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[Page 9]

 


[Page 13]

Introduction

by Chaim Lazar-Litai
Chairman of the Organization of Partisans in Israel

Translated by Selwyn Rose

We live at a time in which the dramatic daily disturbances in the world generally and the noise and upheavals around us, and accompanying our public and social lives, are likely to wipe from our memories even that most terrible of tragedies ever to befall our people – the destruction of the Jews of Europe by the Germans using the most cruel of tortures yet devised by man in all his long history on earth.

The Second World War is over; the last shots fired and the smoke of the greatest battles in history dispersed. Europe in ruins among the debris and rubble is exposed to the eyes of all. The dead and suffering are without number. Germany is humbled and defeated but who will fill the void she has left behind in the Jewish world - who will replace it?

Once upon a time, the Jewish world was in central and eastern Europe, but it is no more; only a few, a very few, isolated ones survived and they are crying for the far larger destruction ever, their hearts are bleeding for parents, children, friends and relations who were exterminated; on towns and villages wiped off the face of the earth and the millions who fell victim to the terrible bloody harvest of the Germans. To those who, by a miracle, survived, nothing is left other than to keep alive in their hearts the memory of the martyrs, to guard, and to relate until the end of time what the murdering German nation did to us; to remember and to learn the lesson; what happened will never return again.

There are days in the history of a people that remain for ever engraved on their memories, these are the days that place their stamp on an era, that mark the uniqueness of the period and impress their signature on the march of history, and perhaps even changes it, a uniqueness that will indicate a new turn of events for the future.

What was the chain of events that preceded the Second World War and caused the world to change in that last generation?

In the internal political confusion, the aged Hindenburg and the Right-wing and Central Catholic parties surrender, and on 30th January 1933, Hitler comes to power - aided by the Communists, who see at that moment strategic parliamentary value in their Social democratic enemy – and is named the German Chancellor. With the help of the organized and disciplined power of S.A. and S.S., the background of economic distress and the German lust for world dominance, Hitler engineers the National socialist revolution – one of the fiercest in Germany history and indeed, that of the whole of Europe. One of the central and important points of the revolution was the most extreme form of anti-Semitism, with the Jews representing less than one percent of the population - and the only thing from all the ideological programs that the revolution executed in spite of its collapse, was the destruction of European Jewry.

Already, at the first steps of the “New Order”, the unbridled hatred of the Jews was clear. On 1st April – two months after taking power – a national boycott was declared on Jewish trade and business and on Jewish academics. The boycott was accompanied by murder attempts and acts of violence that stunned many and was unimaginable but was nothing more than the mere opening acts of the real ideology.

On 5th September, 1935, the racist “Nuremberg Laws” were promulgated returning, in the process, to the middle-ages by placing Germany's 600,000 Jews “out of bounds.” In practice they were worse than the middle ages because at least in those days, the Jews were under the protection of the kings, who “owned” them, while now; they were at the mercy of the Nazi Storm-Troopers who turned them over to the joyous mob to enjoy with abandonment, to satisfy their impulses and give expression to their feelings of hatred that had been sown and nurtured in their minds and hearts for countless generations by the churches and in recent generations had even benefited from the support of a “philosophical” basis and “science” and had at last achieved a legal and sovereign legitimacy.

The Third Reich gains strength. Hitler becomes more and more aggressive from day to day, especially after the weakness of the west is discovered. Pilsudski, the Pole and King Peter of Yugoslavia, decide to invade Germany on their own to prevent German expansion. However, the west, France and Great Britain are against involvement in the “internal affairs” and certainly aren't worried about the Jews. Hitler lays claim to large areas in different parts of Europe and in these areas live large numbers of Jews. One after the other they fall prey to his talons. The Sudetenland, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Memel and Danzig, the Jews of all these places fell automatically into net of the Nuremburg Laws.

And in Poland?

At the end of January 1934 a non-aggression pact was signed between Poland and Nazi Germany. Forgotten was the idea of mobilizing the western world together with Poland, to fight against Germany. For as long as the west was weak, no one in the west paid any attention to Pilsudski's suggestion. Yet Pilsudski saw in Hitler and his party a rising power, capable of returning to Germany its former strength and stemming the spread of Soviet Russia with a greater efficiency than was possible for Poland.

The closeness with Germany grew with the death of Pilsudski in 1935. Not long after that increasing closeness began to find expression in Poland's policies towards her Jews.

The National democrats stated that since the Jews control the villages, there is no shame in a call to the Polish masses, suffering from economic hardship, to break the alien grip and take over the sources of Jewish sustenance. Many Poles, groaning from poverty, were thus “authorized” to take any steps they wished to “knock the props” from under those who controlled such large tracts of the economy and farmland. If there was not sufficient room for the Poles and the Jews together – then the Poles come first. It was nothing more than legal self-defense and justifiable revolt against the control of Jews over many areas of the economy blocked to the “Polish people”.

The Polish state aspired to create a Polish middle-class and first, of course, at the expense of the Jews, fighting for their lives. Foreign countries were closed to them and the result – the same stranglehold in central and Eastern Europe that contributed in no small measure, to the rise of Nazism.

On the 1st September 1939, Germany attacked Poland on land and in the air. Her battalions assailed the borders of Poland and broke through with crushing strike-forces in overwhelming waves. The German military machine, of awesome power, was sent into action by Hitler for the first time since he began to build it, steadily and constantly, without interference or hindrance from any international body. Europe's own eyes were close to the significance of what was happening and only the conquest of Poland, especially the frightening background of the agreement with Communist Russian constituted a turning point. The end came – with tragic lateness – to the restraint of Europe and war broke out.

Already on the first day of battle the Polish army was defeated all along the front. The whole government was in disarray with a terrible confusion. The population – especially the Jews, were smitten with fear and terror in the face of the rapid advance of the Germans.

The roads were full of fleeing people. Hundreds of thousands became overnight homeless and without any form of shelter or sustenance. They became one vast refugee camp seeking shelter from the threat of war, from the bombs and the invasion of the German army, appearing suddenly in unexpected places. Thousands evacuate the cities to seek shelter in the villages and towns of the countryside. Hundreds of thousands on the roads fell victim to the bombs and machine-guns of the low-flying German aircraft, with no possible means of defense. The aircraft try to cut all possible lines of retreat and without a pause lay down a fire on the rail lines, the roads, the bridges and on the people as well, in order to increase the chaos.

On 17th September, the Russians invaded Poland from the east and two days later meet up with the advancing German army at Brest-Litovsk.

On 29th September, Poland was divided up between Russia and Germany. Russia receives the eastern part of Poland (about 88,000 sq. km and more than 13 million people).

The immense stream of refugees was two-way; one was from the areas conquered by Germany, eastwards – to the areas conquered by Russia. Under Russian control, they hoped to find safety for their bodies. The second was towards Lithuania, which at that time was still independent and prosperous and it seemed that the storms of war would bypass them.

After the anxious days at the beginning of the war between Poland and Germany, salvation came to the Jews with the annexation of part of Poland to Russia. But it was an illusion. After a short period, the Soviet authorities began to put into effect stage after stage of their ideologies. First affected were many middle-class Jews and the effects were harsh. Sources of business of most of the Jews were blocked. Next, the Soviets began imprisoning businessmen, traders and factory-owners. The best of the activist leaders were taken, and that was after the activities of the various organizations, the parties, the youth movements which had embraced the strength of the Jewish public - had ceased operating. But so far, no vision of physical annihilation was seen by the main body of Jews.

The 22nd June 1941 arrived and the idyll between Stalin and Hitler ended abruptly. The war between Germany and Russia broke out and with it, the physical destruction of the Jews of Europe. With the spreading wave of raging destruction upon the House of Israel – the first victims to be swept into it - were the Jews of the small towns and villages. The sleepy, dreamy little Jewish village, with its quiet life, founded upon generations of tradition, hard and fast rules which even the passage of time had failed to erode and weaken. Only on very rare occasions, was a village shaken out of its placidness by a sudden storm of controversy lasting perhaps an hour or two. Even that, today, seems to have been for some minor petty reason.

It is not surprising, then, that the Jewish village remained totally exposed and without preparation in the face of the heavy events, the bloody events and the atrocities that bore down upon it in the wink of an eye. Most of the Jews of the villages failed to use the slender opportunity given them by the special, easy circumstances, not given to their brothers in the towns. The closeness with their non-Jewish neighbors, and especially their nearness to the wide-open spaces of the countryside and the thickly forested woods, the abundant nature and the potential for secrecy it gave, presented, under the new conditions, an opportunity to turn them into objects of value and to exploit them to save their souls. Just a very small number of the village Jews – particularly the youth – managed to use these opportunities. And most of the partisan groups were mobilized from these villagers.

Thus it was that there was nothing left for the survivors to do except weep together with all Israel, over the loss of their dear ones, lost in the terrible Holocaust and to erect to their memories a memorial stone.

Jewish Kamien-Koszyrski is a town like all the other towns of exile in east Europe, with all their faults and advantages; its geographical scenery, its spiritual climate and its strange and assorted characters, its youth, who spun and wove their dreams of the redemption of Israel and healing the whole world itself, its vibrant community life with its intensity, its concern for sustenance and the daily cares surrounding the individual, its open Jewish hospitality for all passing strangers, and the generous heart and spirit for all in need. This is the town that folded within its embrace the fate of Jewish settlement in the last generations.

The story of Kamien-Koszyrski, spread over the pages of this book draws a faithful picture of active, aware Jewish community life in all its public aspects during the last fifty years. A community that was Jewish-nationalist, with an advanced culture, with its institutions, its parties and their various factions. It is an aware and effervescent description of the life of the town and its society, its special character and its spiritual-moral values. It is a comprehensive and wide-ranging documentary photograph of experiences, impressions, feelings and memories, of activities and helplessness, of prosperity and of a withering away, of creation and ruin, building and destruction, of hopes and disappointment, security and abandonment, of faith, tradition, spiritual excitement and pure idealism that disappeared from the world when the testing day of trial arrived.

All the various colors of the Jewish public rainbow are represented here, the businessmen and the Gabaiim, the rank and file and the masses, who appear here as the Unknown Soldier, without pretentiousness and without seeking praise.

In the pages of this book no scientific investigation will be found, neither will you find artistic creations and descriptions although the stories are remarkable for their heartfelt simplicity and direct truthfulness. For the storytellers worked directly and experienced with their own eyes the events they describe. They convey facts and events quietly and simply in a restrained fashion, like chroniclers recording faithfully the deeds and events unfolding before their eyes. They convey the facts as they are, without scenery, without make-up, without adding details and colors, the truth in its nakedness, as it was, as it happened.

What is told here is a faithful image - the “Curriculum Vitae” of the Jews of the whole of Poland in its entirety - eastern European Jewry, with its thousands of communities in towns and villages that were lopped off, destroyed, laid waste and exterminated by one comprehensive, unified method and one only – the route to the gas-chambers.

We look upon the frightful parades of the masses of the House of Israel, dragging their feet with the last reserves of their strength, to the pits, their eyes stark, with immense sadness, betraying the terror within: we gaze at hunger, at poverty and at depression, at the high walls of the ghetto and at the electrified barbed wire fences, at the daring escapes and at the wandering in the forests, fields and villages, at locked doors and people, neighbors for generations who turned into preying wild animals: at swollen legs and bodies wrinkled from hunger and cold, at chimneys belching smoke in the extermination camps and at the battles of the partisans taking revenge.

The aim of the story is to uncover the period of the Holocaust that the soul is incapable of understanding. It is the story of those who stood at one time on the brink of an immense chasm, condemned to die and by some miracle survived. On them falls the responsibility and the task of telling what their eyes have seen and their bodies felt: of their complete and total helplessness and on their superb fight to stay alive, on their struggle with G-d and with men, on those who carried within their hearts their Jewishness with pride and faith in Israel's victory and on their prayers for revenge and repayment.

This is the final chapter in the history of a Judaism rooted for countless generations. And when it was finally destroyed, thousands of early Jewish communities were erased from the face of the earth, and the fires of generations extinguished.

It is possible to call memorial books, gravestones that townspeople have erected for their martyred community butchered by a cruel enemy and interred in unmarked, unremembered graves.

But they are more than that…….

They are an attempt to resurrect and revive the last years, the last days, the last moments of the ghetto, the forest, wandering, the victims, the death camps, facing the gas chambers and the firing-pits, facing the muzzles of machine-guns and the mocking of the murderers; to be together with mother and father, family and friends and with all the Jews of the city who are no more………..

That is the yearning buried in the heart, to return to the city, the home, the family and to live anew those far distant days.

Similarly, this book is intended as a last memorial in the chapter of Jewish lives that continued for hundreds of years and was eradicated from the face of the earth.

In this way we perpetuate with love, and with great mercy, the memory of the rich past, of the shining personalities of our fathers, the effervescent lives, the smiles of the children of Kamien-Koszyrski, the joys and sorrows of parents, brothers and sisters and all the people of the city.

This book is a modest addition by the survivors of the town to the history of the Holocaust, written testimony of Jewish suffering and supreme courage and heroism. It is a testimony that cries out to the world not to forget and not to forgive the German murderers.

But there is nowhere in this book any relief for the injured, ripped soul. It is simply another step in the long funeral cortege of the community from the bigger book that was not written and the Kaddish that was not said over the graves.

They are chapters marking our great distress and the magnitude of the evils from the bullying murderers that must be used as a fearful warning to us and our children forever.


[Page 21]

The Jewish Town That No longer Exists

by A. Ramba
Chairman of Newspaper Editors in Tel-Aviv

Translated by Selwyn Rose

A.

Into the fabric of thousands of little towns and cities – Kamien Koszyrski was one of them – and in many metropolises, were woven the lives of millions of Jews. In blocks of big houses, with large court-yards, in houses stooped down and tottering, in small thatch-roofed cabins, that only from the outside appeared poverty-stricken, while the inside glowed and sparkled from the hand of a Jewish housewife – was woven the wonderful fabric of the Polish-Jewish community, that came to such a cruel end.

The Jewish towns and cities were like so many links in one long chain, one next to its neighbor, neighbor to its neighbor in turn – and all of them tied to the big Jewish center that was the capital. A second thread led to all the Jewish settlements, large and small – to the heart, the far-distant but near at hand Homeland – to the Land of Israel. The connection between every town and the Homeland was direct and without intermediaries. There was no family in the town that did not have a representative in the land “where the cedars grow”, son or daughter, brother or sister or just simply a known relative, and a regular, frequent exchange of letters. A letter that arrived in town was not the sole property of the recipient but belonged to the entire Jewish community, all of residents.

With the Homeland – contact by letter and with the capital Warsaw – the Jewish newspaper. The newspaper introduced variety into the grey life of the small town, peaceful and quiet, where each day was identical with the one before. The paper connected the town – even the remotest corner – with the rest of the nation, not just with the Jews of Poland, but with the whole wide Jewish world, with the Land of Israel and all the Jewish groups beyond the seas.

B.

The central Jewish institution in town was the Beit Hamidrash (House of Study). But even in the new period, when the cracks created in the walls of the religion were deep, the grace of the House of Study was not diminished. The clubs of the party organizations couldn't compete with them. The warmth that emanated from the old House of Study during the twilight hours, the warmth of long generations that absorbed the voice of the Torah, that was not stilled day or night – competed with every other hall. From the Mincha (afternoon prayer), until the Maariv (evening prayer), the town's club was the House of Study. Sitting beside long, narrow tables, illuminated by oil lamps and big milk-white candles, sat Jews, reading the Gemarah and sending into the rafters of the Study House, the jumbled-up music of study. Around them swarmed a multitude of conversations. Artisans and businessmen, opposing party-workers and world observers of differing outlooks gave voice, each to his own group, their replies and opinions. But those studying Gemarah paid no heed to the noise around them and took no notice of the throngs of people. They were deeply immersed in distant beautiful worlds, present in a time two thousand years ago among “the disputes of Lod” when Lod was one of the cities of the Kings of Israel.

At twilight most of the elderly men in town go to the House of Study. The house-wives leave their kitchens and go to the shops, because the man of the household goes to the House of Study. He must be there and no woman will impede the right of her husband to be missing from his shop. But in the House of Study no one talks of the problems of the world. Here only Jewish matters are discussed and debated; on the local problems, the political parties and the Histadruiot (organizations) in town, and a cloud of gossip about local people. Here the fathers take out of their pockets the latest letters from their children in the Land of Israel and read them out loud to friends and acquaintances. Here the Land of Israel comes very close to one's heart and the speakers read out the names of cities, kibbutzim, streets and squares in the Land of Israel, as if they themselves were there and knew every corner. The son in the Land of Israel - he is the last resort. He will manage to find a job in his work or profession and bring his parents over so they can rest in their old age and warm up their old thin bones in the hot sun. But before the parents go, the youngsters [will immigrate] - the second son, and the daughter who has just finished school and has no possibility of work. Neither work, nor dowry for her marriage or to build a home; the Land of Israel is the only hope for everything.

C.

After the evening meal comes the turn of the “Party” club-house center or the youth movement. Virtually all of the youngsters spend their evenings in their Party club-house. Singing together, listening to lectures, or reading, absorbing opinions, weaving dreams and visions of the future in the Homeland. There were few cinemas. Theatre – only once a week. All week long there was time to read books, to enrich one's store of knowledge and ideas – and libraries, thank G-d, were not in short supply. The local businessmen took care of that necessity. There were many Intelligentsias in the town; the young scholars had an answer for everything. The only thing they didn't have was experience. It was a great day when one of the members of the Youth-Histadrut movement immigrated to the Land of Israel. Parties were a common event; no one would immigrate without a farewell party. At these parties only a little wine was drunk, but there were speeches without end and a lot of singing of songs of the Homeland, expressing the longing for the land of our fathers. When the young man left the town he was accompanied to the bus or the train by most of the population, singing Hatikva (national anthem) with all their might, crying on his shoulder, shedding tears waving with handkerchiefs until the train disappeared from view before returning home with the heart feeling as if it were in a vice and a lump in the throat.

The non-Jewish rail clerks, as usual, don't like the Jews and barely tolerate the noise and milling around that the Jews make on the platform. They looked on politely. First of all – they were getting rid of the Jews. Secondly – who can divine the human heart? Perhaps even in his heart something of the excitement moved him about the love of Homeland and the emotion of the moment that burst out of the Jews – young and old alike.

D.

Life is hard. Getting food to Israel is as hard as parting the Red Sea. The non-Jews boycott the Jewish shops and in any case there is widespread economic hardship. The youngsters grow with up aimlessly and without finding work. During the last years before the war, the sense of strangulation was felt more and more. Heavy municipal and other taxes were imposed. The atmosphere seems poisoned. Not infrequently a Jew will come home beaten up and his face covered in blood. At night shkotzim (young hoodlums) would smash windows in the houses and the Jews were afraid to go outside and would remain locked in their homes with the shutters well-closed. But just like sheep when the wolf approaches, the Jews would huddle together and the love for Israel would grow stronger. Jewish children were no longer accepted in the state schools and a few businessmen created a Jewish school for the youngsters. In the evening a course for adults to learn Hebrew started.

Every resident of the town is now an eligible candidate for immigration – even the “Bundists” (members of the Socialist anti-Zionist party) and the anti-Zionists. To our sorrow they didn't succeed – many didn't succeed.

In a thousand Jewish cities and towns in Poland, and Kamien Koszyrski among them, a life-line full of hope and safety was woven. And the life-line was snapped. The warm-hearted and wise Jews, the faithful and the dedicated, are no longer………..

Kamien Koszyrski also no longer exists.

Humanity is not able to conceive and describe the portion of agony that fell upon her residents, who were led to a cruel death that left not even their ashes. The Jews of Kamien Koszyrski were among the “pioneers” of the tortures of hell. Before the Nazis had even improved the tools of extermination, before they had built their crematoria and gas-chambers – before they tempted little children and their mothers to undress and enter the “showers” that were nothing more than gas-chambers, the cruel murderers were using the most brutal, barbaric and primitive means on the residents of Kamien Koszyrski, the sadism of wild animals in all its boundlessness ruled in the town. On 27 Av 5702 (August 10, 1942), all the Jews were expelled from their houses and led to the cemetery and murdered, each man under the eyes of his neighbor, father in front of his son and babies in the arms of their mothers. The murderers threw the still twitching bodies, drenched in blood, while the soul still lingered in the body, one on top of the other, piles upon piles and buried them. The anguished cries of the of those who watched, their eyes starting from their heads, as their saw their parents, children, brothers and sisters, butchered and killed, those same terrible cries of pain are still heard from the clumps of ashes that covered them. Before the Valley of Death that the murderers had prepared for them, families clung to each other and were strangled. The screams startled the birds of the forest and the animals in the fields but didn't trouble the murderers and their helpers. On the contrary, they found much pleasure in it. And when they had finished their foul work they washed their defiled hands of the innocent blood of the martyrs and went to the local bars to make merry.

But those cries, cries that certainly reached up to the heavens, did none of them reach as far as the exalted throne?

The devil has not yet created a fitting vengeance for their holy, martyred blood.


[Page 25]

Foreword

Translated by Selwyn Rose

With the conclusion of World War Two, when almost the entire refugee population of our town assembled themselves together and arrived on the shores of Eretz Israel, we founded, in 1951, the Organization of Jews from Kamin Koshirski and the Surroundings. Our aim was to create enterprises dedicated to memorialising and perpetuating eternally the memory of our martyrs, the testimonies of the Jewish community of Kamin Koshirski, including the surrounding villages of Lubieshov, Wielka Glusha and Malaya Glusha, Pnievno and others, of those whose lives were sacrificed, who were exterminated and are no more.

Among the various other enterprises undertaken, it was also decided to publish a Yizkor Book which would include articles relating to the cultural and social history of our town, informing the younger generations coming after us – our spiritual inheritors – a little of the memories and history of their parents and the previous generations. It would relate the story of their lives; what befell them; about their work and achievements; their cultural activities for the benefit of their communities and their social lives in general.

For various reasons, the execution of the decision was delayed until the committee members, in spite of the difficulties, began to accumulate the material from the dispersed remnants of our town – some in Israel some in various parts of the world - material that encompassed all the areas of creative activities from the bygone years; the Chmelnietzki Gang Riots of 1648/9; the evil that came after them perpetrated by the Russian Cossacks and the Ukrainian farmers; Balachovich's marauding army and the agony and suffering of all the years, the raging fires that occasionally broke out and in later years the desolation and extermination at the hands of the German murderers.

During the years between the two world wars an effervescent social life reigned in our town. It expanded and developed. Torah and erudition were its kingpins, orthodoxy and temporal and especially – practical work instilling Zionism in the youngsters who had been educated since birth in the Hebrew language at a Hebrew school, in order to prepare them for life in the Land of Israel.

Our town acted as the cultural and social center of our entire area and was noted for its dedicated work for Zionism until 1939, the appearance of the Red Army and the subsequent devastation and destruction by the Germans.

Jewish life in the Ghetto, the organised, wholesale murder of Jews, the suffering and agony of those who succeeded in escaping to the forests and other places – all preceded the final, total annihilation.

This memorial book is a collective creation. It is written by people who are not professional writers but have tried to write all that happened to them; trying to describe the events of which they were a part, as they felt and experienced them, understood them and saw them. Clearly, in a book written by so many people, describing their experiences over decades, there is the likelihood of repetitions and inconsistencies. In truth, they are not really inconsistencies but merely the differing points of view as experienced by the individual, given the level of information he had to hand, and so they should not be seen as deviations in the details of the events. We hope we have achieved our aim of presenting our modest contribution to the history of the period of destruction.

Our gratitude and appreciation is given to all those from our town now living in Israel, America and Argentina, who helped us with both moral and material support and those who also supported us financially in the work.

The Editorial Committee
The Organization of Kamin-Koshirski Jewry


Notes:
 
Shtetl Alternate names Coordinates
Kamien Kashirskiy Kamen'-Kashirsk, Kamień Koszyrski, Kamen'-Koshirskiy, Kamen' Koshirski, Kamen-Koschyrski, Kamin Koshirski 5138' 2458'
Lyubeshov Lyubeshov, Lubashov, Lubieszów, Lyubeshiv, Lyubeshuv, Lyubeshev, Lyubashevo, Ljubesiv, Lubieshov 5146' 2531'
Pnëvno Pnyovno, Pnyonuo, Pniewno, Pnievno 5140' 2516'
Malaya Glusha Mala Khlusha, Mala Glusha, Lishke, Glusha-Zuta 5148' 2459'
Velikaya Glusha Vel'ka Glusha, Wielka Hłusza, Vel'ka Khlusha, Marjampol, Bol'shaya Glusha, Lishe, Glusha Rabta 5149' 2503'


[Page 27]

The Activities in Israel of the Jewish Survivors
of Kamin-Koshirski and its Surroundings

Fishel Leizeruk

Translated by Selwyn Rose

While still on the damned and blood-soaked soil of Germany, in the camps of Laupheim and Ulm, the surviving Jews of Kamin-Koshirski began to think of organizing themselves and making contact with other Jewish survivors from the same vicinity. Even then, in 1947 and 1948, there had been memorial services in Germany for the victims of the torture and extermination inflicted on our residents and those of the surrounding area, whose fate had been so tragic and terrible.

Later the refugee remnants left Germany and most of them emigrated to Eretz Israel.

Once in Eretz Israel and at the initiative of Yaakov Plot and Fishel Leizeruk, a wider general meeting was convened which included the following:-

Yaakov Goldshtein, Baruch Melamed, Eliezer Shapira, Pinchas Oremland, Benjamin Barg, Yaakov Ziniuk, Yona Wasserman, Sonia Burak and Menashe Perchik.

The meeting, on 25th July 1951, addressed the question of perpetuating the memory of our martyrs and the Jewish community. It was decided to convene a memorial meeting and that took place on 18th August 1951, (27th Av). On that day, during the war, the Germans and the murderous Ukrainians had together perpetrated the great slaughter of the Jews of Kamin-Koshirski and the surrounding area.

The memorial meeting, which took place in the Hachalutzot House, Tel Aviv, made a deep impression. About a hundred and fifty Jews – ex-residents of Kamin-Koshirski and the surroundings filled the room. Both new immigrants and veterans arrived. Everyone felt the sadness of the loss of near ones and dear ones, the pain of the slaughter and the destruction of our community.

Yaakov Plot took the chair and the speakers were Baruch Melamed, Eliezer Shapira and Pinchas Oremland. A Cantor recited the “El Maleh Rachamim” prayer.

That memorial meeting laid the foundation of our proposed organization of our town and its surroundings. A committee of seven members was chosen and from within it an operations committee which included the following:-

Yaakov Plot – chairman, Shmuel Aba-Klurman – secretary, Fishel Leizeruk – treasurer, Baruch Melamed, Eliezer Shapira, Bracha Ben-Yehonatan and Ze'ev Prozanski – members.

In the beginning we gave the title – “Association in Israel of Jews from Kamin-Koshirski and the Surroundings” and in Yiddish – “Landsmannschaft von Kamin-Koshirski und umgegand im Israël.”

The Yiddish name remained as it was but the Hebrew name was changed from “Association” to “Organization.”

Then the work began – hard work that was difficult to execute: endless tramping about, endless writing of letters, organizing meetings, communicating with endless organizations like “Yad Vashem”, The World Jewish Congress, The Jewish National Fund and others.

We had to activate, and then remain in contact with other survivors from Kamin-Koshirski and activists in the United States of America, Canada, and Argentina. We were driven by the ambition to tie all the dispersed survivors of our town who were living overseas in remote places and convert them into one family.

We set ourselves three major missions:-

  1. To plant a forest of thousands of trees in the Yehuda Mountains in the Martyrs' Forest and to erect a marble memorial stone to perpetuate the memory of those who were lost.
  2. To establish a charitable fund. This would loan money in as delicate a fashion as possible, without interest to all the needy survivors of Kamin-Koshirski, for constructive purposes.
  3. The publication of a Yizkor book. A book that would encompass the history of our town, its growth, its flourishing and the spread of the Jewish population throughout Kamin-Koshirski, and afterwards – its tragic destruction. A book for us and for our children, a memorial book for Jewish history.

The first mission we accomplished immediately. We decided to reply favorably to a request from the Jewish National Fund. We planted 1000 trees and a further 125 donated by the member Kasher from America - a total of 1125 trees.

The marble memorial stone was also realized. All the members cooperated by doing whatever they were asked. The operative task was taken upon themselves by Avraham Biber and Yukel Shuster. All the survivors of Kamin Koshirski and the surroundings meet together around the memorial on 27th Nisan where a big mourning ceremony, organized by Yad Vashem and the Keren Kayemet, takes place. Everyone unites with the souls of the martyrs.

The creation of the fund for charity also goes ahead quite quickly. Abish Klurman came to visit us from the United States. Yaakov Plot and Fishel Leizeruk proposed to him that he create the fund and this honored member of our community immediately donated a significant sum of money. Accordingly the Fund was named: “The Charitable Fund of Survivors in Israel from Kamin Koshirski and the Surroundings, Founded by Abish Klurman in Memory of His Wife Chaia and his children Sarah, Lemel and Bracha.” In this way Abish Klurman set up a valuable and effective monument, and thus the loan fund began its work.

Today, the committee includes:-

Yaakov Plot – chairman, Eliezer Klurman – secretary, Fishel Leizeruk – treasurer, Itzchak Oremland, Eliezer Shapira, Shoshana Perchik, Yosef Ganani, Bat-Sheva Rabiner – members. Avraham Biber and Dov Amit (Drug) – form an overseeing committee.

The principal from the Charitable Fund continues to grow and grants loans to the needy among the survivors of Kamin-Koshirski.

The third very important enterprise, which we constantly thought about, is the Memorial Book. Here, we met with many difficulties. Not everyone was available, had the time, patience and ability or talent to undertake the task. Again, the weight of the work fell on a few people only. These few simply nagged constantly at the others and gave them no rest. They remained in constant contact with Yad Vashem and other organizations in order to obtain the necessary help in erecting a monument in Kamin Koshirski to the Jewish community.

In 1957 at the time of the memorial meeting, we announced the idea of the Memorial Book and requested help from everyone to write whatever they knew and could remember and send us photographs. We also decided to approach A.S. Shtein, writer and member of the editorial board of “Davar,” to edit the book. This, Mr. Stein agreed to do and we immediately began to accumulate material. We approached all surviving ex-residents of Kamin Koshirski in Israel and around the world and asked that they write whatever they could recall and send any relevant material to us.

In the meantime, in 1960, A.S. Shtein passed away in the middle of editing the book and it was difficult to find someone willing to continue with the work. Nevertheless, the material continued to arrive with the stories of experiences, tragedies, and organizations that occurred and existed in our town.

People from our town now living in Israel – about 180 families, helped - and help – with literary and financial aid. Those who now live in the United States also send money and written material for the project.

The people who now mostly help with forwarding the project are:- Yaakov Plot, Abish Klurman, Baruch Melamed and Fishel Leizeruk.

The editors are:- Yosef Krost and A. M. Orzshitser. The first for the Hebrew section and the second the Yiddish section; (both are writers).

One hundred and eighty families, survivors of Kamin Koshirski and the surrounding area, living in Israel, work as artisans, in commerce, as clerks and other occupations; they are good citizens of the state.

We should also state that in the War of Liberation for the Jewish State, three of our townspeople fell on the field of battle:-

Baruch Shapira, Lema Klurman and Shmuel Wolinietz.

On the 27th of Av, the day on which nearly all the Jewish residents of Kamin Koshirski and the surrounding area were exterminated, since 1951, and every year since then, all the survivors gather together in Tel-Aviv for a memorial service.

Finally, the first steps of all immigrants to Israel from Kamin Koshirski lead him to our organization where he knows he will receive information and assistance.

Fishel Leizeruk

Note:
Davar - the name of the daily newspaper of MAPAI (Mifleget Poalei Eretz Israel), the labor led dominant party at that time.


[Page 31]

Events and Dates to Remember

According to the sequence of events in the years 1939-44

Translated by Benjamin Goren and Nancy Biederman

1 September 1939 Outbreak of World War 2
14 September 1939 Bombing of the town by the Germans.
17 September 1939 - June 1941 The Soviet Government decrees the Liberation of Ukraine and Belarus and the Entrance of the Red Army into the town.
The Soviets (Communists) control the town.
22 June 1941 Outbreak of Russia-Germany War.
Bombardment of the town by the Germans.
23 June 1941 Recruitment to the Red Army.
25 June 1941 Withdrawal of Soviet authority.
27 June 1941 Seizure of control by Ukrainian gangs (Zelenovtzim).
28-30 June 1941 Rioting by Ukrainian gangs and local farmers running wildly in the town.
(Robbery, Pillaging, Rape, Murder)
July 1941 Entrance of the German Army to the town and handover of control to the Ukrainians.
9 of Av 5701 - (August 2, 1941) Murder of 8 Jews by a Punishment German Unit which passed the town.
R”CH Elul TSH”A 5701 - (August 23, 1941) Murder 70 - 80 Jews by a Punishment German Unit invited by the local authority.
Sukkot 5701 (October 6, 1941) Establishment of German control in the town.
Purim 5702 (March 3, 1942) Murder of 25 Jews in Mala Glusha (men, women and children) and their burial in a mass grave - some of them were still alive.
1 June 1942 Establishment of the Ghetto and the transfer of all Jews in the area into it.
10 August 1942 27 Av 5702 Expulsion of the Jews from the Ghetto to a central place near the cemetery.
Murder of about 2500 Jews in the Jewish cemetery. (“The Big Slaughter”)
12 August 1942 Returning the “remnant” to a reduced Ghetto.
2 November 1942 Final Liquidation of the Ghetto.
March 1944 Liberation of the town, now emptied of her Jewish residents, by the Red Army.

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