« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »

[Page XLIX English]

The Holocaust

 

The Road to Suffering

by Malka Pomerchik

The Russians entered Korelitz, at the outbreak of the German-Polish fighting, and began operating in Soviet style. First they “nationalized” the large buildings, then closed down the stores and set up one large shopping center. Immediately a shortage of commodities occurred, and long lines queued up for supplies. Everyone was put to work in cooperatives. I became a teacher in a Russian school, teaching German and working with the Fourth Grade. My prominent position in the town placed me in danger, and I left at the first opportunity for Russia, along with my husband, sister and brother-in-law, and one brother.

On the way, we became separated but managed to reunite and reach Tashkent, where we spent the war years. Returning to Korelitz we found there but a handful of Jews - too tired to move away. We went on to Austria, hoping to proceed to Eretz-Israel with Aliya Bet, but our child was too young. We had to wait until after the War of Liberation. Eventually we settled in Kfar Saba.

 

Coordinator's note: The Yiddish text (Pages 208-9) is similar to the English text, but includes additional information as follows:

(Translated by Harvey Spitzer)

Among the Jews who survived and remained in Korelitz were Sadieh the leather worker, Motel with his son, Zelda with her husband and Michael – just 8 Jews. They didn't want to move away and I couldn't convince them to leave. I went to Toretz to stay with my uncles, who remained alive and fought with the partisans. We stayed there until I gave birth. Two weeks later we left for Poland in order to continue on our way to the Land of Israel. I succeeded in convincing my uncles to go along with us.

We arrived in the country on May 31, 1949. En route, we stopped in Austria, thinking that we could go to Israel sooner illegally. However, because my child was so young, we were unable to travel to Israel illegally. We had to wait until the War of Independence was over. Then the borders were open and we came to Israel and settled in Kfar Saba.


The road of suffering

by Malka Pomerchik

The Russians entered Korelitz, at the outbreak of the German-Polish fighting, and began operating in Soviet style. First they “nationalized” the large buildings, then closed down the stores and set up one large shopping center. Immediately a shortage of commodities occurred, and long lines queued up for supplies. Everyone was put to work in cooperatives. I became a teacher in a Russian school, teaching German and working with the Fourth Grade. My prominent position in the town placed me in danger, and I left at the first opportunity for Russia, along with my husband, sister and brother-in-law, and one brother.

On the way, we became separated but managed to reunite and reach Tashkent, where we spent the war years. Returning to Korelitz we found there but a handful of Jews - too tired to move away. We went on to Austria, hoping to proceed to Eretz-Israel with Aliya Bet, but our child was too young. We had to wait until after the War of Liberation. Eventually we settled in Kfar Saba.


On the Way to Destruction

by Ben Ir (A townsman)

The reputation of the Nazi preceded their arrival in Korelitz. It was reported that they were destroying bridges and mining the roads leading to Russia.

The Nazis entered Korelitz at the end of June 1941. At first the town was in chaos. From the surrounding areas, peasants came with sacks and empty wagons, and they left with pillaged Jewish goods.

The Germans set up headquarters in Yosef Bernstein's house and ordered the Jews to form a Council, which they forced Rabbi Viernik to organize. He formed it with Shimon Zelaviansky, Moshke Kivelevitch and Baruch Shimshelevitz. The first order issued to the Council by the Germans was to collect all Jewish valuables. Whenever they came to get the valuables, they subjected Rabbi Viernik to a beating.

The next step was the ghetto - Lifshitz's two-storey house; all the remaining Jews in Korelitz were herded into these quarters, under unspeakable conditions. The men were ordered to report to work; if any didn't show up, said the Nazis, the others would be shot. A list of all the able-bodied Jews was prepared for the Nazis by the Poles in Korelitz. These Jews - 105 in number - were taken to the synagogue before their departure for Novohorodek (where they were later killed). Those of their families who wanted to say goodbye to them were shot.

Transport by transport, the Jews were taken from the ghetto and shipped out to their death. By the end of 1942 Korelitz was Judenrein [free of Jews].

The indescribable barbarism and brutality of the Germans was matched by the vicious greed of the local populace. No sooner was a Jewish family taken away from its home by the Nazis - and already the non-Jews were there with their wagons, to take away whatever could be detached.

The few Jews from Korelitz who succeeded in escaping from the ghetto made their way to the Dworetz camp, near the forest. Here conditions were better: the Nazis needed lumber, and they made use of Jewish slave labor to get it.

Singly and in small groups, Jews from the area filtered into the forests to join the partisans. The struggle was conducted on two fronts: against the Germans and against the peasants who informed the Germans where the partisans had their camps. It was only when the partisans wiped out a family of informers that they were rid of this danger. But the war against the Nazis went on to the very end.


[Page LI English] [Page 256 Yiddish]

The heroism of the Korelitz young men

Reuben Dushkin, a meat dealer by occupation, was a quiet, honest, hard-working man with a large family. His eldest daughter, Sara, married Shlomo Navitsky, and the two men operated one meat market.

In 1941, as the Nazis drew near, the peasants and townspeople of Korelitz set about pillaging Jewish homes, going from one house to the next and dragging out furniture and other household goods.

A band of hooligans came to Reuben's home, sacks ready to be filled. But Reuben and his sons - Yankl, Motl and Hayyim - and son-in-law beat them back. The hooligans bided their time until the Germans came into Korelitz. But the Jews knew what was coming, and those who managed to flee and join the partisans gave a good account of themselves.

 

Coordinator's note: The Yiddish text (Pages 256-7) is similar to the English text, but includes additional information as follows:

(Translated by Harvey Spitzer)

His wife, Munia, helped him in his work as a butcher.

When the Germans came into Korelitz and they and their collaborators began rounding up and tormenting Jews, Reuven's daughter, Chaykeh, managed to warn her brother, Yankel and her brother-in-law Shlomo to escape to the forests. She was unable, however, to warn another brother, Motel, who worked in a steam mill in another part of town. He was tortured to death by the local hooligans.

Yankel, Chaykeh and two children survived. They joined the partisans and left for America after the war.

 

Yaacov Slutsky was a young farmer, but when he had to flee from Korelitz and joined the partisans he undertook an important task - to procure weapons. He went about the countryside, picking up discarded rifles and bits of metal, which he then fashioned into crude but serviceable firearms, mines and bombs, which he later used to blow up German communication lines.

 

Coordinator's note: The Yiddish text (Page 257-8) is similar to the English text, but includes additional information as follows:

The Karelitz Partisan Yaacov Slutzky

(Translated by Harvey Spitzer)

He was born in Korelitz in 1914. His parents were Yitzchak and Tcherna Slutzky. His father was a leather tanner, but he also had a wagon and would bring merchandise from Baranovitch for the shopkeepers in Korelitz.

Yaakov attended a Polish public school and also had private instruction in Hebrew and Yiddish. He loved to read.

He and several of the partisans were killed when one of the mines he himself had prepared and planted under the railway exploded prematurely.

He carried out many acts of revenge and was highly respected by the Christian partisans.

(the English  translation says he was a farmer, but that is not mentioned in the Yiddish text)

 

Yaacov Slutzky

 

Hershl the Carpenter (the best in Korelitz) was taken to the Novohorodek concentration camp in 1942 and put to work in his craft. But he also succeeded in fashioning an escape tunnel from the ghetto, and succeeded in getting to the partisan camps, where he fashioned stocks for rifles. After the war he made his way to Israel and joined his daughter Vitl in Jerusalem, where he continued with his craft.

 

Coordinator's note: The Yiddish text (Page 260) is similar to the English text, but includes additional information as follows:

(Translated by Harvey Spitzer)

His wife, Sonia, died shortly before the Holocaust. She had a store in Korelitz which her daughters, Vitl and Merke, managed when she got older. Another daughter, Ester, was still in school at that time.

Vitl went to live in the land of Israel and encouraged her sister Ester to join her there. Merke got married and she and her husband managed the store in Korelitz. They and their children were murdered by the Germans.

Hershl was kept alive thanks to his skill as a carpenter.


[Page LII English]

The “Bielshchiks”

by Herzl Nachumovsky

 

 
 
Tuvya Bielsky
 
Asael Bielsky
 
Zusia Bielsky

 

All too often have we heard it said, or at least implied, that the Jews of Eastern Europe allowed themselves to be led like sheep to the Nazi slaughter-houses. This implication does a two-fold injustice to the memory of the martyrs: it glosses over their fate and - it is not true.

Understandably, these Jewish communities were in no position to match the armed strength of the Nazis or to check the vicious assaults of their “neighbors”, the Poles, Ukranians and the other groups among whom Jews had been living, in some cases for hundreds of years. But there was resistance, and there were acts of heroism and self-sacrifice which matched the resistance of the Second Commonwealth to Roman rule 19 centuries ago.

The following account, by Herzl Nachumovsky, is but one of many such poignant and dramatic stories which are now part of Jewish history.

Like an underground fire, the word was passed from one ghetto to another: “The Bielsky brothers are organizing in the forest”.

The forest - the only place which offered hiding from the Nazis - and which the Nazis, unable to bring in their armor, were reluctant to penetrate. Here the three Bielsky brothers - Tuvya, Zusya and Asael - organized the resistance movement, and inmates of the ghettos in the area filtered into the thick woods, some with old rifles which they had managed to get from the peasants, others empty-handed. All were welcome, and soon the “Bielschchiks” numbered 1,200 souls - men, women and children.

Arrivals were assigned to their group of townspeople, and each one was given a job to which he was best suited; the most coveted one, of course, was to bear arms against the enemy.

In time the groupings were broken up and reassembled into brigades, each with its commanding officer (among the officers: Hayim Abramowitz of Korelitz and Yisrael Yankelevitz, Yehuda Bielsky and Yudi Levin from Novohorodok). Tuvya Bielsky was the commander-in-chief and his brothers were his lieutenants - very much as in the case of Judah the Maccabee. Zusya turned raw youths into excellent scouts. (There was a fourth Bielsky - Archik, too young to assume command, but the most knowledgeable when it came to trailing and tracking). The rest of the General Staff consisted of Pessach Friedberg and Lazar Malbin.

It was the duty of the scouts to leave the forest on horseback, tour the farms and villages in the area for information, and lay the groundwork for action against the enemy. Two young men from Korelitz, Ben-Zion Gulkowitz and Yaacov Abramowitz, were among the best in the unit.

The sabotage unit was particularly active. Armed with home -made mines, they blew up bridges, railroad tracks, culverts and installations. The work was doubly dangerous because the crude mines also took their toll; this is how Yaacov Slutsky of Korelitz, a quiet and truly noble youth, lost his life. Another active member of the unit was Shlomo Stoler, who later reached Israel and gave his life for the creation of the State.

Food was obviously a constant and pressing problem. The only way to get it was to go out at night to distant villages and ask the farmers; in most cases they met with refusal, and food had to be taken by force. Often several forays were made in a single night.

The arsenal of the Bielshchiks was woefully meager in the beginning, and there was only one way to get weapons: to ambush the enemy and take his arms and ammunition. Asael Bielsky was the leader of this unit, and he went out with his men in every instance. The usual procedure was to waylay convoys of Nazis or local police, at times after careful planning and at others on the basis of hasty information.

This activity went on for about a year. Then came an order from the central staff of the Soviet partisans to separate the fighters from the others, send the latter deeper into the forest, and be ready for further orders, in five days. The Jewish partisans became suspicious. Tuvya was particularly uneasy. He decided on the strategy of dividing the fighters into two groups: one remained with the non-fighters - the elderly, the women and the children - while the other, consisting of men selected by Tuvya, left under the cover of darkness, with their weapons.

Knowing that the forest would have to be their home for some time, the other Bielsky brothers and their followers set about converting the heart of the forest into a village. From the trees they felled they fashioned log cabins, accommodating about 800 souls. At the same time they built a bakery, a storehouse, a flour mill which they operated with three horses, a workshop for tailoring and shoe repair, even a smoked meats factory. Soon the new village (named “Jerusalem” by the surrounding groups) was the center of partisan life. Hershl Shkolnik of Korelitz managed the carpentry shop, which fashioned rifle stocks.

Most welcome of all, perhaps was the Turkish bathhouse.

Came the spring of 1944. Life in the village was going on in orderly fashion. Then, on June 28, came the words that the Germans were in flight. Many were captured as they entered the forest but could not find their way out of it. The desire for vengeance was so great that many partisans abandoned the village in quest of the fleeing enemy - a move which almost ended in disaster, as a large group of fleeing Germans attacked the camp and almost overcame the few defenders.

On July 16 the surviving partisans took part in the mustering out of Novohoroduk, and were praised by the Russian General Igorkov for the extraordinary courage and self-sacrifice of the “Bielshchiks” in the face of the Nazi foe.


[Page LV English]

What they went through
(Excerpt from “Ghetto Recollections”)

by Frumeh Gulkovitch-Berger

…My sisters had already found hiding in an attic. My sister-in-law Yehudit grabbed me by the arm and pulled me out of the barn, but I was as if turned to stone. Where could we find some hole to crawl into? We were as strangers to the earth; it would open and eject us. We went by a few dead bodies. I recognized one, a Korelitz girl, Merke Yellin; she had the courage to spit a German in his face.

We were now passing by the big outhouse in the center of the ghetto. Without hesitating we went in and lowered ourselves into the large cesspool, which was up to our chests. We found there two women, Esther Menaker and Mashe Rabinowitz. We each took a corner; in case the breathing of one would be heard, the others might not be discovered...

The Germans came with their dogs. Our hiding place was discovered. The Germans shot into the cesspool. A bullet hit Esther Menaker; she went under without a sound. Another bullet went through my dress and slightly grazed my arm. The Germans withdrew, saying to each other that anyone still in the cesspool would die anyway.

We were there six days, without food. Every time someone came in, our hearts almost stopped beating…

By this time, most of the Jews in the Ghetto had either been killed or deported. The ghetto was made smaller, leaving the outhouse outside the walls. We were “saved”…


Idel Kagan

by Michael Walzer-Fass

The stories of the Holocaust, of what the Germans and their allies did to the Jewish communities of eastern Europe, are of one pattern and the same content - only the details vie with each other in revealing the utter bestiality of the criminals. If there are variations, they are to be found in the personal experiences of the survivors.

One of these is Idel Kagan. Born in Novohorodek, but bound to Korelitz by the marriage of his father and uncle to the Gurevitz sisters of that town, his last visit there was when the German occupation was already in force; he was sent there with several others to report on the situation. It was already hopeless. He was only 12 at the time.

Survival was now a matter of miracles. Once he faced a firing squad which was called off at the last minute because the Germans though that death by bullets was too simple. On another occasion, as the Germans lined up Jewish children to be shot, he managed to put on his father's coat and was passed over.

By a daring move Idel managed to escape and get to the forests, to join the partisans. But he had to be careful; the Polish partisans were all too happy to inform on the Jews. In the course of his wanderings Idel had to cross an icy river. His feet became frozen, and he barely managed to make it back to the ghetto, where he was no longer registered, and was there “operated” with a kitchen knife. A few days later the Germans made another round of their selections. Idel's mother and sister were murdered. Idel himself, lying on a bed of wooden boards under a pile of rags and pillows, was not discovered. At night he crawled out of the emptied ghetto. How he managed to stay alive he does not know to this day.

Idel was 15 when the war ended. A series of surgeries improved the condition of his feet. He managed to reach England and join a distant member of the family. A new world opened before him - security, peace of mind - with all the horrible memories - opportunity. He began as a wage earner, and in the course of the years grew to be a captain of industry. The Kagan family was resurrected; he married Barbara Steinfeld, and their three children are named for his father, mother and uncle. The eternity of the Jewish people shall not be denied.

 

« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »


This material is made available by JewishGen, Inc. and the Yizkor Book Project for the purpose of
fulfilling our mission of disseminating information about the Holocaust and destroyed Jewish communities.
This material may not be copied, sold or bartered without JewishGen, Inc.'s permission. Rights may be reserved by the copyright holder.


JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material for verification.
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.

  Karelichy, Belarus     Yizkor Book Project     JewishGen Home Page


Yizkor Book Project Manager, Lance Ackerfeld
This web page created by Jason Hallgarten

Copyright ©1999-2014 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 25 Apr 2014 by LA