Stolin (Belarus), Leningrad, Murmansk
Plotnik was born in 1914 in Stolin, in the province of Pinsk, Poland (now Belorussia). His hometown had a Jewish population of about two thousand out of a total of five thousand people. When war began in 1939, he was the oldest of ten children and is the only survivor of the family. During the Holocaust he lost his parents, grandmother, grandfather, four sisters, five brothers, four uncles, four aunts, nine cousins, and many second cousins.
Plotnik was conscripted into the Polish army in 1937 for two years, but he was re-mobilized in 1939 and fought against the Germans until the defeat of the Polish army. He returned to Stolin, by then occupied by the Russians. He worked as an apprentice in his father’s carpentry shop until the German invasion in 1941. He was taken into the Russian army and was stationed with other young Polish men in labor camps. He regularly listened to the radio news, and in 1943 he heard that all the Jews in his hometown had been killed by the Germans.
In 1944 he was moved to the Leningrad front where he was wounded and was confined to a hospital for several months. The rest of the war he spent at Murmansk, near the Arctic Circle. After the war, he went back to Poland, but found no relatives alive. He joined a stream of refugees and went to a displaced persons’ camp in Italy. He made contact with an uncle in the United States who invited Plotnik to join him. Plotnik waited several years in Italy for an American visa, but the Polish quota to the United States was oversubscribed for years to come. Finally, his uncle arranged for him to emigrate to Canada and he arrived there in 1949.
Date: February 25, 1996
Interviewer: Dr. Alan Brown
Format: Video recording