The Sendwitzer Family
by Mendel Goldstein, Rechovot
The Sendwitzer family was one of the most well known families in Demblin. All
of the men were very pious and learned Jews and the Chelm Rabbi, Reb Gamliel,
originated from the same family.
My father was called Gadlihu, my mother, Rashe. My brother, Hershel, was my
twin. My sister, Devoshke, and a younger brother, Yitzhak. My father had a
sister, Leah and her husband, Hershel. I had a grandmother, Raizel, and a
Among the other family members: The Rabbi Gamliel Hoffman, his brother, Sholem,
and his wife Raizel, with their children, Maitel, Gamliel, Pesach and Tzviling
Hershel and Fofi; Moshe with his wife and their sons, Gamliel and Yankel, a
daughter Aidis. They had two sons, Yone and Yosel, who died in America. The
other brother, Mordechai died in 1938.
From the whole family, there remained myself, the only one of Gadlihu's
children, Yankel's wife Dovre, who lives in America with a son, Gamliel and a
daughter, Naomi; Shlome's two daughters, Tovye and Leah; Moshe's two daughters,
Elka and Rashke in America.
Reb David Ben-Shmuen Zilberman (Fahkers)
by Moshe Wasserman
A religious, well to do Jew, who, with dignity and honesty, made his living
from a store which sold food. He never refused to give alms to a Jew who needed
it. He also provided foodstuffs for the Kojenitzer Rabbi. Being himself a
Kojenitzer Hasid, he did business with the Hasidim who had traveled from afar,
who were going to see the Rabbi for holidays, or just in a weekday.
His wife, Sureka, who took care of business while he was away, found time to
help others, or to help the poorest of brides and never complained that it was
too hard to do anything like that.
Although his children were drawn to a religious spirit, that did not stop them
from being among the founders and being very active in Zionist organizations.
True, the pious Reb David, did not look with great favor on the Zionist
activity of his children, and would even say once and a while something like,
The Messiah is not going to bring you to Israel before the appropriate
time. With all your little pennies you're dropping in your pushke there, you're
not going to liberate Israel. But, he didn't make any serious attempt to
thwart their activities. When the youngest son, Benyomin, made aliya to
Palestine in 1934, he sent for his father. And Reb David went to the Rabbi to
get his advice and the Rabbi gave his blessing.
Walking around the streets of Tel Aviv, Reb David was astonished to see the
Jewish workers who were building a factory in a new world. It was as if a new
world was being revealed to him. The same young folks who, from the Jewish
towns in Poland, here were creating and building their own land, working the
fields, drying the swamps. He saw that he, like many Jews like him, with his
upbringing and experience, had made a mistake.
His striving was to be with his children and to help his daughter, Leah, and
her husband and her child, Surele, to emigrate to Israel, as well as to help
his oldest son, Chaim, but unfortunately, all of these efforts were not
successful. He traveled back to Poland in order to make all these arrangements
for them, so that the whole family could travel together to Palestine, but, the
outbreak of the Second World War brought all their dreams to nothing, and he
was killed by the Nazis.
Honored be his memory!
The Road of her Life only good Deeds
(to the memory of my unforgettable mother, Miriam Amitz)
by Zehava Amitz
In each place where the groan of a hungry person was heard or of the needy or
of sick Jews, Miriam would show herself and truly bring comfort and help, a
good word. On behalf of her good heart and selflessness to those people who
were suffering, people would call her with a lot of affection,
I remember blind Joseph with his family. My mother gave so much attention to
then that we thought that they were actually part of our family. His children
and wife were in our house day and night. When one of the children became sick,
and that was fairly often because they weren't in great health, Marmu would
bring with her Zalman Feltcher, and afterwards, his son, Yarmeyohu. She also
spent a lot of time on recipes she would cook up, a spoonful of something that
was good to eat for them.
Generally my mother would respond and pay attention to everybody who needed her
help. But those sick and hungry who somehow she didn't know about would find
her, knowing that this person would not disappoint them.
The War years came and the ghetto and with them the persecutions and the
indescribable need. In that horrible epic, my mother lived for others. She
would put together a big bag to fill with stuff, and from early in the morning
she was off to the houses of people who still were doing fairly well and she'd
beg there for food for the hungry and people who just couldn't take care of
She had to move my grandparents into the camp because they had been hidden for
a whole week in a cellar in the deserted ghetto. Marmu was very broken up as a
result of the beating of her husband during the deportation. Nevertheless she
didn't let her parents get lost, she took good care of them, and was successful
in bringing them into the ghetto, thanks to the efforts of my mother in
persuading Polish workers who were employed at the airfield. She was, for a
high price, able to save grandma and grandpa. Because of their age, they were
not able to work and if you couldn't work, you didn't receive your portion of
food, so my mother had to worry and figure out how, in the conditions that
existed in the camp, to get them something to eat everyday. My sisters and I
helped as well. Frequently we were able to bring in a little bit of potato or a
little bit of greens.
Grandpa died in the camp in the summer of 1943, however, grandma was fortunate
enough to live to see the liberation. If she, just like I, remained alive, it
was due in great measure to the energy and effort of my blessed mother. At that
time my brother-in-law was sick from typhus. It was only thanks to the
incredible efforts of my mother that he got back on his feet again.
After the War, fate paid her back for the years of suffering and pain. She
settled in Vienna, and there, as well, she did not remain with her hands
folded. She was active in most of the Jewish social organizations and
institutions and also took care of Demblin Jews in Poland and in Israel, which
land she visited twice.
She died in Vienna on the 6th
of March, 1965 and her whole life was a long chain of wonderful deeds.
The Memory of
Alter and Bina-Rachel Friedman
by Chaya Goldfarb, Tel Aviv
Alter Friedman, the ritual slaughterer and his wife, my father's sister,
Bina-Rachel, were people who's home was always open and they were very open
hearted people. Their hearts were open to the poor a well as to the rich. A
hungry person who stepped over their threshold would son leave having eaten
well and feeling quite content. From his profession of killing animals in a
kosher way, he did not make a lot of money. His wife helped out by sewing. This
help wasn't only for their own family, but also for strangers and for the needy
among Demblin's Jews.
She had 6 children, 5 sons and a daughter, and lots of grandchildren. Three
sons took over their father's profession and became kosher butchers, the
daughter, Royza-Mindel died before the outbreak of the War and left orphaned 2
children, Tova and Chaya. The oldest son Shmuel and also Yaacov, Berel and
Motel were killed during the deportation. The youngest unmarried son, Yisrael,
was taken to the Demblin ghetto where he worked until the last night before
liberation. And then the Nazis took him to Germany and killed him there. That's
how a whole family was destroyed.
Honored be their memory!
Reb Yaacov Apelhot
by Yitzhak Apelhot, Frankraich
In the town we called him Yankel Serolishes (Yaacov son of Yisrael). He was
quite a Talmudic scholar. Despite his attachment to more traditional religion
he was well respected among circles of Jewish youth who had chosen a course
that took them away from tradition. They respected him and they liked him
because of his wisdom and because of his seriousness.
The young people who hung around the synagogue and studied there, who were
influenced by his personality, called him Baal Midot. When he would
meet with young people who were leaving the synagogue and the life of the
synagogue, he would plead with them to Just remember something to take
with you from the synagogue on your new road. The something was some kind
of strength to draw upon in the face of disappointments out in the world.
His interest in the poor and suffering from all strata of society was well
On Sabbath before Passover of 1940, German soldiers shot his 17 year old
daughter, Esther, quite a wonderful and pretty young girl, while she was taking
a walk with her friend, the daughter of Yisrael-David Zusman. Her friend was
wounded. Yaacov Apelhot worked with his sorrow by devoting greater activity for
the poor and the unfortunate refugees from Warsaw and Pulaw, who had been
brought to Demblin.
In 1942-1943 scores of Jews who had been trying to get out of other places,
ended up at the Demblin train station, thinking that they could have some kind
of a haven. They were murdered by the Germans. These were primarily people who
were coming from Warsaw. Yaacov Apelhot was active in seeing to their burial.
In the beginning of 1942, Hersh Faiershtein was arrested because he wouldn't
give a certain sum of money to the Jewish council, who demanded it of him. The
next day the Germans shot him. This is, it seems, the first instance of the
shooting of a Jew in the city at the instigation of the Jewish council.
At that point a meeting was called with 20 Jews, in the house of Yichzakel
Rubenstein. A delegation was chosen with Yaacov Apelhot at its head and its
mission was to go and deal with the chairman of the Jewish council. Reb Yaacov
demanded from the Jewish council that they take into account the words of the
Rambam, which are that Jewish leaders need to feel responsible and guilty when
great sorrow comes to fellow Jews, and when they are able to somehow influence
the disposition of the sentence.
He never showed any favoritism to rich or poor. He always treated people with
respect. He was always a person who spoke the truth without fear.
Before the War, once a year, he would travel to the Rabbi in Sokolov (that
Rabbi being a grandson of the old Kotzker Rabbi). Coming home he said,
I've looked after myself for a year, truly.
of May, 1942, together with 4,000 Jews from our town, he was sent to Sobibor
and there killed.
Yarmeyohu Vanapol (Yarme)
by S. Perelmuter
He was a remnant of an earlier generation, but someone who looked forward with
his socialist orientation, humanitarian, even to the point of great self
sacrifice, who didn't demand even honor or pay for his work on behalf of the
Yarme was the son of Zalman Feldsher, who gave medical help to the population
of Demblin for 50 years. He died in the 30's. At the funeral the whole Jewish
population showed up from Demblin as well as many Christians who he had healed.
His son, Yarme, who could hardly be called a folk doctor, was well known for
his medical work in the surrounding areas. I knew cases of when he was called
by the military doctor, Major Peshegulinski. He was asked to help with medical
problems when there were several doctors in Demblin, military and civilian. He
enjoyed the greatest trust among the Jewish population as well as the Christian
population because of his good heart, his devotion, his down to earth quality
and substantial material for each needy, sick person.
Yarmeyohu Vanapol was an institution in himself. His caring for the sick, who's
problems he paid attention to with the greatest seriousness, extended to the
whole family of the sick person. All poor were his patients. Besides medical
help they received money from him to buy prescriptions at the pharmacist. And
not just once did he also give them a few dollars for a pair of shoes. If he
was looking after a poor patient he never waited to be called back by that
patient for another visit but the very next morning he would go himself to find
out what the patient's condition was. He would take a sincere interest in the
economic condition of the patient's family. If it was necessary he would give
them money as well. In this way he cared for both Jews and Christians without
any distinction. Big and small remembered his name with he greatest respect.
Shortly after the outbreak of the War, he was sent by the Polish regime to
Kartuz-Bereza (concentration camp), apparently because someone had made an
accusation about him that he was an adherent to Communism. And he never came
back to Demblin.
Avraham Abramowitz *
and Yosef-Nata Cholewinski
by Chaim Goldberg, Ramat-Aviv
Two Jewish lads, one a hat maker and the other the son of a shoemaker. Both of
them grew up in homes of poor working people who had a lot of children and not
very much to eat. Both of them worked very hard to help with the family's
income. From a very young age both of them grew into the family of workers in
Demblin. Both of them were quite familiar with the sorrows that people had to
endure. Both dreamed of a better tomorrow, of socialist justice and peaceful
coexistence among individuals and people.
With everything they had, they gave themselves to the fight with the struggle
against the pre-war regime in Poland. Both of them in their youth belonged to
the Communist movement. Both of them were the first to get arrested from our
town. Both of them felt on their own skin the savagery of the home police in
Pulaw and later in Lublin prison. Both of them were held in great affection by
the workers of Demblin and the surrounding towns. Very often they had to hide
and couldn't sleep at home in order to avoid arrest. These two fragile youths
carried on their shoulders a great part of the professional and cultural work
in the town. Neither of them lived to receive the most basic education. But
with the great strength of spirit and great amount of mother wit and wisdom of
life, they improved themselves in their command of language and became like two
twin brothers. Their word was always listened to with the greatest attention
and then very seriously and honored. Almost 20 years they lived and were active
in our ranks.
At the outbreak of the second world war, Avram Avramowitz went to Russia and
there he survived and came back to Lodz. In 1950 he died of a heart attack. He
left his two sons. Yosef-Nata Cholewinski was killed by the Nazi wretches in
Honored be their memory!
[See PHOTO-B42 at the end of Section B]
* Note from Max Zinger: Avraham Abramowitz from Demblin was my uncle. My cousin Marek (Moshe) Elrom (Abramowitz) lives in NJ and Heniek (Haim) Elrom lives in Petach Tikva , Israel.
There is an error in the above. Uncle Avraham died in 1953 just before the death of Stalin (March 5, 1953). His wife Malka lived until recently in an old age home in Petah Tikva. She was 97 seven years young. Avraham , as an atheist, is buried in the municipal cemetery in Lodz and not in the Jewish cemetery.
In Memory of the Martyrs
of the Shtamler Family
by Yitzhak Shtamler, Tel Aviv
Until the 1
of September, 1939, we were a big family in Demblin, a beautiful tree with many
branches and twigs
Until, that is, the falling of the dark night of
Nazism, when this tree was torn up by its roots. Just little bits of the broad
branched family remains, thanks to the fact that in the year 1935, a portion of
the family made aliya to Palestine. Others wandered overseas and in that way
they were spared falling into the bestial German hands.
Our family consisted of parents and 7 children. Our father was called Yehusha
Shtamler. But he was more familiarly known as Shayele Becker because our bakery
was one of the oldest in town. There, my mother and sisters were also employed.
Usually my father was occupied with community affairs and he was a leader in
the community. He was also a member of the burial society and president of the
free clinic and he worked in the credit union. He was the chairman of the small
businessman's union. He was a Guerrer Hasid and he dreamed of Palestine.
My mother was called Blimele [little flower], she was truly a saint, a very
pious woman, very devoted to her children and her husband and also to other
people. She had a mental chart about all of her customers and this came in
handy, especially on Fridays. She was able to make note of who came in for
their bread and their challah on the Sabbath, and who didn't. If a customer
didn't show up, she herself went to their house and brought them bread and
challah, not wanting that any Jewish family, God forbid, should go hungry on
the Sabbath. She knew that a Jew like that would be ashamed to come and ask her
take it on credit or to have her write it down in her book. Frequently mother
would send me to shy customers like that because she herself didn't always have
the time to track everybody down. I want to emphasize that Jewish Demblin had
many, many men and women who were like that.
My oldest brother Shmuel is today in Israel with his family. My second brother,
Avrom, with his wife and three children were killed by the Nazis. My sister,
Raizel, was the kind of the person who ran the household. She was a very good
hearted woman. She has great capacity for work. She too died during the Hitler
invasion. My sister Rachel as well, with her husband and child, died as
martyrs. My brother, Binyomen, saved himself from the Demblin camp and today
lives in Israel. My brother Yitzhak fled to Russia when the War broke out and
for 3½ years he fought in the ranks of the Red Army against the Nazi
beasts. He today is in Israel with is family.
The youngest of the Shtamler family was called Laibela. He was working in
forced labor at the train station and a German threw him from a moving train
car and he broke his leg. It's possible that if it were not for this tragic
incident, he would still be alive.
Such a sorrowful account of the family of Yehoshe and Blume Shtamler and their
We will always remember our martyrs!
Immortalizing my Parents,
Sisters and Brothers
by Avraham Shulman, Brazil, Belgiya
I, in my early childhood, left my hometown of Demblin-Modzjitz. Because of that
I don't remember a lot about the social life of the town, the different
parties, the different kinds of things that were going on. However, the
memories of my parents, my mother less, because she died when I was very, very
young and of my sisters and brothers, is deeply engraved in my memory.
[See PHOTO B-43 at the end of Section B]
My mother died when I was just a small child. But I remember her as being a
very pretty woman and a very good hearted mother, good hearted not only to her
children but also to strangers. My father wasn't a rich person but he was well
respected and a very dignified man. He was very simple but he also had a lot of
wit. He had an extraordinary sense of trust. He was a person who people had
great faith in. He was extremely devoted to his children. He strove, so that
his children always keep each other in mind and be devoted to one another.
After the death of my mother, he remained with 5 young children. But he didn't
remarry. That's because he didn't want his little children to suffer from a
stepmother. He often went to see the Modzjitzer Rabbi who he would discuss many
questions with. I remember how once during the High Holidays, many Hasidim came
to see the Modzjitzer Rabbi from other places, and my father sent us children
to sleep with neighbors so that he could welcome into his house the Hasidim who
had traveled from afar, and who were his friends.
My father had a very difficult time eking out a living, nevertheless, he never
stopped thinking about other people. Even when he didn't have what we really
needed for a proper Sabbath for ourselves, my father would invite a stranger to
our table. His house was open to anybody. When he died the whole city of Jews
showed up including the children from the religious school.
I remember a lot about my sisters and brothers. What I do remember is that my
brother, Serolke (Yisrael), was a good and pious young man who gave my father a
lot of satisfaction. From my sisters I remember the eldest well, Brocha, who
became the person who raised me after the death of my mother. In general, the
children were very devoted to each other. And in my memory their names are
deeply engraved: Serolke, Rachel-Leah, Esther, Brocha, Miriam, Baila and her
Honored be the memory of these devoted, unforgettable martyrs!
In Defense of the Land of Israel
Alexander Kestenboim (Armon), Zl
Al Hamishmar Daily (Newspaper)
Alex was born in Demblin, Poland, on March 31, 1941. The days were of the
Second World War and Poland was being trampled under the Nazi boot. He spent
the first three years of his childhood with his family in the camp. In 1945,
his family left the camp and started rebuilding its life. In 1950 he made
aliyah to Israel with his family. After several years in Tel Aviv, he joined
the Ayalah group in the educational institution of Kibbutz Yad Shmuel.
After graduating from high school, he was conscripted to the Israel Defense
Forces and served five years in the Air Force. After the service, he returned
to his kibbutz and worked in the orchards.
He died in the skies of Sinai on the first day of the Six-Day War, June 5, 1967.
He is survived by his wife Ada and daughter Ofrit.
[See PHOTO-B44 at the end of Section B]
Gan Shmuel was his last stop, his home. He matured among trees. From the
confines of the kibbutz he went outwards to the open, under its skies he made a
dream, years before he fell, to spread his wings. The skies called him, and he
came. A boy in an iron bird. His mighty wings protected the borders. His
thundering whistle was its protecting wall. He would wander up there, playing
with the stars and smiling at their bright blue color. Then the skies darkened
and hung above in threat. When he received his orders, he flew forth. Silently.
Riding in the sky, the wide skies of the land that arose to fight its battle.
Breathing from the heavens, he broke through its borders to beat the enemy. He
answered the call when it was still dawn, and by daylight he was still spitting
fire. He asked no more than that. When he returned, his fate was already
doomed. The desert sands sparkled white and a great sun was rising. For a
moment the earth took him to her bosom, then covered him forever. His friends
did not bury him. He joined his forefathers somewhere in the silent, bright
open of Sinai.
The Martyred Child Alek Kestenboim
by Hadassa Eichenbrenner, Ramat Gan
Among the ninety or so children, who in that dark and savage time were kept in
the Dembliner camp, were found Dr. Kestenboim's three little children. The
youngest of them, Alek, was three years old then. The first time I saw the
child was in the summer of 1943, during the fourth year of the War.
Our horrific camp became worse and more hopeless. The news that reached us was
terrifying and filled us with horror. The two big camps, Travnek and Poniatow
were liquidated together with thousands of Jews who on certain days were
murdered in the most savage way. As usual at a time like that, one's heart
never stopped beating with fear. We already knew then that all the Jews were
destined to be killed. Fear of death was so great that each moment seemed it
was just about now, now, and our camp would be surrounded and we would be
liquidated. When we went back at the end of the day after work, feeling very
desperate, along the wire fence that was along the side of the camp, inside I
used to see little Alek. He would always stick his little head through the
barbed wire. Very carefully we pushed his little head back inside, without
getting him caught in the sharp barbs, and then we would continue on our way.
But as soon as we took a couple more steps, we noticed that there he was his
head stuck out, through the barbed wire, sticking out the other side of it.
The second time that I saw little Alek was in July 1944 when the Red Army had
made its way across the river Bug, and with nothing stopping it, chased the
retreating Nazi German forces who were in great chaos. They wanted to make it
to the other bank of the Vistula river. The Russians had taken Lublin and were
approaching Koriv, 35 kilometers from our camp. It's impossible to tell you the
anticipation we felt. It just electrified the whole camp. We thought we were
going to be saved any minute. The majority of us simply couldn't sleep at
night. We waited for the great moment when the Russians would come in and
liberate us. Around two in the morning, though, we heard shooting. And then it
became quiet. The whole night and the next day, almost the whole day, a strange
quietness and silence prevailed. And them, around five in the afternoon, the
sounds of artillery began again. In a great, great hurry, the Germans started
to drive all of the Jews from our camp into rail cars, under the strictest
supervision. Never the less, 70 people managed to escape. But after a hunt
carried out by the Polish Nationalist A. K. army, only four people
remained of the 70. Some of them had been chopped up with hatchets.
Because of the condition of the train tracks, our particular train had to
remain in the train station for a very long time. We were in half open rail
cars, packed together, in an unbelievable way, very tightly. When it began to
rain, we were soaked through to the bone. The whole way we were very, very
closely guarded by soldiers. Although they had told us in Demblin, they would
take us to work in Czenstechov, we were terrified they were going to take us to
Auschwitz. At night our train stopped again at a big, unlit station which was
packed with lots of military people and civilians who were evacuating in great
fear of the Russians. Almost the whole night we remained on the tracks without
moving from where we were. In order that it shouldn't be discovered that this
particular transport was made up of Jews, we had to stay very, very quiet for
hours, packed in together in the rail cars, until we fell asleep beneath a
thick rain shower. We woke up seeing the light of lanterns that somebody held
over our heads. In the weak shine of the lantern, in the half darkness, I saw
that a Polish railroad worker stood over us.
Jews? he asked quietly, as if he was afraid that somebody might
Yes we responded in the same hushed voice.
Demblin, we responded.
I see. You still have children with you. He said, surprised.
Apparently it didn't go so bad for you people in Demblin, he said
in a very biting way. He lowered the lantern and said, Well, got to go,
this train car you're on is going to start moving out pretty soon.
How do you know that? I asked him.
How do I know? Because I'm the engineer of the train.
Now I caught his meaning. Maybe you can tell us where we're going.
You're going to Czenstechov, he answered.
It's really, really difficult to convey the joy that we felt when we heard that
word Czenstechov. We became more hopeful. A woman who sat on the floor, wrapped
up in a blanket, asked him if he knew if they were going to take us to work in
a factory there, what kind of factory.
The engineer asked us in turn in a very surprised way, You think really
they're taking you people to go to work? They're taking you to kill you, to a
cemetery, that's where you're going.
What do you mean we're going to a cemetery.
They're going to take you there to make hamburgers out of you. The
engineer said and went away.
For the rest of the journey the collective terror we felt didn't let up for a
moment. Our train slowly traveled to Czenstechov and remained among the long
rows of Ukrainians with drawn rifles, ready to shoot, from both sides of the
tracks. That was enough for us to understand the nature of the new hell we had
We heard a brutal scream, Get down! And immediately there was a
stampede. The biggest part of our numbers who had brought a few little items
with them, left everything in the cars. They drove us immediately through a
gate of a high stone wall with sharp, iron spikes on top of it. To one side a
broad river flowed. Inside we saw Ukrainians with machine guns, on the roofs,
aiming at us. In the square, where they packed us all in together, the police
began to sort us out, to make fun of us and to beat us up. Families were
quickly separated. People begged they should leave them on one side or the
other side, the side with their relatives, but they got smacked with rifle
butts for their trouble.
In the middle of the square, the murderer, Bartelshlagger, stood on kind of a
podium, and in a very loud voice ordered, All crafts people step
out. Four hundred men stepped out in a separate row to be sent away. Each
time the murderer drank something from a silver beaker which a Jewish
policeman, who stood next to him, would refill from a flask and hand to him
Suddenly the whole square was transformed into an even worse and more
terrifying hell than before, women went into convulsions, wept, tore their hair
and their own faces. One of them threw herself on the earth and beat herself in
the face and the head with her fists.
What's happening? I asked Moshe Ekheiser, who stood near me looking
extremely desperate and wringing his hands.
You haven't heard about the tragedy? Almost crying, he screamed,
The children, they're going to take all the children away and shoot them.
The twenty children from the first transport, which they brought here a week
ago from Demblin aren't going to live much longer. Go ahead, you'll see,
they're already taken all of Dr. Kestenboim's children away. There they are,
they're sitting over there! And he pointed in their direction with his
When I was able to make my way through the desperate and packed in crowd, I saw
Dr. Kestenboim rush by me, his face flushed, almost crazy. I asked him if
everything that Ekheiser had told me was true, and he couldn't even answer me.
He just looked at me with his tearful eyes and pointed with his glance to the
ground and ran away. On the ground, on a spread out blanket, I saw little Alek,
who looked like a young, naked little bird. He was curled up with his hands
held downward like little wings that were hanging down and hadn't had a chance
to grow. He sat on the ground with his older brother and sister, all three of
them, left there ready to be taken away. They understood exactly what was going
to happen and they sat there trembling with the fear of death.
On the same day they took me to a second camp. I learned later that afterwards,
Alek, with the other children in our transport, were separated out from their
parents and held up in a barracks for several days. Afterwards, they were led
to the cemetery, but as in the time of great terrifying crimes, there were
unbelievable miracles. With a huge amount of money and gems of their rich
parents, it was possible to save them by bribing the murderer Bartelshlagger.
Alek, with the other children, were brought back to their parents at the camp,
and there they were liberated at the end of the War.
The third time that I saw Alek was 20 years later, in 1965, in Ramat-Gan.
Once I rang the doorbell of the residence of Dr. Kestenboim, who opened the
door of his house, I saw a young, handsome and sympathetic looking officer of
the Israeli air force. Some very strange emotion crept over me and remained,
and I couldn't take my eyes from the young officer. Isn't this one of the
Doctor's sons? I thought to myself. The Doctor who noticed my uncertainty
said to me:
Yes, that's my Alek.
Alek, a flyer? I was astounded and I blurted it out.
Yes, yes the Doctor answered. That's what he wanted to
As always, when we former
[inmates] who went through that experience get together, we began to talk
about those dark times. Alek sat by quietly without a word, but very attentive,
and listened to each word. And as we were talking about things, it seemed as if
he were reliving things. I noticed this because I'd see the slightest kind of
change in his facial expression, and the color in his face change. Afterwards I
knew, that was the last time I'd ever see him.
Two years later, in 1967, the Arab nations, under the leadership of Egypt,
wanted to annihilate Israel and wipe it of the face of the earth.
Alek, who, since his childhood, had been filled with hatred for those who would
annihilate his people, that early morning on the 5th of June, 1967, took off in
his airplane, he flew over the enemies' territory, took part in the most
dangerous combat and wiped out several snake nests.
Almost in the last minute of the Six Day War, when the enemy lay shattered, the
Kestenboim family received terrible news. Returning after carrying out one of
the most important missions of the War, Alek's plane crashed somewhere and was
And thus, Alek, the little child in the concentration camp, was sacrificed 22
years later. He sacrificed his young life in defending the Jewish land and he
died a heroic death.
Shmaiye Shayevitch, Zl
[See PHOTO-B45 at the end of Section B]
Born on April 18, 1948. Fell in battle during an action in the Beit She'an
Valley on September 19, 1968. He was graduated with honors from Tet High School
of Yad Eliyahu, Tel Aviv. He fought in the Six Day War, in the Karame operation
and in other first-class military operations. In the IDF, as in his studies, he
excelled, being devoted and responsible.
As a fifth-grader, he wrote several compositions. One of them was about Channah
Senesh. As an award, he received a free pass from Habimah Theater for a year.
The following is a passage from his composition The Devotee is Not for
Self-Pity, which was published in Volume 32 of Ha'aretz Shelanu [a weekly
magazine for the youth] in 1960:
A passerby walks by the yeshiva and sees a devoted student. He thinks: why
would this young boy, in his childhood, have to work his mind so hard studying
Torah? Most people think like him. But the devoted student does not think so.
He praises himself for learning so willingly, does not see the secular life
around him, and does not hear what is said about him. The devoted student sees
the letters of the Torah sparkle before his eyes, attracting him in magic. He
is happy with what he has; he looks forward to completing his studies and
returning to his home wearing the crown of Torah.
By Shmaiye Shayevitch, Sixth grade, Zvi Shapira School
Our Son Shmaiye Shayevitch
The Suffering Parents Michael and Sarah-Leah
and the Sister Dinela Shayevitch
My dear little boy Shmaiyela was born on the 18th
of April, 1948, in Tel Aviv, in a time of the combat battles in Yafu.
Our dear son lived until he was 20 ½ years. The 19th of September, 1968,
he went off on a mission in the neighborhood of Bayit-Shan. That resulted in a
tragedy for the whole family.
Our Shmaiyela was a very wonderful child. He was tall and very handsome.
Everybody wondered at his attributes. We had tremendous satisfaction from him.
He was an excellent student, one of the best. When a new school opened in our
neighborhood, our darling child recited and welcomed the teacher with the other
children. When there were various kinds of performances and presentations in
the school, our Shmaiyela always played the most important role.
When our Shmaiyela went to Class H, he wrote an article for the newspaper for
which he received an entrance pass to the theater for the whole year. From the
ministry of education he received a thank you letter with great words of praise
for our wonderful child. And now we write about all this, now that it's all in
When Shmaiyela was 13 years old, we made a Bar-Mitzvah for him in a hall with
an orchestra. There were a lot of people there. Shmaiyela gave a little talk
and he sang beautifully. After our son said the Haftorah in the synagogue, one
of the men who prayed there frequently, came up to him and said that he has
three sons, that each of them had their Bar-Mitzvah's in the synagogue, but,
none of them had said the Haftorah as beautifully as our son.
When our child finished elementary school, he entered high school with marks of
only 5 and 2 outstanding.
When he entered high school, he would help out other students with his
allowance money, if they needed help.
In 1962 our son entered a Tikun T, Yad-Aliyahu [a technical school], in Tel
Aviv. He finished high school and he began to read with great interest about
military service. All he wanted was to join the army.
Our son spent 2 years in the military. He participated in the 6-Day War. He was
in Eku when there was a major explosion there. The watch on his hand was
scorched, but, he remained alive. He took part in the Charama action and he
survived that as well. He also took part in other combat.
In the summer of 1968 our child, almost every Saturday, and also in the middle
of the week sometimes, would come home. The last time he was at home was the 16th
of September, 1968, early on a Tuesday morning. Who could have imagined that
we'd never see him again?
On Thursday, the 19th
of September 1968, in the afternoon, when my husband, Michael, myself, and our
daughter Dinela, were at home, suddenly, two officials from the army brought us
the terrible news about Shmaiyela.
Our whole world went black, we fainted. I remember that for a long time we were
dazed and confused.
May our sorrow and suffering and our longing not last long.
We simply can't live without our dear Shmaiyela.
We live in great suffering and pain. May the situation only change for the
better and may there be peace. That is our desire.
Faster than an Eagle, stronger than a Lion
In memory of the Parachutist Shmaiye Shayevitch
by Tzvi Eichenbrenner, Ramat-Gan
I met Shmaiye when he was still a child in school. Afterwards, he studied in
high school with my younger son. Shmaiye often showed up at our house, the
handsome, slim young man with his quiet bearing, always seeming to be
thoughtful and sympathetic. He had a very pleasing face with refined features.
He left the best impression on everybody. People noticed him.
His pals always praised him and called him the guy with a good head on
his shoulders. He was successful in speaking publicly at the events which
took place at school. He distinguished himself. He belonged to the boy scout
After finishing high school, he got drafted into the defense forces, and he
became one of the best soldiers. With the outbreak of the Six Day War, he was
sent to the Syrian front an he took part in the hardest fighting to liberate
Ramat-HaGolen. As soon as the War was over, Shmaiye joined up again,
voluntarily, to be a parachutist.
The new military detachment gave him an opportunity to take part in various
battles and counter attacks against the Arab villains who came from the other
side of the border to murder Israeli women and children. He took part in the
famous attack of the Israeli forces on the Jordanian town of Kerame, the most
important base of the Arab terrorists an murderers.
After ending his parachutists course, they wanted to put him to work at a desk,
but Shmaiye wouldn't hear of it and he demanded that he be able to remain in a
combat unit, the one that he'd been operating in. As a result of that, he took
part in a lot of the combat against the terrorists on the other side of the
border and also on this side of the Jordan river.
About his patriotism I can quote what the father of Shmaiye, Michael
Shayevitch, a man who was greatly broken up and felt very orphaned by the death
of his son, said: Once when Shmaiye came home on a leave, as was his
habit, he came to bed very worn out. But they often use to wake him up very,
very early in the morning. In the middle of the night I heard a tremendous
noise in his room. I got out of bed and went into his room. I saw him there
half asleep, he grabbed his rifle, just as if he wanted to run out the door
with it and go someplace. I understood immediately what was happening and
grabbed him with both hands and calmed him down. When he woke up to what was
happening he went back to sleep again.
Each time that he would come home for a day, he would be in a hurry all
the time, he wanted to get back to his unit, he never had any time, his
mother, Sarah-Leah, described about him, with a restrained calmness.
Once I asked him why he was always in a hurry to get back, You just
got here, I would say to him. And his response was a very evasive one,
I just came to see you for a moment and to say hello. His
trembling, mother didn't really understand then, that her son was ready at any
moment to give his young life for his people and land. She didn't understand
just how prepared Shmaiye was to sacrifice himself in the alter.
On the 16th of September, 1968, Shmaiye parted with all his family members and
went to his unit. The next day, on the radio news at 10 o'clock at night, the
announcer of Shidury Yisrael added that there was a military incident with
terrorists and 6 soldiers had been killed.
Two days later we read in the newspapers the following:
Yesterday in the military cemetery in Tel Aviv were buried three young fresh
victims, three parachutists, who fought shoulder to shoulder, who attacked
together and fell together. At the funeral, where thousands of people attended,
many high ranking officers of the Israeli defense forces, were among them.
In one of those graves the unforgettable Shmaiye Shayewitz found his eternal
rest, someone about whom we were able to say the proverb: They were
lighter than eagles an bolder than lions.
Arye Agassi, Zl
[See PHOTO-B46 at the end of Section B]
Born on Kibbutz Gvat on the seventh day of Passover 1947 to his parents Channah
and Elimelech Agassi (Rozenberg) of Demblim-Modzjitz. Studied first grade until
moving to Kibbutz Yif'at. In Yif'at completed twelve years of studies in the
regional school of the Western Valley.
Upon completing his studies, he went to be a leader at the Working Youth
Movement's chapter of Kefar Sava. Several months later, he went to lead in the
movement's chapter of Kiriat Borochov of Ramat Gan. He fulfilled these roles
for a year and led dozens of graduates. Some of them went to settle in Grofit
[in the Arava dessert] and others are a training group in Yiftah and are
intended to complete the membership of Mishmar David.
Two and a half years ago, after completing his year of youth leadership, he was
conscripted to the IDF. From the beginning he volunteered in the paratroopers'
field reconnaissance unit. A year later, he graduated from a section-leaders
course. Thereafter he participated with his unit in several operations (Karame
raid, ambushes and hot pursuits) as a sergeant.
On leaves in the kibbutz, he worked in the orchards, as he did since childhood.
During a hot pursuit after a gang of terrorists, at 2 p.m. on June 11, 1969, he
entered with his solders and commanding officers into a battle, in which he
fell. He was twenty two years old.
daily, Friday June 13, 1969:
More details became known yesterday about the pursuit in the Jordan Valley in
which three IDF soldiers died and eight terrorists were killed. The pursuit was
conducted in a ravine with thick bushes, some 22 kilometers from the river. The
contact with the terrorists was established at 2 P. M., in ranges of six
to ten meters.
Sergent Arye Agassi was the first one to see the terrorists. He shouted:
Careful, friends, Fatahim. Take your positions! At that time the
Fatah terrorists spotted our people and a fire fight developed in close range,
as both our soldiers and he terrorists threw grenades.
The three victims were the closest ones to the Fatah men. They conducted a
short fight. Lietenant Shahrabani, who was severely injured, continued to
fight. According to the investigation, it turned out that he managed to throw
two hand grenades at the terrorists that were closest to him. These grenades
caused the death of three or four terrorists.
From words said by Arye Agassi's commander over the grave:
You came to us from another unit to assume the commanding roles. I knew that
you were careful of taking these roles. I talked to you much about it. Here,
before all those assembled near you, I can tell you that you fulfilled every
mission assigned to you with devotion and success. You showed resourcefulness
and bravery in all tests and clashes. I remember your good hearted smile and I
can promise you here that we will continue from where you stopped.
We are bidding farewell to you and we shall continue to walk in the ways we
Farewell over the Grave of Sergeant Arye Agassi, Zl
My dear Arye Agassi,
You arrived at a glorious unit. Following a short training session, you were
appointed section leader. I remember your hesitations upon receiving the
appointment. I can tell you now that everything that you did was done the best
way possible. You brought your soldiers to exemplary achievements. You
understood your soldiers and were resourceful. You stayed cool under fire and
taught us all what it means to be in control of yourself and in pursuit of your
mission. In all your actions you were high spirited and always had a smile on
In this last pursuit you were at the spearhead unit. As an excellent fielder,
you managed to detect the enemy despite the difficult terrain. You warned us,
and therefore saved other lives. But you did not save your own life.
Today, on your grave, I say good-bye to you on behalf of the unit's commanders
and soldiers, with agony and with pride.
Major Yishai Yizhar, deputy battalion commanding officer.
This material is made available by JewishGen, Inc.
and the Yizkor Book Project for the purpose of
mission of disseminating information about the Holocaust and
destroyed Jewish communities.
This material may not be copied,
sold or bartered without JewishGen, Inc.'s permission. Rights may be
reserved by the copyright holder.
JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of
the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.
Yizkor Book Project
JewishGen Home Page
Yizkor Book Project Manager, Lance Ackerfeld
This web page created by Osnat Ramaty
Copyright © 1999-2013 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 20 Jan 2010 by LA