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FOREWORD

Finally, after years of exhaustive and intensive work, we present the DrohitchinYizkor Book to our esteemed friends and readers. This book should serve as a memorial to the holy community of Drohitchin. Our parents are no more! Our brothers and sisters are no more! Drohitchin - where the elderly lived in peace and quiet, and where children laughed and played in the streets - is no more. The sweet voices of the children will never be heard again, and our joy will be consumed by fury and suffering.

        Drohitchin, our dear hometown, the place where our cradles stood, the place where our mothers used to lull us to sleep with melodies of Jewish hopes and fears. Drohitchin – the beloved hometown of our youth, where we soaked in the Jewish oy! and krechts [groan] – is silent. Together with millions of Jewish martyrs who were put to death by the German murderers, approximately five thousand Drohitchin Jews were killed to sanctify the name of G-d. May G-d avenge their deaths!

        Those of us who were witnesses to the enormous catastrophe have no strength to measure and make sense of the great disaster and the enormity of the tragedy. This is because we were too close to the misfortune that befell us. We became accustomed to the cries of the Jewish children in the gas chambers and their laments in the crematoria. Perhaps the following generations will have the strength to get a feeling of the gruesome tragedy that overtook our generation.

        However, to remain silent and not tell our children and the world what the Germans did to us, and refrain from immortalizing the holy memory of our loved ones from Drohitchin would be a crime against G-d and the martyrs! In just a few decades, the memory of Drohitchin would have totally been forgotten.

        This, then, is the goal of the Drohitchin Book: to describe for future generations the joys and sorrows of approximately five hundred years of the Jewish community in Drohitchin, and to provide a gravestone in words and pictures for our shtetl and its martyrs.

        There can be no better and enduring monument than this Yizkor Book. It is a gravestone of holy letters that can never be erased. Gravestones of wood and stones are not immortal. Wood rots and burns; stones can be dug up and broken off. A gravestone of letters, however, lives forever. Many stone and wooden monuments remain, but what about the butchery that Jews have endured in just the last couple of hundred years? If we do something about material conditions, this is due to the monuments of the written word. It suffices, for example, to mention the book by Rabbi Notta Hanover (who died on July 14, 1683), Yavan Metsulah [Deep Mire], which is an immortal historical document and a monument for approximately a half million Jews who fell victim to Bogdan Chmielnitski's Cossacks in 1648-49.

        Furthermore, a stone or wooden monument cannot move; it is mute and lifeless. It cannot speak, it says nothing. It is merely an ornament for a few people who live around it. However, a monument of a Yizkor Book gets distributed all over the world, and says to every individual, "Look at me, read me, look and remember!"

When the Romans wrapped him in a Torah scroll and burned him in an auto-de-fé the great sage of the Talmud, Rabbi Chaninah ben Tardion, said:

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"The parchment burns, but the letters rise heavenward." (Tractate Avoda Zarah, 18). The German murderers killed and burned the holy martyrs in order to hide all traces of their butchery! Those martyrs didn't even get a grave, but our "Scroll of Fire," written in letters of fire will soar across the whole world; from the ash, from the extinguished sparks, shall arise esh [the Hebrew word for 'fire']. The burned bodies of the martyrs will turn into fiery, glowing and flying images, and strike the minds of their murderers with the pointers the rabbis taught the alphabet to the children in the cheders [religious elementary schools].

        Even if hundreds of years from now there only exists only a single copy of the Drohitchin Book in some far away museum, archive or library, the exterminated Jewish community of Drohitchin will live forever in history!

        We realize that there is repetition of information in the Yizkor Book; we intentionally left it in because we specifically wanted to immortalize the various versions that were provided by several individuals in their descriptions of the Holocaust, and who survived the slaughter and hell of the Germans. This is because each version makes a unique contribution. We believe that every single letter, groan and cry that is put to paper at the feverish moment of suffering and rage is history itself! It reflects the very survival of the moment described! The truth is that none of the contributors could have expressed their survival in as such a strong way as the way we have expressed it in this book. Therefore, we have immortalized every written description and document that is even remotely related to Drohitchin.

        We also realize that not everything that could, or should, be written about Drohitchin has been described in this book, and the opposite is also true. However, even the small amount described in this book arrived with great difficulty. The most difficult job was the revising, assembling and editing of the material, which was in extremely raw condition. In addition, most of the articles had to be revised both in style and form, and recreated them, giving them life and spirit. Afterwards, we had to correct and classify the material, break up and lay out the pages, and read the corrected versions (dozens of times). This was all done and written by one person. It's no wonder that it has taken so long to publish this book.

        We should mention Zalman Shevinsky, the originator of the book, and Gedaliah Kaplan, who assembled part of the original unedited material and photos. We extend a heartfelt congratulations to the administrative committee and everyone else who participated in getting the Yizkor Book published. We did the work; now the Drohitchin Book belongs to our esteemed readers and friends. It's now up to critics and historians to judge it.

15 Shvat 5714
Rabbi Dov B. Warshavsky
[January 19, 1954 – Tu Bishvat]
With G-d's Help. Printed on 15 Shvat 5718
[February 5, 1958 – Tu Bishvat]

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Surface Map of Drohitchin and Environs

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