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[Pages 323-324]

Let's Go to Russia…

By Leib Slovo

Translated by Judy Grossman

I was born [to David and Rochl-Leah] in Brodes, a yishuv [small settlement] ten kilometers from Dusiat. We moved from Brodes to Dusiat after my mother Rochl-Leah passed away.

I recall that I was riding with my mother in a wagon on the day after Yom Kippur; we were crossing the forest when my mother suddenly complained of pain and started to shiver. I was astounded that my mother was complaining, as she was such a strong woman! I covered her with my fur rug, and we drove home. I was forced to go on to Kovno [Kaunas] and on the way back a Gentile informed me that my mother was dying. I hurried home, and from afar could make out my sister Goldale, standing on the porch with a sad face. I hurried to my mother's bedside, bent over her, kissed her and can still hear her whispering: “Don't get married before your sisters…” and fall silent. Many Gentiles also attended her funeral.

After the war I went to the cemetery and found my mother's gravestone in its proper place. Cattle were wandering among the gravestones …

When the WWII broke out I was in Kalvarija. I was in a hurry to get to Dusiat, but on the way I met a Gentile who warned me not to dare go on. I only managed to get as far as Zarasai, and from there I went on to Dvinsk [Daugavpils].

We made the journey on foot and by vehicles. On the way I met Baruch Krut's brother, Chaim-Eliyahu from Salok [Salakas] and asked him where he was going. He replied that he was returning to Salok, to his wife and children. I told him: “You have nothing to return for. Let's go to Russia together.” At first he was persuaded and began walking with me, but he immediately decided to go back.

After many vicissitudes I reached a kolkhoz [Soviet collective farm], and I was the only Jew there. We worked at digging and extended the riverbed, truly backbreaking labor, but we had food and drink in abundance.

Then I volunteered for the Lithuanian Division. Among other places, I was in Balahna and in Gorki, and in July 1943 I was on the front line in the village of Nikolskoje, [in the Oryol Oblast] where I was wounded by the German bombing. On the way to the hospital I encountered Shmuelke Levitt, who was also in the Division, and we were, of course, happy to see each other. My arm was bandaged and hanging, and I felt helpless, and I remember asking Shmuelke to help me button my clothes.

After my discharge from the army I worked in Tashkent, in the trade school boarding section, in House #5. I was the chief inspector of housekeeping.

Chana and I were married in 1945.

Chana Slovo (Chaimowitz): On the eve of the outbreak of war I had just finished my studies at the gymnasia in Kovno. The next day I escaped, and after many trials and tribulations I reached Alma Ata, where there were many refugees.

I came to Tashkent in 1945 and there I became acquainted with Leibele. At the end of that year we moved to Kovno, and our son Chaim was born in 1946.

After that we moved to Vilna [Vilnius] where we would meet with people from Dusiat, and we used to go together to the mass graves every year.

I have the picture of the unveiling ceremony of the memorial monument for the victims of Dusiat and its environs.

Elka Klug (Simanowitz): On our way to the mass graves we used to pass through Dusiat and go to the old cemetery there. I was in the shtetl in 1947 beside the church, near the area of the davatkes[1] , when two nuns came towards me. I remembered the name of one of them, Kazlauskieta; she had been the good friend of my aunt Mushka Musel. They accompanied us to the cemetery. I particularly remember that we couldn't locate the grave of my cousin David Bun, the son of my aunt Devora.

Chana Slovo (Chaimowitz): I was in Dusiat and in its environs after the war. When I arrived there with Leibele, the marvelous scenery thrilled me: small lakes, forests and hills. There are no words to describe the beauty of the place. You stand in silence and think to yourself: is this real or imaginary?

We entered the shtetl and I found that several Jewish houses were still standing there, beautiful houses with the special shutters, with the balconies and stairs, and Gentiles living in them. There wasn't a single Jewish word.

We wanted to make aliya to Israel, and our fight took eleven years, from 1955 to 1966. I was drawn to Israel by Zionism, which I had imbibed in the youth movement as a young girl. My brother, David Chaimov, had already made aliya in 1930, after attending the hachshara in Memel [Klaipeda], and I always aspired to make aliya like him.

We made aliya in 1966, and commemorated our first steps on the main street beside our house in Kiryat Chaim in a photograph, in which you can see Leibele, our son Chaim and me.

“First steps in Israel, in Kiryat Chaim…”
Chana and Leib Slovo with their son Chaim 18.8.1966

 

The sisters Slovka and Goldale Slovo
Their sister Freidke was married to Israel Yossman
son of Nachum-Aba from Dusiat

 

Velvel-Ortchik Slovo (Leib's brother) in uniform
He immigrated to South Africa long before the war

 

Sara Volfona-Slovo (left) and Teibe Sodikson (nee Flaxman),
both from Obeliai. Vilnius, July 1991

 

Yossmans' Houses on the Road to the Ozere [lake]…
On the corner: Getzl Binder's Shop
(Courtesy Sara Weiss-Slep, Dusiat, 1991)

Footnote

  1. Christian women who practiced as nuns but did not live in a convent and did not wear nuns' habits. Return

 

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