Table of Contents

 

Voice of Kremenets Emigrants in Israel and the Diaspora, Booklet 1

 

List of Illustrations

Monument to the Martyrs of Kremenets over the Mass Burial Site in the “Killing Field” 4
Inscription on the Monument 4
Neta Shtern 5

 

Name Index

Akber-Feldman, Rivka 16
Alerhent, Miyotek 8
Apelboym, Riva 13
Argaman-Buts, Avraham 1, 16
Badakevits, Hela 9
Bakimer 13
Barats 13
Barbas 13
Belter brothers 14
Berenson, Leon, Dr. 14
Bernshteyn-Kudlash, Bela 16
Beznosko 14
Beznosko 13
Bilenko, Lida 9
Bort-Zigelboym, Tamara 16
Bren 13
Brik, Elazar 15
Chasid, Avraham 16
Der 13
Desser, Max 14
Desser, Nachman 16
Dest, Miryam (Marisye) 9
Feldman, Zina 14, 16
Fridman 13
Frishberg, Franya 14, 16
Frishman 13
Fuks 13
Gelernt 13, 14
Gelernt, Aharon 16
Gindes 12
Gindes, Munya 14
Golberg, Yehoshue 8, 9
Goldenberg, Manus 1, 7, 15, 16
Goldring 12
Golub-Maler, Miryam 16
Gorelikov 14
Gorenshteyn, Ben-Tsion 12
Gun, Helena (née Vaynshteyn) 14
Gun (husband of Helena) 14
Gurevits 13
Halperin, Slova 16
John (husband of Helena Vaynshteyn) 15
Kagan, Moshe 15
Kagan, Netanel 16
Kagan, Tsvi 16
Kagarlitski, Sofia 8
Kamensheyn 14
Kaner 13
Kaplan, Tova (née Teper) 9
Katz brothers 3
Katz, David 16
Katz, Mordekhay 14
Katz, Noach the butcher 3
Kaufman, Yehuda (Chulyo) 15
Keselman, Chana 16
Klorfayn 13
Kornits-Bakimer, Sara 16
Kot, Henrik 8
Kot, Yakov 8
Krants, Eliezer 14
Krits-Rokhel, Baba 16
Kucher, Ayzik 13
Kucher, Kreyna 16
Kuter 12
Kveitel, Hokel 15
Landsberg brothers 13
Landsberg, Dr. 12
Landsberg, Vove 8
Landsberg, Hela (née Badakevits) 9
Lerer, Mrs. Dr. 3
Litvak, Dr. 13
Mandel, Simche (Simche Bershtelmakher) 2, 3
Mandel, Yisrael 2
Margalit, Yosef 16
Margolis, Moshke 12
Melamed 12
Melamed, Shimon 2
Milgrom, Cherna (née Shkurnik) 16
Milshteyn 12
Neyman, Yanke 9
Nudel, Baba 16
Nudel, Malka 16
Otiker, Yisrael 6
Papara 13
Penzukh-Kornfeld, Polya 16
Pesis, Hirsh 12
Pesis, Rivka 13
Pifman, Tsivya (née Shteynvertsel) 16
Portnoy, Yitschak (Izi) 16
Portnoy, Chinka (née Poysner) 16
Poysner, Chinka 16
Rachiner 13
Rapaport, Rabbi 12
Rokhel, Sara 16
Rokhel, Yitschak 1, 3, 9
Roykh, Yisrael 14
Roykh, Rivka 14
Roytblat-Kaminski (husband of Feyga) 14
Roytblat-Kaminski, Feyga 14
Rozental, Itka 6, 16
Rozental, Leybke 5, 6
Segal, Yosef 13
Senderovits, Mendil 2, 3
Senderovits, Rabbi from Petrikov 2
Senderovits, Rachel 2
Shapoval 12
Sheynberg, Dr. 12
Shifris 13
Shkurnik, Cherna 16
Shnayder 13
Shnayder, Dvora 13
Shnayder, Frida 13
Shpak , Yitschak 14
Shpak, Ester 14
Shtern 13
Shtern family 16
Shtern, Mendil 5
Shtern, Natan (Neta) 5 (photo), 5-6, 14
Shtern, Itka (née Rozental) 6, 16
Shteynvertsel, Tsivya 16
Shumski 13
Solotsin 12
Sorochinski, (husband of Galina Sorochinski) 8
Sorochinski, Galina 8
Sorochinski, Hela 9
Spektor, Simcha (Bunim) 16
Suchidoler 13
Tabak 12
Takchinski 12
Taytelman, Shmuel 1, 16
Teper 13
Teper, Tova 8, 9
Teresova, Aleksandra 8-9
Tragovetski, Avraham 16
Trakhtenberg 12
Tsatski, Avraham 8
Tseytag, Pinchas 8
Tsmokin-Goldman, Atalya 16
Vakman, Yitschak 3, 14, 16
Vayner 13
Vaynshteyn, Helena 14, 15
Vaysberg 13
Vaysbrot, Ula 13
Vaysbrot, Yosef 13
Vishner, Nachum 14, 15
Vishner, Rachel 15
Vishniov, Hertsel 16
Yoram (grandson of Elazar Brik) 15
Zager-Efrat, Tova 16
Zigelboym 13
Zigelboym, Chayim 2
Zigelboym, Tamara 14
Zilberg, Moshe 13
Zitser, Shimon 16

 

[Page 1]

Organization of Kremenets Emigrants in Israel

Tel Aviv, April 1967

Dear Fellow Townspeople,

This bulletin will bring you echoes of a world that is far from your sight but dear to your heart. It will arouse a storm of memories and emotions in you as you learn what is happening in our town nowadays.

The “labor pains” in the birth of the booklet were not easy to bear, in spite of its modest contents and form. We made a great effort to publish it on schedule, on Passover eve 1967.

Our wish was that our fellow townspeople in other countries, as well as new immigrants to Israel, be able to read the booklet. With that in mind, we present all the material in Yiddish, too. The result was that we doubled the volume and the labor.

If we shake our complacency and tendency to forget, we will be satisfied and feel fortunate.

* * * *

Having no other sources to cover the considerable expenses of printing and mailing, we are forced to request a payment of I£2 for the booklet.

We feel certain that each of us will appreciate this humble project and willingly accept this fee.

This amount can be paid in any Bank Hapoalim branch in the country to the benefit of the “Organization of Kremenets Emigrants,” account 110806, which is in the central Tel Aviv branch. Any other bank can also forward the payment to this account.

With blessings for a happy holiday,

The Organization Board

Members participating in editing the booklet: Avraham Argaman-Buts, Manus Goldenberg, Shmuel Taytelman, Yitschak Rokhel

A. Argaman was in charge of graphic design.


[Page 2]

Monument to the Martyrs of Kremenets

Y. Rokhel

A few months ago, a monument to the martyrs of Kremenets was erected on the common grave near the coalmines, where 14,000 Jews who were murdered by the Nazis are buried. This came about through the initiative of one person, who also carried it out. His name is Yisrael Mandel, 70-year-old son of Simche, who was called “Simche Bershtelmakher.”[1] How did we find out about it?

Our member Rachel Senderovits, daughter of the “rabbi from Petrikov,” who has lived in Tel Aviv for 10 years, went on a tour of Russia in 1966. While in Lvov, she saw her brother Mendil, who still lives in Kremenets and went to Lvov to see his sister. Yisrael Mandel came with him.

Yisrael Mandel, one of the few Jews who remained alive in Kremenets, took it upon himself as a sacred goal to guard the memory and honor of the Kremenets martyrs and make sure they were not desecrated. The common grave, which was not fenced in, was used for grazing. Skulls of the murdered rolled on the ground, and local gentiles played soccer with them. Mandel, with the help of the few Jewish citizens in Kremenets and the support of the local authorities, who allocated a budget to the project, covered the area with earth to protect the bones from exposure. After a while, the monument was erected. A photo showing the inscription on the monument is printed in this booklet. Now Yisrael Mandel is trying to have the area fenced in and is looking for resources to accomplish this. He has also sent a letter to Yitschak Rokhel, a contemporary and schoolmate in Shimon Melamed's cheder. Here are his words (verbatim, without translation or editing, as some elements could not be translated or edited and still maintain the letter's full character):

The erection of the monument, which I initiated, was not easy. Twice I submitted a request and spoke out publicly, demanding improvements at the gravesite. Hitler's bandits killed the Jewish martyrs and covered them at the time of the massacre, and the area became a mountain of bones.

The gravesite was 120 meters in length and 15 meters in width. At the time of the execution, each person was whole but ended up as two-kilogram pile of bones. The pile of bones settled, and it became a flat valley. Then the bandits ransacked the site searching for gold in their teeth, so the authorities dispatched trucks with grass to disintegrate and cover the site. This was all they did. Afterward, I took stones and cement and made a monument, and got permission for this.

Now we have to put down asphalt and surround it with trees so the cattle won't graze in the field. At this time, I will take stones and sand and will prepare it for the summer. I expect to get permission.

If I live and I am healthy, with God's help, I will make it. I ask my friends to write down their names, and in this place, I will ask God to help them. May they and their children and grandchildren be healthy. Stay healthy and happy with your family, and may God help there be peace in the entire world.

Regards to all Kremenetsers, Jews . . . .

Simche, the brushmaker's son and Chayim Zigelboym's nephew.

[Page 3]

And in a subsequent letter, written in Russian, Mandel writes:

“Yesterday I received your gift. I bought six truckloads of stones, as I want to surround the area with a concrete foundation and build a fence on top. This will cost a great deal of money. We have started already, and the work will continue at the beginning of March, when the frost and snow end.”

These are Yisrael Mandel's words in his letters to us. To explain what he refers to in his second letter: we sent him packages of clothing and have approached people from our town who live abroad. We also sent them a copy of the first letter and the photo of the monument. Our member Mr. Vakman wrote that they sent a package, too.

* * * *

In Jewish Kremenets today, there are 14,000 who were murdered and 5 who are still alive. And among those five is one man of the people who felt a sacred duty to preserve the memory and honor of the murdered. He did not rest or relax; he fearlessly did not stop agitating until he had succeeded in covering the common grave and erecting the monument. Now he is starting the work of fencing in the area. We will stand by him! We send him blessings and encouragement, saying, “Well done, and more power to you, Yisrael Mandel, son of Simche Bershtelmakher. Be strong and of good courage!

We have now established a regular correspondence with him; we sent him the August 23, 1966, edition of the booklet in Yiddish and a list Kremenets emigrants who live in Israel.

The five Jewish families living in Kremenets are (1) Yisrael Mandel; (2) Mendil Senderovits; (3) Mrs. Dr. Lerer; (4) Katz, a butcher; and (5) Katz, a butcher – both sons of Noach the butcher.


[Page 4]


Monument to the Martyrs of Kremenets over the
Mass Burial Site in the “Killing Field”

 


Inscription on the Monument


[Page 5]

Neta Shtern, of Blessed Memory

M. Goldenberg


Neta Shtern

 

Eulogy given by M. Goldenberg at the memorial to our friend Natan (Neta) Shtern on the 30th day after his passing:

We have gathered here to be united with the memory of our friend Neta. We came to mourn him as a husband, father, brother, relative, friend, and beloved.

But what can we do when faced with the inconceivable? The notions of eulogy and lamentation do not suit Neta. Here he stands in our mind's eye, wearing the heartwarming, bright smile that always adorned his face. This was a result of the inner goodness, peaceful personality, deep-rooted simplicity, and youthful innocence that accompanied him until his last moment.

In our materialistic society, consumed by cynicism and living for the here and now, a man like Neta walks like a drunk among the sober, an innocent romanticist among clear-eyed, dry realists. But romantics lessen the boredom and gloom that have taken hold among us. In Neta's company, you always sensed a Sabbath atmosphere, a neshama yetera[2]. The shadow of weekday drudgery would run away from him.

And so you cannot put the two elements of Neta Shtern and silent death together. Because of that, the shock we all felt when we heard the sad news was great. It was so sudden and unexpected that our minds refused to accept it.

But cruel reality slapped us in the face, saying that, in spite of everything, Neta is no more. The lumps of earth have covered him for eternity.

One of the last Mohicans from Kremenets has left us forever. He was one of the people who carry our town's image in their hearts, and just by existing, they are like a living monument to its martyred community. When you look at them, you can see the whole town and its Jews – its men, women, and children – as if you were looking in the mirror. Suddenly, the void that swallowed them and separated the living and the dead would disappear.

Neta was well rooted among the people. The common folk of Kremenets wanted his friendship, and he felt their pain and cared for them. Because of those qualities, he had the privilege of being appointed treasurer of the Benevolent Fund, the same privilege given to his father and his father-in-law, Leybke Rozental, of blessed memory.

Neta's father, Mendil Shtern, was burdened with a large family. Though completely immersed in providing for them and fighting for survival, he found time for the community's needs and participated in more than one benevolent society.

[Page 6]

I remember him as if it were today, wearing a gray czarist army coat that was still soiled with the mud of the trenches. Just a few weeks stood between him and the battles on the German front, and when he returned, he brought his gun with him. In the winter of 1918, during the furious storm of the revolution, when a Jewish defense was organized in our town, Mendil was among the first volunteers. I saw him marching at his post on the street many times, two bandoliers crossing his chest and the bayoneted gun in his hand. His attitude was serious, and his posture was erect and handsome, just like all the members of this family. Seeing him instilled a feeling of security among the Jews, as if he were saying that anarchy had finally ended.

Neta followed in his father's ways and went beyond them. He devoted himself to public affairs with a religious fervor.

His work for the treasury of the Benevolent Fund did not only serve to earn him a living, as no doubt he could have gotten an easier and more peaceful job, but gave him a creative outlet; he shaped the fund's character and made it a place where all the needy, any Jew who struggled with the last of his strength to find a way to provide for his family, could come as if to his own home and be received in a warm and friendly manner.

Here he drew close to the simple, plain, honest people and their way of thinking and expressing themselves. He drew treasures of folklore from them, a privilege that not many enjoyed.

Neta was among the founders and editors of the weekly Kremenitser Shtime[3], which quickly became an integral part of life in our town. Like the other participants, he volunteered his time. There at the paper, he had just the right opportunity to use the rich treasures he accumulated at the Benevolent Fund.

Yisrael Otiker and I had the privilege of being his partners on the editorial staff. And like a shepherd looking after on his flock, he kept us, the town's public servants, the wealthy and the poor, and the merchants and laborers under the staff of his critique. There was not a person in town – even in the most remote alley – who did not know him well, especially his humorous side. And so, with his help and inspiration, we found material for the satires and descriptions of daily life in which our paper was so rich.

I see Neta' s marriage to Itka and his ties to her father Leybke Rozental, a founder of the newspaper and its first editor, as an important step in deepening and widening his popularity. Who identified with Jewish Kremenets more than Leybke? He was like a miniature of the whole community, embodying all its characteristics and desires, living its life through times of peace and upheaval. Many fine articles saturated with folklore and affection toward the Kremenets of generations past and of his time appeared on the pages of Kremenitser Shtime and assorted other papers in Russia and Poland!

Leybke's sphere of activity was many-faceted, and his home served as a meeting place for activists of all parties and ages in our town. Neta lived in that house and, nourished by these riches, came into his own.

Even when he was geographically far from us, emotionally we were close. In his letters from Poland, he never stopped demanding help for the needy of our town.

And here, while still struggling to adjust, from time to time he would solicit help from us for a person in our old town who needed support. This he did in privacy, as was typical of him, with a touching, parentlike concern.

[Page 7]

The well of his humor never disappointed until the end, but the sorrow of the Holocaust was indelibly etched on his heart. It took such a hold on him that often it would obscure his basic disposition to humor.

And this is our solace: the rich inheritance of his sons, the fruit of his and Itka's upbringing; his brothers and their close-knit families, who loved Neta deeply; and the love and esteem of our townspeople, wherever they are.

On the memorial stone for Neta, whom we all carry in our hearts, it would be suitable to inscribe some of the lines on Sholom Aleichem's gravestone:

Here lies a simple Jew
who wrote Yiddish tales for women.
And for the common folk
he was a humorist, a writer.
His whole life he laughed.
And even as the public
laughed, split their sides, whooped it up,
He grieved – as only God knows,
in secret, so that no one should see.
May Neta's memory be in all of our hearts.


[Page 8]

Aleksandra Teresova – A Righteous Gentile[4]

Y. Rokhel

Lights in the darkness. In the ocean of hatred and murder during the Holocaust, a few lights sparkled. A few noble spirits – from the simple folk – put their lives in jeopardy and did what they could to save Jews from annihilation. Eight of those who were rescued owe their lives to Aleksandra Teresova, who took her life in her hands and hid them in her home for a full 18 months, until the danger had ended. Tova Teper describes that episode in Pinkas Kremenets (pp. 253-263). Only in the past few months have we managed to establish correspondence with Teresova, thanks to our member Yehoshue Golberg, who was her schoolmate. Teresova deserves to have her story repeated here. We also print here for our members her letter to Golberg after correspondence with her was established.

Survivor's Notes[5] (from Pinkas Kremenets). Fourteen thousand were murdered, and 14 survived. One per thousand! I will tell briefly what the surviving remnants endured, how they saved themselves, how they hid in caves, and how they saw the sun again. Here are their names, in order of their hiding places. In Aleksandra Teresova's house: (1) Tova Teper, (2) Sofia Kagarlitski, (3) Pinchas Tseytag, (4) Avraham Tsatski, (5) Vove Landsberg, (6) Henrik Kot, (7) Yakov Kot, (8) Miyotek Alerhent. Three are Kremenetsers, and five are people who came to Kremenets to “escape.” . . . For 18 months – from the beginning of October 1942 to the end of March 1944 – seven other Jews and I hid in Aleksandra Teresova's house on Tonikis Mountain near Kremenets. By then, the town's Jewish population had been completely annihilated. Teresova's house was a solitary one in a large, parklike garden, some distance from the town, as if made for hiding. The owner, Aleksandra Teresova, a good-hearted Russian woman, the adopted daughter of an important Russian official, was an enlightened and wealthy woman who had graduated from the Polish Lyceum in town. At first, she took us in for money, but when our money ran out, she continued to keep us for free, and many times endangered herself trying to hide and protect us. Throughout the 18 months, even the gentiles who lived nearby had no idea that Jews were hiding there. All eight of us lived in one room. A few days after our arrival, we started to dig a bunker under the yard. All the work was done at night, and electric lights were even installed. We had a coded signal between the house and the bunker: when the Germans came to the laundry there, a warning signal to keep completely quiet was immediately sent. Even with this excellent organization and all the precautions we took, today I still cannot understand how we managed not to be caught. That is how we lived for 18 months, and that is how we survived – the small remnant of thousands of Kremenets Jews. Indeed, it is a miracle. . . . The Russian army conquered the town on March 23, 1944. Because of fear and insecurity, we spent two more days in the bunker, emerging only on March 25, and went to see what was going on in town. . . . We continued to live in Teresova's house until June, and then we left for Rovne. . . . May three righteous women be blessed: Miryam Dest, Galina Sorochinski and her husband, and last but not least, Aleksandra Teresova. Thanks to them, all eight of us were saved, including me, the writer. It took Teresova patience and courage to keep eight people for 18 months. During that time, love developed between her and Pinchas Tseytag, of Warsaw, and after the town's liberation from the Nazis, they were married. She sold her property in Tonikis for a pittance, and they moved to the small town of Raykhenbakh (Dzherzhonyuv in Polish) in Silesia. After a time, they were divorced. Tseytag left and immigrated to Israel and then to Italy. Teresova serves as the town's vice-mayor.

[Page 9]

Here is the letter from Teresova to our member Yehoshue Golberg, dated August 9, 1966:

Your postcard surprised me greatly. I beg you to write me about which Kremenetsers have survived. I am very curious to learn about Pinkas Kremenets and which members are in it. It is good that there are no illustrations in this book; otherwise, you would see an image of me that is far removed from heroic deeds. Truly, how would this “heroine” have looked to the reader when she took the bucket of human excrement into her “dainty” hands from the hiding place every evening? If a picture of that appeared in the book – certainly it would not make too great an impression. It is true that from a distance in time and geography, “risking my life” seems very lofty, but in the reality of those days, it was just plain commonplace; I simply had the right conditions for it. You know that my house in Kremenets was isolated; it was removed from the center and surrounded by a garden. All I needed were people who were willing to take advantage of it and save themselves. When I suggested to my schoolmate Lida Bilenko that she and her parents hide in my house, I was met with an absolute refusal. In this matter, Hela Sorochinski, who brought a few people to my house, helped me. I was also assisted by Yanke Neyman and Hela Badakevits, who today is Landsberg's wife. She fed the hidden group for half a year. I received special help from Marisye, who worked in the Turks' coffeehouse and shared this heavy burden with me.

I think that, under similar conditions, anyone could have been a hero. I have to add that during that time, I had no work or income, because I refused to cooperate with the Germans. . . . I have lived with my daughter in Dzherzhonyuv for 20 years. We both work, my daughter since she was 15 years old. We do not live a life of luxury. We manage somehow. We had some hard years when there was not enough food or clothing, but now our situation has improved. I have had a little help from Tova Kaplan (Teper – one of the survivors, now in America), who sends packages of clothing from time to time. I know that she would do more if she could, but I do not want to take advantage of her, particularly when I know that I cannot reciprocate. As you see, I remain the same babbler I was in school. It would be a pleasure for me to stay in touch with you and the other Kremenetsers by mail, as any other way involves great expense.

In her letter of December 2, 1966, Teresova writes:

I thank you and the organization for the gift you sent me, as well as for the postcard, and request that you send me the Kremenets memorial book, as you promised. Although I will not understand much, I will see the photos and views of the town. I would like you to write more about the townspeople and their names. I will send you a photo next time, as I have my picture taken only when I have to renew my identity card, and that happens only once every five years. How are the organization's activities carried out? Is it only through membership dues or more than that? Do all the members live in the same area, or are they spread all over the country? Since the war ended, I have run into only two people from Kremenets, and in Dzherzhonyuv, I am the only one. Again, I thank you for remembering me, and I send my regards to all the Kremenetsers.

Aleksandra

These are Aleksandra Teresova's letters. They speak for her. Anyone who reads them will recognize that this is a fine, noble, humble person who sees the act of rescue as an obvious thing, and it is only natural that she hid Jews in her home in spite of the danger to her own life. If we could, we would see to it that she visited Israel and met with the Kremenetsers. We will continue to keep in touch with her, help her as much as possible, and see to it – through Yad Vashem – that she is awarded the recognition she deserves as a “righteous gentile.” All the people of our town are grateful to her and honor her.


[Page 10]

To the Children of Our Fellow Townspeople

Editorial Board

To the children of our fellow townspeople, young and old, wherever you are, greetings!

On these pages, we send you our warm blessings and heartfelt friendship.

Our connection to you, the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of our town's martyrs, who were not privileged to see and be with you, is very precious. And so we are very happy to have each one of you who come to our meetings, annual memorials, and Chanukah and Purim parties in Tel Aviv and Haifa.

We note with great satisfaction that more of you join us at those events each year. Your presence at the memorials is encouraging and increases the joy of the parties. This gives us hope that maybe not everything will be over and forgotten when this generation is no longer here.

We know that if, God forbid, our martyrs' memory is lost in the abyss of forgetfulness, the connection to the Jewish life of bygone generations will be lost with it. Woe to a nation whose children cut themselves off from their far and near past. Even on the nation's first day we were warned, “Remember days gone by. Ponder the years of each generation. Ask your father and let him tell you, and your elders, who will explain it” (Genesis 32:7)[6].

Read this bulletin and those that follow it. Read the two memorial books[7] that were published, one in Israel and one in Argentina. Since the latter is written in Yiddish, your parents will help you. In those books, you will find the description of your ancestors' way of life and become acquainted with the area where your parents lived. Then you will understand why all the memories of the past are so dear to them; you will see how colorful and lively the severed roots were and feel the evil that the Nazis and their partners brought upon our nation.

Shalom, and see you at our next meeting.

Editorial Board


[Page 11]

To the Children of the Kremenetzer[8]

To the Children and Grandchildren of the Kremenetzer “Landsmen” wherever they are.

Dear Ones,

We have come to greet you from the pages of this review and to express here our friendly feelings towards you.

We should like so much to have [you] read our publications and the two books printed in Hebrew and Yiddish. Unfortunately, we have not got the facilities to do it in English. But you may be helped in this by your parents. Do it, please, and you will not regret. You will learn who your folks there were, their way of life and their martyrdom.

All this may help us to establish a contact with you, a thing we have always dreamed of. And it depends upon you only to make it a reality.

We have to see to it together that the memory of our martyrs be not given up to oblivion, with the passing away of the old generation. Can there be something more terrible, more inhuman than such a perspective?

REMEMBER!! There is no doubt that our folks there, on the edge of the blood-flooded trench, waiting for their turn to be shot down, were thinking about us, so far from them.

And alongside the final groan they heaved into the ether, their hope that their so tragic end would reach our ears also wavered. And as it did reach us, will we forget them??

So join us and your parents in the effort to keep their sacred memory in our hearts forever, and remember what was done to them.


[Page 12]

Tour of Kremenets, Summer 1966

Let all their wickedness come before you; deal with them as you have dealt with me. – (Lamentations 1:22)

Dear friends!

While visiting Israel, I went to the memorial to the martyrs of Kremenets. I promised you that if I made it to our town, I would describe the sights to you. Now, having been in Kremenets for two weeks in July 1966, I am fulfilling my promise.

As I look at the surrounding mountains, they seem much smaller to me now – maybe because the crosses have been removed from the tops of Mounts Bona, Cherche, and Krestova since I left the place. But much of what was there is still there, which cannot be said for what is down here to my right, to my left, and ahead of me. It is very hard to get used to this. I'll start with Sheroka Street – the center where we used to meet when we took walks and went shopping, and on other occasions. The square across from the Monstir, where the circuses used to put up their tents when they came to town, is built up with three-story houses, living quarters for people I do not know. The small houses up the street, where the cart and wagon drivers used to live, have disappeared. From there all the way to the post office, only Solotsin's house is left. The post office is still where it was. In Rabbi Rapaport's yard and house are offices. Tabak's house is still there. There are no private homes at all from there to the alley leading to the old bathhouse; instead, there is a three-story building with stores and a restaurant.

Down from the bathhouse, where the butchers' houses stood, and next to them on Nabalya Street, the homes of my father, Hirsh Pesis, and his brothers are all gone. Ben-Tsion Gorenshteyn's house stands up that street, on the Sheroka side; in its cellar, kvass is sold (this has no connection to Milshteyn's cellar). New houses have been built all the way up to Melamed's hotel. The hotel still functions, and on the ground floor are stores (a photo shop and a shoemakers' cooperative). A new movie theater stands where Trakhtenberg's inn was. The new market does not exist anymore; up the street are small stores leading toward the place where Gindes's pharmacy stood. Instead of the pharmacy and the houses in the taxi lane, a broad green has been planted, and in its center are a statue of Lenin and a billboard with photos of distinguished workers. I passed the place where a torrential river flowed during the rains, and I recall how much fun it was to cross it barefoot or by “phaeton.” This river still flows with the same mighty force during the rains, but the “phaetons” and their owners are no more. . . . Takchinski's pharmacy runs as before. In Brover's store, they sell yard goods too, now. The Sobor church looks poor and neglected, maybe because of poor attendance and the crosses missing from the steeples. From there, up to the alley leading to Kuter's new bathhouse, a long building houses all sorts of stores. The bathhouse still functions and serves the citizens. Continuing on the same side of the street, outside Shapoval's and Dr. Landsberg's houses, all the houses are gone without a trace. The house of Dr. Sheynberg, the dentist, is gone. The Zveyzda movie theater is an office building now. Moshke Margolis's house is gone. Goldring's house still stands.

[Page 13]

We cross to the other side of the street. The infirmary building is now a music school. The neighboring streets where the Fridman, Gelernt, Fuks, Shtern, and other families lived have remained as they were. The Bona Hotel is now a tailors' cooperative. Ayzik Kucher's and Bren's houses are still there. The Kostyol Catholic Church is neglected and abandoned; it is closed and locked up. The Zigelboym and Shifris homes are now offices. Kaner's Armitage Hotel is still there. In the area near Miodova Street that led to the old market, beside Vaysberg's and Suchidoler's stone houses, all the houses are gone; it is covered with trees and lawns. From there, back down to Sheroka Street, the Vayner and Teper homes, near the Landsberg brothers' store, are still there. On Chachki Street, where Bakimer's house, Klorfayn's store, and the midwife Gurevits's place stood, everything is gone except for Barbas's kiosk, where even today newspapers are sold. But without Barbas . . . . Shnayder's bakery is still there, and cakes are still being baked there. An area of lawns and trees extends from the bakery to the fire station. On Levinzon, Kravitska, and Gorna Streets and in the alleys, all the way up to the Renaissance movie theater, only a few buildings are left: the Grand Hotel, Frishman's house, the house where Rachiner lived, and the town hall, which now houses a kindergarten. For many days, I could not enter this area, which is covered with grass, flowers, and trees. It was an area that would look lovely to a stranger, but to me it brought back the tragedy that took place here. Moshe Zilberg's house still stands in this park and is now used as a library. From Papara the shoemaker's house up to Yosef Segal's and the masseur's places, an avenue of poplars stretches as if to enclose the park, but for us it is a cemetery. On the spot where the Great Synagogue stood, a cultural center has been built. My heart would not let me enter it when I remembered going there with my father on the Sabbath and holidays. The Jewish Hospital is gone; in its place are new apartment buildings, and in one of them lives Ula Vaysbrot, Yosef the egg merchant's daughter. Beyond the fire station are more trees, and beyond them are the Barats house, the house where Der lived, Beznosko's yard, and obviously the Monstir. On Directorska Street, Dr. Litvak's house is still standing, as is Shumski's house, which is now used as a dormitory for Lyceum students. The elementary school in which I studied is still there. I went to “Business Court,” too, to Frida and Dvora Shnayder's house. I searched for that which can never be. Everything is strange and peculiar. The houses stand in their proper places, but the people are strangers. Once I went up to our cemetery. It is neglected; no one visits there. The gravestones are bent over as if they, too, would like to disappear under the ground that covers the dead. All the suburbs around the town, including the “Dubneskaye” and “Vishnyuvitske” suburbs, are just as they used to be.

I sat down to rest on the stone steps of my friend Riva Apelboym's house. No one came toward me; no one opened the door . . . .

My dears! Forgive me if my handwriting is not very clear and the style is disorganized, but I am having a hard time writing about this painful subject.

Greetings to all Kremenetsers, wherever they are,

Rivka Pesis
Warsaw, August 16, 1966


[Page 14]

Contacts with Our Fellow Townspeople Abroad

M. Goldenberg

Contacts with Kremenetsers form a large part of our activities to memorialize our town. Contact with our brethren in Argentina is through Mordekhay Katz; with those in America, through Yitschak Vakman in New York and Nachum Vishner in Chicago; and with those in Canada, through Max Desser. We have, as well, a regular correspondence with Gelernt in Italy. Letters from all of them reflect sorrow for the destruction and willingness to collaborate with us.

 

Argentina

Our fellow townsman Mordekhay Katz in Buenos Aires visited Montevideo during January-February. He was received very warmly by fellow Kremenetsers the Belter brothers, Eliezer Krants, Gorelikov, and others. In his letter to us, he notes Gorelikov in particular and describes him as “a true Kremenets soul.” Through comrade Katz, all our fellow townspeople in Uruguay sent heartfelt regards to their brethren in Israel.

In the Montevideo daily newspaper, Haynt, we read an article dedicated to Mordekhay Katz's visit and his activity in the field of music composition, as the general secretary of the cantors' union in Buenos Aires. As you know, Katz is a well-known cantor and composer. Recently, he produced a long-play record of songs for choir and piano, among them a song about Kremenets. This song was also printed in Kremenets Memorial Book in Buenos Aires under the title “Mame Shtot”[9] (p. 334). This record will be available soon for purchase in Israel, too, through our organization.

At the end of March, a few of the organization's active workers from the Argentinean branch, namely Yisrael Roykh and his wife, Rivka; her sister, Ester, and her husband, Yitschak Shpak; and others, will be coming to Israel for a visit. By the time this bulletin is published, the honored guests will be here already, and we will be welcoming them!

An obituary to the memory of Neta Shtern, of blessed memory, appeared in a Buenos Aires daily paper, placed by the local Kremenetser emigrants organization.

 

Get-Togethers with Guests from Abroad

When we planned to establish a memorial to the martyrs of Kremenets, we considered the fact that the RYB”L Library in Tel Aviv should be a meeting place for our townspeople. In particular, we aimed to give visitors from other countries a sense of the atmosphere in the now-destroyed town. And, indeed, guests from old Kremenets who visit us from time to time and are received by us at the RYB”L Library are very impressed by the “homey” atmosphere of the place and comment on it in words and in letters after their visit. During the past year, we have had visits from Tamara Zigelboym of Paris, Zina Feldman of Warsaw, Franya Frishberg of Paris, Feyga Roytblat-Kaminski and her husband of Argentina, Helena Gun-Vaynshteyn and her husband of New York, Dr. Leon Berenson, now of New York (the widower of Beznosko of Buenos Aires), Munya Gindes of Tashkent (who was ORT secretary in Kremenets), and our comrade Kamensheyn of Buenos Aires.

[Page 15]

Nachum Vishner Turns 80

Kremenetsers in Israel send blessings to Nachum Vishner in Chicago in honor of his turning 80, and wish him and his wife, Rachel, many more years of contentment. Nachum Vishner left Kremenets 63 years ago and immigrated to the United States. The memory of his old home is still within him; he keeps in touch with us and gave considerable monetary aid to our memorial project, from “the people from Kremenets and Berezets” in Chicago.


Mosaic

M. Goldenberg

Chanukah party As we do every year, this year we had a Chanukah ball for Kremenetsers in Tel Aviv's Dan Hall. About 150 people attended. Some members brought the next generation and even some grandchildren with them. Some guests from New York were also there, such as our comrade Helena Vaynshteyn and her husband, John (her poem, “My Town Kremenets,” appears at the end of the Yiddish section of Pinkas Kremenets, p. 450).

This evening was made extra colorful by the successful appearance of our comrade Yehuda (Chulio) Kaufman, who recited and sang. In general, a family atmosphere prevailed, and the members enjoyed a pleasant evening

Among friends. The joyous and spirited mood lasted until the end of the evening. Even long after the party, we still receive echoes of delight with the successful ball from various members. We hope that in the coming years, those members who could not be here for one reason or another will join us.

Moshe Kagan's Exhibition. Our fellow townsman, the painter Moshe Kagan, a member of Kibbutz Shamir, who contributed much to the artistic design of Pinkas Kremenets, held an exhibition of his paintings in February and March in Haifa's Artists' Home. He showed 25 watercolors and 10 drawings. Kagan paints mainly landscapes and has earned an honored place among the painters in the kibbutzim and the painters' guild. Many of our townspeople in Haifa visited that exhibit, which was very successful. We wish him advancement and continued success.

Elazar Brik. Our veteran member recently married off his third grandson, Yoram, who was born in Kibbutz Sdot Yam and is now serving in the air force as a pilot. The wedding took place in Kibbutz Sdot Yam in the presence of hundreds of guests, Kremenetsers among them. Six months ago, Elazar was blessed with his first great-grandson, in Kibbutz Meoz Chayim. We wish him a long and healthy life and hope that he is blessed to marry off grandson after grandson.

Among the immigrants – Hokel Kveitel. Our fellow townsman Hokel Kveitel and his family have recently emigrated from Poland. In the years after the Holocaust, Kveitel – a professional driver – did much in the area of smuggling Jews from various countries to a place from which they were taken to Israel. We wish him success in finding a suitable, satisfying job.


[Page 16]

Memorial Book for the Martyrs of Kremenets

Shmuel Taytelman

The RYB”L Library room in Tel Aviv has a special glass-enclosed cabinet containing a memorial book of the martyrs of Kremenets that lists the names of those killed in the Holocaust, as registered by their relatives in Israel and other countries. Written on parchment in scroll style, the book includes a page for each family. So far, 36 pages have been inscribed. Here we list the names of members who have registered their families. It behooves all Kremenetsers to register the names of family members who were killed. The book will be a memorial to all Holocaust victims who do not have a headstone, for they were not buried in a Jewish grave.

Fellow townspeople who have not as yet registered their families are requested to do so by sending a written notice to the organization's board (Zikhron Yakov Street #8, Tel Aviv). The registration fee is I£25 for expenses (parchment, calligrapher, etc.)

 

Members Who Have Registered Their Murdered Families

  1. Rivka Akber-Feldman, Hertseliya
  2. Avraham Argaman-Buts, Ramat Gan
  3. Bela Bernshteyn-Kudlash, Argentina
  4. Tamara Bort-Zigelboym, Paris, France
  5. Manus Goldenberg, Tel Aviv
  6. Aharon Gelernt, Milan, Italy
  7. Miryam Golub-Maler, Tel Aviv
  8. Nachman Desser, New York, USA
  9. Slova Halperin, Kibbutz Maanit
  10. Yitschak Vakman, New York, USA
  11. Hertsel Vishniov, Kibbutz Sarid
  12. Tova Zager-Efrat, Haifa
  13. Shimon Zitser, Ramat HaSharon
  14. Avraham Chasid, Moshav Herut
  15. Shmuel Taytelman, Bat Yam
  16. Avraham Tragovetski, Kibbutz Einat
  17. Netanel and Tsvi Kagan, Petach Tikva and Haifa
  18. David Katz, Tel Aviv
  19. Yosef Margalit, Haifa
  20. Cherna Milgrom-Shkurnik, Haifa
  21. Baba and Malka Nudel, Tel Aviv
  22. Simcha (Bunim) Spektor, Petach Tikva
  23. Yitschak (Izi) Portnoy, Haifa
  24. Chinka Portnoy-Poysner, Haifa
  25. Franya Frishberg, Paris, France
  26. Zina Feldman, Warsaw, Poland
  27. Polya Penzukh-Kornfeld, Petach Tikva
  28. Atalya Tsmokin-Goldman, Tel Aviv
  29. Kreyna Kucher, Tel Aviv
  30. Sara Kornits-Bakimer, Tel Aviv
  31. Chana Keselman, Tel Aviv
  32. Baba Krits-Rokhel, Haifa
  33. Sara Rokhel, Tel Aviv
  34. Itka Shtern-Rozental, Haifa
  35. Shtern family, Haifa
  36. Tsivya Shteynvertsel-Pifman, Jerusalem


Translator's and Editor's Notes:

  1. “Bershtelmakher” means brushmaker. [Trans.] Return
  2. According to Jewish tradition, the neshama yetera (enhanced soul) couples with one's everyday soul on the Sabbath. [Trans.] Return
  3. Kremenitser Shtime (the name of a newspaper) means Kremenets Voice [Trans.] Return
  4. In Hebrew, “righteous gentile” is umut chasidei haolam (literally, righteous people of the world), a term used to describe non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. [Ed.] Return
  5. The description that follows is excerpted and paraphrased from Tova Teper's memoir, “The Story of the Extermination,” in Pinkas Kremenets (ed. A. Stein, Tel Aviv: 1954), pp. 251-263). For Teper's complete story, see http://www.jewishgen.org/Yizkor/kremenets/kremenets.html [Ed.] Return
  6. This quotation is actually from Deuteronomy 32:7 [Ed.] Return
  7. The two memorial books mentioned are Pinkas Kremenets (ed. A. Stein, Tel Aviv: 1954) and Kremenets: A Memorial Book (ed. F. Lerner, Buenos Aires: 1965) [Ed.] Return
  8. This page is written in English in the original booklet. [Ed.] Return
  9. Mame Shtot is Yiddish for “mother town,” or birthplace. The memorial book mentioned is Kremenets: A Memorial Book (ed. F. Lerner, Buenos Aires: 1965) [Ed.] Return

 

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