This tombstone was put up in the year 1946 in the Genshor cemetery in Warsaw after the disinterment of the bones.
Same text follows in Hebrew.
for the honor of the Jewish people, they
[too fuzzy to read]
Their eternal rest, their memory
by Binem Heler
Translated by Pamela Russ
The road stretches to Bialystok
Through the sunny village and the forest.
In the auto, in the middle of the way,
I felt that I detained someone.
Did I hear a scream?
The light air vibrated
A moment, another, I hear:
My heart is constricting from the waiting
These are the heroes of May
The fire did not choke them
The last and thin row
The road to the village is closed
After a while the vision disappears
* Gwardia Ludowa or GL was an underground armed organization created by the communist Polish Workers Party in German occupied Poland, with sponsorship from the Soviet Union.
by Yosef Gurni
Translated by Jane, Mikhail Freider and
Between those memories there are events that were imprinted in our memory in spite of their distance. They could not be forgotten; they are part of our feelings. Maybe only now, after many years it's possible to define a level of unexpectancy and fear during a first bombing attack, first sign of war.
During that summer of 1939 when I was a sixth year old boy the surrounding world was changing. In one day it has changed from a world of tenderness, spoiling and joy to a dark, angry world full of worries about the father who was being on the war front.
I didn't understand completely what is a war and during first days of the war I was in the ignorant state, full of despair and fear. Though I listened patriotic songs playing on a radio and I, a boy, really believed them. The war front was still far and I believed that there was no power that could break great Polish soldiers.
Adults thought differently. They packed stuff in boxes to leave to Warsaw. They thought that a miracle would happen in 1939 the same way as it was twenty years ago in Warsaw. This way I first understood what is the war on the bright fall morning. I still don't know how German pilot decided to drop a bomb exactly on our calm street. Our world woke up from the ringing sounds of breaking glass. My first reaction was to hide under the blanket that was a defense from the surroundings. That morning my mother woke me up earlier to finish packing our stuff. At that moment my mother was very much like a tigress than a home chicken. She ran to men and cover me by her body and then we embracing each other hid behind the commode and we heard the sound of dropping bomb from there. After that there was heavy silence, suspicious silence. Besides the fact that we are still alive we didn't know whether it was the end or just the beginning of the bombing. After that voices of people asking for their children and relatives resounded around. There were a lot of cries and tears. Desire to stay alive hurried us away from this place. We left together with grandfather. Last part of the family had to join us near the bridge over the river Bug. I, full of fright and curiosity, squeezed to my grandfather body. House walls were like witches with black faces, there was smell of burning, sounds of cries from the center of the town.
Nothing surprised and shocked me anymore. Neither crying wounded people that were lying here and there, nor died people who were at least covered, not even a Jewish cabman who abused a goy in the fireman clothes. He was standing on the cart, pulling the horse reins by one hand and beating the goy using a whip in another hand.
This goy was trying to push the cabman down from the cart (surely he wanted to take a cart for himself). "Jew beats goy!" a thought fast as lightning came through my head and I even felt a pride for a moment. My childish wounded pride was very satisfied by this fact because of continuous pursuit by the goy gang.
There was another world after the bridge. Blue waters of the river Bug flew in the eternal calmness. Fields were green and a sky was blue. Smoke didn't cover everything in the black color yet. We were lying near the road and waiting for a cart.
In Warsaw we arrived at the evening. It admitted us with alarm sounds, guns fire and discharges of air defense artillery.
Beaten and wounded Poland was still defending.
by Moyshe Venger
Translated by Jane, Sofia,
Mikhail Freider, Mikhail M.,
and Vladimir Fronton
We passed the bridge and entered the forest with many other families from Wyszków: Malkhiel the Ritual Slaughterer, Pshetitski and others. Planes fired on the running people and spread death. Every couple minutes we were lying on the ground, once going up we found that my coat has got holes from bullets. We were running through the forest in the direction of Jadow.
Wanders During Voyage
At the end of forest on the way to Jadow we met wounded people after the bombing. Among them there was Rokhele Shkarlat. She was being taken on the cart to a doctor. At that time everybody ate together in one common because Leybish Pshetitski had taken some food provisions from his bakery shop. We arrived in Jadow in the early morning. Immediately we were bombed by planes. A lot of people hid in a grocery store but I don't remember the name of this store. One rich and kind Jew invited us and gave us food, drinks and beds. There were no authorities left in Jadow at that time. Polish army ran and Germans were expected to arrive in the town. All of us left this town and hid in trenches from guns' firing. Someone shouted that it would be better if Germans had come already because our fear was too big. Next day Germans came in the town and found hammered doors and gates. It took them half a day to do all their affairs and they started goods requisition. Some families from Wyszków stayed too long in Jadow that time. Leybish Pshetitski went to look at his house and didn't come back ever. Germans killed him on the way.
During those days Germans and Poles killed all Jews in Wyszków and burned everything. People told Germans occupied Wyszków in vengeance because Poles killed fifteen German spies there. We saw a lot of Jews from different towns in Jadow; they passed me this hard news. My mother's sister and all her family Youngsteyn were killed in Karlishem.
Under Soviet Rule
There were rumors that Soviet Army was coming. In the beginning when Soviet authority just settled everybody was glad. People prepared to meet the ones who would be walking through the town. When we were going through Wengrow we've spent a night in Reyzman family and visited our acquaintances there. We met the Rubin family and also Fayvele Shran with his wife Ite who was in a dangerous condition (her leg was injured with bomb's splinter). Fayvele Baharav, their father of son-in-law, a very good Jew, never left them and helped her all the time before she died.
We arrived in Kosow at night and Red Army detained us. In commendant's office we explained (with arms and legs) that we ran from Germans and now we have families and jobs here. Later we were freed. First days in Kosow we felt very free. Red Army showed movies on the streets. They propagandized how to behave in foreign country. Red Army didn't stay in Kosow for long.
We were allowed to go with the army. The border was opened for about two weeks. A very small number of people went with army. But we wandered with a hope to find a better life those days. My sister Khletche prepared to go in Wyszków. In days of wandering she recovered and hired a cart to go to Lochow and then to Wyszków by train. Her speech and appearance wasn't similar to Jewish woman. Her travel lasted ten days and she came back with bad news. We found out that Wyszków was occupied. Our house was destroyed. And we had to think of place to live. These days Germans came in Kosow. A lot of Jews didn't come back there and tried to find a job.
Our family had important discussion and it was decided that my brother and I had to cross the border, find some job and later the whole family will come to us. We and many other families hired a cart to go to the border. We went through the forest avoiding any bands of robbers. This was we arrived to the German border. We were examined and all our things were taken away. Every Jew received ten golden coins and we were taken to the river so that we can swim through the border under gun's fire. We had to pay two golden coins per a person for this. When we reached another bank a few soviet people with rifles came to meet us. And they clearly ordered us to go back. My brother Moyshe told them something in Russian and explained that we can't go back because we would be killed there. Soldiers told us to go to the commendant's office. There we were examined again and we were told to wait in the yard. This night we were taken somewhere. On the way we met other groups of Jews that were convoyed too. We arrived in neutral zone near Malkin. There were people from special services. Near Malkin station Soviet soldiers gathered together about six thousand old people, children, parents. There were staying on the open field in rain and cold. Speculators sold bread for big money. A lot of people died without medical help there. We sent a delegate to ask to free us but it didn't help. After that we decided to explode a bar and free ourselves. We waited for a moment when there were fewer guards. Mothers with little children were moved to the front and old people stood behind them. On the predefined time the bar was exploded and a mass of people went out. Young girls began to kiss soldiers. Some people were so excited because of these events and then all people were singing "International". Soldiers who sat in trenches near border greeted us. We arrived to Zareby Koscielne station. At about two o'clock at night there were several thousands people from Poland in the forest. Together we moved forward to Tshehanovcy where we've been met and given a cargo train to move to Bialyastok.
In Bialyastok we came to town committee. They gave a half loaf of rye bread to everybody and told to go to Folvark that is about 15 km from Bialyastok. We came to the town committee of Folvark. They didn't admit us and we came back to Bialyastok under a heavy downpour. Nobody admitted us again. Then we decided to come to Jewish baker.
You can't imagine how bad was our situation at that time, we took off our boots, dried them our and sold them to buy bread. Then we spend horrible days when we had no place to sleep. Even synagogue was completely full of people. There we met the Farber family who wanted to give us a place to sleep for a night but they had many louse. Then we ran to the rail station but there was no place too. We were wandering around this way until we get a job in the bathes where we could wash ourselves. My brother Moyshe knew this job before from Israel. From this time we slept at our workplace. In Bialyastok we met with many families from Wyszków: Asti and his family (I've heard they died from hunger in Russia later), Tchekhanogura and his family, the Shults family, Srebnik and his family, Shran with his son and daughter, Itche Baharav, Nayman with his son, Frayman and the Segal family who had a place to live. Many people from Wyszków found each other. We gave a place to sleep to others together with Moyshe Stolik. All were glad about this meeting. Ours from Wyszków were working and trading buying old clothes on the market and then selling them. Everyone who was from Wyszków let in others in the lines. My brother Moyshe couldn't be in Bialyastok any more and was pursuing every possibility to return to Kosow to my mother and sister. At this moment I've got a postcard from my family to return back to them. Also at this time Soviet authorities started registration. Everybody who wants to get a passport must stay in USSR and move forward because they didn't allow to stay in Bialyastok; others had to go back to Germans. Most of people signed to go back to their families who were left in Poland. Many families who went together with echelons further into Russia couldn't live there and came back to Bialyastok. These families signed to return back to Germans. Many people thought that it would be better in Poland in the end. But the end came actually. We were not allowed to go back. We started to grow accustomed to the new life. Everyone lived as one can. Some tragic night around 12 o'clock, everyone who didn't have a soviet passport was arrested. Immediately they were taken in the echelons to Siberia, into the jails and concentration camps.
by Leibel Popowski, Buenos Aires
Translated by Pamela Russ
It is the first day of World War Two. We had no idea what sort of catastrophe was going to come about. It was only on Shabbath in the evening, when darkness fell on our town, that the German planes flew overhead and dropped several bombs on a nearby gypsy camp. They had noticed a fire there. And this was only a taste [of what was to come].
Sunday morning the first refugees from western Poland appeared. We no longer went to work or to do business, but only listened to the radio and accompanied friends to the army. The shutters were covered with paper but after the first explosion, the [the shutters] fell off. Ditches were prepared so people could protect themselves from the dropping bombs but the ditches ended up not being used. We prepared food for two weeks but we did not even have a chance to eat the provisions.
On Monday morning, we had the first air attack; there were not many dead and wounded. At around eleven in the morning, I went to Pultuski Street. The flow of refugees increased. Then the second air attack happened. When I ran back, yellow [blond?] Chaim (the gaiter maker), who was speaking to me a few minutes earlier was already lying dead on the sidewalk. Next to him was lying another old man. The wounded were pleading for help.
After lunch, another air attack was repeated. Shaul Dan found his sister who was wounded. He ran to the infirmary and found no one there. Near their house there was a policeman lying on the ground. He died from the same bomb.
Tuesday morning, the Germans began to throw fire bombs. Everything was burning. People were running from one place to another. My father and I ran into the cellar.
The bomb that exploded in the church square ripped off the door to our cellar. We left the cellar, and together with our mother went to YankelDovid Shuster. In the afternoon, it became quiet. The fires spread. There were only a few people in the streets. The police had run away. One policeman told me: It's time to run away!
I quickly said to my brother Velvel, who was standing at the fishermen street:
Tell our parents that I am running to Jadow to bring my cousin's horse and wagon. Then we will all go to Jadow, because it is quiet there.
I left, crossed the bridge, and went on my way. On the road, everything was on fire, even the grass. In Skuszew, I met Pulye Skarlat with his wife and daughter. Her neck was scarred with burn wounds. I helped them take her over to a farmer. They got into a wagon and left.
When I was halfway to Jadow, I met Yozef Krawczik. He told me that Jadow was also bombed and we decided to spend the night in the forest. In the morning, we went to search for food from the surrounding farmers.
In the forest, I found many Jews from Wyszkow. It seemed to me that the entire Jewish community had come into the forest. I didn't have the courage to ask about my parents. They told me that they had been here the entire night. In the morning, they had gone to Jadow. My heart was overjoyed, and I left to Jadow. On the way, there was another bombing. When we came to Jadow, I found out that my parents had gone to a more secure place. I came to them at night, with a few other men. We slept in an attic with hay. We saw burning fires at a distance.
We arrived to Jadow very early and settled in at friends' homes. Here there were also many Jews from Wyszkow and Pultusk. The very friendly Jadower Jews gave us a roof over our head. The bakers worked by day and night in order to provide the Jews with bread. If they were missing flour, they ran to the farmers in the surrounding villages, putting their lives at stake.
The Germans came into Jadow and took over the city without even one shot. Because of that, nothing was destroyed. The Germans announced that they had to leave because the Russians would be coming soon. We learned about this by reading a German newspaper. By that time, the Russians were already in Bialystok, Brisk, and were approaching the Bug River. For us, this was the best news.
In Jadow, we, a group of Jews, discussed among ourselves about running off to Wyszkow in the hope of maybe rescuing ourselves. On the way, we met Beryl Koval, who warned us:
Come right back if you don't want the Germans to torture you as they did Leybish Pszeticki and the butcher. They too went home from Jadow. And more, there was nothing to find in Wyszkow. Everything there was destroyed. It was all one mountain of ash, mixed with dead bodies. The air was so fetid that even the German horses did not want to go through those places.
In Jadow, the Germans kept us in perpetual fear. They robbed, cut beards, and raped.
Finally, we received news that the Russians had arrived in Stok and in Kosow, but they were not coming to Jadow. I and my friend Motel Gzhende went to Stok and there found no Russians and no Jews. So we left to Kosow, and there was great joy there. The Red Army was already there. We went to a friend's home, and tired from the road, we went to sleep.
In the middle of the night, we heard the marching of the military. Our friend went out into the street and soon returned with the bad news that the Russians were retreating across the Bug River where the new border was going to be set up. So we also left during the night, because in the morning it might be too late. On the way to the Bug, we were drenched by the night's rainfall. In the morning, when we came to the Bug, the sun was shining. It was much easier for us; the Russians smiled at us …
In the town Denir, on the other side of the Bug River, it was all happiness and celebration. Jews felt more secure because the Red Army would stay there. There was rumor that the border would stay open for a short time. You would be able to go back and forth. My friend did leave for Jadow in order to bring back his parents and my parents.
Meanwhile, I stayed with strangers, and I did not have any money to pay for their hospitality.
On the third day, not being able to wait any longer for my parents, I left for Bialystok to my cousins where I stayed until my parents and my brother Velvel and my sister's daughter also arrived. Then all of us left to a settlement not far from the city.
All the open halls [salons] in Bialystok, as well as the synagogues and Batei Midrashim, were packed with people from across the border who had run away. People slept on the bare floor. I went out to look for my acquaintances.
In about a week's time, the Russians announced that whoever wanted to go deep into Russia could enlist. And immediately, those who had registered were in splendid wagons, with steel ovens, and cots for sleeping.
We arrived in Toloczyn, White Russia [Belarus], and began to acclimate to our new lives.
About a year and a half later, Germany already attacked the Soviet Union. I was drafted into the Red Army. I had to separate from my parents. Soon the German army invaded Toloczyn where my parents had remained. I never heard from them again.
I took part in the fight with the Hitlerist mobs, and was wounded. In the Moscow hospital, where I was in the spring of 1944, I heard the news that the Red Army had liberated the city of Toloczyn. I immediately sent a letter to the city administration with a question about the fate of my parents. The answer was that they knew nothing…
With my parents were: my brother Velvel; my sister's son and daughter. Their parents had likely died in Warsaw. My oldest brother Moishe and his daughter, who lived in Luniniec (Kressen), where they went after leaving Wyszkow, were also killed by murderous hands.
Honor their memory!
by Kh. A.
Translated by Pamela Russ
Wyszkow was taken over by the Germans soon after the fall of Warsaw. Their first job was to rob from the Jews, and then take everything they could get their hands on, even furniture. In particular, they very much liked the bed linen. From almost each house, they took the pillows, blankets, bed covers. It was difficult to understand for what purpose they needed so much bed linen.
Then an order was given that no Jew was allowed to be out in the street. The order applied for several days. Later a new order. All the Jews should assemble in the middle of the marketplace. Armed Germans ran through the houses like wild beasts, and herded the Jews together. When all the Jews were in the marketplace, they were chased behind the city. No one knew where they were going. Finally they were told to stop so that they could be chased into stables that were there. When the Jews filled up the barns, the murderers set fire to one of them. Huge flames flew up from all sides and thick clouds of smoke, mixed with the screams of the victims, flew up to the heavens. The Jews who were locked into the other stables tore open the gates and began to run. The Hitlerists opened a murderous shooting on those who were running. Many fell to their death, others were wounded. During that massacre, 77 Jews were shot and burned to death. Among them eight Christians.
From the V A Materials in New York, Number 1140 Wyszkow
by Tzvi Yakov Gemora, New York
Translated by Pamela Russ
Friday, September 1, 1939, when the war broke out, Nazi airplanes appeared over the town. They didn't throw bombs, but we felt the tragedy in the first days of the war. On September 5, at five AM, Wyszkow was already in flames on all four sides. The city was shot up by machine guns. There were already many dead and wounded. Sadly, one person could not help the other. Everyone had to help himself as much as he could. Men searched for their wives; desperate women were searching for their husbands, and together, they searched for their children. A terrible wailing carried across the entire city and everyone was running.
I am running through the street that held the large Bais Medrash. I see how the Bais Medrash is in flames, and the old sick people who were inside are screaming with desperate shouts:
Tragically, they all died. The souls of the holy martyrs, along with the letters of the holy Torah, were carried by flames directly to heaven.
We are running again and we look around. Many of our Wyszkower Jews are already gone. We run into the house where our Rav, of blessed memory, lived. We discuss with him what to do. It was hard to think of a way to save ourselves.
Later, a government official came to take away the Rav. When he left the city, he said goodbye to us, and tears were running down his face. He wished us that we should be helped. This scene with our revered Rav is difficult to describe.
We decided to leave Wyszkow. A crowd of Jews were leaving in the direction of the wooden bridge, to go into the forest, so that they could continue to run from there. When we were already on the bridge, in the middle of this terrible situation, we saw how the German airplanes were flying overhead and throwing down bombs.
Fortunately, the bombs fell into the water. A few hours later, when we were already on the ground in the forest, we heard how the bridge was blown up. Later, people who were running out of the city had to take boats to cross to the other shore. In the forest, they said that the Nazis were already rampant in the city. The Batei Midrashim, Batei Tefilos [houses of prayer], khassidim shtiebelech [small, khassidic synagogues], were all burned down. A few days later, almost everything was destroyed by bombs, artillery shootings, and fires.
After four days of wandering in the forest, we arrived to the town of Jadowa. After about three days, the Nazis also arrived in Jadowa. The city was full of Jewish refugees from the surrounding areas. There was a great panic. There was nowhere to sleep at night. The streets were also filled with refugees. Because of the crampedness, everyone pushed themselves into attics and cellars. There was not enough food, no ability to wash oneself properly. Epidemics began to spread in Jadowa. Meanwhile, the Days of Awe [Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur] arrived.
We received horrifying news. On Yom Kippur, the Wengrower Rav, of blessed memory, was killed. We decided to leave Jadowa right after Yom Kippur, and with great difficulty we struggled to the border.
by Khane Srebro
Translated by Edward Jaffe
Donated by Rona G. Finkelstein
To our Jewish brothers:
Our time has come. Like all other Jews subjugated by the Evil Empire, we give our lives to God, blessed be he.
I am Abraham, son of Shmai Halevi Tsitrin, born in the town of Trachenbad. My father was Shmai Tsitrin, born in Vald, the son of the exalted Rabbi Meyer Zeev. My parents lived in Rovno. My father with his son-in-law Itzchak Chekhnizer, the ritual slaughterer and congregational messenger, were killed last year in Rovno. My mother Sarah Rivka, daughter of Eliokem Getzel Gelman of Trachenbad, together with the entire family were killed by the murderers in Rovno. We have relatives in America. My mother's brother, Joseph Gelman, my wife Bella, daughter of Yakov Arye Steinman of Viskov near Warsaw, member of the large family Steinman of Amselof.
I am leaving behind in Pobrusk two houses with many things hidden in the walls. Furniture and other things are left with the Ukrainian clergymen. Find our relatives and see to it that our bones will not be scattered and our names not forgotten.
Our relatives should say Kaddish and observe annually the day of our death. I Abraham, son of Shmai Halevi and my wife Bella, daughter of Yakov Arye, who has a brother in Russia Zvi Steinman, say goodby to this foolish world. My dear son Meyer Zeev, 9 years old, my daughter Chaya, 6 years old, my daughter Masha, 3 years old, my mother-in-law, Chava Ziatah and her son Moishe, and daughters Chaya Sarah and Yentah Hadassah, her daughter-in law, wife of the above mentioned Zvi who is in Russia with her three small children and her mother all of us are being sacrificed in His Holy Name, together with the 70 families of Pobrusk, and 15-20 families from Piasetchny.
Don't forget us, the murdered innocent.
Hear, O Israel. The Lord is our G-d, the Lord is one.
Abraham son of Sarah Rivka
Abraham, son of Shmai Halevi cries out at the threshold of death to search for his relatives and requests that his and his family's bones not be scattered, and that they be remembered. He also asks that relatives say Kaddish (prayer for the dead) and observe the annual day of their death.
|||This letter was brought to the USA by Rabbi Moishe Steinberg of Brod, who visited Rovno after the liberation in order to once again organize a Jewish community. This is a reprint of the letter which was published in the "Day" (Tog) of December 16th. This is a document of the awful period. The letter conveys a cry from a life that refuses to give up and disappear without a trace, and wants to be remembered. It describes what Abraham, son of Sarah Rivka, felt in the last minutes of his life when he saw no escape from the hands of the murderers. This was also experienced by thousands, hundreds of thousands of other Jews. Return|
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