** Webmaster Note: The following
is a translation from Hebrew by Laia Ben-Dov
as sponsored by George Zilbergeld.
Additional clarifications are provided in parenthesis ( ).
A DARK NIGHTMARE
Like a dark
nightmare, those days visit me that began with the days of
murder at the time when we were in the defiled hands of the
Ukrainian gangs, before the Germans entered our area, and lasted
until the bloody times that followed.
On the day
that the Soviets retreated, there was a meeting of all of the
scoundrels, the oppressors of the Jews, in the home of the
Ukrainian priest Sochazhanyt, may his name be blotted out, in
which the bloody plots against us began to take form.Sochazhanyt, together with the son of Cheperkowitz, the
priest from Ostrowitz, who was a teacher in the public school,
went out to the center of the town, where they held a
demonstration in which thousands of bloodthirsty goyim
participated and where they called for revenge upon the Jews.Riots and murders began immediately.Also at the head of these activities, in addition to the
priest and the teacher Cheperkowitz, were the Ukrainian teacher
Garitzky; the feldsher Ostapenko, my neighbor; Kaleisha
the sausage-maker, and Kalim Czaczko, the head of the village
I remember the
days of robbery and riots that followed; how the goyim
streamed from the villages both near and far, in vehicles and on
foot, their eyes filled with murder and the desire for booty.Many of the Jews did not sleep in their homes.They left everything and fled, in order to save their
were emptied by the rioters, and all of the booty was loaded
onto wagons and taken to the homes of the goyim.
continued in that way until the Germans entered the town.From now on, official, organized decrees began at
first, we were ordered to wear a ribbon with a Magen David, so
as to separate us from the rest of the residents, and after that
a yellow patch on the chest and on the back.Later, the affair of taxes and rates began, in gold and
in cash, in clothing and shoes.A dark fear came down over the town.The well-to-do were obligated to pay also on behalf of
the poor, who were unable to give their share.The houses became empty, and there was not a ring, nor a
bracelet, nor a brooch, remaining all of the family jewelry
was turned over in payment of taxes, in order to fulfill the
had to hand over to the goyim even the little that still
remained in our possession in payment for food
A few days later, a
second tax decree fell upon us the Jewish council [Judenrat]
was responsible for seeing that payments were made in full,
because if it were not, they would be killed.When this second obligation was also paid, the believers
among us were filled with confidence that finally, our dark
skies would become clear.But the decrees followed each other one to supply furs,
and one to supply wool garments, another for shoes, and the
requests were not the only trouble makers for us if, for
example, a German asked for a certain piece of furniture from
your house, he would come in and take it, load it onto a wagon
and bring it wherever he wanted.
One day an
order was issued to draft people from the age of 15 and up to
work on the bridge in Antonovka.The people were sent there for an entire week at a time.Every time the workers came back from working on the
bridge, several Jews would be missing, because if the German
desired a bloody game, he would shoot whoever he wanted and
throw the body into the river.Many lost their lives that way.
daughter Chanale, who was 15 years old, was sent to work on the
bridge for two weeks.My eyes failed from worry until she returned.
Thus the dark
winter of 5702  passed for us, until the Passover holiday.After Passover, the order arrived that all of the Jews
had to enter the ghetto, to which all of the Jews of the
surrounding area had also been moved.
Now, the days
of trouble, hunger and illness began.We were naked and lacked everything.Here, I see the necessity to devote a few words to the
doctor and his wife, who lived in our town during those years
and also were killed in the Holocaust.I do not remember their names, but I know that they
arrived in our town in 1940 during the Soviet regime.They originated from the Lublin area.After a short time, this doctor was appointed as the
manager of the town's hospital.
The doctor was
a generous man, with a warm Jewish heart.I know that when he would visit one of his patients, if
he saw that the house was a poor one, he would waive his wages
and did not agree to be given any payment.Everyone loved him.At the same time, he was an expert doctor.When the Germans entered the town, he remained in his
position and continued to manage the hospital.
I remember an
event during the ghetto period.I wanted to visit several villagers of my acquaintance so
as to obtain a bit of food from them.Such a deed involved a death sentence.I devised a plot:I went to the Jewish Council and got a certificate that I
was sick and had to visit the hospital.It was possible, of course, to get to the hospital in
different ways.So I
didn't walk on the usual road, but rather past the "links," on
the street leading to Dolgovolya.I passed by our cemetery, and from there I reached the
Christian neighborhood of the village.Only after that, I visited the hospital.Here, I met another Jew, Yisrael Dik.He also had come to the doctor for treatment.I claimed I had pains in my arm, and Yisrael claimed that
he had pains in his leg.This took place a short time before the day of
day, the doctor was very angry, and he said to me and Yisrael:"Are your heads still given to vanities treatment in
the arm or the leg here, the day is coming when they will cut
off our heads!Don't
you feel that the day of our murder is approaching?What are you thinking of?"
On the day of
the murder, they left the doctor and his wife alone, and allowed
him to continue working in his profession in the hospital.Milka Bas' little girl was staying with the doctor.Because they had no children, the doctor and his wife
adopted her as a daughter after her parents gave her to them
with the hope that the doctor and his family would remain alive
because the Germans needed him.Indeed, on the day of the murder, the Germans did not
harm them.But five
days later, the sword also fell on their heads.
Tuesday, the 19th of Elul.On that day, a special order was received from the
regional commander that all of the Jews must be destroyed,
without any exceptions.The doctor and his wife, and with them Milka Bas'
daughter, were taken to the pits in the forest that same day,
and were murdered there.
Every once in
a while there was an order to report to a roll call.The elderly, and also infants, were forced to go to the
gathering place in the town, where the roll calls were held, and
Heaven forbid if even one person was missing.The first time, everyone was in a panic and worried that
they would not return from this roll call, but nothing happened
to them at the first roll call, and everyone came back safely.Thus we became accustomed to the roll calls, until the
last one, from which no one returned.
One morning, I
went out with Kaplan because of an order that had been given to
collect trousers for the Germans.On the way, we found out that they were digging grave
pits for the Jews.
My entire body began to tremble with fear of this knowledge, and
a roll of paper that I was holding fell out of my hands.At that time, a great many goyim from the villages
of Dolgovolya and Zhulkin had been drafted to dig the pits.This was a Tuesday, and the town was surrounded by
wanted to flee to wherever their eyes would take them.
night, there already were sacrifices among those who had tried
to flee Beyla, Meir Lipichas' daughter.She, her husband and child fell that night in the field.Leizer the butcher and his children were also killed in
similar circumstances.Yisrael Dik and his brother, their wives and children,
fell near the Mariak.They paid a Ukrainian policeman and he promised to save
them he took their money, and after that he disposed of them.The situation continued until Friday.
On that day,
the order came to gather as usual for a roll call in the
There were Jews who had prepared hiding places in advance, and
they hid there that day, but most of the Jews of the ghetto were
driven out of their houses old and young and were brought to
managed to build a small bunker in my cowshed, which was able to
hold only two people.I hid my wife and children in the bunker in Shlomo
There, 23 people were hiding Yosef Burko and his family; the
Rabbi's brother-in-law and sister-in-law, and four members of my
were cut off from each other, without any connection between
The day of
destruction was over, and night fell.The Germans and police held a gay feast and party after
drunken voices and wild shouts were heard all around.We lay in our hiding places, stricken with horror, while
the murderers, may their names and memories be blotted out, were
filled with joy and happiness.
The next day,
the Germans began to search for bunkers and hiding places,
because according to their calculations, hundreds of Jews were
in other words, that Sabbath, I heard through the cracks in my
bunker, that in my neighbor Shlomo Kutin's hiding place they had
found 23 Jews.Now I
knew that my wife and three children had been seized.On that day, the Germans found over 300 Jews hiding.They took them to the pits and murdered them.I, and my son Lyova, passed the second night after the
massacre hidden in my bunker.
villagers and goyim of the town now went out and spread
out in the houses and attics, to search for an "inheritance."They dug around and searched everywhere, until they
revealed me and my son Lyova.
I begged them
not to turn me over to the Germans.I gave them the valuables I had with me, but it all was
the villagers went away, Ukrainian police immediately came, and
one German was with them.They destroyed the bunker and brought us to the prison
cell in the police station, where 160 Jews were gathered.Among them was Rabbi Shlomo Shlita, the rabbi of the
town, with his wife; Shmuel HaMalach with his wife;
Ben-Zion Zhuk and his wife, Teibel, their two daughters and
their son.I asked
Ben-Zion Zhuk how he had saved himself up to that day, because I
had seen through the cracks of my hiding place that he had been
caught already the day before.He told me that they had been caught after the 300 had
been murdered, and the Germans didn't want to disturb their
Sunday, so we would have to suffer one more night.That is what Ben-Zion said.
I can hear the
crying and screaming in the narrow room even now.It was a very hot day, and all of us suffered from
thirst.I turned to
the Ukrainian officer through the steel bars on the window.I asked him if he could do a last kindness for us and
open the door for a few minutes, so that we could satisfy our
thirst a bit.There
was a well nearby.
Everyone from Vladimirets certainly remembers the well at the
officer, who had been born in Vladimirets and in the past had
been a friend of mine, immediately asked me where I had hid the
him to my bunker, and meanwhile he ordered that the door be
opened for a few minutes.Accompanied by policemen, they brought us to the well to
get some water and drink it there.I also took advantage of the opportunity, and together
with my son Lyuba we went to the well to drink.We immediately returned to the prison room, whose door
immediately, before the door would be locked, I went out again,
and this time I went into the toilet that was in the yard
because of my need.
The guard here was a Ukrainian policeman.After I entered the toilet, a woman also came, who had
brought her little child to urinate.The woman and child left quickly, and the policeman
certainly forgot that another Jew, who had entered first,
didn't imagine that I would be saved.I only decided to remain there, so as not to suffer in
the prison room.But
they didn't come to look for me, and at an opportune moment I
snuck out of the place and fled to the forests, where I passed
through all 77 Departments of Hell.Whatever happened to me afterwards, the thought that we
must take revenge on those who spilled our blood never left me,
even for a single moment
In 1944, when
I returned to Vladimirets, I began to work in the N.K.V.D. and
took revenge against many murderer-gentiles.The first one I avenged was my neighbor Kaleisha, who had
been a sausage-maker.When I arrived in town, I Immediately went to see my
house.The house was
When I came, I saw Kaleisha, my neighbor, standing next to his
ignited within me when I saw him.I approached him, grabbed him and beat him so hard that
he was covered with blood.I went to the N.K.V.D. and reported all of his horrible
immediately came and arrested him and threw him into the cellar
in his house.They
emptied his house, and sent his entire family into exile to
After about two months, his trial was held in Rowne, and
Shulamit Nisman and Reuven Baril appeared there as witnesses.He was sentenced to death.
The second one
was Kalim Czaczko, the head of the village Polovla, who followed
the Jews who were hiding in the forests and turned them over to
Kalim came one day to Khuta Sopachov, where he found the Poles
who had contact with us, and he beat them severely.He forced them to go and show him the hiding places of
the Jews, and so he found one bunker in the forest where there
were eight Jewish souls from Rafalovka four women and four
men.Four of them
were killed on the spot, and the rest of them were turned over
to the Germans.They
were tortured cruelly until they died.
I and two
other Jews from the N.K.V.D. went out armed to Polovla, where we
seized the murderer.
We took out our anger on him, and before we turned him over to
the authorities, we hit him very hard.He also received a death sentence.The witnesses at his trial were Shlomo Appelboim and a
Polish man from Sopachov.
After that, we
took revenge on the hooligan Tichan and several other murderers.
were generous-hearted goyim who helped the Jews, and here
will be remembered mainly the Ksyondezh [Polish Catholic priest]
from Vladimirets one of the righteous gentiles of the world.Already since his youth, the Ksyondezh was beloved and
engraved in the heart of every Jew his relation to the Jews
was one of mercy and kindness.If the Polish government caused us trouble, the first
thing to do was to hurry to him, and he would always stand in
the breach and extend his help.I myself was helped by him more than once.In 1918, when the first Poles entered the town after the
Bolsheviks withdrew the Polish police arrested many Jews,
They accused me of transferring gold from the Poles to the
what the goyim had informed them about me.They beat me with the butts of their pistols until blood
had no strength even to breathe, and they sentenced me to death.Then my mother, Tula, hurried to the Ksyondezh.He immediately went with my mother to the police and
rescued me from their hands.He brought me home half dead, half alive.This happened on a Friday, at the time of
When I was in
the forest after I fled from the Nazi oppressors, I met the Pole
Shadorsky, and he told me that the Ksyondezh was accustomed to
speak to his congregation every Sunday in the church, when he
ordered all of the Poles that if they met a Jew, they must
welcome him in friendliness and love, feed him and give him to
drink, and tell him that many Jews were living in Pinsk and its
surroundings, and that there were Jews in Sopachov.According to these directions that I heard from the Pole,
I went out on the road with another Jew, and that is how I