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[Page 94]

In Memory of my brother Michael Lotringer
and my sister-in-law Maniah

Translated from the Hebrew by Michael Kallay

After my parents and my three sisters left Bobrka in the year 1936, I moved in with my brother, Michael and sister-in-law, Maniah, in an apartment in the city center (Rynek).  Having lost all hope for legally making aliya (immigrating) to Israel, I decided in the year 1939 to do it illegally.  My brother and sister-in-law were very much against this path, and they put great pressure on me to change my mind.  Thank God I had the strength to resist them.

At that time the Polish Nationalists were running wild in the streets of Lvov. Anti-Semitism was growing, and we could feel that a war was coming soon.  Younger Jews were all looking for places to go, so even the Aliya Bet (the illegal aliya organization) was hard to get into - so many were waiting in line.  Since I was an activist in the Zionist Organization “Achvah” in Bobrka, I was added to the passenger list.

With great pain I separated from my sister-in-law and brother who had been like a father and mother to me during the three years I lived in their house.  In writing I cannot express how difficult it was to separate from the house where I grew up, from the area I loved so much, and from the friends I had been united with since our beautiful childhood years.  I cannot describe how jealous my friends were of me, even though they knew the path I chose was a difficult departure into the unknown.  We waited for a month in Lvov for the transport that was delayed for security reasons.  At this time, in June 1939, the city of Lvov was full of German Jewish refugees, former Polish citizens that had been deported from their homes in Germany during the infamous Kristallnacht (the night of broken glass).  It was frightening to go out at nights in the streets.  Groups of Poles and Ukrainians would roam the street chanting slogans like “Long live Lvov without Jews”, and “Away with the Jews”, and so on.  Even so, many of the young men that were supposed to be in our convoy to Eretz Yisrael were drafted in the general conscription that was announced in Poland.

On the day of my departure, my brother came to Lvov in order to say goodbye to me, as if he knew that we were never to see each other again.  I still see his image, wrapped in his talit and t'fillin, deep in prayer with tears flowing from his green eyes, a warm prayer for his sister who was departing on a journey into the unknown.  Near the train we parted with great emotion.  “See you in Eretz Yisrael” were his last words, and I didn't know that we were separating forever.

From the port of Constantinople [Istanbul] we sailed on the cargo ship Las Perlas.  This was a long journey wrought with suffering.   We spent weeks and weeks at sea on meager food and water rations, and awful sanitary conditions. After several attempts to land on the coast of Israel, the Turkish captain decided to return to Constantinople.

Our people were outraged. We rebelled. We tied up the sailors, and forced the captain to sail towards the shores of Israel. As we came close to shore, one of our engines broke down and we stalled. British coast guard ships detected us, and dragged our ship to shore.

After a week at [the detention camp] Atlit we were released. This was before the time of deportations from Eretz Israel. I arrived at my family's place in Raanana unannounced, because I couldn't tell them I was going via the Aliya Bet or they would have worried about me.  We managed to receive one last letter from my brother, expressing his great joy for my arrival in the land of my dreams and his dreams.

During all the years of war we hoped against hope that my brother and his wife would be among the survivors. But we hoped in vain.  They were not rewarded and neither were we. When the few survivors from our city arrived, we learned of the awful truth. My beloved brother was shot in the street. He left the ghetto, and some Ukrainians discovered him and handed him over to the murderers. His wife was killed with the rest of the Jews of the ghetto. May God avenge their blood. May their souls be bound up with the soul of the nation.

 


[Page 96]

Twenty Years Since the Destruction
of the Jewish Population of Bobrka

Yitchak Fuchs

Translated by Sara Mages

On July 2 1941, the German army entered Bobrka. Marching with them was the Ukrainian Legion that was organized from the National Ukrainian Refugees who came from Eastern Galicia, the territory of General Gobernment. Immediately after the arrival of the Germans, riots against the Jews erupted and the first victims fell. I remember well one of them, a young woman, granddaughter of Yehuda Hirsh Baygel who was caught by the savage rioters who tore her apart. Among the other victims (42 of them) were:

Yosef Gross (cobbler)
Rachel Yanet
R' Shemrya Mintzer (Shemerl the porter)
The young man Moshe Mesing (son of Efraim) who was burnt alive
The young man Chaim Ehare (son of Shalom Ehare)
Yakov (Yankel) son of Mordechai Meser
Yitzcak Rap and his daughter Yota
Beyla Rap
The young man Leizer Shnap
The young man Leyb Minzer (son of Netanya)
Meir son of Chayim Yhusua Dam and his daughter
Baruch Plus
R' Yechzkel Wiess (Hezkeli son of Yona Hirsh) and his father in-law Michel Mintzer
The Spalter family from “Lani”

Most of the criminal murderers were gentile Ukrainians.

The looting started immediately after. At the same time the gentiles caught a number of Jews, including my two brothers Simcha and Yehuda (Yodel), and also Dvora, Chayim Zokerkandel's wife. They were collected in the prison yard {on the “Zagora”) and were ordered to dig a pit. Then, they poured gasoline on them and wanted to burn them. Only thanks to the interference of the lawyer Koltzitzki, who was active in the National Ukrainian Movement, the Jews were saved from the fire. Beaten and bleeding they returned to their homes.

Not many days later, the German administration, with the help of the German police and with the cooperation of the Ukrainian police, started to rob the Jews. Merchandize was confiscated and fines were enforced on silver and jewelry. In addition, they also started to draft Jewish manpower for force labor, either for free or for a token pay. But the German's worst humiliation and deep despair was brought on the Jews with the help of the Jewish Council (the one that was called Judenrat) and the Jewish Police. Out of false hope, that their lives and the lives of their families will be spare, almost all the members of the Jewish Council - except for a few outstanding - helped the Germans to suppressed and destroy the Jewish population.

The Jewish Council supplied workers for the farms and the factories. Swollen by hunger, the Jews worked to their death building military factories in the Korobitz and Romanov camps. Jews worked in farms near by, in German's ranches, brick yards and in the train station. Educated Jews taught the Ukrainians to read and write German. Delicate Jewish women worked as maids and cooks for the Germans. The Jewish Council collected Jewish merchandize and jewelry for the Germans. The Jewish Police helped the Germans to discover and remove Jews from their hiding places during the two Akziot [actions] in the summer of 1942 and the spring of 1943.

The members of the Jewish Council;

  1. Feibish Berr (leader)
  2. Dr. Shlechter (lawyer}
  3. Motil Lerr (son of Beni Lerr)
  4. Itzi Shliper
  5. Leibish Yant (son of Lipe lives in America)
  6. Leibish Mann (son of Chaya Mann)
  7. Wolf (Vitzik) Robinstien
  8. Chaim Gimple (lives in Belgium)
  9. Leib Kaminer (lives in Australia)
  10. Yakov (Yankel) Oyeshtein
  11. Israel Kroythamer (son of Meir, the brush maker)
  12. Monie Meiblum
  13. Yehusua Shpritzer(son of Berel the Heder teacher)

Members of the Jewish Police;

  1. Loni Barr
  2. Tuli Barr (Both sons of Feibish Barr, grandsons of Nachman Kol)
  3. Hirsh Gotlib (son of Aizik from “Lana”)
  4. Menachem Geler (son of R' Binyamin of blessed memory)
  5. Moshe Oystein
  6. Moshe Lerer
  7. Moshe Leib (son of Yoseph, Yosil Dotz)
  8. Aizik Fucks
  9. Leib Klinges
  10. Zelig Shticker
  11. David Shprlig (son in-law of Chaya Mann)
  12. Meir Yeshaya Shapel

During the first period the Jewish Council organized a kitchen for the poor and the needy in the synagogue's women's gallery. One of the persons in charge of the kitchen was Avrahamtze' the son of Ori'la the city's Rabbi.

For a short time, until the first liquidation in the summer of 1942, there was also an elementary school for Jewish children. The first was located in the Chortkov's synagogue and later on in the Belz synagogue. Aizek Fucks was the school principal. Among the teachers was Motil Lerer - the son of Beyla the baker and the writer of these words. The Jewish school was establishing after the Jewish children were taken out of the general school.

During the first days of the German occupation the Jews lived under constant fear. Slowly slowly, their self respect and their ability to protect themselves, was taken from them. Tortured and hungry, people who were sentenced to death were left with only one hope; the demise of the Germans. They called it; the “salvation”. They lived with death in front of their eyes and they also lived in false hope. They dug bunkers, secret places to hide and wait for salvation.

During the first Aktzia in the summer of 1942, when 2000 souls were led to the ovens in Blotz, those who were left opened their eyes and started to run away from the city. Some ran to the forests to join the partisans, while others bought themselves places to hide with the gentiles. Many believed the story that the Jewish Council and the Nazis told them, that they will survive as workers in labor camps.

After the first Aktzia, the Germans with the help of the Jewish Council collected all the city's Jews and the Jews from the surrounding villages to one end of the city. The ghetto stretched from the Jewish street to the home of Mordechai Meser. By the end of 1942, the ghetto was surrounded by a fence. The Jewish population was cut off from any source of income. They lived on what they were able to bring from their work outside the ghetto. The hunger in the ghetto was unbearable. People walked like shadows, swollen from hunger covered with open bleeding wounds and oozing puss. For a good suit or a pair of new boots you were able to get a few kilograms of flour. Eight to ten people lived in one room and a Typhus epidemic broke.

The ghetto held for 4-5 months until March of 1943. Then came the last Aktzia - the liquidation. The Jews were taken to the Polish village of Volova, not far from the city, and shot by an open pit that they dug. Then the Jewish Council and the Jewish police were killed, those who until the last minute helped the murderess.

According to what the gentile neighbors told, Garponker the watchmaker tried to attack a German with a knife. The Germans ordered the Jews to kill him. They killed him with the shovels that they were using to dig the pit.

The few survivors, who were able to hide in the bunkers, were found by the Germans after the Aktzia. They were killed at the brick yard in a suburb known by the name of “on the Kozina”. My two brothers among them. Bobrka became Jew free. A few survivors were found here and there, in the forests or in gentile's homes.

 

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