[Page XLIX English]
by Malka Pomerchik
The Russians entered Korelitz, at the outbreak of the German-Polish fighting, and began operating in Soviet style. First they nationalized the large buildings, then closed down the stores and set up one large shopping center. Immediately a shortage of commodities occurred, and long lines queued up for supplies. Everyone was put to work in cooperatives. I became a teacher in a Russian school, teaching German and working with the Fourth Grade. My prominent position in the town placed me in danger, and I left at the first opportunity for Russia, along with my husband, sister and brother-in-law, and one brother.
On the way, we became separated but managed to reunite and reach Tashkent, where we spent the war years. Returning to Korelitz we found there but a handful of Jews - too tired to move away. We went on to Austria, hoping to proceed to Eretz-Israel with Aliya Bet, but our child was too young. We had to wait until after the War of Liberation. Eventually we settled in Kfar Saba.
by Ben Ir (A townsman)
The reputation of the Nazi preceded their arrival in Korelitz. It was reported that they were destroying bridges and mining the roads leading to Russia.
The Nazis entered Korelitz at the end of June 1941. At first the town was in chaos. From the surrounding areas, peasants came with sacks and empty wagons, and they left with pillaged Jewish goods.
The Germans set up headquarters in Yosef Bernstein's house and ordered the Jews to form a Council, which they forced Rabbi Viernik to organize. He formed it with Shimon Zelaviansky, Moshke Kivelevitch and Baruch Shimshelevitz. The first order issued to the Council by the Germans was to collect all Jewish valuables. Whenever they came to get the valuables, they subjected Rabbi Viernik to a beating.
The next step was the ghetto - Lifshitz's two-storey house; all the remaining Jews in Korelitz were herded into these quarters, under unspeakable conditions. The men were ordered to report to work; if any didn't show up, said the Nazis, the others would be shot. A list of all the able-bodied Jews was prepared for the Nazis by the Poles in Korelitz. These Jews - 105 in number - were taken to the synagogue before their departure for Novohorodek (where they were later killed). Those of their families who wanted to say goodbye to them were shot.
Transport by transport, the Jews were taken from the ghetto and shipped out to their death. By the end of 1942 Korelitz was Judenrein [free of Jews].
The indescribable barbarism and brutality of the Germans was matched by the vicious greed of the local populace. No sooner was a Jewish family taken away from its home by the Nazis - and already the non-Jews were there with their wagons, to take away whatever could be detached.
The few Jews from Korelitz who succeeded in escaping from the ghetto made their way to the Dworetz camp, near the forest. Here conditions were better: the Nazis needed lumber, and they made use of Jewish slave labor to get it.
Singly and in small groups, Jews from the area filtered into the forests to join the partisans. The struggle was conducted on two fronts: against the Germans and against the peasants who informed the Germans where the partisans had their camps. It was only when the partisans wiped out a family of informers that they were rid of this danger. But the war against the Nazis went on to the very end.
[Page LI English] [Page 256 Yiddish]
Reuben Dushkin, a meat dealer by occupation, was a quiet, honest, hard-working man with a large family. His eldest daughter, Sara, married Shlomo Navitsky, and the two men operated one meat market.
In 1941, as the Nazis drew near, the peasants and townspeople of Korelitz set about pillaging Jewish homes, going from one house to the next and dragging out furniture and other household goods.
A band of hooligans came to Reuben's home, sacks ready to be filled. But Reuben and his sons - Yankl, Motl and Hayyim - and son-in-law beat them back. The hooligans bided their time until the Germans came into Korelitz. But the Jews knew what was coming, and those who managed to flee and join the partisans gave a good account of themselves.
Yaacov Slutsky was a young farmer, but when he had to flee from Korelitz and joined the partisans he undertook an important task - to procure weapons. He went about the countryside, picking up discarded rifles and bits of metal, which he then fashioned into crude but serviceable firearms, mines and bombs, which he later used to blow up German communication lines.
Hershl the Carpenter (the best in Korelitz) was taken to the Novohorodek concentration camp in 1942 and put to work in his craft. But he also succeeded in fashioning an escape tunnel from the ghetto, and succeeded in getting to the partisan camps, where he fashioned stocks for rifles. After the war he made his way to Israel and joined his daughter Vitl in Jerusalem, where he continued with his craft.
[Page LV English]
by Frumeh Gulkovitch-Berger
…My sisters had already found hiding in an attic. My sister-in-law Yehudit grabbed me by the arm and pulled me out of the barn, but I was as if turned to stone. Where could we find some hole to crawl into? We were as strangers to the earth; it would open and eject us. We went by a few dead bodies. I recognized one, a Korelitz girl, Merke Yellin; she had the courage to spit a German in his face.
We were now passing by the big outhouse in the center of the ghetto. Without hesitating we went in and lowered ourselves into the large cesspool, which was up to our chests. We found there two women, Esther Menaker and Mashe Rabinowitz. We each took a corner; in case the breathing of one would be heard, the others might not be discovered...
The Germans came with their dogs. Our hiding place was discovered. The Germans shot into the cesspool. A bullet hit Esther Menaker; she went under without a sound. Another bullet went through my dress and slightly grazed my arm. The Germans withdrew, saying to each other that anyone still in the cesspool would die anyway.
We were there six days, without food. Every time someone came in, our hearts almost stopped beating…
By this time, most of the Jews in the Ghetto had either been killed or deported. The ghetto was made smaller, leaving the outhouse outside the walls. We were saved…
by Michael Walzer-Fass
The stories of the Holocaust, of what the Germans and their allies did to the Jewish communities of eastern Europe, are of one pattern and the same content - only the details vie with each other in revealing the utter bestiality of the criminals. If there are variations, they are to be found in the personal experiences of the survivors.
One of these is Idel Kagan. Born in Novohorodek, but bound to Korelitz by the marriage of his father and uncle to the Gurevitz sisters of that town, his last visit there was when the German occupation was already in force; he was sent there with several others to report on the situation. It was already hopeless. He was only 12 at the time.
Survival was now a matter of miracles. Once he faced a firing squad which was called off at the last minute because the Germans though that death by bullets was too simple. On another occasion, as the Germans lined up Jewish children to be shot, he managed to put on his father's coat and was passed over.
By a daring move Idel managed to escape and get to the forests, to join the partisans. But he had to be careful; the Polish partisans were all too happy to inform on the Jews. In the course of his wanderings Idel had to cross an icy river. His feet became frozen, and he barely managed to make it back to the ghetto, where he was no longer registered, and was there operated with a kitchen knife. A few days later the Germans made another round of their selections. Idel's mother and sister were murdered. Idel himself, lying on a bed of wooden boards under a pile of rags and pillows, was not discovered. At night he crawled out of the emptied ghetto. How he managed to stay alive he does not know to this day.
Idel was 15 when the war ended. A series of surgeries improved the condition of his feet. He managed to reach England and join a distant member of the family. A new world opened before him - security, peace of mind - with all the horrible memories - opportunity. He began as a wage earner, and in the course of the years grew to be a captain of industry. The Kagan family was resurrected; he married Barbara Steinfeld, and their three children are named for his father, mother and uncle. The eternity of the Jewish people shall not be denied.
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