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Preface

With a feeling of bereavement and orphanhood we bring this Memorial Book to our “Landsleit” the “Monastrischer” wherever they live now.

We regard these pages as a tombstone to witness and memorize chapters from the daily life and cultural activity of our beloved ones, who were massacred by the Hitler-Nazi hordes, during the second World War.

We know, that this is not a literary creation, but we feel as survivors of Hitlers hell, that it is our holy duty to express our pain and sadness in addition to the great lamentation of the Jewish people, who lost six million during the darkest days in the holocaust.

The collection of the various chapters written by our plain “Shtetale-people” most of whom are not blessed with the ability to write, was a difficult and a long lasting task.

Nevertheless, we the book committee members see in publishing this “Memory Book” a fulfillment of the victims commandment, as a way to pay tribute and honour to their suffering.

When our dearest ones, were led to extermination like sheep ready for slaughter, they cried out besides “Shma-Israel” survivors! never stop telling the coming generations about our tragic and dreadful fate.

“Never forget, never forgive, and never let it happen again?”

In this book written with blood and tears, we try to fulfill their holy will, as a holy command.

Someone may ask what can historical or memorial chapters about a small town like Monasterzyska contribute to the great quantity of material already gathered by scientific-research institutes? What can it add to the hundreds of other memorial books about great Jewish community-centers in Galicia? While wandering and settling in the wide world, whatever happens

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to man, in cheer on in sadness, he uses to delight himself by memories from the old home. Most of us do remember with sacred feeling the tradition of his father's and mother's home, the celebration of Shabbat and holidays in a certain manner at the table surrounded by the whole family, the Rabbis cheder, the old synagogue or the games on the playgrounds with the comrades.

We tried to collect all these memories for surviving “Monastrischer” and for Eternity as well.

The coming generations can learn from these pages – the most tragic and the most miserable period in Jewish history, inflicted to them by a quasi “Cultured Nation like the Germans”. We are aware of the fact that for some Monastrischer who are not used to Hebrew or Yiddish languages, this book may be a sealed one.

Turning to the parents of those, we want to recite an old Jewish principle “Lecture and lecture again, for the sake of your children”. The right meaning is: You should read and translate this book to your children and grandchildren, so they may become acquainted with “The Source of Their Origin”.

In spite of the fact, that our parent and grandparents had a hard life and a permanent fight for existence to make a living six days of the week, nevertheless they carried a great spirit and a bright tradition. Generations to generations possessed as an inheritance the proverb:

“Torah, work and good deeds”.

These rules and traditions are based on the golden chain of continuance which created Jews as a People.

Because : Eternity of Israel can never be denied.

The Book Committee


Remember

The town Monasterzyska is in the western corner of Eastern Galicia in the neighbourhood of the towns Buczacz, Podhajce and others of the district – Tarnopol. The region was called also – Podolia.

A regular Jewish community in Monasterzyska is noted already in 1552 under the rule of the king of Poland, Sigmund August.

Toward the end of the 17th century, 1667–1669 the Jews of Monasterzyska suffered from the invasion of the Turks and Tatars, and only the Polish king, Jan Sobieski repulsed them.

In this period came the false messiahs Shabtai-Zvi (1626–1676). Also the Frankish movement in the years 1750–1760 has divided some of the Monastrishcher, and a few of them took on Christianity. Upon the first division of Poland in 1772, all Galicia passed over to the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. And with the outbreak of World War I, in 1914, the region was occupied by the Russian army, and at the end of the war in 1918, Galicia passed over into the New Polish State. World War II broke out in 1939, with the invasion of the German-Hitlerite army into Poland.

At this time the Russians occupied Polish border areas according to the Molotov-Ribentrop agreement.

Up to June 1941 “the Russians left all the area, and the Germans continued to advance eastwards within Russian-Ukraine.

At the beginning of their rule the Nazis began to persecute the Jews, to take away their fundamental rights of personal freedom.

The Jews were concentrated in labour camps, in effect dead-camps, where they did hard labour with a shortage of food, and for the slightest offence, the “Offenders” were shot dead.

This was the beginning of the first days of the Nazis.

Before the first great “Action” in Monasterzyska began, the Gestapo helped by the Ukrainian police, surrounded the town, took about 850 men. women with children out of their houses and took them to the

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railway trucks like pigs, and sent them to the Belzec extermination camp.

Only a few of them succeeded to jump out while the train was in motion, and they came back to Monasterzyska. A young girl, the daughter of Bezalel and sister of Mordechai Drimer, died a heroic death. She cursed the murderers while she was at the railway station. “You will pay for your terrible crimes, and will damned for ever” ! Than she was shot down by a Nazi soldier. in the last moment of her life she sang “Hatikwa”.

After a short time came the “Action” in 17.10.1942.

Everybody was ordered to move to the neighbouring town, Buczacz.

The first to arrive at Buczacz were taken by Ukrainian police, to the camp “Borki” near Tarnopol.

Hundreds of them were hanged in this camp.

In 27.11.1942 the second “Action” began. The Jews were concentrated near the “Fedor” in Buczacz. There they were ordered to dig a big grave.

A mass-grave and all of them were shot dead near the hole into which they fell. Two thousand people were killed on this day.

The third “Action” began on the 2.2.1943. and a week before Passover.

The Nazis began a new “Operation”. It was so sudden, only a few could escape and save themselves. People were shot in every place. This picture was terrible. Many of them were injured, but not dead. After this “Action” a small number still remained alive. But after some weeks a new “Action” came. It was in 26.5.1943. The Germans decided to proclaim the town Buczacz “Judenrein” and they sent the rest of the Jews towns, Teuste and Kopyczynce. After arriving there, they were shot. Many Jews of Monasterzyska lost their lives on that day. In winter 1943/4 the Germans began to retreat from Russia. But the Nazis murdering-machinery worked in full strength. One Day in the 24th of June 1943, the Russians appeared suddenly. The rest of the Jews have concentrated themselves in Buczacz. Maybe two hundred of them.

But until they grasped what was happening to them, the Germans turned back to Buczacz, concentrated the rest of these Jews, and killed them at the new cemetery in Monasterzyska.

On their last way they were robbed by the peasants of Hrehorow.

Such was the end of the Jewish community in Monasterzyska, after hundreds of years of their historical existence there.

After the end of the war only a very limited number of the Jewish population remained – from numbered 2500 souls.

Most of them came to Israel, and a small part emigrated to the United-states and Canada.

The Association of the “Irgun lotzei Monasterzyska” in Israel, has planted trees in the “Forest on the Holy Victims” on the way to Jerusalem.

We would like to commemorate the veterans of our Association in Israel: Moshe Aspis. ShIomo Fink and Mordechai Drimer – May they always be remembered.

Finally we would like to express our sincere thanks to all those who offered of their time in helping to publish this book. Especially to our friends in U.S.A. and Canada, and also to the committee members of our Association in Israel.

M.S.

Note: The errors in the English text have been left as is.

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