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[Page 14 - Hebrew]

My Hebrew Teacher

by Elchanan Indelman

Translated from Hebrew by Jerrold Landau

 

The Hebrew teacher Yitzchak Skorupa

 

In the city of Zuromin
There was a Hebrew teacher,
And he was my teacher
And to him I will sing my song

Indeed he and none other
Was my good teacher.
He taught me to write
Hebrew and also to speak

Indeed his small school,
Which he established at a height[1]
(The marketplace bustled across from it)
Was a miniature sanctuary.

He dedicated himself to every child
With the love of Torah,
He taught the Hebrew language
And forged the covenant of the fathers.

I will guard his memory always
Within my heart,
For he was like a father
Dear to every student.


Translator's footnote

  1. The intention of this is not clear from the context. It could be a. He established it on an upper story (the most literal); b. He established it at a high level (does not fit the words very well); c. He bore it (i.e. its burden) upon his back;


[Page 15 - Hebrew]

Translated from Hebrew by Jerrold Landau

Nov 28, 1965

To the Teacher's Organization
The division for Diaspora Education and Culture
Tel Aviv

Dear Sir

        In response to your letter number 2/504/40682 from October 3, 1965.

        I am hereby sending to you the details that I know about my teacher and master Mr. Yitzchak Skorupa of blessed memory, of our city of Zuromin in the region of Sierpc in Poland.

        Our town, which was far from a big city, did not have a well developed cultural life. The sole spark was the Hebrew cheder of Mr. Skorupa our teacher, in which we received our Hebrew education from a young age. Fortunately, I was among those who frequented his house thanks to his sons, of which one of them Yosef was my close friend[1]. One, Aharon, taught in the Tarbut school in Sierpc, and was honored and related well to the people. The younger one, Yosef, graduated from the Hebrew teachers' seminary in Warsaw just at the time of the outbreak of the Second World War. I wish to return to the character of our revered teacher with a “Weizmann” beard[2]. When he appeared before his classes, great honor was extended to him, thanks to the parents who held him in esteem and on account of his position as a member of Mizrachi. In this position, he engaged in the battle for Zionism during that era, and fought against the religious circles who opposed Zionist education.

        In addition to his activities in the field of Hebrew education, he also found time to concern himself with the Gemilut Chassadim fund that greatly helped people of meager means to earn their livelihood. He did not do this for the sake of a reward. He was also involved in the distribution of Maot Chittin[3] and other forms of assistance in the periods prior to the holidays. To this day, I value the nine years of Hebrew education that I received from him. That education also influenced several of his students of my age group who desired to make aliya, including some who were from circles distant from Zionism.

        His sublime personality also inspired the Christian population to respect him during the pre-Holocaust era in which anti-Semitism was on the rise. In addition to the Hebrew language, we also studied geography, mathematics, engineering, and Jewish history.

        Outside of the realm of formal studies, he remained in contact with the graduates and continued to impart his knowledge to them through Hebrew speaking clubs, in which we read letters of the Haskalah writers. We also read together the pages of Hatzefira, and later the Baderech, to which he was the sole subscriber in the town.

        Already during the 1920s, when he was a Hebrew teacher in the public school in the town, he would insert a segment in the Hebrew language during general festivities. I remember the performances “Chana and her Seven Sons”, “Two Tunes”, and others. This was not without opposition of the Christian school leadership.

        To our sorrow, the Second World War broke out and our town was one of the first from which the Jews were exiled, already on November 8, 1939. Our teacher and his family were among the exiles who reached Warsaw. It is difficult

[Page 16 - Hebrew]

to describe the suffering of the people, especially of those who were forced to sit in the ghetto for two years without anything to do, after so many years of activity in the realm of the Hebrew education.

        When I met him from time to time in the ghetto, tears came to my eyes. Despite the cruel conditions that affected the hearts of everyone, during the most difficult period when he could not dedicate himself to educational activities, he was active in offering assistance to the Jews of the town who had gathered in the Warsaw ghetto by means of the assistance offered by the Joint[4].

        It is not within my capabilities to recall and list all the activities and blessed traits of my teacher and master, Mr. Skorupa of blessed memory, therefore I will suffice myself with these brief lines.

        I am prepared to answer any other questions from you.

        With great Honor

Elimelech Szklar

 

A farewell photograph of Rachel Skorupa as she made aliya to the Land in 1937

Right to left:
Top row: Elimelech Szklar, Esther Skorupa, Yehudit Rizowi.
Second row: Shlomo Edelsztejn, Aharon Skorupa, Roiza Ber, Yosef Skorupa, Chaicha Bruk.
Third row: Esther Wilodroz, Rachel Skorupa, Mania Klein.
Bottom row: Bunim Bruk, Ziskind Goldsztejn, Yischa Kohen,
Dina Skorupa, Hinda Klein, Leah Wilodroz, Keila Ber, Mindel Bruk

 


Translator's footnotes

  1. In the original Hebrew this sentence is malformed. I translated it close to literally. Return
  2. Referring to the goatee of Chaim Weizmann, the first president of Israel. Return
  3. Charity to enable poor people to purchase necessities for Passover. Return
  4. The Joint Distribution Committee. Return


[Page 17 - Hebrew]

Song of Auschwitz

by Margit Bachner

(Translated with the assistance of Yoram von-Schwartz)

Translated from Hebrew by Jerrold Landau

Nestled between the Weichsel and Sola[1]
Among the guards, among the fences,
Is located an odious camp named Auschwitz
Which Jews will loathe for generations.

There, there is fever, typhus, and other diseases
There the oppressor bites him in the heart.
There, so many myriads of people are imprisoned,
So far from their beloved homes.

Before your eyes you see rows of houses
Built by the prisoners in the rain, in the storm,
Prisons, prisons for thousands of people
Who come to this frightful place.

Fleas, lice and fever are upon you.
Thousands die here in untold agony.
You bear your torment morning and night
Every time the guard is with you.

There, you sadly peer at the procession of prisoners.
Among them – your sister and your mother.
If you would say merely “hello” – the soldiers would already shoot,
If you shout – they will laugh with joy.

Mother, Father, do you have rest?
No person knows of our agony.
Fate yesterday tore you away from
The home, about which you dream.

If it is decreed upon me that I shall not see my home
And that I am to ascend heavenward in smoke, like the myriads –
I will send blessings to my dear ones from the depths of my soul.
Think about me; they took me away from you in trains.


Translator's footnote

  1. Weichsel is the name of a munitions factory near Auschwitz. Sola is the name of the river that flows near Auschwitz. Return


[Page 18 - Hebrew]

A Mother Sacrifices her Infant

By Simon Spector

The husband of Klara, nee Landau, a native of Zuromin

Translated from Hebrew by Jerrold Landau

I remember the attic in the storehouse,
Hidden from the eyes of people
In the heaps of fodder and hay,
Piled high.

In the depths of that attic stands a large wall.
Along the length of one side, and the length of the second side,
In the place where the slope of the roof hits the floor –
The darkness conceals what was transpiring there.
There, people crawled through and slunk about, with the hope,
That the evil would not materialize in this hiding place.

Men were hidden in that attic
Indeed, women and small children as well;
And a lone woman, who carried her infant in her bosom,
And with trembling hands, supported him at her heart.

And the baby – who had not yet completed his first month –
Did not know or understand what was transpiring around him.
He only laid his small head on her neck
And enjoyed the warmth that emanated from her body.

Everyone lay down and retreated into the depths of the attic
And turned their ears with frightened silence
To listen and hear what was going on around them
Outside, as well as inside in the storehouse…

In the yard, along the length of the storehouse walls
Soldiers wandered to and fro –
Banging on doors,
Turning on their hinges,
Which make grating sounds
As they open and close;
Digging through heaps of fodder with bayonets –
In order to expose and find hidden Jews.

The hidden ones, taking shelter in the attic,
Hold their breath with frightened and worried hearts.
Out of fear lest the beating of their hearts be heard
In the ears of the murderers –
And this would expose them.

A spirit of dejection pervades the attic
People glance at each other in fright –
Lest, Heaven forbid, they not remain on guard
Guarding the silence and quiet.

Suddenly is heard the murmuring
Of the baby.
A soft, weak twittering,
As if coming from afar.

Everyone turned their stares to that corner
And glanced with eyes filled with terror.
Everyone was very nervous.
Fearful that their hiding place would be imminently exposed.

The mother embraced her baby in her arms,
And began to rock him softly and lovingly.
She kissed his head with gurgling lips
And tried to comfort him without word and without sound.

And the infant who was not comforted
At that moment –
Continued on and began to wail
With greater strength.
And the mother supported him tenderly against her heart,
And rocked him to and fro, perplexed.
And he continued on –
Crying ever stronger.

Then the mother places the nipple of her breast
Deep, deep into the mouth of her child;
Grabbing his head between her breasts,
And rocking him with her two arms;
With large tears dropping from her eyes,
And falling silently on her cheeks.

She grabs and rocks him,
Holding and rocking –
Until his crying stops,
And is no longer heard in the space of the attic.

A silent whisper passed through the attic,
Filled with a thunderous, tumultuous silence.
Everyone realized that, in reality,
An unusual sacrifice had been offered…

A soul began to flutter through the empty space.
The soul of a baby that was summoned on High.
And it was circling round about in the darkness
And stumbling against the walls of the attic.
It turned to the gabled wall,
And recoiled to the side wall.
And from there moved to the opposite wall –

Trying to find a breach in the wall,
Searching for the means
To exit from darkness to light…

The troops did not hear a thing
They left the storehouse and continued on.
Those who were hiding in the attic reconsidered –
And discretely left their hiding place.

Only the lone mother remained in her place,
Holding her infant to her heart.
Her breasts covered his mouth,
Covering his entire face,
And her lips were kissing
His head and hair.
Her eyes were dripping tear after tear –
And the silent sound of her weeping was not heard…


[Page 25 - Hebrew]

{Four line prologue not translated in English section}

Translated from Hebrew by Jerrold Landau

Here is brought down the testimony of Shlomo Dragon, a native of our town, who was among the members of the Sonderkommando[1], the work group in the Birkenau camp that was occupied in the most terrifying task of clearing the murdered corpses out of the gas chambers and transporting them to the crematoria. Very few survived from this group. This is an exact transcription of the testimony that was given to the Polish investigation committee immediately after the conclusion of the war, when the memories were still fresh.

An Account

{Three line epilogue not translated in English section}

Translated from Hebrew by Jerrold Landau

In addition to Shlomo and Avraham Dragon, the following of our towsfolk were part of the Sonderkommando:
Yoel Grafman, Avraham Drebicer, Moshe Popiol, Zelig Popiol, Meir Popiol, Yitzchak Sorgel, David Lewenthal, Avraham Riziow. They all perished, may G-d avenge their blood.


Translator's footnote

  1. The groups of Jewish concentration prisoners who were forced to aid in the disposal of the corpses of those murdered. See the Wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonderkommando Return

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