Translated from Hebrew by Miriam Beckerman
Edited by Myrna Neuringer Levy Sixteen years have passed since the terrible days of murder in our shtetl Borchov; sixteen years after the terrible tragedies we try to forget what happened to our holy city. Who can possibly endure the terrible thoughts that they went through on their way [to their deaths].
To grasp the tragedy is more than a person can absorb We remember the children, we remember the parents, we remember the old people.
Edited by Myrna Neuringer Levy
- A - Two typical Jewish cities in eastern Galicia; Borchov and Skala, are situated on the Zabrutz River, bordering on Poland. Both had the same sort of nondescript main street with mostly one storey small houses which were quite shabby. The other streets on both sides of the main street fanned out east and west. Fifteen hundred Jewish souls lived in the centre of each city a sort of unintentional ghetto a ghetto without walls or gates. It was a sort of unspoken ghetto where the Jews lived rather peacefully. Thousands of Ukrainians, hundreds of Poles could be seen on Sundays going to their two churches and crowding the Jewish streets. On these Sundays a kind of unease snuck into the Jewish area, though there was an exchange of greetings among the people, the elite of Borchov and the spiritual leaders of Skala, but to what extent could they be relied upon in a time of need?
Jews who lived in the two cities earned their living as merchants and tradesmen, some earning barely enough to get by, while a few others lived quite comfortably. Culture and education played an important role. The Polish language, its literature, its education system and even some of its spirit enveloped some of the young people, the majority of whom in both cities attended Polish gymnasia in Borchov. There were libraries that contained Yiddish classics plus many books in translation, so that even though the Jews were not in their own homeland there was a rich cultural life. Knowledge of the Hebrew language and culture slowly developed from a meagre start. In this respect Skala advanced more than its neighbour. There was a wonderful Tarbut school, a Bet Am, a large Hebrew library, various youth movements and active parties who all competed against one another, all using the renewed Hebrew language. The sound of Hebrew could be heard in the streets of the city. There were concerts, cultural evenings, beloved theatre presentations, much Zionist activity. The chalutz spirit even extended from across the Polish border. It was like a Zionist bridge. Zionism was on the march with an emphasis on aliyah like a rainbow stretching across the land and beyond.
During the years before the Shoah there was a vibrant connection between the two cities. The Jews of Skala needed Borchov to be their contact with the central government. There was another attraction to Borchov and that was the gymnasium where the Jewish students were often in the majority. The Polish and the Ukranian students, even the administrators of the school, often let their anti-Semitism be felt. During the 1931 attacks when the government fought against the Ukrainian movement, membership of Jewish students in any youth group, Jewish or Zionist, was totally forbidden. This was a terrible blow to our youth movement, because all of the leadership was in the hands of the students. We carried on with our activities in secrecy, in the evenings, on rooftops until we were caught by spies who were following us. Our dear chaver [friend], Yitzchak Budian, and I were in the graduating class before the final exams. It was clear that we would be expelled from school, and we were rescued only because of the intervention of respected Jewish intercessors of Borchov and the love of some of our teachers. At the same bitter time two chevrah from Skala did a very daring thing. They were Baruch Ginsberg (zl) and Gedalia Koble (zl), Grade 6 students of the gymnasium who, in spite of the danger, formed a group of Hashomer Hatzair in Borchov. We warned them but to no avail. They were unmercifully chased out of the school and no intercession helped because Hanoar Hatzioni was suspect in the eyes of the Poles even more than the Zionist Youth or Betar.
The students of Skala roomed in friends' homes in Borchov. Friendly relationships prevailed amongst the Borchov students and their Skala friends. For four years we sat on the same bench for studies: Zisyeh Tiffer (zl) and Abba Weisman (zl) from Borchov and I and Moishe Metzer from Skala. In the row in front of us [sat] Yizchak Budian. In the afternoon we used to do our homework while the evening hours were always dedicated to meeting companions, mostly from outside of school. In the course of time a closely-knit group developed. The love for one another was like that of brothers. Even during the summer vacation months contact continued with reciprocal visits, hikes, etc. In the summer of 1932 Yitzchak Budin visited me. We sat outdoors in the sunshine when suddenly we got an idea: Let's visit our friend Carolina Zilberstein who lives in Dzinlov. We got up and set out on our way, on foot naturally. The distance was 70 kilometres. On the eve of Shabbat we reached Khuristkov and we created a sensation. At that precise moment there was great tension in that city, to such an extent that there were even enemy encounters between the two organizations of which we were members, and our appearance lessened the tension. We were like messengers of peace who restored good relations on both sides.
I can't get over the fact that many years before the Shoah the fate of the youth of four or five cities including their parents, relatives, all met their fate in the same central city, Borchov. In the end they were all buried in the same mass grave and if any survived it was a miracle.
I will never forget the warm atmosphere that surrounded us chevrah (Bund movement and others) in the home of the Budian family. We had great admiration for Yitzhak's father, his wisdom, his smile. His outward appearance was very impressive, his talent for writing was great. Yitzhak's mother treated us like her own sons. We felt as though we were in the home of our mother and father. Yollick Budian was a symbol for us of a fine young man... an elegant gentleman and Anzia had a smile that could break your heart expressing friendship and companionship. So it was that Borchov was like a second home for us, and our memories of those days will remain in the hearts of the remnants of the Shoah until our last breath.
During Pesach of the year 1943 the Gestapo ordered all males from the age of 12 60 to assemble in Borchov in order to receive identity cards. Thousands of Jews from Skala, Milnitza, Koralovka and nearby towns appeared in the town square of Borchov not realizing what a bitter fate awaited them. Never before had so many of the area's Jews come willingly as they did at that time. It was a cruel step, one of many resulting in the dispatch of masses exclusively to labor camps and to their deaths. This bitter fate affected hundreds of Jews from Skala and hundreds of Jews from Borchov whose pain and suffering they could not prevent.
In the course of a month Borchov became the last station for the terrible roundup of the Jews of the surrounding towns as they went on their last journey. The terrible days came during which the pit opened its mouth and swallowed thousands of victims. The world did not become silenced, the sun did not vanish nor did any human response come from the thousands of Ukrainians and Poles who stood by and observed quietly as thousands of their fellow human beings went to their deaths in the pits in the June days of 1943. Among the holy martyrs was my mother, Sosya Lachman (zl), whose maiden name was Harshar. I'll never know how it happened, how the last spark of her life was eliminated. Only this I know together with her brothers and sisters, male and female soldiers who all died a martyr's death they all lie buried together in the cemetery of Borchov.
The chief historian of the tragic Jewish record proves once again how Jews know how to die together though they don't always know how to live together.
At the time of death no distinction was made.
Edited by Myrna Neuringer Levy The First Borchover Sick Benefit Society was founded under this name in 1897. The aim of the society, according to the founding statute was to support sick and needy members and establish brotherly friendship and behavior amongst its members.
They had a constitution. It is worthwhile mentioning that the business of the society should be conducted in both Yiddish and English.
When a member gets married with a Gentile woman he is excluded from our membership.
The remaining points discuss the duties and rights of the members.
Presidents of the society from the beginning and in later years, included Morris Eckstein, (M.K. Eckstein), Levi Eckler, Benjamin Neuringer, Levi Neuringer, Hyman Reich, Moishe Resnick, and Sam Steigman.
At the present time  the executive consists of Irving Goldstein, President; Murray Winters, Vice President; George Schneider, Secretary; Ronald Steigman, Treasurer; Benjamin Neuringer, ex - President and President of the Burial Society; Benjamin Kupert, representative for hospital visits; and Adolph Kohn, Financial Secretary. [He occupied that post for over forty years.]
This society busies itself not only according to the statutes; i.e. with helping the members of Borchov who are members of the Society and live in New York, but also sends support to Borchov. As well, it helped bring and settle Borchover Jews to America before and after the two great World catastrophies.
During the last war when the tragic news about the situation of the Jews in Europe reached our brothers in America, the organization established a society named The Sunshine Fund, led by Sol Neuringer, to help the suffering brethren of Borchov, who saved themselves from the hell and found themselves first in the Soviet [Union], then the D.P. camps in Germany, Austria and Italy. They were helped with packages (food and clothing), money and when necessary, medicines.
[Note: Sol Neuringer kept an account book of the packages that were sent to Borchovers living in displaced persons camps and elsewhere after the end of World War II. This book is on permanent loan at the YIVO headquaters in New York City.]
Later on, when the majority of the refugees settled in Israel, they received help from America from time to time.
They also responded warmly to our appeal for [ help in ] publishing this book, sending material and a promise to distribute it amongst the members of our Society.
Amongst the previous members of the society who stand out with their work it is important to mention Sol Neuringer, Manes Folkenflick, Max Weinstein, Yeheskil Neuringer, Jacov Singer, Harry Yagendorf, Israel Goldstein, Dr. Ned Kurshner, Murray Hahn, Ben-Zion Newman, Louis Heffler, Irving Rosenbloom and Max Klein.
[What follows is an account in Hebrew of the members of the Society in Israel.]
Note: In the introduction to the book, (p.9) written in Yiddish by Nachman Blumenthal, the editor, is the following:
We felt our responsibility to express our thank you to those who are not from this shtetl who help in the work, some with advice, some with material means [included in the list of Dr. MM Gelber, Dr. Zvi Heller, Pinchas Schwartz of YIVO, N.Y. From the EBKUV, the Borchov organization in N.Y. Sol Neuringer and Adolph Kohn are listed.]
Sol Neuringer, Benny Neuringer, Murray Winters, Izzy Golstein, Adolph Kohn (seated)
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