Table of Contents

 

Voice of Kremenets Emigrants in Israel and the Diaspora, Booklet 3

 

Name Index

Abish (uncle of Binyamin Barshap) 7
Argaman, Avraham i
Avidar, Yosef (see also Rokhel, Yosef) 18
Barshap, Binyamin 6, 7, 13, 18
Bergman, Yosef 5, 6
Bernshteyn, Bela 16
Bernshteyn, Riva 3, 16
Bernshteyn, Tsira 16
Bernshteyn, Zalman 21, 22
Brik, Elazar 10, 12
Chasid, Bilhah 15, 16
Chasid, Mordekhay 9, 15
Chasid*, Reya 15
Chasid, William Zev (Velvel), Dr. 9
Chasid, Yakov 15
Chazan, Genya 12
Chazan, Matus 12
Desser*, Klara 14, 18
Desser, Max 14, 18
Desser, Norman 13
Eydelman, Moshe 9
Eydelman, Yitschak 9
Fayer, Avraham 17
Fridel, Avraham 17
Fridel, Mendil 17
Fridel, Naomi 17
Fridel*, Sara 17
Gelernt, Aharon 13
Gelman, Rabbi 10
Golberg, Yehoshue i
Goldenberg, Manus i, 2, 10, 12, 16
Goldfarb, Moisey Borisevitsh 27-29
Goren, Azriel 10
Gorngut, Azriel 10
Grinberg Nachum 12, 17
Grinberg, Bela 17
Grinberg, Bronya 17
Hausner, Gidon 1
Itsik the tax collector 7
Kagan, Moshe 18
Katz, Chayim 9
Katz, Mark, Dr. 8
Katz, Meshulam 8
Katz, Mordekhay 11, 13
Katz*, Tsipa 14
Kesler, Henikh 27
Koussevitzky, (cantor) 18
Kremenetski, Azriel 22, 23, 24
Kremenetski, Baba 24, 25
Kremenetski*, Sonye (Sore) 22, 23, 24
Krementshutski, Sima 15
Krivin, Avraham 9
Kuperman, Neta 12, 13
Levinzon, Yitschak Ber, R' (RYB”L) 11, 18, 21
Mandel, Yisrael 6
Margalit, Yosef 5
Metshnikov, Professor 29
Mordish, Arye 14
Mordish, Chayim 13, 14
Mozes (daughter of Mendel) 23, 24
Mozes (son of Mendel) 23
Mozes* (wife of Mendel) 21, 23, 24
Mozes, Mendel 21-25
Nachman, R' (watchmaker) 1
Nadir, Rachel i
Nudel, Chayim 12
Oleynik 3, 4
Ot-Yakar, Mordekhay i
Pak, Yosef 27
Poltorek 3
Rapoport, David 14, 18
Regev*, Bilhah (née Chasid) 15, 16
Regev, Eli 15-16
Regev, Gilah 15, 16
Rokhel, Avraham 9
Rokhel, Moshe 8
Rokhel*, Ruchama (née Shtemper) 17
Rokhel, Yehoshue 9
Rokhel, Yitschak i, 11, 12, 17, 18
Rokhel, Yosef (see also Avidar, Yosef) 18
Rozenberg 21, 22, 24, 25
Rubin, Duvid, R' 10
Segal, Duvid Leyb, R' 28
Sherman (cantor) 18
Shnayder*, Ester 11, 12
Shnayder, Zev (Velvel) 11, 12, 13
Shtemper family 17
Shtemper, Ruchama 17
Shvarts, Betsalel 6
Shvartsapel-Royt, Hilda 13
Spektor, Bunim Simcha 17
Spektor*, Naomi (née Fridel) 17
Tabchuk 3
Taytelman, Bronya (née Grinberg) 17
Taytelman, Sara 17
Taytelman, Shmuel i, 10, 11, 17
Teper, Tova 6, 18
Teper-Kaplan, Bela 6
Tshernik family 5
Tsidon, Avshalom 14, 15
Tsidon, Ofer 15
Tsizin*, Chana 15
Tsizin, Shmuel 15
Vakman*, Genya (née Chazan) 12
Vakman, Yitschak 1, 6, 10, 12, 13
Vulf the shoemaker 7
Yaron*, Sima (née Krementshutski) 15
Yaron, Ya'al 14, 15
Yaron, Yizhar 15

 

[Page 1]

In Place of a Foreword

To the Editors of Voice of Kremenets Emigrants

Dear Friends!

My heartfelt thanks for the copy of booklet 2 that you sent me. I received the first one from Mr. Vakman. Both are very pretty; each line written by you exudes the aroma of our town, Kremenets. Shadows of nostalgia from our not-so-distant past seem to descend and envelop me like a prayer shawl during the Yom Kippur Kol Nidre prayer when I read the short articles about our town awash with blood and tears!!

* * *

Dear friends!

The booklet you sent brought me closer to the Kremenets that I love.

This fact alone earns you my congratulations. I keep going back and leafing through the booklet, and getting very excited when I see the names of friends and acquaintances from days gone by.

* * *

… Yes, my beloved townspeople!

As soon as I saw the title Voice of Kremenets Emigrants, I had a vision of our Kremenets, with the golden letters above our Great Synagogue, “House of Our Holiness and Glory”; the other synagogues and all the leaders who worked for the community; the Jewish Primary School; the steps of R' Nachman the watchmaker's house, the wagon drivers' favorite resting place, where they felt comfortable; and many other places close to my heart.

* * *

Your booklet is great. I'm happy to read it and experience a part of Jewish Kremenets. Some of the articles made me so sad that they brought tears to my eyes.

* * *

It is fitting to note that even during these fateful days for our townspeople in Israel, they found the time and patience to publish the booklet Voice of Kremenets Emigrants, which links us with all our townspeople wherever they are, and by doing that, it strengthens the memories of Kremenets.

* * *

Thank you for the booklet Voice of Kremenets and for publishing those interesting things about strengthening your community. I am sure that it will find favor among Kremenets emigrants.

More power to you for calling the emigrants in foreign lands to immigrate to Israel.

With respect and blessings,

Gidon Hausner

* * *

[Page 2]

Such are the reactions that we received from our readers in different lands. The warm feelings of our brethren from Kremenetsers are with us as we work. And they are an incentive to see that these booklets are published regularly in order to strengthen the link among our townspeople, wherever they are.

Since a great deal of material has accumulated for this booklet, and not much less is expected for the ones to follow, we have veered from our custom and have printed some articles in one language only. We have translated some in an abridged form so that the booklet does not deviate from its optimal page limits. Nonetheless, we recommend to our readers that they read the material offered in only one language, too.

Booklet 3 appears in time for the annual memorial to the martyrs of Kremenets and will be sent by mail with the invitation to the memorial.

Members are requested to send the price of the booklet – I£2 – and include money owed for previous ones.

Editorial Board


If Everyone Had Been Like Them…

(How a Jewish Girl in Kremenets Was Saved by the Evangelists Called “Shtundists”)

Manus Goldenberg

In all the horror stories about the life and death of our townspeople during the German occupation, the remarkable nightmarish, hostile attitude of the Christian population toward their Jewish neighbors stands out as “malicious joy.”

On this dark background, the deeds of a few people in our town and its surroundings to save the life of a Jewish girl stand out like a great spotlight.

Who are these people, who endangered their lives and their families' lives to do this?

These were simple people who, when searching for a true religion, rebelled against the Pravoslavic church, with all its priests and symbols, and joined the evangelists. This caused them much suffering, as they were shunned and scorned by their neighbors and even their relatives, who called them “Shtundists” and their religion “Shtunda” – a derogatory name. Many of us probably still remember the house behind the P.K.O. where the evangelists used to congregate on Sundays and holidays, without priests or icons. And they remember the songs and prayers that they used to sing with great fervor and devotion after a week of labor.

[Page 3]

I heard about this deed 12 years ago from a young woman in Tel Aviv. Riva Bernshteyn, of blessed memory, was sitting next to me, and we both listened to the woman, she spoke with great emotion, as if she were reliving her past while speaking.

I regret that we have lost her name and address.

I present her story (in the first person) as I recorded it at the telling.

* * *

In the Radzivilov ghetto, as in all the ghettos, starvation reaped its harvest daily. To help my family live, I, a girl of 13, would endanger my life by sneaking to the other side of the ghetto wall, where I would get food from non-Jewish acquaintances and bring it home.

Once, on my return from one of those expeditions, my mother and grandfather told me that the ghetto was to be liquidated in a very few days and insisted that I escape. I complied, and that night I reached the house of a farmer that we knew. He hid me in a haystack. In the morning, the Germans came and searched his property. I was lucky; although they prodded the stack with a pitchfork, I was not discovered or injured.

The farmer, too fearful now to keep me, moved me to the home of our old housemaid, who was an evangelist. Two days, later another girl from our town, who looked like a Ukrainian, arrived at the house. Since she couldn't keep both of us, we moved to an abandoned house, but when the searches started in the village, we decided to separate.

The farmer who hid me in the haystack lowered me into a well in a field. He dug a niche in one of the walls, where I lay during the day. In the evening, he would come, lift me up, and give me food.

One day, I heard voices at the well opening: a conversation between two Germans. All of a sudden, I heard shots and bullets whistling. The Germans went down into the well, but protected by the niche, I was not harmed. After the Germans left, shepherds started throwing heavy stones into the well. I stayed in my hiding place for a few more days, but the farmer found out that one of his neighbors was going to build a house nearby, so he moved me to the house of an evangelist woman named Poltorek, in Krigi[1] village. After a short time, she moved me to another evangelist in the nearby village of Mokri. His name was Tabchuk. His son was a Banderovits (Bandera was a Ukrainian nationalistic leader who cooperated with the Germans in the annihilation of the Jews). Tabchuk hid me in his granary, to which his son would come often to take out some hay. All day long, I lay there unmoving and fasting, and in the evening, they brought me potatoes. Once I heard the son ask his father if it was true that he was hiding a Jew. Being an evangelist, the father could not lie, so he did not reply. I started to shake, and my teeth chattered. I was afraid that the son would hear the chattering in the silent stillness of that moment in the haystack.

About a week later, an itinerant shoemaker from Kremenets, the evangelist Oleynik, came to Tabchuk's house and told him that he had a Jewish girl in his house. They both came to the dark granary. I must have looked terrible, because when they and the other family members saw me for the first time, they stepped back in alarm. They looked shocked.

Oleynik offered Tabchuk to move me to Kremenets. The next Sunday, Tabchuk put me in his wagon and covered me with hay, and he had his daughter sit next to him so that there would not be room for hitchhikers.

[Page 4]

At dark, we arrived uneventfully at Oleynik the shoemaker's home in Kremenets. It was a very poor home, full of little children. Their dog attacked me with fury but soon accepted me and even climbed up on the oven to keep me company. My permanent place was on the oven, but after a few days, it was clear that an alternative hiding place was necessary, as once a week a neighbor would come to bake bread in their oven. What would they do with me that day? At a family conference, they decided to dig a pit in the clay floor, lower me down, and cover the pit. It was terribly stifling in there, and when I lit a candle, it went out. I suffered greatly in that hot and airless place, feeling that any moment I would be forced to burst out no matter what, but the thought that the Germans would catch me made me stay put. My usual place was on the oven, but when the neighbor came to bake bread, I went down into the pit.

Then a new problem arose. The Germans started to hunt and seize young Ukrainians, who were then sent to work in Germany. One day, they showed up in Oleynik's village, above the Jewish cemetery near Cherche Mountain. It was too late to lower me into the pit and cover it, so they hid me under the table, and all of their nine children sat around it to conceal me. Those children knew how to keep my presence in their house a secret, not revealing it even to their closest friends.

One day, as I lay on the oven very sick, my whole body swollen, the German “snatchers” came again. Oleynik's wife told them that I was their very sick, mute daughter. They took a quick look on the oven. Apparently, I made a very strong impression on them, as they gestured in contempt and disgust and left the house very quickly.

A month had gone by, but seeing how hungry they were, I could not continue to stay there any longer. When Oleynik's wife went out to ask for food in the villages, I went with her. On the way, I met an Evangelist woman whom I had known in Radzivilov. She took me with her and suggested that I knit her a vest. I stayed in her attic and was working on the knitting when a neighbor came running, announcing in a panic that a group of two Germans and two Ukrainian policemen was approaching the house.

I covered my head with a kerchief and approached them. They paid no any attention to me, and I went to the abandoned flourmill nearby, where I stayed for the rest of the day. When I returned, I was told that the Germans had searched the house, which means that someone had informed on me.

In spite of that, I offered to finish knitting the vest, and she agreed.

Daily she brought food to my hiding place in the attic and emptied the bucket I used for my needs. I did not even know who the members of her family were, but I was glad to be there because I could look out the windows.

For three weeks, I knitted the vest, and when I finished, the woman suggested that I return to Oleynik's house. So I did. She went with me, taking bread and flour for them. I was received well but did not stay long this time; I could not see how they could share with me the bread they needed for their little children. The evangelists performed baptism ceremonies from time to time, and when Oleynik invited me to go with him to one of them, I agreed. There, a participant who was one of the Evangelist community's leaders, a man from Radzivilov who knew my family, offered me some money and then said that he knew very well how poor Oleynik was, so he found someone who agreed to take me home with him, to a village near Radzivilov.

[Page 5]

Obviously, I accepted the offer and went to his house. In that village, there were a few Jews in hiding at his sister-in-law's house, and my host took me there to meet them. They were a large family named Tshernik from Radzivilov (the wife was a Kremenetser). Soon after, the Germans discovered and executed all of them. When I found out about it, I became sick again. I hid in that house until the Russians arrived, and then my host returned me to Kremenets. But the Russians stayed only two days, and when they left, the Germans returned. Then I was brought to a convent that had a few nuns, and they dressed me to look like them. Two weeks later, the Russians returned.

Oleynik's wife came to the convent and took me out. The Russians checked my condition, as my legs were swollen and I walked with a cane. My voice sounded peculiar because I had not talked for many months, even in the convent, as I was afraid to be recognized as a Jew.

There were many empty houses in the town, and I was put into one of them. There I met a 30-year-old Jew named Yosef Margalit, who had been hiding the whole time in a village near Shumsk[2], while his brother had managed to flee to Russia. He was from a family of butchers, I believe. I also met a young man, tall and skinny as a stick, who had hidden in a mountain cave the whole time. I stayed in Kremenets about two months after the German retreat.

The evangelists brought food to those who were still alive. Now we walked unrestricted in the town, and I went to the Oleyniks' to thank them for everything they had done for me. Just then, the neighbor who had come to bake bread there walked in. She saw that the dog jumped on me and rubbed against me, so Oleynik said in front of her, “This dog would not come near you when you were in hiding here, and now he is jumping on you. Dogs are better than humans.”

Later, I went to Radzivilov and worked in the post office there. During that time, I managed to save the evangelists' leader, who had been arrested by the Russian authorities. By then, the Jews had extra privileges, and along with others, I helped him as much as possible.

* * *

My story is ended. I do not know what the principal beliefs of the Evangelist sect are, but I do know that humane feelings were preserved in those simple and guileless people even at a time when hatred and murder ran riot all around, and I owe my life to them.


Ghettos That Fought: Kremenets

(Published in the monthly Soviet Homeland, Moscow, no. 4, April 1968)

Yosef Bergman[3]

Kremenets: A comparatively large town in the Ternopol district of Ukraine.

In this town, a well-organized underground force of young people succeeded in arming itself with ammunition and even German documents, which gave their members freedom of movement.

[Page 6]

The organization planned to start fighting the German forces outside the ghetto, assuming that they would be able to prevent the SS from infiltrating it. But that was not to be, as on September 9, 1942, the ghetto was taken by surprise and surrounded by policemen and soldiers, and the young members of the underground organization lost their chance to fight the Germans outside the ghetto walls. A stubborn struggle then began within the ghetto. Six Germans were killed on the first day, and 10 on the second. On the third day, the fighters themselves set the ghetto on fire. The fire raged for a whole week, and the fighting continued until the last of the ghetto fighters died.

We feel that it is our duty to note that in the stories of the two survivors of the Kremenets ghetto[4], Betsalel Shvarts and Bela Teper-Kaplan, who described in detail the annihilation of the Jews of Kremenets in the book Pinkas Kremenets, there is no confirmation of the facts Mr. Bergman states about an organized rebellion or about the Jews themselves burning the ghetto.

Letter from Kremenets

Dear Mr. Vakman,

All of us, the remnant of the Jews of Kremenets, are grateful for your attention. Everything we needed to do in the cemetery is done already; we put in 80 posts two and a half meters apart, connected them with iron pipes, and planted 100 trees. In the springtime, I will paint the fence and send you a photograph. Don't worry; everything will be OK.

Now this killing field looks like a well-cared-for cemetery.

Wishing you all the best, and thanks to my friend Barshap.

Sincerely,

Yisrael Mandel

Kremenets, January 10, 1968


Thanks to a Pair of Dress Shoes

Binyamin Barshap, New York

Preface

Y. R.

Our venerable and honored friend, Binyamin Barshap, who has lived in New York for 65 years, is the founder of the Organization of Kremenets Emigrants there. He did a great deal to aid the absorption of immigrants from Kremenets and ease their feeling of foreignness in their new country.

[Page 7]

Mr. Barshap planned to visit Israel this summer with all his descendants, but because he was so frail, the trip was postponed. We wish him health and long life and hope that he will be able to come for a visit another time. In the meantime, he is sending us a bronze plaque for the RYB”L Library. Mr. Barshap is a man who has worked his whole life at his trade of carpentry; physical labor is his ideology. In his article, “A Working Town,” published in Pinkas Kremenets, he proudly enumerates the many kinds of trades practiced by the people of Kremenets. Now Mr. Barshap has sent us a booklet of his memoirs, and although he insists that he is not a very good writer, his articles are written with great humor and an interesting perspective on life in Kremenets years ago and how people immigrated to the United States in those days. Here is a segment from his memoirs. Another one will be published in the next booklet.

 

Thanks to a Pair of Dress Shoes (Fragments of Memory)

… And now I come to tell you how I came to America because of a pair of dress shoes. This is how the story came about.

I was 17 years old and working as an apprentice in my father's carpentry shop, but by then I was a first-class carpenter. My friend worked as an apprentice at Vulf the shoemaker's, who made the best shoes. One day a landowner came in with a non-Jewish guy trailing behind him, and ordered a pair of dress shoes from Vulf for nine rubles, half of which he gave as a down payment. On Thursday, he came back with the guy to pick up the shoes, but they didn't fit him; they were too small. A new pair had to be made.

The shoemaker needed the additional four and a half rubles the landowner owed him; otherwise, he wouldn't have enough money to buy what he needed for the Sabbath. What to do? He sent his son, who was my friend, to sell the shoes, even at half price, as long as he got enough for his Sabbath needs. My friend approached me and offered me the bargain. I tried them on, and they were a perfect fit. The shoes were beautiful – I had never seen anything like them, even in my dreams. My father wasn't home, but I knew that he kept the money in the old sofa. I took out four and a half rubles and bought the shoes. When my father came home, I showed him the shoes and bragged that I had bought them for half price. And where did you get the money? asked my father. In the sofa, I replied. Father got angry. He yelled and yelled: Had he stopped being the father? He was not consulted about anything anymore, and I did as I pleased as if I were in charge of the house. If that is how you behave – you aren't my son anymore, and that's it!

When father calmed down and stopped yelling, I told him that the money I had taken was my money, saved from my wages. But if you're that angry, take the shoes and return them to Vulf the shoemaker. But I won't work with you anymore; I'm leaving and getting out from under you.

The altercation with my father hurt me very much, and I made a daring decision – to immigrate to America. I went to my Uncle Abish, who was also a carpenter, and asked him to give me a job for one month so I could earn enough money to get to America. For my labor, he gave me room and board and 20 rubles in cash. I met with Itsik the tax collector, who gave me a pass for 50 kopeks. Seventeen years old, I left my family and all my friends and started on my way to America. My father made peace with me and even went with me to Radzivilov[5], on the Austrian border. He wept and assured me that in spite of everything, I was a good boy. The year was 1903. I crossed the border and found myself in a foreign country, in the town of Brody, with 20 rubles in my pocket. From Brody, I went to Lemberg.

[Page 8]

I soon realized that 20 rubles would not get me to America. In Lemberg, I met other Jews who were travelers like me, and following their advice, I went to an immigration office, where I was instructed how to get to Rotterdam. I traveled from town to town, staying in each one for a few days to get a carpentry job and earn enough to continue on my way. I even saved enough to buy a ticket for a ship from Rotterdam to New York. On August 1903, I arrived at my destination – New York.

I worked as an employee for six years, and in 1909, I started own workshop as an independent carpenter. In 1912, I married a decent Jewish woman, my wife, may she live a long time. We have one son and two daughters, six grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. The whole family lives in peace.

Some years later, I brought my parents over to America. Throughout my working years, I had a good reputation among Jews and non-Jews alike. I maintained good warm and cordial relations with everyone. I am fond of my fellow townspeople in New York, and they are fond of me, too.

This is the saga of my trip from Kremenets to America, and as I stated, it all started with that pair of dress shoes.


People Born in Kremenets

Yitschak Rokhel

 

Dr. Mark Katz

On his father's side, he is the son of Dr. Ben-Tsion Katz, director of the Tarbut School in Kremenets, and the grandson of R' Meshulam Katz (one of the first of the Enlightened) and, on his mother's side, R' Moshe Rokhel (a wealthy merchant and a distinguished civic activist).

In his youth, he was called “Mara,” and people said that he was a born mathematician. He had the personality of a genius; from childhood, he had a remarkable memory. When he was five years old, he could recite verbatim any story that was read to him. He received a Jewish education (though not a traditional one), and after graduating from the Lyceum at age 16, he was accepted at Lvov University in the mathematics and physics department. His professors claimed that they had not had a student equal his level in mathematics for 20 years. In 1938, the Polish government sent him to the United States for graduate studies, and for many years now, he has been a mathematics professor at Rockefeller University in New York.

He published a series of research papers in mathematics, which made him an international name in this subject. Two years ago, Rockefeller University honored mention for his great contributions to the advancement of the science of mathematics, naming him one of the world's seven greatest scientists in this discipline. He is a very charming man who can forge good relationships with his students and spice up his most serious lectures with humor.

In the March 1968 issue of Scientific Research magazine, he was interviewed on the subject of the effects of mathematics on other scientific disciplines, and his photograph was on the front page.

We do not claim to be professionals who understand the entire text, but the mathematicians who read the article note that his outlook is original and distinctive.

We wish our learned townsman even more advancement in his profession.

[Page 9]

Dr. Zev Chasid

In the years before the World War I, a few boys, sons of dedicated Zionist families, were sent from Kremenets to the Land of Israel to be educated there. They were

(1) Yitschak, son of Moshe Eydelman; (2) Chayim Katz; 3) Zev (Velvel), son of Mordekhay Chasid; (4) Avraham, son of Yehoshue Rokhel; and (5) Avraham Krivin.

The first two went to the Hertseliya High School in Jaffa, and the others to the agricultural school in Petach Tikva. After graduation, Zev Chasid wanted to continue his studies, but as there were no institutions of higher education schools in the Land at the time, he went to the United States. The others settled in Israel.

That was many years ago. And then we read in the September 14, 1967, issue of Berkeley, California's daily newspaper that the American Chemistry Society had awarded a prize to the famous scientist, Dr. William Zev Chasid, a biochemistry professor at the University of Berkeley[6] and a member of the American Academy of Science. The article included his photograph and described him in length, enumerating his research projects and discoveries throughout the 40 years since he joined the faculty of the University of Berkeley (1927). Throughout the years, he published more than 160 research papers and received quite a few scientific honors, which earned him a distinguished reputation that reached far beyond American borders. Dr. Chasid retired from teaching in 1965 but continues to work in the university's agricultural research department.

Throughout the years, Chasid has kept in touch with the Land. Israeli agriculture students who have gone to California for graduate studies (the climate in Israel and California is very similar, which makes it an ideal place for Israelis to study the subject) have received help and support from him. Chasid has visited Israel few times as the guest of the Weitzmann Institute of Science. He takes an interest in the Organization of Kremenets Emigrants and corresponds (in good Hebrew) with the members.

After World War I, his father, Mordekhay Chasid, and all of his family members immigrated to the Land.

We send our blessings to our distinguished friend. We wish him health, long life, and more achievements in the field of science.


[Page 10]

Welfare Activities

Shmuel Taytelman

During our organization's early years in the Land, when our townspeople were immigrating from refugee camps, our welfare activity was quite extensive. We agreed then to increase long-term loans to our needy townspeople. Indeed, we helped them find work, to the extent possible. As time went on, people got along and became acclimated. But as of this date, there remain a number of people who need assistance, including the chronically ill, the elderly, and others who exist on pensions from welfare offices. As much as possible, we add a certain amount, in a regular way, in coordination with municipal and national welfare bureaus. Sometimes this takes the form of delivering certain personal articles to homes in need, such as orthopedic shoes and the like. When possible, we also send packages and sums of money to Kremenets emigrants in Poland and other countries, and also to “righteous gentiles” who rescued or helped Kremenets Jews.

We can do all of this thanks to the contributions of Kremenetsers – individuals and organizations – in the United States, Argentina, and Canada, and, yes, in Israel. But this hasn't allowed us to develop more extensive welfare activities. There is some thought being given to a Benevolent Fund, as is customary in other Landsmanschafts. But to bring this about would require much more substantial sums than we have in our possession. The loans that we gave in the past have been only partly collected from borrowers.


Honoring Our Elders

M. Goldenberg

 

R' David Rubin

This year during Passover, the town council of Kfar Hasidim organized a festive celebration in honor of the 87th birthday of their resident and our fellow townsman, R' David Rubin. About a hundred people were present at the occasion, among them Rabbi Gelman, Mizrachi party leaders, and Azriel Goren (Gorngut), a veteran Kremenetser and now a resident of Pardes Chana. David Rubin is still busy writing, particularly for the folklore publication Yeda Am,[7] and sometimes travels to folklore conventions. He wrote to us that on May 29 of this year, he traveled to pray at the Western Wall as a representative of his village and our townspeople.

 

R' Elazar Brik

About a year ago, our friend Elazar Brik reached his 80th year. He came to the Land in the third wave of immigration, working as a first-class ironsmith until about two years ago, when his eyesight failed and he was forced to retire. We visited him during Shavuot with our friend Yitschak Vakman, and we found him as full of humor as in the old days.

May our elders be blessed with long life!


[Page 11]

Connections with Fellow Townspeople Abroad

Manus Goldenberg and Yitschak Rokhel

 

Letter from Argentina

Greetings to my beloved townspeople, wherever they are!

Members Rokhel and Manus asked me for an overview of the happenings in the Kremenetser organization in Argentina, but the fact is that I have hardly anything to survey. If a minyan of Kremenetsers gathers to pray once a week, can it be called a function? It would be a great injustice if we did not do so. Also, twice a year we gather in large numbers – about 100 persons: on August 14 for a memorial to our martyrs' souls and on Israeli Independence Day. As in general, life shuttles between the two poles of sorrow and joy.

We maintain a good connection to our townspeople in Israel, and we value their activities in establishing the memorial project and publishing the booklet, which links Kremenetsers wherever they are, and we help them in those two projects as much as we can.

We wish that each booklet could include some article to remind us of Kremenets in its grandeur: a biography of a well-known person or an article about the way of life and local color. Although a great deal of such material has already been published in the two memorial books[8], they have already been forgotten, and it is imperative to keep reminding ourselves again and again.

All the organizations of our townspeople, ours included, are flourishing, as they continue to exist even after helping the survivors is not as urgent. Umbrella organizations like the Council of Organizations of Emigrants from Poland spur them to carry out cultural and civic activities and will not let them sink into indifference. Thanks to that, after the June 1967 war, within few days those organizations had collected a sum of $20 million for emergency needs in Israel.

By the way, we were gratified by the publication of “funds received from abroad” in Voice of Kremenets Emigrants, booklet 2, where we read, “From Argentina – $500, from New York – $200”… .

We wish our brethren in New York and everywhere else health and goodwill, as I, your friend and fellow townsman, wish you.

Mordekhay Katz

 

Zev (Velvel) Shnayder's Visit from Detroit

This April, our member Zev Shnayder and his wife, Ester, visited the Land for three weeks. Shnayder, as you know, is the one who initiated the idea of establishing a library named after RYB”L as a memorial to the Kremenets Jewish community. He is known as an admirer of RYB”L and an expert in his teachings, and publishes research about him from time to time. With the establishment of the library, Shnayder organized a circle of Hebrew writers and teachers in Detroit, named “The Friends of the RYB”L Library,” and they gave the library a few hundred important and rare books.

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Our correspondence with him is a source of encouragement and guidance. From time to time, he brings up new ideas for developing the project and elevating it to its proper stature.

We awaited his visit and even demanded it. Obviously, Shnayder's arrival was an important event for those involved in the project and an opportunity for soul searching and outlining plans for the future – and we were certainly not disappointed.

Soon after Shnayder's arrival, at a festive gathering in the RYB”L Library on July 4, 1968, our member Rokhel gave an update on the library's development, and our member Manus gave a talk on the organization's activities in general. Our member Shnayder's words were like “an epic on the RYB”L Library and its future,” in which he visualized its expected development. He encouraged those who were working on it and demanded stronger ties between the library and the two universities in Tel Aviv. Also, he suggested renewing the student scholarships for essays on subjects associated with Enlightenment literature and donated an additional sum for that purpose.

Member Shnayder and his wife took their leave of us at a farewell family party at the B'nai Brith hall in the presence of of the Shnayder tribe in the Land (all 55 of them, may they multiply) and representatives of the organization's board.

 

Yitschak Vakman's Visit

We do not need to give an extensive description of Yitschak Vakman's blessed activities for the Organization of Kremenets Emigrants in New York and the memorial project in the Land. Our friend Vakman visits the Land regularly once or twice each year, most often with his wife, Genya (Matus Chazan's daughter). Even his three daughters and sons-in-law (all three are graduates of Yeshiva University) visit the Land from time to time. In the previous booklet, we wrote about his visit at the end of the Six-Day War. Now the couple has made another visit, staying in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv for about three weeks. We saw them at a special meeting of the RYB”L Library board, visited with them at the Dan Hotel, and accompanied them on visits to Kremenets elders in the Land: Yosef Pak in Rishon Letsion, Elazar Brik in Tel Aviv, and Nachum Grinberg in Bat Yam. We talked about the organization's activities in the Land and the Society's in New York. At that opportunity, a serious discussion arose about the problem of the following generation: how to link children who grew up or were born in the Land with memories of Kremenets. This problem bothered our members in the United States and here. Our strong desire is that the memory of Kremenets not pass on with the current generation. In the United States, they see no way to solve this problem, but maybe a solution can be found here: use an activity aimed toward that goal and suitable for that generation.

During the visit, the Vakman family made a decisive step toward immigrating to the Land: they contacted a building contractor to build them a house that is big enough to accommodate their visiting offspring, too. We already say to them, welcome!

 

Guests from Argentina

In April and May of this year, some fellow townspeople came to Israel from Argentina: Neta Kuperman and Chayim Nudel, both active members of the Organization of Kremenets Emigrants in Buenos Aires. They took it upon themselves to meet personally with many Kremenetsers and brought regards from relatives in Argentina with them.

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Many people were present at a festive reception in the RYB”L Library, and the atmosphere was warm and cordial. Our guests enriched the ensuing discussion with interesting conversation. They told us what was happening in their organization – local activities and their links with Israel and with the Organization of Kremenets Emigrants in the Land.

With feelings of warm friendship, we said our goodbyes to the departing visitors.

 

Funds Received from Abroad

Continuing the list printed in booklet 2, pages 13 and 36, here are the sums of money received from Kremenets organizations abroad and from individual Kremenets emigrants. A portion of the money was earmarked by the donors for specific causes, and the rest is for the memorial project in general.

We do not give detailed information for sums below $25.

For Voice of Kremenets Emigrants
8/67 – Kremenets organization in Argentina, by Mr. Katz $ 33  
1/69 – Aharon Gelernt, Italy 50  
4/68 – the organization in Argentina, by Chayim Mordish 55  
5/68 – Binyamin Barshap, New York 50  
5/68 – Hilda Shvartsapel-Royt, New York 25  
Various members in the United States 55 $268
 
For Other Specific Causes
4/68 – Yitschak Vakman, New York, for welfare needs 100  
4/68 – Norman Desser, New York, for welfare needs 25  
6/68 – Zev Shnayder, Detroit, United States, for a prize in the Enlightenment literature essay competition 60 $285
 
For the Memorial Project Fund
4/68 – Neta Kuperman, Buenos Aires 80  
5/68 – Yitschak Vakman, New York 100  
5/68 – Binyamin Barshap, New York 100  
5/68 – Kremenets Organization of New York 100 $380
  Total $993

 

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20th Anniversary of the Kremenets Organization in Argentina

(From Di Yiddishe Tsaytung[9], May 22, 1968)

On the May 18 of this year, the Kremenets emigrants in Buenos Aires celebrated the 20th anniversary of their organization. Chayim Mordish, chairman, served as master of ceremonies. After playing the anthems, the names of those fallen in defending the mother country were remembered: Ya'al Yaron and Avshalom Tsidon. Member Tsipa Katz gave a review of the activities of the organization, which actually was in existence many years ago but was reorganized in 1948. The basic functions are help for survivors, establishment of a savings and loan cooperative, publication of a memorial book, contact with the organization of our townspeople in Israel, and monetary support for the establishment of the RYB”L Library and the publication of the booklet. The membership committee's activities were noted. Many young people, children Kremenets emigrants, participated in the assembly, and representing them in a speech was Arye Mordish, who had just returned from Israel, where he had served as a volunteer during the Six-Day War. He declared the younger generation's goal to immigrate to Israel at the end of their studies and charged the parents with supporting Israel in every possible way and following their children in immigrating.

 

Welcome
Max Desser

On July 17, Max Desser and his wife, Klara, of Canada, came to the Land. It was their second trip to Israel, and this time they were met by their son and his bride, who are studying at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem.

Max Desser is active among Kremenets emigrants in Canada, and he is a dear friend of our organization in Israel. Through his promotion and effort, he helped us out with a substantial sum of money for the memorial project undertaken here.

 

David Rapoport

On July 23, our friend David Rapoport came from New York to visit the Land, which serves to remind us of the Organization of Kremenets Emigrants of New York. Over the course of many years, Rapoport has produced a well-respected Yiddish quarterly. His poems have been published in several issues, some dedicated to the city of Kremenets. These poems express much love and longing for his homeland and for his brother, who perished. His report in the Kremenets Yizkor Book published in Argentina ends with these words: “Maybe Kremenets still exists somewhere, but just as I cannot imagine the sea without water, or the heavens without God, I cannot imagine Kremenets without Jews.…”


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On the Anniversary of Our Sons' Death

M. Goldenberg

 

Ya'al Yaron

June 9, 1968, was the anniversary of the death of Ya'al, son of Sima and Yizhar Yaron-Krementshutski, who fell during an attack on the Golan Heights. Kibbutz Ein Hashofet, where Ya'al was born and brought up, published a booklet in his memory. It contains articles and poems as well as letters he wrote to his parents and friends while he was in the army. They reveal a gentle, very wise person.

What one of his parents' friends wrote about him is correct: “I wanted very much for you to know – for everyone to know –what kind of person Ya'al was.

For he was so much!

Gentleness and fairness, love and understanding, harmony and willpower.”

 

Avshalom Tsidon

On the anniversary of the death of Avshalom Tsidon, son of Chana and Shmuel Tsizin, who fell in the Six-Day War, acquaintances from work, friends, and some Kremenetsers gathered in the army section of Kiryat Shaul cemetery in Tel Aviv.

An army cantor recited the prayers, and the director of the Central Retirement Fund, where Avshalom had worked, eulogized him warmly, as did the secretary of the board of Mossad employees.

A short time before that, on Independence Day eve, we heard a discussion on the radio with a seven-year-old boy, Ofer, about his father, who fell in the war. The boy's words touched the listeners' hearts. It was Avshalom's son, Chana and Shmuel Tsizin's grandson.

Maariv columnist Refael Bashan published an extended interview with Avshalom's widow and his son Ofer.

 

Eli Regev, of Blessed Memory

On June 4, 1968, Eli Regev hit a mine in his vehicle on the grounds of Maoz Chayim and was killed. He was 25 years old at the time of his death.

Eli Regev was the son-in-law of Yakov Chasid, of blessed memory, who was R' Mordekhay Chasid's son. Eli lived with his wife, Bilhah; his daughter, Gilah; and his mother-in law, Reya, widow of Yakov of Kibbutz Kineret.

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Eli's parents immigrated to the Land from Libya when he was five years old. He joined Kineret after marrying Bilhah. He was a graduate of the agricultural school in Akko, where he received his agriculture teacher-adviser certification. That is how he saw his role in that field, and he worked at his profession with dedication and much success.

Everyone admired his devotion to his wife and family. This and his love of life were well documented in his letters from the front lines.

Here we present two paragraphs from his letters that speak for themselves.

Jerusalem, August 1967

“… For a few days, I have wanted to write you a letter or even a postcard to relieve your worries, but unfortunately I couldn't, because we were in a heavy and cruel fight for Old Jerusalem. As you see, I'm alive, healthy, and whole.… During those three days, I made every effort to come out of the Jordanian inferno alive and return to you and our Gilah… .”

And here is one from a letter after the battle of Karameh.

Somewhere, March 22, 1968

“… As you can see, I'm alive, healthy, and whole, without even the smallest scratch this time, too. True, the sight was shocking, but the goal was achieved. It's very hard to describe the sights and the terrible time.… Although it was nothing compared to what happened in Jerusalem, fear and a strong desire to live and return home in peace again reared and surfaced as it did in Jerusalem.

… How many times can a man go to the front and come out whole?… Some say that a man's life is long and cannot be harmed even during a terrible war.”

And what an evil scheme fate had planned for him… .

We send our condolences to the family.


In Memoriam

M. Goldenberg

 

Tsira Bernshteyn. Sister of Riva, of blessed memory, and Bela Bernshteyn. Although she had suffered a great deal from various illnesses in the past few years, her death was a surprise to her relatives and friends. Her relatives and Kremenetsers came to her funeral. She was buried near her husband at the cemetery in Rechovot. May her memory be blessed.

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Bela Grinberg. The wife of Nachum Grinberg, may he live long, passed away on January 30, 1968. She was the only one of her generation in Kremenets who was saved from the murderers' claws, and she succeeded in immigrating to the Land with her husband, daughters, sons-in-law, and grandchildren and was present at the establishment of the State of Israel. Before her death, she was also privileged to be present at the wedding of her granddaughter, Sara, Bronya and Shmuel Taytelman's daughter.

May her memory be blessed.

Avraham Fayer. A few months ago, Avraham Fayer passed away after a grave illness. He was one of the first to immigrate to the Land from Argentina in the past few years. He and his wife patiently endured the difficulties of adjusting to the new country. Now that he had adjusted to the way of life in the Land and had settled into his life here, death took him. Fayer was a dedicated member of the Organization of Kremenets Emigrants and took part in all its events, which for him was an encouraging experience. He left a wife.

May his memory be blessed.

Sara Fridel. The widow of R' Mendil Fridel, of blessed memory, Sara Fridel passed away in Petach Tikva at a very advanced age. She immigrated to Israel many years ago and lived with her daughter, Naomi (wife of Bunim Simcha Spektor). Her son, Avraham, lives in Jerusalem and works as a senior official at the National Insurance Institute. She also leaves a daughter in the United States.

May her memory be blessed.

Ruchama Rokhel. On January 14, 1968, Yitschak Rokhel's wife, Ruchama, died of a heart ailment at the age of 67.

She was born in Petach Tikva to the Shtemper family, one of the original settlers and builders of “the matriarch of the settlements.” During her youth, the struggle between the settlement's farmers and Arab laborers escalated. Ruchama rebelled against her “natural” society and dared to side with the laborers. After finishing the Levinsky Teachers and Kindergarten Teachers' College in Jaffa, she was sent to Salonika, Greece. She worked there for two years as a teacher in the Jewish community's Hebrew school and organized youth groups, most of whose members immigrated to the Land. On her return from Greece, she lived in Haifa, and then moved to Tel Aviv. She dedicated much of her time in the evenings to educational and teaching activities for adults and had a special rapport with those who came from eastern countries; she lectured to them in a simple way about the Land, the Bible, archeology, and education, and her lectures in the suburbs always attracted large audiences. She was one of the founders of the Organization of Working Mothers, in which she invested time and energy until her final days. As a member of the Society for the Exploration of the Land and Its Antiquities, she toured the country a great deal, literally until her last day, in spite of her poor health.

Our organization has lost a dedicated friend and a sympathetic follower of our activities. She often helped us with good advice and encouraging words. We will not forget the evening meetings at the home of Ruchama and Yitschak (may he live long), which under their inspiration turned into memorable experiences. Obviously, she never saw Kremenets, but she knew much about the way of life there and its typical and interesting personalities. Even this year, she took part in the Kremenetsers' Chanukah celebration, and soon after, death took her. She leaves two married sons, the elder a lieutenant colonel in the standing army and the younger living in the town of Eilat, and five grandchildren.

May her memory be blessed.


[Page 18]

Mosaic

Yosef Avidar is comptroller of the Federation. The Federation council unanimously chose retired General Yosef Avidar (Rokhel) for the post of Federation comptroller starting August 1. He previously served as the director of the Government Companies Authority.

Yosef Rokhel immigrated to the Land from Kremenets in 1925. He was an active member of the Haganah, and when the state was established, he was given the rank of general in the Israel Defense Forces.

After being released from active duty in the IDF, he was appointed Israel's ambassador to the Soviet Union and then to Argentina. He lives in Jerusalem.

We send our blessings to our honored townsman for success in his important post.

Moshe Kagan's art exhibit. The exhibit is on display at the Kibbutz Alliance Art Gallery in Tel Aviv from July 17 to August 7 of this year.

Kagan was born in Kremenets in 1922 and immigrated to Israel in 1948. He is a member of Kibbutz Shamir and devotes half his time to the art of painting.

So far, he has exhibited his creations in seven one-man shows and in many group exhibits in the Land and five exhibits in other countries, with great success.

The current exhibit contains 24 watercolor paintings and 11 drawings. Some of his drawings are included in Pinkas Kremenets, and six decorate the RYB”L library in Tel Aviv. The drawing of RYB”L was also done by him.

We wish our member Kagan additional advancement and success in the field of art.

Reception for guests from abroad. On July 24, 1968, more than 30 people attended a reception for our guests in the RYB”L Library. Our guests were Max Desser and his wife from Winnipeg, Canada; David Rapoport, who has served for 10 years now as the secretary of the Society of Kremenets Emigrants in New York; and Tova Teper of New York, whose article “The Story of the Extermination” appeared in Pinkas Kremenets.

Joining them were relatives and friends. Our friend Desser brought with him an enlarged photo of the choir of the Great Synagogue of Kremenets taken during the era of cantors Koussevitzky and Sherman. Some of the people present found themselves in the photo as young singers. There was talk about the activities of the organizations here and there, and people spent long hours at this friendly gathering.

Memorial plaque. Just as we were finishing up this booklet, we received a bronze memorial plaque from our member Binyamin Barshap of New York, inscribed as follows:

“In Memory of 14,000 Kremenets Jews, May Heaven Have Mercy… A Gift from Binyamin Barshap”

The plaque will be put in a prominent place at the RYB”L Library.

The next booklet will include a photo of the plaque.

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Organization of Kremenets Emigrants in Israel

Tel Aviv, 7 Av 5728 / August 1, 1968

Dear Members,

On Wednesday, 21 Av 5728, August 14, 1968, in Tel Aviv, in the Kibbutzim College concourse/plaza (near the Ramat Aviv Hotel)

Evening of Communion with the Martyrs of Kremenets

You and your family members are invited to take part in this evening, beginning at 8:00 p.m., with a gathering of townspeople from 6:00 on.

A light buffet will be served.

With this invitation, we send you booklet 4 of Voice of Kremenets Emigrants, which came out today.

With greetings to our members,

The Organization Board


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My Memories of the Holy Community of Kremenets

Mendel Mozes

My memories of the tragedy of the dispersed holy community of Kremenets are of dear people, unbounded friendship and goodness, respect and fineness, uplifted souls and pure holiness, and fire and blood, destruction and holocaust, dear and fine.

Chance brought me to Kremenets for the only time in my life on the eve of the destruction of Polish Jewry. I will never forget the memory of that historic city, your superb surroundings, and your dear Jews. In the few days I spent in that superb city, I had an opportunity to observe what wonderful, respectful, openhearted, and holy Jews this city had.

The correspondents and directors of the Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA) in Poland and I, along with other correspondents, left Warsaw in the train restricted to the diplomatic corps and the Polish government. We departed from Warsaw on the fourth day after the Germans invaded Poland. The train in which we rode was bombed 18 times by German airplanes. We arrived in Kremenets on the third day, very tired and enveloped in gloom.

Kremenets was to be Poland's temporary capital “until the war was over.” My family and I and three co-workers from JTA, seven people in all, wanted to get a three-room villa. In the official document with the address of the villa, there was a warning not to exceed the agreed-upon payment for furnished rooms, or there would be a large penalty.

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Two Jewish cab drivers took us to the specified address in a pretty residential neighborhood of Kremenets. The owner of the villa, a Polish woman, didn't even want to look at our documents. She said that I was already the six person to arrive with such an order. She had taken in the first one, but where could she find rooms for those who came later?

That night – just a little while before curfew, when you weren't allowed to be on the street – good fortune struck. The city's single small hotel had no rooms available. The cab drivers hurried home. We were in an unenviable situation. I had neither relatives nor close friends in Kremenets. We settled into a beer hall, where I asked if we could stay for the night. I was very surprised at the warmhearted hospitality immediately shown by the owner of the beer hall, Zalman Bernshteyn, and his wife. As soon as they escorted us out of the beer hall, they brought us into their home. The first thing they did was to provide us with hot water to wash with. Then a cooking samovar was placed on the table. There were rolls, bread, butter-cheese, eggs, and herring, and the dear couple asked us if we needed anything else. The heartwarming hospitality of the Bernshteyns was so great that my wife, may she rest in peace, broke down and cried. We were speechless with thanks.

The Bernshteyns' various rooms consisted of two sitting rooms, a kitchen, and a bedroom. There were four beds there. Right after we ate, the owners began to get the beds ready for us, saying that all beds were for us. This was very uncomfortable for my wife and me. How could we take all the beds? Where would the owners sleep? The Bernshteyns, those beloved folks, insisted that we shouldn't worry, however. They would sleep with some neighbors, and they wished us good night. After three sleepless nights, and being really exhausted from traveling, we found ourselves well rested.

Awareness of our arrival spread rapidly across Kremenets. First thing in the morning, a certain Mr. Rozenberg, chairman of Kremenets's manual laborer union, came to see me. He had seen me at a press conference in during an all-Poland manual laborer conference in Warsaw. Rozenberg – I'm sorry, I can't remember his first name – didn't leave us the whole time that we were in Kremenets and was our true helping angel. He found us a place to stay and also two typewriters – one Yiddish and one English – a telephone, and a room to use as a temporary office for the JTA. Later, when the Germans bombed Kremenets and set fire to the city, Rozenberg also saved my family and me, three co-workers from the JTA who were with me, and still other foreign correspondents.

Friend Rozenberg proposed that we take the house containing the museum for the recently deceased R' Yitschak Ber Levinzon.

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He promised to arrange everything necessary to convert the house to a private home. The Polish government had taken over the historical buildings of the Kremenets Lyceum. Foreign diplomats found homes in the pretty villa neighborhood in Kremenets's beautiful hilly suburbs. In the hope that I would find a home, I decided to go to that neighborhood. I couldn't reconcile myself to taking the Levinzon museum. I thought it was a desecration, which I categorically foreswore. I didn't know if my going to the Polish government regarding a simple house would help much. Other Polish correspondents remained without a roof over their heads. In the meantime, friend Rozenberg didn't rest. A wonder of a friend, he came with an announcement about the prominent members of the Kremenets community – the civic activists of the community – the designated and influential community organizers. Vice-Mayor Azriel Kremenetski invited us in to his home. Understandably, I accepted the invitation with pleasure. At the time, I didn't yet know that my family and I were destined to pass this short time with such a kindhearted circle of friends in that tragic, unforgettable city. We thanked the Bernshteyns for their hospitality in taking us in and offered to pay for the evening meal, but they would hear none of it, and we left for the Kremenetskis, where my Kremenetser welcomed us as one would greet good old friends. I called our dear hostess “Sore daughter of goodness,” and she was truly that, a good, quiet, goodhearted person.

Friend Rozenberg also concerned himself with finding me a place to work. We had hardly returned to Kremenets when Rozenberg arrived to announce that the head of the community – I'm sorry I don't remember his name – was putting the community office, along with a telephone and typewriters, at my disposal. From my house, from the community – managed from the now-destroyed holy community of Kremenets – I sent a telegram to the JTA in New York from the “battlefront.” That telegram informed the New York JTA of my whereabouts. That very telegram, now already a historical document, can be found in the JTA archive in New York.

The whole time that we were with the Kremenetskis, we felt as though we were among dear, devoted friends. The Kremenetskis' hospitality had no bounds. They did everything possible to make us feel not like fugitives, but as if we were at home. At that time, the city was already lacked some food products. The city fathers had, however, prepared soup. “Sarah, daughter of goodness” didn't let us lack for anything. They gave us the best rooms. Their hospitality knew no bounds.

Meanwhile, the battlefront was being pushed back. The so-called folk-Germans in Kremenets included some German spies. Every night, we saw mysterious signals being sent to the Germans from the hills outside Kremenets. On the radio, we heard about Molotov's ultimatums to the Polish ambassador in Moscow that the Soviet military would “free” Poland's eastern territories.

[Page 23]

It was clear that the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact meant a new division of Poland between Hitler's Germany and Bolshevik Russia. For tactical reasons, however, the Polish government tried to put “a good face on a wicked play.” At a press conference “in exile,” they told us that the Soviet military's march toward Poland was an “open showing” that Soviet Russia would fight “together with us against the Germans”.… that from that fight that we would be seen to be in a very good situation.

Then the story quickly turned around. The ink was barely dry on the statement from exile when reports arrived from the Polish-Russian border that the first thing the Soviets did was capture Polish soldiers and take them prisoner. They also arrested many Poles and Jews in the “liberated towns.”

The tragedy's climax and the end of that era of Polish independence came when the Germans let loose a murderous bombardment of Kremenets, the “temporary Polish capital.” Those autumn days were sunny and beautiful. There was not a cloud in the blue sky. It was just a few days before Rosh Hashanah, and Kremenets was having a market day. The peasants from the surrounding villages came to town to sell their products. The narrow streets were filled with peasant wagons. You could hear the neighing of the horses. On market day, “Sore, daughter of goodness,” went out in the street with an envelope to collect money for the needy for the holiday. We put my daughter, then a young child, into the only functioning summer ORT school. My wife, my three JTA co-workers, and I went to the Romanian consulate to get a transit visa. My son, then a teenager, was left at home among the Kamenitskis[10]. Suddenly, squadrons of German warplanes appeared in the clear skies and attacked the defenseless city with gunfire and firebombs. It became a wild stampede of men and horses. The cries of the wounded reached into the skies. Aside from the bombs, there lurked the danger of collapsing walls and fire. We hid between the walls and waited out the bombs.

When the German demolishers left and we could go out into the street, we saw the terrifying and murderous picture for ourselves: blood from humans, horses, and cattle ran together in the city's gutters. Close to a hundred people were murdered that day, and their bodies were scattered in the streets. Fire and flame raged everywhere. We headed in the direction of the Kremenetskis' house. There we came upon a tragic and at the same time heroic scene. A bomb had exploded next to the Kremenetskis' house and had torn out the steps leading to their home on the first floor. My son jumped out of the house, which was on the verge of collapsing, through a window. Our hosts and generous providers were themselves left without a roof over their heads. The holy Azriel Kremenetski was standing on the street and carrying out salvage operations.

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Our greatest concern then was for our daughter. We didn't know the way to the local school. We also didn't know whether the school had been hit by a German bomb. We had grave doubts. The danger of another German air attack renewed with every minute. A Christian, a friend of the Kamenitskis, came and asked us to go with him to his house, far from the center, to avoid the bombing. Kamenetski repeated that he would send a special messenger for our child. We were shown to the house of the friendly Christian, when an air raid alarm sounded. As we were in the cellar, we heard a whimpering cry of Mama! Mama! It was our daughter, who had fought her way to the Kamenitskis' house and began to whimper when she didn't find us there. The Kamenitskis had, however, quickly engaged a messenger and told him to bring the child to where we were.

In my wanderings around the ruined, desolated Poland of September 1939, I observed tragedies in which parents lost their young children and never found them again. Because of these observations, I will never forget the saintly Azriel and Sore Kremenetski, who found our child. My daughter is now in Israel and is an English language teacher in the Rishon Letsion high school.

In great danger, I struggled for an outside chance to get out. I knew that the Polish government and the diplomatic corps had that very day abandoned Kremenets for Rumania. We journalists and foreign correspondents were advised to find our own way out. But no transportation was provided for us.

Time was short. Night was about to fall, and we had to leave the city quickly. Our unforgettable friend Rozenberg once again came to our aid. He wanted my group to go immediately to a friend of his who lived outside the city, and to leave from there during the night. My fellow journalists knew that I had a way to get out of the city and pleaded with me to save them as well. We were a group of 18. The ever-energetic and committed Rozenberg had arranged for four peasant wagons to take us away the town of Lerkh[11], 10 kilometers from Kremenets. My wife and I went to the Kremenetskis'. Both of them, the unforgettable Azriel and Sonye, were again engaged with caravans of assistance operations. Kremenetski wanted us to go into his house with a designated man to retrieve our few wretched things. That, however, was not possible, because the home was full of bricks and ordnance that had landed in it. Sonye proposed that we take her daughter Babe's coat for our daughter because the night was already a cold one. Resistance to the offer was futile. We parted from the noble people, Azriel Kremenetski and his Sonye, in these sheer tragic circumstances and a depressed mood.

[Page 25]

Their daughter Babe was not there. We made a solemn promise to return to Kremenets to visit them in better times. Sadly, very sadly, such a time never came.

When we came to the designated location of Rozenberg's friend, we received some very bad news. The peasant who was to come with the wagons did not show up. The situation was murky. In the cramped house where we found ourselves, there wasn't even a place to stand. However, our savior and helper, friend Rozenberg, did not rest. Before long, he had mobilized Jewish drivers with four wagons. Rozenberg had gotten the drivers to commit to bringing us to the Jewish leader in the town and getting him to find drivers to take us further. We could not travel in the daytime because the Germans systematically bombed the roads.

My hand shook as I spoke with Rozenberg, that earnest, brave, Jewish man of the people. All that he did for me, a mere Jewish writer, was so straightforward and self-evident for him that he saw it as a duty, or a pure honor, for which he actually needed to thank me. When I write these lines about the noble Kremenets Jews I met in my short sojourn in the city – the neighborly owners of the beer hall, the intelligent, noble Kremenetski family, the community leader, the noble Christian stranger who took us into his home and later, later, the unforgettable friend Rozenberg – when I remember these holy people, one knows first how great is our loss that we no longer have the holy community of Kremenets and their noble, holy Jews.

Praised are their unforgettable names.

Sanctified is their gratitude, remember …

Mendel Mozes


Editor's Notes:

  1. Krigi may be Kruki, located at 50°05' N 25°26' E, 12.6 miles W of Kremenets. I was unable to determine a possible location for Mokri [Ed.] Return
  2. Shumsk (Shums'k) is at 50°07' N 26°07' E, 17.8 miles E of Kremenets. [Ed.] Return
  3. We have printed Yosef Bergman's article as he wrote it. [Ed.] Return
  4. The two survivors' accounts are in Pinkas Kremenets (ed. A. Stein, Tel Aviv: 1954), pp. 234-263. For an English translation, see http://www.jewishgen.org/Yizkor/kremenets/kremenets.html. “Bela” Teper-Kaplan probably refers to Tova Teper-Kaplan, as she is called in booklet 2 and in Pinkas Kremenets [Ed.] Return
  5. Radzivilov, now called Radyvyliv, is at 50°08' N 25°15' E, 20.8 miles W of Kremenets. Brody is at 50°05' N 25°09' E, 25.1 miles W of Kremenets. Lemberg, now known as L'viv, is at 49°50' N 24°00' E, 78.4 miles WSW of Kremenets. [Ed.] Return
  6. “University of Berkeley” should read “University of California at Berkeley.” [Ed.] Return
  7. Yeda Am is the journal of the Israeli Folklore Society. [Ed.] Return
  8. 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
  9. Di Yiddishe Tsaytung was a Buenos Aires-based Yiddish language newspaper. [Ed.] Return
  10. The name “Kamenitski” here and on the following pages probably results from a typographical error and should read “Kremenetski.” [Ed.] Return
  11. The town of Lerkh (lamed-ayin-resh-khaf) has not been identified. [Ed.] Return

 

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