|Eli Reznik's Family||6|
|Organization's First Hanukkah Party||8|
|The Water Carrier||32|
|The Great Synagogue in Shumsk||40|
|Mordekhay Dagan (Korin)||46|
|Simcha Ginosar (Gintsburg)||49|
|Lieutenant Colonel Mordekhay (Bishbeyn) Barmor||50|
|Akerman, Ikhel||37, 38|
|Akerman, Moshe||37, 38|
|Akerman, Yankel||37, 38|
|Argaman, Avraham||ii, 62|
|Avidar, Yosef||54, 60|
|Ayzen, Leyb||10, 54|
|Barmor, Mordekhay (Motke), Lt. Col. (see also Bishbeyn; Bar-Mor)||50-51|
|Barmor*, Sara (see also Bar-Mor)||51, 54, 61|
|Belohus, Shmuel (Mila)||48|
|Ben David, Yehuda||51|
|Ben-Yehuda*, Ester (Fira) (née Leviten)||54|
|Berele the Water Carrier||30-32|
|Berenshteyn* (wife of Tsvi)||65|
|Berenshteyn, Chayim Tsvi||56|
|Berenshteyn, Tsvi||ii, 54, 58, 65|
|Bernshteyn, Riva||8 (photo)|
|Binyamin the Long||40|
|Bishbeyn, Mordekhay (Motke; see also Barmor, Mordekhay)||50-51|
|Brik, Luzer||8 (photo)|
|Bruce (husband of Dina, granddaughter of David Rapoport)||54|
|Dagan, Mordekhay (see also Korin)||46-47|
|Desser, Max||ii, 65|
|Dina (granddaughter of David Rapoport)||54|
|Efrus (wife of Poznanski)||8 (photo)|
|Egozi*, Bilka (née Senderovits)||54|
|Eki (the tailor)||22|
|Engelman, Avraham Duvid||55|
|Engelman*, Beba (née Nudel)||55|
|Eydelman, Klara||8 (photo), 54|
|Fayer*, Chana||43, 57, 59, 65|
|Fayer, Chayim||10, 43, 57, 58, 59, 65|
|Feldman, Dora||8 (photo)|
|Fishman*, Ester (née Rosenberg)||56|
|Fishman, Gitil Duvidovna||41|
|Gilboa, Menuche, Dr.||1|
|Gindis (ORT School administrator)||41|
|Ginosar, Simche (see also Gintsburg)||49-50|
|Gintsburg, Simche (see also Ginosar)||49-50|
|Gintsburg, Pinchas||20, 49|
|Golberg, Betsalel (Tsalik)||52, 65|
|Golberg, Yehoshue||ii, 42, 60, 61, 65, 65|
|Golcher, Moshe||60, 62|
|Gold, Doris B.||48, 64|
|Goldenberg*, Chana||8 (photo), 29|
|Goldenberg, Eliyahu||8 (photo)|
|Goldenberg, Manus||ii, 8 (photo), 9, 10, 15, 20, 27, 29, 35, 48, 49, 50|
|Goldshteyn*, Rivke (née Reznik)||6, 6 (photo)|
|Goldshteyn, Yitschak||6, 6 (photo)|
|Goltsberg, Leya||8 (photo)|
|Goltsberg, Yitschak||8 (photo)|
|Goren, Betsalel (see also Gorodiner, Alter)||ii, 21, 22, 30, 37, 46|
|Gorodiner, Alter (see also Goren, Betsalel)||ii, 21, 22, 30, 37, 46|
|Gorodiner, Chave||21, 22|
|Grinshtok, Fedor Timopirovits||24-26|
|Gurvits, Moti (see also Mezhe, Moti)||39|
|Gurvits, Yetske (see also Mezhe, Yetske)||38, 39, 40|
|Hershele (cantor's son)||38|
|Ish-Tov*, Fanya||54, 61, 65|
|Kagan, Tsvi (see also Kohen, Tsvi)||60|
|Kantor, Daniel Max||54|
|Katz, Mordekhay||10, 43, 57, 59, 64|
|Katz,* Tsipora (Tsipa)||10, 36, 37, 43, 57, 59|
|Kaufman, Yehuda (see also Shikhman, Yehuda)||7, 17|
|Kesler, Senya||8 (photo)|
|Klorfayn, Leya||8 (photo)|
|Kogan, William||ii, 64|
|Kohen, Tsvi (see also Kagan, Tsvi)||60|
|Korin, Mordekhay (see also Dagan, Mordekhay)||46-47|
|Kotkovnik*, Gitel||55, 59|
|Kotlir, Leyb||8 (photo)|
|Krementshugski, Moshe||8 (photo)|
|Krementsutski, Moshe (see also Tsur, Moshe)||60|
|Laybel, Yisrael||9, 64|
|Levinzon, Yitschak Ber, R' (RYBL )||1, 18, 41|
|Leviten, Eben Yehuda||62|
|Leviten, Ester (Fira)||54|
|Libman, Moshe||58, 59|
|Livne, Chayim (see also Yokelson, Chayim)||42, 60|
|Manor, Mordekhay Rom||54|
|Manor*, Shoshana (née Bar-Mor)||54|
|Mezhe, Moti (see also Gurvits, Moti)||39|
|Mezhe, Yetske (see also Gurvits, Yetske)||38, 39, 40|
|Mordekhay'le, R'||37, 38|
|Mordish, Y. A.||62, 64, 66|
|Motel (kiosk owner)||42|
|Motele (cantor's son)||38|
|Moti Bochkes"||39, 40|
|Nachichke (wife of Berele the Water Carrier)||31, 32|
|Nadir*, Rachel (née Otiker)||8 (photo), 60|
|Nudel, Chayim||55, 57, 59|
|Nudel*, Feyga||55, 59|
|Ofer, Avraham Boichkes"||39, 40|
|Oks*, Brayne||58, 58|
|Oks, Velvel||57, 58, 59|
|Osovski*, Tsipora (née Galperin)||60|
|Otiker, Rachel||8 (photo), 60|
|Ot-Yakar, Mordekhay||ii, 26, 50, 61|
|Ovadis, Chayim||19, 20|
|Ovadis*, Emelye (née Perlmuter)||19, 20|
|Ovadis family||19, 20|
|Ovadis, Niosha||19, 20, 49|
|Ovadis, Sofia (Sonya)||19, 20, 21|
|Ovelonitsik, Vira Sergeyvina||25|
|Pak* (wife of Moshe)||65|
|Pak, Moshe||43, 44, 64, 65|
|Poltorek, Adalya||8 (photo), 61|
|Poltorek, Chanulya||8 (photo)|
|Popov, Vladimir Aktsivich||26|
|Portnoy, Yitschak||12, 63|
|Poznanski (not given)||8 (photo)|
|Radzivilover, Matityahu (Matus)||15-16, 65|
|Rafalovitsh, Shmuel (see also Tsherepashnik, Shmuel||17, 60|
|Rapoport, David||14, 34, 54, 64|
|Raykh, Aleksander (Senya)||20, 21, 41|
|Raykh*, Sofia (Sonya; née Ovadis)||19, 20, 21|
|Raykh, Yosef||19, 20|
|Reznik, Eliyahu||6, 6 (photo)|
|Reznik*, Rachel||6, 6 (photo)|
|Reznik, Rivke||6, 6 (photo)|
|Rokhel, Yitschak||ii, 8 (photo), 50|
|Rotenberg*, Andzya (née Gorenfeld)||60|
|Rozen, Mendel||37, 38|
|Rozenberg, Chayim||56, 58|
|Rozenberg, Yonatan||54, 60|
|Rubin, Duvid, R'||7|
|Schwartz, Rosaline see also Shvarts, Rachel)||34|
|Shafir*, Chana (Chanulya; née Poltorek)||8 (photo), 61, 65|
|Shafir, Yakov||8 (photo)|
|Sher*, Ester (née Groysblat)||56|
|Sher, Reyzel||58, 64, 65|
|Shikhman, Duvid, R'||7|
|Shikhman, Yehuda (see also Kaufman, Yehuda)||7, 17|
|Shklovin*, Chane (née Perlmuter)||19|
|Shnayder*, Ester||1, 64|
|Shnayder, Moshe||8 (photo)|
|Shnayder, Vulf||9, 64|
|Shvarts, Rachel (see also Schwartz, Rosaline)||34|
|Skolski, Sh.||ii, 1, 20|
|Sorele (daughter of Feynale Reznik)||6|
|Toren*, Dora (née Feldman)||8 (photo)|
|Toren, Dvora||8 (photo)|
|Tsherepashnik, Shmuel (see also Rafalovitsh, Shmuel)||17, 60|
|Tshudnovksi, Bernardo (Berele)||55|
|Tshudnovksi, Katia||55, 64|
|Tshudnovksi, Pinya||55, 58|
|Tshudnovski Getsik, Feyga||58|
|Tsinele (daughter of Berele the water carrier)||31, 21|
|Tsur, Moshe (see also Krementsutski, Moshe)||60|
|Tsur, Leya (née Lifshits)||60|
|Vakman, Yitschak||27, 64|
|Valkun*, Pola (née Kucher)||60|
|Vaysman, Sh.||ii, 62|
|Vulf (ORT School janitor)||42|
|Yechezkel (husband of Feynale Reznik)||6|
|Yokelson, Chayim (see also Livne, Chayim)||42|
|Yosl (uncle of Tsipe Katz)||36|
|Zats*, Klara (née Eydelman)||8 (photo), 54, 61|
|Zidli Yisrael Meirs||40|
This booklet, number 17, is the second booklet published on behalf of the joint Organization of Kremenets and Shumsk Emigrants. As of now, we can say that the merger has been successful. Shumsk emigrants participate in board meetings and other activities. This booklet reflects the pasts of Shumsk and Kremenets side by side, and the scope of this booklet is therefore wider than that of previous booklets.
In November 1979, member Zev Shnayder and his wife Ester, residents of Detroit in the United States, came to visit us. Member Shnayder introduced the idea of creating a library of Enlightenment literature named after RYBL (R' Yitschak Ber Levinzon). He is well versed in RYBL's books, and every once in a while he publishes studies on this subject in Yiddish and Hebrew. He is also encouraging us to develop the RYBL Library. The Katz Institute gave a festive dinner in their honor in the Tel Aviv University cafeteria, and a reception on behalf of our organization took place at our clubhouse, with board members and their guests participating in this festive evening. A number of new ideas emerged from these meetings, and a few have already borne results. We agreed to send a flier to universities in the United States asking them to send us any duplicate copies of Enlightenment literature books. The flier has already been sent to a list of universities provided by member Shnayder. We may see some results. In addition, it was suggested that over time we produce a new book about the town of Kremenets and its vicinity, as well as a memorial book for Shumsk. This book would be based on Pinkas Kremenets, published in Israel in 1954, and the Kremenets book published in Argentina. The basis for the book will be material in the 17 Voice of Kremenets Emigrants booklets. In a meeting at the university, member Shnayder brought up an original idea, which is a study of RYBL's innovations and the intellectuals in Germany.
Member Shnayder is co-editor with the author Singalovski of Our Own World, a literary periodical published in New York. In previous booklets, we printed articles by member Shnayder about Moshe Hes and Chayim Grade, and also poems by Duvid Hofshteyn, of blessed memory (murdered by the Soviets in 1952). He was the husband of Feyga Biberman, a Kremenets native who now lives in Tel Aviv.
Recently, two books were published with the aid of our scholarship fund: (1) Don't Scorn a Thief, edited by Dr. Menucha Gilboa, and (2) poetry by Aharon Perets of Tunisia, edited by Mrs. Mikhal Sheref.
The scholarship fund donated I£35,000 and 20,000, respectively. The rest was donated by the Katz Institute of Tel Aviv University. In the near future, a book in memory of member Shnayder's mother will be published. He has donated $500 for this purpose. The rest will be covered by the scholarship fund. The name of the book hasn't yet been determined. Member Skolski is preparing an introduction for both books, which will be printed in booklet 18.
The gross amount in the scholarship fund is I£380,000. From that, I£70,000 can be awarded in prizes. The two amounts mentioned above are only an estimate. The exact amount will be announced by the university's finance department in October.
A loving memento to our dear daughter Feynale, may you live long, my dear son-in-law Yechezkel, may he live long, and their beloved and sweet daughter, Sorele, may you live long, from your parents, Eliyahu and Rachel Reznik, and from your sister, brother-in-law, and their loving son, Rivka and Yitschak Goldshteyn, Sukkot eve 5697, November 11, 1937, here in Kremenets.
This dedication, beautifully written by Eli Reznik on the back of the photo, reveals an educated man in the company of some of his family members. For many years, he was an active member of the Zionist committee, and when he was young, he was a private Yiddish tutor. He attended the Hasidic Synagogue. We remember well that, thanks to him, great joy prevailed there during Simchat Torah. He led the older Jews in energetic dancing after each circuit. They all met a horrible death, along with all of Kremenets' Jews. May their souls be bound in the bond of everlasting life.
Sitting with his back to us: Moshe Krementshugski. Second row, left to right: Velberg, Poznanski, of blessed memory; Yakov Shafir, of blessed memory; narrator and actor Eliyahu Goldenberg, of blessed memory, who participated in the party as an emigrant from the nearby town of Bilozorka and contributed greatly to the evening's program; Manus Goldenberg; Yitschak Rokhel; Chana Goldenberg; Poznanski's wife (of the Efrus family), of blessed memory; Leya Goltsberg; Klara Zats (of the Eydelman family).
Third row, left to right: standing next to the pillar: Riva Bernshteyn, of blessed memory; Senya Kesler; Rachel Nadir (Otiker).
Sitting: Adalya Poltorek; Leya Klorfayn; Chanulya Shafir (Poltorek); Moshe Shnayder, of blessed memory; Yitschak Goltsberg.
Standing: Dora Toren (Feldman); Leyb Kotlir, of blessed memory; behind him, Dvore Toren.
Sitting: Luzer Brik, of blessed memory
It is 1947. Thousands of Jewish survivors from Eastern European countries, mostly from the Soviet Union, gather in camps in Germany organized by the U.S. Army. Most of the Jews yearn to immigrate to Israel, but the gates to the country are closed, apart from a small limited number of immigration certificates granted by the Mandate authorities in the Land.
The Ha'apala institutions decided to increase the pace of immigration, and, indeed, in 1947 the number of illegal immigrants doubled. At the end of 1946, the institutions purchased a riverboat called President Warfield. The ship was 30 years old and was intended for short journeys. Its upper part (three stories) was made of wood, and under normal conditions, there was enough space for 500 people. During World War II, the ship was loaned to the British and crossed the ocean for the first time. After the war, it was returned to the United States and sold by its owners for scrap. The Ha'apala institutions rescued it from the scrap yard.
After it was repaired and fitted for its new purpose, and after a difficult and troublesome journey, the ship arrived in France, where the illegal immigrants were to board ship.
France was only a transit station for immigration, so there were not enough emigrants there for the ship, and they had to be brought from Germany. Through indirect measures, the institutions succeeded in obtaining an entry permit from the French government for 1,700 people from Germany (allegedly workers). The institution used this permit to bring 4,500 people to France, the number of immigrants that Exodus from Europe was planning to take. Here is how it was done. The official transport was transferred by train with the original permit, under the supervision of the American army. At the same time, using a photocopy of the original permit, illegal transports traveled by truck under the supervision of institution agents dressed as American soldiers. The ruse worked surely not easily or entirely smoothly, but in the end, all the transports arrived in France and settled near the port of Marseille. On July 11, 1947, after the people and documents had been prepared, the immigrants were taken to the ship. On the same day, there was a transportation strike in France, but the strike organizers gave the truck drivers a special permit to take us to the ship.
From the moment the ship reached the Mediterranean Sea, it was under the watchful eye of the British intelligence service, which understood its purpose. The British authorities applied great pressure on the Italians and afterward on the French not to let the ship leave port. And indeed, after the immigrants boarded the ship, the British obtained a departure ban from the French authorities that denied the ship the use of a pilot boat and a tugboat, without which you can't leave the port. The situation was at a dead end. When navigator privately hired for an astronomical price didn't show up, the ship supervisor (from the Haganah) and captain (a Palmach man) decided to take the ship out on their own, a dangerous undertaking that had never been attempted before. At dawn, the cables were cut, and the ship tried to sail. Unfortunately, the ship ran into a sandbar as it left port. Just when we thought the attempt to leave had failed, the ship's crew managed to remove it from the sandbar through a variety of maneuvers, and the ship sailed for the open sea. We breathed sighs of relief we were on our way to the Land.
There were 4,515 people on the ship: 1,561 men, 1,282 women (dozens in their last months of pregnancy), 655 children, and 1,017 teenagers. Around a third of the illegal immigrants were members of kibbutz and youth movements. As I found out later, five people from Kremenets were on the ship: Shmuel Gun, of blessed memory; Meir Goltser and his future wife, Mindel; Chinya; and me.
The ship was overcrowded. Pregnant women, and sick people who were not in the ship's hospital, were housed in cabins. The rest of the immigrants were organized on wooden bunks built in three levels. To reach your sleeping space, you had to crawl inside and lie side by side, and it was impossible to sit. Those without a bunk slept on the deck.
The people on the ship were organized into groups of 30. The group leaders took care of food, water, and duty rotations and kept order. In spite of the overcrowding, daily life was organized. People meticulously obeyed orders delivered through loudspeakers and through a newsletter published in various languages by the leaders and pasted on the walls.
Hundreds suffered from seasickness and lack of air. Due to lack of space, the groups took turns climbing up on deck. Trust in the Haganah people, and the belief that in a week we would reach the Land, banished difficulties and suffering from our minds. To make our time enjoyable, stories about the Land and Hebrew songs were broadcast over the loudspeakers.
From the moment we left port, a British destroyer followed us, and in time, five additional destroyers joined it.
As it was common on Ha'apala ships, we prepared to defend ourselves if the British attacked us when we reached the Land of Israel's territorial waters. The deck was divided into sections, and each section was assigned to a group, which had to defend it when the occasion arose. Potatoes, canned goods, bottles, and so on were prepared as weapons. We didn't have firearms and weren't allowed to use them.
The appointed plan was to break into the five to seven miles of territorial waters by taking advantage of the ship's speed and the fact that it did not sit deep in the water. For that reason, it could approach to the shore, unlike destroyers, which were heavy and sat deep in water. In coordination with the Ha'apala leadership, the ship was supposed to arrive on the coast of Bat Yam or Tel Aviv.
At night, from July 17 to July 18, British destroyers attacked us 25 miles from the shore, outside the territorial waters and against international law. The attack lasted around two hours. The soldiers used gas and opened fire on us. From the moment the soldiers climbed on board, they hit us with their clubs. We had three casualties, and many people were wounded. Because of the destroyers' forward attack, the ship's outer layer broke, water entered, and we were in danger of sinking. Some of the wounded needed emergency medical care. The ship commander therefore decided to stop defending the ship and follow the British order to sail to Haifa. If not for the attack outside territorial waters, the two hours of struggle would have been enough for us to reach the shores of the Land, where a large crowd of residents was waiting for us.
The British suffered casualties. A number were pushed or thrown into the sea, and others were wounded or taken prisoner. We arrived in Haifa exhausted, tired, and disappointed by our failure to break our way in. To prevent resistance, the British expressed sorrow that they couldn't let us stay in the Land and were forced to transfer us temporarily to Cyprus. Later, we realized that this was a lie.
After a careful search of each person, we were transferred to three deportation ships. Our personal items, 10 kilograms each that we were allowed to take on board the Exodus from Europe, were taken from us and transferred to the ships. After 24 hours of sailing, we had already realized that our destination was not Cyprus, but it was not clear where they were taking us. Only sometime later were we informed that they were taking us back to France.
Translated from Polish by Sh. S.
The house called the Perlmuter House in Kremenets was located on a street that, according to my memory had the following names, in this order: Pochetova, Direktorska, and later on, Pieratski Street. The oldest part of the two-story white house with colonnade pillars had been built at the end of the 18th century, and the other part, sometime later. The yard was paved with large, flat stones covered with weeds. It was separated from the street by a very old, partially broken wall made out of beautiful pillars not big ones topped with crowns. At the end of the 1930s, the wall was replaced by a wooden fence. A Ukrainian school was located across the street. A short distance from there, across from the foothills, stood a three-story yellow building the walls of the state's Jewish Primary School. Behind the house was a large sprawling garden, and on the other side you could see the mountain and the forest. Later on, a large portion of that garden was sold to Hemniuk the engineer, who built himself a modern villa there.
The house and garden were my great-grandfather Beydish Perlmuter's estate. I remember him as an 80-year-old man still full of energy and wisdom. He died after a short illness because he was not able to accept the death of his wife, who was two years younger than he was. They had four children: Emelya Ovadis, my grandmother, and Chana Shklovin, a doctor with a great personality, great knowledge, and a strong character. Ruven was a mathematician by education who tried his luck in agriculture, of course without success; when he gave up, he taught mathematics, beginning in 1939. He had two sons my childhood friends. The youngest daughter of the Perlmuter couple, Sonya, finished her studies in chemistry but didn't work in her profession. In 1928, she married a wheat merchant, a man from Lvov. They had two wonderful children.
Everyone I have mentioned was murdered by the Nazis. According to information that reached me in various ways, I know that my Aunt Chana, who was called Shklovina by the family, fed poison to her granddaughter and then committed suicide. Her daughter, Sheyne, and one of my cousins were murdered when they tried to bring a little food to my parents, who had been arrested earlier. My mother's family, members of the Ovadis family, suffered a great loss even before the war. Of their four sons, one fell during the civil war, fighting on the side of the revolution, and the second, Niosha, an honor student and talented musician, drowned in Shumsk a few days after he returned from the conservatory with an award. The third, Yosef, served as a regiment commander in the Red Army and even fought in Spain during the civil war after the October revolution. During World War II, he directed the foreign bureau of TASS and held the rank of general. At the beginning of the 1950s, he retired after losing grace with the authorities and later died. He had two daughters. To my great remorse, I don't keep in touch with them. My last uncle, Mitya, is a pensioner who lives in Belgium. He was an active member of the Belgian underground during the war and received a number of Belgian and Russian decorations for saving Russian prisoners of war.
My parents and their elderly parents perished in Kremenets. My parents were shot to death together with hundreds of Jewish intellectuals in August 1941, a year before the ghetto was liquidated. My grandfather died in the ghetto, and my grandmother died there with the others. I want to stop for a while and talk about these images, which are my perpetual light and will always live within me. My grandfather, Chayim Ovadis, owned a flourmill that he later leased. His interests were varied. First of all, he was very active in the ORT network in Kremenets and for many years served as the chairman of the organization. He drew my father, of blessed memory, to the same work, and for a period of time, he was the principal of the ORT School. In addition, my grandfather was blessed with a well-developed musical ear. He played the piano well, and his favorite composer was Chopin. During the summer, my grandfather rose before dawn and worked in his garden for a few hours. I loved helping him in the garden, and my love of nature, which has accompanied me all through my life, may have developed there.
The soul of our home and its main support was my grandmother, Emelya Ovadis. She had an innately cultured personality and a broad knowledge of world literature. Everyone loved her, including her son-in-law, her daughter's husband my father. His mother died when he was young, and Grandma Ovadis was his loving mother. She never said, I don't have time for that. She ran the household, read a lot, and solved crossword puzzles in four languages with great skill. She was a tremendous influence on the family.
In general, I remember our home as a peaceful oasis. I mostly enjoyed the evenings, when my parents returned home from work. My mother Sofia (Sonya) was a dentist. My father, Aleksander Raykh, was called Senya by everyone. He was not only my father. He was a friend and a companion: the best of my friends and a joyful companion on ski and sailing trips. We read and debated together, and I had no secrets from him. He never tried to force his opinions or will on me. All of my life, I have tried to emulate him, his manner, his personal life, and his attitude toward others in his educational work.
He and my mother were a loving and perfectly matched couple.
My parents were shot to death in August 1941 with the others in a ravine not far from the old coalmine. I was never able to reconcile with that fact, and their loving, sacred memory will always stay with me.
As for me, at the end of 1941, I was in the Soviet Army, working my way up from private to commander of an infantry unit. I was wounded three times and received commendations. After the war, I got married, finished my studies at the university, and served as a school principal in Lvov. My wife was also a teacher. In 1959, we moved to Poland, where we also worked in a school. In 1969, due to the unbearable living conditions for Jews in Poland, we left for Sweden, which received us warmly. My wife and I are librarians at the University of Lund library. We have an only son, married, who was named Aleksander in memory of my father. He is an electrical engineer. His wife is the daughter of an established Jewish family in Sweden. Her father is a psychologist, she is active in the Zionist movement, and all of us love her very much.
It is difficult to condense the history of my whole family into three pages. This is a history of people who worked, whose lives were blessed and useful, and who fell victim to the terrible crime of genocide that did not receive an appropriate response from those who could have helped us.
The history of my family is a small strand in the web of our nation's suffering and I think that this strand should not be forgotten, either.
For a long time, I have wanted to describe our town's most outstanding family, the Ovadis family, in the booklet. I lacked a number of facts, and I was hoping to get them from a surviving family member. Here, Yozik (Yosef) Raykh, grandson of the head of the family, Chayim Ovadis, of blessed memory, precedes me, and for that he will be blessed. I want to add a few details to Yozik's article.
Niosha Ovadis, the youngest of the four Ovadis sons, was my classmate, and I loved and admired him. In Voice of Kremenets Emigrants, booklet 15, page 29, in my article At the Graves of My Drowned Friends I told about the tragic death of my best friends: Niosha, Avrasha Rozenfeld, and Pinchas Gintsburg, of blessed memory. I also gave a few details about Niosha's personality. I was a close friend of the Ovadis family. I met their daughter, Sonya, who was young, impressive, blessed with talent, and the future wife of Senya Raykh. I met Senya in Avrasha's home, and I was very fortunate to spend time with him, mostly on long hikes around the local farms during our summer vacation.
When the second group of Third Immigration pioneers was organized in our town, I was a member. When Senya found out, he said he wanted to join the group.
In the technical school in Petrograd where he studied, he became friendly with Pinchas Rotenberg and was greatly influenced by him. When World War II broke out, Senya was drafted into the engineering corps, with his main work in road construction. At the end of the war, he brought home a large steamroller that his military unit had used. He wanted to bring this steamroller with him to the Land of Israel. Senya knew how much his profession was needed there, and with the help of his friend Pinchas Rotenberg, he hoped to find a place in the country. But our plans did not work. Senya's marriage to Sonya brought an end to his aspirations, and my enlistment in the Polish army postponed my immigration to the Land for a number of years.
Evening. It's dark outside. Inside, the house has only one room; its walls are faded and crooked, and light comes from a small kerosene lamp. Now it's lit, warm and pleasant. The children's faces are calm. They express enjoyment and satisfaction. Why? The smell of baking fills the room, a tempting smell that attracts the heart and stimulates the senses and the appetite, the smell of bread baking in the oven, rye bread. Mother is working hard. She kneaded the dough into a mound, the dough rose, and then she made the round loaves of bread, warmed the oven, roasted potatoes, and even fried latkes. What a joy for the children. Yes. This was before noon. Now it's early evening. The round loaves of bread have baked in the oven, and the pleasant smell that stimulates and tempts the appetite to taste the rye bread brings a celebratory mood, satisfaction, and peace of mind. We know that very soon mother will take the warm loaves out of the oven. Who can express the feelings in our heart in those moments? Mother opens the oven and takes the bread out, and its warmth spreads throughout the room. The glow of the lamplight shines on the loaves, some smooth and some with rough cracks. My sister Chava can't hold it any longer, and she goes up to the bread and kisses one of its cracks. How good and tasty this end is when spread with garlic and even tastier spread with goose fat and rubbed with garlic. Stupid, my brother Yitschak says in good-humoredly, you kiss bread? You eat bread. You love and eat the bread, and what you love, you also kiss. And what's better than bread? There's nothing better in the world than bread. We get tired of daily matters, but not of eating bread. Yes, in their short lives our children haven't come across anything more important than bread. When there's bread in the house, there's life and happiness. When there's no bread, there's sadness and hunger. And what do we actually need to add to bread in order to bring happiness to this house? A simple matter, a slice of bread in the morning with half a rotten apple that my mother buys cheaply from the apple seller after yesterday's fruit is sorted in her cellar. And for lunch, a slice of bread with an unpeeled potato, and if we have herring, it's a meal fit for a king. And in the evening, there's happiness in the house if a few coins are found to buy a few sugar cubes and kerosene for the lamp. And then we boil water in the samovar, which makes a buzzing sound; its steam adds warmth to the room. The children drink sweet tea and eat bread. All this is good and enjoyable when a sack of rye flour, which Yakov Golikhen gave my father in honor of his daughter's marriage, stands in the corner. It's pity that Mr. Yakov doesn't have a lot of daughters and weddings. Even the mice share the flour with us, taking their share every night from the sack in the corner. Sometimes, they dare to come to the sack during the day, but only on special occasions, not every day. Nevertheless, the flour will last us for five consecutive weeks, but only if we're careful, meaning that we give the bread to the children by the piece, not according to their desire and appetite. Here is how it's divided.
Each loaf is sliced in half. The big middle slice is cut into two pieces and folded into a sandwich. During times of plenty, there's something inside, and during times of nothing, there's nothing inside. In both situations, this is our portion from breakfast to noon. A slice of bread from the end of the loaf is only half a portion; both ends make a full portion.
I'm an apprentice to a tailor who is not only a tailor but also an idealistic man, a socialist who stands for equality and for an equal share of nature's gifts for owners and the working man. He obeys the rules of equality every day. I'm a witness when I arrive in the morning with my dry sandwich. After my good morning, the first question is, why didn't you come earlier? I'm already working while he's still dressing, washing, and shaving. And when there's no water left in the barrel, I bring more from the well. His breakfast, according to the rules of equality, is bread and butter, an omelet, and tea. I save my dry sandwich. At this time, the tailor's wife goes to the market, and the tailor goes to the fabric store. Lying in the cupboard is a loaf of fresh bread from the bakery that they just ate, and its smell is really intoxicating. My heart is drawn to the cupboard and to the bread, maybe just a small slice. A small slice will be enough to silence my great hunger and increase my breakfast. But no, stealing, even stealing bread, is forbidden. Why was bread created? Was it created to silence a person's hunger? And who am I? Not God's creation? I'm hungry. I get up to walk to the cupboard, but return and sit down. How can I take something that's not mine? I sew quickly and nervously. I want to forget the bread, but the smell is in the air, begging me to taste and enjoy. I can't take it anymore. I get closer to the cupboard and pull the door open, its creaking scaring me. What? I'm going to steal; stop it! I return to my sewing. My senses are getting duller. I can't think. What am I am doing? Did I lose consciousness? No I'm alive. I'm awake. I'm eating bread from the homeowner's cupboard. I chew it, I swallow it, it makes me stronger, I'm awake, and I'm strong. The tailor returns and sits down to sew. He's sewing, and I'm sewing. He's eating breakfast, and I've eaten breakfast. This is equality, isn't it? He doesn't like to sew, but he has no choice but to do it. He'd rather see his friends and talk about the upcoming world revolution, the duty of the working man and his rewards after the revolution. And when he doesn't have friends available, he educates me about the arrival of the socialist-communist regime. I ask him, is there going to be enough bread to satisfy everyone? Certainly. And clothes and shoes for everyone? Your questions are stupid, this is our holy objective, and this is our war against the rotten, unjust capitalist regime. The revolution will solve all these distortions. I think quietly: we're both fighting the same war. He's sewing clothes for the merchants and clerks of the Polish regime that exploit and deprive the working man. He has an unlimited amount of bread. The fact is, I steal a slice of bread from them every day, and they don't know. He and his family have clothes to wear and shoes on their feet. They eat meat for lunch every day, and I eat a slice of bread with a potato. There's also a difference between their dinner and mine. My shoes are torn and tattered, and my clothes are patched. He's sewing himself a jacket so he can attend the Polish official's parties, because he likes parties. Both of us are socialists, both of us want a proletarian regime, both of us are waiting for the revolution. He's working for the exploiters, and I work for the socialists. Then why does he have an unlimited amount of bread? And me, I also have an advantage. No one can enjoy the taste of the slice of bread from his cupboard except me. Passover is approaching, and the workload increases. We sew clothes for the Passover holiday. I arrive at work before dawn. Why didn't you come earlier? is the question that greets me. I finish my work after midnight. Could you work a little longer? It won't hurt you. Day by day, I get weaker. I doze off from lack food and sleep, without wanting to, when I stitch by hand next to the table and not on the sewing machine.
The homeowner has already caught me a number of times and remarked about it. I can't overcome this weakness. Here's what happens late one evening. He wakes me up with a strong, rude shake. You get paid for working, not sleeping. I wake up confused, unable to control myself. I throw the garment I'm holding on the floor. Enough, I don't want any more, pay me what you owe me, and I'm leaving. Surprised by my reaction, he says, Leave, but you don't deserve anything, and I won't pay you the five gold coins I owe you for the week. I stand there for a minute, recover, and say, as a matter of fact, don't pay me, take this money for the bread I stole from you. I stole a slice of bread every day. Now I'm paying my debt, and my conscience is clear. As for your conscience, only time will tell.
Years later, my brother, a Holocaust survivor, arrived in the Land. He's a baker, a bread expert. He doesn't tell anyone the secret of the sweet taste of the good bread he bakes. On a dark, rainy autumn evening, we sit in his house eating our evening meal according to our mother's menu: bread that he baked, coated with goose fat and rubbed with garlic, and a small glass of vodka, which my brother got into the habit of drinking during the war years in Russia. Both of us were quiet, thinking the same thoughts: about our mother's home, the family, our sisters, brothers, children, relatives, and the whole town of Shumsk. I saw the sparkle in his eyes when he asked me, Alter (my name from home), do you remember Eki the tailor from our town? Of course, was my answer. Do you know that he abandoned his wife and children and ran away on his own when the Germans entered our town, and that his family was murdered at the hands of the Germans? And what happened to him? I asked. I saved him from death. Here's his story. I ran a bakery in one of the Russian towns. I baked bread, and my bread had the best reputation in town, mostly among those who served the regime. Once I was walking in one of the town's neighborhoods where most of the refugees gathered. I walked in that area in the hope of finding one of our relatives. One day when I was there, I came across a man lying on the ground. It was not unusual to see people lying sick and swollen from hunger, but in this case, I thought I knew the man, and surely, it was Eki. The only words he could say in his condition were bread, a slice of bread. My brother's eyes filled with tears that choked him, and with difficulty, he said, at that time, I only remembered you, Alter. We understood each other. I couldn't help asking, Did you help him? He nodded his head, yes. We continued to drink vodka, and we were quiet. From a distance, I heard my sister Chava saying, there's nothing better than bread. You eat love and kiss bread. My loving sister, were you rewarded before your death with a merciful slice of bread? There's no answer.
Translated from English by Mordekhay Ot-Yakar, Tel Aviv, Israel
Ivan Elagin, a Ukrainian journalist from Lanovits, near Ternopol, tells the following story.
One beautiful morning in the middle of 1966, I was traveling around Lanovits to write a story for my newspaper about the construction of a block of buildings there. Suddenly, I saw a lonely man standing with his head bowed next to the monument for Nazi victims. His name was Marder, and he told me the following story. During the Nazi occupation, Battalion SS102 was known for the atrocities its members carried out against Jews, Poles, and Ukrainians. A Ukrainian by the name of Fedor Grinshtok, who was born in 1921, belonged to that battalion. After searching through my records all journalists put everything in writing and keep the material for the right time I found the following story told by Mikhail Dobrova, a Ukrainian who has lived in the United States for almost 40 years. After the war, he longed to visit his birthplace, Berezoke, and here is the story Mikhail Dobrova told me.
Today, Fedor Timopirovits Grinshtok lives at 2445 Ridgeway Road, Chicago, Illinois USA. After the war, this same Grinshtok arrived in Chicago, and I helped him find work. At the beginning, we got together every once in a while, but later on we stopped seeing each other because his opinions were not to my liking: 'they were dirty.' And so I stopped showing interest in him. Only after I met Marder and heard his story did I renew my interest in this vile animal, and here is what I found out.
During the war, Battalion SS102 camped in Bialo-Krinitse, a suburb of Kremenets. The battalion was composed of a group of sadists who tortured Jews, Poles, Ukrainians, and Russians. I decided to uncover the crimes that those wicked men carried out. Their atrocities will remain forever in the memories of the local people, who were tortured by the bloodstained hands of the soldiers in Battalion SS102. The battalion was established in 1942, when Soviet forces started their widespread counterattacks, destroying the Fascist armies. Battalion SS102's job was mass destruction of the population mostly Jews and Poles. The members of Battalion SS102 murdered a total of 26,774 people. During my search for witnesses, I came across dozens of people who witnessed that battalion's acts of slaughter and torture and those of Fedor Grinshtok, which he carried out with his own hands.
I refer here the story of Niknor Ostrovski, who had been a soldier in Battalion SS102. Ostrovski was born in Mochovets, near the town of Vishnovits. He was severely punished by the Soviet authorities for his atrocities. Here is what Ostrovski said.
I knew Grinshtok personally. He was famous for his limitless dedication to the Nazi Fascists and was appointed a unit commander. The battalion's main purpose was to murder Jews and Poles. Every once in a while, our lieutenant told us to follow the example of Grinshtok, who burned villages and their residents, shot people, and strangled babies. I knew about the Nazi's deeds, but Battalion SS102's 'beautiful' deeds outdid the worst atrocities I knew and heard about.
On the shores of the River Lerd was a typical Ukrainian village by the name of Molotkis. Today, this village is not like all the others. You don't see trees blooming and loaded with nuts, as you expect to see in every village in the area.
You are likely to see graves scattered throughout the village. We learned about this village's tragedy from eyewitness reports, as I will describe here. At midnight, on April 28, 1943, the village residents were sleeping peacefully. When the first rays of light touched the river Lerd, the early risers realized that their village was surrounded by the soldiers of Battalion SS102. In a matter of minutes, the village was showered with gunfire, and when daylight arrived, the butcher Grinshtok was seen with a Torah in his hands, walking around the village with other people and setting fire to the homes. Then he abducted a small child who was walking around innocently and threw him alive into the village well. The 'action' was finished when the village burned down and 500 of its residents were lying dead.
In Kremenets, Elagin continues, I met a former concentration camp prisoner by the name of Vaysberg. According to Vaysberg, the murderers who committed atrocities in the concentration camp were a man by the name of Vays, aide to the worst murderer of the Third Reich, Miler, and the men of Battalion SS102. In the concentration camp, Vaysberg continues, 13,000 residents were sentenced to death. We did not have names, only numbers, each prisoner and his number. Every day we received a quart of diluted soup and two thin slices of bread, and each day 10-15 men died of hunger. The commanders of the murderous Battalion SS102 selected Yekutski as the location to murder Jews, because it was geographically hidden. A resident of Kremenets, Vira Sergeyvina Ovelonitsik, tells the following story. 'On July 1, 1942, I was not far from Yekutski. Around 8:00 in the morning, Nazi trucks started to arrive, and they began pushing the Jews to the designated location. Everything over there was ready in advance, and a deep pit that had been dug earlier was waiting for its victims. The Jews were pushed into the edge of the pit in groups of four and fell into it after being shot by the battalion's men. One Jewish woman was holding a baby in her arms. A Nazi from the battalion threw the baby alive into the pit after he shot the woman.
Here is another story, told to me by a resident of Vishnivits named Benkovski. 'One day, unit 2 of Battalion SS102 arrived. Grinshtok was among the soldiers. It was prayer time in the local Catholic Church. Grinshtok and 10 other soldiers, armed with axes, broke into the church and cut the worshipers to pieces. The priest also died there. The victims were thrown into excavations dug around the church.
In Vishnivits, I met a family by the name of Rozenboym: the husband, Avraham; his wife, Elizabet; and their son, Munye. Here is the story I heard from them. 'In March 1942, all the Vishnivits Jews were locked inside the ghetto. Our home was on the border of the ghetto. Besides our family, 18 more people lived there. On July 11, 1942, at 5:00 p.m., we heard the sound of trucks approaching. Inside them were battalion members, who quickly ran from home to home, forcefully pulling people out and loading them onto the trucks. Immediately, we entered the bunker we had prepared in advance and hid behind a cupboard. The soldiers broke angrily into the house and started to search, but no one answered their calls. In the end, they found the bunker and forced out the people who were hiding there; Rozenboym's wife and son were able to hide in the kitchen. At nightfall, they left the ghetto and walked to the nearest village, where they found shelter with Ukrainian friends. For two years, they lived in hiding inside a pit dug in the ground, and for all that time they did not see sunlight. The rest of Vishnivits' Jews, around 5,000, were murdered by the Nazis after a hellish torture.'
After the war, Elagin continues, the following events came to my attention. One Saturday in the summer of 1942, the murderers Agar, Miler, and Vays ordered the leaders of the Kremenets Jewish community to collect all the young people and bring them to the town center on the following day. They threatened that those who did not come as ordered would be killed without hesitation by the men of Battalion SS102. When the young people gathered on Sunday, they were ordered to march to the train station outside the town. There they were forced to climb onto trucks that were waiting for them under the threat of the murderers' guns. Here is what Vladimir Aktsivich Popov, who was an eyewitness, said. Grinshtok shot two teenage boys and killed them because they tried to 'escape.' Popov continues with his story: 'In the whole area, in Volin and Belarus, everyone knew Grinshtok's name, and his name aroused terror due to the many horrible acts he ordered and performed with his own hands.' According to Popov, the next event took place in 1943 in the town of Kovel. 'The Nazis sucked the last grain of wheat from the local farmers. For unknown reasons, they could not transfer the wheat to Germany immediately after it was collected. Therefore, the wheat was stored in a warehouse at the train station. The farmers decided to burn the warehouse so the plunder wouldn't be shipped to Germany. And indeed, one night the warehouse was set on fire. Grinshtok endangered his life and at great risk managed to put the fire out on his own. For that, he received a commendation, and every tenth resident of Kovel paid with his life for that fire.
When the Soviet army started its great campaign in 1944, Grinshtok escaped to Marderburg. There, he was drafted into a unit that fought against the maquis, the French resistance that fought the Nazis.
Shepetiskaya, a resident of the town of Bilozorka, who took part in the struggle of the French maquis against the Nazis in France during the war, told me that Grinshtok was sentenced to death by the leaders of maquis, but they were unable to execute the sentence because the killer managed to escape.
Here is how Ivan Elagin ended the story he wrote in May-July 1966. I want everyone to know that whoever is giving that Grinshtok shelter is giving shelter to the murderer of many thousands of innocent people a murderer whose hands are stained with the blood of Jews, Poles, Ukrainians, and Russians, the blood of babies, men and women, young and old.
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Updated 14 Jun 2011 by LA