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Preface addressed to the people of Dynow

Translated by William Leibner

Edited by Phyllis Kramer

I wrote the book about Dynow in order to erect a tombstone for the murdered Jews of Dynow. This being the third catastrophe for the Jewish People (Editor: Allusion to the first and second destruction of the temples in Jerusalem).

I do not consider myself worthy of the task but having been a personal witness to the terrible destruction of our city, I feel the inner need to relate my experiences. I still see the picture of the terrible slaughter that took place the second day of Rosh Hashana in 1939 in Dynow. I still see the bodies of our brothers that were left unattended in the forest surrounding Dynow, the torched synagogue and the cremated bodies inside and finally the total expulsion of the Jews from the city.

I relate all these events in this book so that it should be a memorial for the future generations when we will no longer be here. The book will remind the readers of the terrible events regardless of the time elapsed. For it will serve as an eternal memorial for the Jews killed in Dynow. We must not forget these deeds as the holy Torah urges us to “Remember what Amalek did to us”.

The shtetl Dynow has a rich history of Jewish life. Many years ago it was an important center of Torah learning and Hassidism then it was suddenly destroyed. All Jewish signs disappeared, even the tombstones at both Jewish cemeteries were destroyed by the vandals.

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I devoted a great deal of time and energy to write the book. I did not write it under the influence of a drunken spell, it is written in blood and tears that can not always be regulated or controlled. Sometimes the writing overflows the banks and at other times it proceeds with harshness.

The book is written in the form of a story but not necessarily an autobiography or a chronology of historic events. It is written to give the reader a general description of the terrible events that took place as seen by the author. All mentioned individuals in the book are well known to the Jews of Dynow. I had to exercise great caution in describing the individuals in order to portray them as the people of Dynow portrayed them. Of course it is much easier to write when one is not limited by these bounds. Then the author can follow his feelings whether tragic or comic about his characters. In effect the author molds the character to create the story. He can make him tall, short, fat, skinny but must relate to the heart and soul of his creation.

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We can illustrate the point with an ancient story. Once upon a time, a rich man decided to study the art of warfare and became a well-known archer. His ability with the bow and arrow were legend; no bird escaped his arrow. On his way home, he came across in a village of a target practice area where a sharp shooter had practiced target shooting. A circle was drawn on a tree and in the middle of the circle was an arrow. It was a perfect score as though it was painted. The rich man asked the people to call the sharpshooter and asked him where he mastered the art of archery. The man replied that he aims the arrow at a tree and then draws a circle around the arrow. Obviously he is no master archer but adjusts the results to his shooting. The same here, an author can adjust his characters to his story but when one describes live and well known people one must adhere to their reality in life. This makes it very difficult since every word has to be measured and weighted. The author knew all these people and he also knows that the other people from Dynow know these individuals so he must render the characters as they were in life. He can not follow the reader's tastes or inclinations or his own feelings. The writer in this instance must adhere to the life of the community and the individuals as the case was prior to and during the destruction. The terrible events must be described the way the happened.

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The first part of the book is very authentic since I witnessed personally these events that led up to the expulsion of the Jews of Dynow. The second part I already had to rely on testimonies of other people to complete the story. The Jews mentioned in this part are well known people of Dynow that died in various Polish cities and villages, camps, forests and hiding places.

I am certain that the Jews of Dynow that will read the book will reminisce about their parents, brothers and sisters, families and friends that were murdered. These saintly people disappeared in the terrible slaughters that took place in World War II.

Some of the Jews mentioned in the book are well known to the Jews of Reishe (Yiddish) or Rzeszow (Polish), notably, Rabbi Yossef Reich, the religious judge of the Jewish court in Reishe as well as the head of the Reisher Yeshiva.

I hope that the readers of the book that have some pertinent additional information about Dynow will contact me so that we can add the material to the book.

At the end of the book there is a chapter devoted to the destruction of Sanok and one to the destruction of Dubiecko.

The author, David Moritz


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Introduction to the destruction of Dynow

Translated by William Leibner

Edited by Phyllis Kramer

On the banks of the river San, at the foot hills of the Carpathian mountains is located the small township of Dynow. (Translator: It is located south-east of the city of Rzeszow and west of the city of Przemysl, Poland). The place is so small that it was omitted from most maps due to the few inhabitants of the hamlet. The latter is considered a large village. But the place is well represented in the history of Jewish persecutions. Its history is inscribed with large letters written in blood and tears. Three hundred years ago the Jewish community was almost totally destroyed by the Chmielnicki bands of Cossacks. A hundred and twenty five years ago there was another slaughter in the hamlet, as a result of which twenty Jews were killed. They were buried next to the victims of the Chmielnicki pogroms. The cemetery was surrounded with a metal fence and nobody entered the place in order not to disturb the deceased. Only during the month of Elul would Jews stand next to the fence and recite prayers, men as well as women. The names of all the victims were inscribed in the record book of the synagogue and on a panel attached to the bima or table where the Torah is read. The hamlet became famous in the rabbinical world with the arrival of the great scholar and rabbi, Rabbi Yaakow Tzwi Yolish who published the famous book “Maale Haroim” a commentary on the Talmud. Rabbi Yehoshia who was a pupil of the great sage of Lublin succeeded him as town Rabbi. The latter was considered to have mystical powers. Rabbi Tzwi Elimelech also settled in Dynow after traveling extensively through various communities, notably Munkacz.

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Rabbi Elimelech faced many congregations and could not hold on to a position until he came to Dynow where he was appointed religious judge. When the Rabbi of the hamlet died, he was appointed Rabbi. During his lifetime he became famous in the Hassidic world through the publication of several scholarly works: “Bnei Issachar”, “Agra Dekala”, “Agra Deparka”, “Derech Pkudeich” and so on. He remained at the post until he passed away in 1830 when the cholera epidemic raged in Dynow. He was buried at the end of the old cemetery. His son, Dawid, became the rabbi of the hamlet and published a book entitled “Tzemach Dawid”, a commentary on the Torah. He passed away in 1831 and left three sons, all scholars in their own right. The oldest was Yeshayahu Hertz. He became Rabbi of Dynow. The second son, Tzwi Elimelech became Rabbi of Bloziw and the third son became the Rabbi of Bukowsk. Yeshayahu Hertz died in 1845 and was buried in the old cemetery next to his father and grandfather.

Rabbi Yeshayahu Hertz's son-in-law, Yossef, became Rabbi of Dynow and occupied the post until 1893. He was followed briefly by his son Dawid, who passed away a year later. The son, Mendele, inherited the position and remained Rabbi of Dynow until the Nazis killed him. The last destruction and expulsion of the Jews of Dynow by the German bloody bandits took place in 1939 on the second day of Rosh Hashana.


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The Destruction of Dynow

Translated by William Leibner

Edited by Phyllis Kramer

Chapter 1

The synagogue of Dynow could be seen from far away, it was situated on a hill facing East, the big windows reflected in the sun creating huge colorful images. The synagogue appeared like a beautiful palace surrounded with trees and farmer huts. Big golden letters shone above the entrance to the synagogue “Ma Tovou Ohaleicha Yaakow” or “How good it is to be in the tent of Jacob” meaning that it is good to be in the place of worship. The synagogue building also contained two smaller synagogues, namely a synagogue for tailors and one for religious slaughterers. The former synagogue was breathtaking with its simplicity and richness. The hard work and devotion that went into the creation of the synagogue left one speechless. One did not know what to look at first, the walls shone with colors, the gold ornate mantel of the holy arch, the artistic woodwork around the holy arch and the artistically painted walls. The lion and the deer, the leopard and the eagle, that illustrated the passage of Yehuda ben Taima. Be strong as a tiger, light as an eagle, fast as a deer and respectful as a lion in the fulfillment of God's commandments. The pictures and the illustrations attached one to these walls reflected so much Jewish history.

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These pictures recreated the heroic and tragic moments of Jewish history and appealed to the emotional and intellectual baggage of the Jewish people. It placed the individual in a dreamland of history. The pictures also used the simple biblical Hebrew language that drove the historical perspective home; namely that the Jews once had a homeland and a language. The symbols and the literary lines reinforced the pictures as well as the religious connotations involved. One reflected in these artistic creations that told the history of the Jewish people. Next we see the sacrifice of Itzhac, the altar surrounded by rising clouds of burning wood and nearby a white baby lamb, the eyes pleading, the horns entwined in the branches of a tree. Then we are in the harsh desert near Mount Sinai. A hellish fire illuminates the top of the mountain and nearby we see the sandals of Moses. This refers to the line in the bible that says to Moses: “You are standing on holy ground, remove thy footwear”. On the eastern wall of the synagogue we see the holy city of Jerusalem with round and flat roofs and the Western Wall where Jews pray for divine assistance. The wall consists of huge stones, remnants of the ancient temple and of Jewish architecture. The artist designated on the wall the places that indicated revelations to Yohanan ben Zakai and to the late Radbaz. The sky was painted in light blue suggesting mysterious uncertainty and sadness that enveloped the entire creation.

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One wall was dedicated to the destruction of Jerusalem. Glancing at the wall one had the feeling that one was standing in front of the wall. One felt like embracing the wall and hugging it as a mother hugs her child. The picture spoke to the onlooker and affected him emotionally. Above the painting was written the biblical prophecy that the holy city will be rebuilt. A promise that kindled the heart as the rays of the sun do in an autumn day.

The promise expressed itself in the famous sentence “I shall not rest until the righteous place of Jerusalem is restored and she will shine as the North Star”.

Along the northern wall there was a picture of the destruction of the first temple as outlined in a chapter of the psalms. By the river of Babylon we sat and wept at the memories of Zion. By the waists we hang our harps. The picture in the synagogue indicates a blue green river, the banks overgrown with weeds and tree branches heading in all directions. Women with their hair loose as a sign of mourning carrying harps and fiddles. Above the picture the inscription of the Levites that refused to sing the holy songs before the enemy. “How can we sing God's verses on foreign soil. If I forget thee oh Jerusalem may my right hand wither”. This sounded more like an oath than a will. Do not sign the holy lines before other nations.

The ceiling was dedicated to the astrological world. Zodiac signs all over the ceiling. There were twelve zodiacs with their respective signs. The month of Nissan was the sheep, the month of Iyar the bull, Sivan twins, and so on. In the middle of the ceiling was a picture of the Leviathan.

The synagogue building was a tall two-story building. There were no pictures in the main shul, only holy verses from the bible, the Ten Commandments and different prayers.

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Below the verses, there were hanging boards on which were inscribed psalms. The psalm 144, to David was chiseled out and inlaid with bronze letters. Next to this tablet was the tablet with the prayer devoted to the new month. Two lions painted by the artist Moshe ben Meir Mildorf headed the prayer panel.

A panel in the synagogue of Dynow

 

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In great silver letters was written the prayer with the opening sentence “to you my dear G-d can I open my heart”. The first line of the psalm was so representative of the persecuted Jew who reveals his inner thoughts to the Almighty. Next to this panel was another one praising the morning star. The content was similar to the former psalm. One had the impression that instead of a male beggar there was a crying woman with folded arms saying “My God, My God, why did you abandon us, why is your assistance so far”. On the North wall was inscribed the old and new dirge of the Jewish people, namely psalm #79, Oh God! The barbarian nations came and defiled your temple, the bodies of your followers they fed to the animals of the earth and the birds in the skies. Their blood flows as the waters in the streets. Their bodies are scattered in the streets and nobody buries them.

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Chapter 2

Who shall be killed by the sword or by fire?
(Line from the famous prayer of the High Holidays)

Heavy clouds spread throughout the horizons of the Jewish communities by the beginning of 1940. Worse than anything that occurred during the Chmielnitzky period of pogroms. The German hordes began their murderous attack on Poland. All Germans participated in the murderous attack that raped, killed and eventually enslaved the peaceful European nations. They had a field day of pickings in the cities and hamlets where Jewish life pulsated for centuries. Under their rule, everything turned to dust as though a hurricane or an earth tremor passed the area. Destroyed cities and villages, mountains of human skeletons, human limbs were scattered along the roads. Stiff bodies hung from telegraph poles as though laundry was drying. These were the first signs of the German occupation. They arrived in Dynow three days prior to Rosh Hashana with their sleeves rolled up and ready for the slaughter.

Friday, the second day of Rosh Hashana; the synagogue is packed with hundreds of refugees that fled their cities and can not presently return to their former place of residence, (for the Germans do not permit Jews to travel without specific permits - translator).The German bandits have a beautiful and sunny day, while the assembled Jews tremble with fear. Once more the rays of the sun penetrated the synagogue and illuminated the beautiful windows that created the effect of precious stones. The light illuminates the holy inscriptions on the walls; thou shall not murder, thou shall not steal, thou should respect thy friend as you respect yourself etc.. Ethical and moral precepts that the Jewish people evolved and presented to mankind as a source of inspiration for a higher sphere of leadership. All these precepts were being pushed aside, their letters are darkened and invisible. Fear and panic is present everywhere, tears and sighing can be seen and heard in the upper section section of the synagogue, reserved for women, as well as in the lower part of the synagogue reserved for men. The present fear and the uncertain tomorrow call for an individual reckoning. Each person becomes involved within himself. They all realize their helplessness in the face of the German bloody beast.

Momentarily everything and everybody is silent. Yatche the cantor started to recite the famous and moving prayer “Untane Tokef”. He recites the lines in a soft melodic voice that affects all the attendants, tears began to roll down the cheeks and the souls of the congregates are transported to another place. This small man that barely reaches the prayer stand, has the great gift of a voice that echoes throughout the upper part of the synagogue and bounces off the big windows. The congregation remained speechless, their eyes wide open and glued to the places. They dared not miss a word of the cantor. They forgot their present terrible predicaments and earthly worries. They were transported to a higher sphere where man is swayed by music and songs. Everybody felt the grandeur and the holiness of judgement day as the cantor continued to recite the lines in a trembling and supplicating voice. Even the angels trembled on hearing the sounds that emerged from the great shofar. The book of life is opened and everyone's life record is read. How small is man's mind that deals with plans and ambitions of a lifetime as opposed to the eternal creator. One deals with a fleeting moment of history as opposed to the history of man. The cantor continued to the next prayer, on Rosh Hashana the decision is written and on Yom Kippur it is signed. How many will continue to live, how many will be cured, who will live and who will die. His voice became softer and more begging. He pleaded, begged, and even cried now. The changes of the voice paralleled the tone changes of a violin. Suddenly, the cantor abandoned the higher spiritual plane, the sphere of the spirit and descended to the world of materialistic reality. The world of hunger, loneliness and need. It sounded like the reading of a guilty verdict in the courthouse with little chance of an appeal. The congregation quickly awakened from the dream world as the cantor continued to recite the prayer. Who will die by the sword, by hunger and by fire. The last word electrified the people as though they were jabbed by pins. The faces darkened and the eyes were wet. Never before did they realize the meaning of these

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words. Now, in view of the current situation, they realized only too well the meaning of these words. Now they faced the German beast with its bloody fingernails and open mouth from where protruded yellow rusty teeth ready to swallow everything in sight.

When the cantor stopped for a moment to catch his breath, one suddenly heard the sharp voice of his under study, Leibtche Roth, the son of the tombstone letter writer, he had the first solo of the prayers. Chaim Frank, a young boy that had a fine tuned voice like a whistle, accompanied him. They were followed by Issachar Grinbaum, a dark hair sympathetic boy with curled peyot or side curls, red rounded cheeks, dark smart looking eyes that revealed youth, boundless enthusiasm and joy. His voice was bursting with joy as the first signs of blossom of the spring that awakens in us the desire to see the green fields, the fresh grass, and the chirping of the birds. Presently his voice was a bit sad and reflected more a sad autumn evening. He understood well the text before him and the meaning of the words; who will perish by the sword, by hunger, by fire. Presently this was not a song but sad reality reminiscent of the prayer for the departed ones. The congregates had the feeling that they are hearing an orchestra of sweet and sad melodies. All the eyes were turned to the holy arch where the understudies sung. This seemed like a fantastic picture

With the gilded lions, the artistic wood carvings that decorated the holy arch (created by Meir Muldworf). The velvet curtain with gold stitched letters reflected in the rays of the sun. The young understudies acted out their trained parts but their words did not harmonize with their feelings. They did not have poetic harmony, something lacked, and they were affected by other factors. They were exposed to realistic pictures of terrible brutality. This did not require make up. What they saw in two weeks of war; fires, destructions and entire cities in ruins within minutes. And what awaits the men that decide to leave; their wives and children will remain at home and face a bitter destiny. They may still have food today but what about tomorrow. They already saw the beginning of the terrible destruction of Jewish life. The beautiful picture of the cantor and his assistants seemed to remind one of the end of the summer, when the birds assemble on the trees and telegraph lines to fly away for the duration of the winter.

Chapter 3

Don't abandon me when I am old

Next to the western wall by the glass painted black door was painted the tombstone of Rachel. Here stood Shlomo Rein leaning on his stand covered by his talith. He was an old and gray hair man

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past his eighties. Tears were streaming from his red eyes. Sorrow tears that no other nation can understand. Tears from a homeless Jew that feels lonely and isolated as though he wandered in the desert. His tent is temporary, his life is full of fears and is affected by the slightest wind as the fallen leaf. He seems to feel the approaching disaster, robbers are approaching his temporary tent, he knows that all his appeals are wasted and nobody will pay heed. The entire world seems to him to be a wild desert where the fist rules. Those that possess sharp teeth and sharp finger nails rule. Those that unfortunately lack these elements will be stepped on and chewed up. There is no justice or pity amongst the nations. The Jew is like a small lamb amongst the wolves who would like to devour him. Even his best friends turn on him in bad times. The only recourse he has is to pray to the Almighty.

He took inventory of his entire life. He did not have one pleasant moment during his entire life. He always lived in fear, in need, and in hunger. He peddled his wares amongst the farmers. He carried the basket on his back as the ox was attached to the plow. He was always afraid of the non-Jewish children in the country side that frequently threw atones at him or enraged the dogs against him. He lived in a small crowded house near the synagogue

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together with his hen and geese that he raised. He hoped to enjoy his remaining years in peace next to the synagogue, near the study center where he could recite the psalms or partake in the studying of religious texts. Suddenly a terrible war began. He knew what war meant. He still remembered World War I: hunger, need, fires and pogroms. Items that he just read in the prayer book. And what will happen to him with his sick legs and poor vision. Will he have to abandon his place and face the bitter cold and the uncertainties of the tomorrow. Will he have to beg for handouts or pass away in some field amongst strangers. His entire body trembled as these thoughts crossed his mind, then he reached the line that said do not abandon me when I am old and can no longer fend for myself. He reasoned that it is better to die in his little crowded house next to the synagogue amongst the Jews. He of course did not know that the word by fire was meant for him and in the same place and on the same day that he recited the prayer.

The prayers were not finished this day. Two German murderers entered the synagogue and fired shots at the ceiling. Panic struck the congregation, people rushed to the door to exit, The Germans stood in their way with their weapons and demanded cigarettes, money and watches. Most of the people managed to extricate themselves from the synagogue and reached their homes.

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In the afternoon, dark clouds descended on the hamlet, several trucks with SS men arrived. They immediately began to search for Jews as though they were birds of prey. They chased all male Jews out of their homes and drove them to the market place. Some German murderers entered the synagogue with pointed pistols and forced all the refugees to leave the place. Most of the refugees in the synagogue were eating their lunch. Together with the refugees was also arrested Leibish Boim. He was eighteen years old and devoted himself to help the sick and the poor people. He spent days to assemble food for the needy. He now distributed food to the refugees and did not know that this was his last day together with his friends. The murderers ordered everybody to line up and march to the market. The German booted an old man that could not keep pace with the line. He fell and Leibish tried to help him get up when a German fatally hit him on the head with his rifle butt. All Jews had to keep pace with the column. Meanwhile other Germans drove all the Jews in town to the market.

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Chapter 4

We are being killed daily because of you; we are similar to the sheep that are led to the slaughter. Melech Glaser was seated in his poor little room and recited the psalms. He was a simple Jew with a pale skinny face and two eyes that emitted childish naive honesty. He did not understand tricks and deals. He was poor and showed it in his behavior, his bekeshe or black coat worn by very religious Jews was well worn and frequently mended since he acquired it for his wedding. His shtreimel or fur hat was well worn and he used it on Shabbat and holidays. Even his skimpy yellow beard fitted in with his poor appearance. Life was very difficult for him. Each day, he attached a box of window glasses to his back and walked through the villages trying to sell them to the farmers. It took a long time until he earned a zloty to support his large family that also included his mother. Sometimes he returned home empty handed. His sole pleasure in life was to sit each night in the synagogue and listen to the lecture of Mordechai Brand who explained the section of “Mishnayot“ or religious text. He then listened to the law and custom lecture given by Israel Moshe Einsidler. He considered him to be an authority and became a follower of his. He particularly enjoyed reciting the book of psalms each day.

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He recited the lines with ease and felt at home with the text. The words related to him and he thought that they were meant for him. Lines like don't listen to the advice of bad people and keep away from sinful people spoke to him. Concentrate on the study of the torah, day and night, and you will be like a tree next to a spring of water. The fruits will grow and the leaves will not wither. The bad people will be driven like chaff by the wind. Here he found similarity to his life. He worked hard but it was honest work, not like the one of the wicked people. These words were a consolation to him for his hard life. On Rosh Hashana he recited the entire book of psalms. He remembered vividly psalm # 44, G-d, we heard with our own ears our parents telling us about the great miracles that you once performed for the Jewish people. But today you have abandoned and shamed us. You handed us over like sheep to be eaten. You give away your people without compensation. You have made us the laughing stock amongst our neighbors. He suddenly reminded himself of the attack directed at him that resulted in his loss of a good part of the beard and all the windowpanes. Two weeks have passed since the war started and he has not earned a penny. His debts keep raising. These thoughts made him tremble with fear for the future.

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He heard of the German brutalities aimed at the Jews. They were far worse than the Polish pogroms of the 18th and 19th century. The Germans kill the Jews like the Petlura gangs did in Ukraine in their time. His eyes swelled with tears when he reached he lines “We are being killed daily because of you, we are similar to the sheep that are led to the slaughter”. Arise from your slumber! Why are you asleep? Why are you hiding your face? And why did you forget about our pains? Our souls and backs have already reached the ground. He meditated along these lines for they seemed to reflect his destiny as well as the destiny of each Jew in the community. Suddenly one of the German murders entered his place and ripped the book of psalms from his hands and threw it down to the floor. He screamed at him “you filthy Jew” out. The Jew was terrified for he did not know what he did and he did he understand what the German wanted. The latter hit him across the face several time with his rifle. The Jew fell to the ground with his face covered in blood. The German now began to kick him with his boot and forced him out to the street. With unsteady steps he joined the other Jews that were being led to the market. The psalms that gave him comfort all his life also escorted him now in his last moments. At the market, the Jews were frisked and their watches were confiscated. They were then forced to do gym exercises, hands in the air, hands down and the Germans were laughing. A real show, some of them even took pictures. Then they were ordered to mount trucks that drove them to the edge of the hamlet where they were shot.

Chapter 5

Menashe, the father of the mentioned cantorial understudy Leibtche, lived in a wooden shack along the narrow Bath Street. Many years he was the only tombstone letter writer in Dynow. His place was surrounded with tombstones of all sizes, shapes and colors. A stranger that visited the place at night may have mistaken it for a meeting place of the dead as they all stood wrapped in their praying shawls reciting the “Amidah” or the 18 blessings. He was well known for his work in the area and occasionally received orders from nearby communities. The letters were chiseled and then colored with a silver bronze mixture that made them stand out. This caught the eyes of the visitors to the cemetery. The eagles, lions, menorah and spread hands that adorned the tombstones indicated that there was some sculptural talent hidden in the artisan. Of course, he was not the only person with some talent in this small hamlet that was frozen in the environment and was unable to fully exploit his talents. In addition to this work, he was also a “melamed” or Hebrew teacher. This position he inherited from his father and grand father. They

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were both well known Hebrew teachers. Both functions did not provide him with ample food for his family. He was always hungry and tired for he worked on the stones before the children arrived at his cheder. When the children left his room, he continued to work on the tombstones. Both jobs merely enabled him to exist with his family of five children. The oldest son was Leibtche and he hoped that he would make something of himself. He will not have to work with stones and handle children. He would have seen this wish materialized if the Germans murderers did not show up and destroy his plans as well as the lives of million of Jews. Leibtche was well known amongst the city Jewish youth, especially for his brightness and his talent. This became obvious two years before the war. He was a sensitive youngster, middle height, a pale face, two shining brown eyes that were always far away. His face was covered with freckles and he emitted a specific Jewish type of mysticism. The small head contained a bright mind that amazed most of the people. The teachers at the school said that they would finance his studies at the high school if he were not Jewish. The Hebrew teachers were convinced that if he would continue his studies at a Yeshiva he would become a great scholar. In addition

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he had musical and painting talents. He was attracted to art studies but the way was closed. His father barely supported the family and could not afford to pay for his education. He finished the cheder studies and the public school that consisted of seven grades. He even finished a bookkeeping course at a commercial school and became a bookkeeper. But his restless soul prevented him from settling down and devoting himself to his work. He devotes all his energies to the books of the two libraries that are located in the city. He read everything that he saw. He read poetry, science, philosophy and literature. The latter enabled him to raise himself above his daily chores. He moved into a higher sphere of intellectual life. He dreamt of romantic heroes mostly chiseled of stone, erect like palm trees and highly motivated. Their drives and wills were as powerful as the sea winds. They lived in beautiful palaces filled with luxury. He wandered with the writers through the royal palaces amongst the princes and rulers surrounded by their slaves. From early human history to the almost the present time. He familiarized himself with the European nations through their literature, artistic creations, and scientific achievements. He appreciated the English, the nation of Shakespeare, Lord Byron, and Orwell. He esteemed the French for their freedom

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fighters, philosophers, writers. He talked enthusiastically about the Italians, the nation of Michelangelo, Rafael, a nation of art and genius. For the German artists and thinkers, scientists and poets he had nothing but the greatest of respect. He spoke highly of the nation that did so much for the advancement of mankind in all respects. He was impressed with the Polish exile literature; the sad poems of Adam Mickewicz moved him to tears. He practically knew them by heart from his school days. His favorite literature was the woks of Henrik Sienkewicz. They familiarized him with Polish nationalism and patriotism. He read a great number of Hebrew and Yiddish books but they hardly impressed him. He did not found great interest in the poor Jewish characters that appeared in this literature. He saw many of these naked beggars from Kasriliwka, and the matchmakers and mediators from Koze Dayewka. Some of them he knew from personal experience without the books. Some of the better books and poems of the Hebrew and Yiddish literature left him cold. He considered them the crumbs of the general literature as opposed to the rich and inspired European literature. Yiddish literature lacked the poetry of nature, the sounds of the natural forest and limitless fields. It was naked as the truth itself. The pages humid from the tears shed by the victims of slaughters and pogroms. He considered this as part of the past that can not repeat itself today amongst the civilized nations. He was hardly

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familiar with the bible. He was primarily interested in modern culture and civilization to the exclusion of everything else. He delved deeper and deeper into modern literature that gave him spiritual satisfaction. With great enthusiasm he read twice the work of Kipling “Rucho Tiki”. He was inspired from the life of the animals in the jungle and the natural life of the animals and birds in the natural surroundings. He could not grasp the scene of the boy raised by the wolves leaving his four legged friends and moving into the primitive world of man. He felt a sense of responsibility for his heroic romantic heroes, artists and culture bearers. He felt that life was a beautiful composition. Nature, trees and forest animals sing and man is the orchestra leader, the crowned hero of the entire composition. He barely visited the Maccabi youth club. He was not interested in leaving cultured Europe for the sandy desert fields of Palestine. The beautiful summer days, he spent alone with a book in hand near the River San and observed the beautiful landscape. The yellow golden stalks swayed in the fields as if driven by the unsteady sea wind. The

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flaming red roses sparkled from all sides as red lanterns. He listened to the games of the wild rabbits, to the happy chirping birds, to the flow of the water and the noise of the trees that seemed to him like a Beethoven symphony. Then he began to paint and draw elements of what he saw. At his home, he already had the beginning of a small collection of paintings where one could see the potential of a painter. Particularly impressive was the painting depicting the hills surrounding the hamlet. Looking at the picture, one forgot about the small wooden shock surrounded with tombstones that created a macabre feeling amongst the visitors. The picture conveyed the spirit of nature as though painted by a famous artist. A magical moment captured in a dream world. The sun barely covered with red golden clouds, the forest on the top of the mountain seemed on fire as a result of the last red rays of the sun. At the foothills, the San River continues to meander and a full-grown deer with large antlers is drinking quietly from the clear waters of the river. No less impressive was the next picture that portrayed two contrasts. The city church, the tower with the roof in the shape of a lopsided onion and the shining copper copula that sends its rays to the sky. Nearby was the old

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Jewish cemetery with the low, barely visible tombstone structure hidden by a willow tree. The expression was that of loneliness, lack of love. Foolish men, you will not breach the secrets of the world by arrogantly pushing yourself skywards. You will end the same way as the generation of the tower of Babel that could not understand each other and resulted in total confusion. Emptiness will rule the world. Look at the old cemetery with the overgrown tombstone structure, in the shadow of the willow tree, surrounded with old broken tombstones. Sit down next to it and think about the place with the partially erased letters on the tombstones. Some will say that he was a honest man, others will say that he lived by his own means, still another will say that he gave charity to the poor or that he studied day and night the holy books. Only them will you begin to understand the secrets of the almighty, life or death. The two pictures were well known in the hamlet. He was offered 25 zlotes for each but he was in no rush to sell. He also painted several smaller pictures, namely Daniel in the lion pit, an allusion to Pan Twardowski who sold his soul in one of Adam Mickewicze's creations. Lately he earned some zlotes by painting portraits of Pilsudski (translator: the deceased leader of Poland) and Ridz-Szmigly (translator: the new leader of Poland) that the gentiles eagerly bought from him. Even the municipality bought these two items and hung them in the assembly hall.

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He was once the cause of a serious discussion at a council meeting; some councilors wanted to send him to an art school while others insisted that the Jewish community should send him. In the end he remained home, for his father could not afford to pay nor could the Jewish community. The latter had small revenues from a kosher slaughtering business that barely covered the budget that paid for the slaughterers, the rabbi and the religious judges. It also had to pay on occasion for repairs of the bath house or the fence that surrounded the cemetery in order to keep the goats out. There was no money to send gifted students to study. Leibtche will continue his father's trades without the art school. But he never lost confidence, he continued his work and dreamt that one day he will be able to study. Meanwhile he continued to read and live in a different world.

Chapter 6

You not only killed the people but you also took their possessions

On the second day of Rosh Hashana as Leibtche Roth sat at the table with his father, they had finished their meal and were about to commence the blessings after the partaking of food, when the door burst open and an SS bandit rushed in with his sleeves rolled up like a butcher in the slaughterhouse and roared “You filthy Jews, Out”. Both Jews remained frozen and did not know what happened to them.

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Meanwhile the German saw the paintings on the walls and remained staring at them. He could not detach himself from the paintings. He himself was a painter and a student of an art school. He saw the talent in the pictures and even realized their financial value. He took the pictures down and began to fantasize how he would represent them as his own creations. Daniel in the lion pit was an excellent gift to the “Sturmer”, (translator: Nazi newspaper headed by Goebels). He would merely add a comment to the effect that once Jews were thrown to the lions but now they are thrown to the dogs. The painting particularly impressed him with Pan Twardowski talking to the devil. He thought it compared well with the drama of Faust created by Goethe. Leibtche stood motionless, pale and totally devoid of emotions as he saw the German rob him of his works. The paintings represented his life work and all his possessions. He felt as though someone cut part of his body. The German nation represents a psychological puzzle, even when it decided to murder in cold blood its opponent, it still can stand and admire the opponents artistic creations and calculate the financial profits to be derived from the murder. Yes, he will hang the pictures in his beautiful villa, in the balcony so that it can blend with the surroundings and enable the murderer to enjoy the ill begotten gains from the unknown murdered painter. The German was not satisfied with his thievery, he searched for jewelry or a gold watch to present to his sweetheart prior to their wedding. But he did not find jewels and was furious, he ripped off the earrings

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of Mrs. Roth and took her wedding band. He then began to beat both Leibtche and his father and chased them out to the street while screaming you are artists, sculptors and painters. We will send you to the same place where we send all the Jewish artists and scholars. You filthy Jews need no longer art, you have already besmirched enough the art world. He marched them to the market where all hell broke loose. Searches, questions and searches under a hail of beatings. Then they were lined up in a row, about a hundred men, local and out of the city residents. They were ordered to remove their hats and were paraded in a shameful manner throughout the town.The neighbors of old Yehuda were more sympathetic than the others and crossed their hands and shed tears at the terrible sight of mistreatment and destruction. Most of the others behaved disgracefully from the first moment; the Poles and Ukrainians, the followers of the Roman Catholic Church and the Greek Church immediately revealed their wolfish teeth. All of them lined the streets and with joy and contempt watched the shameful parade of their neighbors. Catcalls from everywhere in Polish “A gdzie ribi?” where are the fish? (translator: an allusion to the Jews eating fish on Fridays and Holidays), “a gdzie hali?“ (translator: where are the halot similar to allusion above). Some were jumping with joy and applauding. Others remarked that the Jews were led to the San River where they will have big fish.

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The Polish Jews will never forget these events inscribed with bloody letters in the books of history. It will remain a permanent stain on the history of the Poles and Ukrainians. In the final judgement day, the Germans murders, small and big, will have to answer for their deeds. The Poles and Ukrainians will also share the bench of the accused for their behavior during these days. The shameful parade of the Jews was also their last steps in this world. The funeral march however consisted of the victims to be. Leibtche Roth marched with his father. He was very pale and looked at the ground. He was embarrassed to look at the sidewalks in case he met the sneering looks of the onlookers. Amongst them he noticed some of his schoolmates that he used to help with their homework. The sighs of his father who had a foreboding of something terrible awakened him. Suddenly, he felt the helplessness and weakness of the Jew. Presently he understood the meaning of the words “like sheep to the slaughter”. He always skimmed these lines during the prayers without really devoting time to the meaning of the words. A few minutes of marching shattered all his illusions about the beautiful romantic world. What the Yiddish and Hebrew books tried to tell him all these years was suddenly accepted without hesitation. He looked at the telegraph wires where many swallows assembled for their long winter journey. How

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happy he would be if he could also fly away from this place with the birds to a warmer climate in order to escape from bandits. Then the words of Kipling became clearer that it is easier to live in the jungle amongst the animals and birds than it is amongst the brutal and primitive people that call themselves people. When they passed the old Jewish cemetery and he saw from a distance the old tombstone structure, the tall trees that surrounded the source of water, the red clouds that covered the distant mountains, his heart palpitated. He spent many happy hours at this place with his books and sketched the background for his last painting. Now the painting is being stolen from under his hands and the robber is leading him to unknown destination. When the sweet illusions and dreams disintegrated, the sensitive soul of the artist suddenly felt the tragic fate of the Jewish people. His painful disappointment was deeper and more profound than the others. Before him now appeared the terrible scene of pogroms that he read about in the Jewish literature. Everything that was far away now confronted him facially. The words of the Hebrew poet Bialik in the poem of “Ir Hariga” or the city of slaughter changed to reality. “ The sun will

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blind your vision with its rays, the green flowers will drug your senses with the smell of blood, your head will be covered with flowers and feathers. Thousands of pieces of street glass will dance towards you. For God had sent you twins: a slaughter with a spring.

The bandits led them way passed the cemetery to the small forest of Zaradowiec along the bank of the San River. There waited already a unit of murderers with rifles and machine guns. Panic started amongst the Jews who now faced death: some recited final confessions while others run in the direction of the river. A salvo of shots was fired that sounded a thunder burst. Hundreds of Jews full of life and energy fell death to the ground. The entire afternoon was spent in assembling the victims from the various killing places in the forest. Nobody in the hamlet knew where the men went. The assumption was that they were taken for some work detail along the road. Some men volunteered for the detail fearing that they will caught by the Germans and shot. Some women urged their husbands to join these details for fear that the Germans will punish those that hid. The news of the various killings soon began to filter through the hamlet. Two survivors, namely Dawid Reichman, an eighteen-year-old, and his stepfather Mordechai Beker were shot near the church for supposedly refusing to work, but survived. A group of sixty men, amongst them the author, were marched from the market through the city to the school where they were lined up and their names recorded.

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The commander of the bandits, a blond Aryan animal, constantly barked and showed his bestial instincts. He kept repeating that he would shoot all if he had only his machine gun. The assembled Jews stood and trembled like the sheep in the slaughterhouse while the butchers sharpen their knives. They divided the group of sixty Jews into two groups. One group received the order to bring hay within two hours. The command was similar to the one given by the biblical Pharaoh to the Jews in Egypt to look for straw. Suddenly, Menia Intrater appeared and asked the Germans to send trucks and will provide the straw. The second group was ordered to run home and bring pails and brooms to clean the school building and remove the benches. Anyone not returning will be brought by force. Unfortunately, the entire group returned for fear of being caught and shot that happened anyway.

At night, while the Jews were running up and down the stairs carrying heavy tables and benches. The Germans were beating and clubbing them. They also insulted them with the meanest insults. In the corner stood Hershel Redimer facing the eastern wall. He stood by himself. The Germans put him there when he told them that he can not lift heavy objects because of a hernia condition. This young naive and very pious man, with a blond beard that sat daily in the synagogue and studied religious texts thought that the Germans will sympathize with him. Instead they started to beat him

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mercilessly and then ordered him to stand in the corner. He felt the arrival of the last moments of his life and began to prepare himself for the hereafter. He wanted to clean his soul before it met the almighty. He recited his confession that he used to recite every eve of the new Hebrew month. On the fast day prior to the new month, he used to shed tears when he recited all the heavy sins: namely thievery, robbery, murder etc.. Things that he never dreamt about. But this is the ingrained Jewish custom, the tragedy of the Jew, that he recites last confessions and seeks penance for the terrible perpetrators of horrible crimes. Yet, the real culprits could not care less. Late at night, the Germans took him with some other Jews to the Libne Mountain and shot them there. May God avenge their deaths.

The Germans wanted to shoot Menia Intrater but decided to put him in the corner for the time being. This was the German gratitude for the straw that he gave them. The Germans decided later to send him home, nobody knew the reason. Then they assembled all the Jewish workers in the large lecture of the school. They began to make fun of them and play all kind of sadistic games with these poor people. The Germans asked the assembled Jews who wanted to go to Palestine, whoever raised their hand was immediately taken out of the room and shot. Then they asked about traveling to other countries but there were no volunteers. They then selected some men and took them away. They also decided to remove every fifth men from the line up and took them away. This lasted until

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midnight. The Germans then decided to call it a day and sent the last 15 Jews home.

The Germans were not pleased with their deeds of the day, namely the killing of about three hundred Jews. They needed a bone fire to still their blood thirst and decided to burn the synagogue, the holy place for the Jews of the city. The place where Jews went to beg for divine intervention, for personal relief, for a solution to their specific problem and also met on joyous occasions. The synagogue represented the holiness of the Jew. The walls of the building were sanctified and every stone carried an inscribed holy line. The Germans decided to burn it down and also killed some Jews in the process. They took the holy scrolls, the only three thousand-year-old treasure of the Jewish people that helped guide mankind out of the cave stage. It also popularized many concepts such as monotheism, justice, ethics, and compassion and love thy neighbor. The scrolls were rolled out along the street from the house of Reuven Asher to the home of Pinhas Gross. They placed heavy stones on the parchment and placed two guards to prevent anyone from rescuing the scrolls. It was a terrible sight for the Jews who looked through the cracks of the windows. The beautiful

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black letters appeared like thousands of frightened eyes whose souls have been raised for generations by them. Tonight, the vandals shamelessly embarrassed mankind of which they were part until this moment. They removed all signs of belonging to the civilized world. They abandoned the civilized world and returned to the primitive Germanic tribal customs of their ancestors where blood spilling was the great pleasure of the day and the idea of human sacrifices was understood. They worked for several hours around the synagogue but were unable to torch it in the style of the Romans burning the temple in Jerusalem. They then took all the holy books from the study center and the other synagogue and spread them out on the floor. They than threw an incendiary bomb and shortly thereafter the entire synagogue was on fire. The flames reached the sky and lit the entire hamlet and the horizon with a red light that terrified everybody.

Death was lurking everywhere outside and panic was omnipresent in the homes. People were terrified in their homes and outside fire and death raged. Anybody that dared to cross the threshold of the home was shot. Shlomo Rein that lived next to the synagogue saw the fire

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and rushed out of his house, the Germans saw him and fired. They did not kill him but merely wounded him so that he would suffer more, the Germans needed more death bodies. The soldiers took the wounded old men and tossed him into the burning synagogue. He landed near the spot where in the morning he recited the words: who will die by fire… and don't abandon me when my forces have left me.. The screams of the old men were heard along the entire street of the synagogue. The people also heard his final sentence ”Listen, Oh Israel, God Almighty, God is one”. His soul left him and his body was delivered from the sufferings and turned into charcoal. The Germans were singing their famous song, to their bloodthirsty warlord, Germany will rule the world regardless of the human costs. Following his death, they shot three more Jews and tossed them into the burning synagogue. They were; Israel Ker, a seventeen-year-old boy, Yossel Rogel, a twenty eight-year-old man and a person out of the city. Three Jews risked their lives and crept into the synagogue to save the torah scrolls. They were: Zishele Kalech, the sexton of the synagogue, Meir Idler and Shlomo Zalman Frenkel. They managed to carry out two torah scrolls.**

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