Poręba ŚredniaBorough of Brańszczak, Wyszkowski District, Mazowieckie Voivodship
Type of placeAt the access road to the Catholic cemetery.
Information about the crime
In 1943, German military policemen from Ostrów Mazowiecka murdered a group of people of Jewish nationality in Poręba Średnia. The inhabitants of the village recall a Jewish family who lived in Poręba Średna before the war, who were among the victims of this crime. They were: They were: former Hana (about 50 years old) and her daughter Ryfka (about 20 years old) with her son (about 6 years old) and her husband. Thanks to the testimonies of witnesses, it is known that the Jews were murdered in the forest in the village of Poręba. Their bodies were then transported by wagon to the gates of the cemetery located on the road to Białebłoto. The bodies were buried there. Three men took part in the burial. We have testimonies of two of them. Thus, it was possible to determine the details of the crime. The location of the burial site was possible thanks to the testimony of a witness who used to visit this place with his mother.
One of the men who took part in the burial was Franciszek G.:
“About 2 o’clock in the afternoon I heard the sounds of a few single shots from a firearm from the side of the cemetery in our village […] About an hour later, the village leader – Stanisław Najmoła, came to be, and ordered me to take a shovel and go to near the cemetery in order to bury a few Jews murdered there by the military policemen […]. The bodies of several people of Jewish nationality were lying next to each other on the road. They were lying face down on the ground. The bullet holes were visible on the back of their heads. […] After loading the bodies of the murdered Jews onto a cart, we took them to the forest by the road to Białebłoto. We buried them there, at the site of the German shooting range.” (The Commission for the Examination of German Crimes, October 5, 1972).
Franciszek P. also took part in the burial of the bodies, which he remembers very well, as well as the whole crime.
“I saw through the window in the attic of my house that the military policemen had brought a group of detained Jews to the side of the road right next to the cemetery. Then I saw that the Jews were lying down on the road, facing the ground. […] When everyone lay down on the ground, one of the gendarmes approached the lying men and shot each Jew with single shots in the back of the head. […] Immediately after that, the village leader, Stanisław Najmoła, came to my house, ordered me to take my shovel and bury the murdered Jews.”
The place of the grave was marked with a wooden matzevah in 2021 as part of the project “Reference points – marking 25 Jewish war graves with wooden matzevot ”. The project is an attempt to find a way of marking these sites 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 carried out 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 24, 2021, a site inspection was carried out in the presence of a witness during which the witness indicated the approximate location of the mass grave of 4 victims (GPS: N 52 ° 41’09.865” E 021 ° 41′05.398″). According to his account, the burial site is located approx. 7 meters (towards the cemetery) from the location of the cross standing by the access road to the cemetery. On July 16, 2021, GPR research was carried out in the area indicated by the witness. The echograms named: POR10001-POR10005 show anomaly at 6.0 m – 8.0 m with an approximate depth of 1.0 m below the sea level, which is probably a mass grave with dimensions of approx. 2.0 m x approx. 2.5 m, depth approx. 1.0 m below ground level.
The LiDAR model is not helpful in this case.
Aerial photography query for this area wasn’t ordered.
Contact and cooperation
We are still looking for information on the identity of the victims and the location of Jewish graves in Poręba Średnia. If you know something more, write to us at the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Protocol of a hearing of a witness, The Regional Commission for the Examination of German Crimes in Warsaw, witness Franciszek G., October 5, 1972.
Protocol of a hearing of a witness, The Regional Commission for the Examination of German Crimes in Warsaw, witness Franciszek P., October 5, 1972.
Recording of the Zapomniane Foundation (audio file), resident of Poręba Średnia, subject and keywords: Jewish graves in Poręba Średnia; exp. Aleksander Schwarz, Poręba Średnia, May 24, 2021
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” and also thanks to the support of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Warsaw.