in the ghetto. I decided to go to see if Szmulek was still there and if perhaps these people could be of help to me and my wife. Leaving her hiding in a ditch alone, I traveled during the nights and hid in the woods by day. After several days, I came upon the farm to find that Szmulek was still there and that Mojsze, his wife and brother Berek had run straight there from the ghetto.

Antonina was known to me, for she had often risked her life by smuggling as much food as she could into the Lomza ghetto when I was there. Now, I was quite happy to see my friends from the ghetto there. They had already built two bunkers in the barn, where they could hide under the floor of the barn with hay covering them and sheep walking above them. Upon seeing me, Antonina told me to join the others, that she would try to do for us what she was trying to do for the others and that maybe G-d would help us all to get through it. My gratitude was overwhelming, and I went to retrieve my wife so that she could join us.

It is impossible to express what it meant to us to have a place to stay. During the 28 months in which we were there, Antonina shared many frightening moments with us. On one occasion, the Gestapo came to look for us with dogs and poked around with their bayonnets into the bunkers, but did not discover us. Our safety had been insured by Antonina, who had poured gasoline around us as soon as she had noticed them coming so that the dogs would not detect our presence.

Risking her life, the lives of her entire family, and her farm, this remarkable woman made it possible for the seeming miracle of Liberation to be one that we could experience.

In 1945, after the liberation, we went first to Yedwabne. Our lives were again in danger from the A.K., who didn't believe that Jewish holocaust survivors should exist. We went, therefore, to Lomza, and from Lomza to Austria.

It was while we were in Austria that I had the good fortune of finding an uncle in New York who became our sponsor for our immigration to America in 1949. Having lived for a short time in New York upon our arrival, we then moved to Hartford, Connecticut, where we settled and had a family of three children, all of whom are now married.

Reports: "The Burning Alive of the Entire Jewish Community of Yedwabne on July 10, 1941 (15th of Tamuz 5701), By: Itzchak Yaacov (Yanek) Neumark (Pages 111-116):

. . . When the Germans attacked the Russians in the year 1941, many Jews ran to Russia. I couldn't do it for I had to care for my aged father and a sister with a child whose husband was then in Uruguay. I also had to help my brother's wife and 4 children. My brother was also in Urugvay.

Itzchok Yankel Neumark
After Liberation, 1945


As soon as the Germans conquered our section, the Polish goyim of the surrounding villages began planning with them how to exterminate the Jews. They drove all the Jews of Yedwabne, among them also were Jews from Wizno, and Radzilova, into the market place and left them in the burning sun without water to drink. They had there 1440 people including men, women and children. After merciless beatings and many killings on the spot, they drove them into a barn belonging to Bronek Shlishenski. Standing nearby were the known Jew haters : Jack and Stephan Kozlowski, the blacksmith from Pshestreler Street near the cemetery, the baker Kurlevski, Aurbach and his son-in-law, and the entire family of the Osetzkes who lived near the barn. With joyful songs they poured benzene upon the barn and ignited it with the Jews packed within. At the door stood Stashek Shilaviuk with an ex in his hand ready to behead anyone trying to escape from the barn. I was standing with my family at the door, for I had the good luck of being among the last ones forced into the barn. Suddenly, by the force of the flame, the door opened up and when I saw Stashek Shilaviuk at the other side of the door ready to hit me with the ax, I managed to pull the ax from his hands and managed also to take with me my sister, her five-year-old daughter, and Itzchak Aaron Mendel's son. The latter's back was already scorched with wounds that never healed. He later perished in Aushwitz. I could see my father falling burned to the ground. We ran to the cemetery and lay there till night fell.

In these terrible moments, I noticed that my sister and her little daughter became totaly gray. In the darkness of the night I took my sister Esther-Lea and daughter Reizale to the priest of the village of Pshitul, and I myself hid at the house of the Doctor Kowaltzuk. After the war I was told that they killed my sister Esther-Lea just two weeks before the war ended. Someone recognized her as a Jewess. About her daughter Reizale I could never find a trace. . .

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