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[Page 416]

How I Stayed Alive

Told by Etye Albert (Zlotnik) to Leyb Ayzen

Translated by Elizabeth Kessin Berman

In 1941, shortly after the capture of our town, Kozin, where I last lived, my husband became one of the first victims killed, leaving me alone with two children. In the ghetto in 1942, I learned from a member of the Judenrat that the Kozin ghetto would be liquidated on October 6. I took my two children and whatever else I could and fled. I succeeded in crossing the river that separated the ghetto. I set out for the village of Ivashtshukes. A gentile there took me in and put me up for two weeks. After taking all my possessions from me, he violently drove me out, saying, “It's a sure thing you'll be killed, so you don't really need anything.”

So I began wandering from village to village with the two children, searching for someone who would have pity and give me a hiding place, but with no results. I began to struggle for my existence, hiding out by day and at night in gentile horse stables so as not to be seen, God forbid, by any human eye.

[Page 417]

In the village of Sofiyevka, when going to a gentile by night to beg for food, I was hidden by a Ukrainian policeman who happened to be there at the house. He soon told me, “You will never escape from my hands!” My children started to cry and plead. That bandit had pity and told us to get out. We ran breathlessly, thinking that we would be shot, but for luckless people we had some luck, that our torment was to wander in the darkness until late at night. We settled in a stall at the house of a certain Czech named Hulmar, whom the gentiles called “the Jewish rabbi,” may his name be mentioned for good, because it is thanks to that Czech that I stayed alive, having no chance and no means at all to pay him.

I want to mention his fine wife, Helena, who was like a mother to me, cooking food and even washing me from time to time. She sympathized with my pain, calming me and giving me hope. It is hard for me to remember every detail, but this I can tell:

At night I had to go over to another Czech settlement, Stiskalubka. I stayed there for a while with a certain Czech, Anso, a poor gentile for whom I had to go begging. To thank me, he hid me. That was until 1942.

In 1943, we already had no place to hide, and we went to the pitch makers. It was frightfully cold outdoors; we were tired and broken. We staked our lives and went to a Czech's house. Seeing us, he told us to leave his house. His noble wife, Manye Blekh, seeing our condition, stood up for us and said to her husband, “If you want to drive out this woman and the children, you will then have to come to their defense.” The man was silent, and we stayed there.

That year, my little 6–year old son Yankev was killed by Ukrainian bandits.

After further wandering and more experiences of hunger and want, completely broken after my son's death, it was the same to me to live or to die.

[Page 418]

As fate would have it, we would stay alive and relate this, which we can never forget.

At the beginning of 1944, we suddenly heard terrible shooting. In terror, we looked through the window to see the Russian intelligence. One of them turned to us, asking in Russian if there were many Germans in the village. In my great surprise, I did not know what to answer. My heart was full of joy, but my joy was mixed with my great sadness that my second son, 9–year–old Hershele, had been killed before the liberation, and this did not merit rejoicing after so difficult an ordeal. The village, us included, was liberated within an hour. We received a warning from the Soviet Army that we should leave the village so as not to fall victim to bandits. So then I went all alone to Dubno. On the way, I met Sheyndil Oks. We were happy to talk and cry … I met other Radzivilovers. Each one had to tell his experiences.

So life is stronger than death. We are now in our own land and gather from time to time with other survivors from our town and do not forget to recall the horrible experiences of the past, how we lost one third of our folk. All of our tellings should serve as a tombstone for our dearest and most beloved, who were killed for no reason.

[Page 419]

Remnant from Radzivilov in Camp Luntz, 1947
Seated (right to left): Ite Gun, Duvid Balaban, Yosel Royzman, Gutman–Kisis
Standing: Sheyndel Oks, Yankel Poritsky, Zine Oks, Leye Charash, Borya Hofman, Zelde Charash


[Page 421]

I Will Remember Them

R' Avraham Danik and His Family, of Blessed Memory


Feyge Danik,
Perished in the Ghetto,
25 Tishrei 194


Standing, from left to right: Bat-Sheve Shpitsgluz (née Danik), Dochya Mess, Polya Shternberg, Zina Vaysberg
Sitting: Mochya Fayfel, Meta Mess, Niunye Segal


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