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REMEMBER AND NOT TO FORGET

GREATER MEZIRICH

THE DESTRUCTION OF GREATER MEZIRICH

In 1937, the Polish Authority worsened its behavior towards the Jews. A wave of anti-Semitism broke out and hurt the Jews.

Jews were forced out of their jobs, and merchants were forced out of business. All over town were pamphlets and announcements saying: "Do not buy from Jews", "Jews are swindlers", etc. Houses were destroyed, slaughter of animals was forbidden - a decree that shocked the Jewish public who declared a public fast which lasted two weeks.

In September of 1939, the Red Russian Army, which crossed the Soviet-Polish border, entered Mezirich. The first thing they did is take over the government institutions from the Poles. The Jewish population was well-treated by the Russian Authorities, and many Jewish lives were saved.

In 1941, the Germans arrived and took over from the Russians. They started by making decrees: To hand over to them the cows, horses, carts, gold and silver, and all other valuables. These orders had to be carried out by the "Judenrat" (A Jewish Council) who would take responsibility and make certain all the German orders would be carried out punctually. Thus decree followed decree, daily. There was nothing left to give but the demands continued. It was Abraham Schwetz who had to carry out all the orders, and he walked around with a heavy heart from house to house, demanding and consoling in one, by saying: "Jews., give them your property and the soul keep for yourselves. If we live through this, we shall buy ourselves other things. When the Jews' belongings were all taken away, it was time to take their soul. The Jews were forced to sew yellow patches on their clothes, one in the front and one in the back. The worst day of all was when the Germans demanded to hand over to them 160 young healthy men, in order to send them away to work.

This demand was like a heavy stone on Abraham Schwetz, who broke down,, and one morning he was found dead. He committed suicide by poison.
From the group of young men taken to work for the Germans, only two survived the war and immigrated to Israel.
One trouble was not yet over and a new one came, making the tears flow like a stream. Every evening Jews were taken out of their homes and abused all night. When they returned home in the morning, they were beaten and bruised all over their bodies. It was forbidden to tell anyone, or even go to a doctor.

The Jews of Mezirich were exterminated in two "actions": The first one was in Shavuot (Pentecost) 1942, and the second was on Succot (Feast of the Tabernacles) the same year. 3000 Jews of Mezirich were exterminated and buried in a mass grave on the site of a brickyard in the Village of Nevirkov, about 4 km. from the town.

For fifty years there was not much of a connection with Mezirich. A few Jews of the town survived by hiding out, with the help of the Righteous Gentiles. Some joined the partisans and fought alongside them. A special place deserve the many children who survived alone, in the forests, begging for their livelihood. These small heroes are carrying their injuries to this day.

The rest of the Jews who survived went to Israel.

During all these years, a devoted Council of the Association of Mezirichers is in operation. The Council is in constant touch with the Mezirichers in the Diaspora, especially with the community in Canada. Every year, Mezirichers gather for a memorial service. The Council printed a memorial book about the town, erected a memorial stone at the Holon Cemetery (earth was brought from the mass grave site and placed in the basement of "Yad Vashem" in Jerusalem), and participated in the building of "Beit Vohlin" in which there is a room commemorating Mezirich. The Council has also commemorated the partisans and soldiers on a special wall near Beit Vohlin in Givatayim. The "Remez" School in Holon has adopted the Mezirich Community and the relationship continues. The students of the school are invited to the memorial service, and members of the Mezirich Association visit the school on Holocaust Days.

When the relations were renewed with the Ukraine, and the first visitors to the Ukraine came back from there and told everyone about the destruction of the town, the neglect, the barrenness of the mass grave site, the Mezirich Association in Israel got together with other Mezirichers in the Diaspora to save the site from its neglected state. All the Mezirichers donated handsomely for this holy project.

With the co-operation of the Ukrainian Authorities, a fence was built around the mass grave site, and a memorial stone erected, in which was placed a scroll with the names of all the Mezirichers, who died in the Holocaust. Every so often, the Association organizes tours to this site. It draws second and third generations who visit and absorb impressions. There is nothing like seeing for yourself.

The Old Cemetery of Mezirich was destroyed. The local residents started building houses on this site. There are very few gravestones left intact. Again, with the co-operation of the Ukrainian Authorities, the Old Cemetery was fenced, a staircase built to go up to the hill where the Cemetery is situated, and a new memorial stone built - a symbol for the God of the Righteous.

Mezirich is destroyed. It is no longer. It remains only in our memories, in our souls, forever.

. .Only the old spring flows by the old flourmill. 13.9.1992













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