My name is Dozia Blaustein and I am one of the few survivors from my hometown, Jezierna.
I am the daughter of Ben-Zion Blaustein and Rosa Lechowitz. The names Blaustein-Lechowitz were well known in Jezierna, therefore there is no need for further explanation. We were two children, an older brother, Moishe, named Munio, and myself.
Before the days of the second war, Jezierna had a beautiful and intellectual Jewish community, in which my parents as well as my brother played a great part.
With the outbreak of the second war, and the Nazi occupation, the Jews of Jezierna shared the destiny of the other Jews of Poland. On a rainy Friday, a few days after the occupation, the Nazis did what they called Aine-Accie and a great percentage of the male population were shot and buried, half dead and half alive, at the outskirts of the town. In that particular massacre my father and brother survived. Since that day life became a constant fear, and survival a struggle.
Shortly after the massacre, the Nazis ordered the formation of a Judenrat (a Jewish committee, composed mostly of Jews). Their first law was that every Jew must wear a ten inch wide arm-band with a blue Star of David, and on our windows there had to be posted a ten inch Star.
We all had to do forced labor, and as young as I was I was assigned to the fields to cut the crops. Shortly after, the Nazis formed the first labor camp in Jezierna and the first to be thrown into the camp were the male youth, among them my brother Munio. At the time of the founding of the camp in Jezierna, the remaining Jewish families from Jezierna and the other neighboring towns were sent to a ghetto in the city of Zborow. Unfortunately, Munio never passed the barbed wire, except when working and in July of 1943 the camp was liquidated. Among those few hundred Jews my brother Munio, age 20, met his death.
Life in the ghetto and the living conditions are well known to all of us today. My parents and I shared a three room apartment with four more families. From day to day hunger became more acute and the sanitary conditions worsened. This led to an outbreak of typhoid. People were dying daily by the dozen, but G-d was good to us and we escaped the epidemic. Once in a while the people of the ghetto had to pay a contribution toward The Party. In a short time all of the gold, silver, furs, and any valuables were collected and given to the Nazis.
While in the ghetto we were all assigned to forced labor. Some of us went to build roads, others to factories, and still others went to sew clothing for the Nazi soldiers. I was assigned, with another group of girls, to do the laundry and work in the gardens of the Gestapo Headquarters. A pass was issued to us and every morning we used to leave the ghetto for work and return at night. The work wasn't hard, but we were slapped without reason--but for being a Jew. The worst punishment we received from the Nazi officers was their harsh and sadistic statements about the Jews. Often they would give us their camouflage raincoats to be washed; these raincoats were splattered with blood and they reminded us that this was the blood from other Jews of other ghettos and this was what awaited us the Jews of the Ghetto of Zborow.
Outside the Ghetto of Zborow a forced labor camp was created. In the early spring of 1943 my father was taken into the camp. My mother and I remained inside the Ghetto. I kept on working at the S.S. Headquarters.
Food was getting scarce. Some Gentile people, with heart, used to smuggle some food into the Ghetto. Between those bringing in food, there was a young man from my hometown by the name of Kola Leskof. His father was a good friend of my father and during one of his trips, Mother asked Kola if he could hide us. Without giving it a thought Kola agreed. It was hard to believe that without one word said or thought, this young man should sacrifice himself to hide two Jewish women, but we had nothing to lose; by staying in the Ghetto we knew what was coming, and by leaving we had a chance to survive.
At the end of April of 1943, with the help of a Gentile family from Zborow, we escaped. We were quite lucky, for we made it to Jezierna to the house of the Leskof family. As Kola had promised, they accepted us and made shelter for us in the attic. For a Gentile family to keep Jews the punishment was death. The Leskof family shared with us every piece of bread they had.
In May of 1943, the Zborow Ghetto was liquidated and in July of 1943 the Camp of Zborow, where my father was kept, met the same fate. The day my father and brother died Kola came to the attic to see us. His grief was profound and I remember, as if it were yesterday, his telling Mother, Even if I have to give my life, I shall protect you and shelter you. I shall never forget Kola and his smiling face, for he too met his maker a year later.
We stayed at the Leskof home throughout the winter, until March of 1944. At that time the Russians were advancing and the battlefields were at the outskirts of Jezierna. The Leskof's house was burned by the Germans, for the simple reason that it obstructed the view of the battlefield. We had nowhere to go but into the woods. We wandered from place to place and it seemed that G-d was guiding us out of trouble.
In July of 1944 we were liberated by the Russians. After a short time in Jezierna we moved to Tornopol, where we lived with a few Jewish families.
In 1945, after the worst was over, we were allowed to leave the Ukraine and go to Poland. We settled in Byton and waited for a pass to leave for America, where my mother has brothers and a sister. Unfortunately, my mother's health was deteriorating and as soon as she was confined to bed, in 1946, her brother, Moris Lechowitz, came from Russia and joined us in Byton, for he was alone, as his wife, Netka, and three children lost their lives in a concentration camp in Poland. Together with Mother, in a stretcher, we left Poland to go to Paris. After a few months in Paris, Mother died.
On January of 1947 my uncle Moris and I left France for the United States. Behind I left only graves and bad memories, but I had to forget all this, for I was going ahead to an unknown country in search of happiness and a better tomorrow.
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