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[Page 59]

Between the Two World Wars

 

[Page 61]

In the Days of Bulak Balachowicz

Translated by Jerrold Landau

 

 

The years 1916-1922 form a very gloomy period in the annals of Jewish martyrology -- a period drenched in the blood of many Jews who were murdered in many villages in the vicinity of Ratno. When the Russian soldiers began to retreat from the area in 1915 in the wake of the German attack, many Russian soldiers hid in the dense forests and towns. They would often emerge from their hiding places in order to pillage the Jews who passed by on the paths, set the houses of the Jews on fire, and perpetrate acts of murder and violence to the extent that their hearts desired. The Germans and Austrians attempted to capture these hooligans and even imprisoned the farmers who gave them refuge in their houses, but they were not able to uproot these bands that benefited from the protection of the townsfolk. Another wave of disturbances and murders passed through during the years 1920-1921. These were carried out by the Balachowiczes, who were a unique unit in the Polish Army. The wave did not pass over towns like Kamin-Kashirsk, Ratno, and others such towns, as well as larger cities such as Pinsk. However, the worst came in the small villages of the regions. With this, the hooligans succeeded in completely uprooting the Jews and Jewish life.

No exact details exist about the beginnings of Jewish settlement in these villages in Wolhyn and Pulsia. However, according to testimony from various eras, one can establish that this began more than 200 years ago. The Jews arrived in these villages from the nearby towns such as Ratno, Lywona, Wierzba, and others. The factor that caused the Jews to wander to the villages was the relative poverty in the towns. In order to save themselves from the disgrace of hunger, they agreed to live in remote villages, where the majority of the residents were Christian farmers. During the early years, many Jews earned their livelihood from the taverns

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that they leased from the poretzes (landowners), where they sold liquor to the farmers, and where the wayfarers stopped to rest a bit and to feed their horses. There were also many Jews who opened small stores or purchased the produce of the farmers' fields to sell in the marketplace of the nearby town. Slowly, the Jews laid down roots in these villages and earned their livelihood with relative comfort, but they never severed their connections with their towns of origin. These connections were economic and cultural. They had to be present in the town for all family events, such as at weddings, circumcisions, Bar Mitzvas or funerals. Even more so, they would come for the Jewish festivals. Even though they had a minyan in the village, they preferred to be in the town for the festival along with a large multitude of Jews. Thus, they would come with their entire family before Rosh Hashanah, and remain until after Yom Kippur, as they would for other festivals.

In the latter half of the 19th century, after the liquor trade had been given over to a monopoly, many Jewish tavern keepers remained without livelihoods, but they quickly found other sources of livelihood. They were not attracted to farming. Aside from this, it was forbidden for Jews to own farmland according to Russian law. Nevertheless, Jews succeeded in circumventing the law and working at farming. However, their numbers were few. They set up a windmill and milled the grain and wheat of the farmers. They were involved with the threshing of grain for food for cattle and horses. There were some Jews who formed partnerships to purchase machines for the cleaning of wool, or to set up an oil press. With the passage of time, they broadened their business, and rented ponds for fishing from the government (in the name of a Christian). They exported the fish to Brisk[1] or Warsaw. They leased forests to utilize the cut trees for building materials. There were also Jewish craftsmen in the towns, which made things easier for the farmers who would no longer have to depend on the craftsmen in the towns. It was natural that neighborly relationships formed between the village Jews and the gentile population. Mutual contact strengthened, but the feelings of jealousy toward the Jews did not disappear. They could not understand why the status of living of the Jews was higher than theirs, despite the fact, that they toiled from morning to night in the fields with all types of hard work. The authorities also knew how to fan these feelings and how to turn the wrath of the villagers over their difficult conditions toward the Jews who “sucked their blood”, “killed the messiah”, etc. -- these matters are known.

The anti-Semitism of the villagers increased during the times of emergency. This was the situation during the time of war with Japan and the defeat of Russia, the 1905 revolution, the time of the Beilis trial[2] and especially the First World War when all the foundations of life and society were shaken up. The villagers repeated morning and night that the source of all their troubles and tribulations was the Jew, and it is justified to kill him.

It is therefore not surprising that the villagers granted refuge to the Russian soldiers whose hands were dirty with the blood of the Jews. They also served as guides for the Balachowiczes and collaborated with them, just as some 20 years later

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they collaborated with the Nazis during the Second World War.

I will note here, for testimony and remembrance, the villages around Ratno in which Jews were murdered without any intervention.

Wydranica -- a village four kilometers from the town. Approximately ten Jewish families lived in the village and worked in the cattle trade and peddling. Three Jews were murdered in this village by the Balachowiczes, including a young person from Ratno

Glukhi (Jews used to call this village Luch) is located at the side of the road that leads to Maciejow, a distance of 5 kilometers from Ratno. The Jews worked in the raising of fish, and provided fish for the Sabbath to the Jews of Ratno. The Balachowiczes murdered two Jews in the village.

Zamshany, a village about ten kilometers from Ratno, had a population of 15-18 Jewish families. Seven or eight Jews were murdered in the villages by the Balachowiczes. It is appropriate to note that when a relative of one of the murdered people came from Ratno to bring the deceased to a Jewish burial -- they murdered him as well.

Luchich. Only two or three Jewish families lived in this village. The Balachowiczes murdered the son of one of the residents.

Birky, along the route to Kamin-Kashirsk, was populated by 10 Jewish families. The Balachowiczes murdered eight Jews of the village.

Krymne was a village 25 kilometers from Ratno. However, from the perspective of Jewish life, this was not a village but rather a town. There were approximately 70 Jewish families in Krymne, and there was a Beis Midrash, a bathhouse with a mikva, and other Jewish institutions that served not only the Jews of Krymne, but also the Jews of the surrounding villages who would go there to hear words of Torah from a preacher who happened to be there. There was also a Jewish school in the village as well as a chapter of Hechalutz. The Jews did everything in their power to maintain a Jewish way of life in the full sense of the term. Particularly strong ties existed between the Jews of Ratno and the Jews of Krymne. Often, Jews of Ratno who had difficulty with their livelihood would move to Krymne in order to find their livelihood. On the eve of Rosh Hashanah 5680 (1920), when the Balachowiczes were retreating, they murdered 60 Jews in that town. It was many years before the wounded people recovered. Many of the Jews of the town who survived the terrible slaughter left the town. Some of them moved to other cities and towns, and others emigrated from the country that considered their blood to be worthless. With the passage of time, Jewish life was reconstituted there. The youths set up a cultural center, a library, and a drama club. Youths from the nearby villages participated in all these activities.

Lubochin was a village three kilometers from Krymne. Very strong ties existed between the Jews of this village and the Jews of nearby Krymne, particularly between the Jewish young people of these two settlements. Approximately 50 Jews of this village were murdered by the Balachowicz hooligans.

Jorowicz -- this village was also close to Krymne, and nine Jewish families lived there. The village was well-known for its hosting of guests, and it was known that a Jew who would find himself there would immediately find

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good hosts. A 12-year-old girl was among those murdered in the village.

Dubechno. Twenty Jewish families lived in this village, which had a train station on the Kowel-Brisk line. The Jews were primarily occupied in the lumber trade. Among them there were scholars such as Reb Chaim Dubczaner and Reb Pinchas Goldman. The Balachowiczes murdered Jewish families in this village, as well as in the nearby village of Rakita.

The hooligans also indiscriminately murdered many Jews in all of the rest of the villages in the vicinity of Ratno. These villages include: Zdomyshel, Tur, Zalissia, Zabolottya, Zhyryche, Khotivel, Wielimcze, Rechitsa, Kortelesy, Sidroviche, Zalukhov, Shchityn, Hirnyky, and Szack.

This scroll of tribulation imprinted its stamp on the lives of the Jews in the region for many years. The stories of the murderous deeds and the miraculous deliverances that took place with the Jews who escaped the wrath of the hooligans never ceased, for there was barely any Jewish family who was not affected. The word “Balachowiczes” frightened not only the older people who remember well all that took place during that bloody year (1920), but also the younger children who heard about the atrocities from their parents.

The most frightening act of murder was carried out by the hooligans in Kamin-Kashirsk. Their cruelty knew no bounds. According to reliable testimony, approximately 120 people were murdered, and 220 children were left as orphans. In one piece of testimony, it is stated that when they were reckoning the number of victims to “Batka”[3], he said, “It is a bit too high, but we will arrange matters with the government somehow on this matter.”

 

The teacher and students in the School in Krymne

 


Translator's Footnotes

  1. Brisk is equivalent with Brest Litovsk. Return
  2. For information on the famous Beilis Trial, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menahem_Mendel_Beilis. Return
  3. “Daddy”, a nickname for Bulak Balachowicz. Return


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The Scroll of Tribulations

(A Gloomy Chronology from the year 1920)

Translated by Jerrold Landau

In 1933, through the initiative of the Jewish community of Ratno, a special committee was formed, consisting of Moshe Droog, Nota Roizkes, and A. Y. Ginzburg. The purpose of the meeting was to collect detailed information of the pogroms perpetrated by the Balachowiczes against the Jews in the villages and towns of Wolhyn and Pulsia, and to publish this in a special booklet. The members of the committee began to write to the other communities and Jewish institutions in all of the villages and towns in which the Balachowiczes left their bloody tracks. They even went out to visit these settlements, and held meetings on this topic with Jewish representatives. The central committee of the Zionist Organization in Warsaw also supported this effort. However, the initiators quickly had to abandon this project, for they and the supporting Jewish authorities received hints that the Polish government would not look kindly upon the publication of a book on the pogroms perpetrated by the Balachowiczes. Such a “hint”

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under the conditions of the Polish police during that era was sufficient to dissuade the members of this committee from carrying out their plan. Much information, yellowed with the passage of years, remained in the hands of Moshe Droog, one of the members of the committee. This information contains descriptions of eyewitnesses who survived the terrible campaign of murder perpetrated by the Balachowiczes. The hair stands on end even today when reading these descriptions. Even though the hooligans were satisfied with murdering only a few Jews in Ratno itself, veritable slaughters were perpetrated in the villages, and the Jewish residents of these villages drank from the poison cup until it was emptied. Y. Konishter also gathered a great deal of material about what took place during that time in various villages in the vicinity of Ratno, and collected testimony from David Golden, Moshe Feigels, and Naftali Gloz. Here we publish a summary of his words.


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Untitled Section[1]

by Sh. Goldman

Translated by Jerrold Landau

I had already endured traumatic experiences when I was a seven-year-old child, witnessing the terrors of the pogroms against the Jews with my own eyes. This took place in 1920. The government of the District of Wolhyn had passed from hand to hand. The Germans were in power, then the Balachowiczes, and after them, the Poles. Each retreating regime caused trouble for the Jews. Each arriving regime caused trouble for the Jews, blaming them for collaborating with the preceding regime. Members of the subsequent regime did the same thing. It is no surprise that the Jews were afraid of every change of government, for they knew what such was liable to bring. When the Balachowiczes retreated, one of the captains warned the Jews that a great danger was approaching. However, no person was able to imagine the essence and extent of this danger.

The few Jews, who had gathered together from the area, gathered in the home of the Grabov family in the neighboring village of Rakita to worship on Rosh Hashanah. We saw the retreating Bolsheviks through the windows of the house. Some time later, the Balachowiczes arrived. They removed the Jews from the house and stood them in two rows -- men separately, and women and children separately. A commander came and delivered a short speech that was full of blame against the Jews for helping the Bolsheviks. They were sentenced to death unless they paid ransom. Every family brought its gold and silver that was hidden in their homes, so that they could save their lives. Those who did not bring any, because their Ukrainian neighbors had succeeded in stealing it, were shot on the spot. With my own eyes I saw how they shot the father of Eliahu Yitzchak Reif after he returned empty-handed, without ransom. I also saw how Reb Burech, who succeeded in bringing ransom (by chance his family was not with us) was able to save the Reif family from this fate by informing the captain that Mrs. Reif was his wife, and that her children were his children. The captain asked the woman, “How many children do you have?” In her state of emotion and confusion, she told him a number that was one less than the correct answer. Then they shot her son, despite all of her pleading.

After paying ransom, we returned to our house that had been ransacked. The Ukrainians had emptied it of everything. Before we

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began to organize, one of the Satondists (a small Ukrainian sect of Sabbath observers) arrived and ordered us to escape immediately because the hooligans were returning a second time to attack us. We escaped to the nearby forest, and hid in a dense area of trees and shrubs in a bog. We waited there until the wrath subsided. Our objective was to arrive in Ratno by walking during the night. We were hungry for bread. I remember that I searched through Father's pocket, and found some bread crumbs. In the forest, we met other Jewish families from the nearby village of Krymne, where the Balachowiczes had also perpetrated a great slaughter. We arrived in the town of Ratno after about ten days. For a long time, I could not free myself from this terrible nightmare of the Balachowiczes. Like me, many other youths witnessed the acts of the Balachowiczes in the villages, where the Jewish residents were treated like sheep for the slaughter. The lesson of these pogroms had more impact on the basis of Zionism than anything that I learned later regarding Jewish history.


Translator's Footnote

  1. In the table of contents, this is called “In the Eyes of a Child”, which from the context, is accurate. Return


[Page 65]

The “Balachowiczes” Come to Town

by L. Baion

Translated by Jerrold Landau

The entire town was enveloped with fear and darkness that Rosh Hashanah eve. A deathly silence pervaded, a frightful silence. The last lights coming forth from the blinds also went out and not even a small sound was heard, but everyone was awake nevertheless. A Jew who was late for Selichot crossed the dark marketplace. He hastened his steps, as if someone was following after him. The town was literally convulsing. Changes in government were impending, and nobody knew what would come in their wake. After midnight, flames were seen ascending from some building near the Rycz-Sponczyk mill. The building was burning, and nobody was attempting to extinguish or control the fire. People waited impatiently for morning. This was a sleepless night for all the residents. Nobody was able to sleep. At daybreak, the rumor spread that the Bolsheviks disappeared from town. Other rumors spread from mouth to mouth in the town marketplace. Some said that large battles had taken place during the nights, and the Bolsheviks suffered a serious defeat. Others said that strange characters were seen in the nearby villages, and one can surmise that these were spies from the Polish army.

The unease increased during the afternoon hours. Twelve hours had already passed since the Bolsheviks had retreated, and no sight of a new Polish regime had appeared. An atmosphere of panic pervaded the town. Rumor had it that the farmers of the region were preparing to come to town and perpetrate a pogrom. The nervousness and unease increased from minute to minute. The fact that the town remained without any government confounded and froze the senses. Rosh Hashanah was at the threshold. The marketplace was empty. All of the shops were closed. The Jews were preparing themselves for the Day of Judgment.

 

A letter from the community of Ratno regarding the
collection of material for the book on the Balachowiczes

 

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The sounds of galloping and wagons approaching the town were heard in the silence of the evening. This was Arjon, the water-drawer, who also served as the Sabbath Gentile[1] of the town. This time, Arjon brought tidings of Job: “In the name of Chona from Prochod I have come to inform you that the Balachowiczes are marching in the direction of town. Save yourselves while there is still time!”

This news caused veritable panic. Many people remembered the slaughter that was perpetrated by these Balachowiczes six weeks earlier, when they retreated along with the Polish Army. Everyone was afraid for his skin. Who would be among the victims now? Not long passed before dust rising up could be seen. “They are traveling!” Jews began to flee from the houses and the streets in the center of town to the dark alleys populated by the poor population, with the hope that perhaps they would not reach there. The house of Yaakov-Shlomo, by the Pripyat a distance from the town, filled up with people: merchants, shopkeepers, wealthy people, and even the wealthiest person in town, Reb David-Aharon Shapira, came to find refuge in that house. Everyone sat perplexed and looked out the window. The riders had already approached the “Yentl” Bridge that joined the two sides of the town. Echoes of the galloping of horses and the first shots that the Balachowiczes shot in the air for their own pleasure were heard. The sun set and the evening shadows burst forth. Leibele, the son of Yankel-Shlomo, was sent outside by the perplexed Jews to see if the riders had left the town. The lad attempted to reach the marketplace through side alleyways; however the voice of a rider stopped him: “Stand, Jew, and give over your money!” Leibele attempted to explain to the rider that he had no money, and that he never had any, but a strong slap on the cheek quieted him. “Where can I get boots?” asked and demanded the rider. Leibele, directed by his sense of responsibility, decided that it was better to lead this Balachowicz to his own home rather than have him kill other people, Heaven forbid. His mother, Meita, stood at the entrance to the house. “Give me boots!” thundered the Balachowicz loudly. Meita enticed him with a pleading voice, “Why are you standing outside, Poritzl[2], you are tired and sweaty. Come into the house, wash up, and rest.” The Balachowicz acceded to her request, entered the house, washed up, received a clean towel, and it seemed that the motherly pleasantness of the woman had its influence upon him. He put down his gun, removed the bullet magazine, and asked in a lower voice, “And where are the boots?” Meita answered him calmly, “New boots, Mr. Poretz, are not found now, for we have been living in wartime conditions for three months. However, if my husband's or my son's boots fit your feet, they are yours.” The “Poretz” liked Yankel-Shlomo's leather boots, and they were given to him. Meita asked the Balahowicz to sleep over in their home, for the members of the household are afraid to remain alone at night. However, he did not agree, and calmed her, “Do not worry, my old woman, no harm will befall you. Our youths will only play a bit in your town…”

When the horseman left the house, the city notables came out of their hiding places in the attic and in the barn. They breathed calmly when they found out that the entire “matter” only cost Yankel-Shlomo's leather boots. Reb David-Aharon

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enwrapped himself in his tallis, turned his face eastward, and began the Maariv service with the festive melody. The women and men who were present could not hold back, and the Rosh Hashanah service was conducted with tears and sighing. The next morning, the townsfolk who were hiding in Yankel-Shlomo's house found out that indeed “A few of the youths played.” Two Jews were killed because of this “game,” including Avraham the shochet [ritual slaughterer] who had been nicknamed “The Jewish Rabbi” by the hooligan horsemen. It was also discovered that in accordance with a command of the deputy of the Hetman (the leader of the Balachowiczes), 30 hostages were taken. If the Jews would be unable to furnish the imposed fine of 10,000 rubles by nightfall, the hostages would be taken out to be killed.


Translator's Footnotes

  1. “Shabbos Goy”, the gentile who performs various necessary work for the Jews on the Sabbath. Return
  2. A diminutive for a gentile landowner “Poretz” Return


[Page 67]

In the Days of Bulak Balachowicz

by Binyamin Fuchs

Translated by Jerrold Landau

It took place on Sunday morning, the eve of Rosh Hashanah. My father Avraham-Yona woke me up for the Selichot service, and I heard my mother Reizel pleading tearfully in his ears that we must leave the village and go to Ratno, to be among the Jews, and whatever would happen with the Jewish people would happen to us too. She was perplexed. She did not wish to remain in the village. She was afraid that the farmers and Balachowiczes were about to pass through. On the other hand, Father claimed, “Where can we go with all the children? Who will host us and feed us? The journey is also fraught with danger due to the many acts of plunder on the roads. And what would happen with our house and property here? Everything might be plundered and pillaged.” Mother retorted that if we did not go to Ratno, she suggested that we hide in the forest until the fury passed.

I went with Father to Selichot. Approximately a minyan (prayer quorum of ten) of Jews gathered; all of them, of course, discussing one topic: What to do? Where to flee and how to flee? Cannon shots were heard from time to time, from which we could realize that the front was very close, perhaps eight kilometers away, in the vicinity of Krymne. One Jew said that he heard from a gentile that the Soviet Army had placed canons in Krinski, where the fairs took place, in order to transfer to the front. The discussions took place until Itzel from Rakita issued a decision, “Jews, in any case we cannot travel anywhere, for all of the routes are closed off. The Kovel-Brisk Road is sealed off by the army, and the route to Zdomyshel is also closed off, for the Bolsheviks are preparing for a counterattack there. The only place left for us is to go to the forest.”

The elderly Leib Rabin then shouted, “How can this be? Tomorrow is Rosh Hashanah? How can we worship in the forest? To read the Torah?” After discussions back and forth, it was decided that the services would take place in the home of Itzel of Rakita, which was close to the forest and surrounded by a grove. During that discussion,

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several people noted that the Balachowiczes only killed and pillaged while they were retreating, but they would not harm anyone now that they were advancing. To counter those who were confident, Chaim-Ber's wife, Dova, reminded everyone what the Balachowiczes perpetrated six weeks earlier.

My mother continued to claim that she saw dark things, and that in her opinion we should escape to the forest and hide there. However, since most of the Jews thought otherwise, she accepted their decision. The night of Rosh Hashanah passed with deathly fear, literally. All the Jews of the village gathered in the home of Yitzchak Grabov. They only dispersed to go to sleep late at night, the men in the barns and the women and children in the houses. As I lay down with my father in the barn, he hugged me strongly and held me close, as if he was having a premonition about what was to happen. That is how we spent that night. The next morning, I heard Father and Mother whispering between themselves. Then Father sent me to Dubechno to take a glance at our house there. He instructed me not to go on the main road, but rather through the fields. If I were to meet anyone along the way, or anyone were to recognize me, I was to return home immediately.

When I returned from my tour, the Jews were already reciting the Shmone Esrei of Shacharit. I noticed that Father was weeping, completely covered by his tallis. I cannot even speak of Mother, for she never stopped weeping from the day that they murdered her eldest son Shmuel-Betzalel. The services continued, but in the midst of the Musaf Shmone Esrei, we already saw through the window that horsemen were entering. They shot several shots, and commanded that the services stop and that all the money be turned over to them immediately. If not, they would kill everyone on the spot. They conducted a careful search of everyone, and even ordered those people whose clothes they liked to strip and hand over their clothes. They took everyone outside and organized them in rows of four, women separately and men separately.

Adamka, a gentile from Lubochin who was known as a murderer and was their leader, constantly issued new orders and beat the Jews. During the tumult, Yitzchak Grabov snuck out of the line, entered the grove and began to escape. Adamka chased after him but did not succeed in catching up to him. Everyone standing in the lines, men and women, were brought to Dubechno, accompanied by a guard. They organized us in a military formation behind the church, not far from Chaim-Ber's house. One of their leaders, a bald man, approached us, and Adamka discussed the situation with him. After the discussion, this leader took out some sort of Communist proclamation from his pocket and began to read it to us. He frequently mentioned Trotsky in his speech, and added that all of the Jews were Communists and Bolsheviks, and that they were guilty for everything that was taking place, and therefore must all be killed. After he concluded his words, they brought their machine guns close and began to maneuver them in order to instill fear into us. The head of the group said that he would only free us if we were to provide them with a sum of 2,000,000 rubles.

Chaim-Ber and my father, Yona Fuchs, approached the head of the group and explained to him that such a sum cannot be found even among the entire village population, Christians included. However, they expressed their agreement that all the Jews would give them

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whatever money and jewelry were in their possession. Two soldiers were sent with each Jew in order to hand over the money from their houses, while the women and children remained hostages. Chaim-Ber Reif was the first to return. He explained to the head of the group that he did not succeed in finding his jewelry. He was then commanded to take several steps back, and he was immediately killed. My father and other Jews returned later, and handed over their property. The head of the group informed us that we were permitted to return to our houses, and there was no reason to fear further, for the regular army was about to enter and they would not harm anyone. As this was taking place, some gentile arrived and informed him that the pit was already ready. Without taking into account whether all the Jews had paid the ransom money, the head of the group issued a command to remove the youths and young men from the rows and kill them, for otherwise they would join the Bolsheviks. One of the youths, Yaakov the son of Moshe Krasker, retorted, “Take us with you. We are prepared to fight against the Bolsheviks.” The bald commander responded, “We do not trust Jews.” Nine youths were taken from the rows and taken out to be killed: Yaakov Krasker, Shmuel Fuchs, Hershel Kagan, Manes Biber, Leibush Reif, Yidel of Kraska, Velvel Wirda, a teacher from Sedliska whose name I no longer recall, as well as an adult Jew who was in the village at that time by chance. The survivors were ordered to return to their homes. We then found out that the neighbors had pillaged our property, and only returned it to us when they saw us coming back.

The Balachowicz soldiers arrived in the village at nightfall. Some of them entered our house, demanded money, and beat all the members of the household. Our pleas and explanations that all of our money had already been taken were to no avail. They wanted to kill Father, and only let up when we began to weep and beg that they have mercy on us. However, they beat him with deathly blows, and we were only able to revive him with great effort.

We left the house with the intention of going to the forest, but it was impossible to get there, for the army surrounded the town from all sides. We arrived in the house of a farmer, but he would not agree under any circumstance to let us into his house. We entered an abandoned house, went up to the attic, and remained there for the night. In the morning, we realized that Father's wounds were serious. There was no place uninjured, and he was swollen all over. We left the abandoned house and began to run through the fields, for a farmer that we met along the way told Father that the army had left the town, and if we wanted to save ourselves, we must flee to the forest. One of the Balachowiczes recognized us and began to shout for us to stop. My Father thought that this was the voice of his brother Eliezer, despite the fact that we had called upon him to flee, for the Balachowicz was the one who called upon him to remain. We, Mother and the children, hid in some barn, while Father was caught by the Balachowicz, who tortured him, and tied him to a plow. My father tottered and the Balachowiczes killed him.

We hid in the forest for a few days. We were unable to light a fire in a way that would not disclose our hiding place. We continued to wander, and we only arrived in Ratno on the eve of Sukkot. That day, all of the martyrs who were murdered by the hooligans in the village were brought to a Jewish burial.


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The Balachowiczes

by Sh. Goldman

Translated by Jerrold Landau

(In memory of the days of the Balachowicz Pogrom in 1920 in the village Dubechno, where I am now located on January 1, 1932.)

– – – Lashing of the whip, great fear intermixed with black colors, weakness and personal feebleness. Chains on the hands, and lack of vision to break them. Weakness of the knees from lack of faith in their health. – – They packed up the moveable possessions, loaded them onto wagons hitched to two cows – to travel and arrive at a “Jewish settlement” a distance of three parsangs, so that they can be afraid along with everybody – – – and wait until the last moment, that perhaps will be delayed and might not even come. Flight. The Jews – men, women, and children – made haste. They broadened their steps in order to “shorten the way,” pass over abyss of destruction and arrive at “a safe place,” even though it was clear that the “safe” place was not so, and the fetters of destruction were stretched over the entire earth: east, west, north, and south. A sure sign of destruction – flying feathers. Large, empty houses remained as a memorial to the destruction. The wind broke through strongly to sweep away the remnants that were left behind due to the great haste. The eternal secret was exposed: a volcano to which one would return. The volcano quiets – and the settlement continues with its existence. When it erupts – which could happen due to any small factor – in its anger, rocks are scattered all over. All important things are broken: the water – a place of life for the fish, the forest – for the animals, the land – for the people. Every nation

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and its land, every people and its homeland, its source – to where it returns and in which it lives. We can state clearly: whoever is the Jew that wishes to live – he will return to his source, to his land, to his homeland. Whichever Jew does not understand this important thing – his end will be destruction and ruin.

“A stiff-necked people.” Stiff-neckedness that is only a soft platform, a saddle prepared for every rider. It will be pleasant for the rider. On account of the great joy, it will hug him to the point of strangulation, until the bones break, until the soul shrinks. Then it will let him go so that the process of dying will be prolonged, so that the body and soul will convulse from pain, so that he will recognize that his fate is the fate of all of his brethren, weak as he is, and so that he cannot shout out his final shout – a call to change the situation, to assuage the fate, to heal.

(Yehoshua! Keep this for this is from a private diary!)


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I Hate you, Ukraine

by Sh. Goldman

Translated by Aaron Goldman

I Hate you, Ukraine.
If only I had the strength, I would break apart your skies and your land.
And turn everything to chaos,
If only I had the power to break it into pieces
To destroy and annihilate what I cannot tolerate, and what I hate,
To exhaust my wrath and anger on them,
I cast my arrows and ploughed to pieces your land
Soaked with the blood of my slaughtered brothers.

(“Expressions” Booklet 4, 5689 / 1929.)

 

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