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Dmytrow
(Dmitrov, Ukraine)

50°12' / 24°37'

Translation of “Dmytrow” from:

Sefer zikaron le-kehilot Radikhov

Edited by: G. Kressel

Published in Tel Aviv, 1976


This is a translation of “Dmytrow” from Sefer zikaron le-kehilot Radikhov ; Memorial book of Radikhov,
ed. G. Kressel, Tel Aviv, Society of Radikhov, Lopatyn and vicinity, 1976 (H,Y)


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.



[Pages 595-601]

The Jewish Community in Dmytrow*

Moshe Waldbaum

Translated from the Hebrew by Rabbi Paul H. Levenson

(Hebrew translation from the original Yiddish by Elazar Wilder)
I, Moshe the son of Reuven Zeev Waldbaum, was born in 1901 in the village of Dmytrov (Dmytrow), which is located in the Radekhov (Radziechow) district of eastern Galicia. I wish to record what happened to the Jewish community in this large village as well as what  happened to me from the years of my birth through the Shoah (Holocaust), that came upon our People between 1940-44.

I heard many times from my late father and grandfather stories about the great village of Dmytrov. There were 800 Gentile families, the majority being Ukranians, yet for many generations Jewish families lived among them. Of these may be recalled the Jewish families of Waldbaum, Zolkwer, Sternberg, Meir, Wilder, and Barasch. When World War II broke out there were additional families: Pelz, Lockerman, Waldman, Silber, Czermak, and Klughaupt (Klughoypt) – altogether 100 Jewish souls.

In Dmytrov there was one large farm area that belonged to a count. The man who leased that estate was Reb Velvel Wachs and his two sons, Shalom and Shimon. Reb Velvel Wachs was a very religious Jew, a G-d-fearing man, a Belzer Chassid, and he would hire only religious Jews to manage the land that he leased. They included a large group of clerks and they had a marked influence on the life of the village. The rest of the Jews in the village were merchants, shop keepers, and middlemen. In addition to the Wachs family, there was another prosperous Jew, Sternberg. The rest were poor who with difficulty obtained their bread. My father was a livestock dealer who provided for his family under constant pressure and penury. Together we were two brothers and three sisters.  Our education was based on the four grades that existed in the school in the town, we could not afford more than that.

My memories flow: the tiny Jewish community of Dmytrov decided to create a holy congregation of its own in order to break away from its dependence on the congregation in Cholojow, five kilometers away from our village. They sought to stop the tiring journey to Radekhov or to Cholojow during the High Holy days, and build a synagogue in our village, put in a Torah scroll and create a minyan that met regularly. Under father's initiative as well as his personal involvement, they began to collect money to have a Torah scroll written. They assigned the writing to a certified sofer-scribe from the town of Toporow. After two years the Torah was brought to the village with great fanfare and ceremony and it was put into a special, temporary Aron Kodesh (Holy Ark) in Reb Shalom Wachs's house until the synagogue itself would be built. At the same time, Father began to take care of building the synagogue itself as well as a cheder where the Jewish children could study Torah, taught by a melamed (Jewish teacher) that they would bring to the village. They also discussed digging a mikva (bath for ritual purification) – the implication of all this: the congregation was becoming a separate entity in every way. While this was going on, World War I broke out, and all these plans were for naught. Father was taken away to the Austrian army, and the family was left in want and suffering.

The Gentiles in Dmytrov were outstanding in their hatred toward the village's Jews. This hatred came to light particularly in the period after the First World War. It was a time between governments when there was no ruling authority. The Gentiles took advantage of those lawless days; stealing, robbing, and setting fire to Jewish houses were everyday occurrences.  In 1924, close to Pesach (Passover), robbers attacked one of our relatives, Klughaupt, robbing him of all his valuables, and afterward, shot him on the spot. The Polish police looked into the matter, investigated it for an extended period of time, but no one was arrested and no one was punished.

A number of years after the war, when the political situation stabilized, Father again got involved in building the synagogue. Somehow they overcame the problem of obtaining the money to get the job done, but it was difficult overcoming the arguments, the disagreements, and the irritating fights that swirled around making the necessary arrangements and building the building itself. But Father succeeded in calming down the storms, and the synagogue got built. The Torah scroll was brought into it with great ceremony and true joy. Father was a leader of the prayer services, a Torah reader, took care of many holy tasks, and did so without compensation or reward of any kind. And so an independent congregation of the Jews of Dmytrov arose that was not dependent on any other congregation.

The Jewish young people who grew up in Dmytrov were, by and large, simple villagers. The parents weren't overly interested nor, from an economic perspective, were they able to give their children an education beyond the village school, and the youngsters, by their own means, were not able to go beyond it.

In 1932, I got married to Beila Mandel from the town of Stanislavchik (Stanislawczyk), and I went to live there. I opened up a general store. It was the ninth store of this kind in that small town, and the competition between the store owners was fierce. Every one of them offered better and better prices to the customers. I bought my merchandise for cash and then I sold on credit. This went on for a while, but soon I was plucked clean from both sides. Without any choice, I returned to Dmytrov.  

World War II broke out.  The Russians entered our village. In the Russian's eyes we were considered bourgeois in spite of our weakness and poverty, for we were merchants and store owners. The Gentiles of the village informed on us [to the Russians] and incited against us. Bands of thugs formed again in our area, and they pillaged and ravaged without being punished. In one incident my own mother was murdered, may G-d avenge her blood! The NKVD (Soviet State Police) conducted a long investigation; the identities of the murderers was known, but no one was arrested and no one was punished. After all, from their perspective, it was only a Jewish woman who was killed. The anti-Semitic discrimination was blatant for all to see. In another incident, two Jews from our village were taking a little butter and cheese to sell in Lvov (Lwow), when the NKVD seized them. One of them failed to flee successfully and was taken to court where he was sentenced to ten years in jail. His brother, Zelig, of our village, went to Lvov to find his brother in whatever prison he was in. His cousin Wolf joined him and together they sought the prisoner in several jails. In the end, they too were thrown in prison without any charge. With great effort, particularly by giving bribes, in the end, they were set free. While Zelig Klughaupt was delayed in Lvov, a gang of thugs set fire and burned down his house. This was the same gang that murdered my mother may G-d avenge her blood! The general impression was that the Bolsheviks who governed the village, were absolute anti-Semites, and their intention was to show the Jews their strength and their might. This Soviet “Garden of Eden” – paradise – dragged on for us until June 20, 1941.  

On June 22nd, the Germans entered our village. The Ukrainians welcomed them with drums and dancing, celebrating over the day of blood [that was to come] for the village Jews. They weren't afraid to say so and they spoke of it openly: “Your day has come!” We heard about the murders and killings of the Jews in Radekhov and Cholojow. Everywhere that the Germans entered, they always left one or two Gestapo people. They organized the murderous Ukrainian militia and the “Judenrat ” (German-created Jewish council) with its own militia, fulfilling faithfully the quote from Isaiah the Prophet, “From you, yourselves will come forth those who will tear you down and destroy you.” These were Jews who came from the underworld. Anyone who hadn't seen with their own eyes would never be inclined to believe this horror of the “Judenrat ”. But the facts are undeniable. It's impossible, also, to describe the awful sufferings that we bore from the Ukrainian militia as well as from the ordinary Gentile villagers. I can never forget those dark, disastrous days.

A man from the Gestapo, accompanied by a Jew who was a member of the Judenrat in Cholojow, came to the village and began to search for Jews' houses. This was the beginning of the devastation. It was a very cold winter's day. The Gestapo agent entered Father's house and ordered him to open the windows, and while doing this asked, “Who owns this house and what is his name?” He ordered the Judenrat man to write down my brother's name, after my brother had said that he was the owner. By different means he gathered the names of 11 Jews. After a few days, he came back with a list and ordered those same Jews to gather at a certain place. My brother hid himself, so they took my father in his place. When my brother found out, he presented himself to the Gestapo agent and father was set free. My brother, along with the other ten Jews, were transported to Sokal, where they found their deaths. May their memories be a blessing!

On one Sabbath day, the Germans came to the village exactly at the time of prayer in the synagogue. The village Gentiles informed them that the Jews were gathered in one of the houses. So the Germans came quickly and attacked with hot anger those who were praying. With murderous blows they beat everyone indiscriminately with the butt of their rifles, and they desecrated the Torah scroll, tossing it on the ground and stabbing it through with their bayonets. They herded the men out and made them suffer terribly. Then they attacked the house of a Jew that was close to the synagogue, removed everything that was in it, and distributed the possessions as presents to the Gentiles who had gathered around.

By order of the militia, every night three men guarded the village, Jews included among them. One time, when it was my turn to guard, the two Gentiles who were my partners in guarding, told me that each of them would guard the outskirts of the village at each end while I was assigned to guard the middle part, near my own house. I agreed to it. Meanwhile, the militia came by to check on how well we were guarding. They sought me out. The two Gentiles had told the militia that I would certainly be sleeping at home. They approached my house and actually found me outside. Without even asking anything, they began to beat me with their rifles. I passed out on the spot. They thought I was dead and left. After they had gone, I awoke and got up. Evidently, the heavy winter clothes I was wearing saved me from death.

The head of the village, Vasil Motshek, wasn't a bad Gentile.  In return for some favors I had done for him, he assigned me to work for the village council keeping track of its accounts. I worked there with a village farmer, and as I found out later, he was among the absolute best of the villagers. One day when I was by myself in the council building, a strange feeling came over me, a sense of fear, the feeling that something awful was about to happen. I didn't think much of it. I took the keys to the council's doors and handed them over to the Gentile, my partner at work. Within a short while I heard loud gunshots close to the building where I was working. It turned out that some drunken Germans were near the council building. They wanted to enter, but because it was locked up, they simply fired their guns into the building. If they had found me in the building, I never would have gotten out alive. Evidently, my intuition saved me from death.

There were, some seemingly good Gentiles in the village, trustworthy and strong friends, who supposedly were inclined to save our property out of compassion. In the end, though, things were pillaged and not returned. And if someone turned to them for a little bit of help, they would stare back blankly.

In Radekhov, the next city over, the following shocking incident occurred: a Gestapo person was walking by the city's public garden when he saw a Jewish woman plucking up different grasses and the like. He asked her what she was doing in the garden. She answered him that she was looking for special kinds of leaves – that if one puts them on a wound it would help speed up the healing process. He ordered her to go with him.  She understood for what purpose he wanted her to come with him – for death. She began to plead with him, begging him for her life, that she had five small children, and that he should have mercy on her. So he took along the five little children also and transported them to a designated spot. A militia member told the story afterward, that right in front of the mother, the Gestapo man turned his dogs loose on the children and they ripped the children apart. The children found their death right in front of the mother, and afterward, he shot [and killed] her too.

From mouth to ear the news arrived concerning the crematoriums in Belzec. The Ukranian militia told the Gentile villagers about it with great pleasure. We learned about all the torture and atrocities that the victims suffered before their deaths, and the terrible treatment after they were killed: the bodies burnt, teeth extracted [for the gold], and the like. We had absolutely no doubt about the truth of these reports.

In spite of the pervasive evilness committed by the village's Gentiles, there were two men, two brothers-in-law, that could be included among the pious of the non-Jewish nations of the world. Thanks to them, we were saved and remained alive, their names being Dimitri Muzyka and Tomke Mostove (Tomko Mostowy). They helped us with honest, good will, and it should be told that in doing so, they put their own lives in danger.

I worked with Tomke Mostove in the village council office handling the accounts.  One time, while we were working, I hinted to him that I wanted to be able to hide somewhere until the danger passed. He didn't answer me out loud but the look on his face answered for him, that he was prepared to help me. To have hidden in his place would have been actually courting danger, for Mostove was known in the village as a friend of the Jews. His house and farm were comparatively small and there wasn't any place there where a bunker could be dug. Nevertheless, I kept in mind what had passed between us.

Father was caught and taken to Belzec. Just a few days before he was caught, he managed to bring the bodies of five Jews who had been murdered to Cholojow for a Jewish burial. Many Jews abandoned their homes. They handed over their property to various Gentiles and sought to hide themselves with them. Many of the Gentiles distanced themselves from the Jews and didn't want to be associated with them. But we don't have to talk just about Gentiles, for certain members of the Judenrat were known for their own cruelty. It happened in the ghetto of Radekhov. I worked in a field digging up beets. I didn't feel well and fainted. I appealed to the Jewish militiaman to release me from work. He refused, even though he saw me collapse. Using the whip in his hand, he forced me to continue working. It was actually the Gentile militiaman who saw my condition and let me off.

One day, at the end of October 1942, in the Radekhov ghetto, I returned from work exhausted, broken and shattered, starved and depressed. By this time there wasn't any food or wood, nothing to keep body and soul alive.  I mentioned to my wife that I'd been thinking about going to Dmytrov, that maybe I could find something at our house. My wife agreed. Taking an out of the way route, with fear and trembling, I arrived late at night in Dmytrov. I knocked on the door of Dimitri Muzyka's house. They opened it for me, and greeted me warmly, gave me food, and even suggested that I sleep there. Dimitri woke me up very early in the morning and told me that an “Aktion ” (round up of Jews for forced labor or death camps), was taking place in Radekhov. He arranged a place for me to hide and told me to go there as quickly as possible. I did as he said, and though in pain and distressed, I started thinking about my wife and my family who were there in Radekhov at the time of the “Aktion ”. That night I returned to Radekhov, using side paths, in order to find out how things were going with my wife and family. This was a journey of martyrdom. As soon as I entered the town, the Jewish militia grabbed me for forced labor. We were emptying out the houses of Jews who had been caught. The Germans took for themselves the housewares and the furniture that we were loading onto carts. It was then that I noticed household items that were from my own family. Terror and fear overcame me. I was sure that my wife and family had been picked up during the “Aktion ”. In the end, a militiaman released me after I had taken from my pocket and given him several valuable items that I had brought from the village to Radekhov that I had intended bartering for food to assuage our hunger. To my joy, I found my wife alive, and she told me how she escaped by a miracle from this particular “Aktion ”, the third that happened.

Here's her story: by force and blows they hauled several Jews out of the house where we were living, and two militiamen guarded them, a Jew and a Ukrainian. In the line in front of my wife stood a woman with her two children. She suggested to the Ukrainian militiaman that she would give him a valuable ring if he would allow her to get away from that place. The Ukrainian agreed and showed her a side room where she could hide. At the same time, the Gestapo man was busy searching the attic of the building and he wasn't able to see what was happening below. The Jewish militiaman objected, apparently because he, too, wanted a bribe.  The woman began shouting loudly at the Jew, and cursed him in G-d's name. Only then did he look away. The woman went with her children into the room that the Ukrainian militiaman had indicated, and my wife succeeded also in sneaking in after her into the same room. When the situation calmed down, the woman and her two children as well as my wife climbed up to the attic and found shelter there that night.

Several days after the “Aktion ” one of the ghetto's districts was sealed off. Those who had succeeded in hiding out and escaping the previous “Aktion ” now needed to gather together in the other section of the ghetto. The place was very cramped, and ten to 12 people were crammed into each modest-sized room. Everything was distressingly cramped and suffocating. Waste and filth were everywhere. Typhus disease spread, a number of people died every day. The living envied the dead. Comparatively speaking, it was an easy death, not a lot of suffering. Before Radekhov was made “Judenrein ” (emptied of Jews), we succeeded in fleeing and then hiding out in the forests of Dmytrov. There is no way to describe our pain and our suffering in those forests.  Much later we found some Gentiles who took pity on us and every now and then gave us a little food, just enough to keep us alive. Tomke Mostove, who built a bunker for us at his place, was the one who saved us from death. His brother-in-law, Dimitri Muzyka, may he always be mentioned for good, cooperated with Tomke in doing the work that saved us. At first, we hid out on Dimitri's farm under a pile of hay and straw. He worried about our needs, bringing us food and other things that we needed, even newspapers. But after our spot was discovered by a local Gentile fellow, he took us one night to his brother-in-law, Tomke. And we stayed there until the liberation.

When Radekhov was made “Judenrein ”, nine Dmytrov Jews were able to flee to the town of Busk that still had its own ghetto. Afterward, when Busk was also made “Judenrein ”, those nine souls from the Sternberg family went back to Dmytrov. There they all gathered in the house of a poor, Polish widow, Yevgenya Mandris.  It was very difficult for that widow to sustain these nine people, but in spite of that, she extended herself beyond her capabilities. Suddenly she died, and the Sternberg family fled to an abandoned farm of a Polish fellow named Cygielski. It pains the heart to say that the Banderowcy (Bandera men) ** found out about this family's hiding place and they slaughtered them all in there.

Meanwhile the war was nearing an end. The battles came closer to our area. The imminent danger to the village houses was great because they could go up in flames from the shells. We were sitting in a barn filled with straw and the danger of a conflagration was exceedingly real. Mostove had made two bunkers, one for his own family and one for me and my wife. There is no way to describe the complete generosity of Mostove toward my wife and me. But meanwhile, a disaster happened to him. His wife took sick and under terrible circumstances he started to transport her to a hospital in Lvov, but on the way she died. Before he left, he put his daughter in charge, so she could guard us and worry about our food. But the daughter began to relate to us with open hatred, with the accusation that we were responsible for her mother's death, because her mother had been fearful that the Germans might discover that we were there and then kill them also. We had a serious suspicion that the daughter would hand us over to the Germans during her father's absence.

Luckily we were liberated during those same days by the Russians, July 17, 1944. Our fear of the Germans ended, but we still had to contend with the Banderowcy . One night we went out again on byways and winding paths from Dmytrov to Radekhov. In Radekhov I found a good job at the “Sovkom ” (Soviet Committee) as a treasurer and bookkeeper. We were eight souls living in the house that belonged to the Menaker family, may G-d revenge their blood!

I then bestowed a relatively small favor on the Mostove and Muzyka families, that thanks to them I stayed alive. I had some influence with the Soviet authorities in our area, and through my efforts, their two sons were released from the army. This was a very important and serious matter for them.

I then went to the Polish area. After many different moves to Krakow, Prague, Vienna, and Germany, we arrived in the land of Israel in 1948. We had passed through the full length of the path of suffering, we drank from the poisoned cup down to its dregs, until we merited arriving at the place of our desire, to the state of Israel.

    

Of the pious of the non-Jewish nations of the world who gave us
shelter and saved us, Faranka Muzyka and her children; Tomke
Mostove – her brother.

* The original testimony in Yiddish , “Moyshe Valdboym fin Demitrov Radekhover Bezirk, Seine Memoiren, Gehert un Geschrieben fin Ben-Zion Friedmann,” Gedera, 1969, is deposited at the archive of the Diaspora Research Institure, Tel Aviv University, call number A-28/16. As the text reveals, the Hebrew translation in the Yizkor book is actually an edited and condensed version of the original. For this translation, the original testimony was only used to clarify unclear sections and verify name spellings –March 2003. Return

** Nationalist Ukrainians led by Stepan Bandera. Return

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