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{207}

What Happened to Me During the Holocaust

by Ben Zion Horowitz of Holon


Gloomy days began to appear and heavy clouds covered the skies even though it was the middle of the summer. I left Rozniatow in 1939 and moved to Borislaw, which was not far away. I spent about ten days under German government. The day after Yom Kippur it was made known to the Jews that the Russian army had placed a siege around Borislaw and surrounded it with tanks and other armored vehicles. In the meantime, the Germans took out their wrath against the Jews with everything that came to their hands. Cries of oppression and screams of agony were heard, but nobody answered.

Two of my friends decided to leave the place and to walk toward the border along unknown paths in order to join the Russian army. I immediately joined them. Along the way, we passed the post office, and we noticed that the Germans were pillaging the mail, removing all equipment including telephones and machinery, as they prepared to leave.

When we met the Russian guard along the way, I asked them to take me to their commander. My two friends remained there under military guard, and the Russian guards brought me directly to the commander of the unit. The commander put me aboard a covered transport truck. There were three commanders on the truck, one of them a colonel. When I told him that I was a Jew in response to his query, I saw a light smile on his face.

Hi listened to my story about what took place in Borislaw. When I told him that we saw Germans removing all the electronic and telephone equipment from the post office as well as beds from the hospital, the colonel became red with anger. He immediately issued an order to bring him an armed vehicle and two tanks, and he told me to enter the vehicle.

I requested that he give order to the guards to free my two friends who were under guard. He issued an appropriate order, and said that it would be best that they wait there until we return. One tank went in front of us, we were in the middle, and another tank followed us. We approached the main post office. The colonel descended from the vehicle and met a German captain of the Hauptman rank at the entrance to the post office. The German saluted, and the colonel became furious, pointed to his watch, and shouted: “Where is your German punctuality? At 11:00 there should have no longer been a trace of you here, yet you are still swarming around like lice… You had better return all of the telephone equipment that you stole from here within 20 minutes, otherwise I will issue and order to open fire upon you, and you will find no place of refuge”.

When we returned, a command was issued to prepare for battle. The tanks fanned out and the Russian army unit took up battle position. The heavy movement of the Russian army machine began, and by 3:00 p.m. Borislaw was in Russian hands. However, the Germans did not fulfil the request of the colonel. They did not return the telephones and other equipment, and therefore an order was given to pursue the German army and to force them to return all of the pillaged equipment. The Russians caught up with them on the route to the Sambor and, under the threat of fire, took back all of the pillaged equipment and returned it to Borislaw.

The conquering colonel was appointed as the governor of Borislaw. He later invited me to his office, and when we were alone, he revealed to me his secret that he was also Jewish, and wished to help the Jews. I told him that I was from Rozniatow, and I wished to return to my home. He provided me with appropriate papers, and I arrived in Rozniatow in peace. I immediately found work.

At the outset of Russian occupation of eastern Galicia, they behaved according to all of their policies of “freedom and equality”. They began to remove all of the merchandise from the Jewish stores. They also imprisoned the Zionist activists and exiled them to Siberia. They issued orders to turn over to them all fruit, silver, gold, and radios. The people began to be a “free people” – free from worries of livelihood, since they had no livelihood at all.

When the Germans opened their attack upon the Russians without declaration of war on June 28, 1941, we left Rozniatow. The Hungarian army entered from one side and the German army from the other side. The Russian army conducted a disorderly retreat.

All routes led to Stanislawow, where the Russian control was still intact, and from where it was still possible to escape onward. However Stanislawow was also severely attacked. The route from Rozniatow to Stanislawow was approximately 50 kilometers, and it took us 20 hours to make the journey on that occasion, since the entire road had been bombed, and it was impossible to progress.

When we finally arrived in Stanislawow, the city was burning with fire due to the heavy bombardment. Several officials and party men fled together with us. They managed to find a side train station with a few open platforms and wagons for animals. Despite the heavy rain that fell, we decided, to our great joy, to leave the place. However, the German airplanes pursued us and bombarded us every few minutes. They were the only ones who had control over the area. It was not sufficient that we were attacked from the air, for we were also attacked on the ground by bands of ruffians who roved around the roads and made trouble for the retreating Russians as well as the Jewish population who still remained in one depot. In Przeworsk, they attacked us from the village, however at that time, some army vehicles joined us, consisting of tanks and heavy artillery machines that began to shoot at the village. They scored a direct hit on the church, and then the shots were silenced.

The train upon which we had originally left Stanislawow continued to grow as we traveled onward. At every station, crowds of people escaping and full wagons joined us. During our long period of travel, German warplanes attacked us. Several wagons were bombarded, and many people were killed and injured. There was nobody to attend to the injured, nobody to administer first aid. A few of my acquaintances were killed during that bombardment: Chaitza Laufer the wife of Yaakov Laufer, Mordechai Segal the husband of Beila, the son-in-law of Shmuel “Shmukel” Rosenberg, Shaya Zamel the son of Aharon Zamel, his brother Shmuel, Rosa Kalman the wife of Edelsberg, her brother Meshulam Kalman, Baruch Zimmerman, Chana Pares the daughter of Moshe Pares, Hirsch Friedenberg the son of Leibche and Halchi, Meir Rabinowicz from Perehinsko, and Bronia Brand the daughter of Chanina Brand. The following people were injured badly: my sister Perel Horowitz, Bida Zimmerman, Yechezkel the son of Meir Zimmerman, Leib Laufer the son of Yankel Laufer, and Chana Rabinowicz from Perehinsko. I was lightly injured in my left knee. I was busy helping my sister who had been badly wounded. I held her bleeding hand the entire time. I was afraid that she would die from loss of blood, and therefore I held her from above as the blood dripped upon my own body. Anyone who saw me was terrified, since it seemed like all the blood was coming from me.

After the frightening attack, there were those who were afraid to continue on that train without any protection or refuge, given over completely to the mercies of the German bombers, so they decided to return home. Shalom Rechtschaffen along with his wife and two children, Yechezkel Zimmerman, Leib Zimmerman, Yaakov Zimmerman, Chaya Zimmerman and Chaya Rivka Zimmerman, the children of Meir and Marchi.

This train with those that had survived the bombardment moved onward and continued along its journey until it reached Husyatin. We were again bombed along the route by German airplanes, and many of the travelers were hit. After some time I found out that among those who had been killed in a different wagon were my brother Baruch, as well as Hirsch Frost and his wife.

After the second bombardment, as we calmed down a bit, some members of the N. K. V. D. and the police came aboard the train and began to sort out the dead and those who were lightly and seriously wounded. The dead were taken out to a special place, the seriously wounded to another place. Later on, the injured were taken to a special sick-train with orderlies and doctors. Two graves were dug for the dead, one for members of the army and others for civilians. The order of boarding the train was as follows: first the army men, and after them, if there was any room left on the floor or in the halls of the train, the civilians boarded. The army men each had private bandages, and each one bandaged himself or was bandaged by others. This was not the case for the wounded civilians, they had no bandages, and they traveled with their wounds still open and dripping with blood.

Before the journey started, some slices of bread and drinks were brought aboard the train. My sister Perel was not able to eat, and she was only able to drink with difficulty. She had a high fever, and the situation of her wound worsened.

The train started to travel, but we did not know to where. The situation on the front worsened. The power of both the fighters and the citizens began to dwindle both in Kiev and Kharkov. There was another retreat. There was no place that was an appropriate destination for the train with the wounded, so that they could be taken to hospitals or at least to houses, where they could rest in beds rather than on the floors and hallways of the train.

At one of the stops, a doctor boarded the wagon that carried the wounded, and immediately began to take care of the wounded. When he examined my sister Perel, he saw that her injured had had become gangrenous. It was all green and black. He decided to amputate her hand immediately. My sister refused, for she preferred death to living without a hand.

After wandering from stop to stop and station to station, after eleven days of travel, the train reached Karmonchik, and all of those who were seriously wounded were taken to the local hospital for treatment. They released me from the hospital after three days, for my injury was healing. That was not the situation with my sister. She had to remain in the hospital, but she refused to remain without me. Despite the opposition of the doctors to release her, she forced the management to release her. The management made arrangements to transfer us to a remote village, where the heads of the village were given instructions to allow the sick person to receive daily treatment from the regional physician.

I worked in an office that distributed food to the workers. However, we were not able to find peace even there. The German army began to approach, and was already sixty kilometers from the village. We began to think of wandering again. The doctor opposed this strongly. He promised that even if the Germans were to arrive, he would protect my sister and tell them that she was his own sister. I approached those who were in charge of the village, and told them everything that took place to us, and the bombardments that we had experienced. I requested that they send us deeper into Russia, where we would be able to relax a bit after everything that had taken place to us up to this point.

They joined us up with a convoy that was setting out in the direction of Stalingrad. They sent us to the village of Lipoka, to be put up by a poor farmer who set up a bed for us on the floor. Work began at 6:00 a.m. and concluded at nightfall. We did not starve there, and it was quiet. However, after a period of time, I received a notice to present myself to the draft office. I was immediately enlisted to the army and sent to the Volga to guard the Stalin army warehouses. In November, I was sent to Saratov, where there was a gathering depot. From Staratov, I was sent to some kolkhoz (collective farm). I was transferred from place to place until I was finally sent to Stalingrad as a Russian soldier on the front. There, we began to feel the war in all its fury. I was injured during one of the heavy bombardments. I was discovered unconscious, and brought to the hospital. There, they discovered that I had no wounds at all, for I was only in shock due to the shock of the bombardment. I returned and remained on the front. I advanced forward with the Red Army all the way to Berlin.

In Rozniatow after the War

I returned to Rozniatow on July 21, 1945.

These days left me with many memories. Perhaps I can describe part of what I saw after I returned there following the terrible destruction. All of the Jewish homes that had been built out of wood or other similar material were burned or destroyed without even leaving a remnant. Of the houses that were built of stone or brick, half of them were destroyed, and those that were still intact were inhabited by Russian gentiles. The Germans sold all of the storehouses that were covered with tin sheets to the gentile villagers in the area. The Ukrainians, who transported every usable item that still remained to their homes in the villages, finished off the rest of the property.

In the meantime, I saw horrors, graves and destruction. In the town, I found the following Jews who survived the holocaust: Dr. Karpf and his wife, Meir Ungar and his wife, Dora Gelobter and her two children, Sosia Gelobter, Shayka Lutwak and Meir Turteltaub. All of them registered with the government offices to transfer to Poland, for from Poland, there was a chance to emigrate to another land, either Israel or the United States [1]. I could not accustom myself to the appearance of the destroyed town. The Beis Midrash was still standing, but it was without windows or doors. The Great Synagogue had been turned into a storehouse. In the empty and half destroyed Beis Midrash, the beautiful pictures of “running like a deer” and “strong as a lion” were still on the walls [2]; however it had now become a public washroom. I requested from the governing authorities that they take down the walls of the building completely. They acceded to my request, and thus did I save the Beis Midrash from serving as a public lavatory. The Kloiz now served as the office of the local newspaper.

In 1945, all of those who registered to transfer to Poland left the town, and I remained the only Jew in Rozniatow. My sister was still in far off Kazakhstan, and did not know anything regarding me. I worked in the “Glezinger” factory as I had done previously, and the gentiles liked me and protected me from the riots of the Bandrobches [3] who pillaged the area at that time. There was a Jew by the name of Lehrfeld in Brosznow. The Bandrobches fell upon him and murdered him. In the meantime, my sister returned home after her injuries had healed somewhat. A few other Jews returned, including Nechemia Shapira and Chaim Goldschmid.

We all worked together in the Glezinger factory without problem until 1953. That year, a group of Russian prospectors came to check out the possibility of drilling for oil in the region. On one occasion, one of them stood in the middle of the plaza and began to speak against the Jewish doctors in front of the farmers. This was the era of the Doctors Trials [4] under Stalin. The prospector concluded with the well-known statement: “beat the Jews and save Mother Russia”. I discussed the matter with those who were appointed over the public safety of the Jewish workers, and I received the following response: “We in Russia have complete freedom of speech and thought. Everyone is allowed to say what he wishes. We cannot disturb anyone from speaking what he wishes.” When I heard this, I began to search for ways of making aliya to the Land.

I found out that Jews were making aliya from Chernovitz, and that it was possible to hear the “Kol Yisrael” broadcast in Yiddish at a certain time each evening [5]. It was dangerous to listen to a foreign radio station, and therefore I always placed my sister outside the door to be on the lookout for any problems as I tuned in to Kol Yisrael from Jerusalem. I found out that many Jews were leaving from Poland and Romania. I made a request to the authorities, and after ten months of trials and tribulations, I received a notice that I must present myself in Stanislawow. There they told me that my request had been accepted and they told me very politely that I should visit the Russian ambassador in Tel Aviv in order to request any help that I might need. They further told me that I would be allowed to return “home” any time that I wanted.

One month later, we received the notice that we must pay the “Yas” [6] of 1,600 rubles as the fee for travel, and then proceed with the receipt to the captain of the Stanislawow region in order to receive the permit to travel abroad. In September 1956, we left Rozniatow to make aliya to the new Land with new hopes, and to begin a new chapter in our lives.

On Hoshanah Rabba [7], September 29, we arrived in Haifa, and from there we went directly to Ramat Gan, where our relatives were waiting for us.

Thus ended our wanderings in a world that was completely false and artificial.

Here, we hope to live a proper life.

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Our Saviors (Righteous Gentiles) [8]

During the time of the German reign of terror in Eastern Galicia, when any Ukrainian or Pole who did not harm a Jew was already considered as a good gentile, how can we describe and what words of praise can we use for a man who literally endangered his life in order to save Jews from a certain death, and to help a Jew as much as possible with out expecting any benefit in return.

One of the righteous gentiles was Misko Jagelavitz. I do not have sufficient words to praise, laud and extol this man and his deeds, and how he endangered his life in order to save and hide Jews from their persecutors. He was goodhearted and did all of this solely due to his conscience.

I will describe one event to you that characterizes the man and his outlook upon life. At the beginning of 1943, when the Germans began to liquidate the ghettos and concentration camps, Misko Jagelavitz immediately approached Dr. Sabat and offered his assistance to transfer him to a safe and secure place. In the meantime, Dr. Sabat and his wife Gizo (nee Weinreb), the dentist Mausmaloda, Berka Litower, the director Faher, Shapira and Maulik Diamond made plans to cross the Hungarian border, and they declined the offer of Misko. When they arrive there, along with a gentile who was a friend and close associate of Dr. Sabat, the gentile fell upon the entire group that he was leading with his weapons near the Sochodola Forest, and murdered them all.

After the liberation, at the conclusion of the war, when I met Dr. Karpf, he told me that, at the time, when he was the doctor of the local committee that conducted an inquiry into the deaths of the caravan in the Socholoda Forest, they all decided that this was premeditated, cold-blooded murder. The gentiles came to the place and identified the victims, in particular Dr. Sabat, who was well known in the entire area. They buried the victims and surrounded the grave with a wire fence to mark the burial place. Years later, my friend and relative Ben Zion Horowitz, who is now in Israel, told me that when he was still in Rozniatow after the liberation, he met on the streets of Rozniatow a deranged person who wandered around the outskirts of the town, deranged and confused. People told him that before the death of this deranged fool, he confessed to the priest of Rozniatow that he murdered the entire caravan of Dr. Sabat in the forest.

Misko hid eighteen Jews, and concerned himself with their safety and sustenance. Among others, the following Jews were hidden by him: Mendel Landsman and his wife Chana who were miraculously saved from the Kalush ghetto during the time of its liquidation; Shalom Shapira, his wife and child; as well as another child from Kalush. Misko sent Stas Jurczko and Dozi Didoko to the Bolekhov ghetto in order to rescue a few Jews. They came back with Dora Gelobter, her husband Max Ungar, their son Herman, daughter Fridi, her sister Sosia Gelobter, and Aharon Widman. Misko understood that such a large group, with their unstable health situation after the period of hunger that they suffered from in the ghettos of Kalush and Bolekhov, would require a doctor to visit them on occasion and administer assistance when they needed. Therefore he made contact with Dr. Avraham Fried, the son-in-law of Shmuel Friedler of Rozniatow, who still worked as a doctor in the nearby village of Soritshov. On several occasions, he summoned the doctor for us due to some urgent need.

When he recognized that our situation became more serious, he sent his wife to Dr. Fried and requested that he come and hide along with his group of hidden people. However Dr. Fried first wanted to make arrangements for his children to be looked after by gentiles, and he said that he would come in a day or two. He never succeeded in arriving. The Germans captured him and murdered him that day.

Misko was very generous. He never refused to do a good deed or to fulfil the request of one of the group of hidden people. He cared for them as a faithful father with great dedication, even if he did not receive money from them. His biggest problem was how to feed such a large group in a manner that his neighbors and fellow villagers would not recognize what was going on. He enlisted the assistance of the following gentiles to provide food for the group in a hidden manner: Stas Jurczko may he be remembered for his good deeds and Dozia Didoko. They also concerned themselves with the personal care and guarding of Aharon Ungar and Widman. I was also brought to them. They took care of us faithfully, and provided for our sustenance. This Stas employed his niece Stefka as an assistant in his house. To his neighbors, it appeared as if she was his housekeeper and cook, however her main job was to cook and provide food for the Jews. She also had a baby, and it is told that Misko cursed her baby so that she would not be able to speak. Indeed, this child did not begin to talk until he was about three or four. He did this all for our security, so that the child, in his innocence, would not Heaven forbid disclose our hiding place or our existence.

Misko believed that G-d would help him in his great task of saving Jews.

At the beginning of 1944, when there were already no more Jews in the forests, and there was nobody to pursue and murder, the Ukrainians began to fall upon each other. They organized various terror groups and began to pursue the Poles, as well as some of their fellow Ukrainians who did not share their outlook. They fell upon, murdered, and pillaged each other, and the situation became very dangerous.

On one Saturday evening, they invaded Misko's home, overturned everything in his yard, and searched for Misko in order to murder him. He immediately understood that it was not only he that was in danger, but all of the hidden people as well. He jumped out from his hiding place under the roof, and went via a circuitous route to the river when he hid until night. When the hooligans left his house after they finished pillaging it, he returned home and told us that it was only thanks to the fact that he helped Jews that he was saved from a sure death, and he gave thanks to G-d for saving him. However, he realized that the place was no longer secure for him. He moved to Stryj and from there he directed his associates as to how to conduct his business. He once undertook a very brazen deed. He dressed up as a Hungarian captain, showed up at his house and gave all sorts of instructions. He commanded his assistants to watch over the hiding place of the Jews in order to insure that no harm should befall them.

The gentiles Stach and Heryn Babi, Salsko Kozaik, Dr. Washkovitz, Stash Jurczko, Dozia Didoko, and Stefka all assisted him. In the forests of Lipowa, the following people helped the Jews: Kirila Lutak, Henet Herblinski, and Irina and Rozman Paripa.

After the liberation, the Bandrobches fell upon Stash Jurczko and injured him severely. Dr Karpf made every effort to save him. With great difficulty, he was able to summon a transport truck to transfer him to Stanislawow. His wife Ava, the wife of Dr. Karpf, and myself also traveled with him. He passed away en route.

The saviors Kirila, Kenet [9] and Irina died in 1945. Misko Jaglovitz died in 1962 in Poroshkov.

May their memories be blessed, and may they be remembered for good as righteous gentiles.


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In the Place of Murder
in the Dolina Cemetery after the Liberation

by Zeev (Wilush) Weinfeld


When the Red Army entered to our area in the forests of Dolina on August 8, 1944, all of those who remained alive in the forests came out of their hiding places and began searching for a place to go and restart their lives. I decided to go to Rozniatow to find some sort of work there. I found only two Jews in Rozniatow, a couple who had survived in the forests.

Not one of the wooden houses was still standing. All were burnt and destroyed. All sorts of vegetables grew in the fields. The gentiles of the area divided up the fields among themselves and worked them. A few houses that were built from stone remained standing. Gentiles took them over to live in them. They did not touch the Jewish cemetery of Rozniatow. I found the monuments intact there.

Not so in Dolina.

A few Jews who remained alive in the area banded together and decided to go to the place of murder in the Dolina cemetery. I was the only one there from Swariczow. There was nobody there from Rozniatow. Hesiu Peker, his wife Klara and brother Munio Peker were there from Dolina. Yaakov Adelstein was there from the village of Spas. One young man by the name of Pinile who had previously worked as a wagon driver, and another by the name of Leizerke were there from Dolina.

We went together to investigate the state of the cemetery where Jews from all around the region had been slaughtered on the terrible day of slaughter. All of the monuments from the cemetery, without exception, had been removed from their places. The Ukrainians used them as building material for their houses. There was no remnant of the fence that had surrounded the cemetery. The graves were no longer there and the ground had been flattened. Everything was as smooth as a field, however nothing grew there, for the Germans had poured plaster over all the bodies and the ground that covered the gigantic pits, and this prevented anything from growing from the ground. In one place I saw horse legs sticking out from the ground, and I understood that the gentiles had used the place as a burial ground for their animals.

Forty Ukrainian men, women and children who were murdered by the Germans on account of their hiding Jews in their homes were also buried in that cemetery in 1943. At the time, this had a great impact upon the residents, and from that time, no gentile was brazen enough to give any help to the Jews. Those murdered were relatives of three Ukrainian men who protected Jews, gave them a place of refuge, and later fought alongside them against the German army in the forests of Dolina. These men were: Stach Babi, his brother Hernio Babi and Slovko Kosczki.

Eight Russian captains who had fought along with the partisans against the German army were also buried there. These eight Russian captains fell in the aktion that cleared out the forest, when almost all of the people who were in the forest were killed. These eight Russian captains were also captured. They were hung in the outskirts of Dolina and later buried in the Jewish cemetery as a sign of disgrace and shame.

After the liberation of Dolina by the Russians, when they found out that eight captains were buried in the Jewish cemetery along with the Ukrainian partisans and their families, they removed all of these bodies and arranged an official government funeral. These bodies were buried in a Christian cemetery with much fanfare. Only the carcasses of the horses remained in the Jewish cemetery.

Munio Peker wished to take revenge against the German murderers and their assistants. Therefore, he enlisted in the Russian army and immediately joined the secret police. After some time, he was murdered in the vicinity of Stryj by the Ukrainian Bandrobches, who swarmed in the forests of the regions and took action against the Russian army.

Pinele the wagon driver enlisted in the Polish army, and was killed on the way to Berlin.

Leizerke of Dolina once went to the village of Strutyn after the liberation with a Russian guard. There, he had left a gold watch and other articles of value with a Ukrainian friend. The Bandrobches fell upon him and murdered him on the spot. The guard disappeared.

Yaakov Adelstein is alive. He is living in Haifa. Myself, who writes these lines with tears, lives in Hadera…


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Righteous Gentiles

by Wilush Weinfeld

Stach Babi – A Savior of Jews


In the winter of 1942-43, when I was hiding in the forests of Dolina from my S.S. pursuers and their assistants from the Ukrainian militia, I would sleep in a pit that I prepared for myself in a secret place in the forest, or in a haystack in one of the huts of the neighboring gentiles in which I would steel a night or two of sleep, making sure that they would not notice me. In the day, I would wander around the fields and gather leftover vegetables or potatoes. I would gather some dry branches in the forest, light a small fire and bake the potatoes or boil the vegetables that I had gathered from the fields in a small plate. On occasion, I had the opportunity to sneak into one of the barns in the region and milk a bit of milk into a bottle, or I would drink my fill right there. I would also sleep in one of the corners of the barn until morning. In this manner, I lived and sustained myself in the forest through the entire winter until the beginning of 1943. Around March of 1943, I met in the forest Yaakov Adelstein, from Spas, a village close to Rozniatow. He and another Jew from the same village by the name of Bitkover hid in the forests that surrounded Dolina. The three of us stayed together as a group and our worries were common, whether they were worries about food or sustenance, or personal safety. Finally we met a gentile, an acquaintance of Adelstein, and with whom he had left all of his clothes and valuables for safekeeping. Due to the goodness of his heart, this gentile agreed to let us spend the night in a straw hut on his property. The fodder provided us with some warmth on cold nights. On occasion, he would leave us some potatoes or a piece of bread, as well as a bit of milk.

One morning as we set out for the forest, we found out that there were two women in the forests, who were certainly also Jews hiding as we were. After some time, we heard the rustle of burning branches. When we approached, we saw two forlorn women sitting and warming themselves over the fire that they had lit from dry leaves. We recognized them immediately. They were the wife of Philip Fuerst of Rozniatow and the widow Golda who was the cousin of Yutzi Farosh or Fisher of Dolina (living today in the United States with his wife Chantzi Laufer of Rozniatow). These women had been imprisoned in the Dolina jail. On of the invasion of the jail by a group of partisans lead by Stach Babi, many of the prisoners escaped, including these two poor women. They succeeded in reaching the forests close to Dolina.

These women were ill, covered with wounds on their faces and hands, short on sustenance, and almost falling of their feet. They requested that we not leave them alone in the forest. They had a bit of wheat and corn flour, and they also gathered potatoes in the fields from one of the gentiles, with whom Mrs. Fuerst had left her valuables including a valuable fur coat. They would go to this gentile's property secretly in order to sleep there, without them knowing, for they knew that if he found out, he would expel them from his property despite the valuables that she had left there.

During the era of evil caused by the Nazi occupation of Poland, when most of the Polish nation was influenced by the virulent anti-Semitism, and many of them assisted the nazis in the work of exterminating the Jewish nation, it is befitting to mention to those who risked their own lives to save Jews. One of these was Stash Babi, a refined person and a faithful fighter against the Germans.

Stash Babi, who saved Jews,
in front of his house

 

Once when I was in the forest, I heard the rustle of wood and fire, and I realized that certainly someone else was hiding in the forest, warming himself by the fire. This was a Jew from Dolina by the name of Terpner, an acquaintance of mine from the time of the liquidations in Dolina. After the liquidation of the ghetto, Terpner along with his eighty-year-old father fled into the forest. His father, however, preferred to die in his home. He returned home and died there. Terpner was also among those who escaped from the jail when it was broken into by Stash Babi and his group. He was about forty years old, healthy, brave, and strong, and very diligent in the gathering of food. He equipped himself with a large pail, an ax and a sack, and went from village to village, stealing from the farmers' chickens, ducks, eggs and any thing else that was possible to obtain by physical force. His unkempt appearance instilled fear and trepidation.

The number of people in our group became unmanageable, so the group split into two: the first group consisting of Adelstein and Bitkover, and the second group consisting of the two women, Terpner, and myself. Despite the constant fear, life became more meaningful, for we had people to talk to, people to concern ourselves with, people to take counsel with. We all hoped together for liberty and freedom.

In April 1943, two other men who had been hiding appeared in the forest. These were the Peker brothers. I knew their entire family. They used to live in the village of Adnitza, close to Dolina. I knew their father, their sister and her husband, and their younger brother Jozek. They owned a small estate in that village. This family was well respected and beloved by all of the Ukrainian residents of the town, as well as by all the residents of the surrounding area. This was a very fine and upright family. During the time of the liquidation of Dolina, I fled to them and was put up as a guest in their home.

Stash (Stanislav) Babi,
one of the righteous gentiles

 

After some time, Yosef Lindenbaum appeared in the forest. In his time, he had made a great trip around all of Europe. He had also been in the land of Israel. The Pekers brought another youth by the name of Bronislaw Kremer to the forest. He was a Christian. His mother was a Pole and his father a German. They lived in Galicia, and the youth, due to his great refinement, could not tolerate seeing the suffering of his school friends. Despite the fact that he was a German, he gave up everything and joined in the suffering of his friends, to the point of going out with them to the forest. The Peker brothers had previously worked the Bolekhov work camp as “required workers”. They were diligent and good workers.

In May 1943, we found out that in the forest next to the city of Veldzizh, there were groups of Jews headed by an influential Christian by the name of Stefan Babi, the brother of Stach Babi. Stach Babi was also a well-known influential person. He fought faithfully on the Russian side against the Germans and against the Ukrainian bands. Many legends circulated about his bands of fighters and his brave deeds. The Peker brothers and Adelstein decided to join up with the bands of fighters.

There is a great deal to tell about Stach Babi. Others who have written about this period of time in the forests of Dolina have also done so. He lives today in Poland, and I am in touch with him by letter. One of the Peker brothers lives here in Israel in one of the Kibbutzim near Netanya. Adelstein lives in Haifa. Trepner, Bitkover, Mrs. Fuerst, and Golda died in the Carpathian forests in 1943 as they were fighting against the Germans. Lindenbaum and his wife were killed at the Hungarian border as they were attempting to cross. Muni Peker died at the conclusion of the war when he was in the service of the Russian N. K. V. D. in an action against the Ukrainian Bandrobches in the area of Stryj.


{220}

A Jewish Boy in the Cave of Dogs


After I came out of my hiding place in the forests around Dolina and entered one of the fields of the local farmers, to my great surprise I saw in one corner of the yard a young child wandering around in the dog cave along with a large purebred dog. When I approached the owner of the yard for an explanation, he broke out in laughter about his mighty deed, and told the following: “This is a Jewish child that I found abandoned one of the roads. I had mercy on him and brought him into my yard, and behold, he lives and is fed along with the other animals in my yard. See how beautiful he is.”

I looked at him, and saw the face of a boy aged between 5-7 sitting under the hut that he made for his dog, and being fed from the same plate from which the dog receives his food. He was fed the same food and the same water as the dog. The dog and the child became very good friends, and lived their dog-lives together. When I asked the boy to come out to me, he refused, for he was happy there with the dog. He knew only that they called him Eli.

The child got older and became very attached to the house and the householder. The householder placed him in one of the warm stables where the larger animals live. He took him out to work at guarding the ducks in the marsh. The child learned from the children of the neighboring farmers how to make the sign of a cross before the crosses on the roads, how to bow down to the crosses, to recite some of their prayers, and how to be like one of the local gentile children.

On one occasion, the Russians surrounded the village, entered into the room of the owner of the purebred dog, shot the dog and killed it on the spot. When the child saw what happened to the dog, he kneeled down, kissed it, patted it, and attempted to revive it. When he saw that it was not working, he broke out in terrible screams, as if he himself had been shot and injured.

I attempted by various means to convince him to come with me, that I wanted to save him from the hands of the gentiles, but I was not successful. I began to interrogate the gentile – incidentally, since he thought that I was also a Russian – and I found out that during one of the expulsions of Jews from Stryj, some Jews left the child in the fields, and he brought him into his house. He was afraid that his neighbors would reveal to the Germans that the child was a Jew.


Translator's Footnotes

  1. Rozniatow, which had been part of Poland prior to the war, became part of the U.S.S.R. following the war. Back
  2. These pictures were a reference to the rabbinic adage that one must “run like a deer” and be “as strong as a lion” with regard to the service of G-d. Back
  3. Seemingly, some sort of Ukrainian militia. Back
  4. This was a period of time when Stalinist Russia was purging the Jewish intelligentsia. This was known as the Doctors Trials. Back
  5. Kol Yisrael (literally “Voice of Israel”) is the Israeli Broadcasting Corporation. Back
  6. Presumably an exit tax. Back
  7. The 7th day of the Sukkot festival. Back
  8. This section does not have an entry in the table of contents, so my assumption is that it is by the same author as the previous section. Back
  9. Here it is spelled as Kenet and previously as Henet. There are several other spelling variations in this section. Back

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