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[Page 257]

The Second Annihilation in Bilgoraj

Translated by Rae Meltzer from the Yiddish

At dawn on November 2, 1942, shooting was heard all around the town.I ran out of the house to hide in the woods. I remained in hiding until some Christian workers found me. They threatened me that they would call the Germans. I ran away into the fields and there I found Mordekhi Sharfman’s 2 children who were hiding there in great terror. I could not remain there because it was an openfield and I would be visible.

The shooting continued without interruption. I ran out from the barn and climbed through a window in the recently built barracks. I hid there until it got dark.I heard the constant shooting, as if the guns were just behind me. The vicious Germans were chasing the Jews, like wild dogs. I went out of the barracks to my Christian friend Polova. She told me the murderous Germans went from house tohouse killing Jewish people.

The Germans dragged and pushed the Jews all over town while continuing to shoot them. The whole town was covered with corpses and the blood ran as in a slaughter-house.

Since I had not said farewell to my parents I decided to return home and throw in my lot with them; whatever will happen to them will happen to me also.

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I entered the barracks and among others I found my mother and my sister. The others there were our neighbors: Many Jews died while running away. My mother told me that my father was shot dead. She said a prayer for me and said she was thankful that I did not desert her. I gained strength and courage from her words and decided that at the first opportunity I would escape from the German paws.

In the meantime I was suffering from hunger and thirst.

The next day, November 3rd, in the afternoon, the barracks were guarded by Lithuanians in black uniforms with a German insignia. The Lithuanians helped the Germans annihilate the Jews.

All the Jews were chased out of the barracks. We were lined up in rows and here the tragic death-march of the Bilgoraj Jews began. The Jews had to drag themselves by foot to the train bound for Zsherzshiniets. As the Jews were forced to march, the Lithuanians continued to shoot. The Jews continued to die as they were shot and murdered. Among them my mother, blessed be her memory, fell and died on the Tarnograder street.

The Jews became very thirsty. They gave their last funds to the Lithuanian guards to bring water. The Lithuanians took their money and continued to shoot the Jews saying: “You will all be shot; too bad about the water.”

I held myself together with help from my friends Wolf Bendler and Ayzik Shper. Together we decided to run away, but we saw that running away was impossible.

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First, the way was far from the woods where one might hide and second, anyone who got out of the line of march and tried to run away, was immediately shot by the Lithuanians.

While on the forced march, Jews were constantly falling from lack of strength. Among them my friends, Sholem Rofer and Yusef Moynes. They were unable to survive the death-march. I picked them up and carried them on my shoulders for as long as I had strength.

As we neared Zverzshiniets it was already dark. I casually moved away from the others and took the road going left. After I went about 100 meters, I sensed in the dark that walking along side was a women and her child. I wanted to move past them, but I noticed that the woman was my cousin Gitel Goldberg, with her little brother. She had been injured.

Walking without direction, hungry and freezing, we came upon a field and in the middle was a peasant’s grain-barn. We went inside and lay down on the grain and fell into a deep sleep. When we woke up it was already daylight. We saw we were in a village. We took a few steps and two peasants caught us. They stole our last coins and bound us together with rope. We wept and begged them for mercy to spare our lives. They laughed at us and dragged us off to jail.

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The peasants brought us to the railroad and turned us over to the German watch. They opened the tower and with hard punches threw us into the crowd of prisoners.

At the gathering point, I found my younger sister Gitel with my youngest brother and my cousin. She told me, that they also ran away last night They stumbled around all night in the forest. Peasants caught them and brought
them to the gathering point. The peasants caught a young Jewish girl and brought her to the gathering point and the Germans shot her.

At the gathering point near the railroad, there were several thousand people gathered from: Bilgoraj, Tarnograd, Frampol. Gorey, Kreshev. etc. Wounded people were lying in the sand and dirt suffering in pain, freezing and hungry.

Wednesday, November 4, 1942, in the afternoon, they brought the empty railroad freight cars and started loading the people into them. Stationed all along the freight cars were the German murderers with clubs in their hands and as each person was chased into the freight cars, he was beaten with the club until he bled.

When the first freight car was full it was sealed shut and the second car was loaded up.

I was pushed into a freight car full of bedraggled, homeless, little children. Some were dead and others were half-dead. The German murderers, packed in so many people in one freight car that they were standing on top of the little children.

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We had to stand in the very crowded freight cars. It was hard to breathe because there was no air, and we were extremely thirsty. The Lithuanian Nazi henchmen asked for money and said they would bring water. People turned over to them all they had just to get a little water. At first they did bring some water. Later they said: “You’ll get water in Belzshets?” and did not bring any water to us.

In the freight car I found Bilgoraj Jews. We decided that we would jump from the freight train. As soon as the train began to move, Yusef Shmirer started to pray.

He said that there were people who wanted to jump from the moving train, and that we should pray for them. After we said the prayers we discussed who would jump first. We had broken out the little window through which one person could squeeze through. It appeared that Bendler and Shper were reluctant to be the first to jump. Without thinking much about it, I started to climb through the little window, and with the others lifting me, I pushed through with my feet first and then my torso.

Hanging on by my hands as the train rolled on, I saw the guards on the roof of the train, firing their guns. There was no way for me to get back into the train. I thought it was better to lose my grip and fall under the train wheels, than be burned up in the gas chambers in Belzshets. I was clinging to the wall of the train car and I jumped down. I heard the guards shooting at me, but they missed.

When the train roared past me, I got up and ran into the nearby forest. Soon I was sorry that I had jumped from the train. I saw that I was alone [Shper and Bendler did not jump with me]. I thought about those dearest to me who would perish.

Being alone and not knowing this forest, I trembled with fear at my own shadow.

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