The Grave of Częstochowa Victims of the Kielce Pogrom

by ALON GOLDMAN, Chairman of the Association of Częstochowa Jews in Israel

On 4th July 1946, the day of the Kielce pogrom, Częstochowers David Yosef Gruszka and Shmuel Rembak z”l boarded the train at the railway station in Kielce with the intention of traveling to Częstochowa.

On the way, Poles recognized that both were Jews and threw them out of the train – to their deaths. When he saw that they did not make it back to Częstochowa, Abraham Gruszka, Joseph’s brother, walked along the train-tracks until he found the two bodies. He brought them home for burial in the Częstochowa Jewish cemetery.

Pic left: Abraham Gruzska at his brother’s grave – Częstochowa 1946
Pic right: Abraham Gruszka and witnesses at the consecration of the matzevah

The gravestone inscription in Polish did not include Rembak’s age (25). It was later added to the cemetery inventory book by the historian Wiesław Paszkowski. The translated inscription reads:

Shmuel Rembak                                  David Yosef Gruszka
age (25)                                                      age 38
perished tragically on 4th July 4 1946, on the Kielce-Czestochowa railway line, at the hands of fascist murderers.
Their glory be forever
An eternal disgrace to the fascist thugs.

This gravestone was laid by A. Gruszka.

Over time, either due to vandalism or to weather damage, the tombstone was destroyed. The Gidonim and historian Wiesław Paszkowski found no trace while mapping the area, although Wiesław had an of its general location.

In February 2018, during a seminar in Częstochowa, held for tour guides from Israel, we made another attempt to locate the grave and found a fragment of the stone tablet bearing a few words. (A picture of that fragment is shown below.)

The words “Kielce – Czestochowa”, in Polish, caught our attention. Abraham’s son, Aryeh Gruszka’s comparison between the fragment and the original photograph confirmed the hypothesis that this was, indeed the grave, of the two men.

Aryeh Gruszka finalised the rebuilding of the tombstone, with the original inscription, at the end of May 2018.

The grave is located in the plot behind the mass grave of the ŻOB victims, on a path to the right of the main path (No. 9 in the diagram below).

David Joseph Gruszka z”l
Shmuel Rambak z”l

Originally, a picture of Shmuel Rembak could not be found nor could his family be contacted. Also, the man with the beret seen standing at the grave in the picture on the left could not be identified.

However, after the information public amongst Częstochowa landsleit in Israel and abroad, the missing information was received. It was sent by Ya’akov Wasilewicz, a native of Częstochowa, son of Halina Wasilewicz z”l, the Director of the Częstochowa TSKŻ for 40 years, and grandson of Ya’akov Wasilewicz, who was Shmuel Rembak’s cousin. Ya’akov identified the man wearing a beret in the picture next to the grave as his father and sent a picture of Shmuel Rembak z”l.

The picture below shows Ya’akov Wasilewicz standing by the grave of his cousin, Shmuel Rembak.

On 4th July 2018, a memorial ceremony was held in front of the house at ul. Planty 7 in Kielce. Forty-six Memorial Stepping Stones were discovered in memory of the victims of the Kielce pogrom, among them stumbling blocks bearing the names of the two Czestochowa Jews – Szmul Rembak and Dawid Yosef Gruszka.