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[Page 128]

Dr. Laykher[1]

by Shimon Malovantczyk[2]

Translated and funded by Frida Cielak nee Grapa Markuschamer (Mexico City)

He was an intelligent, able, and very respected person in the city (Wyszków). He was in close contact with the Polish local intelligentsia [intellectual group], but he always considered himself a national Jew. It happened more than once that he did not charge a visitation fee from a poor, sick person. As an elected member …

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… of the city fund, Dr. Laykher took personal interest in Jewish poverty and provided aid there where it was really needed.

When the Germans occupied Poland, Dr. Laykher, along with other Wyszkower Jews, was deported to the Wégrow[3] ghetto. There, he set up extensive medical and social activities among the depressed, dejected Jewish population. All his strength was devoted to help the suffering, and he sacrificed himself for the sick.

In the Wégrow ghetto, Dr. Laykher was the head of the underground movement.

A separate chapter of his life was his active participation in organizing the uprising in the Treblinka death camp, about which Yankl Wiernik,[4] who was able to escape, wrote: It is a pity that we have so little knowledge and information about Dr. Laykher's activities during the occupation years.[5]

Shimon Malovantczyk

Italics in parentheses are translator's remarks


Translator's Footnotes

  1. Dr. Berek Laykher's surname was registered officially as LAJCHER in Polish. In Polish, the letter ‘J’ is read as ‘I’ or ‘Y’ and the ‘CH’ is pronounced like ‘J’ (as in Jim). The Lajcher surname transliterated from Yiddish, according to Yivo transliteration rules, is written as ‘Laykher.’ Before this, and because of the absence of vowel signs in some Yiddish printings, the name would sound like ‘Leikher’ or ‘Leykher.’ This could certainly be why, when his surname was transposed phonetically into Roman letters, authors would use various spellings of the name, such as: Leycher, Leicher, Leichert, or even Leichera and Laycher.
    Many survivors of the Treblinka camp where Dr. Lajcher spent the last days of his life, wrote their memories after their escape in August 1943. Different versions of his name were used in these records, as were names on registered lists of survivors and prisoners of Treblinka. From all the writings reviewed, we know that the camp inmates often used nicknames among themselves to avoid becoming too friendly with newly arrived inmates. They feared too much intimacy since the SS Nazi camp commanders could shoot any of them just for fun on a daily basis. The use of nicknames or only surnames was customary in Treblinka, as in many other camps. Therefore, when referring to Dr. Berek Lajcher's activities, we can find his name and surname written in many different ways, including Leicher, Leycher, Leichert, etc. Also, he was referred to as: Dr. Beck, or Beniek, and even registered as Dr. Marius Leichert.
    (In Yitzhak Arad's book “Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka,” chapter 28, p. 219, he was registered as Dr. Beck. Among the list of names at Yad Vashem, and at the Alphabetical Listing of Treblinka Survivors and Victims site “Treblinka Remember Me,” the three different given names contained descriptions coinciding with Dr. Berek Lajcher. Similarly, his name was registered as Dr. Leichert by Stanislaw Kon in his “Revolt in Treblinka and the Liquidation of the Camp.”) Return
  2. Shimon (full name: Shimon Zakharyeh) Malovantczyk, the son of the Wyszkow hairdresser on Rynek, F. Malovantczyk, a hairdresser and a popular city feldsher doctor [“fake” doctor, rural practitioner of medicine without medical degree, an old–time barber–surgeon; a doctor's assistant). F. Malovantchik/Malovantczyk was considered to be the top in his field, and enjoyed talking with the Jewish doctor Leykher (Berek Lajcher). Malovantczyk used to say that doctors could not tolerate intelligent feldshers… (p. 156 Wyszkow Yizkor Book [“Der Feldsher Malovantchik”] “The Rural Doctor Malovantczyk”). Return
  3. Wegrow is about 27 km from Wyszkow, and it is there that Dr. Berek Lajcher moved when the Germans invaded Poland. (*Note: Because he arrived with the Wegrow ghetto people, he became known as the doctor from Wegrow. Dr. Berek Lajcher was born on October 12, 1893, in Czestokhowa, Poland, studied in Warsaw where he also served in the Polish Army as an officer, moved to Wyszkow where he married and had his only child, and became one of Wyszkow's prominent citizens and a popular doctor among Jews and non–Jews. He moved to Wegrow with the sole intention of helping the Wegrow ghetto Jews, and was, from there, deported with all of them to Treblinka. There he was commonly known as the doctor from Wegrow, where he worked at the camp infirmary replacing the late doctor Julian Chorazycki who, until his death, was the commander of the Camp Underground Organization, in which Dr. Lajcher actively participated. (Stanislaw Kon, in his “Revolt in Treblinka and the Liquidation of the Camp,” wrote: “Dr. Leichert from Wegrow was selected by the Germans from a new transport, and replaced Chorazycki.”) Return
  4. Yankel Wiernik /Jankiel Wiernik, is the author of a Yiddish manuscript titled “A Year in Treblinka.” Wiernik was born in 1890 in Biala Podlaski, Poland. He belonged to the Bund Socialist Jewish Organization in Eastern Europe, was arrested and sent to Siberia. After completing a term of service in the Tsarist Army he settled in Warsaw, where he became a building contractor. On August 23, 1942, he was deported to Treblinka. Almost a year after his deportation, he escaped from Treblinka during the uprising of August 2, 1943. In 1944/45, he wrote his memoir in order to let the world know what went on in Treblinka. Wiernik was also a witness at several trials against the German Nazi commanders who were captured. Wiernik's manuscript was translated from Yiddish to English, and it can be found at: http://www.zchor.org/treblink/wiernik.htm Return
  5. The “Biography of a Martyr: Dr. Berek Lajcher (Leicher)” manuscript is being prepared by the historian Enrique Krauze, assisted by his researcher Frida Cielak (nee Grapa Markuschamer). Return


Reb Motl Broder

by Shimon Malovantchik

Translated by Zulema Seligsohn

A great God–fearing man, who bore all pains and suffering without blaming anyone, and least of all, the Lord of this world. He never parted with his Book of Psalms. No one ever heard a bad word out of his mouth toward anyone. He found something to say in everyone's favor and was very careful and considerate in his speech

Reb Motl Broder was the trustee of the Hevrah Kedisha (Burial Society) and everyone said that he was the right man in the right place.

His wife, Reitse, the daughter of Reb' Shloime, official slaughterer of Nasielsk, was truly a holy woman, always with good traits and joy. They both were able to raise their children in their own spirit. One son–on–law was Reb Mendl Kolner, a slaughterer and great Torah scholar and God–fearing man.

When the Germans came in to Wyszkow and led many Jews to the outskirts of the town to shoot them, among them was Reb Motl Broder. Soon afterwards, the other members of his family were also martyred there, except for his two sons, who had emigrated before the war.


Reb Yakov Dovid Pszetitski

by Shimon Malovantchik

Translated by Zulema Seligsohn

He always sacrificed himself to help the needy, and had the rare virtue of listening to other people's sorrows and worries. His ear and his heart were as open to others as his purse, For everyone who came to him for help or for advice, he tried to think of the best means to help them. Meanwhile he never delayed taking care of whatever came to him. In such a case he left all his own occupations and any business; did not think about his own family, and brought the help that was needed – but with respect and in a discreet manner, so the recipient would not feel embarrassed or ashamed.

Yakov Dovid Pszetitski, like a father, showed his interest and concern for those who needed a one–time loan to greet the Sabbath or a holiday, or to prepare for the winter with appropriate clothes and a quantity of coal.

He was a counselor to the congregation and chairman of the treasury of the free–loan institution in Wyszkow. In these two realms he was able to develop his philanthropic and social activities, and those who benefited from his help will always remember him.

With the breakout of WWII, his wandering life began. After many years of suffering and wandering, he was granted the joy of realizing his dream; to migrate to Israel. There also he undertook his social aid activities and again became the address for the survivors from Wyszkow, who had begun to reach the Jewish land. He immediately contacted the residents from Wyszkow in America. He was active in the local aid organization on behalf of Wyszkow. He was one of its founders and treasurer until death took him in Tel Aviv in 1956.

May his memory be blessed!


Mordkhe Tchekhanov

by Tch. (Khane) Appleboim

Translated by Zulema Seligsohn

Mordkhe Tchekhanov was a warm person and a wonderful Jew. A quiet, calm, polite speaker, but every one of his words was spoken wisely. Thus quietly with no unnecessary loudness, he accomplished a great deal of work. His house was an institution in itself. There was no important organization on the Jewish street that was not connected with him and with his life's companion, his devoted wife Molly, who with a generous hand supported all those who came to them for help.

Mordkhe was a cultured man, with a fine demeanor, heeded and loved by everyone. He founded and built the compatriots' organization in America. Everyone came to him for advice. His whole family looked up to him, held him in high esteem, and he had full authority over them.

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With his death, not only his whole family found itself orphaned, but also his Wyszkow compatriots everywhere.

His whole activity was – benevolence. For years he led the Wyszkow relief works. He sent tens of thousands of dollars to Wyszkow for the maintenance of kitchens, institutions, schools, etc. On his own, he gave a great deal to charity, even when he himself did not have very much. As a dedicated Zionist from early times, he was a generous supporter and believer in the land of Israel, and he was fortunate to be able to visit the Jewish land and see the realization of his dream. This visit gave him a push to increase his activities on behalf of Israel.

Mordkhe died with a smile on his face, knowing his physical sufferings were over, and with the certainty that his dear wife and his children who were brought up in his own national spirit, would continue his noble work.

Honor to his memory!


R. Simon son of Yehezkel Serbernik

by Yerakhmiel Wilenski

Translated by Chava Eisenstein

With high regards and much respect, I wish to bring up the noble figure of my teacher and Rabbi, R. Simon z”l. he was one the limited “Elevated Souls”in our times. Beloved and admired by all folks from every type, in our city Wyszkow and the surrounding towns, where he was well known as a great scholar, that many rabbis throughout Poland obtained Torah from him.

With esteemed awe, I envision his bright image at events or different occasions. His glowing face and passionate words resembled a divine figure, a serpent. His sayings, thoughts, permeated fiery Godliness, his whole self, seemed to reflect the Divine Presence itself.

I remember him standing in prayer, at his steady corner, his eyes so clever, as if penetrating with beautified fear, as not from this world, he didn't move as he turned his prayer to heaven. Only his lips whispered, as if his soul has returned from the highest spheres. Indeed, whoever witnessed him praying was convinced that “Heart Labor is Prayer”.

In our city, he was known as R. Simon Hezkel's, or R. Simon the melamed – The Teacher. He fully reflected the saying “He Teaches Torah to His Nation Israel”. He was teacher and educator for youngsters as well as for adults. In his heider, he had teenage boys learning Gemara with commentaries, with the poskim - earliest and later allocations. He would also devote several hours a week to teach Hebrew grammar and Tanakh. The classes would usually count up to 40 students. They took place at the small synagogue of the “Hevrat Tehillim”– Psalms saying group. He never raised a hand or even scolded his students for improper behavior; a glance at the boy was a sufficient reprimand for the pupil who lowered his eyes in shame. He implemented in their hearts care for the fellow Jew and his needs. Every week he would sent two students to collect money for a poor student. R. Simon didn't hesitate to challenge his excelling pupils, he would assign them to be up Thursday nights and restudy all they have learned over the week.

His schedule was crammed with various studies for the public. In the evening, between prayers, he would learn in the main Bet Medrash with the working folks, and members from the “Mesilat Yesharim”society. Many people would gather around the table, and listen eagerly to his captivating words. Being many years the steady manager of the Alexander synagogue, he would make on occasion melave malka feasts on Saturday nights for the fellow Hassidim, he would then bring up interesting Hassidic anecdotes. Things that happened in the Rabbi's room while he was present. Hassidic tales from back in the days of the “Baal Shem Tov”. He also started the circle of learning “Likutei Torah”of Rabbi Schneor Zalman of Liadi. In the wee hours of the night, he would be engrossed,learning Kabalistic studies. In the morning, after immersing in the Mikveh, he and his people would go to the main synagogue and recite psalms.

On holidays or festive days as well as at days of mourning, R. Simon stood at the center of the life at the community, serving also as spokesman.

I recall the night of Yom Kippur, when Rabbi Simon took out the Torah scroll from the Holy Ark, and encircled the pulpit saying excitedly: “Or Zorua La'Zadik”– Light is implemented for the righteous, and the honest will deserve happiness.

And, when you looked into his bright blue eyes, you acknowledged the light and the joy of the zadik. This repeated itself on the day of Simhat-Torah, when he called out “Atta Horeisa”and when he danced with the Torah in his arms while surrounding the pulpit, his eyes beamed with joy, faith, and love.

The night of Rosh Hashanah, those sacred minutes when the New Year was about to settle in, his whole being, said love and favor for the Jewish youths that approached him for a blessing upon the coming year. He would hold the hand of the youth and slowly let go of him even after wishing him the best. One would imagine that this is not R. Simon, but rather the lad's biological father who cares for his son and his future; he was entirely burning with excitement, thus, enticing the whole crowd with him.

Journey of His life

As a youngster, in the 1890's, R. Simon's father sent him to learn Torah at the yeshivot in Poland. The most of his Torah knowledge, his great proficiency, and wittiness, he acquired being a pupil of Rabbi Avrumele from Sochaczew z”l, and obtained his Rabbinic Authorization from him. He inherited from him many handwritten of Torah findings, rabbinic discourse, alike the notorious “Noda Be'Yehuda”has composed. His father of blessed memory, was an ardent Hassid of the Rebbe of Alexander, Author of the “Yismah Yisrael”. For the holidays, he would travel with his son Shamele to be by the Rabbi. The Rabbi had a close relationship with him. In his young years, he would stay at the “court”so that the Rabbis own children should learn and be educated by him. When he married the daughter of a prominent Alexander Hassid, he came back to our Wyszkow, where he built his home. The Rabbi directed him, to accept his status as “Torato Omanuto”meaning, Torah - is his profession, nothing otherwise. That, until he receives a job. Occasionally the Alexander Rabbi would request him to accompany for several months newly appointed rabbis, to various communities in Poland, and guide them with halacha issues and religious customs. For two years, he was head of the Alexander Yeshiva, but he needed to support his large family, and make sure to their Torah education, he returned to his family, and despite all the many trouble and concerns that bothered him, they didn't leave their imprint on his personality. He was always happy with whatever he had. His aware and vital approach impressed everyone that was

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in touch with him. When there was disagreement between the Ger and Alexander Hassidim, he would say, that his concern is not the ruling of the community, but the young generation, which is growing up under the influence of modern literature, which began infiltrating the Agudat Israel youth. His spiritual influence was great; no one had the ability to sway him. He was simply admired and honored by all.

His Final Way

In those horrendous days that befell the Wyszkow community, when the city was aflame, he ran with his family towards the Bug River, heading to Kamienczyk, where the Germans reached him. They physically abused him; shaving off parts of his beard together with the flesh. From there he continued to Bialystok where he encouraged the remaining survivors, advising them not to return to occupied Poland, and go on traveling to Siberia. The Russians exiled him together with a large group to Arkhengelsk (city in Russia). He was taken to a labor camp in the forest, and in spite of it being of forced labor, he was the only one to be exempt from labor, as the N.K.V.D. realized that he is a prominent Rabbi. Nevertheless, his life was still very difficult. His inventive devoted wife found how to sustain the family. His older sons too, worked and helped financially. He would encourage the distraught people. Some of those who were with him in the labor camp convey, that the N.K.V.D. was on constant watch of him, still, he succeeded in finding a hiding place in a shack, there he conducted cultural activity and communal prayers. Therefore, they were eyeing him. Together with Cantor Griniski from Kielcz, Jews said “Kol Nidrei”prayers on Yom Kippur eve. Jews would awake at 5:30 and pray, at 6:30 they were already at work. Here, they were “encouraged”by the whip to work faster. Once, in middle of prayers, the bullies showed up, wending straight ahead to R. Simon. They locked him in a tiny dungeon, for 10 days he laid there shivering from frost. When they took him out, he was unconscious, people alarmed a doctor, but his tormenters would not allow him treatment. Doctor Tzarkin hid medicine on him to save him from pneumonia; the doctor himself succumbed later to Typhus.

On Sunday, the thirteenth of Nissan, 1941 at 9:00 in the morning, when his follower Huna came to see him, he opened his eyes, called Huna, and returned his soul to his creator. The inhabitants bought shrouds and obtained a burial issue. A quorum of men, Cantor Grinski amongst them, brought his coffin up to the hill; there he was put to rest under a fresh tree.

Our heart aches upon the loss of this precious soul. inadvertently we cry out: “Is that the Reward for such Sanctity?”in my ears still reverberate the eulogy of the “Ten Martyrs”recited by Reb Simon, all orphaned and engulfed in bereavement, in the dark night of the ninth of Av.

This same vicious fate awaited him too. For ten days, he was confined, covered by snow, quivering between life and death, nourished by dry stale bread and some water. Still, his sense remained undeterred, when he was drawn out of the hole, semiconscious, he whispered a prayer, or was it the prayer of David, psalms composer: “G-d, strangers have entered your estate…”his[1] strong spirit and deep rooted faith infused him with the strength to withstand the Pneumonia, and last for another six months. Until the night before Pesakh 5711.

What a great unforgettable loss.

From his family are left:

His wife Feiga
His sons: Rabbi Zadok Silver – N.Y.
Menachem and Israel Kaspi – Israel

Yerakhmiel Wilenski


Translator's footnote

  1. Here comes a phrase: נתנו בשרם למים - which doesn't appear in Psalms. Instead it says: נתנו את נבלת עבדיך Return

Motl and Sore Baharov

by Yitszkhok Baharav/Barab

Translated by Zulema Seligsohn

Reb Motl Baharov was a well–known personality in Wyszkow. For more than 50 years he was the slaughterer in the town (therefore his name Motl Shoikhet [slaughterer]), a respectable, true Khasid. His father, Reb Faivel Baharov, had been a rabbi in Wyszkow for fifteen years. Afterwards, he held the rabbinical chair in a larger town, Nowy Dwor, for 25 years.

Sore Baharov, Motl's wife, was well–known in Wyszkow for her honesty, modest behavior, and …

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… religious devotion. Her father, a learned man and a scholar of the Talmud, was well–known in Warsaw by the name, Reb Yosele Kaftal.


A Very Ramified (Well–Branched) Family

by Yitszkhok Baharav/Barab

Translated by Zulema Seligsohn

Motl and Sore Baharov had ten children, nine sons and one daughter, Gitele, who married Khaim Leib Kliger from Pultusk. He was the slaughterer there until WWII broke out. Motl and Sore's sons were Leibl, Yosef, Moishe, Faivl, Barukh, Velvl, Itche, Hershl, Yisrolyk. Leibl and Yosef had died before the war. Perished among all the saints and martyrs, either at Treblinka or in the Ghetto, were:

Yosef Baharov, a true Khasid, president of many institutions in Serock. (He and his wife, two sons and two daughters, perished. One daughter lives now in Israel).
Faivl Baharov and one of his sons perished. (Two other sons were rescued: one is now in Israel and one in Argentina)
Hershl Baharov perished with his wife, two sons, and one daughter.
Yisrolyk Baharov perished with his wife and one son.
Gitele Baharov perished in Treblinka with her husband, Reb Khaim Leib, two sons and a daughter. (One son is now in Israel)

In 1930, Motl Shoikhet died. All shops in the town were closed as the funeral cortege passed on its way to the cemetery. The coffin was carried the whole way. In the middle of the street, for the first time ever, the eulogy was delivered by the Rabbi, Reb Yaakov Yehuda Morgenstern; the second eulogy was delivered at the open grave by the deceased's son–in–law, Reb Khaim Leib Kliger. Nearby following were his children and their mother Sore, who was muttering during the whole walk “Motl, Motl, I envy you. I wish that some day I could have such a funeral and my nine sons and my daughter and their families would be able to accompany me…”

Unfortunately, Sore Baharov was not fated to be buried in a Jewish grave. At the age of 83, she, together with her children and grandchildren (27 in all) perished in martyrdom.

 

The survivors

From the far–flung family, the following survived: Velvl Baharov with his family (in Israel); Itche Baharov with his wife Feige (Israel); Rivke Baharov and her family (Argentina); Yehoshe Baharov (z”l), who died of a heart attack in 1961 at the age of 39 in Buenos Aires, survived by his wife, two sons, and his parents; from Barukh Baharov, a son in Israel; from Leibl Baharov, a son in Argentina.


R. Hanok (Heinoch) Kornet

by Moshe Kornet

Translated by Chava Eisenstein

I was an infant of two months when my father passed away. Many people told me about his personality, he also bequeathed me a book he composed – “The Citizen in Israel,”which had Torah notes, interpretations on the Gemara, Psalms etc. He published his book in 5,688 (1928) at the print shop of R. Isaac Meir Alter of Warsaw, carrying the approval of the famous figures: Rabbi Joseph Lewenstein z”l of Serock, Rabbi Asher Gershon z”l of Rypin, and Rabbi Menahem Mendel Albek z”l of Zyrardow.

He has also written a commentary on Genesis. It is worthwhile noting, that the name of his sefer “The Citizen in Israel”is not incidentally, in spite of being famous in our town as a khassid of Ger, who was authorized as member in the Rabbinate, he was Torah observant, and even an ultraist – yet, he did consider immigration to the Israel. In those days, a Zionist was regarded as a heretic. Father said, “Perhaps these Zionist youngsters are a G-d-send… like when there is a wedding, the first to run ahead are the children, they can run fast, then come the parents and the high esteemed guests… maybe, the youngsters should make ready the ground for immigration.”

*

My dear pious mamma, Miriam, was the daughter of Mendel Mizlutz z”l from the town Ostrolenka. By only forty she was widowed and left with six children, the eldest, Hana'le z”l, was seventeen, and I – a two month infant. Yet, Mamma, being modest and well educated, knew to speak and write six languages, had dedicated her life for her children, she never remarried and has undertaken the complete financial burden of the family and brought us up as loyal Jews. She didn't merit to enjoy her children for long because she was murdered by the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto.

Their son: Moshe Kornet


Grandpa, R. Israel-Isaac
Grandma, Freida-Perla

by Isaac, son of Nahum Weisman (Perla)

Translated by Chava Eisenstein

R. Israel-Isaac Perla, so tall and straight, his whole appearance called for honor. Indeed, everyone, Jews and non-Jews alike, accepted and revered him. Therefore he was elected as City-Council member of Wyszkow.

He volunteered to be active for the public voluntarily, but it took up most of his free time, often it prevented him from being at home with his family, but the family was accustomed to perceive him almost as a guest at home. Despite that, we had much honor for him, because we knew how much he cares for each one of the entire family, we felt, that inside him is a warm fatherly heart that loved us all fervently. And with this heated love, his heart burnt out untimely.

I still remember Grandma Frieda in her prime years (in Wyszkow she was called 'Frieda R. Shaloms'). Nevertheless, the passing years didn't erase all the natural beauty from her radiant face. We grandchildren were drawn to her and loved her to pieces.

Grandma Frieda served as a motherly image with rare noble characteristics and a receptive good heart. Although life didn't pamper her,

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she suffered plenty sorrow and pain, twice she was widowed, and most of her life she had to solely provide for her family. And yet, she cared relentlessly for them, being for her children both, mother, and father.

Grandma Frieda was known for her special affection to the Land of Israel and to the Zionist idea as a whole. Although she was very religious and observant (religion and Zionism didn't necessarily go together). She did whatever she was able to help her children who were then planning to immigrate to the Land of Israel. When she received mail from the Holy Land she was so very happy, she would read them with joyful tears a hundred and one times. How proud she was with her Israeli children, and for her share in inhabiting the Land of Israel!

She craved to join her children in Eretz Israel, but to our dismay she didn't merit that. Yet she did virtue to play an active role, and see part of her family settle in Israel. Besides, thanks to her, the rest of the family immigrated after her death, thus, escaping the Nazi hell.

No doubt, Grandpa Israel-Isaac and Grandma Frieda z”l can fit the words of our great sages: “Tears shed over a worthy person, the Almighty counts them and stores them in his treasury.”Those tears we cast upon remembering them, will not be in vain. Their memory will serve as an ideal model of love and compassion for humanity.

Isaac, son of Nahum Weisman (Perla)


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To the Memory of my Father,
Simkha Mushkat

by YH. Mushkat

Translated by Zulema Seligsohn

Dedicated to my parents, sister and brothers, who perished in the Warsaw Ghetto.

At the edge of the Senators' Garden, on the western side, there, was a road that led downhill to the Bug River. Near there, there was a house where two families lived: ours and our neighbor's, Velvl Fisher, who had grown sons and two beautiful daughters.

The boys from the Beth–Hamidrash would often come there in the summer, enjoy a swim and, perhaps, catch sight of Fisher's daughters. My younger brother once got into a small boat, pushed off from the shore with the oars and went off into the middle of the river. Fortunately, a few of the boys had just come over to swim in the river, and seeing the boat, swam out with the current and saved my brother. Another time, my father, Simkha Mushkat, rescued a little boat. But he was not a swimmer, and barely made it out alive himself.

This happened about 60 years ago, before Passover. The warm spring breezes had already arrived. On a certain evening, our house needed water; and as usual, when this happened, my father took the bucket and went to the still frozen river to knock out a hole in the ice and thus bring the water home.

After a good while, as my father had not returned, my mother went looking for him. Her voice cut through the quiet of the night: “Simkha! Simkha!” But there was no answer. She gave the alarm to Velvl Fisher and his sons, who also came down to the river to call for my father. To our great misfortune, we saw that the ice was moving. Desperately, Mother began to call even louder “Simkha, Simkha,” and broke down sobbing. With each shout, its echo reverberated all the way to the forest, on the other side of the river. But this time, because of the roar of the breaking ice, there was no response from the echo. Everyone was sure that my father was no longer among the living.

Disheartened, my mother lit candles and placed them in the windows, so that the lit up house could be seen from the distance. We, the children, walked around all night on the shore crying. As dawn came, we saw that Father had suddenly appeared. Full of joy and fear we pelted him with our questions: “Where were you? What happened to you”?

And then Father told us:

When he bent over to fill the bucket, the ice began to break up and move away, dragging with it a little boat that was standing there. Father, realizing that it was too late for him to jump to the shore, got into the little boat as it was carried away in the current. There was the risk that the boat would be destroyed by the ice that pressed and squeezed it on all sides. Father sought a chance to catch on to a breakwater, and he finally was able to, but he was by then quite far away, past the Lord's palace. With his greatest last effort he pulled himself up unto the rocky shore and also pulled the little boat out. This was a tremendous physical feat, because the ice was pulling at the boat. After getting it to higher ground and securing it from the ice, Father sat down to rest for a while.

All this happened on a very dark night.


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Defenders of Our Land

Zvika Musberg

by Penina Musberg

Translated by Chava Eisenstein

These were the days… Not long ago, and yet eons ago. He was a boy of just 25, “A man without a biography…”

His path in life seemed smooth and blissful, with nary an obstacle. Throughout his childhood and adolescence, he lived at home and eventually found a job as a clerk. Simultaneously, he devoted his time to the study of Torah and science, and only when he reached the age of twenty did he determine to make it on his own.

He married, and with generous financial support of his father-in-law gained social and financial stability. From then and on, his life indeed resumed its smooth course. He supported his family in a variety of capacities, taking whichever road seemed best at the time, always trusting Fortune as his guiding hand. His exploits and successes came and went.

When he was 25 years old, following the Massada incident, he joined an aerial reconnaissance unit searching for the murderers. As a talented scout, he was familiar with all the paths of the Negev and wide open spaces which he so loved. It was also here where he met his tragic end when his plane crashed into a stone cliff.

Throughout constant activity and intensive daily action, he inscribed his autobiography, which is worthy of being published in his memory.

*

Zvika was born on May 25, 1934 in Wyszkow, Poland. He was an attractive child of average height, and constantly growing. Well-built and slightly round, he was laughing and good-natured, always bringing smiles to the faces of others. He loved music and song, listened and told stories wherever he was, both at home and on the road.

From early childhood, he displayed a flair for drama, and he acted and entertained those around him at every opportunity. His early life heralded his later years. By the time he was five, he began manifesting independent, logical thinking. When playing with friends, he was ever the leader, marching ahead of the rest. Tragically, his blissful childhood was cut short by the outbreak of World War II.

The world was in upheaval, and we escaped along with everyone else. Our first hiding place was in the Polish cemetery in Radzymin where we lay motionless among the graves. Zvika cried out, “Mamma, Tatte! Don't pick up your heads, or the Germans will kill you!”

When the tempest settled somewhat we remained in Radzymin for another three weeks, but the situation there was unbearable. Determined to escape, we joined another family and hired a gentile wagon driver named Kortzkedi to transport us to the border in the middle of the night. On the way, we were stopped by the Germans who stripped us of all our wealth and belongings. Zvika wept hysterically when the Germans reached to search him physically, and pitying him, they let him be.

Throughout our journey, Zvika constantly peppered us with questions such as, “Why are we escaping? When will we return home?” The child couldn't fathom what was happening around us and throughout our world. He listened intently to the men discussing and arguing politics, and he enjoyed expressing his own opinion about these matters. We suffered the throes of war, yet still could not fully fathom the meaning of the word: War. To hunger for bread… Every time we bit into a slice of bread, our joy knew no bounds.

The following image rises before my eyes: I sat with Zvika, playing with our bread and occasionally taking a bite, because it was such a shame to have to eat and finish it. It's impossible to recall or count the nights when we went to sleep hungry and thirsty, or to forget that awful sensation of hunger. Mamma would stare at us with tear-filled eyes and comfort us. The war will end tomorrow, and everything will be good again. We won't be hungry again…

1945. The World War ended, and Zvika was 11 years old. We came to Poland to the city of Szczecin and joined the “Ichud” group. For two weeks, we were without our parents, but we were heartened by the kibbutz's promise to us that we would soon be reunited in Berlin.

Reaching Berlin, we were certain that our parents were awaiting us. To our chagrin, they were nowhere to be found, and we were deeply disappointed. For six months, we lived without them. Living conditions in Berlin were quite good, as the kibbutz provided for all our needs; yet we sorely lacked parental love. After the terrible suffering that we'd endured during the war, we kept close watch on each other

 

wys134a.jpg - Zvika with a jeep, descending from an airplane wys134b.jpg - Zvika Musberg in the Israeli Military
Zvika with a jeep, descending from an airplane… Zvika Musberg in the Israeli Military

 

wys135.jpg - Over Zvika's grave
Over Zvika's grave

 

since, we really liked each other. The Kibbutz moved from Berlin to the town of Muhldorf in Bavaria, Germany. We learned, danced and sang, Zvika participating in every show, being a natural performer, he always featured the head figure. One evening the counselor came to tell me that Zvika is ill. I ran over to him, he laid in bed helplessly, writhing with abdominal pain. I ran to bring him a hot water battle, luckily, I didn't find hot water, it was an inflamed appendix. At night, he was brought to the hospital and was operated, without my knowing. That night, I didn't stop crying and shedding tears until the counselor took me to the hospital to see him. I found him in bed, white like the sheet and I burst into tears, but he calmed me saying not to fuss “over a small infection, you will see, tomorrow I will be back on my feet.”

In a short while, he was back to himself. We would obtain permission and leave the camp to go out window shopping. We would buy small gifts from our meager allowance we received from the counselor, hoping to surprise our parents shortly with our purchases.

I still remember our bitterness, watching from far a couple coming to take home their children, they were all so happy and excited, kissing their children all the time. How we envied them, but Zvika would always console me: you'll see, they too will come.

Indeed, in 1946 we found ourselves in our parents hugging arms. We traveled along with them to Munich, there we lived in a big apartment house for two weeks together with thousands of people.

Towards the end of 1946 the American patrons opened a new camp in Bavaria, named “Trauenstein,”we stayed there till the beginning of 1949. At the Hebrew school there, we learned to write and read. Overall, we had a good time there, for us it was sort of a deliverance after all the suffering and the trouble we encountered during the entire war.

Here we learned of Jewish customs, the Jewish holidays and of our wonderful Land, Israel. We heard about the Kibbutz and the settlements and of our right to fight for our land. People began immigrating to Israel, and Zvika too has had enough of it. At a violent encounter with the shkotzim (gentiles), one of the gangsters titled him the popular farfluchte Jude – cursed Jew. That's when Zvika came to me with an idea: tomorrow we will go on strike, we'll stay in bed and cry we want to go to Israel (our parents were not yet keen on immigration). That is what we did, we sat and cried for hours, until our parents gave in and promised to begin to move about it.

In May 1949 we arrived in Israel on the “Independence”ship. Zvika adapted right away, he knew Hebrew from school in Germany, so he was considered a natural “Sabra.”He began studying in the evenings, high-school studies, while serving as municipal clerk at the engineering department of Netanya, a job he received from “The Youth Labor,”and excelled at it. Truth is, he didn't really enjoy this type of work, he always claimed that office work is not his destination, “I cannot sit and warm the chair”he would say, anticipating the moment he will join the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

That happy day soon arrived. Zvika, with his good friend Naphtali, who was also joining the army, arranged a farewell party, not neglecting to print invitations. They enlisted in the army, and after some training Zvika came home for a short leave, his face was shining with happiness, and excitedly he unfolded his training encounters, expressing his opinion, that the army provides essential schooling for everyone, and sets one off for life.

Zvika was transferred to the “Givati”section, in the infantry he found the right place for his many ambitions. He took part in some retaliation acts, and was wounded a few times, without our knowing. He would always say to mamma: “Ima, don't worry for me, d'you know what the army means? I don't know when I will come again.”His happiness knew no bounds, coming home for a break as lance corporal.

Whenever he came home, he would tell us that he passed well this course or another. He would show us proudly his diplomas as a master trainee. I recall how I would iron his uniform; he stood near me and instructed me exactly how each pleat should be ironed. Saying that he has to serve as a model for his co-soldiers. Indeed, he always appeared tidy and immaculate, with an optimistic air.

Soon his military service was over, and he was about to be released as staff sergeant. He came home, but expressed his desire to stay in the IDF to join the active forces. Mother didn't want to hear about it and so he discharged from the army.

Again, he and his friend Naphtali arranged a party, this time upon their release.

Zvika returned to his old job at the Netanya municipality. If he would be bored prior to his army service, now he was bored sevenfold. He would reprimand mamma, stating that in civilian life he won't get anywhere, but in the army he can make his career. Occasionally he would attend various courses on account of the reserve duty he owed the army, which he was glad to face and accomplish faithfully.

At the end of 1957 mamma gave into him, and Zvika enlisted in regular service, straightaway he passed the officers course successfully, he was the happiest man as an officer. He took part in the Sinai Mission although he was in middle of the officers course. In one of those evenings, our door opened, in walked an unexpected guest. At the first moment, we didn't recognize him,

[Page 136]

He was dressed like an officer. Only after he said a heavy “Shalom”exposing two rows of smiling teeth we recognized Zvika! We asked him, aren't you at the course? and he answered: “with so much work waiting, you expect me to sit around and study? Do you want to wait for the Arabs to come in and slaughter you”? He slept for two hours in which we heard him imagining he is at battle, shouting orders, “Fire, fire, guys!”.

Later, Zvika asked to be shifted to the open space of the Arava, since he was familiar and knew all the ways of the Negev (south), he felt he was needed. His wish was met, and now he was a solo ruler, undisturbed by orders and regulations, he and his people following him, roamed for days and weeks the arid desert, guaranteeing security for the travelers in those difficult routes. I recall him being nicknamed “Popski,”for after long days not being able to track him in that terrible desert, his commanding officer reprimanded him “Do you think this is your private army?”, since then, he was named and known as “Popski.”

Yes Pop, you featured a special image amongst your friends, of a lively clever fellow, fully aware of all the goings-on.

At that time Zvika suffered pain in his foot, he needed surgery. He had a slipped disc in his leg, although the leg was injured a couple of times, it healed smoothly and he even went to rehabilitation for two weeks, where he was treated and recovered, his physical fitness was limited for one year, but Zvika laughed off that order, insisting to continue as regular. One day he came home announcing: “Mamma, I'm getting married!”his girlfriend Mira whom he got to know in Eilat, we had known for a year. His decision was so sudden that mamma spontaneously called out “Mazal Tov.”

Zvika set his mind on Beer-Sheva, where he received a nice apartment. He arranged, repaired and decorated with his own hands, until it looked like a beautiful museum. He hung beautiful paintings he painted himself on the walls amongst other original items. For 5 months joyousness reigned at the young-couple's home. But one day that terrible tragedy occurred, also now, while writing these words, I can't bear the terrible thought, that Zvika is no longer here…

Penina Musberg

*

Yair Biberman (Jerry), Zvika's commander-in-chief, writes about him:

Courageous, with a stormy character of always heading forward… he did well serving at a short assessment, at one of the unobtrusive places in the region. He set order to that place, serving as an excellent model for his soldiers with his assiduous devotion, his cleverness and daring… his intensive energetic activity kept the Bedouins away from the boundary, to the second side of the Sinai border…

At headquarters too, the man was incapable of building and ordaining patrol missions on others, without taking an active part in them. That's how he went out on part of the tasks as an observer or chief… but he met death on a patrol which he attended, being pulled by his inner sense of responsibility…

*

Mr. Shalom Baukman of Netanya wrote about Zvika in the “Herut”journal, for his first annual memoir:

…your life-song was interrupted in the midst, while life was fully ahead of you, only a few short months passed since you married your heart's choice, and you built a Jewish home. The home, to which you were so connected, has become bereaved together with all of us, from our beloved, good-natured Zvika, the lively and model-commander. Your associates – admirers and subordinates attributed to you honor and respect, for the strength and audacity you always displayed.

Your sudden death spread heavy mourning on all your acquaintances. How can I comfort your parents? There is no exchange and no words either…

May you find peace in the soil of your land, which your young blood has saturated.

Your blessed memory will remain with us.

Prime Minister and Defense Ministers announcement, upon the death of Zvi Musberg:
State of Israel
Sorrowful, we wish to bring up the memory of 236198 lieutenant Zvi Musberg z”l who fell on duty, on the 19'th of Nissan 5719 (27.4.1959). The State of Israel, the Israel Defensive Forces and the Jewish Nation will forever carry with pride and love, the memory of Zvi who performed faithfully his mission at protecting the State.

D. Ben-Gurion
Prime Minister


[Page 136]

Zeev Holland

Translated by Chava Eisenstein

Zeev Holland was born in Wyszkow in 1928 to Moshe and Rivka Holland. Since childhood, he aimed for immigration and help build up to the Land of Israel. He attended traditional kheder and then elementary school. He was smart and intelligent, so he excelled academically, and everyone liked him.

The war broke out when he was eleven years, and was forced to drop school, he and his parents fled to Russia, Siberia. There too, his care and awareness for others in need was outstanding. In 1941, upon returning from Siberia, he joined a youth group which was preparing to immigrate to the Land. Indeed, in 1942 the opportunity came, his parents pleaded with him to wait, and not go by himself until they too will be ready, but to no avail, he reprimanded them that the mothers “Don't wish to part with their children, and who will build the land? By the time you will decide to go, the Land will be already in our hands, but the youth must pave the way for the older generation, for we have wandered the world more than enough…”that is how we parted from him, not knowing that it's forever.

Upon immigration, he joined a Kibbutz where he volunteered for the Palm”akh, he was only 18 when he married and his daughter was born.

At a military operation in 1948, on the third day of Adar 5708, Zeev fell on duty, by the young age of twenty.

We shall remember him amongst his fellow State Defenders.


[Page 136]

Abraham Tenenbaum

by Hana and Borukh-David Tenenbaum

Translated by Chava Eisenstein

Our son Abraham-Haim was born in Wyszkow on the first day of Elul 5658 (1925). At the outbreak of the war, our whole family fled to Russia. After much trouble and wandering we arrived in Siberia. Life there was unbearably difficult. If not for our Abraham-Khaim, he literally saved our lives, doing hard labor, thus devotedly providing for our needs. In 1942, he volunteered for the Polish army that set up in Russia, and very soon, he reached the rank of Sergeant. For his self-sacrifices in combat, he was awarded medals of Honor. After the war, he came with us to Germany, with Argentina as our destiny, our son Abraham, refused to go along with us, and he immigrated in 1948 to the Land of Israel.

When he arrived, he was taken to Atlit, where he was recruited to the IDF. After a short training, he took part in conquering Beer-Sheva and rose to become staff sergeant. He participated in the “Horev”operation. In the action…

[Page 137]

… the Abu-Agila post was conquered by the Palm”akh regiment no. 7, division 12. At the onset of the battle, on 28.12.1948, Abraham was killed.

In his last moments of life, he mumbled to his friends: “I am dying in battle and won't merit to enjoy the freedom of this land. I will remember my parents.” He was buried in Revivim, but in 14.8.1950 he was relocated to eternal peace at the Nakhlat Yitzhak cemetery.

His parents: Hana and Borukh-David Tenenbaum


[Page 137]

Isaac Zamir

Translated by Chava Eisenstein

(Excerpt from his book “Divrei Yemei Isaac”– Isaac's encounters. A year from the heroic death of Isaac Zamir z”l. Kibutz Evron – 5710 [1950] – Tel-Aviv)

 

wys137.jpg -  Isaac, son of Rahel and Abraham Zamir from Wyszkow
Isaac Zamir

 

Isaac, son of Rahel and Abraham Zamir from Wyszkow, was born in Warsaw in 5684 (1928). He came to the Land of Israel in 5693 (1933). Amongst others, he founded the Evron Kibbutz near Naharia. He served at the Palm”akh in the year 5708 – 5709 (1948-1949) as patrol officer in the Negev segment.

On the 26'th of Kislev 5709 (28.12.1948) while on aerial patrol over the Negev frontier, he was attacked by the enemy and his aircraft crashed…

The combat staff of section 12 announced upon the death of Isaac:

“Horev”action combat segment, Section 12
 Daily Combat Summary no. 5 

Wed. 26 Kislev 5,709
Third day of Hanukah, 29.12.1948

Our brigade will memorialize its members who fell in battle to free the Negev (south). They were not anonymous; together with us, they grew up, together we fought shoulder to shoulder. They gave to the best of their ability for the benefit of the brigade and to enhance its fighting skills, while being fully aware of the huge goal and the heaviness of the task.

With great sorrow, we are parting from the best of our scouts, Isaac Zamir who found his death while being fully dedicated to duty. Honor for those who fell upon fighting for the Negev.

Prime Minister D. Ben-Gurion, too, announced a special statement upon Isaac's death:

The State of Israel

With deep sorrow, we announce that

Isaac Zamir z”l

Fell on duty on the 26'th of Kislev 5709 (28.12.1948) at an air combat in the Negev. The Government of Israel and the Hebrew nation will forever carry the memory of Isaac who found his death upon defending the state, and at an assault for her liberty and independence.

D. Ben-Gurion
Prime Minister

These Wyszkow former residents fell in duty at defending the State of Israel.


Their Memories Must be Forever

by YH. Mushkat

Translated by Zulema Seligsohn

Whenever we speak of Wyszkow, we always recall the magnificent natural beauty surrounding the town: the large forest, the quick–flowing river, the iron bridge, the meadows on its shores, etc. Indeed its natural beauties is one of the glorious recollections we took with us from our town, but it hurts when we think we should spend more time remembering the people among whom we lived and spent our youth––the movements that were created and added so much to the economic, political, and generally cultural development of our generation.

There exists a world of material waiting for a hand to be put to it to create something out of it –to spite our enemies who wanted to erase them, not only from this earth but even from our consciousness.

A whole literature could definitely be created from the Fishkes, Polukhlekh, Djuvags, Metch and his orchestra, the grass–goose, Ershinke the water–carrier (he recited psalms), Shie Kalatz, Urke with the clans and others. This is, of course, a very small percentage, from the hard worker to the most needy sort in our little town. And then the so–called middle class, the well–to–do Jews, the Deges, Jakubovitches, Shkarlats, and Eli–Meirs.

And why should we not mention our leaders, cultural promoters like Henekh Kalusky – Mizrakhi; Israel Asman, Itche Shkarlat – General Zionists; Yurman – Poale Zion; Israel Goldwasser – People's Party; Shimen Malavantchik, Sholem Shidletsky, Mordekhai Fridman of the “Bund”; Dzbanek and Motl Rinek from the Workers' Cooperative?

All of this must by any means possible be eternalized! I would like to bring out some of these people's types and their characters.

 

Yekhiel–Meir Dzbanek

Whoever in Wyszkow knew Srulke the gaiter–maker's son, and even those who did not, could not believe their eyes when they saw him on a clear morning walking around the market, dressed in a Russian military great–coat, sporting highly polished varnished boots, and on his head with its black forelock, a military hat.

Yekhiel–Meir Dzbanek could not be recognized. He had grown into a tall man with long hard hands, and a sun–burnt face with large brown eyes under a broad three–cornered hat. This was not the same Dzbanek who had joined the tzar's army at the outbreak of the First World War, with an open–cut coat, under which one could see the ritual four–cornered garment. But one thing was true: instead of a Talmud under his arm, he was surely carrying hidden on his person The Communist Manifesto. This was now a man…

[Page 138]

…with a sure step and a voice that could give orders rather than obey them.

From his first few meetings with the Wyszkow young people and the workers, Dzbanek immediately won their trust. These were the young people, whose names I will here incorporate as a memorial: Motl Rinek, the painter; Benyumin, Isroel–Mendl Becker's son; Mordkhe Loketch; Urke the driver; Leyzer, the ropemaker's son; and a few other Jewish workers, who comprised the first underground circle Dzbanek founded in Wyszkow.

In the town something was moving. On a clear beautiful morning, they distributed proclamations that called the Jewish workers to a meeting where a workers' cooperative was to be organized, and where Dzbanek would deliver a report about a committee that would help with the work. The meeting was a great success. After long discussions a managing group was chosen, comprising representatives from the “Bund,” “Tzukunft,” Poale–Tzion, and from the Jewish section of the Communist Party.

The tasks the cooperative undertook were as follows: to come to the aid of the suffering unemployed population by purchasing food products that they needed at discounted prices, such as bread, herring, potatoes, sugar, and others that were being sold at extremely high ones. The problem was where to get the first thousand zlotys for the first purchase. Dzbanek had a certain plan: to put together a list of wealthy property owners in town, who would contribute a specific amount every week until the cooperative could stand on its own feet; that is, until they had enough products to sell and didn't need their help any longer. Well, how were they going to be against this? And so, on the Sabbath, at the reading of the Law, they would play them such a merry tune that they would never forget it.

And so there came a Sabbath that all of Wyszkow could not forget for a very, very long time A few groups from the cooperative came to the great synagogue. Urke and Motl planted themselves by the doors. Some other young people went up to the reading–desk(bimah). The rest spread themselves out in the aisles, and didn't allow the prayers to continue, until the Rabbi promised that that very evening, after the Sabbath, a few of the more prominent property–owners would meet with the spokesmen of the cooperative to discuss the matter.

After the first meeting with the property–owners, no practical results were achieved. But the victory of the cooperative seemed assured. The property–owners bound themselves to call a conference of all the wealthy Jews in the town. At the conference, which took place in the Jakubovich's house, it almost became a physical confrontation; but a few of the property–owners, whose hearts were “broken (poor dears),” just had to contribute a few hundred zlotys, for which a whole wagon of potatoes was immediately bought.

This was in Winter. Around February 1918, on a frosty day, the first potato wagon arrived. But it was a pity to look at, as the potatoes were … pieces of ice. Because of the horrendous hunger that the population was then suffering, it is no wonder that the frozen potatoes were quickly grabbed and the wagon was soon empty.

The potato wagon showed the practicality and the possibilities of such an undertaking and gave a push to the work around the cooperative, so that it became the one great help for the indigent, starving Jewish population. And let us make it clear: the people of Wyszkow give honorable mention to the name of Yekhiel–Meir Dzbanek, who thanks to his indefatigable work, the dedication of his honest worker/fighters to the poor and to the alleviation of their needs; thanks to his wise leadership in founding and further direction of this undertaking, made possible the great success of the cooperative.

Dzbanek did not limit himself to the work involving the cooperative. Through his zeal and dedication, he became one of the most renowned leaders of the General Polish Communist Party, where no kind of work was too difficult for him or too menial. He was seen in Warsaw befriending the pavers that worked in the streets. He would sit on a rock or on the ground to talk to a worker, then move to another. He asked about their lives, their pay, their homes. He earned their trust and tried to organize them.

[Page 139]

The last news about Dzbanek were horrifying for his friends and companions. It was a terrible blow for us to find out that a murderous hand put an end to this hero, and especially in the Soviet Union.

Honor to his Memory!

 

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