They led us away to Strojinetz, sixteen miles from Ciudin... and when we got to Strojinetz, they led us to a synagogue in a suburb, and nobody was allowed out. It was closed off, all around , and people were hungry and thirsty.
Many were able to sneak out of this place, where they had created this ghetto, closed-in all around, by giving bribes to let them out. And they went home to bring back... a pillow...something to eat...you know.
After few days went by in that camp, I got together a few boys and we snuck out, and got into some houses. In one house I found a few pillows, and since we slept on the ground I had a pillow to lie down on; I found a pot, in one spot I found some marmalade, you know, and another of us found some milk, and another found a bottle of boimel, oil...
They kept us in a synagogue, and a few houses that had been looted naked. At this point there were three or four hundred, just in this one place. This had been a town of 2,500 people, Jews, you understand.
I had not one thing, but I snuck out to try to find where this lawyer Rosenberg lived. A lot of people were still moving around so ... I inquired here and there to find out where he lived, and when I got to this lawyer's home I didn't see anybody.
When found out where he was... a whole long story was told to me. I found out that Osias [Ed.note: Eisig's's brother] was in hospital, sick in the hospital. When I came to this hospital, Osias told me the following story.
When he had been in the home of this Rosenberg, the lawyer, a man called, (..what was his name?) Meyer, Meyer Laibel, told him, "Osias, it's foolish to sit here in town, because the first thing they are going to do is to search the homes of the Jews. It's no good!"
"So what is one to do?" Laibel says he knows an acquaintance who lives on the other side of the bridge out of town, and "We'll go there"
He says, "We'll be there, and they won't go to that place to search. Poor people live there, and it'll be better there."
Osias took Pepi, his wife, and the child Ruthie. Ruthie was about four years old and they went out to that place. They went over the bridge, and crossed some fields, and after travelling another ten minutes they came to this little house, where a poor family lived. And they stayed there. Altogether they were about fourteen people.
This group stayed there that night, and around Thursday or Friday they came to Strojinetz, and in Strojinetz the same story unfolded: they started to murder Jews, beating people, and they made a ghetto. They gathered Jews...
The officer said, "Come and we'll take you into town". So my late brother said that he had some money with him; he gave them some money and said "Leave us here."
"O.K., you can stay".
Soon after they left, maybe a half an hour or an hour later, another patrol showed up. My brother Osias saw that one patrol was sending another, so he said "You know what? We'll give you a bit of money, and what what might you be able to do?"
"We're taking you to the camp."
"O.K. take us to the camp, but no one is to beat us or do anything to us."
So these fourteen people left the house and went about 300 meters before they came to the road that led to the bridge that went into town. And as soon as they got on this road, a mounted patrol comes along, and the leader was a Major, an officer, and he saw that these soldiers were leading civilians. So he says "Who are these people?"
The other says "These are Jews. We're taking them to the concentration camp." The Major said that this was not right, and "I want you to execute them right here and right now!
So they took them over to a ditch there, and they lined up each of these fourteen people, among whom were Osias, Pepi, and Ruthie. A machine gun was set up and now came the sounds "TTRRRRRRRRR... TTRRRRRRRRRRRRR" as they started to shoot.
Osias, out of fear, fell to the ground, and he heard a bit of screaming and crying, and lay there. Again he heard "TTRRRRRRRRRRRR" and he lay there pretending that he was dead.
Then he hears the officer, the leader, saying that someone should go and check to see if they were all dead. So one came over, and with a bayonet started to poke people...like so..
When he came to Osias, and spiked him, since he was alive, he sprung up and jumped in among the horses and the soldiers.
They pushed him out with there rifle butts, but not far from this ditch was a fence, and as soon as he got near that, he sprung over, and started to run.
As soon as he started to run, they commenced firing at him. "TTRRRRRRRRRR." Out of fear... it had been after a rain, and there was some water on the fields, and you know he lived with only half a lung, the late Osias, because he had been operated on in Milan, and lived with this half-lung. And this is how he ran, this poor guy, and had fallen, and was pretending that he was dead.
He hears yelling from the road from this officer that someone should go and see if he was "lovit", that means hit.
So Osias hears someone walking through these wet grasses towards him and comes closer and closer, and looks at him. The soldier bends down and yells "Ye lovit" "He's hit!" And he turns around and leaves. Osias continues to lie there, and lay there until it got dark.
He couldn't go back to the place they were shot because he knew what had happened there, that they had all been murdered. He saw as he left how they were all lying there, finished.
After it got dark he thought "What can I do here now?" He decided to go back to Ciudin, our home, to our place. So he got up and walked, and walked, until he got to a house.
He finds a little house just outside the town, near the woods, and in it a light is burning. He approaches this little house, and sees the light inside. He was afraid to go into this house, so he went to a barn where the door was open.
He went into this barn, and crawls into the loft, and sits there with gehackte vinden, (like salt on a wound) the whole night, Sunday night.
At daybreak the gentile there came into his barn, and finds Osias there in his loft. He makes a crucifix, and asks him "What are you doing here?"
So Osias tells him the story about what had happened the day before, about how they had been taken out to be shot, and where it happened and so on, and his child had been there. In his child's coat pocket there was still money, and he tells the farmer to go there.
Osia had dollars, but he didn't say so. He said it was acten , documents, and "If you bring me those documents, I'll give you the Roumanian money. Go see who's still there; my child had been there, and my wife was there. Search their pockets and bring it to me, and when you get back, I want you to lead me to my sister's, not far from Radautz."
Radautz was further to the south, and Czernovits was more northerly. "You'll take me to either Radautz or Czernovitz".
The other one says "Radautz is not good because it's close to the border, where the Roumanians were crossing. I can take you north to Czernovits; it's closer." From Strojinetz to Czernovits was about 28 kilometers. He says "I'll take you to Cernovits."
So Osias says "O.K., let's go!"
The man goes away, and Osias waits for him.
Osias sits and waits for him to come back; he waits and waits, and all of a sudden this guy shows up with a patrol. There were six or seven soldiers, and he yells to them "Take this Communist away from my house! Take away this Communist!" You know, "This Communist from my house".
So they take him down, and they start to interrogate him about what where and when, and they take a wire and bind his hands you know, and there was a water mill there. The water came across this wheel, you know, and as it turned it was used to grind flour. They took him and threw him into this water, and he nearly drowned. And when he finally got out of that water, they took him out and beat him murderously.
They took him out and they said "Come!" They were taking him too, to the concentration camp, because the orders were for no more shooting. And they lead him out again on the road, and as they're leading him across the bridge, not far from the town, and another mounted officer comes riding, and asks "Where did you get this guy?" They salute him, and he asks "Where did you get this individual?"
They answered that they had found him at such and such a place. The officer had recognized him: it was the same Major from yesterday, and he knew him!
The Lieutenant salutes, and he says "Come here." And Osias stands there in front of all these soldiers.
The Major says, "Do you see this individual who is standing before you? In a half an hour he should not still be alive! Do you understand!?"
The other one says "Yes!" and salutes him. "Sa Traiti as one says in Romanian, "You should live long" he says to the Major, and the Major rode off on his horse, and this one is leading Osias, toward town.
In town there had already been a whole "behoole", a terror.What had happened?
The Jews that had been driven from their homes; the ones that had been left alive had hidden money, and bribed all these Romanian officers who had been left in town as guards. They had all been given money.
One guard led a person to where money was hidden, another led one to find his wife; yet another took a prisoner to release his children.
This officer had ordered the soldiers to leave him take charge of Osias, so Osias had gone with him alone.
As he leads Osias, along comes one called Buchbinder, a person from whom we had bought merchandise in Strojinetz,with several others being led by officers, and they see how this officer is leading Osias. Osias gave them a wink, and they came over and asked "What's going on with you?"
So he tells this story: "They're leading me off to shoot me". He tells, "They're going to shoot me."
So they took the officer off to the side, and said "Look, let him live, what are you going to get if you kill him? You've already killed enough.." And so on..
They put some money in his hand, and the officer said, "He can't be... in ten minutes... he shouldn't be here anymore. He should not be seen!"
So they said "Come over here to this house." They went over gave him this money, you know, and they took Osias to some place, I don't know where. Osias was very sick by this time, you know, so he went to this Dr. Rosenberg.
Dr. Rosenberg was in with ...he was the chief doctor in the hospital: Popovici was the Director. And Rosenberg begged him to take Osias into this hospital, because he was very sick.
He lived with a half a lung, you know, and he was weak from these troubles: he had lost his wife and his child, and everything...he was finished!
So he took him into the hospital, and that's where Osias lay.
"You go to this street, and gather up corpses. Wherever you see corpses..." So these dead people were thrown onto this wagon...
In Strojinetz... they were like hay. We took them up to the "Bays Oilam", that's where there were other people who had been captured for labour, and mass graves were dug there. And we had the mission to bring them. So we went with the horses...
This was a few days after what had happened in Ciudin; it had also happened in Stroginetz.
So...Osias tells me that people who did as we did on that street, to gather dead people for the "Bait Oilam", to the "Bait Hakvarot", you know the holy ground. These people that had been to the street where Osias's family had been killed, and they found a child... alive.
She was still warm...she was still warm. They saw her moving a little, so they said "We can't take her to the "Bait Oilam", and they took her up to the hospital and they laid her down on the stairs. And she lay there, and as people walked by they saw a child lying there.
So they took this child up to the hospital. They found a child...they didn't know it was a Jewish child.
So the late Osias was there as a patient, and it became known to him that a child had been there for a few days. A child had been found, a Jewish child probably...but she didn't have a bullet in the head. They had given her a blow, you know with the rifle, and they had broken open ....her whole head, you know. She lay there for six weeks, without seeing one thing with her eyes...nothing.
Osias heard about a child, and he went to see who this child was, and as he approached he saw it was his child. She couldn't see a thing with her eyes for weeks, and couldn't speak with her lips.
More than 1,000 or 1,500 people were living in this ghetto, with wire all around, and you weren't allowed to go out. And the times that they caught me and beat me!
I thought "They can shoot me. I don't care." After I heard what had happened at home, I didn't want to live any longer. But one doesn't die when one wants to, and one doesn't live when one wants to.
Then it started to get a little better. Osias, you know he was quite a draikop a scheemer; both he and Ruthie went back to the concentration camp. He was there with the child, and started to seek a connection to Radautz, where our sister, the late Dora had lived. If by chance Dora was still alive, it would be possible to send Ruthie there, because adults couldn't come and go.
Anyhow, Osias sent away to Radautz where we knew the brother of a man called Itsik Birnbaum. Itsik had been shot in Ciudin. This brother, who was a very rich man lived in Radautz. They had, you know, lumber yards, saws and saw-mills.
Birnbaum bought off an officer to go from Radauitz to Strojinetz, from where Osias had sent word, and this officer brought the child to Radauitz: Ruthie that is.
From Radautz he sent the child to Dora, to Frasin in the Gura-Humora region, about 40 to 50 kilometers from Radautz. And Ruthie stayed with the late Dora.
Then came a decree that all the Jews of Stojinetz must leave. This was the same summer we were sent away to a lager , a work camp about twenty to twenty-five kilometers from Strojinetz.
Not all were sent at the same time. A portion was sent to a place on the way to Cernovits, and they sent us to Vashkovits, another region.
They did it like driving sheep. They drove people, separated them, fathers, mothers, separated.
Some managed to stay together; I went to this Vashkovitz region and Osias stayed because he was still sick and still had to go to the hospital. And during that time he sent Ruthie to our sister.
Then came the decree that nobody should be left in Stroginetz: no more Jews, none, none, none at all.
They started in the north Bucovina, Strojinetz was north, so was Czernovitz.
Dora was in the south, on the other side. And there they started the story again. In Radautz, Netty's [Ed. note: Nettie would later would marry Eisig] town , they also started.
In Vashkovitz there was a family by the name of Lifshitz, and he had been a suitor for my sister at one time. There was tons of mud in our village, and this guy wore his galoshes right into our sitting room, very uneducated. Others knew to take off their shoes outside! (laughs). So he came in, and a dowry was presented. It was said that he earned lots of money but he was very stingy. So Tatte said, "One who doesn't know how to spend, cannot earn money."
My sister didn't suit him, but when I came to him I was naked and barefoot, and he helped to clothe me. He gave me a jacket, and a pair of shoes. I had owned a good coat which had been stolen on the way.
We were driven to Yedenitz, where we take to a place where tombstones were manufactured. We were there three or four weeks and it was a horrific place. There was one pot, and in it was mud, literally mud.
I was in this Yedenitz, and people there were dying of hunger.
Couriers came, those who were given money to transport letters and so on. They were given money and were told to go to such and such a place, and deliver this or that. So I contacted one of those couriers, and wrote what had happened to Netty's father ... so he sent me some money, and this officer brought it to me. This was all in Yedenitz, which was in Basserabia.
And what we went through in Bassarabia! There was a decree: those who could not go on were to be shot. Shooting and shooting and more shooting.
And no food and no water. No, nothing.
People lay down on it on the ground, and we covered ourselves, and that's how we slept.
And when we got up in the morning they started to drive us on again. We got up that morning, and Ruchale who was a diabetic, had the sugar go into her eyes, and she became blind. This was the daughter of Mr. Guttman, my teacher.
They see that we are starting to talk to her and so on. They told us to line up, and when they saw us fussing over her they asked, "What's the matter? Can't you go on?"
They grabbed her away, out of our hands, and led her about... maybe as far away as the next house here, at the bottom of a hill they set up a row: full of people. "TRRRRRR!" A machine gun was set up. "TRRRRRRRRRRRR" All layed down.
She was he same age as my late sister Gusta, about eighteen years old.
I asked Mr. Gutmann "So, is there a God in this world?
He replied: "Don't ask me anything anymore."
And after a few days they also took his tallis , his prayer shawl, because he still wore his tallis. After a few days he too fell away, left alone.
They sent us to the holy ground, where on one side they made tombstones, you know, and I took four of those stones and made a place to live. We stayed there a few weeks.
There was only one way to get water, to yank it up, and when you yanked up the water there was mud in it. You couldn't drink that water. And people died!
Bodies, dead ones, dead ones, dead ones, dead ones.
It was summer. All around where we were was barbed-wire, so I crawled out. I figured, if they shoot me, they shoot me; to heck with it! What else could be worse than this. So I crawled and crawled out onto the field where some potatoes were growing, and I dug some out, and brought them in. Do you think they were cooked? No, they were eaten raw. Raw, anyway we could.
One of Netty's aunt's, and her daughter were there, and she said to me "Asiu, we have dollars; can we perhaps pay you dollars for a piece of bread?" Where was there bread! I remember seeing this poor soul find a discarded, mostly-eaten apple-core lying in the mud, picking that up, and eating it. Yes ... the hunger...Oi vey, oh hurt..
I had nothing, except a brick that I used as a pillow. Later we were put up in a barn, and a little Shul was fashioned, and people davened, prayed. Those who still had something made a fire outside, and cooked a bit of soup. It was a tough life.
There was one Jew who was a commandant. The first thing that was done was to put Jews in charge of other Jews, to send others to work. One was called Schaffer.
When I woke up one morning my shoes were gone. Elie's brother had been staying at M. H.'s, and told me that my shoes were there. So I went in and banged my hand on the table. His wife was there, P. was her name, and I said "If the shoes aren't returned today, I'm going to the police."
Says he to P., M. says, "P. tell Asiu to leave, because he'll soon be picking his teeth up off the floor."
You hear ... and I know who this M. is, a ferocious fighter. So I left, and went up to this Schaffer's, and told him the story. So he says "Come tomorrow, and I'll have an answer for you."
Along I come the next day, and he says that the commandant told him that for five hundred Lei [Ed. note: Romanian currency] he could have him shot (laughs). Five (laughing) hundred Lei! The bullets cost money too you know (laughing). I said "This won't do; if these fellows could be incarcerated for a few days, O.K., but not that."
Anyway he agreed to jail him. They come to look for him there...all those who had received packages, packages had arrived from Roumania for this one, for that one, for Berel, and for Fuhrman, (laughs) all those who came to pick up packages were jailed, except for M. (laughs). He also received packages but he didn't go!
Well they put their hands on him this time, and put him in jail. It came time for Yom Tov, the High Holidays of Rosh Hashona, New Year, and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and P. comes to me. "Asiu, we were so good at home...and so on."
We used to be very wary of him. He'd come in in the morning and ask, "Where's Moishe, where is Shie (Osias)? Where is Herman?" Like taking a report, where everybody is. He had to know everything this M.H., a terrible gonef, thief. He was well-known.
There was a guy called Shloime who was approached to give him money , just like the "Mafia", you hear! M.H. had built a house, he needed money, and he came to the late Herman, who lent him funds for his locks, as I remember. Did you pay him back? That's how M. paid him back, for these locks.
He went to this Shloime Sherff, saying " Shloime, I need money; I have to finish the house", and so on, just like the Mafia.
Shloime said " Anee Shloime, I am Shloime." This Shloime Sharff had been running liquor clandestinely from one place to another. He had his guys; big healthy guys. They would drive the liquor at night, collect money, and so on. One night he set out, and a few guys jumped out of the ditch, threw him and his boys out of his wagon, and took off with the whiskey, the horse and wagon, everything. This Sherff was a bright guy, so he came to Chidi, Ciudin, and went up to M.H.'s, saying, "M., I want to talk to you. I know who did this deed."
M. said " O.K., we can talk. I told you that time that I needed money."
Sharff says "How much do you need?"
So M.H. asks "How much was your merchandise worth?" And he agreed that twenty percent would be given to him. He went and opened his barn, and there were the horses, the wagon...(laughs). This was M.!
You have to understand that there was a Gendermarie, a Police force, but any big crook would have them bought off.
So back to this Erev Yom Tov, the eve of the holiday when P. came to say how we had been so good, and such and such. So we went to the authorities and they let him go.
Around the time we were to leave Yedenitz; it was Hoshana Raba, I got sick and was lying on the ground with Typhus, bad headaches. I had a shirt that was ripped so badly, it only came up to here. No shoes, nothing. It was raining outside, it had started to get cold, and in comes the Gendarmarie " Yeshiets hafar!" We should go out immediately.
We come out into the rain, and I'm standing there. There were about fifteen hundred people out there, and they put us into one row. The order was: Those who could walk, could go; those who couldn't were to be taken out to be shot. Shooting and shooting. I've already told you about the young Guttman girl who was taken away and shot. That's how it was.
We came to a forest, and I was lying there thinking "I won't live through this night." A mass grave was dug there and the dead were dragged and thrown in. I was lying there, and M. comes over, you hear, and sees me there. He asks "Asiu, what's with you." I was not able to reply, and motioned to him like this...
He says "T."; he had a son named T. "T., go tell Mama to give me such and such a rucksack, you hear. So he ran to get this rucksack...
Out of this rucksack he pulled out some galoshes, and an old coat which he tore up and wrapped my feet. P. had also come, so he sent her to get some other stolen items. She brought me some warm milk...
Slowly, slowly, I revived. He put a coat on me, and wrapped something around my head. He said "Get up." They were rounding up people who were not yet dead, to throw them in too. Had he not shown up, they would have thrown me in too.
One child yelled "Momma used to beg me to eat, eat, and now you won't give me a little piece of bread"...What we lived through...
This was all in 1941. We were about 1500 to 2000 people and that's how they drove us, and drove us along, until we came to a place...it wasn't too far from Bershat. There was a huge kolchos, a collective farm. They let us in there, and I hid in among the sunflowers. I dug myself in, and ate these sunflowers.
The bandits came to search for people who had gold teeth. Those with gold teeth were murdered for their teeth.
When we got to that place we heard that they were searching for people to work. Very good. Every morning those who could would go to work. I was so sick, I could hardly walk.
I remember being on a hill. I had found some beets to eat, and I had to go. While I was defecating on this hillside, I was so weak that I fell down. I had trouble pulling my pants up, and getting back up the hill.
We were lying on some straw, and you could see the lice lifting the straw. The lice were ferocious. Many were infected with Typhus from lice bites.
We were in one place a short time. There was a man named Labale Katz, standing and crying. I see my landsman, my countryman, so I go over to ask him what was wrong. He says "I can't stand to see my friend dying." He was talking about me.
We kept moving to Obedofka, a little village. There was a bridge to cross, as I remember. We would sneak out at night and search through some empty houses. I remember finding something to eat in the home of someone who had been killed.
At one point I got caught near Chervkinofka, near the border, The Germans had already been there. I got caught, and I'm not even sure how I got there. I was dragged to work. There was a huge barrack full of Jews. This was good, to see so many Jews. One says to me "You think you've come to a sweet life?"
He tells me that in this place they break big rocks into little ones. "Now you are with the Germans. This is very bad. Those who can work are given a piece of bread and some soup. Those who cannot are kaput, finished." He showed me the big mass graves, you hear. One day I see them carrying people out of that barrack, many still alive. Lime was thrown onto them, these people who were thrown in.
He says "This is our work, and if we can't, others will come along and do the same with us." This was the first night. I'm telling you, you hear...what I can't tell...what I saw there...from where the smoke comes out, you know...
I went...and took belts... to....This is the first time I'm telling this to my children..., apart from Rabbi....I found a private corner, and took these belts, and prepared everything to tie it around my neck. I fell...
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