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Only during the most terrible of all the catastrophes that befell our folk - world war 2- was our community unable to withstand the bloodbath that destroyed 'Israel's House' in Europe. The heroic Dubassarers were cut down together with the thousands from all of the other Jewish settlements in Nazified Europe.
Years flew by. We were not at peace. There was the need to memorialize our dear ones who in their innocence were slaughtered, whose spilled blood cried out from every stone, from every field. There was also the need to preserve the 400 year history of Jewish Dubossar. Our task was formidable. In other countries there was the possibility of gathering documents and eye witness reports of what had occurred during the great catastrophe. Survivors who came to Israel could also bear witness to what they had lived through. However, Dubossar, within the confines of the Soviet Union was hermetically sealed in and not until the year 1962 did we hear one word about our town. Most of the Dubossarers that were now in Israel or in other countries in the world, had left Russia forty years earlier, in the 1920's. The task of reconstructing the history of the town was thus also hampered by the natural process of forgetfulness which increases with time. Luckily, 3 years ago (1962), a Dubossarer managed to escape the iron curtain and emigrated to Israel. This man, a high officer in the Soviet army, personally heard many first-hand accounts from Dubossar survivors and fighters at the front against the nazis. Thanks to this man, we know many details about our martyrs and fighters who died heroic deaths on the various fronts - details which appear in this book.
As none of us who compiled this book are actually writers, we did our best to gather memories, threads, chapters in an attempt to create a faithful reflection of the life of our town throughout the generations.
We would like to take this opportunity to mention everyone who helped us with this endeavour. First and foremost, we remember our dearly departed Moshe Feldman,a'h, who was the strength and inspiration behind the Dubossar Landsman organization in America along with Harry Scheer, reb Itzik Klezmer's son - a philanthropist and gentelman, refined and cultured and our dear friend Louis Levine. As well , our dear friend from Canada, Moishe Faerman, a'h - a dedicated and faithful comrade; our beloved friend Leml Rubin - reb Shmuel Dayan's son in Argentina who together with our landsleit (fellow townsmen)in Israel spared no amount of money or work to establish the following memorials: a forest in Israel in memory of the martyrs of Dubassar and surrounding areas, a plaque placed in Jerusalem to remember our martyrs of the Shoah and now this book to commemorate Dubossar and our dear ones.
Had we writers amongst us, the book would probably be fuller and richer. Yet, we believe that we have achieved our goal - for us and for the future generations - to preserve the name of our community; to pay tribute to our landsmen and to fulfill the command: Remember what Amalek did to you. May this book be a small solace in our endless sorrow, a sign that the past will not be forgotten. May it serve as a bridge between the precious Jewish life that was so tragically cut off and the future whose rays of sunlight we see rising before our eyes.
This book has been written in both Yiddish and Hebrew so that every Dubossarer, be it in Israel or in other lands, will be able to read and remember our dear community which is no longer. May it also serve as an inspiration for our children and children's children who know of Dubossar only from family tales.
M.Bick, M.Bassin,D.L.Granovsky, Y. Kantor, A. Timor
The Editorial Committee
On the roads, wagon wheels scrape as longhorned oxen plod heavily on the dusty paths. At the side of the wagon strides a Moldavian. On his head is a pointy hat made of sheep's wool - certainly sewn by a Jewish capmaker.
Moldavia - not a large country - 350 kilometer from north to south and 220 kilometer west to east. In the middle, a small unimposing hill. On the horizon , beyond a shadowy grove of trees stretch the Kodari hills. Kodari in Moldavian means 'dense forest. In olden days, three- four hundred years ago, this land was covered with dense woods but now the woods have been transformed into gardens and vineyards.
To the north, the Belz steppe spreads out at the foot of the high Kodari hills. To the south is the Budjits steppe , surrounded by water with fields of wheat, maize and watermelons. Lengthwise across the way are scattered several wells. The villages are not very green and they nestle near the rivers and wells of the steppe where the treasured water is hidden. The hot dry air is laden with the gentle scent of melons. In the areas where the steppe can not be ploughed, or where the earth lies fallow for a period of time, flocks of sheep wander hidden from the angry dogs and the quiet, pensive shepherds.
Quite a different scene greets one from the south east side by the Dniester waterfall where the river banks widened and created a lake. There the gardens yield legendary fruits and greens.
This small land had a colourful and rich history . In the very olden days, in the wooded Carpathian mountains, dwelt Turkish and Slavic tribes. Moldavia evolved of these two tribes. Moldavia was first founded in 1359 although Jews inhabited the area since the end of the 11th century. Historically, Moldavia was continuously under attack. From the north, Polish gentry would invade. From the west , the Hungarian king invaded. From the south-east, from the steppes by the Black Sea ,expeditions of Mongolian Tatars would descend - and from the south - the Turks. One of Moldavia's national heroes - Stephen the Great battled many years attempting to safeguard his land. After his death, in 1513, Moldavia was vanquished by the Turkish empire.
Stephen the Great was was a statesman with great foresight and he had dealt in a positive manner with the Jewish community. In this atmosphere, Jews contributed greatly to the economy. They established various industries related to wood, leather, flour, milk and wine, among others.
In the 19thcentury, under the reign of Peter 1, Russia and Turkey had a severe and protracted battle on Moldavian land. On May 16,1812, after 6 bloody years, a peace treaty was signed in Bucharest and Moldavia was annexed to Russia. This treaty was signed by Marshal Kotozov. January 1918, Romania grabbed a big section of Moldavia between the Dniester and Prut rivers and annexed the land.
From what remained, the autonomous republic of Moldavia was created as part of Ukraine by the left bank of the Dniester in 1924. Balta was the first capital city of the Moldavian republic and in 1928 the name was changed to Tyrospol. At the end of 1940, the Soviet Union demanded that Romania return the annexed land taken in 1918. This was returned at the end of the year and the area became the Soviet Moldavian republic with Kishinev as the capital city.
A few decades before Moldavia was freed from the Turks, Russia sent her south-eastern divisions to the Dniester. On the left bank, there was a narrow strip of land 8-20 kilometers wide. In those days there were many narrow rivers that flowed into the Dniester and tucked in around them were a number of villages that lived in fear of the Tatars who frequently attacked them. Near the Dniester,at the mouth of the river Garneh, was the village of Rivnitzeh. There, a bridge built in the olden times spanned the Dniester. The inhabitants of that area were hunters and fishers.
At the end of the 19th century, a train station was built at Rivnitzeh. The plan was to have the train go southward in order to link Dubossar, Grigoriopol and Tyrospol with Odessa. However, to this day (1965) the plan has not yet been realized.South of Rivnitzeh the Dniester curves around the village of Rogi, for a few kilometers and returns back to the north making another sharp turn southward. There woods filled with willow trees appear by the Dniester and alongside are the towns of Malobataya, Galergan and Kuchiery where Jews had lived for many years occupied with agriculture and the land.
Using the Dniester as a border, the Russians built fortresses at every intersection where ships sailed deep into Russia. Such fortresses were built in Grigoriopol and in the town of Farkan that was inhabited by Bulgarian refugees from the Turks in Tyrospol .This fortress was built to protect the district from the Turkish fortress at Bindera on the opposite bank of the river.
In ancient times, the Greeks named the Dniester Tyrosand hence the town on its banks became Tyrospol. In time, soldiers who had finished their term of duty under the famous Russian General Savorov settled there. Tyrospol was of such vital military importance, it was considered the most important town in the entire south-easter region. Odessa for a time also belonged to the Tyrospol province.
Dubossar was one of the fortress towns on the Dniester. Dubossar - the town where we were born, the town where our childhood and youthful years flew by - was founded at the end of the 17th century.
|North -||60 km. from Rivnitzeh|
|North-East||80 km. from Balta|
|80 km. from Ananiev|
|60 km. from Katovsk ( Birzola)|
|35 km. from Tchorny|
|35 km. from Krasni Okne|
|40 km. from Kishinev|
|South-West||18 km. from Grigoriopol|
|South-East||60 km. form Tyrospol|
|150 km. from Odessa|
On the bank of the Dniester, where the willows grew higher than the water, the earth was elevated and a fortress built occupied by a military division . Some towns were closed off from the fortress. Five miles to the south, near the bridge, a (?Karantin?) was erected and that is how the town of Karantin got its name. The fortress didn't last long - only until 1820. Once it ceased to be a border, it had no further strategic importance.
Not far from the centre of the old fortress there was a four sided square. In that square was Pipelshtein's drugstore. The central axis of the town is east of the square in the direction of the small fountain. Jews lived in Dubossar since its founding. In a Moldavian folk song, there is the story of the Jewish blacksmith, Moishe Gazal who shod the soldiers' horses.
The purpose of this article is to portray the history and fate of Dubossar until 1922-24 - our days. (See further on Under the Soviets and During the Holocaust). Before I go further, I must pause to describe two characteristics of the Dubossar Jews which over the years shaped the character of our community and which influenced her fate both during good, peaceful periods as well as in days of terrible misfortune.
The first characteristic - which existed for generations from the very beginning until the mass exterminations - was the productivity and work orientation of Dubossar Jews. The expression luft mentsch was almost unknown in Dubossar . There was also nobody enslaved to strangers. The fate of each was in his own hands. The Dubossar Jews were bound to mother earth, to the orchards and vineyards . All were involved in truly physical work: the water carriers, the craftsmen,the stone masons; the goldsmiths , the millers, the farmers, the fishermen - all.
The second characteristic was the deep nationalistic ( Jewish) bonding amongst the Dubossar Jews. Living among many ethnic groups - Russians, Moldavians, Ukrainians, Germans and Gypsies, the Jews maintained their pride in their own culture. They were also lucky to have upstanding and brave community leaders.
In all of Southern Russia during the worst periods of the revolution and bloody pogroms, the Jews stood fast and repulsed all enemy attacks. Their bravery was not only for themselves but also in aid of neighbouring Jewish settlements that were threatened and in danger. It is no co-incidence that the pogrom in Kishinev did not start in Dubossar where the Jews were too strong and organized. Nor did the plot to incite hatred against the Jews succeed when a dead Christian child was 'planted' on Jewish land. The various attempts to wipe out the Dubossar Jewish community failed.
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