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[Pages 138-139]

Memories From the
Days of the War and Afterwards

By Naomi Hibshmen

Translated by Deborah Schultz

Just as in the majority of the small towns in the east of Galicia, misfortunes also passed through Kalush. From the dawn of my childhood, difficult and deeply-felt experiences remain in my memory from the First World War, relating to Cossacks bursting into the house, discovering the shelter used by women and small children. Even today, I see, with the eyes of my soul, one of them, bayonet in hand, threatening my mother (may her memory be for a blessing), while I was embracing her legs and crying; to our good luck, they left the house behind without harming a soul. I still remember that with the [military] front approaching us, we abandoned our city and, together with a long convoy of refugees, made the journey on foot to Stanislawow [now Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine], a distance of 28 kilometers. My father (may his memory be for a blessing) held my hand, a parcel of bread in his other hand, and my mother (may her memory be for a blessing) [walked] with my baby sister in her arms; surrounding us [were] the older sisters and brothers. At the side of the road we saw Cossacks encamped, but they did not conspire against us. In Stanislawow, we [again found ourselves in the midst of] battles, and we lived for days upon the cellar steps; only in the weakening of the shooting were the adults going up to bring [us] food.

On our return to Kalush, we found our house, like all the other houses in the neighborhood, burned, and only after several years did we reach its [complete] rehabilitation. From this era, I remember a wave of Petlura's men flooding [into] Galicia, and the rumor[s] about pogroms greatly frightened [every] corner of Galicia. The Jews shut themselves away behind lock and bolt, and so did we also, but this did not stop them for us. When they began to force [open] the entrance, my father (may his memory be for a blessing) succeeded in fleeing by way of the window, and escaping from them. It was known that they were [looking] particularly for men, though they [all but] destroyed the house in the search for “treasures.”

I loved the small town with her Jews. Although I was [only] a young girl [at the time], the help that was given to the needy, as was customary in all the Jewish communities in that time, and likewise, the mutual respect that prevailed between each man and his friend, [did not escape my notice]. Noticeable was the raising [of the community] to a national height and as an expression of this, I remember the great enthusiasm that possessed the townspeople when Dr. Ringl (may his memory be for a blessing) reached [the rank of] delegate to Parliament (the Sejm) [in interwar Poland]. The sight of the crowd of Jews surrounding him with love and pride and accompanying his carriage to the place of the gathering – it is still before my eyes.

Group of girls in “Hashomer Hatsair” in the year 1934

 

Very slowly, the Zionist notion rose to its [proper] place; “the shekel” [a symbol of membership in a Zionist organization] and a box [to collect funds] for “Keren Kayemet” [Keren Kayemet L'Israel, K.K.L., or J.N.F., Jewish National Fund] were scattered in many homes; youth movements as well as the study of Hebrew were first organized. I found myself in “Hashomer Hatsair” [The Young Guard, a Socialist Zionist youth organization], which included about 120 young people. The evenings in [our group] were full of activities. To our sorrow, not many [of the young people] reached the Land [of Israel]; the cut-off of legal immigration [to the Land of Israel] and, principally, the outbreak of the Second World War, and the Holocaust, put an end to all of [their] dreams.

 

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