Our family home in which I was born and raised stood on Baron Hirsch Street. The synagogue stood at one end of that street, at the corner of Pansak Street, and the Greek Catholic church stood at the other end, at the corner Brzezanska Street. The street was raised, but there was no paved roadway or sidewalk. On rainy days and when the snow was melting, we sank into the mud every time we left our house. During the winter, in the season of ice and snow, the slope served as a sledding area for the children of the city.
There were eleven people in our family, including Grandmother Malka of blessed memory. The atmosphere in the home was tradition, and saturated with popularity. My parents related to the Zionist movement with understanding, and they also did not spare any effort to impart Jewish and general education to us. This helped each of us to find our way in life.
Our home was open to everyone on weekdays, Sabbaths and festivals. My mother of blessed memory would offer assistance to the needy in a discrete fashion. Her personality exemplified the Jewish mother (Yiddishe Mama) in the full sense of the term.
The dear members of my family perished in a tragic manner in the ghetto, like all the people of our city. When I made aliya to the Land in 1939 and bade farewell to my family members, my dear ones said to me: Who knows if we will see each other again alive To my great sorrow, the suspicions were actualized and became the bitter truth. From that time, I bore their last words in my heart, and their memory will not leave me forever.
Baruch (Bunia) Shotten
The Shotten family in 1939
Sitting in the center Avraham Shotten and his wife Rivka.
At the left the eldest daughter Mina and on the right, her husband Gedalya.
Standing from left to right: the eldest son Moshe Yossel and his wife Chaichia,
the daughter Dunchia, the son Baruch (Bunia), the daughter Golda,
the son Bernard (Berchia) and his wife, and the youngest daughter Leah (Leika)
From the distance of many years, the bright image of our only son Yigal of blessed memory looks upon us.
I remember him from his earliest life, when he was still in his diapers. He was a ruddy, healthy child with beautiful eyes, upon which the azure skies of the homeland peered and imparted their color. From the time he first saw the light of the world, he spread his nest with great love, warmth, and boundless dedication.
The child grew and became a lad head and shoulders above his friends. The three links in our small family became a wonderful chain, in which our son Yigal became the chief link. With the passage of time, true friendship and deep mutual understanding was forged within our small family, forming the unique character of relationships among us.
The lad grew up and became a tall, bright youth, dreaming, visualizing and content with his lot. He had a good heart, feeling the burdens of his fellows and behaving pleasantly to every person. What was most wonderful about him was the wonderful blend of youthful dreams and healthy logic, with a developed sense of justice and correctness. There was always an enthusiastic smile on his face. A sensitive heart hid behind the smile, prepared at all times to help anyone in need of assistance.
Thanks to his clear mind and sharp intellect Yigal succeeded in becoming an excellent student without a great deal of effort. He read a great deal, and was also a good sportsman. Yigal was a member of the scouting organization, and was sent by them to be a counselor for children who were having difficulty with education. Yigal invested a great deal of effort and energy until he succeeded in imparting scouting values to these children, and to make a life of work combined with a life of the spirit dear to them. All of this was done with seriousness and persistence, as was his way with any task that he undertook.
Our son Yigal was blessed with talents. He was talented in handiwork. He wove cloths and created many useful tools for the household. He had unusual artistic talent, to the point where he succeeded in completing his studies in a school of art and sculpting. Nothing was too difficult for him, and it seemed that he had sufficient time for anything that he chose to do.
His artistic talents were accompanied by deep commitment and dedication to the difficult daily work. We once asked him if he was preparing for a career as an artist, since he devoted so much time and energy to this. His answer was: For me, this is only a hobby. I see my future in medical research, and it is to that that I wish to dedicate my life. Indeed, he read a great deal of medical books, and he devoted most of his free compositions in school to those topics.
Suddenly there was a convention of the scouting movement which was accompanied by a tour throughout the land. He returned from the convention tired, sick and feverish. He went to the hospital, but the source of the disease was unclear. The disease progressed quickly in an unexpected manner until the bitter end.
The last days of our son Yigal are etched in our mind. We will not forget them until our last day. We stood by his bed as evening was falling, before the bitter and despised day. Our son was discussing the convention with us, and he suddenly said, The birds are chirping outside and I am going to die What are you talking about Yigal? You will recover, and you will live. Yes, yes, the penicillin will save me , he added and smiled at us.
The next morning, when you saw us standing at both sides of the bed, you extended your hands as a sign of farewell, looked at us, and two tears rolled down your eyes. We understood this was the end
Our son Yigal was ill for a number of days, and at 6:00 p.m. on the 19th of Tishrei 5607 (1948), he returned his soul to his creator. He was only 17 years old. Our son died in the prime of his life, and we were left bereft and bereaved, having drunk the cup of agony in its fullness.
May his memory be blessed.
Bluma and Menachem Ettinger
The gravestone of Yigal Ettinger
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