Remember What Amolek Did To You

Translated from Yiddish by Judie Ostroff Goldstein

Words alone are the matzevah-Czyzewo (gravestone) unfolding before our eyes. It is difficult to do because my heart bleeds so, for the atrocious destruction and the tragedy of the huge grave on which the “gravestone” will now be erected.

This memorial book does not need a preface or an explanation. This is the only matzevah that we can erect for the martyrs from our town who drained the cup of Hitler's poison to the bottom. As long as there are still living witnesses, it is our holy duty to gather all the material possible, everything that we remember, know and feel about our shtetl.

This material was gathered from the small number of those who clawed their way out of the mass graves. Some of them, in those terrible days, wandered through fields and forests, staying there overnight in the snow and cold and imbibed in their limbs the lot of every dark day and listened in the quiet to the rattle of our dying brothers during their last minutes.

None of us are professional writers or historians. Only the shocking agony that appeared with the horrible Holocaust opened our mute lips and made them speak. Every note, even when it was written with a gentle smile and light humor, is still an expression of concentrated grief. Therefore, every line has a place in this matzevah book in memory of our nearest and dearest.

Only a part of the Czyzewer Jews were saved from the Nazi authorities. Several only remained alive to be able to tell about the Holocaust. In Czyzewo, as in hundreds of other towns and villages, there aren't any Jews. Therefore, it was many years after the Hitler deluge before we found in ourselves the courage and gathered the strength needed to erect this memorial, this Yizkor Book from our shtetl Czyzewo.

It is clear and understandable, that in most notes and dissertations that are in this book, one hears the mourning cries; in the memoirs everyone can hear the sounds of lament and elegy, the lament of the destruction. For the participants in this book, the destruction of Czyzewo, like the general tragedy of the Jews in Europe, is a personal tie to the tragedy, with grief for our own dear ones. Perhaps you will see here and there repetition in some of the articles, mentioning some of the same affairs, events and people, but the first reinforces the second and creates the picture of a way of life, of the disappointments and accomplishments. Everything together tells the story of how much we have lost, how large and truly incomprehensible this loss is.

The heart cries for the tortured, the lost. But their illustrious memory requires us to be strong of spirit and to take heart in order that their deaths can fight to build and improve our future.

Telling the story about these people and personalities permeates our hearts with affection and longing for all of them – those who were and are no more. Reading about them, we still see the faces of our brothers and sisters, for all of them were a part of us body and soul.

Those of us who have had the honor to be saved from that immense conflagration, always see before our eyes our ancestors' commandment that remains engraved with letters of fire and blood: “remember what Amalek did to you” – the Amalek of the twentieth century.

This is actually the designated role of this book; not an ordinary memoir of the distant and not so distant past, not just a memorial light for the pure and holy souls who were murdered, put to death through various, horrible means. By recording our memoirs we felt that we needed to bring out the distinct illustriousness of the Jewish people in our shtetl. This book should give future generations an idea of the beauty that was killed.

With our heads bowed and wringing our hands, we stand at the modest monument to our murdered Jewish community in Czyzewo. We are united with the holy memory of the murdered martyrs.

Alas for those who have been killed, but will not be forgotton!

This yizkor book should stand for generations as a remembrance. For all those who read this book it should be a document that reflects the rich way of life that is no more.

Their screams that come from this book should not be stilled and should not cease to demand their due for generations to come.
The Editorial Board