• »Prayer« Memorial
In 2009, a sculpture was erected on the main square of Międzyrzec Podlaski on the initiative of survivors. It commemorates over 17,000 Jews who were deported from there to the gas chambers of Treblinka or to forced labour camps in 1942/1943.
Image: Międzyrzec Podlaski, 1942, The ghetto in Międzyrzec, Staatsarchiv Hamburg, 213-12 Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht - Nationalsozialistische Gewaltverbrechen, Nr. 21, Bd. 45
Międzyrzec Podlaski, 1942, The ghetto in Międzyrzec, Staatsarchiv Hamburg, 213-12 Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht - Nationalsozialistische Gewaltverbrechen, Nr. 21, Bd. 45

Image: Międzyrzec Podlaski, 2009, »Prayer« sculpture, Naphtali Brezniak
Międzyrzec Podlaski, 2009, »Prayer« sculpture, Naphtali Brezniak
The town of Międzyrzec Podlaski (Yiddish: Mezritch), situated about 130 kilometres east of Warsaw, was home to about 12,000 Jews before the war. The Jews represented 75 percent of the total population. A ghetto was established relatively late in Międzyrzec Podlaski, at the beginning of »Aktion Reinhardt« – the planned murder of all Jews in occupied Poland (the General Government). Mid-1942, the Jewish Social Self-Help counted 17,490 Jews in the town, including thousands of refugees. Międzyrzec now became the largest transit camp for the deportations to death camps in the Lublin district.
During the first »Aktion« on August 25/26, 1942, members of the SS security police, Reserve Police Battalion 101 and Ukrainian helpers gathered about 10,000 Jewish children, women and men on the main square where they they forced them to cower for hours before deporting them in cattle cars to Treblinka. The Jews who were later forced to collect the bodies of victims in Międzyrzec counted 960 dead - they had been shot during the raid, either on the main square or on the way to the trains. Seven more »Aktionen« followed. During the last »Aktion«, security policemen shot about 170 remaining Jews after which the synagogue was blown up and Międzyrzec was declared to be »judenfrei« (»free of Jews«).
Image: Międzyrzec Podlaski, 1942, The ghetto in Międzyrzec, Staatsarchiv Hamburg, 213-12 Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht - Nationalsozialistische Gewaltverbrechen, Nr. 21, Bd. 45
Międzyrzec Podlaski, 1942, The ghetto in Międzyrzec, Staatsarchiv Hamburg, 213-12 Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht - Nationalsozialistische Gewaltverbrechen, Nr. 21, Bd. 45

Image: Międzyrzec Podlaski, 2009, »Prayer« sculpture, Naphtali Brezniak
Międzyrzec Podlaski, 2009, »Prayer« sculpture, Naphtali Brezniak
Over 17,000 Jews from Międzyrzec Podlaski and other towns in Poland as well as Western Europe were deported from Międzyrzec to the gas chambers of Treblinka by German police units, SS units and Ukrainian helpers in 1942/1943. A minority was deported to forced labour camps. Only a few Jews from Międzyrzec survived.
Image: Międzyrzec Podlaski, 1942, Jews have to wait for hours on the main square prior to deportation, Staatsarchiv Hamburg, 213-12 Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht - Nationalsozialistische Gewaltverbrechen, Nr. 21, Bd. 45
Międzyrzec Podlaski, 1942, Jews have to wait for hours on the main square prior to deportation, Staatsarchiv Hamburg, 213-12 Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht - Nationalsozialistische Gewaltverbrechen, Nr. 21, Bd. 45

Image: Międzyrzec Podlaski, 2005, Monument to the murdered Jews on the Jewish cemetery, Waldemar Pepa
Międzyrzec Podlaski, 2005, Monument to the murdered Jews on the Jewish cemetery, Waldemar Pepa
In 2009, members of the »Association of Immigrants of Mezritch Depodalsia in Israel« - survivors from Międzyrzec and their relatives - were able to erect a memorial on the town's main square. The realisation of the initiative had taken years of efforts and talks with the almost entirely catholic town population. The sculpture by Yael Artzi, which is dedicated to the Jewish men, women and children who perished, is entitled »Prayer« and refers to the motif of Jews waiting to be deported. Over 100 people from all over the world whose family roots can be traced back to Międzyrzec came for the memorial's dedication ceremony on August 4, 2009. Moreover, there are two monuments to the murdered Jews of Międzyrzec on the local Jewish cemetery.
The Foundation Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe published Naphtali Brezniak's record of his father Moshe's story entitled »The Birch Trees Stand Tall« in April 2011. This was the first German publication of the story of a survivor from Międzyrzec Podlaski.
Image: Międzyrzec Podlaski, 2009, Naphtali Brezniak next to the »Prayer« sculpture, Naphtali Brezniak
Międzyrzec Podlaski, 2009, Naphtali Brezniak next to the »Prayer« sculpture, Naphtali Brezniak

Image: Międzyrzec Podlaski, 2009, »Prayer« sculpture and the main square in winter, Naphtali Brezniak
Międzyrzec Podlaski, 2009, »Prayer« sculpture and the main square in winter, Naphtali Brezniak
Name
Pomnik »Modlitwa«
Address
Pl. Jana Pawła II
Międzyrzec Podlaski
Web
http://www.miedzyrzec.pl
Open
The memorial is accessible at all times.