Monument to the memory of Jews from Białowieża

16 June 2019

Avraham and Beila Bursztein_photo from Yad Vashem archive

August 11 at 12.00 we cordially invite you to Białowieża for the ceremonial unveiling of the monument dedicated to the memory of the Jewish community of Białowieża, to which the descendants of Jewish residents of Białowieża from the USA and Israel will come.
It has been 77 years since the Jewish inhabitants of Bialowieża disappeared from the town. Silence fell upon them for over 70 years. For the few years with the Jacek Kuroń Educational Foundation I have been trying to restore the remembrance of them together with the oldest inhabitants who have kept their Jewish colleagues and neighbors in their mind, together with youth who tell a story about them in the play “Neighbors Who Are No Longer Here”, through the website of the Virtual Museum of the History of Jews in Bialowieża, as well as finding the descendants of Jewish families who survived or left before.
The time has come to commemorate the life and death of the Jewish people in Bialowieza with a physical sign in the town – by a monument and a plaque. August 11, 2019 at noon there will be a ceremony of unveiling the monument dedicated to the memory of Jews in Bialowieza in the former gravel pit near Podolany (currently a district of Bialowieża).
The gravel pit is the largest place of execution from the German occupation (1941-1944) near Bialowieża. In 1941-1943, the Germans murdered 486 people of various nationalities and religions from Bialowieża and the surrounding area.
On the place of their extermination stands a memorial statue in the shape of an eagle, and the Orthodox and Catholic crosses. On August 11, we will supplement the existing monumental foundation with a monument dedicated to the memory of the Jews from Bialowieża.
In the same place on the 10th of August, 1941, German soldiers from the Battalion 322 shot 77 Jewish men and boys from 16 to 45 years of age, selected from among the Jewish community of Bialowieża arrested the day before. Women, children and elderly men were taken to the ghettos in Kobryn and Pruzhany. Those in Kobryn were murdered in the mass executions carried out by the Germans near Kobryn, especially in Brona Góra 1942; people moved to Pruzhany were deported at the turn of January and February 1943 to Auschwitz, where they were perished in gas chambers.

A few people survived, including David Waldshan, who I’ve found in the USA. David’s wife, children and grandchildren will come to the unveiling ceremony of the monument (David, due to his health, can not come). A total of 30 people from Jewish families of Bialowieza will come to the ceremony. There will be descendants of Lerenkind, Feldbaum, Krugman, Galpern and Reines, who emigrated to Palestine and the USA before the war.

On the main street of Bialowieża, Stoczek, where most of the Bialowieża Jews lived before the war, there will also be placed an information board showing the life of Jewish community in Bialowieza.

BIALOWIEZA RESIDENTS are welcomed also the day before, on August 10th, at 5:00 p.m., to participate in a meeting with Bialowieza Jews descendants at Pałac Bialowieza Station, Kolejowa 1 St. It was thanks to the Jewish names and surnames stored in the oldest inhabitant’s memory that it was possible to start retrieving information about Jews in Bialowieża.

August 11th  at 7:00 p.m. we invite you to the theatre in Teremiski for a performance by the youth from Bialowieza and the neighborhood – “Neighbors who are no longer here”. It was directed by Joanna Troc and features young people telling the stories of Jewish neighbors previously collected by Katarzyna Winiarska from the oldest residents. Seat reservation for the play is required: kasia.teremiski@gmail.com

The project was funded by the Forum for Dialogue, The Association of Jewish Historical Institute, Jacek Kuron Educational Foundation and public fundraiser that still goes on: https://pomagam.pl/bialowieza

You can also help us by a direct money transfer to: PKO SA 03 1240 5279 1111 0010 5146 6430 with the note “Commemorating Bialowieza Jews”.