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[Page 11]

Introduction

In the beginning of July, 1945, soon after the Second World War, I received a letter from a relative in Bobruisk:

“We were among the last to leave Bobruisk in time.... I was informed by my relative, among others, almost a year ago, how…after we retreated from the bandits [and] returned to Bobruisk... all the Jews here had been killed....”

Yes, we know. In the ovens, where the German Nazi power was in charge, all Jews were destroyed. And yet the awful signs of the ovens struck us like thunder.

In my fantasies I saw Bobruisk just as when I left. A true Jewish town among the towns of Russia. Tens of thousands of Jews lived there: men and women and children, filled the streets and houses, the synagogues and the yeshivas, the schools, the cheders, the stores, places, markets. Can you imagine Bobruisk without her rabbis, cantors, sextons, beggars, drivers? Without her merchants, workers, craftsmen? Without her doctors, teachers, writers, students? That Bobruisk is no longer.

At night, in a dream, I imagined the town empty, with empty streets, and empty houses and a lonely person drags through the emptiness and decries the destruction. He goes from street to street, from house to house, and finds everywhere death, death, death. The person screams: we have to bring them to a Jewish burial ground!

Years are lost, the State of Israel has been established.

And we know the six million slain; they gave us the strength to carry on, to struggle.

In 1953, Sarah, of blessed memory, the old mother of Yechiel and Shimon Ogin, went to Israel. She knew in time to leave Bobruisk and often fleeing from the Nazis, she returned. She said that Bobruisk is again full of Jews. The surrounding towns are completely free of Jews. The survivors have assembled in Bobruisk, but it is not like it was. That Bobruisk no longer exists.

Once, she said, that here in the land of Israel, she wanted to speak Yiddish. The last years in Bobruisk, she lived in an area of young people who didn't speak Yiddish and she had to speak only Russian. And yet many young hearts beat with hope—ever we will hope…

Influenced by the musings with Sarah, Shmuel Ogin and I wanted to erect a monument to our town. We regard this as a holy obligation from all of us who stem from Bobruisk. I have written to our landsleit and invited them to a meeting. They are enthusiastic. Those in Israel have decided to found a “Bobruisk Association” and to publish a “Bobruisk Book.”

Our Bobruisker sisters and brothers in the United States have joined us. They have established a committee to help gather material and finance the project. Our dear friend, Meier Soloff, deserves thanks for the preparations among the landsleit in America.

Thanks for the deep devotion of Shimon Ogin in publishing the “Bobruisk Book.”

A special greeting for the learned Dr. Yehuda Slutsky who gathered the literary material and edited and wrote the monographs. May this book serve as a reminder of the Jewish Bobruisk of old—an eternal monument for us, our children, and our children's children in Israel and outside.

Kaddish to their memory.


[Page 15]

Map of the City of Bobruisk

Translation donated by Nat Tinanoff

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