[Page 436 - Hebrew] [Page 437 - Yiddish]
by David ben Shlomo Gulirgant zl
Translated by Esther Mann Snyder
Dear Frayda Tzinman-Eisenshtein, I remember when I answered the lovely literary letter sent to me by your Yehiel. I added just regards to you in addition to a promise that I would write you a special letter, but I have not fulfilled my promise. And although I know that my promised letter will not bring any news and certainly will not bring you any pleasure, but since you have requested and I have promised, you know of course that the shohatim fulfill their promises, I am therefore writing to you now.
I know that first and foremost you are interested in hearing about your mother who was all alone. We were exiled to a dark Fascist camp, herded and prodded like cows, with sticks, whips, rifles and machine guns. We were forced to walk quickly, almost to run. In the first few days there was still something to eat; after that, all the food we had brought from home was finished, so we grabbed as much produce as we could from the fields we passed, as long as the hooligans, gendarmes and Romanians didn't notice – a cob of corn, a potato, green beets. We had to make do with this and to breathe, while walking about 30 – 40 kilometers per day in great heat. The healthy ones walked with all their strength and those who didn't have the strength to keep up were shot to death out of so-called mercy by the gendarmes. Your Alter could hardly move his feet right from the beginning as soon as he left
[Page 438 - Hebrew] [Page 439 - Yiddish]
Soroka to Vertujan; poor thing he was so very weak, and we never saw him again. Your mother was always by my side for a whole month in Vertujan, however, when they exiled us to Transnistra, that is over the Dniester to the Ukraine, they didn't send us at the same time. We were sent first, and she was among the others who were sent a few days later. We went through the village of Kosoutz, Liampol. A few of the strongest in the group were chosen for work, supposedly, but were immediately shot to death. Among them was my Pinni Gulirgant, Nahum Zimmerman, Mendel the tailor, Mordechai Gellman (Devorah's Mordechai) Notta Bana and others. The rest were sent over the Dniester and made to run all the way to Labog. You can understand what followed - during the forced run of so many kilometers a number of us fell away. We had to abandon Leible Doninson in a pit in a field - certainly dogs and birds devoured him. We were among the happy ones, that is myself and my dear late Elka, with Sima and her small son and my grandson, the son of Aharon, who just happened to be staying with us at that time.
A second group of Bricheva residents was sent to Transnistra by way of Razina-Rivnitza. These people, as we later heard, were shot by the Romanian and German murderers and only five miraculously survived, and they are the ones who told us about it. Among the unfortunate ones who were killed were my brother-in-law Eliyahu Zak and my sister Hantcha with every one of her children. Their place of burial is not known.
Your mother was among those sent later on. Afterward I was told that she died along the way and was buried in a Ukrainian field somewhere near the town of Varhovka. I was told that the date of her death was the seventh or eighth of Tishrei, but what does the exact date really matter?
And who could have recorded the dead and who, at that time, gave it any importance, because each one thought that very soon, tomorrow or the next day, he himself would die. And who could pay attention to the tens of dead people who lay on the ground like carcasses and were scattered on the side of the road where we ran. The thoughts were given to finding a piece of raw beet, dreaming of being lucky enough to find a piece of cold mamaliga. They thought more about a miracle of having 15 minutes of rest. We were emotionally stiff and hardened, almost dead ourselves and the brain didn't work – only the heart was full of eternal hatred toward those fascist murderers.
My darling Frayda. I have described merely a drop in the ocean of the sorrow and tragedy, for who can count and remember what the fascist criminals did and what horrible methods they used against us. Human beings are not capable of such actions, only forest animals like wolves and dogs, and even they must be crazed. Damn them. We are too old to take revenge but our children and descendants will never forget those evil persons and their names will be a disgrace forever.
(This letter was given by Frayda Eisenshtein-Zinman, Sao Paulo)
[Page 474 - Hebrew] [Page 475 - Yiddish]
by Lea Gandelman-Lerner / Nazareth-Ilit
Translated by Elan Caspi
In memory of his wife's beloved parents - Shmuel and Lea Lerner
When the Soviets entered Bricheva in 1940 the atmosphere was electric because no one knew what tomorrow will bring. After the shops and businesses were nationalized the Jews had no livelihood. There was no work and the situation was grim. Then the Russians declared that people could register for work beyond the Dniester. Shmuel my husband and I agreed to go to the Caucasus, to the city of Grozny. When we arrived there, Shmuel worked as an electrician at a large prisoner camp. We worked at the camp until 1942.
When the battle front approached a decision was made to transfer the whole camp to the Ural Mountains, to Sobastroy near Sverdlovsk. We transferred with all the other workers. Such a long train journey was not easy. There were German airplane bombing most of the time and it was a miracle that we survived and arrived at our destination after much suffering.
At the end of 1944, when the Germans and Romanians were still in Kishinev, we returned to Bricheva. It had been very difficult for us to get used to life in the distant Ural mountains. But as long as Shmuel worked and our existence was assured we remained there. And then Shmuel had an accident; he was at a hospital for four and a half months and I was left with a little girl and no sustenance. About a year before we left the Urals we planted a vegetable garden that sustained us and even gave us the required sum to return home. We returned through Kiev and Mohilev in August 1944.
When we arrived we couldn't recognize the town. Many houses were ruined and those who returned had to live in them. The general sight was depressing: weeds grew in the middle of the streets; ruins everywhere, and among them those who returned from the concentration camps or the Soviet Union moved like shadows. I began to search for relatives and didn't find any. They had been killed
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