Pławo (Las pławski)Borough of Borowa , Mielecki District, Podkarpackie Voivodship
Type of placea private forest called Las pławski, 2 km from Borowa, by the road to Czermin
Information about the crime
In January 2022, we received a message from a resident of the village of Pławo (Mielec district) about an unmarked grave of about 26 Jews from the ghetto in Borowa. The grave was to be located on a forest plot which Stefan D. had recently become the owner of. He bought this plot of land solely for the purpose of locating and commemorating this grave. “I’m doing it selflessly. When I was young, I heard many of my father’s stories about the Jewish farm in our village, adjacent to my father’s land. He always spoke very fondly of his neighbors and the larger Jewish community in nearby Borowa”, wrote D.
In the spring of 2022, we met with Stefan D. in Pławo. We carried out a site inspection of the grave, conducted GPR survey and marked the grave with a wooden matzevah. We also learned about the course and circumstances of this murder:
“- A policeman from Czermin led four Jews to the forest and ordered them to dig holes there. Four Jews. They escaped. This book describes it in detail [Gąsiewski, 2022- FZ]. Two were shot while escaping. It is very possible that there were more killed. According to Mrs. Wiatrowska’s account, there were twenty-six of them […] They followed this road. The elderly and the infirm were offered a lift.
– I always wonder why they decided to kill some people along the way.
– I suppose it was predetermined. They knew that these infirm would not be able to walk on their own, so they carried them. The pit was ready. They had to plan it in advance. And these people got in so willingly, unaware that they were doomed to die. […] This forest was much smaller. There were only a few plots here. It wasn’t that close to the forest. There were arable fields here. In the times of my youth, in communist Poland, people cultivated everything. Now it is unprofitable. That’s why people planted a forest here.
– Was there a forest where they were buried?
– Yes. It was at the edge of the forest. I remember it because I used to pasture cows here. One day my dad came to me. I could have been 7 or 8 years old. He said, Come, I’ll show you where the murdered Jews lie. I remember there was still a sinkhole there. I remember my father leading me through the stubble field to a forest clearing. One large pine tree grew right next to this sinkhole”. (Pławo, May 16, 2022)
In Włodek Gąsiewski’s book “Sprawiedliwi i nie tylko ” there is an account of the then hundred-year-old Zuzanna Wiatrowska, a resident of Borowa. In 1994, she described the event as follows: “In July 1942, the Germans rounded up all the Jews from Borowa and the surrounding area. […] A hole had already been dug in the forest. Jews stripped naked were shot over this pit. […] All the victims were laid in a mass grave by a Jew, Froim from Borowa, who was shot last. Then the bodies were covered with lime, and the pit was filled with sand. […] They are taking old Jews. Peasants’ carts rode in front, followed by thirty young Jews. There were twenty-nine old people in the carts, men and women with bundles and suitcases and so on. There were three carts. They entered the forest. […] About 15 years after the war, some Jews came here and asked us to take them to this place, but then everything was overgrown and the location of the grave could only be determined to within twenty meters. However, no one marked this place then, and now a forest grows there. Several dozen Jews are buried there”. Gąsiewski 2022, pp. 103-104)
The Register of Killing Sites and Crimes for the former rzeszowskie province mentions the execution of 27 Jews shot by German military policemen in 1942. D. thinks it may be the same event. Seventeen victims’ names were established: Bel Ulmann, Moses Birnbaum, Haskiel Blutt, Leib Grünn, Moses Hirschfeld, watchmaker, Markus Horn, Izaak Klaksbrünn, Jakub Korn, Abraham Kornreich, merchant, Jakub Koss, Dawid Kuppermann, Aaron Spalter, Pinkas Spalter, Abraham Storch, Joachim Storch, Wolf Storch, Mojżesz Weiser. (Register…., Warszawa, 1984)
The place of the grave was marked with a wooden matzevah in 2022 as part of the project “Reference points – marking 24 Jewish war graves with wooden matzevot”. The project is an attempt to find a way of marking these places before they can be commemorated. Marking forgotten Jewish war graves with wooden matzevot is a subtle intervention in the landscape reminding about what remains invisible, yet present in the memory of local communities. Being only a temporary commemoration, wooden matzevot invite local communities to discuss and take action, to discover the places, and perhaps to start their own memory practice related to them or to initiate a permanent commemoration.
You can read more about the project here: https://tinyurl.com/2p9ar52f
The project was implemented thanks to the funding from The Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland (Stowarzyszenie Żydowski Instytut Historyczny) and The Matzevah Foundation.
IDENTIFICATION OF THE GRAVE BASED ON NON INVASIVE RESEARCH
On May 16, 2022, a site inspection was carried out in the presence of the descendent of the witness who indicated the approximate location of a mass grave of about 30 victims.
(approximate GPS coordinates: N 50°22.034’E 021°21.008′).
In the indicated place, GPR surveys were carried out. We collected 6 echograms named: PLW20001 – PLW20006. GPR profiles with a length of approx. 10 m were collected parallel to each other. An anomaly starting at about 3mb and continuing to about 8mb was recorded. The anomaly is clearly visible on the PLW20003 profile and correlates with the PLW20004-PLW20006 profile (marked in red on the list of GPR profiles with the names: PLW20003-PLW20006). The depth of the anomaly is approx. 2.50 – 2.80 m below ground level.
The LiDAR survey is not helpful in this case.
Aerial photography query for this area wasn’t ordered.
Nie prowadzono kwerendy archiwalnych fotografii lotniczych dla tego obszaru.
Contact and cooperation
We are still looking for information on the identity of the victims and the location of Jewish graves in Pławo. If you know something more, write to us at the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gąsiewski Włodek Sprawiedliwi i nie tylko Mielec, 2022 p.102-105
Recording of the Zapomniane Foundation (audio file), name: Mr. D., resident of Pławo, subject and keywords: pławski forest, ghetto in Borowa, interviewed by Agnieszka Nieradko, Pławo, May 16, 2022.
The Register of Killing Sites and Crimes committed by the Germans in Poland between 1939 and 1945, rzeszowskie province, Warsaw 1984.
We have collected the materials about this village thanks to the funding provided by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance as part of the project “The rural Holocaust. Collecting and safeguarding the never recorded testimonies 100 forgotten Jewish graves 2021-2022”. The materials for this website were developed, digitized and made available as part of the project “Development of a digital archive of Jewish war graves outside the extermination camps and educational use of archive resources” thanks to funding from the Minister of Culture and National Heritage from the Cultural Promotion Fund.