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[Page 336]

From Those Terrible Days

Nechama Inzelbuch

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

Dark clouds spread over the shtetl [town] right at the start of the war, on the 22nd of June 1941. The Germans marched and approached us at a rapid pace. The residents of the shtetl were confused, frightened – we did not know where to run. A number ran to the border to Negarele and the others – to the surrounding villages in order to hide and survive the frightening days.

My husband, Josl, worked as a Soviet employee at the train station and had to be at his work until the last minute. When the first German bombs fell on the train station, I ran there immediately to see how Josl was. There was a threat of death if one left work. He actually was mobilized on the same day, but as a family man with four children, he was immediately released. On Sunday the Germans surrounded Pilsudski – Szpitalna – Nacale Streets and threw grenades and firebombs in the houses, on the pretext that Bolsheviks were hiding there. Everything burned. Josl, carrying a child, ran out of the house into the garden. I found both of them dead a few hours later. On Sunday they shot around 200 souls on our street. We buried all of them in our garden. A few months later, we carried the bones to the Jewish cemetery.

I remained alone with three small children. No troubles were lacking. It was being said that we would soon be fenced into a ghetto. On the eve of the first slaughter, I got the idea: dress my Chana in a pair of shoes with high heels, through this, try to save one daughter. I lost my two small daughters, Tsipele and Tsernele in the first slaughter. Thus we lived in fear, in need and pain. Went through two

The Filshcik family
Nechama, Josef, Shulmit, Tserne, Tsipe

 

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slaughters and saw with my own eyes how my own dear ones were slaughtered and everything was being annihilated.

There were about 200 women and a small number of men in the ghetto on the eve of the third and last slaughter. Returning from work, we noticed that the ghetto was being surrounded on all sides by Belarusian and Lithuanian police. Then, my daughter Chana and I decided to escape from the ghetto. It was a cold December night and we saw that two boys had cut the fence wire in one place. We did not think about it for long and we quietly crawled out through the fence and the wire. We crawled on our knees to the Christian cemetery where we met several other Stolpce Jews: Etil [diminutive of Ester] and Zlatke Kaplan, Sevek Horenkrig, Silim Manaker's two girls and two boys. Together we began to crawl through the fields until we reached the train line.

Kalman Inzelbuch's family
Yehudis, Chana, Leah, Chaya, Nechama and Kalman

 

Shooting from the train guards, who heard our steps, opened up on us when we were crossing the train line. The night was very dark and yet the bullets fell near us. We ran until we reached the woods not far from the slaughterhouse. What would we do next? It was dark. Shivering from the cold and fear, we barely survived the day. In the morning we heard steps and saw a gentile boy in the distance. The Kaplan sisters immediately recognized him as Janek Starzich from Zadwarie, who had worked for Welwl Tunik in the slaughterhouse for many years. Asking him where it was easier to run, the gentile boy thought for a while and told us not entirely willingly that Ezriel Tunik and Dwoyra Kaplan, their sister, were hiding with his family. The gentile boy said that he had to go to work first. He advised us to go deeper into the woods and to stay there until night. Then he would come to take us. We had heavy hearts – could we believe him because most Christians ran to report to the Germans.

However, not having any choice or anything to lose, we went deeper into the woods where we sat hungry and waited an entire day in great fear.

Of those who escaped from the ghetto with us only my daughter and I and the two Kaplan sisters remained. The others had gone in different directions throughout the day.

The gentile boy came in the evening. He found us by the light of a pocket lamp. We went with him to his house in the corner of the village. There were a few houses neighboring his. The gentile boy's mother, seeing such a group, was not very enthusiastic. I immediately sensed where we stood. I took off my things. I gave her my boots, my coat, the little money I had

[Page 338]

with me and I even gave her the gold crowns from the teeth in my mouth. Taking everything, she became friendly and said: I will hide you. You will be with me and eat what I eat. She immediately led us into the house, gave us food. Each night we all dug out a hole in the shed near the house, covered with boards and straw and sand. We only left open a small hole to crawl in. The hole was hidden and masked a little so that it would not be obvious to a stranger, particularly the neighbors or Germans who very often would come to their daughter, Zashke. The Christian woman padded the hole with a little straw that would get wet and decay. At night I would crawl out of the hole and go into the house to help the Christian woman with her household work. Often I would be deathly afraid when someone would knock at the door at night.

We remained in the pit from the end of December 1942 until the beginning of July 1944 when the Red Army freed us.

The Christian was not rich and she gave us, six people, food and many times it was not enough. Therefore, the fear, suffering and pain satiated us. The Strzik family earns the full right and should be counted in the general Jewish history among the pious and good among the non-Jewish people.

Of the six saved: I, my daughter Chana (Lev), Ester Kaplan (Zinger), Zlatke Kaplan (Gutman), Ezriel Tunik, and their families found their home in Israel. Dwoyra Kaplan and her family are in America.


[Page 342]

The Death of the Jews in the Villages

by Mendl Machtey

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

On the right side of the shore of the Nieman [River], four kilometers downstream, on the side of the village of Zhukovy Borek, near the village of Atalez, lived the family of Pina Garmize and his wife, Beilka (Szlajf). They had a tar-works, inherited from Nachman Szlajf and they drew their income from it.

Down the river on the left side of the Nieman, in the village of Berezna, lived the family of Shmerl Lis, Shima and their children. They had much to endure when the Minsk governor ordered that the Jews be driven out of the village. They would hide with their Jewish neighbors on the right side of the shore, which was Vilna gubernia [province], because Jews were not being driven from there. In general, there was nothing in their luck to envy. When someone traveled past, their windows were stuffed with pillows because when a village Christian got drunk he would break the windowpanes of the Jews. True, he would pay for his enjoyment, but where did one immediately get another windowpane? – But this also carried the name of life…

Ruwin and Hoda Krinicki and their children lived in the only house on the right side of the shore, two kilometers past Berezna. For many years, they leased the ferry and the field from the Mir Prince Mirski and earned their living from this. Before the First World War, merchants and forest officials would lodge there during the summertime, particularly those from Stolpce, such as Dantzig, Darski and still others, because the Sula River flowed into the Nieman there. The family also bankrupted a manager, an anti-Semite and [he] carried on a court case against them in order to drive out the Jews. It should be understood that the prince was just.

Once when Ruwin was not at home, the prince's forest rangers came and [they forced] the Jewish family to go on a small boat across the river. What could Ruwin do? Vayeishev [“Jakob settled…” – the name of the ninth chapter of the Book of Genesis], he settled not far away in a small settlement named Klin. He was greatly ruined and he was very tormented.

On the left side of the Nieman shore was a very small settlement – Krinicnia. There lived the old Feywa Krinicki and his son Berl and his wife Chaya-Gitl from the village Dudak (Shulier) and their small children. They all worked and were involved in agriculture and there was nothing with which to envy them in how they earned their living.

They also did not avoid the dark times. Their daughter, Ester, who married Peretz Garodajski in Mir, escaped with her children to her village of birth. Perhaps it would be better to survive there. However, she had no place to run from the murderer and she met misfortune there. Ester was disguised as a Christian and went to Mir to ask what was happening at the Judenrat [Jewish council created by the Germans in occupied areas]. It was known at the Judenrat that [the Germans] were preparing to come to murder the Jews in the villages. They knew this from Oswald Rupeyzn, who served as a translator with the Germans. He would give the Judenrat such happy news with great self-sacrifice. They learned of this, but it already was too late and where could they escape with small children, as there were traps throughout to catch Jews?

The murderers came quietly to Berezna. The Lis family was driven out with violence. Also the Krinicke family as well from the village of Klin, along with the old Feywa, Chaya-Gitl and Perec and the children. They were brought to Krinicnia. They were led behind the barn and everyone, 20 men, was shot. Berl had gone to search for food for the children; he was not there at that moment. He unfortunately even heard the last shouts of the wives and children. His sister Ester was supposed to arrive and she could have fallen right into the hands of the murderers. He met her and told her the dark news. They could not to go the ghetto in Mir. It did not occur to them that they could go and hide in the forests. They decided to go to the Stolpce ghetto. The Germans shot those passing by on the spot, but they were lucky and the murderers

[Page 343]

permitted them to enter the ghetto. Berl and Ester and a few other Jews then succeeded in escaping in the direction of Krinicnia, their birthplace. They labored for two years in the thick forest around their house and lived to see the defeat of the Germans.

Sonya, Josef, Heikl, Ester, Peretz Garodajski

 

In the village of Stary Sverzhen across the river from Stolpce lived a Jewish family: the tailor Borukh Yankelewicz and Rosha and their children. As the Christians explained, they lived for a long time after the liquidation of the ghettos in Stolpce, Sverzhen. When the Germans came to the village, they never [went to them]. They thought that a poor Christian lived there. Thus they lived in need and in deadly fear. However, it was good that at that time a Jewish family could live there.

Only one daughter, Ruchl, who was not at home (she escaped to Russia), survived. After she returned home to the village, she learned from her neighbors that the Orthodox priest (the Christian clergyman) had supported her family with food. It was her friends with whom she had grown up and with whom she had studied who had betrayed her family to the Germans. (Under the Polish regime, the village was sympathetic to the communists.) The Alter family with two unmarried sisters lived in the nearby village of Peretoki; but they had settled in Stolpce before the destruction.

Thus the Jews who lived in the villages around Stolpce paid with their lives.

 


[Page 343]

Remembrance

by Basia Milcenzon (Johannesburg)

Translated by Esther Libby Raichman

The heart grieves from lament
I would gladly huddle together
To the cold sand and stone
To hear regards from my home.

Empty and grey is our life,
In the heart a fire burns.
Tragic, grey pictures hover,
Everything that is dear has disappeared.

I long for my village
Where I enjoyed a life.
Every tree and leaf is dear to me
Of death, ruin, who thought of it.

I see the market, every cart.
Of synagogues, houses and shops,
No trace has remained.
Our community's name has been erased.

The most holy, the enemy has trampled
And mocked at every prayer.
The streets are empty and silent
“The guardian of Israel will not flee”- where then is the guard?
At every step you can feel destruction and death
Where are you Jewish daughters?

The forests around grieve
The Niemen is turbulent with rage
It calls and storms: God above, come,
See what has become of your people.

We go to say “Yizkor”
All together, bent over in three.
We keep on crying
Days and nights with swollen eyes.

The day of revenge is still far off
But a time will come
Of Jewish domination and struggle once again.
The nation of Israel lives… (Am Yisroel Chai)

 

Seated from right: Unknown, Daniel Horenkreig, his wife Chienka, Chana Lieba Sagalowich;
Standing from right: Horenkreig, unknown, Cheinka Sagalowich, Meilach and Bashke Milcenzon, Esther from Swierzne, Esther Sagalowich, (Getzes), unknown
[1]

 


Footnote

  1. Clara Slimak (née Horenkrieg) has told us that this picture was taken on the occasion of the marriage of her parents, Daniel Horenkrieg and Cheinka Merin, who are seated in the middle. Clara was also able to identify some of the unknown people in the photograph and their relationships as follows:
    Seated from right Esther Horenkreig, [mother of Daniel Horenkreig], Daniel Horenkreig, his wife Chienka [née Merin], Chana Lieba Sagalowich;
    Standing from right: Jezek Horenkreig [Daniel Horenkrieg's brother], unknown, Cheinka Sagalowich, Meilach and Bashke Milcenzon, Esther from Swierzne, Esther Sagalowich (Getzes) [should be Getzel's daughter], Tola Horenkrieg [Daniel and Jezek Horenkrieg's sister]. Return


[Page 351]

A Letter

by Noakh Borsuk [1]

Translated by Libby Raichman

6 August 1949

Budapest. 21. 3. 1940

Shalom B,

I received your letter for which I thank you very much and you will please pardon me for my long silence. It was simply not possible in our life situation and our conditions, to concentrate on writing. As I do not wish you to be angry with me, I will try to tell you that which I know but I ask only that you forgive me for my illogical writing.

I will recount the scene chronologically from before the war.

As you know the relationships with the neighbor [Germany] became worse from March onwards. From that time on, the disturbances had already begun in our small shtetl's little world and our politicians used to gather in the bank and deal with questions. This continued until the 31st July when the first mobilisation occurred. Then darkness came to the shtetl, people cried. The whole town took to the streets, stood at the posts and argued about the situation in the bank. You can just imagine what took place. And in such circumstances I had to work, at a time when I anticipated that at any moment they would bring me the note (to mobilise). Every night I used to sit at Chaim's place and listen to the news. The outbreak of war was unfamiliar to us. We received the news that on Friday 1st September at 10 o'clock there was bombing and destruction. From that time on, normal life ceased. The farmers who obviously knew that the neighbor would also come, began coming into the town and buying unusual quantities, whatever they could, even bottles of perfume, as long as they spent the money. Every day when I lay down in bed I used to think that this would be for the last time. We lived in these frightening circumstances for the entire period of the next 16 days. They bombed Baranowicz three times on yomtov. You cannot imagine what went on here. We were expecting them. At night the town was dead, dark. It was forbidden to go out into the streets after 7 in the evening. Only those who were mobilised and guards were allowed out. During the day there were frequent alarms and people would run like madmen. Pits were dug throughout the entire town, to be used as hiding places. They were in the market place, next to the old girls where Vinereich was the commander, next to Sarah the daughter of Minke, behind the Bet Midrash and in various other places. I am writing all this to you in brief because if I survive I will tell you everything exactly. We lived in this way until the famous 17th September.

I am sending you the names of those persons whom I remember were taken into the military: into the active-military-service of course, Ze'ev Tunik's son Nakhe, Y. Brukhansky the son of Berel, Hirsh Milcenzon, Tzivia Stragonowicz's husband, Eliyahu Makhtay's son, Leibl Ruditzky son of Prusinovke, Fytl and Velvel Bernshtein sons of Yosef Chaim, Velvl Ryser the shammos's son, Boaz Akselrod, Mikhl Brukhansky's son, Kliatshuk on Yurezdik the son of Melamed whom I think is a relative of yours. Also Borukh the son of Ozer, Menakhem the son of Kushner. Slutshak, Aharon Tunik, Yaakov Brukhansky the tailor, Esterkin's two sons, the younger son of the Priziers, Namme's grandson the son of Gershonowicz, Leibl the son of Yentl. In the meantime, from them (the enemy) no one came. Those that I underline until the 25/10, it is possible that they had already come. At the same time Tzipke and Yocheved Makhtay, Aharon's daughter was in Warsaw to give birth. We don't know about them. But I ask you that no one should know about this and no one God forbid, should see this letter.

At about 3am my landlady woke me saying that I should dress quickly because German planes were flying over the town. I ran out and saw 9 planes but remarkably they were flying from an easterly direction, westwards and each time there were new ones and they were constantly flying westwards. There was a commotion in the town. The anti-aircraft-protection team, with bare hands to light up, were ready at their places. All the people are lying in the pits but Metsanes B runs up to me and says that the neighbor has moved and everyone is running to the market place because they are saying that their tanks are already there. It is understandable that I was also there but as one came into the market place, shooting could be heard, so you can understand what was happening in the market place. People were running like madmen to hide. The retreating “head” did the shooting. In the meantime the police started gathering in our street, Potshtovve Street, on bicycles that were taken from Khatze Dovid Ruditzky and Berkowicz and fleeing in vehicles. I go to Pilsudski Street where people are whispering to each other and wheels are standing still. Suddenly a commotion can be heard from the corner of Shpitalne Street and iron bodies (defense forces) can be seen walking. At the corner of Pilsudski Street they were met with cries of joy because you cannot imagine how frightened we were by the Germans and they were only 100 km from us.

[Page 352]
They were showered with flowers but in a few days the enthusiasm disappeared. The reality and its tragic circumstances became evident. They came into the market place and stood still. Eliezer Radunsky started to kiss the tank and the hand of a soldier. At the same time they kept Yaakov Bernshtein and Shkolnik in a Kartuz Bereze and M. Makhtay at Kovel. They all came back.

After staying a couple of minutes they went on further. In about 10 minutes the cavalry began to come, then motorised infantry, cars and canons without an end. The shop keepers indicated that they wanted to give up the keys of their shops because it was not possible to sell the merchandise – they were looting by force day and night. When I awoke at 2am, people were already standing at the little railroad, waiting. So they told them that they must sell. A Militia was formed. They entered Berel P's shop and told him to give them a silver service and he gave it to them. For many people now it was a free-for-all. They would simply go into shops, dress themselves in whatever they needed and leave and still say that they have a good hand. In short, this is the situation. I have no more patience. Next time I will write more.

When I told Khaim that I was going away and time was short because with each passing day the borders were more guarded, he wanted to go and bring me a note but it was impossible to travel. He informed me that the person was in Tel Aviv and not in Jerusalem. From him you will learn the address of the person in Tel Aviv. In the evening I was at your house. Your Mother cried from happiness that you would receive personal regards from her. There Khaim gave me, you know how much. Everyone looked well. Of course it would be fortunate for them if they could be where you are. I saw Maishe and Sholem almost every day. Of course you understand that there is no work at the bank. On the 15th they began working but only to collect money. Whether there is now something there, I don't know.

I saw Gruntshen often with his children. The man came from Warsaw a few days before the invasion, ragged and hungry, the same Shepsl Kitayevicz and Zimme.

You understand yourself (Yenkele's words) what I can write about them that you know and that I know.

I believe that you will forgive me for ending. I believe that perhaps we will see each other soon. Then I will tell you everything, exactly.

Greetings to you from my brother. I am ending. Be well.

Your friend Noakh

Regards to your sister, her husband and child, Khanne, Mordekhai, his wife and children.

PS. Get to know the teacher's children regarding what you wrote to me and tell Maynikke that I wrote to them yesterday and they should see to taking care of everything.

Yesterday I wrote a letter to Khaim.

From right: Noakh, Shashe, Avrom Borsuk

The grave stone reads:

An upright and respected man
Shaul Moshe
Son of Khaim Yitzchak
May his memory be blessed
Died 12th Kislev 1879


Translator's footnote

  1. The writer of the letter is Noakh Borsuk, may his memory be blessed, and who searched for a way to Eretz Yisrael through Romania, Hungary and Yugoslavia. Return


[Page 353]

Azriel Tunik

Translated by Libby Raichman

Stolpce 20. 9. 44

My dearest and most beloved,

After more than 3 years of suffering and pain, after more than 3 years of experiencing events that have never before happened in world history, after 3 years of enslavement, I have today the possibility of writing to you as a free person, my dear ones. Yesterday I received your postcard of July 3. It makes me very happy that you are all alive, my dearest. Now the question that confronts me is what shall I write to you? I am now not in the right frame of mind to begin to write in detail about the great tragedy of our people.

Perhaps a time will one day come when we, the few surviving souls of millions of people, will be able to cry out a little to the world or on the contrary it is not we, who have something to tell. The earth that is soaked with our innocent blood, she can be witness and tell all. We the survivors are no longer normal people at all. It is difficult after what we have been through and losing so much, to remain human. We have already lost everything. The German thugs slaughtered us in the middle of the street. Our most dear children, our parents, our wives, they murdered in the most bestial manner. Today we wander around on our graves downcast, disappointed, ashamed to show ourselves to others, as if we had committed the worst crime. It is however a fact that that nothing has become of us. They robbed us of the most beautiful and best of what we possessed.

You my dearest, are surely interested in who remained alive? Do you still have your father, mother, brothers, sisters, friends and acquaintances? I decided after much deliberation to write the truth to you. Of Velvl Tunik's family we have all remained orphans. Together with all the other Tuniks of Stolpce, only Azriel, my dearest and most beloved sister Chavah and I, remain. I no longer have any tears. My soul is covered in blood. Better said, I no longer have a soul. Of the Milcenzon family no one has remained alive. Of Merre Proshtsitskis family that lived in Stolpce, no one is alive. Her two brothers, who lived near Pinsk, are both alive, I think. Console yourselves and take strength my dear ones. It is difficult to write such things but once and for, all one must know.

Our people are already so hardened that it is already quite natural to speak about it. We are more tied to the dead than to the living. There we have our most dear and our best.

You are surely interested in how I and my Chavale managed to stay alive. . For more than 2 years we were Partisans. I believe that you have heard about Partisans. All 70 (70 Jews) who are today in Stolpce, we are all Partisans. Perhaps the day will one day come when we will be able to talk about all of this. A couple of weeks ago I was in Moscow. From there I sent a telegram to the “Davar”. Upon us lies a great task. Firstly, to take revenge and secondly, to establish a nation.

Your brother and friend
Azriel Tunik


[Page 354]

A Letter

by Chavah Tunik

Translated by Libby Raichman

My dear brothers and sisters

- - - You must certainly have read about the cruel crimes of the fascist dogs and the manner in which they destroyed our dearest and most beloved. It is understandable that no human mind can imagine how anyone could live through this. We lived through such terrible years. We had to see with our own eyes how they led our parents, brothers and sisters to the slaughter, as we waited for death at any moment. We are now no longer human. Our hearts are aching and there is no consolation.

My dear ones, I will now tell you briefly about myself. In 1941 when the Germans occupied Stoibtz, our town was burned down. To find homes and produce was difficult so I, Ya'akov-Shlayme and little Leah went to Ruven in Horodishtz. We lived quietly and peacefully until that terrible day when the whole town with 1500 Jews, was destroyed. Amongst them was our dear little brother Ya'akov-Shlayme, Merel and little Yisroel. Little Leah, Ruven and I managed to escape, struggling for 6 weeks in fields and forests. We returned hungry and barefoot to Stoibtz to find out about the fate of our parents and brother. For us it was such luck to be together with our parents. It was easier for us to suffer. There was someone from whom to hear a word of comfort. But our luck did not last long. It happened in Tammuz 1942. In what was a dark morning for us, drunk Lithuanians barged into our house and shot our dear father? In one minute the crown of our home was taken from us. There was no longer a father, no word of comfort. A short time after this great misfortune the Germans took away skilled working youth, amongst them our dear little brothers Maishel and Ruven. They sent them to Minsk where they worked very hard. A short time later, a general slaughter took place in which we lost everyone. Only Azriel and I remained and also not together. We escaped together but for 2 years we didn't know anything about one another.

Suddenly we were orphaned. We remained alone, torn away like a lamb from its flock that strays and wanders around in the field looking for her flock, her home. But we did not find a home. There was no home, none of our innocent blood. Seven days after escaping only one thing remained: revenge - to take revenge for our innocent blood. Seven days after escaping, a few people from Stoibtz and I, arrived at a Partisan group. It was easier for me here. It is understandable that not only one Partisan fell in battle but he knew what the risks were and why he might fall. He knew before his death that he was taking revenge for his most beloved. Our Azriel also went with me to the Partisans but in a short time he perished.

Yes, my dear ones, I have lived through a lot. Although I lived for 2 years in the forest under free skies, more than once during the winter we lay in the snow, barefoot and even hungry but everything was dear to us. We knew that we Partisans were sitting among the Germans, hundreds of kilometres from the front and that we were helping the Red Army. And we knew that only they can and will free us from the teeth of the dog. Yes, you are reading and you cannot believe it. And the day of liberation came and we Partisans were leaving the forests and were going to occupy towns. So a question arises for me: Where am I going? Who will greet me when I return home? To whom am I coming? There is no home, there is no one. All that is awaiting me are graves and ruins.

As I was returning I met Azriel. You can imagine our meeting. We each thought that the other was dead. You can imagine how it was for us in our own home town. We have to live and see where we once were together. Each little road, each path where blood was shed, reminded us of so much. We were turned to stone, numbed.

Stolpce 7th March 1945

Chavah Tunik


A Letter From a Soldier in the Brigade

by Dov Garmizze

Translated by Libby Raichman

With the end of the war. A soldier of the Jewish Brigade on Italian soil. Initially we will meet with the survivors of his home town and the surrounding areas and convey this information to his brethren in Israel.
These lines testify to the great yearning, the spiritual closeness and the sincere desire to receive them and to encourage them.

Editorial

Somewhere in Italy 20. 7. 45

Peace and blessing,

I decided to write to you without waiting for a reply to my previous letter, and more importantly, at the request of one of the survivors of the people of Nove-Shverzne – Gaga Yosselevsky. I am still in the same labor council in the Alps and feel all right. Soon we will leave this place and go far away from here. . . . .

During these days I met the Melamed brothers – and I immediately informed Noach Tunik. We learned many important details and soon you will also receive general information. According to what they said they met them in Lodz – and they (the Melamed brothers) arrived here from Lodz via Budapest. We must hope that we will still manage to meet them here before we leave this place. A few days ago I met Gaga Yosselevsky and her husband. From them I learned new details and also about the number of survivors from this village. And they are: Rivkah and Nyumkah Vilitivsky, Dovid Kubitz, Gaga and Munyek Yosselevsky, Avrom Doktorovicz, Berel Gershovicz, Chaim, Hirshl and Rayzl. Avrom Dovid and his family, Yitzchak Liebson, the brother of Mayer Shvartz – from Stolpce and others . . . . Please inform the committee of the immigrants from this village. Regards to all the people of Stolpce. Write about their news and generally about everything and I will be very happy.

From he who wishes you peace and everything good from the midst of his heart,

Your friend
Dov Garmizze

 

[Page 355]

Letters from Africa and Argentina

by Bashke (Basia) Milcenzon

Translated by Melissa Rubin McCurdie and David Rubin

6 August 1949

Dear Friends Meishel and Getzel,

I received your letters and read them with great joy. I've heard that slowly the remaining people of the massacres are getting together. Our exhausted and depressed (haunted) brothers and sisters of Stolpce, may we hear better things from one another.

Our Jewish nation should already be able to close the pages where our history is written in blood.

Please forgive me for my lateness in answering your heart rending letter. It was not through ill will, God forbid, but I had an accident with my hand and I couldn't write, but I did everything that was necessary.

My dear brothers I can tell you that since the great disaster that befell our Jewish people we cannot remain at peace knowing that the remains of my flesh and blood remain wandering on the way[1].

We are currently collecting money to help our brothers and sisters. All the collection of money takes place at my house. The 2nd in command to me is Chatche Russak, he is always with me and my daughter Brochke is the secretary.

Receiving your letter that you want to establish a Gemilut Chessed, we immediately called a meeting. Having collected a little money we wanted the opinion of all the friends because a few then suggested dividing the money amongst the needy as support without any conditions.

In the meantime we again collected money and then with Chatche I called a meeting again and discussed the meaning of a Gemilut Chessed, and we were able to confirm your plan. We wish you all success in your work.

Even though we were not with you in those gruesome and shocking days of suffering, pain and destruction, we have a responsibility to be with you today to help you with whatever we can to build up anew with the feeling that we lonely sole survivors of a family, Stolpce brothers and sister are taking part in the rebuilding of our age old land Zion and Jerusalem.

I am sending you a list of members who have committed themselves to support for the good of the Gemilut Chessed in the name of the Holy ones of Stolpce, may they rest in peace: Brochke Klatzko (Milcenzon) and her husband, Basia Milcenzon, Avron Russak and wife, Yaakov Boruch and wife, Hirshel Neifeld and wife, Nochum Malbin and wife, Beryl Bernshtein and wife, Yossel Reiser and wife, Yosef Renzon and wife, Mordechai Matityahu Rosovsky and wife, Yedidya Bernshtein and wife, Zissel Dvoretzky and wife, Hershel Dvoretzky, Reizel Neifeld, Yehudit Melamed (Russak) and husband, Luba Shapiro (Russak) and husband, Minna Zeidel (Reiser) and husband, Shashe Kafyan (Lublinsky) and husband, Yoel Lublinsky and wife, Yossef Lublinsky and wife, Pale Kohn and husband from the USA are here guests.

Be well. We greet you warmly from all Shtoibtze in Africa, be strong we are with you.

Bashke (Basia) Milcenzon
2 February 1945

 


Translator's Footnote

  1. Presumably the author is referring to the Jewish idea of souls going to heaven which is effected with a proper Jewish burial and Kaddish said). Return

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