The lessons of the holocaust and the heritage of heroism command us and the next generations to remember and never forget!
We pray deeply in our hearts, that the next generation will be able to learn, preserve and cultivate the values of our beloved town, a world that vanished, flourishing life which does not exist any more.
I was born in Hrubieszow in the Lublin district of Poland. According to the Judaika encyclopedia, it is mentioned that: "The first information about Jewish settlement in Hrubieszow dares from the year 1444. In 1578, the Jews were authorized by charter to reside in any part of the town, to engage in their customary professions, to establish a synagogue, and to conduct their lives undisturbed.
However, the community suffered badly from the disasters of the Chmielnicki massacres and the Tatar invasion of 1672. "In the Beth Hatfutzot archives in Tel-Aviv, one finds the following information about the city: "At the end of the 19th century, the Jewish community totaled 5350 persons (half the local population), and on the eve of the Second World War - 7500".
The Germans invaded the city on September 15, 1939 and started pogroms. Ten days later, Hrubieszow was in the hands of the Soviets, who held it for two weeks, then returned it to the Germans under the border agreement between two countries. "At the end of May 1942, the Jews of Hrubieszow and survivor, over 10,000 in all, were ordered to gather in camps, some in the city itself some south of it, in Beltz.
At the beginning of June, the prisoners in Beltz camp were marched a distance of 60 km. to the Hrubieszow camp. (Those who could not keep up were shot by SS guards), a while later, they were taken, along with about 3000 other Jews from Hrubieszow, to the Sobibor death camp. The 200 Jews who remained were sent to murderous forces labor in Bendzin.
Already in the summer of 1941, members of the Zionist youth movement, mainly from the Warsaw ghetto, tried to organize an underground base at the entrance to the city. But their efforts failed for lack of support by the peasants. Nonetheless, hundreds of young people managed to filter into the forest and join fighting units. A descendant of the place, Shlomo Brand, was one of the heads of the resistance in the Vilna ghetto, and Arie Peretz (born Leon Portsky) served as a captain in the Polish army at the time of Warsaw ghetto.
In the Hrubieszow memorial book (Pinkas Hrubieszow), published in 1962, the editor Baruch Kaplinsky tellsthe readers: "I suppose you have heard the name Hrubieszow more that one from your mothers and fathers. It is a somewhat strange name to the Israeli ear. But you grew up with this name, and its frequent mention at home has surely left its mark. What is the power in this mysterious name that so distresses and upsets your mothers and fathers?
The name Hrubieszow evokes memories of whole families which many branches, families that had not been torn apart and truncated before the Nazi genocide. That familyknife and the concern and help for the needy and weak that went with it, these have vanished and are no longer. The name Hrubieszow evokes in our memories the entire system of charitable and cultural institutions that the townspeople built up over the generations. They believed in and struggled for wholly good future, but never lived to see it. Cruel force humiliated and oppressed them,and cut off the song of their lives.
Since the association of former residents of Hrubieszow was established, far-ranging activities were undertaken, which from time to time, were reinvigorated by new initiatives. This brief report summarizes major activities during the past decades:
Interment of the Martyrs' Ashes and Unveiling of Monument
On the 29th Sivan 5729, June 15, 1969, the ceremony of the interment of ashes of victims of the holocaust from our town, together with a scroll listing the names of martyrs, was held at Nahalat Yitzhak ceremony in Giva'atyim. A moment commemorating our community and the localities in its vicinity was unveiled at the ceremony.
The memorial service was attended by hundreds of former residents of our town. The president of the state of Israel, Zalman Shazar (formerly Rubashov) had sent a telegram to assembly in which he noted that he himself was a descendant of the family of Rabbi Meir of blessed memory, and that the name of our town Hrubieszow, was incorporated in his former family name. Mr. Yosef Almogi, the minister of labor at that time sent his greetings and hails for this kind of activities.
Advocate Ephrayim Stich eulogized the men and women, children and old of our town who perished in the holocaust. Chief Rabbi Yedidya Frenkel concluded the service with stirring words of remembrance and hope, and with a prayer. The ceremony was opened and conducted by Mordechai Horowitz, chairman of the association.
Scholarship Fund for Young Students
In 1983 the association, at the initiative of its secretary Mr. Shalom Omri, decided to set up a "Hrubieszow Martyrs Fund". The members of the Drucker family from Hrubieszow, made generous contribution and provided thereby the financial basis for the undertaking. The fund was registered as a non-profit society. In the statutes of the fund was stated: "Every descendant of a member of the society shall be entitled to submit a request for a scholarship grant, for purpose of pursuing studies at an institution of higher learning in Israel. The perpetuation of the memory of martyrs of Hrubieszow shall be effected through subsidizing g literary works and through artistic performances at the annual remembrance ceremonies on the theme of the holocaust, of which the Jews of Hrubieszow and European Jewry in general were victims".
The former residents of our town were called on by the management of the fund to perpetuate the memory of the members of their families who perished in the holocaust. All participants in the project received certificates. Upon the confirmation of the " Hrubieszow fund" as a society, the association sent a letter, accompanied by the statutes of the fund, to the president of the state. The following reply was received: "the president of the state of Israel, Mr. Hayim Herzog, read your letter of April 26, 1984, and the statutes of the fund which you enclosed, with great interest. The president hails your initiative of perpetuating studies in this country. May you succeed in your endeavor".
Adoption by Hankin School
A former resident of our town, Mr. Michael Drori, conceived and sponsored another important project: the adoption of our town by the school which he headed for many years as its principal, and indeed, year after year, since 1988, remembrance ceremonies are held in Hankin School, at which the memory of the holocaust victims of the town is honored. These memorial events are attended by hundreds of persons, guests, parents with their children, students of senior grades who stage a dramatic performance on the topic of the holocaust. The ceremony, and the appearance on the topic of the students, which their form-master, teachers and principal of the school, are heart-stirring.
Michael Drori concludes: "Through this adoption we strove to set up a sort of collective memory in our hearts and in the hearts of the young students of the school, as whose principal served since 1965. By adopting the town we wanted to establish a living and lasting monument on the ruins of Hrubieszow, which was destroyed by the Nazi oppressors and erased from the land of the living". Nothing more can be said, Hrubieszow, a "mother town in Israel", was taken from us forever, this town which was a link in the chain of splendid Polish Jewry, a town from whose midst arose sages and great Torah-scholars, Hassidim, Rabbis, savants and scientists, writers, teachers and freedom-fighters, industrialists and workers, peddlers and just "plain people" - a colorful mosaic of an illustrious community, vital and pulsating, that occupied an honored place among Poland's Jewry. Let us now allow that it be forgotten.