« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

I Do Not Want To Wear The Halo Of A Hero

Interview with Mr. Phillip (Feibush) Amarant

Editor Haim Preshel

Question: This is the second time you have come to Israel to participate in a world conference on the Holocaust and its heroes. This time it was in order to celebrate 40 years of victory over Nazi Germany. What is your impression of the Conference and its participants?

Answer: Remembering the war years and the daily struggle for survival in the fields, forests on the front, for work and in the rear, we brought these again to the conference and to Israel.

I came to Israel a second time to see the survivors and to hear how we survived and what happened to us during the past 40 years.

The most difficult moment in my life was after our liberation in May 1945 when we met - some close friends - without a home, without a family. There was doubt if we could continue to live. We had to start everything anew.

We began to look for a new life. The true victory was that everyone succeeded in building for himself a new home and family.

Similarly, victory was expressed thus: that the people whom Hitler had intended to destroy had succeeded. in contributing a great deal both to themselves, and to the world, more than any other people.

Question: What occupied you most during the discussions at the Conference?

Answer: Some of the participants complained why we the survivors had to elaborate and tell about the war.

Why do we return and prove to the world that we remember everything and don't forget anything.

Why we don't publish enough on how we succeeded and what we achieved during the forty years since victory.

[Page 153]

We will remember and not forget the terror of the war. We must return and relate everything for the sake of our sons and daughters, for the sake of the generations to come in the whole world. We will return and we will relate in order to prevent a new Holocaust occurring.

Question: What is your impression of Israel?

Answer: My impressions of the country are positive. This is our 6th visit to Israel. Since I saw Israel for the first time we have succeeded in seeing with our own eyes what our people can do in this small country.

This is the great achievement and the great celebration of the congress.

Question: Your article to 'Yizkor' which you have just given to me now surprised me greatly. Were there any results of the conference which freed you from depression and permitted doubts to enter your consciousness?

Answer: That's exactly true. In my profession - as a public accountant and attorney-at-law, I have to be responsible. Every formulation is to be short, to the point and factual.

I am not a writer. I am not used to emotional writing literature.

Two years ago, when I was in Israel at the first world conference, I promised you to recall Jewish heroism, speaking about my town, but every time I sat down to write, gloom descends upon me. I see that I have a duty to inquire to interview people, to squeeze from each and every one the words which must be written about them. This conference celebrating 40 years of victory over Hitlerism, the meeting, the conferences, the arguments, all these free me to some extent from the depression and the day to day anxieties.

[Page 154]

This morning I sat down and wrote for some hours, for once without inhibitions, I wanted to write a nice, comprehensive article, but I didn't have enough time for that. I hope that one of these days I will have time to do research (I have a lot of material written about our town) and with the help of friends
I will be able to reconstruct the period and be more precise about the story of MY town and not suffice with the notes of this morning.

Question: Where were you when the Soviets arrived in Mikulince in 1939?

Answer: The Red Army arrived in Mikutince in September 1939.

A recognized group from our town was ready to welcome them. The old Poland was an anti-Semitic country. The Jews were suppressed by the system. They could not integrate into the society nor reach government positions in accordance with their capabilities. There was no chance in the future that it would be better.

With the Soviet occupation, hope was kindled that the situation would change. By the nature of things we began to work and cooperate. Everyone tried to contribute in the field in which he was most suited and capable.

The Soviets united all the libraries in the town, and built one central library in the Chitlania.

My brother Shmulke was appointed first librarian. I myself was the chief bookkeeper - accountant for the shops and co-operatives. At that time I was a graduate of the professional school in Lvov.

We were prepared for a new Jewish life, different from the life before the war when we fought for Zionism and only worried about ourselves.

We became part of the new system, which had been built and continued.

There are different opinions about the Soviet rule in Mikulince, both positive and negative. I for one have a positive view.

[Page 155]

Thus the process continued for one year nine months.

Question: What happened in June 1941?

Answer: In June 1941 the German army invaded our region I am not going to tell you about the fate of the institutions which we had established among us, the Jewish school and its teachers. This was not my field.

A number of young people joined the Soviet army, among them my brother, Shmulke. They were immediately sent to the front line separating Russia from Germany, near Drohobitch. They built fortifications there.

On the German attack, an underground was established.

The escape began … Everyone ran away. The whole affair lasted ten-eleven days. Shmulke returned home, sick, tired, weary, he didn't remember what had happened in his fighting he only knew that he had lost all his friends.

Shmulke began to persuade me to take refuge immediately, but not together with him. The reason - if one lost the other the one remaining would blame himself for it.

Law and order prevailed in the town. Everyone lamented.

The Soviet authorities supplied the Jews with means of transport, horses, wagons, so that we could escape. They called to us: Don't stay, come with us to the heart of Russia! They assisted any Jewish family who wanted to do this to escape. They gave all of us the means to escape to be saved.

I feel that this is so, even though there are claims that it wasn't exactly like that, but this is not the truth, I was there.

Question: Where did you lose Shmulke your brother?

Answer: He did not seek safety.

Question: Why? It was him that wanted you to seek refuge.

Answer: My brother urged me to seek refuge first. He himself too tired to set out on the road immediately.

He promised me that he will escape the next day with some friends.

[Page 156]

My mother and father cried, and claimed that if it was decreed for us to live, we should live together, but if it was decreed that we should die, we should die together. Don't run away! But I was determined to seek refuge whatever would be.

On returning home in the later part of 1944, on the way to my town, in Podwalochisk, I met members of the Zipper-Shmutz family. Within 48 hours they told me everything that had happened.

My brother Shmulke was arrested seven days after the Nazi occupation. He was imprisoned in Tarnopol, and there taken out and shot.

My mother was sent to Maidanek and then to Treblinka. My father died. As far as I know that is the destiny of my family.

Question: You took refuge in Russia. What happened and what did you do there?

Answer: I don't want to present myself as a hero. I don't want to wear the halo of a hero, many do that. I will tell you briefly. I worked very hard indeed and I was always close to the front itself between the metropolis leading from Stalingrad to Moscow and on other fronts.

I don't want to elaborate on this.

Question: After the war, you returned to Poland, why?

Answer: I swore not to rest or be quiet, until I had clarified entirely what had happened to my family and what had happened to my town.

I arrived in Mikulince in 1944. 1 was with Nissan Klein and a group of 17 survivors from Beit Zeiler. I went to see every house every street. On that which I found, I wrote about in the article.

I took a vow not to leave Europe until I learnt what had happened to the people of the town. I tried to follow their tracks, but did not manage to meet other survivors.

[Page 157]

So I arrived in Krakow. Among the gatherings there I could not find a place. The new regime was very anti-Semitic. I met some former Polish acquaintances. There was only one question posed by all of them: Another one living? How did you remain alive? I could not bear this.

I went to Czechoslovakia, to Prague. From there I went to Munich and found shelter in a refugee camp.

I had a choice, to immigrate to the USA or to come to Israel. I got a visa for the USA from relatives and went there.

Question: You told me that you very much wanted to travel with your wife in this world. What are you looking for in this wide world?

Answer: The United States is a large and beautiful country, nevertheless, I wanted to visit Europe and the Far East. I came. I have visited almost the whole of Europe, Turkey, Greece, Spain, Scandinavian countries. I have also visited a small part of China, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, New Zealand, Tahiti.

I always looked for Jewish historical places.

I look for Jews everywhere. I search for a Jewish community, for a minyan, for welcoming the Sabbath, for any kind of afternoon prayer.

I long to see what the Jews contribute to the world.

I can say this to you we have the same roots and the Jewish people carry on their tradition wherever they settle down.

In all fields we contribute a great deal and we have to be proud of this.

I'll say something else to you. No one can destroy us. Empires have disintegrated, countries have disappeared, peoples have assimilated and been absorbed. But we will never let this happen.

Question: How busy is the Organization for ex-residents of Mikulince in New York?
Answer: The young generation is not interested.

As a businessman I attend a lot at social gatherings, dinners, and parties. However the best enjoyment I have to get together times a year with the children - of Mikulince.

[Page 158]

Those active amongst us today are the Brandes brothers the Nassbergs, Mendel Helicher, Aaron Weisshois, Yaakov Gold and others.

Nowhere am I happier than when in conversation with compatriots from my town in those meetings.

Question: Our book 'Yizkor' will appear soon. How do you see its importance?

Answer: We look forward to this book. It is important for us for our sons and daughters.

I believe that this book, and the part in English, will serve the second generation of our town in the United States, as its Hebrew equivalent will serve the young generation in this country. I believe that this book will give them interest in what we, strove for love of live, the spiritual courage to survive and to build a new life. This book may teach the young generation to learn and to know the ground and the body in which our townspeople stood.

It is possible that this book which we are about to publish will serve as research documents in the future for those wishing to write about the Holocaust and the pillars of our people. You ask about the importance of the book. I will tell you an incident which happened to me. Recently I met one of the survivors of the Babadiin. He told me that there had been research into the Babad family, including the Babad family from our town and when I asked him for a copy of the book he informed me that he only had one copy available.

Publishing this book and distributing it in libraries and in research establishments, may perhaps prevent the same thing happening.

Question: What are your plans for the future?

Answer: I will reveal to you that my wife and I are planning to buy an apartment in Jerusalem and I hope that we together with our only daughter Brancia will use it.


[Pages 161-164]

Balkan: Tel Aviv

Moiz Engel (Moshe Katz)

Completed by Izik Hersh Schwarz

Donated by Karen Rosenthal

Forty years have passed since we last saw each other – on our flight from Mikulince in the face of the Nazis.

At this meeting which took place in Tel Aviv it is easy to understand my feelings.

I was born, grew up and educated in the district which bore the strangest name – “Balkan.” Hersh Katz (Klemke), the gay pauper of the district owned this name. He was an intelligent man who loved football, theatre and all kinds of cultural events and other entertainment. He knew all the cantorial songs and many folk songs in Yiddish as well as Polish, Russian and Ukrainian parables.

He was the father of three – Yosef, Shlomo Ber and Levi. In the same house lived his father, Simcha Dovid Katz and his wife Hannah, and their sons Zale (Bezalel), Honnah and daughter Michele (she died before the war).

On the other side of the house lived Ya'akov Meir Shor who was the prayer leader (public emissary), Ya'akov Meir was learned in Torah (Talmud Chacham) and I studied in his Cheder. He was the father of four – Fishl, Malka, Menucha and Shalom. Shalom emigrated to Israel with the first pioneers. He brought his sister Menucha to Israel. She has been a resident here for many years.

The look of the town and its features

This was a district which had been saved from being burnt at the beginning of the twentieth century. The streets and houses would remain different.

Most of the houses were built of white brick, their floors of wood, their roofs of sheet metal.

And even the Balkan was different.

The little huts were built of straw and clay, their floors were of clay, their roofs of wood, strip attached to strip “Gontes” ceilings.

On many days the housewives hastily gathered all vessels in order to gather the drips, the ceaseless flow so that the house would not disintegrate.

In honour of the Sabbath, they used to smear the floor with clay, clean the oven, mend the pipes in every house in order to bake the Challah for the Sabbath and bread for weekdays (if capable of buying flour).

Grandparents, their children, their children's children – daughters and son-in-laws all crowded into the house.

Every night they were busy with “Let's get wise.” What was offered was offered to all. Tired and weary, members of the household settled into a deep sleep, dreaming of a better tomorrow – which was late in coming.

With sunrise the men rushed to the first Minyan for Shachrit (morning prayer) – not for the prayer but for the drink and light refreshment. There was no shortage of “Yor Zeit” – they prayed and blessed life there in accordance with the saying uttered by them – ascending for the soul and for us salvation.

At every evening when the women were freed from their hard toil, they would sit in their doorways gossiping. They watched the women secretly returning from the Mikve – this one expecting her first baby, the other the tenth in number.

There were no non-Jews in the district, but on Sabbath the “Sabbath Goy” would appear. His job was to extinguish the Sabbath candles, stoke the oven and the like. He was rewarded with a piece of Challah in addition to a light meal.

The house of glory

In one of the huts lived the town jester, Chaim Kermash with his seven children.

A goy who witnessed the event tells about his first born son Shimon (Kuba): At the time of the Nazi occupation a group of Jews were taken out to be liquidated by firing squad. The Nazis made them dig their own graves. Shimon, one of the group, refused to obey and threw himself onto the German. He was shot first, there on the spot.

I remember well his daughter, Sheindl. She was pretty. An American citizen, a son of the town, Yosele, was in love with her. He took her for his wife and brought her to the United States where she still lives.

Chaim the “Jester” rented on room in the hut for the Pigur family of six.

Chaim Pigur was a carpenter. He worked at this trade in a corner of the room. In another corner was the sewing “room” – the realm of his wife- help to the income. Here she would sew linens for the town's people. The baking oven had an honoured position in the room. All the crafts packed together was proof enough of this room.

Another owner in the same house was Motia Miler (Puzik). He made clothes for women who set up mainly as women of fashion. With his clients he spoke faulty Polish, spattered with Yiddish. In this sewing room he lived together with his wife, daughters, son-in-law, and grandchildren.

Here also was the home of Wolf Kuczer, a tailor.

This place was crowded and narrow, but there was joy and happiness. There was no running water in the house just as there was no running water in any other house in Mikulince. There were no toilets in this house, just as there were none in any other house in Balkan.

Why was it called Balkan? I heard a logical argument – and it was acceptable in my opinion. From the beginning of winter until spring people of the district used to pour the waste water outside. It froze, accumulated, and grew in size forming a mound. Hersh Katz crowned the mound with the name of Balkan. When melted, it formed garbage.

My neighbours were: Berel the cripple, Dovid “Der Kurizer” (the short), Shaya Yosef the Waggoner (wagon owner), Shabtai Auerbach – the only Klezmer who knew notes, and other Klezmerin of the Hass house. Shabtai was blessed with a daughter Sisl who was the most beautiful daughter in Mikulince.

On passing the Balkan, you could hear the pounding of hammers, the whir of the sewing machines, the knock of wooden nails on the shoemakers bench, the sound of song from the craftsmen's apprentice, the sound of the violin, flute, drum and trumpet of the “instruments”, and the noise of babies – informing you that people live and work here.

Mikulince was a small town but there was a pleasant youth there. We, the youth, used to meet together, in different organizations and movements to sing and dance.

I used to play football with Asher Babad (the son of the Rabbi from Tluste). The ball was made of rags and we would kick it the length of Loshnov Square.

The fate of my family

My brother Leib was conscripted into the Polish army when the war broke out in 1939. He never returned.

After two weeks the Russian army arrived. We were happy to see them. We, the Jews, were very much wanted by the Germans. The Russians were forced to retreat in 1941 and fled from Mikulince. I took refuge with them and so did my sister Devorah, and others. My mother, Sarah, my sister Rachel, and my brother Yankele remained in Mikulnce and were wiped out. My father, Izzie Katz, died of cancer in Mikulince in 1936.

I live in the United States and I am married to Sonia, have a daughter Eileen and a son Robert.

Diplomat Hotel
Tel Aviv
May 1985


[Pages 167 - 168]

A Page in Jewish History

By N. Kleinman

Donated by Karen Rosenthal

Mikulince is or was a dot on the map, but from there came, migrated, or were driven out people who made a name for themselves, helped each other and the total Jewish life. Starting about 1890, men and women left for America, Cuba, South Africa and worked hard to improve themselves and help others.

Of those who came to the U.S. were organized at least three associations or lodges. Their children became educators, lawyers, doctors, businessmen and even politicians. They had their own Synagogue and over 10 Sefer Torahs, held yearly “Balls,” theater parties, festivals, outings and meetings. They took part in all phases of Jewish American life.

In the days of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, he had as an advisor Judge M. Rosenbaum, a Mikulincean. The son of one of the early presidents, Goldhirsch, became famous as the editor of the Carolina “Israeli: newspaper. Harry Golden was a writer of many books. One was called “Two Cents Plain” in which he mentions the “Mikulincer Verein.”

In early 1920 when Jewish life centered around the East side, Saturday meant a meeting at Shul, a drink and on Saturday night a barrel of beer. The family grew. Soon the next generation moved to different parts of New York and other places in the United States like Bayonne, New Jersey, Cleveland, Chicago, etc. Then the synagogue was empty and the Torahs were places in active synagogues.

Some of our presidents were J. Engel, J. Goldbird, P. Hirshhorn, Hyman Lederman, I. Bazaar, H. Halpern, N. Vogelbaum, Morris Lederman and Iger Yidel (Julius).

The recording secretary for many years was Joseph Goldhirsch and Morris Trief was the Financial Secretary. In 1944, N.K. Kleiman became the Financial Secretary for 25 years. During the 1940's, as soon as the society heard that someone was saved out of the Holocaust, we sent money and packages. We sent packages to Israel in 1944, 1945 and 1946. When those who were saved came to the United States, we helped in every way possible for them to settle in. There came Dr. Kosover, Dr. Amerant, Dr. Landau, Dr. Tunis – and other professionals and businessmen. In a few years everyone stood on his or her own feet and kept helping others still in Europe.

All the members acted like one family when a “simcha” or problem came – each was a “relative.” We grow from strength to strength.


[Pages 169 - 177]

Mikulince, Facts and Figures

(The material has been taken from the
Beit Hatfutsot Diaspora Museum Archives in Tel Aviv)

Mikulince-Tarnopol the Tarnopol district

Population Table

Year

Total

Jews

1765 ? 427
1880 3750 2411
1890 3835 2468
1900 3660 2284
1910 3511 2137
1921 3217 1891
1931 ? 1790

In 1595, by royal charter, the village of Mikulince became a township. It was privately owned by the population. In 1674, the Turks besieged the town and captured it. A few residents were murdered and some were taken prisoners.

Economic development came to Mikulince during the first half of the nineteenth century. In 1820, health spas were built in the suburb of Konopkovka where mineral springs had been discovered as far back as the 17 th century .The spas brought to Mikulince patients from all over the eastern Galicia region and greatly helped the town's economy. At about the same time, a wool weaving factory was also established.

However, in the second half of the century, Mikulince's economic situation declined. With the introduction of the railroad, patients from Eastern Galicia now had access to health resorts all over the Austrian Empire, and the factory in Mikulince also did not succeed in competing against the more industrialized parts of the empire.

In 1903, a large fire broke out in the town and destroyed about three hundred buildings. There were also fatalities. A large portion of the population, about two thousand persons, remained homeless. The First World War and the economic situation in Poland during the 1920's and '30's brought a further decline in the economic situation of the town. As a result, the Population gradually decreased in the years preceding the Second World War.

The earliest record of Jewish settlement in Mikulince dates to 1716. That year, the Jewish community in the town paid a head tax of 482. In 1765, the community, including the Jews living in nearby villages, 485 persons.

The Mikulince rabbis known to us were Rabbis Naftali Hirsch and Aharon Brode in 1780. Rabbi Abraham Arie Babad was rabbi of Mikulince in the middle of the nineteenth century and died in 1860. The next to hold the rabbinate, Haim Babad, died in 1889. After that, the rabbinate in Mikulince passed from father to son: Rabbi Moshe and Rabbi Haim Babad who died in 1906; his son Rabbi Yehoshua Heshel Babad who was rabbi of Mikulince from 1906 to 1912 and his son Rabbi Yosef Ben-Zion Babad who was killed during the Second World War in 1942 or 1943.

The 1903 fire seriously hurt the Jews of Mikulince, who comprised two thirds of the town's total population. Among other things, the synagogue and other houses of prayer were burned, as was the school founded by Baron Hirsch. In spite of this, the Jewish community picked up the pieces and rebuilt.

The Austrian authorities helped. In 1910, the synagogue again stood, this time built of brick, and its magnificent interior was restored. The study house, eight prayer houses and the Baron Hirsch School were also rebuilt.

Before the First World War, Jews served as mayors of the town. (Mayor Kurtz for example) and in other important positions such as judgeships (Judge Glick) and running the railway station. When war broke out, many Jews fled to neighboring villages and to the cities nearby. Most returned to Mikulince when it was occupied by the Russians, but some Mikulince Jews traveled to other cities in Austria and remained there throughout the war.

The Russian authorities' attitudes toward the Jews of Mikulince were tolerable. The Jews were not persecuted but were conscripted for difficult public works' jobs such as building fortifications, street cleaning, etc. Their economic situation also deteriorated because of the change of currency, expropriation of houses and property for military use and other economic measures. Commerce and industry were at a standstill. Even after the disintegration of the Austrian Empire, Mikulince's Jews did not suffer from the Ukrainians or later (in 1920) from the Bolsheviks. They, too, limited themselves to expropriating property and drafting the men for public works. However, when the Polish Army units under General Haller's command, they attacked the Jews, cut beards and side locks and insulted Jews in other ways. Under Polish rule, the economic situation of Mikulince's Jews deteriorated further and their number continued to decline as more and more of them left town. Under Polish rule, the Jews continued to support themselves primarily through commerce -selling the agricultural produce of neighboring villages in larger markets and selling their own manufactured items to the farmers. There were a few wholesalers and a few wealthy exporters who dealt in cattle, eggs, wheat and, above all, fabrics. A few Jews owned flour and grits mills, beer breweries and taverns. During the period between the two world wars, there were also two Jewish doctors, three Jewish lawyers a Jewish judge and a Jewish pharmacist in Mikulince.

There was a Jewish bank in Mikulince. In 1929, a fund for interest-free loans was established and between 1933 and 1937 the loans given by the fund averaged 3126 zloty a year. The occupational distribution of the borrowers, according to data from 1936 and 1937, was as follows: 109 small merchants, 27 craftsmen, twenty laborers, four farmers and 26 others.

In the cultural-political sphere, the Zionists were very active. The local Zionist organization already existed in 1898. In 1903, a social club of the intelligentsia, with a Zionist orientation, was active organizing: shows, parties and events of a cultural and educational nature. In 1912, Hamizrachi organized charity activities under the sponsorship of "Pat La orchim". An indication of the influence, which Zionism had in Mikulince, can be gauged from the fact that in the elections to the Polish parliament in 1922 most of the 699 Jews with the right to vote supported the National List. A report from 1923 mentions an "Ezrah" branch in Mikulince and the activities of the local "hehalutz" branch are mentioned in a report from 1924. In the 20's, a "Hitachdut" branch was also established and included a library and dramatic club. In the 1930's, the Revisionists and "Hitachdut Poalei Zion" organized branches in Mikulince. In 1933 and 1934, branches of "Achvah" and "Young Achvah" were founded and they ran a Kibbutz training program in Vola Mazoviecka. "Achvah" also ran a library, a drama club, an orchestra and the Herzliya Sports Club. The "Hapoel" sports club also existed in Mikulince. "Hashomer Hatsair" resumed its work in Mikulince in 1936 and also had a library. Its graduates organized into "stam Halutz" Zionist youth clubs, "Hashachar" and "Gordonia", also worked in Mikulince. "Gordonia" was the strongest of the youth organizations. The Zionists opened a club in Mikulince; called Der Verein. Under Zionist influence, courses sponsored by the Association of Jewish Elementary and High Schools in Lvov were offered in Mikulince itself. There was also a Hebrew school, apparently a sequel to Hebrew courses, which began in 1907. The organization "Ivriah" opened a branch in Mikulince including a club and Hebrew courses. In elections to the 15 th , 17 th , 18 th and 19 th Zionist Congresses, the "Hitachdut" or the League for a Working Land of Israel got most of the Mikulince votes. The General Zionist were in second place, and third (with a much smaller number of votes) was the Mizrachi.

During the period between the two world wars, hassids had great influence in Mikulince, particularly the Rijin, Husyatin and Chortkov hassids. The Rijin hassids were the basis for the "agudat Yisrael" branch established in Mikulince after the First World War. There was a bitter struggle between Agudat Yisrael and the Zionists in Jewish community elections. In 1933, the Zionists won the elections and Agudat Yisrael went to the authorities and asked that the Jewish community leadership be disbanded. They succeeded. A commissar was appointed to head the Jewish community but the real power was in the hands of Agudat Yisrael.

In order to insure their continued hegemony in the Jewish community, Agudat Yisrael decided to deny clean-shaven Jews the right to vote in the next community elections. They disqualified 203 voters from among the 600 who had the right to vote, including those who shaved with a razor. The victims complained to the district authorities in Tarnopol. In the 1927 elections to the Mikulince town council, the Jews got 17 seats (including three held by Zionists) out of the 48 seats on the council. In the 1933 elections, a separate slate of Jewish candidates was not approved but three Jews were elected on the Sanacsia slate, two of them Zionists.

In 1933, the anti-Semitic mayor Kazimovski made the Jews' lives miserable. He discriminated particularly against the Jews in need of welfare assistance and made it difficult for them to get free medical care.

The Second World War

With the outbreak of war and during the period of Soviet rule, the Jewish population of Mikulince increased because of refugees from Western Poland and the exile by Soviet authorities of several Jews from larger cities to Mikulince. When hostilities between the Germans and the Soviets began in 1941, the Mikulince population suffered from the German shellings because a Soviet airfield was located nearby. The German legions occupied the town on July 5, 1941. After the Soviet Army retreated, and even before the Germans entered the town, the local Ukrainians began atrocities against the Jews. When the Germans came into town, they demanded that the Ukrainian mayor bring them two Jews whom they could execute for show. The two Jews were shot that very evening in public. The pogrom, which had begun beforehand, now continued with the participation of German soldiers, Ukrainian police and Ukrainian farmers from the surrounding area who flocked to town for the purpose. They all stormed Jewish homes, robbing and murdering. The Ukrainian police brought a group of between twelve and twenty Jews to the outskirts of town. The Jews were told they would work in the beer brewery .When they got there, they were commanded to dig a large grave, supposedly to bury a dead horse. The Jews were murdered with spades and were thrown into the hole, some while still alive. On top of the pile of bodies, the Ukrainians threw the horse's corpse. At the same time, all the Jews were rounded up to clean streets and roads and to bury the pogrom victims in a mass grave in the cemetery.When the work was done, the Jews were led to the bridge over the Seret River. The Ukrainians planned to murder them then and there, but a German officer came along and prevented the murder. The Jews were beaten but their lives were saved.

The mass pogrom ended but a campaign of arrests against the intelligentsia the wealthy and those formerly active in public life. Some managed to bribe their way out of jail but eighteen were shot to death. Among them were D. Marcus, Wolfenhart, Goldstein and her daughter. The same laws which the Germans used against Jews everywhere else applied in Mikulince: the requirement to hand over gold and other valuables, the obligation of men and women to work, and the requirement that Jews wear the yellow star of David. At the end of 1941, the Jews were ordered to destroy their synagogue, to remove the head stones in the cemetery and to use the stones to pave the streets of Mikulince. In the winter of 1941-42, the Jews of Mikulince were ordered, as were Jews elsewhere, to hand over to the Germans any fur they possessed. The robbery of Jewish property in different ways and different excuses continued ceaselessly but increased in the spring of 1942. Now, the Jews were ordered to give the Germans all the food they had and in addition those who brought the food to the collection point were harassed. At the same time, a group of German policemen from Tarnopol arrived in Mikulince. They went from one Jewish home to the next, taking the best of what they found in each. From time to time, Jews were killed for various "crimes". For example, the Germans would shoot Jews whom they caught in the neighboring villages selling their property or buying food. The Jewish men of Mikulince were seized and taken to labor camps. Jewish men and women from Mikulince also worked on farms in the area or in the village of Mishkovitse. Conditions there were slightly better; the Jews were not victimized and did not suffer from hunger.

Near some of the farms, camps were built where the Jewish laborers lived, and they were occasionally able to visit their families in Mikulince. The Judenrat, headed by Attorney Yegendorf, helped the Germans by providing manpower and in collecting fines (property) from the population. Yagendorf's assistant was Zaltzman. We know the names of the members of the Judenrat: Morgenstern, Walfisch, Horowitz, Margulis. There was no fenced-in ghetto in Mikulince, but the Jews were ordered to concentrate in a particular part of town near the bank of the river. In July and August, 1942, the Jews of Mikulince learned of the destruction of Jewish settlements in the entire region. Those who could do so prepared hiding places.

On August 28, 1942, German and Ukrainian police arrived from Tarnopol, surrounded the Jewish quarter, forced the Jews out of their houses and put them into trucks. The old and sick were murdered. on the spot. There were also many casualties among those who tried to escape. Most of those who hid in the nearby forest were killed. The "action" continued all day; Twelve hundred Jews were brought to the railroad station and from there by train to the extermination camp at Belsez. Between eighty and a hundred Jews were killed in Mikulince itself during the "action". Afterward, the Christian population stormed the Jewish homes and looted them.

A few dozen Jews did manage to hide and to avoid being sent to the extermination camps. The Germans left them alone for a few weeks and exploited them for cleaning the vacated apartments and for sorting the looted goods for transport to the local administration. In late September or early October 1942, the Germans decided that Mikulince must be free of Jews. The remaining Jews were therefore ordered to move to the Tarnopol ghetto. According to another version, the Jews left in Mikulince were ordered at the end of October 1942 to move to the ghetto in Trembovla until November 1, 1942. The Jews therefore loaded what remained of their property into wagons and left Mikulince.

Since the authorities did not supervise their exodus, the Jews went to other towns in the area where there were still remnants of Jewish communities. There, too, however, the same fate awaited all of them.

Sources

  1. A.B.L.G. 1421
  2. A.J.W.S. M1/E 584/508
  3. M1/Q2465/631
  4. 03/2534
  5. ajawwa: adrp 44
  6. amti: p83 (e33), p33 (f3)
  7. Azm a.214-1
  8. Z.4-2996
  9. Ashtz: (3) 84.1.2
  10. The Budzanov Book Haifa 1968 1/2 age 173

« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »


This material is made available by JewishGen, Inc. and the Yizkor Book Project for the purpose of
fulfilling our mission of disseminating information about the Holocaust and destroyed Jewish communities.
This material may not be copied, sold or bartered without JewishGen, Inc.'s permission. Rights may be reserved by the copyright holder.


JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material for verification.
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.

  Mikulintsy, Ukraine     Yizkor Book Project     JewishGen Home Page


Yizkor Book Project Manager, Lance Ackerfeld
This web page created by Lance Ackerfeld

Copyright ©1999-2014 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 25 May 2003 by LA