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[Pages 345-346]

Memoirs

By Masha Trotsky (Hamburg)

Translated by Judy Grossman

In my mind's eye, as though it were today, I can see Yoelke Zeif, the head of our “ken” (“cell”) of the youth movement, immigrating to Eretz Yisrael

I have good memories of those days in Hashomer Hatzair. Among our counselors were Rivka Shub and Gershon Slep.

All of us in the movement were attached to each other. We spoke Hebrew, danced the hora, and went to summer camps, where we met with young people from Antaliepte and even from Rakishok [Rokiskis]. We played around in the granary, listened to stories about Eretz Yisrael and sang songs. I can hear us singing “Uru achim b'lev sameach” [“Rejoice brothers with a happy heart” – a line from the song Hava Nagila]. On Fridays we would make a donation to the “blue box” and we would also go from house to house collecting money for the KKL - Jewish National Fund.

Dusiat was a pretty shtetl, and you could say that we had a pleasant childhood, with fun activities in the forest, by the river and the lake. However, our childhood was short.

 

 
Masha looking at the pictures of the shtetl
at the gathering of the Dusiaters
15 October 1989, Tel Aviv

 

I was my parents' only daughter. My father Nahum was a tailor and his income was limited, like most of the inhabitants of the shtetl, and we had no luxuries. My mother Chana (daughter of Leah and Bunne Yossman from Utena) was an industrious woman, who was always ready to help, and I remember that Chaya-Tzipe [Slep] used to ask my mother: “Hanka, you make such delicious gefilte fish; help me!” We lived beside the synagogue, in the home of Michl Zilber, Dov Caspi's mother, which was across from Hillel and Ella Schwartz's house - where I used to babysit for their little daughter Avivale (born Apr 10, 1939). Afterwards we moved to the house of the pharmacist, Chaim-Aaron (Shein). In another part of the house lived Yehuda Baron and his wife Ethel, who was a seamstress. Our window looked out on Chaya-Tzipe's [Slep] house, and I remember that I liked to stand and listen to their daughter Miryam singing beautifully – she was pretty, with two long thick braids. There was a cellar in their house, where we stored our food.

I had no future in the shtetl, and I went to Ponivezh [Panevezys] to study bookkeeping. We had family there and I lived with them. My mother understood that there was no point in my remaining in Dusiat, but nevertheless, it was very hard to part. My mother perhaps sensed that we would not see each other again.

From Ponivezh I moved to Aniksht [Anyksciai], where I lived with my uncle, my father's brother, who was a qualified tailor and employed many workers.

Then the war broke out

There was a major panic, with everyone running without knowing where they were going. I wanted to get to Dusiat, to my parents, and I traveled far, running and riding in a wagon, until I reached Utian [Utena] and my aunt Shifra, my father's sister, who was a teacher. The bombing started and they hid in the cellar. I said to her: “Come let's run like everyone else.” They had two young children, and she and her husband refused to flee. I left them and continued running.

Someone told me that the brothers Eme (Avrham) and Bebe (Berl-Dov) Schwartz were on their way from Vilkomir [Ukmerge] to Dusiat. I knew that the Rabbi of Utian[1] was their relative and they had almost certainly gone to him. I went to the rabbi and he confirmed that the brothers had been at his place, but they had left and gone in the direction of Dusiat.

Somewhere on the way I met Libale Napoleon, who had relatives in Dusiat. I saw the Gentile Godos, who was the assistant with Baruch Krut's car, and he advised us not to dare continue on to Dusiat because the Lithuanians were ambushing Jews along the way and killing them. There was another Gentile there who offered to take Libale, but I grabbed her arm and forcefully pulled her towards me, because I knew they would kill her. I shouted to her: “Don't go with him!” Can't you see that he's waiting for the Germans?”

In Latvia, near Dvinsk [Daugavpils], people were hiding in the forest, and there I encountered Malkale Feldman (from Dusiat) with a friend. I joined a group there, none of whom were from my shtetl. However, when you flee together, you're all friends.

We reached the Russian border, but they didn't let us cross. We stayed there for several days, until they changed the orders, and then we got on a train and left for Russia. When there was bombing, we would get off the train and hide. We continued on our journey this way for a month, or perhaps even longer.

I reached Mordovia. I worked there in a kolkhoz (Soviet collective farm) with Russians from Belarus, and I was the only Jew. I lived with a good woman, Paulina. I worked at a variety of jobs: I cut the grain with a sickle, pulled garbage carts and worked at all the hard jobs in the fields.

Later on I joined a group of Lithuanians and moved with them to Kuibishev. There I studied engraving in a trade school and … received food.

On December 31, 1944, before the end of the war, we moved to Vilna [Vilnius], with the help of the Lithuanian statesman Paletskis.

Shayke Glick: Paletskis was a journalist by profession, and during the Soviet period he was the Prime Minister of Lithuania SSR. When the Germans invaded Lithuania and hordes of refugees congregated on the Russian border, his involvement was apparently why they permitted refugees from the Baltic States to cross the border at that time.

I didn't go to Dusiat. I knew there was nothing and no one there for me. The Jews of Lithuania gathered in Vilnius, and that is where we met – the few residents of my shtetl who remained alive, and to this day we are like brothers and sisters.

That is when I met my husband, who was still a soldier in the Red Army. We were married, had two sons, and all of us together immigrated to Israel and settled in Kiryat Chaim. I maintain close ties with several of the Dusiaters, and the memory of the shtetl and our loved ones is preserved when we meet.

 

 
Masha meets Zamke Glezer at the gathering of the Dusiaters
October 15, 1989, Tel Aviv

Report by Avraham Schwartz (son of David and Lesel from Dusiat)
in the newspaper “Der Emeth” (“The Truth”)

May 28, 1941. High School #2 in Vilkomir [Ukmerge] has completed its first Soviet school year very impressively. The school, with its pioneers and teachers, with its sponsor – the Eighth National Shoe Factory – at its head, paraded through the city. At the front marched the Sports Club band. After the parade, the principal, Comrade Shochat, gave a speech in the schoolyard. Also the teacher Grinspan (in Lithuanian), and Comrade Movszowitz spoke in the name of the shoe factory. The festivities ended to the sound of the “Internationale”.
A. Schwartz

 

 

Footnote

  1. Rabbi Avraham-Zvi (son of Rabbi Benjamin Eizenstadt).
    The two brothers Eizenstadt from Utian married the two sisters Levitt from Dusiat: Rabbi Avraham-Zvi married Sarah-Leah, and his brother Rabbi Meir-David married Lesl. Their father Berl Levitt was the brother of Rivka - mother of Lesl Schwartz (Albert), the mother of Eme and Bebe.
    Return

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