by Nachum Kalafer
Translated by Sheldon Clare
I am a Jeziernian, but before the war I lived in Bodzanov. My wife came from Kopyczynce. Our little daughter was barely five years old when the war broke out.
When the Germans entered Bodzanov, I experienced for the first time the launching of persecution and aktions (assembly and deportation of Jews). And when they expelled the Jews from Bodzanov and made it Judenrein (empty of Jews), my family and I were forced to run away to Kopyczynce where my wife's family lived.
The situation became worse day by day. When I realized that it would be difficult to endure and survive here, for a kilo of gold I received permission from the Gestapo leader to go to Probużna . This town was already Judenrein and only two Jews remained living there: I, a dentist and Dr. Brandwein - a general physician. And by the end of the last liquidation of the ghetto, I had to run away again.
My wife Sala, her sister Gusta, and my little daughter Rita, settled in a place near a ‘reliable farmer’ where she kept them in a bunker; I alone went into a forest, about 20 kilometers from the place.
Every night, I would visit them, going by foot. But this did not last. The peasant neighbors informed on them to the Ukrainian police, who identified them. They were taken to a field and were shot. My daughter was shielded by her mother and was only wounded. At night, when she recovered her wits, she dug herself out from under the dead bodies and began to wander, all bloody.
A good-hearted old peasant of Ukrainian descent took her in and kept her as her own. From time to time I came out of the forest to see the child. After being freed, I rewarded the peasant.
On March 23, 1944, the Soviet army freed us. I began to work as a dentist in a military hospital. When the 'front' withdrew, I was nominated to become a regional examiner; my duty was also to investigate the evidence about the arrested prisoners and to certify that they were able to be transported. Among the arrested people, I found a well-known former Ukrainian policeman. The murderer of my family, the Ukrainian superior police officer, I did not find.
The vicious Nazis murdered my mother Sheyndl, my sister Maltsheh, my brother Yidl, along with my grandfather Sanyeh Rozenfeld, my uncle Natan Rozenfeld with his wife and two of their sons - Natziyeh and Matik.
When the war ended, I went to Poland. As a result of the difficult experience, I am now a sick and broken person.
From my large family, almost no one survived; they were all murdered.
by Duzia (Dora) Blaustein, New York
Translated by Pamela Russ
|Dora Blaustein, daughter of Czina Blaustein, lives in America today. She lived through the persecutions and the hells of Hitler in Jezierna thanks to a Ukrainian man, Michael Leskof, and his wife who hid her during that time. Here she tells of one of the episodes of those terrible times: the life and murder of the poet Shmuel Yakov Imber at the hands of the Nazis, and tells of the influence that he had on the Jezierna youth at that time.|
|The Editorial Committee|
Shmuel Yakov Imber is considered to be a Jezierner even though he was born in Zloczow. He spent his youth in the town and was married in Jezierna to the eldest daughter of the pharmacist Mintz. She was also a pharmacist. From time to time, they would come to visit their parents in the town.
When he was in Jezierna, one could see him strolling through the streets. He would meet with friendly people, with activists in the Ichud Gordonia organization, and have discussions about their work and the evolvement of their youth organizations. He would go to the local organizations and inform himself about what the youth was reading and what sort of literature interested them. He was pleased that in such a small town the youth was interested in the most recent literature.
The librarian Etke Pulwer would show him books. He would have discussions with Lippe Fisher and Moishe Bik and then they would accompany him to his lodgings. As they walked, they would ask him about his own position in the areas of literature and journalism, about his articles in the Jewish newspapers, and his struggle with Hitlerism and anti-Semitism in Poland. He invited them in, gave each of them a copy of his book Asy Czystej Rasy (Aces of Pure Race), and a copy for the library. He made a tremendous impression. They cherished the book, but along with everything else, the book was destroyed.
The Germans invaded Jezierna. Difficult times began, persecutions, roundups. Imber would hide during these roundups, as did the other Jews. Aside from that, he and his wife were affected by the murder of his father-in-law, the pharmacist Mintz, and his mother-in-law's suicide. The pharmacy continued to be run by Imber's wife.
Even while hiding in his bunker, Imber wrote about these events, and even though he knew that the Germans were looking for him, in his secretly written articles he gave us courage. Reading his writings, we believed that our suffering was not in vain and that the victims had not died in vain either.
Imber also fell into murderous hands. They prepared a horrific death for him.
They were able to kill the man, but the poet Imber they could not destroy.
That which he created will remain forever, just as the light that he gave us during those dark days, that shone like the sun.
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