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A letter from 1944

Translated by Bella Bryks-Klein

Note by Tova Waks: The letter was written by Meir Bergman to
my father who was at that time in the Ureals. They were cousins.

 

Section of original letter
ten901.gif - Section of original letter

 

Nisko dnia 5th December 1944

Dear Cousins Perla and Yerucham!

Yesterday I received three letters from you for which I thank you very much.

Yerucham, I am writing to you everything about your home as it happened. You ask me to inquire with the Poles exactly where someone was shot & on which road. I can write you that I do not need to ask anyone. I myself know better than they do, because when we were in the area, it was forbidden for a Pole to come near. Secondly, you must remember that I was the last one in Raivitz when there were no longer any Jews left in Raivitz. I lay in the Rishiv forest with a rifle in my hand therefore you can believe me that I know better than they do. Yanishevski wrote you that Henia was shot on the road to Kresnitov. That is not true. I was with Henia in a forced labor camp in Kruyachov. It is located 15 kilometers from Blodoba. And from there she never got out. Whoever left that camp looked like someone who returned from the other world. There my dear father and mother were killed and Chana and Zivia, Efraim, Yitzchak, your Heneh, Yitzchak Erlichman, Tova, Ita, Sara, Moshe Lerman. Your Yaakov Eisenshtein. I worked together with them for 6 weeks. I buried Leibl Shenker with my own two hands. He died in the labor camp from starvation. Just imagine that on Shabbat we are working together. He worked directly with me.

Sunday morning Leibl Shenker died. Towards noon, I and Yaakov Vitzfiler the son of Avraham Shteper dug a pit in the field, we buried him with cardboard used to cover roofs, and we put wire around and smoothed out the ground so no one would notice.

Such activities were done daily many times over. In this way, the following died: Moshe Listhoyz, Yosef Shenker, Binyamin Tachman, and many others. Six weeks we all worked together. Not much was lacking for me also to be lying there next to them. On a Wednesday morning, I get up and go to my mother in the camp since women had a separate barrack. It was forbidden for us to enter theirs, and they were forbidden to enter ours. Only through a window, my mother used to hand me soap and a towel every day. Once when she gave me the soap, suddenly I saw black before my eyes and I saw nothing and I fell to the ground. But immediately my mother and her sister Anna ran to me and gave me some water, and Avraham Shnobel gave me a cube of sugar. And that is how they saved me. But about half an hour later I had to go and get ready for work and to sing.

For breakfast, we received one liter of black coffee, and for lunch we got soup made of water and potatoes. For 1300 men, they gave 80 kilograms of potatoes. Imagine what kind of soup it was. At 5:00 P.M., they gave us 300 grams of bread, and coffee again.

At 7:00 P.M. to go to sleep, and at 4:00 A.M. to get up. Imagine that within 2 minutes we had to stand in a straight line. Like in the army. If not, we get beaten. And more than once, I had to watch how they scream or beat my dear old mother who was not able to get into the straight line so quickly or to stand erect like the other younger women and girls. You have to understand that like my mother there was only one more woman in the camp. She was the second one. Henneh Shpaizman, the wife of Avraham Shpaizman. There were no other old women there. You should know that the reason my mother was there with us was thanks to me. Because I wanted us to be together. When they sent us out of our homes, I did what I could for us to remain together, and I succeeded. And now Yerucham, I will begin. During Passover 1942, everything was OK with you. We slaughtered the kosher way secretly, but if the Police discover someone slaughtering kosher meat, his punishment is death. But one must make a living somehow. Aharon the Butcher's wife disappeared due to the kosher slaughter of meat. On Chol Hamoed Pesach, Tuesday, 4:00 o'clock in the afternoon, all of you go out to the market, towards the right side where Flaff the old man used to stand. The Germans begin selecting old people and children. The young healthy men and women were sent to the left of Nachis Dobner's house. After the selection, we all stood and they chased the old people and the children to the train station. Among them, was your dear good mother, and my beloved aunt, and Balcha with her two children. Shiloh with a child. Whoever held a child, whether she was young or not, was also sent to the station. Sarah and Esther with Basha, and Riva with Chantcheh. And whoever was not capable of running so fast to the station, was shot on the spot. They shot mothers with children in their arms. From the school to the train station lay over 800 bodies that had been shot. At night, the Germans commanded that the Jewish Council collect all the bodies and bury them. Moshe Lerman was a member of the Jewish Council. Every night, he buried dead Jews. But he told me that among the dead, there was no one from our family. They buried twenty, thirty in one grave. When they were burying them, they took 7 young men from our division and sent them to work in the yard. And they chased the rest of us into the Beit Hamidrash. When they collected us in the Beit Hamidrash, they counted us. This was already in the evening. Everyone knew everyone else, and each family wanted to stay together.

Our family too sat together. Your sisters and your brother, Yitzchok Erlichman and his children, the Shpayzmans, next to us Frayde Boym and her husband. At twelve midnight, we take an axe and break a window, and we start jumping out. Polish policemen were guarding the street. Avraham Chaim Yatcheh jumps first, and after him, many others. My Yaakov jumps, Hilish with Yosef Yitzchak together with Yitzchak the deaf one, Shpayzman, Frayde Boym with her husband and the child. And all those who jump out, run in different directions and to various villages. Yisrael Shpayzman with Sara, Hilish, Yitzchak, Tova, Yoske Shpayzman, Yosef Erlichman, run towards Broytzeh. My Yankl runs on the Tcherna Ziema. In the morning, David Liberman goes out towards the village and he hears what happened in Reivitz so he hides there. They did not know anything about each other for 2 weeks. The way he hid in the village is impossible to write down or describe. I can only write to you that many who ran out from the Beit Hamidrash, and ran through the village to hide in the forest, after 2 weeks of hiding, gave themselves up to the German police, and asked to be shot. Each Pole who brought a Jew to the Germans was rewarded with 8 kilograms of sugar. Your Tova with Hilish and others lay in an attic 2 weeks. Afterwards they went to Shlishetz. After some time, the situation in Shlishetz became bad too, so they all ran back to Krisneh and they took us to work there. They worked very hard. Can you imagine that my Tova dug ditches? They worked there until the Germans issued their latest edict that hiring a Jew was forbidden. Even for the German army it was forbidden. Only for the SS, the Jews had to work. And these were the worst killers. And in Reivitz stood the “Glauna House” of the SS. That's why your Tova and Hilish and the others came to Reivitz. And they were immediately taken to work where they worked to the end, that is until the second June. When the last Jews were led out of Reivitz, Tova and Hilish ran to the train station because there was no other way. They bought train tickets to travel but someone recognized them and they were detained. They held Tova, but Hilish managed to get on a train, and to escape. They shot Tova, and I do not not know what happened to Hilish. But I believe that if he were alive, he would return to Reivitz or he would write. I have already been to Reivitz twice but no one has come. And as for your dear mother and Balcha and Fala, I know they were killed in Belzitz. There they had the same process as in Lublin. You must have read about it in the newspaper. Your Efraim with Yitzchak and Yaakov Eisenstein were killed in Sobibor in the same way. In Poland, four of these took place. On October 28th 1942, I received a letter from your Efraim who wrote me that my dear mother is no longer alive. I did not receive any more letters from him. But I know that he was burned to death. But your Hana was still alive. She worked in a laundry that washed clothes for the Germans. In 1943, Hana was still among the living. And when they shot the last Jews in Reivitz, then it was over. But what the exact date was, I do not know. Frayde Boym was in Chelm for about 6 weeks. They captured her husband in Chelm. And she came to Reivitz. When I lived in Reivitz, we lived together, me, Frayde, Sara Yungman, Yaakov Vitzfliker, Shia Mandlicht, Gershon Shpigel with Sara. We all lived in your home Yerucham. The door of the store was locked. We got in around in the back. Frayde was also there until the second June 1943. Itche was there until the last minute with his wife and his children. His house is still standing. Polish people are living in it. In all the houses that remain, Poles are living. But not many houses are still standing, only in our street and in Hershl Apelzweig's and Bring's street. That's it, no more.

Yerucham, you ask me if I need any money, and if so, you will send me. I thank you very much but I do not need money. I am in the Army after all. Clothes they give me. Food they give me. So why do I need money? I ask you for only one thing. Write to me more often. Write when you have time. That is better than money. I ask you to send me a photo of you with Pasha. You ask me about your Pasha. She wrote me before the German “action” in Ludmir. But later she did not write anymore. Write and tell me how life is for you. Is everything expensive for you like it is for us? Here one liter of vodka costs 600 zlote. Write if you believe there is hope that we may still see each other again……

If it is possible, send me a letter from your Yula. I want to read what he writes from there. I am enclosing herewith a letter for Yerucham Liberman which I would like you to convey to him.

My dear beloved cousin, you write me that I should take revenge. What do you think? After I saw it all with my own eyes, and I felt everything with my own bones. Therefore until such time that I will be in Germany and do to them what they did to us for such a long time, I shall not relax. But you should know that I myself turned over four train wagons with weapons and people. And with my own hands, I beat 3 Germans, I did not shoot, and then I buried them and when I was finished with them, they were not entirely dead, but that is nothing for me. Yerucham, I can write you that very soon I will be in Germany. You know why. Because I can speak German. It is 80% certain. You probably know that I can speak Russian, German and Polish. And now that is a big deal. In a few days, I will be in Reivitz.

Tell my Chaim that I sent him a letter with a photograph. Send them regards.

Yerucham, now I live with the hope of seeing you again…….

I will end my letter. Please send best regards to all my colleagues and all the ex-Reivitzers. Tell them that they can write to me. I will reply to them……

May you and your children be healthy. I kiss you all.

Your cousin
Meir Bergman

Special regards to my only and dear brother, to my sister-in-law and to their son.
Meir

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