Janet Yellen, US secretary of treasury, visited Warsaw and Polin Museum today.
More than one hundred years ago, just after World War I, a Jewish Elementary School Nr. 2 has been founded in Sokolow Podlaski. The school’s teaching was based upon an innovative Dalton’s educational system which encouraged pupils to seek solutions on their own, or with the help of their peers. The children themselves discovered principles and rules, something which in pre-google times must have been a real challenge. The pupils were successful, and the school was appreciated on national scale.
Izaak Trumper, the director, born in Narewka, brought up the children in the spirit of assimilation and strongly opposed Zionism. “For many years there was no one to teach Jewish history and religion. Finally, when they hired someone, the new teacher, Mosze Migdal, had nothing to say in the school” - recalled many years later one of the pupils.
Trumper was a Polish patriot, who spoke Polish, wrote in Polish and, quite obviously, tried hard to become a member of the Polish community which kept rejecting him. He led the Jewish schoolchildren to take part in patriotic celebrations in Sokolow, and pretended not to hear the abuse heaped upon them by Christian children.
Trumper’s educational successes displeased the local school inspector who wanted to close the school down. He even succeeded and had the school shut down for several months. Another teacher (a Christian) instigated high school students to beat Trumper up. This teacher was later sentenced to six weeks in prison.
Later, Trumper moved to Warsaw. He did not survive the war. Nowadays, there is no one in Sokolow who would remember Trumper. But the building which housed this modern and patriotic school still stands. Perhaps, inside, one can still hear the echoes of his teachings?
Budget of the Jewish community in Sokołów in 1822
Bathhouse fees - 200
funeral fees - 300
contributions to the moneybox in the synagogue and at the school during funerals [?] - 350
donations collected before Yom Kippur - 108
contributions from "parishioners" - 3420
total - 4378
In an excerpt from the Memorial Book that we translated this year, there is a chapter written by Pola Szwarc. Pola was the daughter of feldsher Aron Wąs, who tried to treat the poor and the suffering Jews in the ghetto. He spent some time in the camp in Szczeglacin. Before Yom Kippur 1942, he returned to Sokolow and with Pola and her husband Awrom Zajdenberg, they hid in a hiding place in the house where they lived.
"At night we left the hiding place and in the dark we went to Gródek, where a local nobleman employed Jews. Father spent a few days with us, but unable to sit still, he returned to my mother in Szczeglacin. After a month that camp too was liquidated. It was probably then that my parents were also shot" - writes Pola.
A Polish acquaintance sold Pola and her husband Aryan papers. Their names were now Janina Głowinska and Józek Korzedocki. They went to Warsaw. They worked in Bródno with a woman who had a sister in Sokołów.
Pola got pregnant. She gave birth to Aron. The owner of the apartment where they rented a room refused to let them stay there with the child. They went to Grodzisk, to the Wyborski family. "They caused us a lot of suffering, even though we paid them well" - recalls Pola. The house was frequented by friendly Ukrainians. One day, men claiming to be military police came to the house. Avrom said he did not know Pola. He saved her life and the child's life, but he himself was shot.
The landlady ordered Pola to leave. She didn't let her take her things. She only took diapers for Aron. Not knowing what to do with herself she traveled by train between Warsaw and Czestochowa. She was afraid that she would be recognized. So she went to a shelter for the homeless in Jerozolimskie Avenue. They didn't want the Jewish girl there either. The watchman advised her to give Aron to the orphanage in Nowogrodzka Street. She was to take him back when the war ended.
She worked in various places, as a Polish woman she went to work in Breslau, Germany. She was a maid in Cracow, a cleaning lady in Czestochowa. Many times she almost miraculously managed to get out of serious trouble.
After the war she married again. It turned out that Aron had been adopted by a couple living near Toruń. They gave the boy back after long negotiations and paying a high amount of money. The whole family then left for Israel.
In the photo there is me with Aron.
This year we also met online to commemorate the Jewish community of Sokołów. Fred told us about his book, Alter shared his family history, Amir spoke about the mass grave in Sokołów, and Orie spoke about education about the Holocaust.
Thank you for being here with us! Together, we preserve the memory of the Sokołów Jews.