With bent heads we stand up to honor the memory of all our martyrs whose lives were taken away; for the martyrs who struggled with bare hands against machineguns and cannons. We stand up in grief, lacking the words to express our agony about the great disaster that had befallen us.
We bite our lips with rage and fury at the destruction of hundreds of Jewish communities, among them our Horodets a destruction leaving no trace of those communities. Our hearts are full of feelings of the wish to revenge those murderers, their names be erased, who massacred whole settlements and communities, including the Jews of our shtetl, young and old, men and women. The annihilation was absolute, and not a single witness survived who had experienced this indescribable tragedy. Only pieces of stones and wood remain as mute witnesses of the terrible destruction. Bits and pieces of news from passersby were collected, but exactly how and what the holy martyrs went through remains sealed from the world.
From a whole community only one Jew stayed alive, fortunate not to have experienced the disaster. His name is David Voliniets. He did not stay in Horodets.
Thanks to this only son, we received news of the destruction of Horodets. We will present them here together with other letters that we received.
Let the letters be regarded as documents recording the destruction of Horodets and will live in the memory and hearts of the sons and daughters of Horodets spread all over the world. Let them pass it on to their children and grandchildren. Let the embitterment in their hearts burst into a big flame, and make them take revenge on our enemies, wherever they are, and the resulting storm will bring about a better and finer world, where every people will be able to live in their own fashion.
We hereby present the letters that was received and in which the destruction of Horodets is conveyed with no literary effects. Here and there we will offer certain comments in order to clarify a place or a name.
I must list a small percent of Jews who were killed in Horodets and the vicinity: Moshe-Dov Kuperiansky, my uncle, rest in peace. He and his family lived 10 km from Horodets in a village Tzelishtzevitch. They had a store over there. A short while after the Germans' invasion, the Germans ordered them to turn over their only son who was then in the field. When they found him, they killed Moshe-Dov and his son.
Eliyahu Liakhovitzky, Ahron-David's son, was murdered immediately in Horodets. Once they ordered R' Khayim-Nissan Vinograd to look immediately for his son Avraham. When he was found, they acted the same way. The same was the fate of Mosh-Dov the miller and Guttmann the motorist (from Vladov). They were both killed in the orchard behind Khayim Vinograd's house.
The Ghetto stretched from Shamai Rakhensky's house to the besmedresh. At one time, my father went to the farm to get something to eat and they beat him cruelly. When the fatal date arrived [ יב מנחם-אבJuly 26th], everybody was at work. Fetching them without delay, they arranged them in rows and drove them to be slaughtered. My father, rest in peace, was very weak, so they let my two brothers, Avraham and Barukh, carry him. It was a 200 meters walk to the train. Whoever could not walk, was harshly beaten. Then they picked up the craftsmen and left them to work. Among them were my uncle Shamai Rabinsky, Sender London, Khyaim Volinietz (grandson of Alter the Levite) Khayim Koval and others; around 15 men. Some worked in Horodets and some in Kobryn. In a short while, the ones who worked in Horodets were picked in Shamai's barn and they were killed there.
Yitzkhak Zussman had a besmedresh in his house for many years. They dragged R' Zussman outside, took out all the books, set fire to them and made fun of R' Zussman, the great charitable person.
I got all these news from the Horodetser Christians which I saw this summer, staying 2 days in Horodets, from the 5th to the 8th of July 1946. I could not stay there any longer
In the month of Iyar [April-May] 1942, the ghetto was established in Horodets. The ghetto was on the Kobryner side of the river. In the ghetto, the Jews were divided into two categories: a) those who were suitable for work. b) old and unable to work. The latter were taken on the 11th of Av [25th of July] and were driven to Brana-Gora, near Kartoz-Bereza, where large lime- mines- pits were ready. The bandit-murderers brutally murdered our Jewish brothers and sister, mothers and fathers and also small children, and were killed and thrown to that pit. Jews from Drohychin, Antopol, Kobryn, Zshabinke, Brisk and from other ghettos were brought to be buried in the same pit.
The remaining Jews, those who were able to work, were deluded by the promise that they would be given food because they needed workers Those who stayed alive became slaves and worked very hard. After the 11th of Av [25th of July] 1942, all the workers from Horodets were herded into our ghetto. I say were herded because they were rushed forward on foot, like sheep. They got a place to stay in our ghetto. All of them, together, were taken out to work, at 7 o'clock every morning.
As to the families from Horodets, I know only of Volinets. I don't remember any more. I don't know about Vinograd and nobody has any news about him, because after the first slaughter on the 25th of July, he fled to the woods. There was no trace of him since then.
The last selection was in Antopole on the 15th of October 1942. On that fatal day all Jews of Antopole in Horodets were murdered. They are all in a mass grave in Antipolye near Frishikhvast, Zanivye and in the forest On that fatal day I was in the Kobryn ghetto. I fled and hid in the forests. After wandering for 6 months, I met a Partisan and joined their units and fought with them until the liberation by the Red Army.
At the end of July some automobiles arrived. They stripped the unfortunate Jews off their clothes and loaded them on trucks. They ordered them to sing Katyusha (the Soviet folksong). The miserable people sang until death. They were driven to a lime-pit, somewhere in the outskirts of Kobryn (the writer means the lime-mines at Brane-Gore near Kartoz-Bereza). Over there, they threw them in, naked and face down. They slaughtered thousands in one lime-pit.
Only the Jews who were in Russia and those who fled from the Ghetto to join the Partisans survived. The Germans spared no one, wherever they had control
As for Volodia Kazik, I have heard that he is in Poland near Lodz. He works as a Polish government official. His assistants were the corporal Vania Glavatski and Marian Bramkilises. The latter two got their ugly death in 1944 in the hands of the Partisans. (the writer means the lime-mines at Brane-Gore near Kartoz-Bereza).
Today the roofs and walls of the houses are moss-covered. It looks as if the houses have caved in roofs. The road from your former house (Itzikl's) to the highway, is paved with tombstones from the Jewish cemetery
the filchik [furrier/felt craftsman].
and the tombstone of Alte, Itzikl's wife Ah
Aharon Itche son of Leizer, and Israel-Tsadok Kuperiansky
Donated by Jane Cooper Precisely which of our Horodets brothers were partisans is not certain. From the above-mentioned notice regarding the death of the two despicable people and Benjamin Wolf's observation regarding Winograd's son (Abraham), that he escaped into the forest, we see that our brothers defended their human and Jewish honour.
In a second letter, Benjamin Wolf writes: Abraham Winograd, a son of Haim-Nisl, had escaped into the woods. But ultimately he perished in the forest.
Abraham Winograd was born in 1908 to his parents Haim-Nisl and Leah. Like the other Horodets boys, he received a traditional Jewish education. When he became older, and Horodets was by then under the yoke of the Poles, he moreover learned Polish. In addition, he gradually became versed in Polish literature. Abraham Winograd practically became a real Pole, but on the inside he was a proud Jew, always ready to defend Jewish honour. While he served in the Polish army, it so happened that on more than one occasion he gave a Polish soldier a thrashing for insulting him or some other Jew.
Abraham Winograd distinguished himself in the Polish army, attaining the rank of corporal. He was, in fact, on the point of being sent to officers' school, but his Jewishness got in the way.
His father was in the lumber business. He became involved, too, and would leave home for weeks at a time, roaming the forests and bringing boatloads of timber.
When the Russians were in Horodets during 1940-1941, Abraham Winograd was appointed treasurer of some forests in the area. In this field as well he exhibited considerable expertise.
After the retreat of the Russians no more was heard from him, as was true of the other inhabitants of Horodets.
The character of Abraham Winograd must have led him to join the partisans in order to avenge his people.
Let his name be engraved upon our hearts, together with the names of all our heroes!
Memorialize his name!
Since his childhood he dreamed about the Land of Israel as a home for the Jewish people in general and for himself in particular. However, his dream was not realized. He continued to nurture his dream until the outbreak of WW2 when the Russians occupied Horodets. He did not see any other choice but to join the Russian army and fight on the Krim front.
In 1942 a dictate was issued that all who were Polish citizens until 1939 were released from the army. Together with other Polish citizens he was led deep into Russia to work there, later on - to the Stalingrad front, and then to Saratow where they used to work from 4 in the morning till 10-11 in the evening.
Naturally, many became sick due to the hard labor and among them David. When he recovered, they sent him to work in the wild Arkhangelsk Oblast.
When David heard that the Germans, their names be erased, destroyed all the Jewish communities including his hometown Horodets, he decided to avenge the murderers. So, he enlisted once again in the Russian army and chased the German murderers to Szczecin and farther.
(the only living survivor)
When the war ended, although he knew that there was nobody left in Horodets, he yearned to go there and have a look at his beloved hometown.
The horrible destruction of Horodets shocked him. He once again started wandering to Austria to Germany from one [refugee] camp to another, until he finally came to America. God be with him!
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