Since she didn't want to open the door, the militiamen had to break it open. They found the entire room filled to the ceiling with wheat. In those days, when it was hard to get hold of a pood of grain for any money, here was a virtual silo full of priceless grain.
The committee confiscated 22 bags of wheat, which were valued at 1,250 rubles, and which covered the 1,000-ruble tax, plus 150 ruble fine because Rosenstein broke his own window, and 100 additional rubles for creating a public disturbance. The committee sold the wheat to Jews in town to bake Passover matzahs.
The case of Hershel Papinsky was also something worth mentioning. When Hershel started building his house, he mistakenly built on a few meters of property belonging to the widow Zippa Buder. The Buders brought over the rabbi, who, of course, ruled in favor of the Buder family. However, Hershel's workers didn't want to stop working, and the rabbi called for the Jewish militia, who stopped the work. Since he had no choice, Hershel had to pay for the small amount of property he had taken.
One night the rabbi called for me; when I arrived at the rabbi's house, I met Berl Zbar, who told me that a gang of Balokhovitch's men broke into Shmuel Yudel Piasetsky's house (Zbar also lived there) and demanded they provide women, sugar, etc. so they wouldn't carry out a pogrom in town.
In the meantime, I organized a self-defense group, who were secretly waiting near the church for those demons. As soon as the gang rode by horse to the church, the Jewish boys surrounded them and pulled their weapons. The Balokhovitch gang were held prisoner a whole night in the church, and the next day they were sent off to Pinsk after undergoing a lashing. Shortly thereafter, when the Germans left Drohitchin, the peasants who had fled to Russia started returning from the surrounding villages. The return of the peasants created a problem for the Jews in town.
As is known. the Germans took over the abandoned houses of the peasants, cut down the wood for use on the muddy roads. Many Jews in town took advantage of that situation. Before the Germans could demolish the houses, the Jews took over the houses and moved them to their own locations where their burnt down homes had stood.
The returning peasants demanded back their houses. The Lasintz landowner, an anti-semite, called a meeting of the peasants and incited them to make a pogrom in Drohitchin. The situation in town worsened by the day, and people were terrified of what was in store for them.
At a special meeting of all Jews in town, it was decided that all Jews, against whom the peasants had claims, should offer the peasants payment for their houses; as far as possible the Jews were to avoid entering into a conflict with the angry peasants. People should be prepared to allow peasants to purchase goods in Jewish stores without payment, and if a pogrom were to break out, the self-defense unit would intervene with its own force; however, this did not take place.
A minor incident did take place in Yossel Shinder's store. A few peasants seized salt, spices, and other items, and didn't want to pay. Yossel's wife, Chaya Leah, ran out into the street shouting. At the same time, David Eisenstein, Chaim Lev, Yudel Trashinsky and others from the self-defense unit appeared at the scene. The gentiles, seeing the guns over the boys' shoulders, immediately paid for the merchandise and quickly left.
As mentioned, everyone who was involved in the situation paid the peasants for the houses and barns, and the peasants calmed down.
In general, the Jewish self-defense unit was extremely responsible in their work. Soon the term, "self-defense" aroused fear among the local gentiles and adventurers, who didn't dare attempt any adventures into Drohitchin. This should be remembered for generations to come.
NOTE. On a certain day a person named Vadka appeared in town wearing a Ukrainian uniform, and presented himself as a representative of the Ukrainian government. However, no one believed him. On one occasion, Vadka got drunk, wandered around town shooting off his gun at the ground he would walk a few meters and then take a shot. As he walked by the house of David Eisenstein, Vadka became frightened of the boys, headed by David Eisenstein. They struck him on the head and removed the revolver from his hand, and gave him a few good punches. Then they let him run away frightened and defeated. We never saw Vadka in Drohitchin again.
Shmuel Fishman (Israel)
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Updated 10 Dec 2001 by LA