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[Page 65 - Hebrew]

Memories from Zuromin

by Nichcza Kirszenbaum Szwarcbart

Translated from Hebrew by Jerrold Landau

My memories from my town of Zuromin are not many, for I was still young when I left Poland. Nevertheless, I have memories that accompany me for my entire life.

The library and the organizations in which we met and spent time together were part of the normal social life of that era. The inimical relations of the Polish population to the Jews, the boycott of Jewish businesses, the beating of Jews as they went to the synagogue and the plucking of their beards remain etched in my mind. One event that I remember was when the principal of the school lectured on May 3 in the market square and said, among other things, that the situation is stifling and that the Jews must leave Poland. In 1936, my sister Rivka traveled to Uruguay, where my father Itzel was. In 1937, my brother Avraham and I joined them as well. Our mother Hina Bluma and brother Binyamin remained in Zuromin. They had emigration permits, but despite all of our efforts they were not permitted to leave, for all doors were closed before the Jews. When we left Poland, the dark clouds that enveloped Polish Jewry could already be seen. Anti-Semitism and hatred could be felt at every step. We encountered a new world when we arrived in Montevideo, Uruguay. This was a new life from all perspectives, the likes of which we did not know in Zuromin. There were good relations between people, good conditions, and a new cultural life from all perspectives. Throughout the entire time, we remained in correspondence by mail with our family and acquaintances. In the final letter, they told us that the authorities had refused to permit them to travel. Our hearts were in agony that the war came before they could set out to freedom. We remained in correspondence still at the beginning of the war, but this was later severed. They perished along with the entire community at the hands of the murderers. My cousins Chaya Sara and Berl Kurtzman, as well as Chaya Feiga and Toviahu Padro and their families also perished. I wish to mention our neighbor Yaakov Moshe Magla, a scholarly Jew who, along with his family, we were very fond of. No place was left to leave a flower in their memories.

We felt emptiness and pain when we learned that no trace was left of them. We had to come to terms with the tragic reality. Much has already been written about the murder of Jews, but there was no means with which to express the pain and agony felt by the survivors. We are now perpetuating the memory of the Jews of Zuromin who perished, with the full faith that this cruel era will not be forgotten, and that what had happened will not occur again. Today, we are living with our families in Israel, and we remember those who perished in the Holocaust.


[Page 66 - Hebrew]

Greetings that were sent to the Assistance Committee and Bikur Cholim
for the Needy of Zuromin in the United States

Written by Yocheved the daughter of Malka Listopad in 1947

Translated from Hebrew by Jerrold Landau

When I arrived during these days from Poland, I found out that the jubilee celebrations for the establishment of the Bikur Cholim would shortly be celebrated, and therefore I wish to offer my blessings to you from the UNRA refugee camp in Germany, where I am located. Despite the thousands of miles that separate us, please accept my blessings from the depths of my heart, as a token of friendship from those who are part of the Zuromin family. I wish you success as you continue your work.

Fifty years of existence is a small point in the annals of a nation. On the other hand, when one considers the activities of a specific group, this number encompasses various events in life. I do not know a great deal about your activities. Only a few lone pictures float through my memory. During this time, you also endured the various crises that affected the Jews of Zuromin, beginning from the first years after the First World War. The town was afflicted with epidemics, and when entire families struggled against the bitterness of death, you provided material assistance, and numerous people were saved from the talons of death. After some time, the dark cloud of anti-Semitism appeared on the horizon. They attempted to push the Jews out of the small businesses and trades. At this point, a struggle for existence ensued in full force, to the point of crisis.

Many families struggled with hunger and want. During our first appeal to you (I remember it as if it was today), you stood with us as brothers. With heartfelt words and deeds, you eased the tribulation in the city to a measurable degree. We felt that we were not alone in our battle. This gave us further strength to stand up to the difficult times. Facts such as these were a bright page in your annals. During difficult times such as these, at a time when your family has dwindled so much, at a time when those connected to your past no longer exist, you set out to celebrate the jubilee of your existence – for among the six million of the Jewish nation, our Zuromin natives perished in fire and flames. I am certain that at the tables that are set in joy, no small number of tears will be shed as you remember the innocent victims. If any of you ever dreamt of visiting the town of your childhood and meeting old friends – your dreams are certainly buried. In our town, the dead dance on the streets. Our mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters are no more. Everything that was holy was swept away. A black shadow covers our sublime town.

All of our material achievements, the work of two generations, are found in the hands of strangers, of people whose hands are drenched with the blood of our relatives. We, the few who survived, were forced to leave the place of our birth, for one cannot build a future upon graves. We wander with staffs in our hands, and we will not put them aside until we become a nation like all nations. The journey is difficult, and further difficulties await us. We are not alone in our struggles. We are bound to you as one large family, and together we will continue the chain of connection to our town, so we will not desecrate the memory of our martyrs who were murdered in sanctification of the Divine Name and the nation. On this day of celebration, let our protest against the imperialist regimes that have shut their gates and forced us to continue with our walking sticks in our hands be shouted out. With this I wish to conclude my participation in your jubilee celebrations. I raise my cup to your health and to ours. I drink to our joint lives together. I will be with you wherever fate takes me. In you, I see the actualization of everything that was dear in my town of Zuromin. I wish you heartfelt greetings and all good things in the name of our sisters and brothers.

Yocheved Listopad

 

A group of Holocaust survivors in Germany, 1946

From right to left, standing: Hirsch Przecki, Shlomo Dragon, Moshe Popiol,
Shlomo Frajdenberg, Avraham Dragon, Yehoshua Karta, Mendel Bornsztejn,
Mendel Braun, Yaakov Hirsch Listopad, Luba Bieles, Yaakov and Shlomo Bieles.
Sitting: Henna Borza, Simcha Braun, Gota Braun, Mote Popiol, Tovcha Goldsztejn,
Shmuel Maj, Ruth Popiol, Yitzchak Wynberg, Eliahu Olbanik.
Bottom row: Moshe Listopad, Yisrael Moshe Listopad, Elazar Braun, Leib Bramzon,
Yisrael Kolba, Shlomo Moczni, Meir Listopad, Hirsch Yaakov Frajdenberg

 

A memorial service in Germany for the Holocaust victims of Zuromin winter of 1946

From right to left, top row: Simcha Braun, Eliahu Olbanik, Moshe Listopad, Itcha Przecki, Ruth Popiol,
Feiga Karta, Mordechai Ripinski, Hirsch Yaakov Frajdenberg, Shlomo Bieles, Shlomo Przecki.
Middle row: Yeshayahu Altus, Shlomo Frajdenberg, Yaakov Hirsch Listopad. Yitzchak Wynberg,
Sara Listopad, Yocheved Listopad, Nechama Listopad, Zelig Taub, Luba Bieles, Yosef Lichtman,
Shlomo Dragon, Moshe Popiol, Avraham Dragon, Elazar Braun.
Bottom row: Yisrael Listopad, Mendel Braun, Moshe Elsztejn, Leibel Lichtman, Leibel Bramzon,
his wife, Feiga Elsztejn, Tirtza Listopad, Chancha Altman, Shoshana Popiol.
Between the tablets, Luba Elsztejn (Eilat)

 


[Page 68 - Hebrew]

Memories of my Town Zuromin from a 1933 Visit

By Yosef Mondlak

Translated from Hebrew by Jerrold Landau

I arrived in my small town as dusk was falling and the sun was shining with its last rays. The Jews of my town greeted me, young and old surrounded me and stared at me as a wonder. All of the windows were open, as sad but sweet stares greeted me. At first, everything was strange to me, and my eyes began to wander as if they wished to remember something – to remember the times when I wove my dreams of a free world, without hatred, without slavery, in which the man of culture would take the seat of honor. My thoughts stopped for a moment as I remembered my dear parents, and recalled how my sisters and brothers would greet me. After a short while, all were rejoicing with me. Everything was so close to me after an absence of 25 years spent wandering the world. Now I was once again connecting with you, my city, and walking on your roads. I found the synagogue in the square in which my mother prayed for her welfare and the welfare of all the Jews, for their health, livelihood and faith.

I walked along the routes to Brudnice and B¹dzyn where we met our friends and discussed important matters: how we would be liberated from darkness to light and from slavery to freedom. My beloved town of Zuromin, despite all the tribulations that I suffered, the hunger and sleepless nights, my heart pines for you, for the old houses with straw roofs. I longed to quiet my dream, and now I am once again connecting with you, to your pain, joys, sadness and mourning. I am once again walking on your paths and roads upon which I spent many happy days. Even now I would have flown to greet you, but the frightening storm winds brought tragic greetings from you, my town Zuromin. To me, you were not my small, poor town. The sun shone its golden rays upon your depressed houses. The fresh aroma of the month of May, with the green meadows next to the quiet ponds, where my first childhood dreams were revealed. There I sang my first songs, songs of storms and battle, songs of youth and life. My heart sang then, and my soul accompanied it even though this was cut by the shouts of my father, asking: What will be with you? However my soul desired the supernal world without knowing the goal. My soul sensed that there were hidden spiritual treasures that need to be searched for. I began to wander through the wide world, and I drew in the air of freedom with an open mouth. This was only thanks to you, my town. You chased me out to strange, far-off lands, and warned me like a good mother who wishes to see her children become healthy and happy. You told me that this was not the place to develop my life. You said that you were too poor to expose my future. I left you, my town, but my heart was with you.

Often we distance ourselves, and this causes unrest in our souls, but this unrest brings us to the path of truth and uprightness. We control ourselves without realizing our spiritual powers that could raise ourselves up to see the beautiful, bright world into which the sun shines with golden rays and the winds sing their song of nature. My heart always longs for your quiet, for the quiet evenings in which I walked through you and thought about the fate of man and of all creation. And now? What did they make of you? How frightening is your appearance, with empty graves, deathly silence ruins and destruction that were left in you. I wander through your ruins and look at the sky, and they ask, to where? Life is burning, the entire world is burning. There is nobody to who to pour out the pain and anguish, for nobody is listening.

The sun is shining clearly and coldly. We lived for many generations, pursued by the whip like sheep to slaughter. We were born at a frightening moment, and fate afflicted us with pain and tribulations. Nevertheless, a voice is heard from the depths of the earth, where the best of the children of our generation are buried, the mighty Macabees. Then a ray of light breaks through and thoughts run through with the hope and faith that our enemies will not seal off the route that leads to victory for the generations to come. Then man will awaken and will unite with the great circle that leads to the freedom of all nations.


[Page 69 - Hebrew]

A Song of Longing Pain and Tribulation

By Yosef Mondlak, from his writings

Translated from Hebrew by Jerrold Landau

In a side room in a remote village in Lithuania, children peer through a small window. Boys with flaxen hair, and girls with blond ponytails, with a pair of dark eyes between. Dark eyes full of grace, and a small child with lips to kiss, and black curls of hair. Mother brought him here wrapped up in the middle of the night. She kissed him, wept and wailed, and said quietly to him – my child, from today this is your place. Remember the last word of your mother, your life is in danger, and therefore I hide you here.

He played nicely with the children. It was quiet and orderly. No Yiddish word, no song. From today my son, you are not a Jew. The child pleads with her: I want to be with you. Do not leave me alone, wracked with weeping.

She promised him much, but nothing helped. He shouted out, “No… no... I do not want to remain here alone.” She took him by the hands, and with a shaky voice as in her own home, she quickly put him to sleep. With eyes red from weeping, she kissed the small head, and with a heart full of trembling, she left him along, and went away. Outside, there was cold and wind, and the call “where is my child” could be heard. I could not leave him alone in strange hands. The mother went along, speaking to herself. Outside, it was very cold and late. The wind was blowing in her face, as she was praying – G-d have mercy on my child. There was a strange room, and many people there, and he was walking quietly and strangely. He was not speaking, not weeping, not wanting to talk. There was only a small smile at times. Strangers regard him as mute, and speak a foreign language to him. His name Wasyl is strange to him. His heart is the heart of a small child. The mother realizes this very well. She did not rest for a moment, and she felt that her heart was jumping out as her child Yosef left the home. To the mother, it was like Moses abandoned at the Nile, alone, fleeing, as she also abandons her only son.

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