NADWÓRNA
(STANISLAV DISTRICT)







M E M O R I A L   A N D   R E C O R D S







THE BOOK WAS PUBLISHED BY THE LANDSMANSHAFT
OF NADWORNA IN ISRAEL AND AMERICA

1 9 7 5


The material of this book had been collected
and prepared for the press by
Israel Carmi (Otto Kramer)


Executive Committee :

Menahem Mendel Abush
Israel (Isske) Grauer
Zalman Harz
Israel Carmi

Book Committee :

Menahem Abush, Israel Grauer, Menahem Harz, Zalman Harz,
Gabrieel Asafh, (Samier), Gershon Jurman, Israel Carmi,
Giza Petranker, Mordechaj Rotshtein, Mordechaj Schreier.


The Committee of NADWORNA IN AMERICA :

The Committee of Nadworna in America
Chairman-Treasurer : Dr. Jacob Deutscher
Secretary : Schaje Schmerler


Member of the Committee :

Paul Berger, Schije Berger, David Feuer, David Hartman, Paul Knittel,
Izak Müller, Bernard Ratshprecher


i


My heart-felt thanks to my wife Emma and
my son, Haim, his spouse Shevi, and Avi
for the encouragement and understanding
they displayed during the preparation of
the material perpetuating the memory of
the NADWORNA Jewish community.

Israel Carmi



[Page 3]

Introduction
by
Rabbi Samuel Hubner

I write this introduction for the benefit of the young generation who read and understand only English and therefore cannot know the significance of this book.

This book which was prepared and published at the initiative of the "Jews of Nadworna in Israel" in cooperation with the "Nadworna Social Circle" in New York is a memorial to our home town Nadworna, to our brothers and sisters who were inhumanly murdered by the Germans.

Our town shared the fate of all the towns and cities which were invaded by the Germans. Soon after the Germans occupied the town, the commander began with the preparations to carry out the diabolic plan of the Germans — the extermination of all the Jews, men and women, old people and children. The commander made every effort to accomplish this task as quickly as possible in order to receive a medal of distinction for his zeal in making the town "Judenrein" (empty of Jews).

On the first day of Sukkoth 1941, one month after the occupation of the town, the first 'action' was carried out: 2500 Jews were killed in a forest near the town. In the beginning of 1942 the commander of Nadworna could already report to the chief commander that the goal had been reached and that of all the Jews of Nadworna no one remained. All the synagogues were reduced to ashes and the houses of the Jews had been taken over by the Ukrainians, who cooperated with the Germans.

Nadworna was once a Jewish town, with Rabbonim and Dayonim, with Melamdim and Talmidim, with Jewish libraries and readers, with Jewish lecturers and audiences. Nothing has remained of all this. All was swept from the earth.

This book is a memorial to our relatives and friends who were butchered by the Germans, and who did not come to rest in a Jewish grave, nor does a Jewish tombstone mark their place of burial. Let this book be their monument, a monument greater and more enduring than a slab of stone.

This book will relate to future generations the atrocity of the Germans, the deeds of horror they perpetrated against our people. The readers will curse them and pray to G-d to avenge the blood of our sacred martyrs.

This book features nostalgic descriptions of the Jewish life in Nadworna as it was before the holocaust, articles filled with longing for our town. There will awaken in us memories of the past rekindling the flame of love for our birthplace. The reading of these pages will revive within us a world that was and is no more.

Nadworna was not a big Jewish center, but its Jewish population mirrored in composition "en miniature" the large Jewish world. There were in Nadworna Jews of all economic classes, of all religious affiliations and of all political parties. There were businessmen and workmen, professionals and laborers, Hasidim and Maskilim ("enlightened ones"), Zionists and assimilationists. All classes and parties lived in peace with one another. The town's Jews lived a quiet life undisturbed by internal strife.

They were awake to happenings in the large world. Every significant Jewish movement found adherents in Nadworna. The youth, especially, was receptive to every new idea or program which aimed at the improvement of relations between man and man, nation and nation.

The following few vignettes should serve to illustrate the diversity of the mode of Jewish life.

The First Yeshiva Bahurim

A number of boys left the town to study at Yeshivas. Their number was small. Most of the boys preferred study at a Gymnasium (high-school). It opened for them the way for an academic career which yielded a good income as well as honor. Also there were no Yeshivas in Galicia as there were in Hungary and in Lithuania. In Galicia, boys who wanted to deepen their Talmud knowledge would study in the town's Beth Hamidrash. The small number of Nadworna youth who left the town for a Yeshiva were motivated solely by the idealistic desires to study the Torah with a great master.

The first Nadworna "Yeshiva Bahur" was Hershel Shinefeld. His father, the owner of a bakery, sent him to Huszt, then Hungary, whose Yeshiva was headed by Rabbi Amram Gruenwald, the famous author of "Arugat HaBosem". The second "Bahur", was the writer of these lines. He studied with the Gaon Rabbi Pinhas Horowitz at the Yeshiva of Brodshin which was the first Yeshiva to be established in Galicia. Joseph Wilner was the third "Bahur" of our town. He studied at the Buczacz Yeshiva whose head was Rabbi Yekuthiel Kamelhar. Meshulem, the son of Welvel Bickel, was the fourth to leave for a Yeshiva. He had been a notary's clerk, but gave up his job to study at the Yeshiva of Stanislawow. Yeshaya Schmerler, too, studied at Brodshin, but he did not go there from Nadworna, but from Slotvina, where he had resided.

In the period between the two world wars many boys from Nadworna studied in Stanislawow. Most of them attended the gymnasium there, while a small number studied at the city's Yeshiva. Thus there were in Nadworna youngsters who immersed themselves in classical Greek and Roman Literature, mathematics and physics, and there were such who devoted themselves entirely to the study of the Talmud and its commentaries.

The First Halutz

Menahem Rosenheck, son of Dutzi and brother of Shmuel, returned from the war to Nadworna in October 1918. He bristled with energy and a desire to "accomplish things". He organized a small group and filled them with enthusiasm for "Binyan HaAretz" (rebuilding of the Land of Israel). Before the first war there had lived in Nadworna a man by the name of Simhe Hirsch. He was completely assimilated and lived like a gentile. Even on Yom Kippur he did not come to synagogue. His daughter was raised in the same assimilationist spirit. Rosenheck became acquainted with her. He convinced her of the futility of assimilation; she began to study Hebrew and returned to our people and culture. Eventually they married and in 1920 settled in the Land of Israel. They named their son Herzl. The son fell in the War of Independence Rosenheck (Allon) was the editor of the Teachers Journal of Israel. He died in .......

THE YOUTH

In the period between the two world wars, I did not live in Galicia, but I visited occasionally my parents who had moved from Nadworna to Stanislawow.

In November 1932 I was again on a visit in Stanislawow. When news of my visit reached Nadworna, the town's young people sent Azriel Rosenheck (a son or Dutzi) to invite me to give a lecture in Nadworna as I had done on a previous occasion. I accepted the invitation and told Azriel that I would lecture on the difference between Maimonides' and Kant's views on the essence of ethics.

This was not a political nor an entertaining topic, but a very serious philosophical discourse — yet the place was packed. After the lecture the young people showed me their library which boasted a goodly number of fine Hebrew and Yiddish works. On the way back to my brother-in-law's house, where I stayed, a young man attached himself to us and asked me questions relating to my lecture. It was evident that he was very well versed in Kant's philosophy and his questions touched upon problems which occupied Kant's commentators. Later Mendel Hubner, my brother-in-law told me that the young man was the son-in-law of Hersh Drach and that he was known in the town for his wide knowledge in philosophy, especially philosophy of religion.

FAITHFULNESS TO THE TOWN

One day in 1932 Rabbi Meir Belzer, one of the town's Dayonim, received a letter from Johannesburg in South Africa. The letter contained a check for S 10,000. The sender wrote that he did not know the address of the community and therefore he sent the letter to the rabbi whose address he knew. He wanted the rabbi to transmit the check to the president of the community who was to use it for the benefit of the town's Jews.

The sender was the son of Mendel Levi. He had left Nadworna in his youth and had done well in South Africa. He had not forgotten the town where he was born and raised and wanted to help its people.

A MEMORIAL

This book is a memorial to our home town of Nadworna. The Jewish town was obliterated by the Germans — but its memory will live on in our hearts and in the hearts of our children. We recall with love and affection the colorful Jewish life of our town and remember with grief and pain the massacre of its Jewish population, the undescribable suffering and anguish of our brothers and sisters. The memory of our martyrs will be engraved upon our hearts as long as we live.



[Page 6]

PREFACE

Years have gone by, years of gloomy distress and mourning until we, the remnants of the refugees of our township Nadworna and its surroundings living in Israel, could free our minds in order to erect a living monument to the saints of a whole congregation.

Much did we struggle with this problem. After many a lengthy debate in general meetings of the organization of the immigrants from Nadworna and its surroundings, we agreed that the only monument we can erect in memoriam of the saints of our community is, by publishing a "book of remembrance".

In one memorial meeting — which takes place once a year during the Succoth holidays — an editorial board was elected, which would be responsible for the publication of the book.

We made it our aim and expectation that this book be the result of collective efforts of all immigrants of our township, wherever they are, let anyone partake in its composition and thus donate his part.

With this in mind, we approached all emigrants from Nadworna in Israel, the Diaspora and especially in the U.S.A. times and again (verbally as well as by writing to them) asking them to supply us with literature material and monetary donations in order to help financing this publication.

We have dedicated one section of the book to pages of perpetuation in order to enable our friends to perpetuate in this way the memory of their dear ones, who were killed in the holocaust. Furthermore, we concentrated in alphabetical order, the names of the sons of our townlet who are no more nor are, unfortunately, any of their family among the living.

In the course of our endeavors we found much support from the members of our organization; in some activities we were even helped along by other active members, who gladly came to our assistance.

Most of our town people assisted us generously by supplying literature or financial aid. Our brethern in the United States of America woke up to this action.

In a special meeting which the emigrants of Nadworna held in the U.S.A. a special committee was elected who went to any length of trouble and toil in assembling literature and collecting financial aid. Their efforts were crowned with success and their literatic as well as financial donations have helped to a great extent to fulfill this difficult task we have put to ourselves.

To all these members, in Israel as well as in the United States, who did and tolled for the book — be the success of this action the payment for their efforts.

Anxiously and sorrowfully we present this fruit of above combined efforts — A LIVING MONUMENT TO THE HOLY JEWISH COMMUNITY OF NADWORNA — the rock whence we were hewn — a public mourner's Kaddish for thousands of souls who left this world.

May this book be read by our sons, so that they will know how our fathers and forefathers lived through the generations, how they fought for their survival against hostile enemy powers and oppressors how they toiled and created material and spiritual property.

May the readers read in these pages, and may they find out the manyfold treasures of the Torah and Morality, the spirit of creation and the heroism that were concealed in this community.

May they read and know who were the pioneers who developed in their hearts dreams of freedom and the return to Zion and how they did and toiled in order to exchange slavery for liberty.

Let us therefore bless the finished work and convey our gratitude to the authors of the book and all those who helped and stood by us with deed and advice, in deed and spirit.

First and foremost Rabbi Schmuel Hübner (U.S.A.) on the chapters from his creative fountain and his tireless assistance during the period of preparation. To our dear town fellows Sha'aya Schmerler, for the important material on the holocaust of Nadworna. Our deep appreciation goes also to the active committee in the United States: Dr. Jaakov Deutscher, Berger Paul, Berger Schije, Feuer David, Hartman David, Knittel Paul, Müller lzchak, Ratspracher Bernard — To Mendel Singer who provided us with important chapters from his archives of the Zionistic Activities in Nadworna before the first World War, to Shlomo Shechori and Mosheh Jungman for their help in the editing and to my friends in the executive committee of the book. Israel (Iske) Grauer, the late Menachem (Mendel) Abush, Salman Harz, Menachem (Mendel) Harz, Ben-Zion Karni (Kerzner), Gershon Jurman, Meshulem-Giza Petranker, Mordechaj Günsberg, Dr. Moshe Harz, Rela Knoll, Schmuel Cahane, who helped so much, may all be blessed with gratitude and appreciation.

May our descendants read these pages that were tearfully written by their fathers while the horrors of the holocaust are still in their minds and hearts; may they reflect and deepen in search of the fate of Israel, their nation, and to acquaint themselves with its tragic fate and its hope for future redemption.

Sincerely,

Israel Carmi
(Otto Kramer)



[Page 8]

Told by Schaje Schmerler

"Road of my Suffering" ("Mein Leidensweg")

A k t i o n !

(The word "Aktion" is the hypocritical and euphe-
mistic expression used by the Germanic supermen
for the mass murders they perpetrated).

The "Aktion" of October 6, 1941

"The wedding was a success, but we had not been prepared for such a large number of guests."

These are the cynical and sadistic words with which the Gestapo Commandant addressed his accomplices in murder and his Ukrainian helpers.

By "The wedding was a success" this German murderer meant the "successful" Aktion which they carried out, with devilish design, exactly on the day of our Sukkot holiday.

On this day which those of us Jews from Nadworna who survived will remember as the black sixth of October, these German murder specialists — eagerly supported by the Ukrainians, descendants of Chmielnicki and Petlura — managed to murder in our town more than 2.000 Jews, among them a very great number of children, in the most cruel and brutal fashion.

And with the closing part of the sentence "but we had not been prepared for such a large number of guests" this bandit meant to "apologize" for not having been able to "welcome" (shoot) all assembled "guests" (Jews) due to lack of ammunition. Therefore, he was forced, on the evening of this day that had been so "successful" for them, to send home all of the approximately 300 "guests" (Jews) who had survived at the gathering place.

At the same time, however, when this German super-murderer spoke to his assistant in murder about the "successful wedding" in such posed theatricality, the silence of death spread over Bukowinka; this place was about 3 kilometers away from town; in the course of this day it was changed into one hell — it is there that the captured Jews were brought and slaughtered.

The German murderers finished their "day's work" with the firing of their last ammunition. The last of the captured and slaughtered Jews on this day of misery, expired here, in this vale of death.

And after the German vampires had left the place of slaughter with their bloodhounds and Ukrainian executioners whose hands and clothes were dripping with Jewish blood, a ghastly silence was spreading there.

No more anguished screams could be heard no more cries for "Mama" from the frightened children who clung to their mothers seeking cover.

Half of the Jewish population of our town now filled the deep ditch dug by the retreating Austrians in the First World War to hide their ammunition.

The Ukrainians who knew about the existence of this ditch had advised the Germans to use it in the annihilation of the Jews. And the Hitler bandits, the elite of the German nation of murderers with their scientific knowledge when it came to mass extinction of human beings, found this place truly appropriate for this purpose; they really managed to convert this ammunitions container which was recommended to them, into a mass grave in the course of one single day.

More than 2000 of our most precious men, women, and children lost their lives here tragically; they tortured them to death, or had them torn to pieces by their dogs, shot them, or even threw them in alive.

It is was quiet there even now. Night had descended, covering up the traces of the horrible bloodbath. By moonlight, however, one could see what a great tragedy had taken place here by the scattered dresses, children's little clothes, little suits, tiny children's shoes, caps, and more which the victims, before they were killed, had been forced to take off and which the Ukrainians had not been able to remove altogether, because there were so many of them.

In spite of the deadly silence that had spread there, one could hear a soft vibration, a rustling from the grave. This was told by the Ukrainians who went there later, most likely in order to take along the remaining clothes. It is possible that this sound was the fermenting of the escaping blood.

It is also possible that it came from those buried alive who tried to free themselves. Or could it, possibly, be the souls of the slaughtered children which the angels were rushing to take to heaven ?

This is, approximately, how, on the evening of the disastrous October 6, 1941, the first "Aktion" carried out in our town ended; it cost the lives of half of the Jewish population.

Those Jews who had not been captured remained in hiding for the rest of the night. Unbelievable as it may seem, it is a fact that we thought that the captured and abducted people were taken to a work camp. Only late in the evening and some people only the following day — we learned about the terrible tragedy which had occurred no more than three kilometers outside the town.

The German murderers, however, gathered that evening at the restaurant of Kazia Hanus, the point of departure where, only this same morning, they had started the murderous offensive against the Jews. There they celebrated their "victory" over the Jewish women and children, and all night long they drank, ate, and made merry.

On the other hand, the Ukrainians who would not have been permitted by the "German gentlemen" to sit at the same table drinking with them, preferred to undertake a "small Aktion" of their own, as they had occasion to learn it that same day.

They took along several of the Jews who had already been let go from the gathering place, and somewhere near the Bystrzyca river at Horodysz they tortured them to death.

My older brother Mojsche was one of those unfortunates who fell into the hands of those "Hajdamaki".

I have reported the tragic end of this Aktion. Now I want to try and tell how it started and what happened in the course of that day; meaning, what I myself have seen and what those of our people who got away alive from the gathering place, have related.

Good-bye Forever

"Stay well" we said, my son Dolphi and myself. "Go well" was the answer. These were the last words Dolphi said to his mother, his sister and his brother — and I to my wife and my children — and the last words the mother said to her son and to me on this fateful early morning; and a last look which I will never be able to forget.

It was October 6, 1941. For us Jews it was the first day of the Sukkot Holiday, around 7 in the morning, a beautiful clear morning in fall. We, Dolphi and myself, prepared to go to our place of work at the agricultural district cooperative in Sokolengasse.

Outfitted with saw and axe, we left our home — as usual in such times of uncertainty, with a special farewell.

My good wife, always concerned for us, impressed on us to be careful, to walk through the side streets and not through the main streets, although it was quiet then in town and there was no reason to be worried.

Mechaly Schojchet in "Caftan" and "Stramel"

On our way to work I saw Mechaly Schojchet for the last time. I also saw for the last time, in our town, a Jew dressed in these splendid Gaftan and Strajmel. This was as we reached the corner of the market place (square) opposite the house of our uncle Leib Hillmann; there we saw him, Mechalyn from Naajer-Struut where he lived, dressed in his Schabbes finery, the "Strajmel" on his head and the bag with the Tales under his arm, coming our way. He was on the way to the synagogue (Schul). This pious, honest Mechaly who probably had noticed us, too, immediately went into a side street. This unusually fine person did not want to embarrass us because we went to work, on this high holiday, with saw and axe — a thing never before done in our town. Despite the fact that he knew we did this only out of necessity, the honest man avoided meeting us so that we would not feel ashamed. Nebbich (unfortunately) — the pious, honest Mechaly Schojchet had no idea what was in store for him on this holiday, and that this walk to Schul would be his last.

People who were together with him in the gathering place told of the gruesome tortures this honest man had to endure on that day. A Gestapo bandit first knocked out one of his eyes; then, while smearing the blood that ran from the knockedout eye over his face with his riding crop, he is supposed to have asked him: Where is your God who should protect you?

Others said that this murderer asked him that question while setting his beard afire. No matter how it happened: it was difficult, even for someone as just and pious as Mechly Schojchet, to answer the question.

My child, 11-year-old Milus, came to inform
us that Gestapo was in town

We arrived at the agricultural district cooperative in Sokolengasse without having been molested anywhere on the way. Other Jews, too, who were employed there came, like my brother Aron. We did our work as usual, nothing betrayed any approaching danger.

Around 8 or 9 o'clock our son Milus came. It seemed mother sent him to make sure that we arrived safely, and also to tell us that many German soldiers were to be seen on the streets, and we should be careful.

Of course, we were very worried about the arrival of the German soldiers which my wife informed us of, through our child (I want to mention that this information was the last connection my dear wife tried to keep up with us); we felt, however, that this "only" meant another "visit" of the kind the Gestapo had very frequently paid us recently. Which normally thinking person could have imagined, before the first "Aktion", that human beings, no matter how bad and degenerate, could have been able to do what these German beasts in uniform, these monsters in human disguise, did that very day ?

Milus stayed with us for a while; he collected little boards from the wood shavings which he took back to build something; then he went home to tell his mother that everything was alright with us.

We watched the unusually gifted and intelligent Milus go away, happy with the salvaged little boards, obviously busy thinking about what he was going to build with them.

We never saw him again. Who could then have imagined that this child who had enjoyed so little in his short life, would on this cursed day by his mother be taken to the sacrificial altar, together with many hundreds of Jewish children, also led by their mothers.

Oh, how terrible —

Shortly after Milus had left it started like a thunderous storm, and within only a few minutes the town was changed into hell.

From our place of work at the agricultural district cooperative, which was surrounded by a high fence, we could hear the smashing of windows, the breaking down of doors, rifle shots, loud and wild screaming in German and Ukrainian, accompanied by the barking of dogs, lamenting of people dragged from their homes, and crying of children.

Soon we could also see from the courtyard, where we happened to be, the first captured Jews being taken from Naajer Stuut to the gathering place which they got ready next to the polish church. But for the high fence of boards we could only see their hands which they had to keep raised.

Like wild bloodthirsty beasts of prey the German-Ukrainian "heroes" chased the people running in greatest panic and terror.

The Ukrainians are running ahead like hunting dogs. Wherever they suspect Jews they snoop and hunt about, and then they drag the unfortunate people from their homes and hiding places, wherever they can find them.

The rapidly advancing Ukrainian hordes, armed with various clubs and iron bars, are accompanied by some German "supermen" with ready-to-fire arms and fixed bayonets.

The wild screams of "Jude" — the only word in the German language the Ukrainians had picked up, connect them, the eagerly preceding "snoopers", with their German "escorts".

From our place of work we watch a deathly frightened woman run cross-country where once Sucher Burstyn's house had stood (she had probably escaped from the gathering place which has nearby). But the unfortunate woman did not get far; a ferocious young Ukrainian bandit caught up with her and killed her with an iron bar.

A small Misunderstanding was decisive

Shortly thereafter we heard from our fenced-in yard where we worked, loud and commanding cries: "Open up!" "Open up!", accentuated by vigorous knocking at the locked gate of boards.

Klemens, a non-Jewish locksmith who happened to work this day repairing the locks, opened the gate.

Two SS-soldiers, rifles at the ready, came storming in. "Are there any Jews around here?" was their demanding question. Klemens answered: "ararische Arbeit" ("ararisch work"). He meant to tell the SS-soldiers that government work was being done here. The Germans, to whom the expression "ararisch" was unknown (this word was being used by us at the times of the Austrians, for matters having to do with government), understood this answer "ararische Arbeit" to mean "arische Arbeit" ("Aryan work"). Obviously they were satisfied with this answer, because they left the yard.

It was a lucky coincidence that no Ukrainian had come along with the Germans, otherwise the matter would have ended differently for us.

We learned more when Leib Bressler came to us, all out of breath. He had jumped from a truck going from the gathering place towards Bahngasse. He did not know where the people were being taken. But he witnessed the horrible scenes that happened in the gathering place where the unfortunate Jews from the whole town were taken.

The captured people were piled up, one atop the other, in four layers. Nobody was allowed to look around or straighten up, and woe to him who had dared; he was brutally beaten for it, even beaten to death. Then they were thrown onto the trucks which kept coming and coming, as if they were so many pieces of wood, and taken away. He, Bressler, managed to jump off one of those trucks and escaped.

As I was told, the courageous Leib Bressler came to a tragic end. A few months later he is supposed to have tried to escape to Hungary, but was caught somewhere at the border and handed over to the Tatarower monsters in Tatarow.

But there were other cases where people did the opposite of what Leib Bressler did who jumped off the running truck and escaped. They preferred to go with their deported families. They left their hiding places and voluntarily joined their captured families.

I am sorry that I cannot remember the names of those courageous people.

This is what my cousin Buli Hillmann, Leib Hillmann's son, is supposed to have done when he saw his wife and his two sons pass on such a truck; he jumped on the truck and went along with them.

Their third child, a little girl, survived this Aktion by accident. I saw the child a few times later on, but do not know what happened to her in the end.

These have become the dumping ground for the captured Jewish inhabitants of our town: the square in front of the Roman Catholic church where the building of the elementary school with its six grades once stood (I think it was there until 1914), where the gentile and Jewish children enjoyed their instruction and education together, under the direction and care of the beloved and (cherished) popular director Garblak; and this lawn here where the children belonging to our three local nationalities — Polish, Ruthenic, and Jewish — once played together and sometimes peacefully argued; these have now been changed into a gathering place.

Today these Jewish inhabitants who have lived and worked here for many hundreds of years, are being gathered here; and from here they are taken by trucks into Bukowinka, the murderer's hell, where they are being annihilated after gruesome tortures.

Now they are standing here, the one-time gentile school friends, all around this place, enjoying the bloody spectacle which the cruel murderers bring about with their former colleagues from school, their friends, and neighbors. They enjoy watching the desperate Jews being driven here with blows of clubs and whips.

For these onlookers it is fun to see how these unfortunate people have to remain in one heap, their faces on the ground.

It was not horrible for them to watch, but rather amusing, how a young woman (Seinwel Zauderer's daughter) who gave birth to a child in this gathering place, was taken away together with these unfortunates.

Well, Christian charity manifested itself in this place, in all its glory.

I have, of course, related only fragments of all the tortures which the unfortunates had to endure that day in the gathering place in front of the church; in order to repeat everything which those who escaped from there alive, have reported, one would have to write volumes.

Much less even could one describe the gruesome scenes and the horrors which occurred at the "end of the journey" in the hell of Bukowinka, on the brink of the grave; because of the thousands of Jews who were taken there, not a single one survived who could possibly have told us what happened there, and how.

All that is known to us we have learned from the sparse reports we have had from those Ukrainians and other gentile onlookers who had been "there" — and what little we were told is horrible and terrible. It is inconceivable that human beings are able to commit such a revolting crime, the murder of thousands of Jewish people in broad daylight, under the open sky.

The heart could stop if one considers the manner in which the German murderers carried out this execution. The "human freight" arriving incessantly in trucks from the gathering place in town, was unloaded at the place of execution where a deep ditch took the place of a gallows; and what the unfortunates who were brought there had to see, and altogether, what happened to this human freight, makes the blood curdle. Armed executioners, bloodhounds, blood, death, and curious onlookers: that was what they saw on their arrival.

They could watch how naked people (the unfortunate victims were forced to undress before the execution) were driven to the mass grave with the help of ferocious dogs and lashes; there, they had to line up in order to step on the catwalk which was put across the deep ditch when it was their turn; from there the unfortunates fell into the grave, his by bullets or even alive.

You, my dear wife, and our two children Rozka and Milus, those murderers took there only in the late afternoon.

I know this because Reger's daughter saw from the attic of Dirnfeld's house how the Ukrainians got you and both our children out of the house.

She told me in the year 1942 in Stryj where she visited me. She heard you — when you were forced to go with the Ukrainians — call from the balcony on the yard-side of our home to Rozka who was hiding in our garden under the beanstalks; you called for her to come up to the house because you did not want to leave her alone; and this is how our poor daughter who might have been spared at that time, went with you and Milus. You had no idea, of course, where the bandits would be taking you.

I try to imagine how ghast and touching your "meeting" must have been, at that terrible place of execution, with your sisters and brothers, Relatives, neighbors, Friends, and acquaintances.

You met your sister Goldy there who had her two daughters, Ida and Rozka, and three grandchildren with her. Standing together next to her were your two brothers, Burych and Josl.

Uncle Leib Hillmann, at that time the senior in your family (from your father's side) was leading the Hillmann family, his son Buly with his wife Zywje and two children.

Next to him stood his brother Schlojmy (reconciled by this time) with his wife and children.

You met there your cousins (from your mother's side): the Bodnar family; Chaim and Babcie Stammler, daughter, son-in-law, and child. Julius and Zalmen Bodnar with their wives and children; Jides with her husband; Rojze Nagler with her only son (her husband Meier was killed in the First World War for Austria's glory). Jidel Mentschel with wife and children. Lus Bodnar, Regine Weissbart-Bodnar with her husband and children. Hinde Abosch with son Josl Abosch, with wife and children; the Kornblüth family, and many more members of the large Bodnar family whose names I do not recall any more.

You saw our neighbors there: the sisters Jawetz, the Awners, Zauderers, Hartmanns, Bittmanns, Löwis, Bergers, Neuhauses, Rinziers, Brumbergers, Zweifiers, Feders, Eti-Dwojre, Friedmanns, and more, and more...

The way I imagine it, talking to each other must have been impossible; looking at each other, however, was more touching than talking.

You also had to watch there how the murderers had the courageous physician, Dr. Hornik, torn apart by bloodhounds; he had dared to predict that the Germans would some day have to pay for their crimes.

Oh, how terrible for me to think what you, my dear, unfortunate wife, must have felt at that moment when it was your turn to step up on the catwalk.

You did step up on the catwalk, leading our daughter Rozka and our son Milus. This was the last stop for you before eternity.

Underneath you an abyss filled with blood where people who are not yet dead, try to get up. Desperately you are holding the poor children so they should not, God forbid, slip and fall into this bloody abyss alive.

I am sure that in those last seconds before the murder commandant gave the commando "Fire!", you were worried about our son Dolphi. But you did not have much time to think; the command came soon...

All your pain and suffering stopped then.

My beloved poor Pessie, mother of our three unfortunate children: your son Dolphi survived you by one year. Every day he said "Kadysch" for his poor mother whom he had loved very much. It was granted him to perform his devotions on the first "Jahrzeit" (anniversary of death) of his mother, sister, and brother. But one month later, on November 6, 1942, he, too, our son Dolphi, the only -child I had left, got lost in the woods of Wygoda-Dolina.

Soon our souls will be united.

The Day after the Bloodbath in the Town where
Thousands of Jews had been killed

All of us Jews who were employed at the agricultural district cooperative did not go home that evening, but stayed in the hayloft at our place of work till the next day.

Of course, we tried in different ways to find out where the people had been taken. The pieces of information, however, which we got, varied. One young Ukrainian we knew told us (unfortunately, he told the truth) that all captured Jews were shot. Some other Ukrainians tried to make us believe that all of them had been taken to a work camp. In fact, these "good" Ukrainians were kind enough to offer their assistance in getting packages and money to our relatives who were allegedly taken into camps, and without payment. (Such good-hearted bandits!)

But soon enough we learned the bitter truth. It was in the early morning hours when we saw a person whose head and face were bandaged with bloody white cloth (only the eyes and the mouth were not covered) approach our place of work.

This man told us (we could not see his face) that he was Benjumyn ltzek Harz. He was one of those Jews who were "sent home" the previous evening. The poor man was "lucky"; this time he got away "only" with a fractured skull, a broken nose, and several teeth knocked out. He stayed overnight in a house somewhere and now he was going to... he did not really know where.

He told us that he knew with certainty that all Jews captured yesterday had been taken to Bukowinka and there annihilated.

He, Benjumyn ltzyk, told me that he was together with my brother Moishe in the gathering place, and that he saw my brother that same evening when the murderers left the gathering place after having let go some of the captured people. That is why I felt sure that my brother, like the others who had been freed, remained somewhere with gentile acquaintances for the night and probably did not yet dare to venture out.

Later I learned under what horribly gruesome conditions my poor brother, together with some other unfortunate Jews, lost his life during that fateful, dark night.

We, Dolphi and myself, went home that same afternoon. We did not yet know, of course, that we would not be spared this misfortune, nor that my wife and two children had been caught and were not alive any more. The horrible news we only learned when we got to our home.

On the way home we saw a terrible sight. The houses stood there with the doors broken and torn out and the windows smashed; feathers were strewn all over from the slit pillows and bed covers where the bandits most likely hoped to find hidden money and Jewels; various things lying around which the thieves or the abducted people must have lost. Through the open windows and doors one could see how the bandits had ransacked everything.

In most of these wide open, plundered and looted houses with their smashed doors and windows one could not see a single living soul. Only here and here one could see some human forms sneaking towards the entrances of their ravaged homes. Those were some members of families who happened to survive, or else some orphaned child which the murders had failed to kill. Everyone cried bitterly.

This gruesome sight reminded me of the town Kishiniew about which I had once read in Ch. N. Bialik's "Byir-Hahareigah". There the author writes of the horrible sights he saw in the Jewish town of Kishiniew after the terrible pogroms of 1905.

Despite the fact that the pogrom of that time, carried out by the wild Ukrainian, Russian, and Moldovian mob, looked like child's play compared to the bloodbath carried out yesterday by the civilized German "supermen", the sight of the tremendous devastation and the bloody traces of yesterday 's vandalism are the same Ch. N. Bialik describes in his lament "Byir-Hahareigah". There he writes:

[Yiddish graphics omitted here]

(Which means: When you come to the city of the murdered Jews you will see with your own eyes the dried blood and the spattered brains of the slain; you will see it in the yards, on the fences, on the trees, on the stones, and on the walls; you may be able to touch it).

Quickly Dolphi and I sneak through the deathly silent, deserted streets empty of people, and there we stood in front of Berger's one-story house where our home was. The display window in Berger's tailor shop is smashed. (The Bergers lived downstairs and our apartment was upstairs).

Carefully we open the gate to the stairwell. By some accident the gate was whole, not broken. We listen — it is quiet, nothing can be heard, a ghastly silence.

Our hearts pounding we softly walk up the stairs. On the stairs there is nothing peculiar. We are standing in front of the locked door to our apartment. We listen, but it is quiet inside, nothing to hear. Hesitantly we open the door. The apartment is empty, nobody is there. Suddenly we hear a low moaning; it came from the bed where we found my sick mother, her eyes red from crying. She looked at us with her blue sad eyes, and in a barely audible voice asked us: "Where have you been so long, why have you left me here all alone ?"

My poor mother knew nothing about the gruesome events, and she has never learned about them. All she knew was that Ukrainians had come and taken Pesie and both children, allegedly to work.

From what she told us we assumed that in the afternoon some Ukrainian armed with sticks, had come up to our apartment and ordered my wife and my children as well as my mother to go with them. They are supposed to have said that they would be taken somewhere for work.

The Ukrainians were "merciful" and waited until my wife had packed the things needed for the "move" for the children and herself, underwear, clothes, and shoes, so that they could take all that along.

Mother also told us that among those Ukrainians who took away my wife and children, there was even a close acquaintance of my wife's. She concluded that from the fact that he was very "polite"; she said my wife even addressed him with "Pane N." But she could not remember the name of this "friendly" Ukrainian any more. This Ukrainian acquaintance my wife asked to leave our sick mother behind who was confined to bed and would not be able to come along. He was willing to do so and left mother in the house.

In the oven there was our dinner, mother said. My good wife cared for us even then, when she was forced to follow the bandits; in a great hurry she put our dinner in the oven so that it would keep warm; when leaving, from the doorway, my mother said, the poor woman called to mother to be sure not to forget and tell us, Dolphi and me, when we returned from work, that our dinner was in the oven. Oh, how terribly cruel. . .

We did know the horrible facts: still, we did not give up hope that, maybe. . .

We searched everywhere — in the cellar, the attic, the garden — wherever we could possibly assume that one could hide. But all we found was, under the bed, the toy which Milus had made from the smooth little boards he had taken home on the previous morning; that was when he brought us the message from his mother to be careful, because there were many Germans in town.

After this discovery we could not control ourselves any longer. Poor Dolphi, holding the toy we found of his little brother's whom he loved very much, fell on the bed crying bitterly.

The following day I took my poor mother to the home of my younger brother Aron; his wife and child were spared at the big massacres as if by a miracle.

It was necessary for me to take mother to Aron's, since I simply could not leave the weak old mother alone all day in our apartment.

Terror, Hunger, Dying en Masse.
The satisfied Commissar (Landeskommissar)
"rewards" the Judenälteste
for his daily Reports.
Peak Season for the Coffin Maker Bumtsie Diamand

After this cruel mass murder once more a "quiet" time began in our Nadworna "district", the so-called "close season".

During this "quiet" time which lasted approximately six months, until we were locked into the two ghettos, there were no Aktions. It was not necessary either; the shrewd German bandits managed now in a "peaceful" way to shrink the number of the Jewish people who had survived the terrible bloodbath, rapidly. They simply starved those poor Jews to death; for the houses of most of these unfortunates were stripped, their belongings robbed, so that these people did not even own the least little thing they could possibly have exchanged for a piece of bread or some potatoes.

The situation of the refugees became especially terrible and difficult. It was not only that these poor people suffered terrible hunger and sickness which claimed many victims every day, but also that we lived in continuous terror, always fearing that what had happened on the 6th of October might happen again.

The Judenrat (council of the Jews) and its helpers, the keepers of order, worked under full pressure in order to satisfy the unsatiable appetite of the German bandits and their Polish-Ukrainian collaborators, at the expense of these poor pillaged Jews.

The main concern was somehow to fill the countless daily orders for large amounts of coffee, cloths, leather, furniture, and so on which were placed by passing Gestapo murderers as well as by the rural police stationed with us, also by other similar leeches, Polish and Ukrainian.

It took a lot of money in dollars to buy all these ordered items from non-Jews since they were, naturally, not to be found any more with the plundered Jews; and those newly established "merchants" would only accept foreign money ("Edelvaluta") in payment.

For one of these orders Benjumyn Itzek Harz (he was employed with the Judenrat) payed with his life; it was only about parsley, but the great amount could not be gotten immediately. The Gestapo executioner from Tatarow killed Benjumyn Itzek for no other reason than that he dared point out to this murderer that it would be impossible to produce such a large amount of parsley so quickly.

The Judenrat and the keepers of order had more duties to fulfill. Unfortunately, some of these "Rätlers" and "Dienstlers" (members of these organizations) acted criminally against their own brothers in the "fulfillment of their duty". Only a sad memory of them remained.

The Judenälteste was compelled, among other things, to report daily to the Commissar what had gone on "Amongst his Jews" in the course of the past 24 hours, and so on.

The Commissar paid special attention to the established number of Jews still alive, i.e.: How many were there yesterday, how many died within the last 24 hours — and the net result.

Once during such a report — when Dr. Schall reported a pretty large number of dead, the otherwise mean Commissar answered Dr. Schall with a smile and happily: "Bravo, this is good news"; and, grateful for this piece of good news, the Commissar magnanimously ordered a pretty large amount of boards to be picked up from the sawmill which, without payment, were to be made into coffins for the dead. So far this had been done by the relatives of the dead who used old boards taken from the fence, for lack of material.

Bumcie Diamand was the coffin maker. Due to the unusually strong business he hired two more helpers. The so-called "Carriers and diggers" ("Träger und Gräber") who usually took the dead to the cemetery, had to change to mass production.

Thus one could any day, on Stanislaus Street which went out to Beth-Olam (cemetery), see a cart piled high with a great number of coffins, and drawn by an emaciated, starved horse that was hardly able to pull.

In these coffins — made from the boards which the German Commissar had given to the Judenäilteste in gratitude for the good news about the mounting death rate he had reported — are now lying the skeletons of starved Jews who had to go through horrible suffering before death redeemed them.

After a certain time this procession of coffins stopped, and the dead were just put into a deep sort of crib especially made for this purpose, which was then emptied at the cemetery and made available for further transports of corpses. Neither was a horse used for it any more; the carriers replaced the beast of burden.

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