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Sat Jan 7, 2012, 06:41 AM

In Poland, unburying a nation’s Jewish past

Holocaust remembrance advocates plastered images of Polish Jews on buildings in Warsaw that were part of the Jewish ghetto before World War II wiped them out. Adam Galicia / msnbc.com

By Don Snyder, NBC News

WARSAW – Zuzanna Radzik wants Polish children to know that almost every Polish town and village was part of the Holocaust.

There were about 3.5 million Jews in Poland before World War II, making up 10 percent of the overall Polish population. And some pre-war Polish towns Jews comprised as much as 70 percent of the residents.

But although Polish children learn about the Holocaust in school, many believe the killing was confined to death camps like Auschwitz and Treblinka.


“We bring history to children in towns and villages who have never met a Jew or seen a synagogue,” Radzik said. “When we show them where the ghetto was in their town and that Jews were killed there, it all becomes real.”


My grandparents are from Plock (pronounced [pwɔt​͡sk]) , west of Warsaw on the Vistula, they both went back after the war and found nothing left. In 1939, my grandmother was 17 and my grandfather 19, they knew each other, but had not spoken since my grandfather refused to lend her and a friend his rowboat; he wanted to take her out on the river.

My grandmother's sister survived, and two of my grandfather's second cousins; he lost four older sisters, no one else from either family survived the war. There are only 20,000 or so Jews left in Poland today.

This is a link to excerpts of a 1967 history of the Jews of Plock: http://www.jewishgen.org/Yizkor/Plock/Plock.html


Plock was 25% Jewish before the war and one of the most centralized Jewish populations in Poland.

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