To my dear wife, Netty Moses, nee Kastner, who heroically stood by me and our children through the most difficult times; to my dear unforgettable parents, sisters, brothers, and their young children; and to my shtetl Ciudin ... 675 souls were murdered on the tenth day of Tammuz, July 5, 1941.
Ciudin lies forty kilometers from Czernovitz, in Bucovina, Rumania.
I do not know how I survived. Perhaps God wanted me to bear witness for my children and for the next generation.
My dear unforgettable loved ones:
My father Feivel Moses Born 1879, died July 5, 1941
My mother Anna Moses Born 1884, died 1938
My sister Bertha Born 1904, died July 5,1941
(her husband Shie, 5 year old child Koine)
My brother Moishe Born 1906, died 1928
My brother Osias Born 1908, died May 31, 1974.
My brother Herman Born 1910, died July 5, 1941
(his wife Betty, and six year old son Marcel)
My sister Dora, born 1912, died in Moghilev camp1941 or1942
her husband Moishe Held
My sister Gusta born 1922, died July 5, 1941
With deep and abiding sorrow and pain we remember our dear family.
May the names and remembrances of the Romanian fascist murderers be erased.
Transcript of August 1994 and August 1995 audio-tapes, Vancouver, B.C.
Translation and transcription: P. Moses
My parents told me that they had thought about fleeing from the Cossaks who were about to invade. They were very afraid, and my Tatte, my father, harnessed his horse. It was winter, and there was a place on the wagon where chains hung started banging. He thought they they had started shooting (laughs).
My beloved departed mother told how we drove all night, and came to a farm where you could see a fire was lit, and she took me, as an infant in there and I was all blue, totally frozen. They held me by the fire to thaw me out a bit, because I was close to death, completely blue.
I came to, and this is how we continued, and came to Hungary. My beloved late mother told how, at a time when I had started speaking, a train went by, and I said A geena vonet", "the train is going by" in Hungarian. This is what I remember: what my beloved late mother told about the first war.
My mother's family, the Rudichs grew up about thirty kilometers to the West in Straja. Your mother's family were also Rudichs. My mother had two sisters in America, Aunt Clara, and Auntie Yetta. Their married names were Goodman and Abraham. In 1966 I met them in Miami Beach on Collins and First Avenue. They lived in New York, but when they retired they went to Miami. When I took a taxi to their place, I asked the cab-driver what kind of neighbourhood they lived in, and he said "Don't ask!" (laughs).
My mother died before the war. She got sick very suddenly with a Darm-farshlingung". The doctor were called in when she said, "Not even when I gave birth to the children ... it hurts me so much!"
We called the neighbourhood doctors, Dr. Drucker and a Dr. Sandberg, who was a cousin of my late mother. He said "You must take her to Czernovits immediately."
There was a man called Pollak with a car. We made the arrangements and got her seated quickly to go to Czernovitz Jewish Hospital. The brother of this same Dr. Sandberg also worked at this hospital, as did Dr. Wiznitzer, who I later helped to get to Bucharest. He operated on her.
After a few days he said "I'm very sorry, its no good". And after about ten days he said "If you want, it'll be better if she dies at home ."
So we had a meeting; the late Osias, the late Herman (Ed. note: Asiu's brothers) who were all in Czernovitz by now. Mama loved me very much because I was the youngest of the boys. I went in and said "Mama, the doctors said that it would be better for you to be at home. Dr. Sandberg is there, and there are other doctors too.
She replied "Children, whatever you do, please do it with Yeshuv Hadas, thinking before doing."
So we took her home on a ... it was a Sunday, and that very night she died. It was the Nineteenth Day of Tamus (Ed. note: Hebrew Lunar calendar) 1938 that she died.
For us it was ... Gusta, my young sister was a young child, and the late Osias and the late Herman were both married, so they told me it was now time for me to take care of her.
My father had a brother named Chaim, who was a Draykop, a schemer, who lived further from town than we did, up towards some woods and a hill. He traveled to Bucharest to research how to make whitewash from minerals in those hills. He traveled, and made some deals.
My grandfather had been a poor farm labourer, and my father had worked there too, like a slave. My father hated it, and told Mama, that "I can't stand it".
"O.K.", she said "lets search for another livelihood."
Now Uncle Chaim had secured a lease for the land, dynamite for blowing up the rock. I remember them telling me how the holes for the dynamite had to be placed properly so that after the fuses were lit everything would be exactly as it was supposed to be. They started working, and my late father bought a horse and a little wagon, and started carting this whitewash to Ciudin, to Stroginetz, and to Czernovitz.
It was quite a way; to go Ciudin or Czernovitz, one had to ride all night. About 45 kilometers took the whole night. And there were big mountains, huge mountains. On the way down hills they had to put blocks in front of the back wheels, to hold them. So the poor guy went on like this, on foot, uphill and downhill, slow-going all the way until he got to Czernovitz. This was his parnusa, his livelihood.
When the rains came he needed some sort of a covering for the whitewash, and if it got wet it was worthless. This was his parnusa.
He worked terribly hard with this horse and this bit of whitewash and we were very poor.
My mother said, "How are these children growing up here in the woods, with no other Jews around, no synagogue, nothing?" If it was Yom Tov, a religious holiday, we'd have to go really far to pray. I remember one Shavuoth, when I was about six or seven we had to go on a horse-drawn sled.
Stroginetz didn't work out, so we moved to Ciudin, a smaller town. There, on a main corner of town, was a big house owned by a man called Lazer Knauer. In front he had a restaurant, he was a rich Jew. We rented one big room from him.
In the summer it was great, because we slept in his hayloft. You know in the barn above the stalls where the animals slept. In summer it was really fine to get up at dawn and hear "Are you going swimming?" We'd go down to the water, near the woods to a little lake called Coolas Bad. That's because Coola had swum there. Another was called Yacob's Bad (Laughs). It wasn't very deep, and you learned how to swim.
That was before dawn on Shabbes, the Sabbath, and then we'd go home to get breakfast, and then go to Shul, synagogue. There were three synagogues in Ciudin. One was called the Cultus , Cultural Synagogue, one was called the Shnader's, the tailors, shoemakers, and other trades-people's Shul, and one the Schectere Shul. The Schechters wasn't too far from us, and my Tatte was a Gabbai, an Executive Member. On Shabbes you'd have about seventy or eighty people in our shul. The other synagogues were bigger.
For the Yom Tov, the High Holidays, we needed a Chazan, a Cantor, and they called my Dad to be a Maiven, a critique. I remember as a young child, we young boys would sneak in and steal the Shofar, the Ram's Horn, to try to learn how to blow it. Here they give it to children to teach them how. Not there! The Shames, the caretaker would come running and shouting, "Shcutzim! Brats! Arose! Get out you Brats! Arose, arose, arose! " (laughs).
We grew up in this Lazer Knauer's house, but I tell you that when winter came it turned into a problem. One slept her, one slept there, two over here ... seven children in one room (laughs). All of us were born born at a midwife's, a woman named Shuler. I remember when Gusta was born, I was about three or so. That's how the kids came, every two or three years, one after another.
The bathroom was ... a bowl of water, and that's how you washed. Well, once a week you could go to the steam-bath, to Branne the Bathwoman, and Berish. They'd heat rocks, and take a cistern of water, and throw it on the rocks, and "SHHHH"", steam would pour out, and there were about four of five benches to sit on. You'd use a little straw broom to beat your skin, and after there would be a deep Mikva, a deep pool and it was cold! That would be on a Friday. The women would go in the afternoon. People would come from far to these baths. Of course, it was for the poor folk, the rich had their own baths.
So the late Moishe was a Kop, and he started handlen, to wheel and deal. He had grown up, and was already twenty, and it was time for him to go to the Army. We had Army duty of either two, two and one-half, or three years. Three years was for those who worked as border patrol. Two and one-half was for the infantry, and others like us went into the cavalry. Those who could afford a horse could do one month a year for three years and you were done, but this of course cost lots of money.
So Moishe signed up, and when he got in they gave him a haircut. He asked the sergeant why it was necessary to get such a haircut. The sergeant replied "Because you are Judani puduchose, you are lousy Jews". So Moishe got up from the chair, and gave him a knack, a punch, and the sergeant fell over with teeth knocked out on one side of his mouth (laughs). You hear, a side of knocked-out teeth, so they took the late Moishe, and they incarcerated him in a Cache.
This cache was a horrible thing. You see this door (indicating to the door of the room where the interview took place); well it was a bit narrower maybe. It was a box, and you were placed inside, locked in for twenty-four hours, with no food, nothing at all. So they put him in there, and after that the officers had an eye on him, and they beat him very very badly.
A few of them hit him hard enough to damage one of his lungs, and he got sick. He came home with this lung ailment, and was coughing terribly. I remember Dr. Sandberg coming, and sitting him on a chair to examine him. He coughed and coughed and coughed. He was given various medications. In those days there was no Penicillin; had there been Penicillin he might be alive like me. And he died at twenty-four years of age from pneumonia...
Mamme didn't want to sleep with a pillow anymore. Mamme and Tatte ... cried both day and night. It was a terrible tragedy. I remember the funeral ... I still keep Yortzeit, memorials, on the first day of Shvat, which usually falls in January.
Then the late Osias, who was the oldest, continued with the business. He was also a Kop, very bright. He also got drafted to the Army, and Tatte bought him a horse too. A horse cost lots then,and my late father said "Every son costs more than a wedding for a daughter". You had to have a horse, a bridle, etc.
Tatte had bought a plot of land, and started to build a house. I remember, when the foundation was laid, it was as wide as for this house. Mayer Schuler, who had a mill, came along and said "Feter Feivel, why do you need such a foundation. Its no more than a house!" So my late father replied "And if my house settles to one side, will Meyer Schuller come to support it with his axle? Better that it'll have a good foundation!"
I remember workmen going to the quarry to get rocks, and we bought a wagon of cement. The builders came and made a big beautiful house. At street-level there were stores, and living quarters, as well as middle and top floors.
It was big enough to have three separate stores at the front, a kitchen, bedrooms, sitting rooms, a summer-kitchen at the back. There was a cold storage off the summer-kitchen which was always cool enough for vegetables from the garden: carrots, parsley, pickled cucumbers, cabbage, everything good.
Four kilometers from us in Krasna there was a big factory which manufactured plywood. Engineers from Germany supervised the production of ten thousand cubic meters annually. Wood was cut into two or three meter sections and thrown into boiling vats of water for three days.
Then the wood was brought into the factory and cut with blades, just like paper, rolled and cut into two by three or three by two meters. Then it needed to be glued. The best stuff for glue was made from key- caisse, cows cheese. We had this cheese, it had to be made without any salt. I saw how it worked: they mixed a substance in until it plywood, put into presses under a terrific heat. After ten minutes it was done.
We found out about the need for this key-caisse, and the late Moishe had a connection through Dr. Sandberg, an engineer, Neven and another engineer. The factory was owned by a PrInce Mavokordat. There was plenty of money.
We bought cheese throughout the provinces of Bukovina and Basserabia. Wagons of the cheese, and it stunk unbelievably. They used to say that in town it stunk, but at the Moses' it smelled sweet, you understand; we made large sums of money.
My late father was the one who had the connections. He used to say the Tehillim.
"Tehillim, Tehillim, Tehillim"; we children told him that prayer wasn't enough, it was necessary to act too! G-d says "You do and I'll help you". From Tehillim alone you'll get nothing!
Before daybreak he'd run to synagogue! He pray while it was still night my late father. We'd still be sleeping and we'd hear him wail "Tehillimmmm!" He'd go to synagogue, and come home really sleepy, so he'd go up in the loft and go back to sleep (laughs) ... oh my late father ...
With this money we bought a house in Stroginetz, and when I was about 10 we started to build our family home, we sold the one in Stroginetz. A beautiful house was built, with a big garden. We always had horses.
When we had built up our stores, I would go to Stroginetz, about 16 kilometers. My father would give me the order: go to Buchbinders, and buy such and such, and to Winers to by beer and wine, and this and that. This was all sold in the stores at the front of our home. Bertha and my late Mamme, and my late Tatte worked inside, and the boys worked outside, with the cheese etc. That's the way business was carried on.
I went to school until ... by the time I was in sixth grade I had graduated (laughs). Osias went to Czernovitz to the Gymnasium, high school. He had also come home from the military with lung problems, and we were afraid for him. He was sent to Czernovitz to work hard at his learning. We called him "the student". But he was very intelligent, and loved money.
I had a brother called Herman, like you, who would take the shirt off his back to help another. The late Osias had said "First, help yourself, and then others." But Herman was capable of giving away everything he owned. He didn't need a thing, gave all sorts of things away. I was like that too.
Herman eventually got married to Betty, and their son's name was Moishale, Marcel ... who was killed when he was six ...
Osias got sick and needed an operation. My father said that even if we had to sell the house, we shouldn't leave him without treatment. So we sent him to Vienna, and the late Osias told that he had gone to the greatest physicians. One of them told him that an operation was possible, but he wouldn't be able to walk more than a few feet without resting. He went to another, and another, and then found on described as a small man, a small surgeon who told him "Mein Herr, my dear sir, you must have trust in me, and I hope to return you to the best of health."
The doctors assistant told him to "count to twenty, and you'll feel better, and when you get to thirty, you'll feel nothing". So he counted,"One, two, three, four..." as they put him to sleep. They cut him open, and tied off one lung completely. The left side was bound off, and the right side remained healthy. He stayed in that hospital for some time, and was then advised to go to Milan to a health resort for convalescence. My late father said "Sure". So off he went to Italy to get better, and came home to live like that, with only one lung.
We ran the business. The late Herman had a one store, that sold cornmeal, wheat, by the wagon-load. We stated to import from other parts of Roumania, wagons of salt. People came from the outskirts and bought wholesale. We sold gas, you name it. But the best business was this cheese. We bought everything in the province of Basserabia.
I'd get sent thirty kilometers to Tereblesht, with a workman, and two horses, and a second wagon, to fetch cheese. That was in summer. In winter it was something else. We had to buy special machines that would press and dry this stuff, and then it would be milled just like cornmeal. This would be available all winter; instead of having to use a hundred kilos of cheese, they would only need, let's say 18 kilos of this pulverized stuff. This was another way of bringing in cash.
We had an agreement with this factory: if they had to stop operations for even one day we would have to pay for it. Without our product they didn't have the glue needed.
When the late Osias went away to be operated on he told us to go to the Prince to tell him "Good Morning!"
I asked him, "Do you take me for an idiot? (laughs). Do I need you to tell me to merrily say 'Good Morning'?" By this time I had grown up, wearing a tie and all ... my friends envied me. It was around the time that I had to go into the army. My friend Elie [Ed. note: Elie Rosenblatt, Asiu's best friend who later moved to Montreal] had to go to the army, and I paid for his horse because he was poor, and didn't have the means. I helped anyone I could.
Osias got married to the daughter of Lazer Knauer. She had been adopted and was a fine child, self-educated. Osias studied Hebrew with her; they brought books from Czernovitz and studied all kinds of things. Our late father continually maintained that learning was everything.
The oldest of the family was the late Bertha, who was the first to marry. She took our late Mother's sister's son. That's how it was.
Herman was next, then Dora. Gusta and I were the only one's unmarried. I went to the army in 1936 at the age of twenty-one.
We had gramophones that spun around with a horn that blew out the music, but no radio yet. I remember the Schulers had family that lived in Czernovitz who had received some kind of telephone: we went to the window to look at them. They had earphones, and said they could here great things. What they had I really don't know! We eventually got a Blaupunkt radio that ran on batteries, as there was yet no electricity.
In Krasna, those people who lived in the vicinity of the mill had electricity, but we didn't have any. Stroginetz and Radauitz I believe had it at the time, but we still didn't have it.
We had lantern lamps, with a wick and a cylinder, and that's what provided our light. In the morning if it was a bit grey, it got cleaned out, and at night it was re-lit. In the barn, where we had horses and other animals, we had lantern, and another in the loft.
We had two big healthy dogs. There were rodents that would know away at the wood where we stored the cheese until they got through to steal some. One dog was called Lupu, who was like a wolf. He'd catch them and throw them like this! The other one, who was even bigger would stand to the side and bark (laughs). But this Lupu got the job done (laughs).
One night, at the back in summer-kitchen where the harnesses were stored, some thieves broke in and poisoned this Lupu. I came out in the morning to feed him, and he started yelping terribly. We told the doctor what happened, he quickly sent telegram to Czernovitz to the veterinary institute. They replied that if the dog was definitely acting mad, he should be brought to the city hastily. So I came to this institute, and he was given shots, but he died. These thieves were eventually caught, and were tried in court.
There was a place that was set up for ice skating; you know they would pour water out to freeze. I didn't have skates so I made some out of wood, I carved them until I cut my fingers, and it still didn't work.
I needed the real things; some people had them, those who had come from Stroginetz or the other towns. I remember seeing one guy flying on the ice.
My father wore a shtrammel, a fur lined hat that the orthodox Jews wore. We didn't wear caps, as we were more sophisticated (laughs) and modern. The late Dora learned piano, took lessons, we had the money for that, and people were invited for recitals in the parlour. The rabbi came every year from Czernovitz, the Shotzer Rebbe came to us on Shevuot. I later went to see a rabbi in New York that originated in Czernovitz. The Shotzer Rebbe had come to Montreal and then emigrated to Israel.
One asked "Asiu, would you be willing to go to Krasna to solicit funds?" and I said "Sure!" One got as much as one could, two dollars, a dollar, five dollars.
We went all around; to all the districts: "This is for Erez Yisroel, the Land of Israel", for the Keren Kayemet, to gather as many donations as possible. We started to hear ... a person came along to tell the story of Dreifus, we heard what was transpiring in the world. We knew about Hitler.
Near us there was a Dr. Nestman, a lawyer, a German, and there our neighbours would have Hitlerist meetings. We could hear them singing their songs. Once I bought one of these guys a beer and asked him what he thought of Jews. He replied "We have no problem with those that are worthy!" We could feel that things weren't right.
The Poles had retreated after the war started, and there was a smell in the air that things were not right.
On a Saturday night we had a party for all the young men and women at Bergman's salon. He had a restaurant, and we drank and ate, and carried on and danced. At about four in the morning we made our way home; it was Sunday morning. I got home, unlocked the door and laid down to sleep. And as I started to fall asleep, I heard some stirring in the house. I thought it was my father up to say his Tehillim, as was his early-morning custom.
All of a sudden he was at my bedside, saying "Siniku, my darling son wake up. We are at war." I got myself up and we got a radio to hear what was going on. Germany had made a friendship pact with Russia, and through this agreement North Bukovina was to belong to Russia, including our village of Ciudin. On the other side where Netty lived would belong to the others.
What was going on you cannot imagine; it was a real tumult. As we were going home from that dance, I saw the Russians riding their horses at great speed, and airplanes overhead, and we believed it to be a maneuver. As soon as my father woke me from my sleep, we saw how things were not the way they should be.
Prior to that the Russians had started to take young people to train them to shoot and so on. Until the very end they had not called me up; many had already been sent to the front. Bertha's relatives, my in-law, had already been on maneuvers for three weeks, and was due to come home. As the war broke out more and more were drafted for military duty.
As the soldiers came through to go to the front, my father stood with a cistern of water, and gave drinks to those who wished. There were many Jews among these troops, on their way to the front, to the border. After a few days of this continual movement, as I told you, the late Osias advised that it would be best to flee. Others said that to stay was the answer. Well, we ended up staying.
You know I had a horse there, hidden, for us all to flee. Tatte asked "What if they torch the house?"
"Tatte", I said, "they will burn it. The Russians are burning everything behind them."
So he told us to prepare water. We had cisterns of rainwater filled to the brim. I pleaded "Tatte, it's no good. Let us pack up and go." I thought we could go to Czernovitz, because what could be done to forty-thousand Jews, could be done to us too. We were so close to the border, and the late Osias said that as soon as they invaded, we would be the first to be killed. And that's how it happened. He was a very smart man this Osias, very smart...
My brother Osias had said, "It's not good for Jewish people to stay here, because the Roumanians and the German army are coming in. They'll be blood-thirsty and we are the first Jewish people here."
Osias hired a wagoner, and paid him some money, and boarded a wagon with a little horse, and drove away to Strojinetz. Strojinetz was 16 kilometers from us.
Why did he run away?
He said "I don't want to be here because I'm afraid that we are the first Jews on the border". So he drove away with his wife Pepi and his four year old daughter Ruthie, and everyone laughed at him, asking, "Why is he running away? The Roumanian officers love money. They'll be bought off, so everything will be O.K. and we'll stay at home."
Osias drove away, and we stayed in Ciudin. We stayed, and on the eight day of Tammus, the third of July, they came in.
As soon as they came into Ciudin, my friend Bubi's mother and father, who had some fields near town, said "It would be better if you went away to a man named Gherman." He had been an invalid from the First War, and had lost his left hand.
Bubi's mother went to ask if it would be alright if we could come up to his place to hide out and he said we could come "with pleasure". So Bubi and I went up there, and we stayed overnight at his place. That was a Monday.
Tuesday night the Roumanians and the Germans came in. We could here a great tumult "Hurray, Hurray, Hurray! Traiasca Romania! Long live the Roumanians" And so on.
And as we walked to this Ghermans' house, we saw many young people, Gentiles, running with pitchforks (to stick others), sticks to hit with, and sacks on their shoulders to rob, and when they saw us going in the opposite direction, they said "You're running away, we'll find you there too." We didn't say anything.
We sat at Gherman's, and we asked him if he would go down to town to see what was going on. So he went down, and he replied: "Everything is O.K. The Jews came to greet the Roumanian military with Sefer Torahs, Holy Scrolls, and it's quiet in town."
That was Wednesday night, and Bubi's mother came to see us and told us that everything was fine and that she would come and see us the next morning. Fine...good.
So we went to sleep, and I said tomorrow is Thursday, and we'll fast tomorrow, so G-d will help us to get through this. So we ate something that night and we agreed to fast the next day.
So we slept at this Gherman's, and on Thursday at about 5 A.M. Bubi's mother came running and she said "Asiu, Bubi you stay here, the military came in and in the meantime all is still. At about 10 o'clock I'll come again."
It didn't take long, maybe twenty minutes to go from our town up to this Gherman's.
She said "Kinder zis nisht git" "Children it's not good!"
"What's going on?"
"They're robbing and killing and beating and it's not good!"
"So what should we do now?"
She said "You stay here, or if you want come home and I'll hide you in the hayloft".
I said "No, its' better that we stay here. So Mrs. Risenberg said she'd go now and return in the evening.
At about 12 o'clock in comes this Mr. Gherman and says in Roumanian "Get out of my house".
We asked "Mr. Gherman, where shall we go?". And he says "Get out because we're not allowed to hide Jews, they'll shoot us along with you! Get out!".
I took my windbreaker, and Bubi also took what he had and we left the house, and we hid in the field near his house. The corn was about a foot high, and we lay down. We were lying about twenty yards away from a walkway that led from the outskirts back to town, and we heard people running and yelling "From the time the Roumanians came in, it has been a big holiday".
People were carrying flowers, and milk for the soldiers, and one was coming from town and already carrying stolen things.
One was carrying a huge mirror. Someone asked him "Why did you take such a large mirror? What for? It does not even fit in your house."
And he replied "It's better broken than to leave it with the Jews."
One asked "Did you hear? They took Shuler who owns the mill, and they put chains on his feet, and they cut off his ears and his nose, and he was led into town like that."
"Did you hear that they shot Dudel Schachter?"
"Isser Sumer, a poor teacher was shot, and his wife had to lay him on a wheelbarrow to take him away to be buried in the holy place". Our cemetery was about 400 meters from town on a hill.
And I hear all these stories they are telling each other, and I'm lying with this Bubi under the hot sun, and praying that it would already get dark.
In the afternoon it started to rain a bit, and thank G-d when night finally fell and it got dark we went back to this Gherman's, not to his house, but into his barn. When he came in to milk his cows, I said "Mr. Gherman, what's happening in town?"
He said "The Roumanian military has come into town, and they're very mad at the Jews."
"Because the Jews are Communists, and they sabotaged the bridge." Of course the Russians had blown up the bridge on their way south.
So I asked "Mr. Gherman, what will you do with us?" So he said "What can I do with you? Go up in the hayloft, but if anyone comes, don't say I told you to go up there, because they can kill me along with you. You will have to say that you hid up there on your own."
So we said "O.K., but maybe it would be better if you made a hole right here in the barn that we could crawl into?". He said that it would be better in the loft.
I asked him if he could give us something to eat, because we had been fasting, so he said "O.K., I'll bring you something."
So we stayed there, and as he went into the house, along comes the son of Shmuel Katz (he was a smith, he fixed locks and keys, and fashioned hooves for horses), a little boy. He must have been about eight years old, with another little guy about ten years old. And as they were running by, I yelled his name "Chaiml!" (that was his name). "Where are you running?"
They said "Oh! It's great we found you. We are coming from the heights of town."
They had been in their home, along with their mother and father and three sisters. "They came in and took out our three sisters... probably to rape them, and shot our mother and father, so we ran away." And these kids were shaking violently.
So I said to them "Go down right here to Moishe Chaim Laiser and there you'll find my father and my sisters."
This Moishe Chaim was a transporter, a poor man who owned only one horse, and he hauled this and that. Maybe to take something to a mill, like to take 500 kilos of maize to the mill, to take it and to bring it and that was his livelihood.
So I said to them "You go down there. Our house has been locked up." And my father said that we should all be down at this Moishe Chaim's, out of town, not in the middle of town where we lived.
"There you'll find my father, and tell him where we are, that we are here, and tell him that Bubi's mother, Mrs. Risenburg was supposed to come this morning but we haven't seen her again."
The older one was such a smart little boy, and he said "Asiu, are you saying we should go?"
So I said "Sure, you're kids what are they going to do to you?" So they left, and if maybe they had stayed with us...
This was the beginning.
Even when we had been lying in that field as I told you, as we lay there I heard Janiu Adlersberg, a dentist, who had been going by with his wife and two children, and the children were crying hard.
He was saying "What can we do? What can we do?" He had run into other Jews that were already coming back, and saying to someone, I'm not even sure who he was talking to, "Don't go, because wherever you go they won't let you in. They won't let in any Jews"
We heard him say "Let's go in to this Gherman's, and maybe he'll give us a little water for the kids to drink". This is what we heard from this Janiu Adlersberg.
So we were sitting up in this loft that night, and at about 9:00 or 9:30 at night we heard some Yiddish being spoken.
I said to Bubi "I hear Yiddish being spoken. I'll run down." You know Bubi had a lung disease, and he often panted heavily. I said "You wait here, I"ll run down and see who these people are."
I come down and it's Betti, Herman's wife [Editor's note: Herman was Eisig's brother] with Marcel, a little boy aged six years, and the child is crying... and she says "Asiu, [Editor's note: Asiu was Eisig's nickname] what should I do? I'll go home, and whatever G-d will give, that what will be. Wherever I go, they won't let us in."
I asked "Where is Herman?" She said that they had come in and started viciously beating, and people began to run here and there; in the middle of all these beatings we got split up." And she doesn't know where my brother Herman is...
We stayed where we were, and she went away, and it got dark and it rained and rained.
I said to Bubi, "I don't want to stay at this Gherman's anymore. I don't believe him anymore. I don't believe him. Don't you remember the way he pushed us out of his house..."
I said "We can't stay!"
So he said "What shall we do?"
I said that we would go further. I knew that in the year that the Russians had been with us, people had worked in the woods, and I had helped in a bakery there. I had distributed bread. Everything was Communist then, and I had been paid for food for my horse and for coming and going and bringing this bread there. And I had been very familiar with the forest.
So I said "I know a place there where it's really narrow, where nobody can see you. We'll go down there, and stay there a day or two, and whatever G-d gives after that will be."
He said "Alright", and we get down, and as we get down to the door we find that it has been locked. And even the door where the hay is thrown out, was locked. But there was a hole, where they throw out the animal dung, and I said "Bubi, this is where we'll crawl out of here. We can't stay at this Gherman's any longer." And we crawled out .
SITTING IN THE WOODS
As we get out onto the fields, wherever there are houses we couldn't go, because dogs will bark, you understand. On the road we obviously couldn't go, because someone might have run into us there.
So we went far from the houses, and not on the road. And then on the road came two fellows, and they were going to town, also to rob, with sacks, you know, and sticks. One had something like a shovel, to kill with. They run into us and ask us where we're going.
So I said "We have to go somewhere."
They said "You're going to hide. We'll find you." I was strong, from home, and I could have taken one to beat the other, you know, so they didn't confront us. They continued up to town, and we went on.
Poor Bubi was asthmatic, and was panting while he was going like this "Hhhhhhh. Hhhhhhhhh". I said Bubi, you're going to bring us doom, be quiet!"
He replied "What do you want from my life. Come back and my Mother will hide us in the loft in the hay. I can't go on any longer. I can't..."
I said, "We're not far now. Soon enough we'll be in the woods."
So we went on like that and G-d helped us to go the whole night like that, and on Friday morning we arrived at those woods, and that's where we stopped.
We're sitting in these woods all day, and I said to Bubi "Tonight this can't go on." I had become very hoarse, and he could barely speak. I said "Tonight we have to leave the woods."
With G-d's help it became Friday night, and we were moving to the edge of the woods, and I heard talking outside. I heard soldiers saying that tomorrow morning the recruits would be called. They were not to go into the woods because there were Russian partisans and Jews hidden there who could be firing on them, and it was forbidden to go into the woods until tomorrow's recruits arrived to comb the woods.
So G-d helped us to sit there the whole night, but we didn't sleep. We had gone to the other side, but we also heard talking there, and every where we went there were voices and we knew that we shouldn't go out, and we'd have to stay there.
When Sabbath morning came, I told Bubi that we'd have to hide ourselves well, because they would soon be coming. So we searched for trees that you see sometimes, ones that are open. However, just at that moment we couldn't find any kind of tree to hide in and not be seen.
We couldn't find such a tree, so we agreed to get into a kind of ditch, close together. I gathered various kinds of branches and sticks, and put them on top of us. He lay down next to me, and we started to cover our feet, like this and like that , and completely covering our faces. And that's how we lay there.
It got to be around 10:00 or 10:30 in the morning , and we were lying there, maybe it was more like 11:00 or 11:30, and I heard some talking behind us. What we hadn't realized is that not too far from us was a path, and all of a sudden we heard something like footsteps, and we lay there trembling terribly.
Through the branches I could see civilians wearing the clothes that had been designated for the civil defense, a white shirt and pants. I also saw soldiers, and as they went by us we shook terribly. Thank G-d they went by, but as they did I could hear one of them saying, "No one is here".
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.
Mezhirech'ye, Ukraine Yizkor Book Project JewishGen Home Page
Copyright © 1999-2013 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 21 Aug 2005 by LA