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of Bilina, Sheindel, Shepsel Zaretsky and his wife and child; Shalom, Avraham the merchant's grandchild, and a few other survivors.
[photo:] Feivish Feldman and Motya Yachnes Akushevitz (above). Both perished. May G-d avenge their blood!
I will never forget the day when the murderers destroyed our city of Drohitchin. The last drops of blood that I possessed congealed. At night my savior told me with tears in his eyes that Drohitchin and its Jews no longer existed. He then asked me, Chava, why has your people gone through such tragic destruction? Unfortunately, the Jews with their bare hands were no match for the weapons of the murderers.
I lived through the day when the murderers left our dead town, and after three years of suffering I recognized the light that had blinded my eyes. I was half blind the whole time, until I finally could see the illuminated world that had been dark for so long. However, my eyes went dark again when I discerned an entire community buried behind the priest's orchard. The fact that I survived made my heart turn to iron.
I left for Dobagenyev. My heart pained me when I saw the Polish peasants dealing in Jewish property. Young gentile women were re-stitching our mothers' clothes. Peasant houses were decorated with silver cups that our fathers had used to recite the Sabbath and festival kiddush. They used Sabbath candlesticks on their gentile holidays, and I couldn't watch the Polish storekeepers wrapping herring and pork in the holy pages of our volumes of the Talmud.
In 1950, after a long period of wandering and suffering, I arrived in Chicago, where I live now. The words of Dr. Schechter come to mind very often: What will be if you survive all alone? What kind of life will you have if you survive and all your loved ones are dead? I feel now that it wasn't as valuable an experience to go through the suffering in the grave as what I went through and survived.
[photo:] Rivers of water will flow from my eyes for the destruction of my People. My eyes will overflow and know no respite. May G-d avenge them according to their actions and chase them down in anger and destroy them from under the heavens of G-d. Lamentations 3.
By Rachel Kravetz (New York)
[Photo:] Rachel Kravetz-Feldman and her husband Yosef
I was an eyewitness to the destruction of Drohitchin, and was refined through fire and blood. I saw and heard everything that took place in the ghetto of death, and want to set the record straight as it relates to a few facts that don't correspond with reality. I have heard that people complain and accuse a few Jews of mistreating the Jewish community in Drohitchin. I categorically reject these accusations. Not everything is correct.
The Judenrat was established in my father's house (my father was Itsko Kravetz). I know that all those at the meeting forced the leadership of the Judenrat on one of our neighbors, who then wept and begged them to leave him alone and select someone else. Finally he had no choice but to submit to community leaders and take the position. He was innocent! No one in his position would have done any better.
For example, when the German murderers issued a decree that every Jew give up his silverware, my mother called the elected Jewish leader to her house, opened to drawer and told him to take as much as he needed. Others cursed and accused him of taking it for himself. Later on, when the Germans demanded gold, my mother tore out her gold teeth and gave them to him. He was, however, our community representative, and he had to carry out the orders of the Germans so that they wouldn't shoot a large number of Jews.
Take the example of the tragic case of the three Jewish young men the Tennenbaum brothers and Zavelovsky who escaped from the labor camp in Kobrin. The German savages demanded that the Judenrat hand these unfortunate Jews in the middle of the market. The Judenrat held a lottery to determine who should carry out the execution. The bitter outcome fell on a couple of men who complained and wept, but had to do it, otherwise either another Jew would have to do it or else there would have been even more than three victims to die. The Judenrat head died together with all martyrs in a sacred death.
Through a crack in the roof of our house, my father, who lived for a short time after the destruction of the ghetto, saw Germans murderers take the Judenrat head together with Yisrael Zelik's wife Feigel to be killed.
Let my soul die with the Philistines
(Reported by the sisters Sarah and Rachel Kravetz, the daughters of Itsko the belt maker)
The peasants from the village of Zaritchka and many other villages turned over many Jews in hiding to the German murderers. The peasants received a reward of 500 marks for every Jew captured. The Jews in hiding were tortured to death, and the German beasts threw their bodies into a special pit at the Brona estate. This is how they turned over the Kravetz sisters.
The surviving Kravetz sisters reported that for a short time after the second massacre, when Drohitchin was already Judenrein [clean of Jews], our entire family was hiding in the attic in the house of our neighbor Moshe Levack. However, seeing that the situation was deteriorating, and the murderers could to discover our hiding place at any time, we decided break through the German cordon and flee into the forest.
On a dark November night and with a small child by the hand, we left our hiding place and headed in the direction of the forest. We crawled on all fours and succeeded in getting to Brona Forest, where we hid inside old trees. Later we encountered other Jews from Drohitchin in the forest. They had succeeded in escaping from the last massacre. We build earth houses in the ground, and with great fear of the murderers we stayed in the dark for days and night and were tormented by hunger and cold.
At night we would go out to look for food in the nearby hamlets. Luckily we once
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