** Webmaster Note: The following
is a translation from Hebrew by Laia Ben-Dov
as sponsored by George Zilbergeld.
Additional clarifications are provided in parenthesis ( ).
SORROW AND WANDERINGS
of the various articles of the book encounters the name
Rafalovka the town near Vladimirets - many times, and there is
a note of affection in the pronunciation of the name.That is how we are accustomed to call those who are
younger than ourselves, and indeed, Rafalovka was younger than
Vladimirets it is possible that I will not be able to prove
this on the strength of documents and evidence, but if feelings
have strength and authority, everyone felt that Rafalovka was
younger than Vladimirets and that was why it even was a bit more
connections and mutual ties between the two towns in matters of
trade and in matters of family sons and daughters of both
towns married each other, and thus the families branched out and
their roots were sent here and there.
the famous klezmer musician and his band were invited to play at
weddings in Vladimirets, and the dramatic troupe of Vladimirets
made visits to Rafalovka, where it presented its plays.Young people from both towns held mutual excursions with
each other.And the
main thing was both towns belonged to one community which
was known as the Vladimirets community, and their common rabbi
was Rabbi Shlomo Shlita, of blessed memory.
ago, when I was a young boy, when I first travelled with my
family to Vladimirets, I arrived first in Rafalovka, and from
there, we travelled in Isaac Vyachur's wagon to our destination,
Also, years later, in 1928, when I sought a more secure place to
earn a living, I, my wife and my children left Vladimirets and
settled in Rafalovka, where we opened a pharmacy and built our
Rafalovka was not a single town; rather, it was two towns that
were 12 kilometers apart.The nearest of the two to Vladimirets was called "New
Rafalovka" or "The Station" and the farther was called "Old
Rafalovka was established at the beginning of the 20th
train tracks and railway station were built, the place began to
draw many settlers who found it attractive for business and
settlement developed and grew quickly.The first people to come here at the beginning of the
century and establish themselves were the Boleva and Kaufman
In the eyes
of my memory, I see the beautiful train station, built of red
brick, and the many preparations around it trains coming and
going loaded abundantly with wood; the large fairs that took
place every Thursday.The shops here were large, and they sold wholesale to the
settlements in the area among them, Vladimirets.Here is Miniuk Rosenfeld's large store a grocery
his customers were Pesach and Yaakov Tscherniak, who were
accustomed to come here in horse-drawn wagons to buy their
were wood warehouses and forest businesses traders and dealers
who were our brothers the Children of Israel, and workers with
the saw and axe from among the villagers, who were not.There was a well-branched and developed cattle trade.Here is Frankel's store a shop selling fabrics and
clothing, and here is the Brezniak-Fogatz shoe store.These storekeepers bought their merchandise in
Lodz and Warsaw, and therefore the prices here were
salt and crop storehouses belonging to Shimshel Rosenfeld, who
was related to the Schwartzberg family in Vladimirets.
connection with the world was stronger here, because of the
train, and this was recognizable in the clothing and manners of
There was a Tarbut school in the town, and among its teachers
were those who had left Vladimirets Teacher Shlita and Teacher
Rudia Muchnik, who was related to the Garmarnick family.
There was a new and
beautiful two-story synagogue; most of the members of its
congregation were Stepan Chassidim.The area was surrounded by an abundance of pine and
road to Vladimirets went out to the east, and to Old Ravalovka
to the west.Near
Old Ravalovka, in the direction coming from The Station, was a
hill that was called Cossack Hill.When you ascended to the top of the hill, suddenly Old
Ravalovka would be revealed before you.
The view of
Old Ravalovka was different from that of the New.To the west of the town shone the many waters of the
StyrRiver, a river that in certain places
reached a width of 100 meters or more.And just like the train track and train station put their
stamp on New Ravalovka, so was the influence of the
upon Old Ravalovka.
Steamships, boats and rafts all sailed on the
It was a waterway for trade between Pinsk and Lutsk
and the settlements on the banks of the river between these two
and travelers travelled in various types of boats up and down
the river.If there
was a sudden, continuous siren in the quiet of the town, you
knew that a passenger boat had arrived.
the bank of the river, there also was a large flour mill that
was operated by a water wheel.Wide, green pastures spread on both sides of the river;
here and there, at their farthest ends, the horizon was marked
with dark, bluish spots the thick pine forests.
The Styr was the source of livelihood for fisherman, most of
whom were Christians, but also for Jews, who bought the fish
from them and shipped them far away.In the summer, the river was an attraction for the young
people, for swimming, hikes, and sailing.
Jewish families lived in the town.There were two synagogues, one of the Stepan Chassidim
that stood on the very shore of the river, and one of the
Libishayer Chassidim.I prayed in the Stepan synagogue.
Rafalovka was like Vladimirets its beginnings were in the
distant past, and this was recognizable also in its synagogues,
which were old.
Between the various remodellings, the remainders of the original
building from past generations could be seen.There were no schools here.Private teachers found a source of income in the town,
and among these were some who had left Vladimirets such as
Litman Wollak, Zeev Borak, Yitzchak Pinchuk, Feldman, and Moshe
no permanent weekly fairs here; the goyim gathered here
for a market day only on their special holidays.They would come to the fairs from the entire surrounding
area, even from Vladimirets.I mainly remember Neta and Avrasha Weiner, who would come
in wagons, and David Rosenfeld, who brought shoes and leather
goods for sale.
of life in the town continued, incidental to light
compensations, for many years; it was an existence having roots
in the ground of the place.And so it was until the Soviets came in 1939.Now, the town shed the form of tradition and had not yet
taken a new form.
The Jewish existence of yesterday began to be uprooted, and the
soul became full of worry about tomorrow.
many refugees in Rafalovka who came from the territories of Poland
conquered by the Nazis.Most of them were desperate and embittered.It was hard for them to become accustomed to the Soviet
those among them who regretted that they had fled from
were of the opinion that the fear of the Germans was
letters and postcards that arrived from conquered Poland assisted
this feeling letters from relatives that had been approved by
the Judenrat [Jewish council] in the locations from which
they were sent.We
read words full of optimism in these letters: that the situation
was good, that nothing was lacking and that the attitude of the
German conquerors was loyal and comfortable.Everyone was working and was satisfied, and their only
problem was their longing for the relatives who had fled.I personally read several letters of this type that were
received by refugees living as our neighbors.Now, we understood that this was one of the German
strategies of deceit, that they forced the Jews to write that
way.But at that
time, the matter was a riddle in our eyes:How could there be any compensation in the attitude of
the Germans toward the Jews?...
months passed, and some of the refugees nevertheless acclimated
themselves to their new lives they settled in their various
exchange of letters between Poland and Russia did not weaken, but became
had remained in Poland
requested that their husbands return home because the children
missed them, apparently very much.
time, a call was issued by the Soviet regime: all those who were
willing to travel to Russia
to work would be allowed to do so, but that there were also
possibilities of returning to
Poland.These were two simultaneous alternatives, and it was hard
to choose between them.Many of those who were attached to their families decided
to return to Poland.Others, whose fear of the Germans was strong, found a
holding in the Russian territories.
Russian-German treaty was also a riddle in our Jewish eyes.We knew how great the difference was between the two
regimes and the two outlooks the Nazi and the Soviet.The members of the Soviet regime did their best to
explain it there were those among them who gave the excuse for
the treaty as the Soviet repulsion toward war, which would bring
about a holocaust; according to what they said, the treaty was a
withdrawal from war and prevented it.There were those among the Soviets who explained the
matter as a means for lengthening the days of peace so that they
would be able to base themselves better and build more, thereby
strengthening themselves.These were the Russian explanations.
But what were the German
plans for the near future?This we did not know at that time, until the day arrived
when it became clear to us without any special explanations.Now, we understood that this was apparently a lull before
It was the
very early morning of a clear summer day.Suddenly, we were awakened by the threatening sound of a
squadron of airplanes flying overhead in the skies, heading
eastward.It was 4
frightened, we went out to the porch and from here we saw them.And indeed, the feeling of fear that grabbed us was not
in vain.During the
morning hours of that day, the radio already notified us that
German planes had invaded Russia and bombed large cities, such as Kiev, Minsk
and more.They also
informed us that during the night between June 21 and June 22,
brigades of the German army had crossed the
thereby declaring war on
quickly, we witnessed the confused withdrawal of the routed
Remnants of the Army passing through the town proposed that we
flee together with them, but only a few people responded.The letters that were received from the Russian
territories and told of the difficult situation of the refugees,
also had a hand in this decision.I remember that my son Natan, of blessed memory, also
wanted to flee to Russia during this withdrawal, but we
objected, and we explained our objection in the need for us to
remain together and not to part from each other, as well as the
troubles and trials of the refugees in Russia.
The Germans had already invaded the large towns in the area, but
the small towns like Rafalovka, Vladimirets and the like
remained without a regime.The Ukrainians, who had always been haters of
found the opportunity to declare their own regime, the main
purpose of which was to take revenge on the Jews.At that same time, divisions of the Soviet Army who had
been cut off from their brigades were wandering around on the
deserted paths of Volhynia.These were attacked by the Ukrainians, and their weapons
area was already conquered by the Germans, but in the thickness
of the forests, the managerial divisions of the Russians
continued to operate, and they included many Jews who were
experts in forest work.These soldiers were cruelly attacked by gangs of
danger to their own lives, Jews from the town succeeded in
bringing some of them out of the forests to the hospital in
It was a
morning, I went to the town's teacher Mikolsky, whose wife was
also a teacher in the town for many years, wishing to share with
them the worry and fear that had overtaken the Jewish community
with the new situation.I had not been there long, when suddenly shots were fired
at me from the other side of the municipality.I
immediately left their house and began to run toward my
apartment and my family.I found them all squeezed into a dark corner, drenched by
a great fear.While
we were still frightened by the sounds of shooting and
explosions, we suddenly heard strong kicks on the door.The door quickly burst open and armed villagers came into
immediately spread out in all of the rooms and began a search.Among them were several of my acquaintances, to whom I
had extended help more than once.These indeed did not feel comfortable, but there was one
among them who did not hesitate at all.He approached me and grabbed me by the hand.When he saw the gold wedding ring on my finger, he began
to pull it off.He
was prepared to break my finger.I began to scream with pain, and at that moment my wife
hurried to give them her ring, and with pleas she asked them to
take everything, they should just leave us alone.Indeed, they took everything that they wanted, and while
doing so they threatened us and reminded us that we should know
that our good years were over and now we would have to pay for
Nevertheless, the feelings of the rest of our acquaintances
among the rioters, to whom, during peaceful times I had extended
help in hours of need or illness, were stirred when they saw us
now, helpless and broken.Some kind of feeling of remorse awakened in them and they
ordered the rioters to leave the house.They ordered us to close the doors very well and not to
allow anyone to enter while at the same time they stealthily
slipped away, but they didn't let loose their booty.We thanked G-d also for this kindness.We closed the doors and the shutters, and looked outside
through the cracks.
At that moment we heard the crying and weeping voices of women
and children, mixed with the sounds of rifle shots and the wild
screams of the doers of violence.We saw many wagons of the villagers, full of Jewish
property all kinds of bedding, leaving the town, and in the
streets broken housewares and feathers flying around.
villagers satisfied their first thirst for blood and left the
town, it was quiet outside.I slowly opened the door and carefully went out into the
street to see what they had done.First, I went to our neighbor Rosenfeld, and a horrible
picture was revealed to me.All of the furniture in the house was broken and mixed
with the other household goods, in a single pile a heap of
shards and pieces.
The members of the Rosenfeld family sat among the wreckage, pale
and silently crying.It was as if their speech had been taken away; they
weren't able to say even a syllable.
understood that the same fate had certainly visited other towns,
but there was no way to contact them.I was very worried about the fate of the Jews in
Vladimirets, where the members of my family, my relatives and my
good days had fled, when it was possible to travel from
Rafalovka to Vladimirets as a pleasant excursion.Now, there was no way I could get to Vladimirets.Death also waited for the Jew when he sat, hidden, in his
house, not to mention when he went out on the road.Therefore, I hired a goy, gave him a letter, and
sent him to Vladimirets to find out the situation there.
Many of the
residents of Rafalovka were certain that after the robberies on
Friday, the doers of violence would say "enough," and that from
now on, it would be quiet.But their wish was in vain.One day, I and Yona Rosenfeld sat with the Rebbe from
Lomazh, which is next to Brisk, the son-in-law of RabbiPasamnik from Rafalovka, who had fled from the Germans
during the conquest of Poland and remained with us.We found a cure and a small comfort for our wounds in
sitting with the Rabbi.We heard his utterance of ethics and his compassion his
mouth produced words of wisdom and logic.With his words, he surveyed the history of our nation up
to now proving to us that everything that happened to us was
no more than a link in the chain of suffering.Here, in the middle of the conversation, we heard a
terrible cry of despair.When we went outside, we saw a large group of Jews
running in fright, and as they ran, they informed us, with
quickened breath, that a large gang of rioters was crossing the
StyrRiver and approaching the
town.I and Yona
Rosenfeld just managed to enter our houses and call the members
of our families.We
also were swept up with all those who were running.Within the general confusion, I lost the members of my
family, and only my son Natan, of blessed memory, remained with
me, along with Yona and his little daughter Feigele.
behind us, we saw that many goyim stood on the hill
overlooking the town, armed with all kinds of weapons.A large herd of horses crossed our path, a herd that
goyim we knew were bringing back from pasture.I asked the shepherd if he would help us somehow, and he
we mixed ourselves into the herd, and after that, the shepherd
told us to run toward the forest.The rioters would not be able to shoot at us, because
they didn't want to harm the horses.In addition, they could not be certain that we indeed
were Jews.After we
distanced ourselves from the horses, the shepherd told the
rioters that we were local Christians who had gone to call their
herds from pasture.
Because of that, the rioters didn't chase after us.
we arrived in the forest.It was already getting toward evening and darkness
From a distance, we saw a cottage with a light, and we
barking dogs alarmed the owner of the cottage.He came out to meet us, and received us with
proposed that we go into his cowshed to hide there during the
afraid to go into his house, so as not to arouse suspicion.We sat crowded into a corner of the cowshed.Feigele, Rosenfeld's little daughter, summed up all the
fear of the situation with her words:
"I wish I
really was a feigele (in other words, a bird with wings).I wish I could fly away from these bad men!"
So she sat
and so she stated.
her words, our hearts broke within us, the hearts of parents who
cannot protect their children.Again, we heard the dogs barking, and when we peeped out
through the cracks of the cowshed, we saw thickening smoke and
flames going up from the direction of our town Rafalovka.Our hearts were lost within us.What was the fate of our families, we asked ourselves,
without knowing how to answer this terrible question.
morning light, we decided to try our luck and return to town.We were told that the doers of violence had left, after
they rioted to their satisfaction.We went with trembling hearts.We found the members of our families, and all of them
emotion was great, and now we promised each other that in the
future, we would stay together and not leave each other.
day, a response reached us from Vladimirets.The message was short.I was informed that days of rioting had also visited
rioters were the goyim who lived in the town and the
nearby area; my eldest brother was seriously injured and in the
wanted to know more details of what had happened, but here also,
we had to accept the situation.
fear and sleepless nights passed over us.We always were on guard in order to be in advance of
evil.We sent the
children away from the house to stay with goyim we knew,
but my wife, Zelda and I decided to remain and not to leave the
mother-in-law, Golda Leah, of blessed memory, always wanted to
be with us.Zelda
respected her mother a great deal and watched over her always.Therefore, she left Vladimirets and came with us to
when times were turned upside-down and dangers awaited and
threatened us, she told us:
children, I am already old and all I wish for is that it will be
good for you, and that you will succeed in getting through the
bad times.My wish
is that you bring me to Vladimirets, where all the members of my
family are located.
When my time comes, I want to be buried in the Vladimirets
cemetery, in the city where I was born, where my relatives and
friends found their rest.So please do this kindness for me and move me back to
how, from time to time, she made her request.
fulfilled her wishes, but only after some time.Meanwhile, she remained with us and stood up to all of
the bitter trials that we endured.
was sunk into fear of riots and bloodshed for over three weeks.We were abandoned and downtrodden.They spit in our faces, and they even took us to their
farms for forced labor.The Ukrainians told of incidents of brutality:how a Jew was harnessed to a plow and they ordered him to
pull it instead of a horse.They had various plans as to how to eliminate us, long
before the Germans arrived in the town.
number of Jews, decided to turn to important people among the
Christians, to their people of merit, and request a bit of
compassion from them.My friend Yona Rosenfeld and I turned to the head of the
Christian church and other Ukrainians whom we knew had
poured out bitter words to them, even though we knew that the
Ukrainian intelligentsia was directing the rioters and their
deeds, but we had no choice.We told ourselves: perhaps we should give the keys to the
robber himself, and then some sort of conscience would awaken
Therefore, we asked them to influence the Ukrainian community to
stop their bloody actions against us.They listened to what we said; they indeed were honest
with us and promised to try to calm spirits and restore order.Even though we knew that the real rulers, the Germans,
were going to come in the near future, and all of our
achievement was destined to be erased, nevertheless, we were
happy with the promise from the people of influence among the
did not hurry to come at all.They stayed at the Rafalovka train station, which was at
a distance from the town, and the town itself was left meanwhile
to the murderous deeds of others.We also went to the German regime to pour out our hearts,
because we knew that evil plans against us were being made on
the part of the village population in the area.
days, when death waited in ambush, it was not a simple matter to
go 18 kilometers to the train station, but we went out on the
road.This trip had
another purpose also to meet with the Jewish families who
lived at New Rafalovka and learn their situation.Our delegation numbered nine people:Yona Rosenfeld, Yitzchak Shirman, Hershel Shirman,
Yitzchak Kreizer, Benyamin Reznik, Mendel Kushner, Nechemia
Schwartzblatt, Eliezer Goldberg and myself, the writer of these
quickly, even though we were worn out by the troubles that had
come to us during the last few weeks.We walked on the beautiful road that was so well-known to
us from peaceful times.But now, we did not pay attention to the beauty of the
We were sunk within our world, a world that was collapsing
without any glory or grandeur.Suddenly we heard the tumult of vehicles travelling in
walked faster, so as not to meet up with the travelling farmers,
but how fast could we go?Very quickly, the goyim caught up with us.When they drove past us, they pulled out pistols and
ordered us to shout "Heil Hitler!" and asked us where we
answered them that we were called by the German officer at the
train station to come to him about something.When they heard the name of the German officer, they put
away their weapons, turned their horses in a different
direction, and rode away.After that it became clear that this was a Polish gang
from the colonies in the area, who had intended to rob the Jews
at the station, but the knowledge that a German officer was
there caused them to cancel their plans.
labor and troubles of the trip, we, the delegation, arrived at
the Rafalovka train station.A deathly silence spread over New Rafalovka.We remembered the place that, in the past, had been
lively with Jewish activities, a place of many preparations,
where Jewish business and tradesmen ruled.Now, we found empty streets, windows broken and closed
with rags and boards.Not a sign remained of the Jewish houses of trade and
portion was robbery and violence. Indeed, the same fate that had
visited us, had also visited the Jewish residents of the
station. Here, they told us about the riots that had taken place
there; about Sanya Miniuk's son, who was wounded by the rioters,
but the local doctor refused to help him and he died after great
and Sanya Brezniak were very surprised at our decision to ask
for kindness from the Germans, and they prevented us from doing
therefore, to set up a delegation from among us, the arrivals,
and the local residents, and to present our petitions to the
heads of the Ukrainian population: the local doctor Popov,
Mikolsky and Mikoleichik.Our request was that they influence the Ukrainian
population to stop their robberies and murders.And even though we knew that we were turning to dedicated
anti-Semites, blood-thirsty Ukrainians, nevertheless we had no
other way Our visit with them was very short.They did not even want to listen to our claims and
answer was also perfectly short:
deserve everything that happens to you.This is your reward."
them with anguished hearts
reached us of what was happening in the area.The same things repeated themselves in every place
robbery and murder.
Among other things, we found out what had happened in the little
town of Sarnik
a place where the goyim had been especially brutal
toward the Jews.
They threw little children into the wells, burned and raped.But in this little town, the young Jews awoke to avenge
the spilled blood.
A large group of the youths was organized and they stood in the
breach and responded with battle:With cold weapons such as axes, pitchforks and metal
rods, and also with a few firearms, a rifle or pistol, that had
been hidden by them until the proper time, these lads drove the
rioters out of the town.
time, when we were spiritually degraded, economically destroyed,
our eyes dimmed and our faces drained of blood at that time I
suddenly received an order from the Germans to restore order and
reconstruct my pharmacy and the clinic that I had established in
Thus I became the Jew who worked as a pharmacist for the
synagogues were reopened at that time, and the Jews began to
consult together at prayer time; in that way one could pour out
his bitterness to a friend.In the merit of the town's teacher, Misha Konczewicz, who
invested his best strength and energy in filling the breach, a
militia was established in the town.Some sort of order prevailed, and life returned to
normal, if it can be expressed that way.
In spite of
all this, one clear morning we saw that a large cavalcade of
farmers' wagons had entered our town, all of them armed with
gathered in the empty lot between my house and Yona Rosenfeld's
house.At first we
thought they were militia men who had come from other places,
but when they began to spread out in the town and look around
with murderous, greedy eyes as if they were experienced and
accustomed to do so, fear of what was to come awoke again in the
homes of the Jews, because these newcomers did not meet first
with the local militia, which was responsible to the German
that there was no connection between these men and the men of
the militia who were responsible for order, and we didn't know
what was happening here and how to interpret it, until Misha
Konczewicz and his police began to interfere with the uninvited
guests' wandering about that way in the town, and even took away
others, when they saw that a strong hand was shown against them,
fled for their lives, leaving the wagons and horses behind.After that it became clear that these were villagers from
districts farther away, who had come to enjoy the anarchy.They were notorious murderers also in peaceful times,
residents of the villages Sarchov and Karasin.
was a praiseworthy revelation on the part of the men of the
local militia, but the quiet was leaving us.The High Holidays approached.On Rosh HaShana, the entire Jewish congregation gathered
in the synagogue to pour out its heart and tearful prayers of
supplication before He Who Dwells on High.Suddenly, we were upset by cries that reached us.The synagogue quickly filled with beaten and wounded
women and children, who had escaped here from all corners of the
town.It turned out
that a gang of villagers had passed through the town, and while
they did so they wanted to "play a game."The matter cost us many wounded.Now, we were very worried that the militia had no real
control and that we could expect bloody surprises every day.
News and Decrees
worried in vain.It
was as if the German regime had forgotten us.One day, we received an order to come and present
ourselves to the authorities at the Rafalovka train station, for
the purpose of choosing a Jewish committee [Judenrat]
that would be responsible to the regime.No one wanted to be the representative of the Germans in
this position, and choosing the committee encountered refusal by
everyone, until finally a committee was accepted.The regime itself determined the members of the
Weissman, Yaakov Bas and Yona Rosenfeld.But when we came to present ourselves before the
institutions of the regime, I was taken off the list, because
they accepted my excuse that I was busy in the pharmacy and
could not also fill this position.Yaakov Rabin was chosen in my place.
On Erev Yom
Kippur [the day before Yom Kippur], after we were informed that
Germans were approaching the town and a great fear ruled over
the synagogue the order came that every Jew from the age of 9
up was immediately obligated to wear two round yellow patches
one patch on the chest, and the second on the back.Non-compliance with this order would be punished by a
fine of 1,000 rubles and forced labor.We did not have time to hesitate.All of the women worked together in a search for yellow
Ukrainians were already standing in the streets and making sure
that everyone who came out to the street was decorated with the
mark of disgrace.
The insult was aimed specifically at this day, at Yom Kippur, in
order to degrade us more strongly.
decrees came one after the other, each one worse than the other.There was forced labor in the forests and at the
And the news from the fronts "the Yekkim are going from
success to success" also joined the other things that only
depressed our spirits and proved to us that our fate was sealed.
there was a new piece of news that came only to me, brought by a
goy who was one of my good acquaintances.It struck me with stupefaction.
All of the
Jews of Rowne were murdered.
I could not
believe that this news was true, that indeed, the Jews of Rowne
over 30,000 had been destroyed.I did not tell this news to anyone, not even the members
of my family.I
contacted my Christian friends and asked them to go to Rowne and
bring me details.
But the news I received from them was even more terrible there
was mass murder not only in Rowne, but also in the other cities
of the area.Now,
the matter was no secret; everyone knew about it.
One day in
the month of Shvat [corresponding roughly to January-February],
I received news from my brother Yerachmiel in Vladimirets that
our mother was very ill and wanted to see me.My wife and I went out on the road without a permit.A friend, a goy, drove us on side roads, and so we
arrived in Vladimirets.When we came into the house, we found there our relative
Sima Levin, Yitzchak Levin's wife.She told us that Ima (mother)
was very ill, but she was fully conscious and had requested
previously that they would come to say Vidui [confession
of sins] with her.
We went into her room, and when she saw us, she was encouraged
and tried to calm us:
worry, my children," she said in her weak voice."It is also possible to live more after the Vidui."
interested in knowing about our house and children.
evening, her condition worsened and the time of her death
minutes later, she closed her eyes forever.
was held the next morning.It was a cold, snowy winter day.There were few mourners, because of the days of
emergency, about a minyan  Jews and no more.I remember Shlomo Appelboim, Chaim Kantor, Zvi Zhuk, the
Dik family, my brothers Yerachmiel and Benyamin and their
families, and Yaakov Eisenberg.After the funeral, we sat "shiva" according to the
rule, but only in a symbolic way, because of the emergency
situation, and we returned to Rafalovka
now, our suffering had come from the Ukrainian population.From now on, the direct operations of the Germans began
all kinds of taxes and fees.First, there was a head tax 5 gold rubles per person.This tax was too heavy to bear, and we encountered
terrible difficulties in gathering it.In a meeting that was held in Rabbi Pasamnik's house with
the important people in the congregation and members of the
Jewish council, it was decided to declare an embargo on the
community every Jew will therefore be obligated to confess and
reveal his possessions.
Jewish population was invited to come to the synagogue of the
Stepan Chassidim on the banks of the river.Here, the heads of the community spoke of the situation
and its seriousness.Many people requested not to put the town under such a
trial as imposing an embargo, but there was no choice.In the ensuing silence, black candles were lit, the holy
ark was opened, and the Rabbi, dressed in a white kittel
[surplice] and wrapped in his tallit [prayer shawl], his
voice trembling with tears and with him all of those gathered
burst into tears and a great weeping, now began the preparation
of the list the details of each person's possessions.
there were requests from the Germans to supply them with
fabrics, wool covers, leather for shoes, and various other
contribution was 5 gold rubles per person and 7 grams of silver,
again and again.
Once, a platoon of German soldiers, headed by an officer, came
to the Jewish council at the Rafalovka train station and decreed
that Zelig Lesnik must immediately give them a kilogram of
cocoa, and when he asked them to wait until he could obtain it,
the officer pulled out his pistol and hit Zelig in the face,
breaking most of his teeth.The other members of the council were also beaten until
the blood flowed.
worn out and depressed, completely impoverished.We looked like shadows.And here was a new decree the decree of the ghetto.
A Visit in
to establish the ghetto was received on May 1, 1942.Within two weeks, all of the Jews living in Rafalovka and
the surrounding villages were obligated to be concentrated in
the ghetto, in order to separate them from the non-Jewish
Proposals were made by the farmers that I remain in the pharmacy
and continue to serve the public.One of my friends, the miller Protoliuk, agreed to drive
me to Sarny to the area governor to ask him for a permit for me
to remain in the town.We travelled in a horse-drawn wagon, because Jews were
forbidden to travel by train.He wrapped me in a farmer's coat that covered the yellow
patches, so that it would not be recognizable that I was a Jew.This was a dangerous trip, but the goy showed
resourcefulness and initiative, and he refrained from meeting
Germans on the road.
amazed.It was no
longer the happy town with a good atmosphere I had known in the
past.Now it looked
like a cemetery.
That same day, I met with Taczvikov, the doctor from Sarny, with
whom I had worked during the days of the Soviets and who was now
appointed by the Germans as the district doctor.He advised me not to report to the German officer, who
hated Jews, and promised me that he himself would do it instead.When I met him at the time we had appointed, he already
had the permit in his hand, written in German, stating that the
Jew Yaakov Bas, the pharmacist, was given permission to remain
in the town of
and manage the pharmacy.But the members of his family were obligated to remain in
goy who accompanied me was happy at the achievement, because
there were no Christians in the town who knew how to manage a
pharmacy.But I was
could I separate from the members of my family?
I asked my
friend the goy to bring me to Vladimirets on our return
to see my friends and acquaintances, the members of my family,
and my relatives.
My sudden arrival in Vladimirets surprised everyone very much.At my request, the goy brought the wagon into the
yard of my brother-in-law, Ben-Zion Zhuk, and he waited
patiently until I was able to see all of my family's relatives.I showed them the permit that I received in Sarny and
requested their opinions regarding the entire matter.Members of the Tscherniak family were there, and also the
intelligent and wise-hearted Yaakov Eisenberg, who was both my
friend and relative.I asked Yaakov if it was important for one Jew to remain
outside the ghetto and work in the pharmacy?And how was it possible for me to part from my family?And when everyone had already come to agree to the
general opinion that in times like these one should not part
from his family and leave them alone, suddenly the serious,
cool-minded Yaakov Tscherniak spoke up and said:
don't you know the meaning of your decision and opinion?No, I do not agree with you that Yaakov also has to go to
the ghetto, at a time when he has the possibility of staying
outside it.At this
time, when they are planning to close up all the Jews in ghettos
and there is a possibility for one of us to be outside the
ghetto, don't you know how important and how valuable this is?He is not going to improve his situation and it will not
be easy for him in this
with whom all of us are very familiar.But he will be free, with no supervision of the guards,
and all of us need such a thing, because who knows what will
importance of one Jew outside the ghetto cannot be estimated."
these words and I already was confused.I didn't know what I would choose and how I would act.Slowly, everyone changed their opinion and accepted
difficult for me to part from my dear ones, whom I did not merit
to see again.This
was a kind of parting forever.We shook hands with each other and shed many tears.It was as if each one felt what was expected to happen to
us, but no one expressed it specifically.This was my parting forever from Vladimirets, where I had
spent many years of my life.
alone in the big house.The entire Jewish population, including my family, was
concentrated in the ghetto.A great depression ruled over me the first day, but I
thought that maybe there would nevertheless be some importance
to my situation.I
decided to overcome my discouragement and begin to work.At night, my depression grew stronger one, lone Jew.Every whisper of sound frightened me; every step in the
street threatened me.The sound of the singing of the Ukrainians, who now sat
on the benches next to their houses celebrating our destruction,
drove me mad.
I went to
one of the goyim, the shoemaker Kabilensky.He suggested that I come to him every night to sleep and
was forbidden for me to close the pharmacy, but I did it anyway.When I returned in the morning, I found a long line of
people outside the door waiting for medicines, as there had been
in the past.From
time to time, I would receive notes from my family, and this
calmed me a bit.
Good friends served as the contacts between us.
situation in the ghetto became worse.The trading of food items grew.It was forbidden for goyim to come into contact
with the residents of the ghetto, but I was free to come and go.I exploited this right, and began to store many food
eve of the Shavuot holiday, one goy took all of this
reserve and brought it to the ghetto.At first, the goy was afraid to get involved in
the amount of money that was promised him drew his heart
addition, I told him that I would also travel with him, and I
succeeded in arousing trust in his heart that I apparently had
permission to do so.We traveled in zig-zags, in spite of the trust I had
proven toward him.
Here I met
the members of my family, who were living, 30 souls 6 families
in one apartment.
My wife knew how to divide the food products I brought in a just
manner between all those who needed them.My time was limited.Nevertheless, I tried to stay longer and longer.Now, we came to the general conclusion that my remaining
in Rafalovka had a great value.Here I met with members of the council, and we raised the
possibilities of working outside the ghetto.For that purpose, I visited the teacher Malinowsky, who
had once taught in Vladimirets and was now appointed over the
forestry work in the vicinity.He promised me to organize Jews in the work.That had a great value, to be freed for a time from the
fences of the ghetto and go out to freedom.Many jumped at the opportunity to go out to work.
we lived in the ghetto, the Germans and Ukrainians made us
suffer.That is how
Moshe Bondes was arrested one day and cruelly tortured.When he left the prison his back was black from the
beatings he had received.The Ukrainian police stopped their attacks for a time
only after they were bribed.One day we were ordered to supply them with a huge amount
of pepper, coffee and the like within two hours.
the Germans prepared an exact list of the population in the
were sent to Sarny, to the offices of the regional government.An order arrived that all of the residents of the ghetto
were obligated to present themselves at the market square, for
the purpose of investigating
whether the lists were appropriate to the actual number of
had to go, including people who were sick, with no exceptions.The roll call passed peacefully.At this roll call, the names of those who were at work
were mentioned, including my name and the name of my son.We were not in the ghetto at that hour.
residents of the ghetto were sent to forced labor in the various
forests and farms.
Similarly, about 60 Jews, among them many women, were sent as
laborers next to the bridge over the Styr
River.The bridge had been bombed by the Russians when they
withdrew, and now a new bridge was being built.The Jewish police, who were responsible to the regime,
guarded the Jews who went out to work and made sure that they
returned to the ghetto.Going outside the ghetto allowed them to bring a bit of
food into the ghetto, which was now living in actual hunger.In the ghetto, the daily portion of bread per person was
only 100 grams.
Many people were swollen with hunger.Those who went out to work were helped to obtain food
mainly from the Polish colonialists, who were brothers in
trouble and also suffered from the hand of the oppressor.
incidents in which a Pole met a Jew of his acquaintance and
wanted to speak to him, and when the matter was revealed to the
Germans, the Pole was beaten very cruelly.We also received news from the Poles of the situation on
the fronts.Now, we
already knew that a second front was being organized and that
the hopes of defeating the oppressor were getting stronger in
kind of news would be told and talked of in Yechiel Weingarten's
house in the ghetto, where the men would gather to pray.This was a weak ray of light in our dark skies.
One day in
the month of Av [roughly, July-August], a platoon of Germans
came to the Czartarisk station, six miles from New Rafalovka.They took the Jews out of their homes and concentrated
them in one place.
The 60 Jews from Rafalovka, who had been working next to the
bridge, also were brought to the concentration place.Several Jews, such as Malchiel Shirman and his sister,
who knew what was waiting for them, tried to escape at the time
of the transport and threw themselves into the river so as to
they were shot and killed by the Ukrainians.All the rest were imprisoned in one house.The prisoners knew what awaited them, because they had
already seen the large pits that had been dug at the order of
the Germans next to the forest.Their crying and begging had no effect on the Ukrainians.But there was not only crying there; there were also
revelations of bravery and honorable resistance.Thus, for example, it is told of the elderly Mordechai
Rottenberg, who suddenly stood up straight, and from a hiding
place in his clothes he quickly took out a roll of
money and called out:
despicable murderers.You are thirsty for our property and not only our blood.Here, look and see!"
And then he
tore the bills into little pieces.
Esther Rosenfeld, Yona Rosenfeld's daughter, showed wonderful
cursed the murderers emphatically and prophesized that their
black and bitter end would certainly come.
events were told to us, afterward, by farmers who had been
employed by the Germans next to the graves that were dug and
were witnesses to the murder.
I Tried to
Help My Daughter Escape
about the Jews of the station struck us with amazement.I now could not remain alone.I didn't find a place for myself.On the afternoon of the Sabbath, I decided to go to the
ghetto to see my family.In the ghetto they already knew what had happened, and
many people sat and cried over their dear ones who had been lost
together with the Jews of Czartarisk.That night, I remained in the ghetto to sleep.
morning, Sunday, it was as if nothing had happened.Again, the Germans requested 60 Jews to work at the
jumped at the chance to go out to work.The Jewish council sent a memorandum to Sarny and the
vicinity about the terrible situation, but the answer that came
from there was:the
murder of 60 workers originated in a misunderstanding that
occurred and those responsible will be punished; however, you
are obligated to send 60 other workers.Among those now sent to the bridge of blood was my son
Natan.That day, I
was unable to return to the pharmacy to work.I remained in the ghetto, waiting for my son's return.In the evening, when the workers returned, my son among
them, we began to believe that what the Germans had said was
true and that there had been a misunderstanding.But we knew that the sword was turning over us.
to make an attempt to help my daughter Rivkele escape from the
her to be with me in the pharmacy.She was still a little girl.In addition, I wanted to speak with the council regarding
a permit to bring my entire family to me.The other residents of the house did not show any
objection or embarrassment at this attempt.In the house in the ghetto where they lived, there also
was a bunker and they believed that their safety was greater
there than in my pharmacy.The bunker was a hidden cell that could contain at most
10 people, and there were 30 people in the house.The entrance to the hiding place was through the niche
under the stove.I
tried very hard to bring my family to Rafalovka, and I didn't
I decided to do it clandestinely to secretly take my daughter
out of the ghetto.
The last night that I spent in the ghetto, I could not sleep.My daughter Rivkele also did not close her eyes.She was very afraid of the ghetto, and believed that she
was safer with her Abba.
At dawn, we
got up and prepared to leave.Ima made a small bundle for Rivkele, containing several
tunics, a dress and a white head scarf.We arrived at the place of exit, but the Jewish policeman
who was guarding the gate of the ghetto did not allow Rivkele to
go out without a permit. All
of my wife and son's begging and crying did not help.Rivkele stood at the side weeping, but all this was in
vain.I could not
stay there.I had
to return to the pharmacy.I promised Rivkele that I would not rest and would not be
quiet, and that I would return the following Sunday to take her.I parted from my dear ones and ran quickly to Rafalovka.I sat on the fence of my house and told my son who was
with me my impressions of the ghetto and everything I had seen
during the past two days, and of my attempt to take Rivkele out,
but suddenly I was upset by my son David's call:
Rivkele is coming.
Look over there, toward the hill!"
when I turned to look toward the hill, I saw Rivkele coming
quickly got up and ran to meet her.She was pale and breathing heavily.The three of us hugged each other with emotion and tears.We brought her to the house, and here we found out the
details of what had happened.
When I went
out of the ghetto, my son Natan came with me to accompany me for
a distance.He was
allowed to go out of the ghetto because he worked for the Jewish
council and would go on various errands for them.We walked together and spoke for a while, until he went
returned to the entrance of the ghetto, he found Rivkele still
sitting and waiting in one of the corners next to the fence.He wanted to take her home in the ghetto but she refused
won't go to the ghetto.Everything there frightens me.I want to be with Abba."
also told Natan that she thought that the policeman guarding the
gate had fallen asleep, and she asked him to help her pass
through the fence.
So it was.She
quickly passed through the fence and Natan followed; he
accompanied her for a distance and then returned to the ghetto.Rivkele ran 12 kilometers through the fields and forests,
borne by a hidden strength, until she arrived in Rafalovka.Now, there were three members of my family outside the
this time when the outside workers returned to the ghetto, I
turned to those with influence, asking them to allow my wife and
son to join us.
This time also, they sent me back empty-handed.But I was sure that my son and my wife would exploit the
first opportunity, and at a sign of danger would come to us.At that time, the number of workers outside the ghetto
would return to the ghetto after a week of labor.Among them were the above-mentioned 60 workers.During the week, they stayed in Old Rafalovka, and some
of them lived in my house.
Calamity Draws Closer
23, 1942, a Sunday, which was not a workday, I stood in my
pharmacy, preparing medicine for the wife of the Polish teacher
suddenly saw a carriage drawn by two beautiful horses stopping
next to the municipality building, Bindes' house.Two German soldiers got out of the carriage.My heart began to beat faster.I stood and looked in their direction.After a short time, the two turned toward the pharmacy.They came inside, and I became paralyzed by fear.I could not speak a syllable.I didn't find the strength to answer their questions.My thoughts became confused; my hands did not obey me and
my eyes became darkened.They left the pharmacy and after a short time, I also
went out to find out the purpose of their arrival.I asked one of the Ukrainians who had some influence, and
I didn't receive an answer.But then some farmers spread the confidential news that
80 famers had been requested to come with shovels to dig pits.Among the goyim there were those who said
are going to dig pits for the Zhids [Jews]!"
that danger was approaching and that we had to remain aware.We gathered together all those who worked outside the
ghetto in order to consult with each other.We decided that each one would be vigilant, also during
the time he was working, and would watch over what was happening
around him with "seven eyes."
between Sunday and Monday, I didn't sleep at all.I didn't sleep, nor did my children, or even the
neighbors, the forced-laborers who were living with us.Among them was Yona Rosenfeld's daughter Fania.Didn't the residents of the ghetto know what was
question struck me and didn't allow me to rest.I had promised my family that at a time of danger I would
notify them and call for them.And now, how could I fulfill my promise?I turned over plans in my mind and contemplated how to
reach the ghetto, but I couldn't find a method of communication.And now it was dawn.
farmer came in, and when he saw me and my neighbors, he
excitedly called out:
you standing here?
Don't you know that next to Sukhovolya they are already digging
to wherever you can, and save yourselves!Every moment is precious!"
understood that danger was at the door.Immediately we chose two Jews:Leizer Vacha and Pesach Bindes, to go to the ghetto as
secretly as possible, to inform them of the situation.My son David didn't want to go out to work that day.That day, I sent the miller he was the Christian who
helped me previously to get the permit to work in the pharmacy
and the police officer, who travelled to the ghetto, to bring my
family a sack of flour.By doing that, I had the intention of showing that we
didn't know a thing and were acting as usual.I also attached a letter, in which I hinted to them about
the approaching danger and the need to be vigilant in order to
be saved and come to us.I gave the letter to the miller and asked him to do
everything he could to help.The wagon left for the ghetto at 10 o'clock in the
for an answer, and meanwhile I began to carry out a plan that I
had made during the night:
when I built my home in Rafalovka, I constructed a special
underground section that was 13 meters long, with a hidden
days of emergency came upon us, I had made an effort to prepare
this place in advance, and I stored food and water there.
for an answer from the ghetto, and did not receive one.I hurried to the post office, where one of my friends
worked, and I telephoned Weissman at the train station and asked
him about the situation.His answer was "save yourselves."He was unable to say more to me, because the Ukrainian
policeman came in just then and the connection was cut off. But
the three words that I received were enough for me.I returned home and ordered everyone to go into the
in the house in order to survey the situation.I was looking outside and waiting for the wagon to come
back from the ghetto.And now, I saw that the wagon indeed returned; a police
officer got out of the wagon and went into his office.I managed to leave the house and approach the miller, who
had accompanied the wagon.He informed me that the entire ghetto was surrounded by
German guards and that they did not allow him to enter.
therefore you know what to do," said the miller.
I went back
into the house, and here, Mottel Katzen, one of the forest
workers, came in excitedly.He had been sent by the rest of the workers to inform me
of the situation.I
spoke to him briefly:
"Run to the
forest and tell everyone to save themselves, because the
calamity is approaching!"
locked the pharmacy and glued a note on the door, written in
travelled to Sarny to bring medical supplies and the pharmacy is
closed for a number of days."
I left the
kitchen door open, so there would be no suspicion that we had
hidden ourselves here.I took my tallit and tefillin [prayer shawl
and phylacteries] and went down to the hiding place.We heard shots from a rifle, and I understood that they
were aimed at Jews.
After a few minutes, we heard pounding and we knew that they
were breaking down the door of the house and coming inside.We heard their footsteps above us.Afterwards, we heard them leave.They closed the doors and sealed all the entrances with
hammers and nails.
Afterwards, we heard the rattling of a wagon approaching the
in and took out the entire supply of food that we had prepared
for the residents of the ghetto.In the evening when it got dark, they visited the house
again, and we heard footsteps above us.To our great amazement, we heard the footsteps coming
downstairs and approaching our hiding place.They tried to light a splinter of wood so as to see, but
a miracle certainly occurred and the splinter was extinguished.We pressed ourselves together, in great fear.We held our breaths, so as not to reveal ourselves, and
again, we heard footsteps and the pounding of hammers.They were energetically closing all the windows and
doors.Now, we also
heard a conversation from the house's fence, where a guard had
been placed on behalf of the police to guard the pharmacy so it
would not be robbed.We sat very tensely all night, until daylight.We did not hear the voices of the police at the fence
took a piece of matzo out of her pocket.She told us that this was the Afikoman [a piece of
matzo that is hidden during the Passover seder] that her father
had given her, saying that this matzo had the power to protect
her from all evil.
She broke the matzo into pieces and divided it among us, as a
protection from the dangers that were likely to visit us.
Shadows of Ghosts
evening, when it got dark, after sitting for 33 hours in the
bunker, we decided to leave our hiding place.We knew that it was forbidden for us to remain there.I went out first.I broke one of the windows and went out into our garden.Everyone else followed.We remained lying in the flowerbeds, hidden in the
greenery, until 1 o'clock in the morning.Now, we divided ourselves into small groups.I, my children and Yaakov Brik were one group.We hurried to distance ourselves from the town.We arrived at the yard of a friend, a goy, but he
did not allow us to enter his house.He only brought out some food to us supplies for the
road.From here, we
reached another house, and I stopped next to it.A teacher in the school where my children learned
together with her children, lived in this house.I stood next to the wall of the house and I approached
the window alone.I
knocked on the window slowly, and whispered:
I heard a
rustling in the house, and the door was quickly opened.All of us were invited inside.The children vacated their beds for us, and with much
emotion and participation in our troubles, they covered their
faces with their hands, so that they would not see us in our
Because it was very dangerous to remain in the house, they
directed us to the cowshed.There was a great deal of straw in the cowshed and we dug
ourselves deep-deep into it, finding a hiding place.
close our eyes all night.I lay next to my two precious children and my thoughts
carried me to the ghetto.What was the fate of my wife and son?In this situation, no extension of help was possible.With the dawn, I saw the elderly Kubelsky through the
cracks of the cowshed, walking in the yard, sprinkling food for
the chickens and preparing food for the cows.Suddenly, the door of the cowshed was opened and the old
lady hurried inside, bringing with her a basket full of food
vegetables, bread and milk.She spoke to us in hints, with hasty movements of her
hands something that emphasized how great the danger was in
We stood in
front of her, our eyes streaming with tears.She approached my children, stroked their heads and
whispered words of encouragement.Now, I found an opportunity and I asked her if she knew
of the situation in the ghetto.She didn't know anything, but she promised that when her
son returned from the city she would tell us everything he told
and the tension weakened our strength.It was hard to lie in the straw.We waited for night.We felt safer in the dark.We could go out for a short moment from our hole, stand
up straight and breathe the world's air.
the owner of the house came to us and told us that the ghetto
still existed but was surrounded by a guard of police and
of the residents of the ghetto who had tried to escape had been
that we look for a safer shelter.I promised him to leave the place when it became dark.
midnight, when everything around was sunk into sleep, we went
out of the cowshed together with Yaakov Brik.We intended to go toward the village Varazh a place
where many of my acquaintances and friends were located.
We came to
dogs were awake.
They sensed our presence and raised their voices in energetic
succeeded nevertheless in entering the village.I approached the house of one of my acquaintances.I knocked lightly on the window.No answer came.At that time, fabricated stories circulated among the
farmers, originating in superstitions that dead Jews rise from
their graves and walk around during the night.Who knows, perhaps they thought we were the shadows of
ghosts from the World of Truth.But we didn't have time to wonder and delve deeply into
this.We had to
hurry and do something before the light of day.So we went into their yard and went ourselves, without
permission, into the granary, and lay down to rest.In the morning, when the village woman came into the
granary and saw us, she became very frightened and began to
remembered very well that I had once saved her life when she was
ill.She brought us
food and said that her husband requested that we leave the place
that night, because it was very dangerous for them, as well as
for us.She also
told us that one of her neighbors saw us when we came there.It is true that he was a good friend of mine and he even
came to the granary and brought us some food.But a secret that is revealed to many is no longer a
that it was forbidden for us to stay there, and we decided to
leave the next night and return to Rafalovka.
we went out of the granary and came to the house of another
brought bread out to us and showed good will toward helping us.When he heard that we were planning to return to
Rafalovka, he prevented us from doing so.His advice was that we should go to the forest, where we
would be able to hide.From here, we went to the house of the miller Protoliuk,
where we found shelter.He allowed us to go into his cowshed and hide.He promised that the next night he would take us to the
granary at the edge of the town; he would bring food to us there
and would keep in contact with us.And his place was indeed dangerous.There was a lot of movement outside.Goyim of my acquaintance walked back and forth.We stayed in this cowshed for three days.On the third night, the owner of the house came and
brought us the terrible news that the residents of Rafalovka who
lived in the ghetto had been murdered.This happened on the Sabbath, the 15th of Elul, 5702
[August 2, 1942].
specific order that it was forbidden for a Jew to be found in
the Sarny district, and the danger awaiting all those who
sheltered Jews, threw fear into the heart of the goy and
he suggested that we find shelter in the forest.According to what he said, this was a place where many
surviving Jews were hiding.We had no choice.Again, we waited for the nighttime hours, but that night
I was ruled by discouragement after the horrible news of the
elimination of the ghetto, I was sunk into helplessness and lack
of will.It was as
if the will to live had been taken from me.I could move neither hand nor foot.The children saw me in this condition and they lay next
to me and cried silently, whispering:
are we waiting?
Look, it's getting late.What has happened to you, Abba?"
it was as if a new spirit passed over me.I must do something, not for myself, but for my precious
children; I am their only security.I looked at my watch.I felt a great awakening to life and to struggle.
children," I said.
"Come, we will go."
we arrived at the bank of the
StyrRiver, with the intention
of crossing the river and wandering far away from the Sarny
district, as the miller had advised me.But when we reached the river, we saw many blinking
lights on its surface lights that came from the fishing boats
that went out to fish at night.Also, the crossing was guarded.Crossing the river at this place was, therefore,
began to search for a crossing far away from here.We wanted to cross the river by swimming, but we didn't
find a safe place to do so.Meanwhile, the skies began to turn grey and the dawn was
about to burst forth.We hurried to get away from the river and ran to Babka,
the nearest village.But here, there already were several villagers who were
saw us, they began to threaten us and warned us not to dare to
stay in their village.They were frightened when they saw that Jews were walking
around in their village, and in order to frighten us as well,
they told us that there were police in the village.
"police" was enough to make our flesh creep and awaken hidden
strengths within us to flee from the place.We began to run, to escape with our lives.We passed over fences and through gardens.Chased by the barking of dogs, we ran without knowing
where, until we came to a pine forest.We ran deep into the forest.We found one thick tree, and sat down to rest at its
we could speak without interference, Rivkele's eyes filled with
tears and she began to cry.
"How can I
live without you, my dear mother and brother?How can I live without you?"
We all sat
and cried for a long time.Again, dark despair ruled over me.I didn't see any way to be saved.I was sorry that I hadn't taken a bit of poison with me,
to put an end to my life, so that I wouldn't have to undergo
this trial, but my tiredness was greater than my thoughts of
strong, sharp smell of the forest had a great influence.Our weariness could not stand up to the intoxicating
smell, and we all quickly fell asleep under the tree.
We woke up.And again I knew that I must struggle and struggle
against the dangers surrounding us and even with myself, so that
despair would not rule over me, Heaven forbid.The pleasant autumn sun warmed us.We stood up and began to walk.We went deeper into the forest.We wandered past swamps, without knowing where we were
going.Here, I took
a thick stick from the branches of the forest, and this stick
accompanied me also during the days to come.After walking a great deal, we came to the edge of the
fields and blue smoke rising upward.We understood that there was a settlement here.The fields were full of fragrant cut fodder.We tried to approach one of the cottages and were
frightened by the anger of a pack of dogs that began to bark and
break out toward us.We saw that a woman was quieting the dogs and looking at
us.We began to
she recognized us, she broke out into a great weeping and was
unable to stop.She
hugged the children and kissed them, and brought us into her
house.She began to
take care of the children; she washed them and gave them some
Rivkele's hair, which was dirty and full of lice.She comforted us and encouraged us not to lose the will
to live.She said
that the end would come, that the Germans would pay for all of
the blood they shed, but we must gather our strength and pass
through the days of evil.The night approached, and the farmer who owned the house
told us that for our own good we must not remain in the house,
but we should go to sleep in the barn where there were fresh
piles of fodder.He
came out to accompany us and showed us the way to the nearby
village where he thought there were a few Jews.
there to sleep in the piles of fodder, until we were awakened by
the barking of dogs and the crowing of roosters.We got up and headed toward the village, as the farmer
had showed us.We
did not go on the main roads, but on winding paths, on unmarked
trails, past many swamps, so as to protect ourselves from
goyim wandered along the roads in those days, grabbing Jews
and handing them over to the Germans for payment.
stuck to our bare feet and sucked a bit of the blood that still
remained in us.We
knew many troubles on this path, and so we came near the village
also, I met a farmer whom I knew, who was very emotional at
always related to my customers with friendliness and politely.I was always ready to give them assistance, as much as I
could.And now, I
saw the fruit of this attitude.Moved to tears, he brought us into his house, dried our
clothes, gave us knapsacks full of food, and told us that in
SopachovForest there were several Jews.The farmer himself came out to accompany us and show us
the place where the Jews were located.
brought to a large meadow, all deep swamps.At the end of the meadow there was a thick wood.It was difficult to cross the swamps.More than once, we sank into them and were rescued with
danger to life.We
continued to walk.
But we could not reach the wood, and we had to retrace our
steps.We entered a
garden and sat there among the plants.Suddenly, a young villager appeared, and when he saw us,
he began to speak words of comfort, to encourage us and to
participate in our troubles.We asked him if he would allow us to hide for a while on
brought us to his house, and his mother welcomed us with hot
potatoes and pickled cucumbers.While we sat at the table, many of the village's young
people gathered in the house.They stood and looked at us with curiosity.This upset us very much.We did not want to remain in the house, and we asked the
young villager to allow us to stay in the cowshed.Again, we burrowed into piles of hay.We were still lying there and thinking about the goyim,
fearfully listening to every sound, when we heard footsteps
coming toward the cowshed.The door opened, and several of the youths came in and
began to shout:
Jews, get out of here immediately!"
did not help.They
dragged us out and said that they would hand us over to the
tearfully begged them to leave us alone, that they should take
our clothes and everything we had, but not our lives.And indeed, they undressed us and left us only in our
they allowed us to go back into the cowshed.Almost naked, we lay there until the morning.We went back into the house in order to warm ourselves a
bit.The woman knew
what had happened and didn't ask us anything.We left the house and went to the edge of the village.Some villagers, acquaintances, saw us, and with pity they
gave us some old clothes and the footwear called "lapchos."We wandered in the vicinity of the village for a
number of days, until we found a few Jews and joined their
A Dugout in
at its height.
Heavy rains, even snow, began to fall.At night, frost covered the ground.Here, we met the barber, Yosef Zilberman, who had fled
from the Rafalovka ghetto with his wife and children.This was his second rescue.First, he fled from Poland and lived
in Rafalovka as a refugee, and now he had escaped from the
suggested that we find an appropriate place in the forest and
build a bunker, where we could live and we would not have to ask
for shelter in the yards of the farmers.We remembered that there was a forester who lived nearby,
whose name was Sanyashka.He was known to be an honest man with progressive views.His house stood in the middle of the forest, far from the
at his house.He
received us warmly.
He went with us to the forest and brought us to a path that led
to Khuta Sopachov.
His advice was that we should go to that area and there we
should build a bunker.He gave us a lot of food, and thus we went out in that
arrived at the Polish town.Here, I found many acquaintances, among them the
feldsher Ivan Karabowicz, who was a noble man.He told us that there were many Jews, survivors from
Rafalovka, in the forest, and that the people of the town were
suggested to us that we rest for a time in his house before we
go out to the forest.And again, we slept in the cowshed.The place was isolated and the way there was complicated
the paths were through the swamps, and it was far from the
German garrison. The next day, Karabowicz brought us to the
did find many Jews from Rafalovka there, as well as Zalman Dik's
son Yaakov, from Vladimirets.They greeted us with welcome and honored us with the
accepted food in the forest:potatoes baked in a fire.Another group of Jews arrived:Yaakov Weissman and his two children, and his
brother-in-law, Yaakov Sussel, the son of Yitzchak Sussel from
had succeeded in fleeing from the ghetto at the last moment.
We found an
appropriate place to build the bunker.We dug into the ground at a depth of one meter at a
length of three meters and a width of three meters.After we finished installing our new "dwelling," Fania
Rosenfeld arrived and she also joined our group.She took care of our "household" and its cleanliness like
a devoted mother.
But it was hard to get rid of the lice, which swarmed around us
and on our bodies.
encouraged us and comforted us, so that our spirits would not
fall.This was a
great support for us.But some shepherds investigated our footprints, and it
was forbidden for us to stay here.We began to wander in the forest.Fania parted from us.She took her bag and went to the village Molczicz, where
she was accepted by merciful farmers.
began to fall and to cover the paths and trees in the forest.We came to a place in the thickness of the forest where
there were many wooden beams prepared building materials.Nearby, there was also a well.Weissman, who was the expert on forest matters, found a
place appropriate for building a bunker.The Polish colonists equipped us with tools saws, axes
and shovels and we began to build.We worked with the sweat of our brows for three weeks,
until we had dug a large pit three meters deep, and in the pit
we built a large stove, according to the one we had seen in
camouflaged this building very well with dirt and branches, so
that it would not be recognizable.
concerned about us, and she occasionally brought us food from
invited me to come to visit in Molczicz, because I had many
acquaintances there, and indeed, I did as she suggested.But when I came to the village and sat in one of the
houses, a young village girl came running in, and breathing
quickly, she informed us that the police had arrived in the
quickly took me to our traditional hiding place the fodder.But apparently the place was not sufficiently safe.Suddenly I heard a wagon approaching the cowshed and the
owner of the house called me to come out.I went out fearfully.The man of the house and his son stood next to the
cowshed. They ordered me
to get into the wagon and travel with them.Their purpose was to evade the police and take me out of
covered me with fodder, filling the wagon.I didn't see a thing.I only heard the squeaking of the wheels.We traveled a long time, until I felt that they were
unloading the fodder.Again, the world was revealed to me:a thick forest all around, unfamiliar to me.The farmer's son said to me:
until night, and when the corrupt ones leave the village, I will
come and get you.I
will give you a signal, a whistle.Sit here someplace and hide yourself well."
alone in the forest.I was very worried about my children, who had stayed in
the bunker.I sat
alone for a long time.The day was ending and it was beginning to get dark.The forest was filled with night sounds.Suddenly, I heard a whistle.Indeed, it was the agreed-upon whistle.I saw the young villager next to me.I followed him, and he brought me again to Molczicz.Many of the residents of this village were Baptists, who
regarded themselves as being religiously and morally close to
the Jews.One of
the foundations of their religion was reading the Bible.
I was taken on the Styr in a
boat to the forest where my children were located.After many searches, a lot of walking and errors, I
arrived at the wide path.A great fear fell over me, lest I meet up with police or
And again, I erred, and erred, endlessly.I came to a field filled with piles of fodder.I dug myself in and lay down.It began to snow, and I worried that I would freeze to
was light.It was
warmer inside the fodder than it was outside, but it was not
enough to protect my body from freezing.I had slippers on my feet, but they had almost no soles.They were wrapped in heavy fabric and tied with ropes. I
lay in the fodder, my teeth chattering, and I didn't know if
they were chattering from fear or from the cold.
Thus, I lay
there all night.
With the morning light, I saw that I was near the Polish
here, it was easy for me to find the way to the forest and the
arrived in the forest, I found my children very worried.After I told them what had happened to me, they
emphatically said that they wouldn't let me go out alone again
reached us of partisans wandering somewhere in the forests.Some young men came to us and suggested that we organize
into fighting groups and obtain weapons to fight the German
suggestion awakened excessive confidence in us, because the
feelings of a man who is pursued are not the same as those of a
there, such groups had already been organized.
group, under the command of Yudel from Sopachov, numbered ten
Jewish fighters, armed with cold weapons such as axes and knives
and one old rifle.
This group came one night to Dolgovolya, which was known to be a
village of murderers and collaborators with the Germans.They knocked on the door of one of the notorious farmers
and aimed the rifle at the window.But the rifle was faulty and didn't shoot.There indeed was fear in the house at the sight of the
rifle, but the fighters were also afraid, being worried that
their failure would be revealed.They hurried away from the place.
these days of awakening, six of us Jews organized ourselves and
decided to go to the village Varazh, which was near Rafalovka,
as well as to Rafalovka itself, in order to equip ourselves with
food and clothing.
The villagers where we were located were already impoverished by
our frequent visits.We therefore had to search for new places.
in the village, and even entered Rafalovka, but this trip was
also filled with troubles and dangers.When I returned to the forest, my children again decided
that they would not allow me to leave without them.I also knew that the trip to Varazh was foolish and that
there was a great danger in the possibility that we would be
It was the
morning of December 31, 1942.The forest was suddenly filled with the echoes of shots
from machine guns and rifles.Everyone left the bunker and began to run, to get away
from the place.The
echoes of the forest misled us, and many of us didn't rightly
know from what direction the shooting came, because every shot
raised an echo, which also sounded like a shot.Each one took some food in his pockets several potatoes
and fled to wherever his feet carried him.After the shooting stopped, two of our men went out to
the village to see what had happened.They returned and told us that from a distance, they had
seen many Germans and Ukrainians in the village, and even some
Cossacks, who served the Germans.They saw all these leaving the village and going away.After a time, we found out that the goy from
Dolgovolya was the Germans' guide.They surprised the Jews in one of the bunkers, and six of
them were captured.
The captured Jews were tied to wagons with ropes, and thus they
dragged them to Vladimirets, where they all were murdered.During that hunt, the Germans penetrated into the forest
and burned all of the shelters that were built there, but they
didn't dare to chase after us deep into the forest, because they
were afraid that partisans were there.
could not remain here.We had to leave the place, and so we arrived at the
Before we entered the village, we saw a young village girl,
wrapped in a shawl, coming toward us.When she came closer, we saw that it was none other than
residents of Molczicz, who were evangelicals, took upon
themselves the holy purpose of helping the Jews.Therefore, they hid us in various houses and supplied us
with our needs, as much as they could.Fania helped a great deal with this care that they gave
us.She took my
daughter Rivkele to stay with her.Fania also found places in the village for other
a common language with the members of the religious cult in
was educated and was very familiar with the Tanach [the
Jewish Bible], she now became their teacher, and she would read
appropriate chapters to the villagers and explain various
matters to them that required a special explanation.This situation of a teacher and counselor blurred the
boundaries, until she even participated in some religious
regarded her as a kind of holy messenger, and guarded her well.
We did not
stay long in Molczicz, and from here, again we went to the
farmers directed us to a tangled forest, in the depths of which
there was an abandoned cottage.In the cottage lived a few Jews who had been residents of
Molczicz in the past.We walked for a long time through the snow and mud, until
we reached a river that we had to cross.We saw the cottage on the other side.Smoke was rising from its chimney.While we were standing on the bank of the river, thinking
how we could cross it, we heard a voice calling from the
"Jews!Why are you thinking so hard?Take off your pants and cross!"
David protected me so I would not get wet; he loaded me onto his
shoulders and carried me across the water.Here, we found Yaakov Murik from Molczicz and Yoel der
Molcziczer with his child.They received us warmly and told us that the place was
deserted; here they didn't see a living thing, except for some
soldiers in Russian clothing called partisans.They came here occasionally to the cottage to rest and
told of their activities against the Germans and their
collaborators among the population.They told that the Germans were using a heavy hand in
these places against the Ukrainian population, wanting them to
turn over the partisans to them.As a result, villages were burnt and their residents were
the villagers fled out of fear to the forests and joined the
from the time that the partisans appeared, the attitude of the
villagers toward us changed for the good, and our situation
became greatly improved.
One day I
went with my son David to Molczicz to visit Rivkele, who had
moved to live in the home of one of the villagers where the
conditions were better.In the new place, they needed Rivkele to work as a
babysitter for their baby.Work was found also for David on one of the farms.This was at the home of the farmer who had brought me to
the forest in a wagon of fodder.I was able to trust the residents of Molczicz and be sure
that my children would find a comfortable shelter with them.
Now, I came
frequently to Molczicz.Not only the need for food drew me to the village but
also the wish to see my children.When I came into one of the houses during a visit, they
welcomed me and told me that their daughter was ill and they
didn't know how to take care of her.I decided to do something for them.Indeed, I didn't have any medicine, but I went out into
the village and began to search in various houses.I found a thermometer and various pills, and also some
Equipped with all these, I began to treat the sick girl as I saw
fit.From then on,
I began to practice medicine.With primitive means, I would heal disease and all kinds
of other maladies.
The farmers were satisfied with the help I provided them, and
they responded with my reward the foods in our knapsacks
became much more plentiful.
would write prescriptions and send a messenger to bring the
medicine from Rafalovka.I was helped mainly by the forester, who had business in
brought me many drugs.At the same time, he also helped the partisans, who gave
him scouting and intelligence missions.This forester also served as a contact between us and
other Jews whom he came across in various places.
forester came to Rafalovka, to the Polish pharmacist there.The pharmacist asked him if somewhere he had seen Yaakov
Bas, the Jewish pharmacist from Rafalovka, because he had a
letter from his wife and son, who he had seen on the last day
before the ghetto was destroyed.He was prepared to give the letter into trustworthy hands
so that it would reach Yaakov Bas.Being careful that it should not be known that he had
connections with the Jews, the forester did not accept the
promised to investigate and let him know the next time he came.Meanwhile, the situation changed a wave of nationalist
Ukrainians swept the area, and a trip to Rafalovka was now
I found out that my wife and son had tried to flee from the
ghetto on the day of destruction, and they were caught and
brought back there.
Before they were caught, they went in to the Polish pharmacist
Senkyowicz and hurriedly wrote the few lines in his house.I found the letter when I returned to Rafalovka after the
letter was saved in one of the books in the Polish pharmacy.
Ranks of the Fighters
news that large groups of Ukrainians, who had fought against the
Red partisans, were located in the forests.They plotted against the Jews kidnapping and killing
got a lot worse and it was unbearable.These groups were called Bulbobches; they would
come to the villages at night and look for Jews.We found out that their headquarters was in Rafalovka.
time a group was organized of Jewish men who wanted to join the
ranks of the partisans, but the partisans accepted only fighters
who had weapons.
This group, under the command of Pesach Binder, decided to go to
Rafalovka and break into the houses where goyim lived who
had weapons, rob them, and at the same time do everything they
could to take revenge on collaborators.These men succeeded in entering certain houses in
Rafalovka, and with cold weapons and in secret, they managed to
eliminate several oppressors of the Jews.
returned from the action, they had a small amount of weapons
that they had acquired in their daring operation.We were told that a large Russian force had broken
through the front and had arrived in Molczicz.When we came to the village at that time, we found many
Russian soldiers, among them a significant number of Jews.They had a great number of weapons and ammunition.They received us with appreciation and in good spirits,
but they refused to let us join their ranks, because they didn't
want us to be a burden to them.We had no way to obtain weapons, and as a result, their
attitude toward us slowly changed for the worse.
exploiting our authority, you are running around in the villages
doing nothing and begging.You only know to hide behind our backs."We heard these words, and similar ones, from the Red
were robbed of both alternatives.
from Molczicz, a battalion of partisans was being organized.The officer was a Russian who had been imprisoned by the
gathered Ukrainians and also Jews.Among them were Yosef Murik, Yudel Rudi, Leah Pinchuk,
Leah Goldman, Sarah Dublin.Weissman and I also applied to be accepted into the
came and were waiting to go in to the officer, we spoke with the
Jews in the battalion.There, we also found many goyim from Rafalovka,
who were notorious anti-Semites and had rioted at the time of
the Soviet withdrawal.How could we now fight together with them?The heart refused to accept it.We found out that the spirit in the unit was
first, they called upon the Jews to join their ranks, and when
they arrived, they refused to accept them and sent them to
this information while we were waiting in line.And here, the officer arrived and invited us to present
didn't suffice to bring up our request and say what we intended,
and he already sent a look of derision toward us, announcing:
despicable, not partisans."
you give all of your gold to the Germans?Get out of here immediately, so I won't see your faces!"
he shouted, and his eyes were filled with bloody murder.
We began to
beg and explain our situation with the Germans, but he
immediately grabbed his automatic weapon and aimed it at us.
immediately, so I won't continue to see you!"
went out, we heard the bullets whistling over our heads
Discouraged, we returned to our places, and we didn't know where
we were going.
Again, our situation got worse, and the few hopes that had begun
to light for us were covered with heavy clouds.
an event occurred on a winter day, when we sat in the cottage of
generous farmers. Two partisans arrived and asked the farmer to
bake some bread for them.When they saw us, they asked us who we were and when they
received the answer, Jews, one of them began to shout:
grabbed his rifle, aimed it at us, and ordered us to walk
We began to
plead and explain that we were a tiny remainder from the hands
of the Germans, and he shouted:
pity that you remained, despicable spies!"
owner of the house intervened and began to defend us, and while
he was talking with them, we stole out of the house and went to
the nearby woods.
days arrived, and when we went out again to the village, we
found the houses closed to us.Nobody wanted to give us shelter.That night, we found a dilapidated storeroom near one of
the houses, where we spent the night.In the morning, we suddenly saw a rider on his horse
approaching the house, with an automatic weapon in his hand.He approached the storeroom, surveyed it and sensed that
there was someone inside.He shouted that we should come out, and if we did not, he
would shoot immediately.
We went out
of the storeroom and he ordered us to walk in front of him.While we walked, he surveyed us and asked us who we were.We answered that we are Jews.When he heard the answer, he excitedly called out:
"If you are
Jews, why are you hiding?Why didn't you say so immediately?"
and began to pour out all the bitterness in our hearts.He comforted us and told us that large brigades of
partisans would soon arrive here, and that there were hundreds
of Jews among them.
This was the well-known brigade of General Fyodorov.We had a new spirit.But now, other wounds came upon me:
When I came
to visit my children, I found Rivkele very ill.She had a high fever and her body was covered with red
spots.For days and
nights, I sat next to her bed.She had typhoid fever.I didn't allow David to visit her, so he would not, G-d
forbid, be infected.Fania also did not rest and was not quiet, and she gave
as much help as she could.She found an appropriate apartment at one of the farmers.We moved Rivkele to that house in a wagon hitched to two
time of Rivkele's illness, matters in general improved the
Russian partisans controlled wide areas, but it still was hard
to enter their ranks for those who did not have any weapons.At that time, the officer gave several of our young men
an operative mission in order to test them. The order was to go
to Rafalovka and set fire to the piles of fodder that the
Germans had prepared for their army.The youngsters accepted the order in the right way, even
though they knew that the dangers were many in the area guarded
by the Germans.The
men were Shmuel Appelboim, Zalman Shirman, Leibel Yachtson,
Yosef Zilberman and Zvi, the baker.Equipped with several hand grenades and cold weapons,
they went out on their mission.They travelled during the nights, until they came close
First, they came to the woods, to the place where all the
residents of the town, over 2,000 souls, were murdered.This pilgrimage to the graves of our dear ones and their
isolation with the memory of the martyrs awakened them more
strongly to carry out their mission.
youngsters arrived secretly near the place where they had to
carry out their action, and here, a great deal of firing was
opened on them and they were forced to withdraw.But they could not come back to the officer with empty
decided to burn the large zafetya, where all kinds of
materials and resins were made that were sent to Germany.They secretly approached the place, tied up the guard and
set fire to all sides of the plant.
returned to headquarters, the officer shook their hands and
wished them success in their future operations, and he entered
them into the ranks of the partisans.These young men created a special division, the head of
which was Isaac Pirad, aged 18.
One of the
Jewish fighters who operated a lot in the ranks of the partisans
was the young Jew Yaakov-Ber Zaltsman, a native of Vladimirets.Yaakov-Ber was born in Vladimirets in 1920.Eventually, his parents left the town and settled in the
But during the Holocaust, when the ghetto was established, this
family was moved, like the rest of the Jewish families, to
Yaakov-Ber and his sister Rachel were able to sneak out of the
ghetto before the day of destruction and go back to the village
where they lived, Tikowicz.There they found shelter with generous goyim.Yaakov-Ber, who was very familiar with the area, extended
a great deal of his help to the confused Jews who were lost in
the forests the survivors of the forests of Vladimirets,
Rafalovka, Dombrovitz and more.He supplied them with food and clothing.
1943, Yaakov-Ber joined the partisan unit whose name was
to Fascists"] and here he became famous for his daring deeds in
the struggle against our oppressors.At the end of December 1943, Yaakov-Ber fell during an
operation next to the village Osnytsa
The Partisans Also
Maltreated the Jews
well, and I fell ill.My body was covered by large furuncles
(boils) and I had a high fever.I lay in the farmer's house where Rivkele had been
farm woman opened my wounds with a needle, and put cabbage
leaves over them to heal them.The farmers took care of me with self-sacrifice; they
themselves were poor people.This illness of mine interfered with our implementation
of my plan to join one of the partisan battalions that had a
good attitude toward the Jews.
it was a Sabbath Weissman and I sat in a farmer's house.We were eating a good meal, in which not even a glass of
home-made whisky was missing.Suddenly Germans arrived in the village, and we almost
fell into their hands.From then on, we swore to stop wandering to the doors of
the farmers and to try to enter, finally, the ranks of the
was not easy, even now.In everything regarding the Jews, the situation and
conditions kept changing at that time.
told that the body of a woman had been found floating on the
surface of the Styr
River, and when Fania came to see
the body, it became clear that it was Feigele Goldman.The partisans had killed her and threw her body into the
brought her to burial near the village Bishliak.Such a death, or a similar one, was the fate of many
among the Jewish fighters in the ranks of the partisans.Many fled from their ranks and sought shelter with the
farmers Leah Pinchuk and Sarah Dublin came to us and told
shocking details of the poisonous anti-Semitism permeating the
brought them to the partisan group next to Khuta Sopachov, in
which there were many people from Rafalovka, and they remained
One day I
received an invitation to come to the partisan group near Khuta.There I found Leah Pinchuk, who was still in shock over
what had happened to her in the previous brigade.Here, I gave her medical help and encouraged her.
officers at the headquarters made a good impression on me.The officer spoke to me cordially and said that here I
would be allowed to provide medical assistance.He had received the information about me from the
feldsher, Ivan Karabowicz.I could also bring my children here.
to the village very happy, and told my children about the
situation. But the farmers where our children lived had their
wanted the children to remain in their possession and thereby
they would become members of their cult.A delicate situation was created, but I notified them
that this was an order that came from the partisan headquarters,
and it was impossible to change it.Having no choice, they agreed, and they parted cordially
from us.I also
tried to speak with Fania, to tell her to join us.She blessed us on our new way of life, but she herself
did not find it possible to join the partisans, and would remain
in the village.She
promised to keep a strong connection with us, as much aswould be possible.
the partisans, and I entered the yoke of medical work.Rivkele helped me.I would go out occasionally to the villages to find
It was arranged for my son to take care of the officer's horses
and watch over them.But this matter caused him great depression.He wanted to be a fighter, not a stableboy.
My son was
15 years old.One
day, when I was not around, he went and reported to headquarters
and told them that he was two years older.When I returned from my trip, I found him armed with a
rifle like one of the fighters.I was surprised, and he explained to me that he had told
headquarters that he was older.
do otherwise, Abba.
I could not walk around doing nothing and take care of horses,
when there is a chance to actually fight."
the existing fact.
numbered over 100 men, and within it was the Jewish group, under
the command of Isaac Pirad.This group was assigned the job of carrying out sabotage
on the section of train tracks between Manewicz and Tzartarisk.At this location, they had to sabotage and destroy the
group worked wonders, and it merited the destruction of many
those days, the Germans suffered heavy losses at the fronts, and
the light of hope began to shine in our skies.The tasks were changed now the Ukrainian gangs began to
hide in the forests, and this greatly endangered our few
survivors, who were still wandering in these forests.The gangs attacked the villages, burned and murdered.150 Poles among the colonialists were also slaughtered by
relations with the members of our brigade's headquarters were
very cordial.I was
invited to their meals, and more than once, we spoke at length
about everything we had gone through.I told them about what I knew of the officer Pateka's
partisan brigade about the murders and the brutal treatment of
matter amazed them and they decided to conduct an investigation
and bring the guilty to trial.And indeed, our Officer Kancza entered into the depths of
the matter and the guilty ones were revealed and punished with
all the severity of the law.
One day we
received news that a mob of armed Ukrainians, headed by priests
carrying crosses, had gone out to demonstrate.The main organizer of the parade was the son of the
priest Shiperkewicz.The demonstrators carried large signs, on which was
written "Death to the Partisans, the Poles and the Jews."
officer found out that the parade was advancing toward the
Polish settlement, he took all of the means he had to stand up
they succeeded in arriving at Khuta in the dark.They set it on fire and it went up in flames.
We had to
leave the place in a large convoy.This was a convoy of a few Jews and many Poles with their
wives and children and their bundles, who left the place in fear
of the Ukrainian gangs.On the way, we were joined by Jews who had fled from
their hiding places in the villages.We arrived at the area around the village Ozhricz.Here, there were large concentrations of partisans, among
them many Jews.
One day, we
were ordered by the officer Kancza to burn the den of murderers
town was surrounded on all sides, and at the signal we began to
rain destructive fire upon it.A group of Jews entered Hominiuk's house to look for the
heads of the gangs, and there in the cellar, we found old
Hominiuk and Nestachov, who had assisted in the murder of the
Jewish residents of the ghetto.We went through the town and conducted searches.We found a large food storeroom in my house, but we were
forbidden to touch it because there was a concern that it might
officer asked me if I objected to my house being set on fire.I told him that a long time ago I had sworn that my feet
would not walk again on this ground.I saw, with my own eyes, how my house went up in flames
and became a hill of ashes and pieces of burning wood.
action, our troubles and tortures were not over.We passed over roads of fire and blood, between the
wounded and the fallen.We saw many acts of revenge and we remembered our
enormous destruction, for which there is no revenge.The Nazi animal, that was wounded with death wounds, in
its last flutterings still wanted to harm us, only us.It was criminal for our last remains to fall victim to
its appetite for murder.So we stood up under many trials until we arrived at the
We stood in this forest
in an almost hopeless struggle with the typhoid epidemic that
felled many among us.I, as a provider of medical assistance, was given to
stand face-to-face with this enemy, every day and every hour.But now, we already could also hear the gladdening news
from the Soviet spokesman on Radio Moscow, who told of the great
fortified themselves well from fear of the partisans who struck
at them from the rear. Vladimirets became a large fort in those
days it was all bunkers and dugouts strengthened with wooden
beams, all from fear of the partisans in these bunkers, their
situation forces were located.Huge roadblocks were erected on all of the roads leading
to the town, and even so, we were able to attack the Germans in
Vladimirets, to surprise them and sow destruction among them.In this operation, the chef from the Gestapo was seized
when he hid in one of the cowsheds.
the news had already arrived that we must leave the forests,
because the day of victory was approaching.We brought the ill to one of the airfields, and they were
transferred to Russia.Now, death still awaited us on every side.But we had already been told that the Red Army was
went on the free, main roads and the Ukrainian and German gangs
began to hide in the forests the wheel had turned.
met up with the Red Army in the
which had witnessed our many troubles.They received us with a good meal and plentiful cups of
whisky this was only an outer celebration.Only now, with the victory, when the daily danger
threatening our lives was taken away, we began to feel more
greatly how conquered we were and how terrible the losses we had