Museum of Family History


Site Map Exhibitions Education & Research Multimedia About the Museum Contact Us Links


Correspondences from Zembrover Refugees After the War


As soon as the war between Poland and Germany broke out, Zambrow was cut off from the surrounding world. And so it was with all of Poland.

During the short Russian occupation a few letters from Zambrow managed to get through and here, once again, we present a letter from Israel Kossowsky and his son Aryeh Kossowsky in Israel. A variety of rumors surrounding the mistreatment of the Jews and the suffering of Polish Jewry circulated around the world – one’s heart became embittered and angered, for the reach of the hand was too short to extend help...

After that frightful war, the heart-rending results of what occurred to our ‘Alter Haym’ began to become visible: everything had been wiped off with fire and sword, and that which remained by some miracle fell into the hands of the [sic: gentile] Poles. Shamelessly, they took possession of assets that were openly and justly the property of Jews. They killed off those few surviving Jews (such as Beinusz Tykoczinsky, Hillel-Herschel Shiniyak, etc.) after victory had already been declared against the Germans. [Our landsleit] had struggled with death against the Germans and managed somehow to survive – doing so, in case they will come and demand their just legacy from their Christian Zambrow neighbors.

A remnant of survivors from Zambrow did remain. About a minyan of Jews had managed to save themselves from the gas ovens in Auschwitz, and remained forlorn, exhausted, with no strength to continue the struggle for life any further. A minyan of Jews hid themselves, using [sic: forged] Aryan papers, among the gentiles in the partisan groups in the forests. And another minyan came from Russia, those who were left from the ones who had been exiled to Siberia as either bourgeois or Zionists, such as  Zayda Piurko, the son of Moshe the Butcher, Shlomo Pekarewicz, two sons of Herschel the Tinsmith (who were in the Russian Army), David Regensburg, the Rabbi’s grandson, Israel Rabinovich, son of the Melamed Mendl Olsha, Motya’s son-in-law, Yitzhak Gorodzinsky (son of Leibl the Watchmaker) with his family, et al..

Survivors of Zambrow Among Other Refugees in Lodz (1946)

These very survivors did not even know of each other’s existence. They needed one central address to which they could turn, and to get back addresses from that central point, as well as news and help. And these were the two such points: In Israel, Jerusalem, with the Jewish Agency – the general – ‘Office for the Location of Relatives,’ – a facility to locate friends, and in New York, consisting of the Help Committee of the Zambrow Jews. during the time of its active existence, the ‘Office for the Location of Relatives,’ in Jerusalem found hundreds of thousands of addresses and tens of thousands of Jews who were then connected to their relatives who had been saved. It reunited families, got children returned to their parents, sisters and brothers reunited, etc. Not the least among them were Zambrow Jews.

The Zambrow Help Committee in New York was especially active on behalf of those Zambrow Jews who had saved themselves, and survived.

As soon as they received the general lists of survivors in the camps and saw someone from Zambrow, they immediately sent out a food parcel with clothing and asked for an answer, and to document who is the individual, which members of his family are living in America, where would he like to move to, and similar questions. It was in this manner that the Zambrow committee sent out thousands of valuable packages of food containing, for example, canned meat, milk, honey, butter and oil, tea, sugar, cocoa, etc., and valuable packages with clothing and suits, jackets, underwear, etc. Even when the address was not sufficiently certain and precise, the committee took the risk and sent the packages. And this got the package recipients back on their feet, and if the produce or clothing was not appropriate, or didn’t fit – they either sold it or exchanged it for something else. The sick got the most expensive medicines by air mail, such as penicillin and cortisone, to be administered by injection.

Zambrow landsleit concentrated themselves in specific cities such as in Bialystok (Sztupnik, Slowik, Finkelstein, with the little boy Beinusz, etc.), in Lodz (headed by Moshe Levinsky), or in Zambrow itself.

In Milan [sic: Italy] there were Yankl Sztupnik, Moshe Pekarewicz, Menachem Blumstein, the Topols, with their daughters and son-in-law. One of them was designated as the Representative and Trustee, and [they] sent over tens of thousands of dollars for the Zambrow landsleit, providing for ship tickets if someone had expressed a desire to travel somewhere to take up residence, and with resources to get themselves settled even here in the current location, etc.

And let this be the place where we recall, with respect and affection, the two landsleit from Zambrow, the leading people in the Zambrow Relief Committee, who held the position of Secretary, answering hundreds of letters with brotherly warmth, and implemented the help activities: Moshe Eitzer (who introduced himself in his the letters as son of Baylkeh and Abraham the Barrel Maker, and a grandson of Shakhna the Shoemaker. His wife, Pauline, was a daughter of Mottl Shafran), and Joseph Savetzky, the son-in-law of Chaycheh Kozhol the Baker.

I had the opportunity to read over one hundred letters from Zambrow refugees to these two mentioned individuals, about what they accomplished with their letters of encouragement and rapid help. Everyone on the committee pitched in and helped with heart and soul. As is related in the letters from R’ Yaakov Karlinsky, David Stein, Shmuel Stein, Sholom Abner Borenstein, Louis Fawv, Leibl Molitsky, Hirsch Kukowka, Moshe Borenstein, Isaac Malinowicz, Nathan Barg, Joseph Weierzhbawicz-Waxman,Yitzhak Rose, et al.

Joseph Savetzky is especially mentioned in tens of letters. This generous man of the people and honest committed activist was elevated in these letters by the survivors to the level of a legend. Like a father, a  generous-hearted father, he stood and helped. He answered correspondences promptly, sending many tens of letters a week. I read part of those he sent to his suffering brethren, written in his clear handwriting. He found a word of comfort for everyone, understanding what the other person felt. He would send one person only money, another only food, a third a raincoat and a pair of boots, a fourth, tea with cocoa, knowing who each of these people were, where they were, and where he was thinking of going to. We must be proud of such a brother and with this kind of devotion.

Within this exhibition you will find a rather large portfolio of said correspondences from those first years after the [Second World] War. They shed light and provide context regarding the plight of the refugees, and the many-branched relief activities of the American Help Committee.

Next: A Call by the United Relief Fund of Zembrove


Adapted from the Zambrow Yizkor Book, with the cooperation of the United Zembrover Society.

Copyright © Museum of Family History. All rights reserved.