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The Righteous Gentile

Pioter Budnik and his wife Adela relate

     Adela : In the village of Kaczanovka, which was about 12 kilometers from Podwolocyska, there lived a small Jewish community of about 14 families of which I remember the Blautal, Drimmer, Braun, Crane (Etke Crane of Podwolocyska was their relative), Hirshby, Bein, and our family, the Helreichs. The Jews worked in menial crafts, and agriculture and mainly trade. This was so until the Soviets entered the town in 1939.
     The kindness which Pioter Budnik showed my family had a precedent. During the riots of the Petrola gangs during World War I, Pioter's father risked his life to hide my father, Fishel, from the rioters. Gangs came to Podwolocyska and the surrounding areas from the depths of Ukraine in waves to do harm to the Jews and steal their possessions. When they came into Kaczanovka, my father fled his home through the window and found shelter at Budnik's house. Then, many years afterwards when the anti-Semitism in Poland was on the rise and the "Andaks" set up a Kolko Ronicze, meaning a Farmer's Circle in the village and called for the boycott of all Jewish stores, Budnik continued to buy from the Jews, despite the threats made against him. That was why he was called the "Uncle of the Jews", disrespectfully, of course. But he always answered that he was not afraid and he continued to buy from his Fishel.
     When the war between Russia and Germany broke out, and the German occupation was imminent, Budnik advised my father to take his family and flee to Russia. But we hesitated. We said that the Germans were such a cultured people, we could not believe they would commit genocide! We did not go to the Soviet Union. We said that somehow we would make it through here together.
     Once, it was in 1942, the Germans came to our home and ordered my father to dig a grave next to the well. When my sister and I came home and saw my father and the Germans outside, we fell to the ground and kissed the Germans' feet and begged them not to kill our father. He was spared. Afterward, he broke down and collapsed. He was taken to the hospital in Skalat where he died. My mother was left with two sons and two daughters.
     A short time afterward, the expulsion to Skalat took place. It was October 12, 1942. The Jews of Kacznovka were loaded onto carts with their belongings and taken to the city. Our family, the Fishel family, was driven by Pioter. When we got to Skalat and Pioter saw what was going on, that the Jews were strewn about in the streets, he didn't let us off the cart. He went near a fence and threw our belongings over it, leaving only a blanket. We lay down on the blanket on the cart and he covered us with straw and drove us back to the village through the forest. It was nearly night time.
     Pioter: We came back through the forest, about six kilometers. We were able to get to Kacznovka. We started to think about what we should do. We had to hide the people and we had to eat something warm.
     Adela: We sat in a hideout. After a while, we heard that they were about to open a work camp, and that we must register. The director of the camp was a nice Polish man and he said that they only wanted us to work. But we had to go to the Skalat ghetto to get the documents. My older brother, my sister, and I went to the Judenraat in Skalat and my mother and younger brother stayed in the hideout, because they were not fit to work. They hid with a Polish family and Pioter brought them , and the Polish family, food. He also paid the Polish family money, because they couldn't get along without it.
     We got to Skalat and we got the necessary permits. I traveled from there with the camp director and slept over at his home that night. The others stayed in Skalat. The next day I went to Skalat with the camp director and his daughter to get workers from among the Jews who were registered. But just then there was a mass execution. The Jews were sleeping in the streets, because they had no place to sleep, when they were surrounded and chased out. My sister and brother were among them. They were taken. They were taken to Belzicz. On the way my brother jumped from the train. My sister also jumped, but she did not find my brother. He wasn't found later on, either. He must have been killed. He was older than my sister and younger than me. My little brother had remained in the hideout.
     I returned home to my mother and brother in hiding. Afterward, we moved to hide at a Russian priest's house in the barn loft. The priest had a dog who didn't allow anyone to go up to the loft. Sometimes Germans would gather at the priest's house to play cards. They would drink there and have a good time. Pioter intentionally hid us in places where the Germans would come because these places were usually not searched. The priest didn't know about us either. But we were cold at night, so Pioter would take my mother and the boy to sleep in a room at night.
     One day a Ukrainian neighbor noticed them and turned them in. The Germans came and found my mother and brother and took them to Skalat. The Ukrainians killed the Gentile who was hiding them. His wife and children fled.
     I was left alone. We thought the whole family would survive, but I was left alone. Then Pioter hid me in a grave in the cemetery. The Germans searched everywhere, but not there. There it was quiet.
     Everyone was afraid to keep me. I told Pioter: "Don't worry about me, because you will be killed because of me." But Pioter didn't agree with me. He encouraged me and told me that he believed that someone from my family was still alive. And in the end it turned out that my sister, who had jumped from the train, had returned to Skalat. There was another execution there. They gathered the Jews in the synagogue. My mother and my seven year old brother were among them. He saw them shoot the Jews there. Those who remained were taken to the train outside the city. They were taken in trucks. On the way, my mother threw her child out of the truck, into the snow. He survived and wandered around until he got to a village near Kacznovka. The local militia found him there and took him back to Skalat. There, Scheinberg recognized him and put him into the Catholic hospital, because his legs were swollen. A while later he got better and left the hospital.
     My sister, who had jumped from the train, returned to Skalat because she did not know what had become of us. There she found our little brother. It was a quiet time. Then they both came back to Kaczanovka. We were together again. The three of us were together. We searched for the older brother but we could not find him. The Germans must have killed him.
     The three of us sat in the loft. Then the boy got typhoid fever. He had brought it from the Skalat ghetto. My sister got sick as well. Pioter would bring us food. Afterward, it became dangerous to remain in the loft because the Germans were searching every house. They were searching for young Poles to be sent to work in Germany. They would hide from the Germans in the attics and lofts, so the Germans were searching everywhere. They were also searching for food which the farmers were supposed to supply them with, but hid from them. So we could not remain in the loft.
     Pioter became aware of this so he came for us. He led us into the forest near Skalat. My sister had a high fever and could not walk. I myself, was thin as a rail, because not all of the food which Pioter had sent us through the family had reached us.
     In the meantime, Pioter also got typhoid fever. But he did not stay in bed, because he knew that we were his responsibility. Even though he was sick, he would come to us at night and bring us food. Then he came down with meningitis. He was taken to the hospital in Sklat where he was treated by Dr. Sass, a Jewish doctor who saved him.
     Pioter: It was fate. He really got me back on my feet. A friend had come to visit me and asked the doctor to treat me. He said that there were people who needed me. I began to eat and I got better.
     Adela: In the meantime, we were with a woman who threw us out. "Go! Go!", she said, "There's nothing to eat here anyway. We'll all starve. He'll die too. He won't live."
     Pioter had sisters and brother but they didn't know what he was doing for us. Neither did his mother. Only his father knew.
     Pioter: Father had warned me not to tell anyone. He said, "Beware of people!"
     Adela: Once the Germans came to search his home. His father was not there but his mother was. They beat her but she told nothing because she knew nothing. That was why he couldn't hide us at his house for even an hour. They suspected him and followed him. He was "burnt out". He also suffered from headaches when he got out of the hospital. That lasted for about a half a year, until he got back to himself. But during all this time, he kept our secret.
     Pioter: I didn't talk and I didn't squeal. I had to take care of them during those six months. I would go to them at night.
     Adela: When he recovered, he would take us from place to place practically ever night. If we found out that the Germans suspected something, he would have us out of that place before it was searched.
     One of the places was good. The people were nice. But one neighbor, a Ukrainian woman, became suspicious and she went about sniffing everywhere - in the barn, in the house, everywhere. The owner of the house was afraid of her. He had never had anything to do with her before, why was she coming around now? I was also afraid, and I asked Pioter to move us from there. After the war, we found out that the Gilson family had hidden in the bunker at this Ukrainian neighbor's house. They never searched there because the Ukrainian was known to be an anti-Semite. I don't know how these Ukrainians agreed to hide them. Then Pioter spread a rumor that we were hiding in the forest and the woman believed it.
     There were Jews who were hiding in the forest and Pioter would bring them bread. He helped whomever he could, by bringing them bread.
     Getting through each day was extremely difficult. During the summer we would hide in attics, during the winter - in basements. Anytime we'd hear voices, we'd be afraid that the Ukrainian police, or the Polish "Kripo", or the Germans were coming for us. No matter what happened we were afraid. I can't remember how many places we hid in. There were some places where no one would dare to go. Pioter would purposely find us hiding places among notorious anti-Semites so that no one would suspect them. We stayed no longer than two or three days in one place. This went on for eighteen months.
      Pioter: What motivated me to risk my life in order to save these people? We had always lived together with these people. Our parents had lived together peacefully, and we too, the second generation. We worked together and played together. I never gave a thought to the life-threatening dangers which were lurking about. I thought that this was the way it should be. When the little seven year-old boy looked at me, and I could see in his eyes that he wanted to live, he became my brother. I felt that I just must save this child, I must!
     I cannot understand how a civilized person could harm another person. When I would walk through the forest and a little boy would call out "A shtikele broit! (A piece of bread)" I gave them as much as I could. My father had always believed that one must help his fellow man. Any person, regardless of his religion, or what he believed. A person in trouble must be helped.
     Adela: After the Russians liberated us, we came out of hiding and met the three Gilson brothers. Mille and Rachel Hirschklau were still in hiding because they were afraid to come out. We returned home. We looked like skeletons.
     Afterward there was a memorial service for the Jews of Kaczanovka who were killed and buried outside the Christian cemetery. We all went to the memorial service. We brought along three partisans who had nowhere to sleep. Ukrainians had occupied our house, claiming that the Germans had given it to them. At night they came to kill us. We were lucky that the partisans were sleeping over.
     Pioter: I knew him. He was a well-known murderer in Kaczanovka. He screamed to me "Stand up or I'll shoot!" I answered back that this was my wife and these were my children.
      Adela: After this incident we got on the first transport to leave Poland. This was in 1944, before the war had ended. We packed our bags and we went.
     When he got closer to me, his mother went to ask the priest, because she wasn't too pleased that he was involved with a Jewish woman. But his father said, "It makes no difference." Afterward, she came around as did his brothers and sisters. They all left Kaczanovka. The family now lives in Poznan. We lived in Voroslav at first but we would visit them quite often and we always kept in touch.
     Pioter: Why did I come to Israel to "another world"? I didn't see it as anything unusual. There are people who emigrate to other countries. And I went to my land, to my people. I had no problems adjusting. I felt good here from the moment I arrived. In the beginning we stayed with Adela's sister at the kibbutz. But I didn't like kibbutz life and I looked for something else. I got to Kfar Warburg and I said, "This is the place!". I had someone on the ship from the Agricultural Center and he helped me a lot. My goal was agriculture, not kibbutz. I came to the agency to get accepted to Kfar Warburg. The clerk said to me, "You know that it is difficult to work in agriculture in Israel? Are you familiar with the difficulties here?" I looked at him and said, "Did you know the difficulties when you came here? I will know them too." Haviv, the guy from the ship, had recommended me. He told Yigal to accept me into Kfar Warburg.
     We have been living here for thirty years and we love this place.




The Story of Dov (Berko) Lerner

     In memory of my parents Berta and Yitzhak and my sister Mishia and my brothers Yisrael and Ze'ev.
     I remember the narrow streets on which I spent my youth with my friends and how we would sneak into the Sokol Auditorium and watch movies without buying tickets and wander through the chestnut avenues to the train station.
     Every day at four o'clock the train would arrive and bring guests to stay at Wiggler's hotel.
     Every Sunday you could see the crowd heading over to the town stadium, Boisko, grabbing the red "Glug" fruit from the trees on the way, so as not to miss the soccer game between te Ukrainian group and the Polish guard, the K.A.P. We would also stand and watch the game, getting a stone in the back every once in a while from our "fans" such as Gokolski, Brojac, and others.
     On Saturdays we would go out to have fun in the forests of Sopernovka or Mislova or we would go visit our friends at the Zionist training centers in the city or in the villages.
     Today the streets are empty, there are no Jews in that town.

     The Germans got our family in Podhaitze, where we had our flour mill. During the first days of the occupation, my father and I were arrested. They locked us in the house of the Ukrainian leader of the A.N.N. organization. On the night of our arrest, the Germans held a great party and we took advantage of this to escape through the chimney. We immediately went to Sosnova, to a friend of my father's, who had a large farm. My father used to do business with him before the war.
     I would like to mention another leader of the A.N.N., the priest Homniczki, who hid at our flour mill while the Soviets occupied our area. He promised to pay us back for our help. When he heard of our arrest, he made sure that the rest of the family which was left at home, was safe. He even offered to hide us in a small church in town. But my father was afraid that he would change his mind and turn us into the Germans so he devised another plan.
     We stayed at the farm for about a year, working, but then my father's friend became afraid of the Germans and their helpers.
     We decided to construct a bunker inside the wall of a canal. We dug during the nights. We would carry the soil on our backs and discard it farther up along the canal.
     One day a shepherd in the forest spotted my brother, Yisrael. At three in the morning the area was surrounded by Germans and Ukrainians with dogs and the bunker was discovered. My entire family was murdered. As fate would have it, my sister Friedje and I were not in the bunker at the time so we survived. From far away we could here my older sister plead, "Please have mercy on me. I want to live!" My father, who had a gun, managed to kill one policeman and injure another. We brought my little brother, who was wounded, to a nearby village but we could not get him any help and he died.
     While I lay in the forest among trees and bushes covered in snow, with no food or water, I said a prayer to G-d. My strength was gone. The cave was narrow, suitable for an animal, but not a person. One could not stand nor sit in it, just lie down. My only hope was for Merciful G-d to hear my prayers. You who have chosen us. You hear the horrible cries of "Shma Yisrael (A prayer said before death)", you see the murderous Nazis shooting men and women, old and young, and you do not answer the screams of the martyrs. These people are being tortured. The people are being tortured in the ghettos and the camps, and have reached the gas chambers to uphold what is written in the prayer "And they were killed, strangled, and burned." Woe is me! We have no way to protect ourselves. They are chasing us in the forests and bunkers...Grant me my life so that I may take revenge!
     My sister and I decided to leave the forest to find food. The thick moustache I had grown, the appropriate clothing and my Ukrainian accent camouflaged our background. When I heard of groups of partisans recruiting young people to fight with them, I decided to join them. But Fate kept me from joining them on time.
     It was spring. One day as I passed through the forest I saw a crowd around something. I asked, "What's going on?" Someone answered that church was letting out. I felt that there was something else. When I came closer, I saw the bodies of Jewish young men hanging from the trees. They were hung because it was claimed that they had tried to shoot Ukrainians. Then I understood what happened to Jews who wanted to join those partisan groups. I decided not to contact anyone and to wait for the arrival of the Russian partisans who were already working nearby, in Podhaitze and Zazany. The front was close to us by then.
     At the end of 1943, I somehow managed to get in touch with the Russian partisans, even though I was afraid of them as well, mainly because I had my eleven year-old sister with me. However, they agreed to take her along with me, even though this was not comfortable for them.
     We left them two weeks later, and we went to another area (I cannot recall the name of the place). I ran into Russian partisans there as well, who were acting under orders from the Soviet army. They interrogated me . I stayed with them until the first Russian patrols began arriving. I did some basic training there. The recruiting officer asked me for a list of Ukrainians who had aided the Germans.
     When I was in the Soviet Army in Lublin, I gave testimony regarding a long list of Ukrainian who had collaborated with the Germans, who had abused, murdered, looted, etc. Later on I got a letter from the Soviet prosecutor stating that all of those people were brought to trial under Soviet law during the war.
     A while later I requested a transfer to a military unit, but I could not think of what to do with my sister Friedje, who had been with me the whole time. I met a lieutenant and I told him my problem. He advised me to send her far away from the front to a village near Deniproptrovsek, to his mother, and that she would take care of her. She could stay there until the war was over. My sister wasn't happy about this, but she understood that there was no other way. She also knew that I had sworn to take revenge on the murderers. The officer did drive her to this village and I sent her packages and money. She remained there until I was released from the army.
     I was employed by the army's political department, interrogating Germans, because I could speak German. I was able to meet Nazi generals and officers face to face and confront them...
     When the war was over, I asked to be released from the army, but my request was denied. They claimed that since my job was sensitive and since I had been privy to secrets, I could not be released. I claimed that my job had been very important while the war was still underway, but now that it was over, I was no longer needed. I received the "Karasnaya Gabiazda" (Red Star) medal, along with other medals and diplomas. I was forced to continue serving until 1947. I very much wanted to be released because I wanted to get my sister, and to find families who were lost and mainly, to move to Israel!
     I asked a doctor to try to get me released, but he couldn't do anything for me. But after a few months of "illnesses" the doctor intervened on my behalf and had me released for medical reasons. I was released, I collected my sister, Friedje, and we set out for Poland.
     I remember that my father, may his memory be blessed, would travel to the Rebbe from Hosiatin when he would be staying with the Milgram family in Skalat. During the Shavuot holiday in 1937 or 1938, soon before the war began, I went with him. He gave me a charm and told me to keep it on my right side and it that it would preserve me from harm. And that is what happened. I sewed the charm onto my right pant leg and it was with me until the end of 1944, but I lost it before the Red Army's large-scale assault on the Warsaw area on its way to Berlin.
     The Podwolocyska Organization Chairman , Bernard Lerner, took an active role in editing and publishing this book about our town.
     He was taken from us too soon and did not live to see the book printed. He died on the seventeenth day of Adar 5748 which is March 6, 1988.

May his memory be blessed.




David Tirhaus Speaks

     I spent my childhood in Vienna, and later on in Podwlocyska. In both places they called me Dunyu. In 1937, I moved to Lvov during the Russian occupation. From 1939-1941, I held a senior position and was given a car. I claimed not to work on Friday nights and Saturdays because I was traveling.
     When the Germans occupied Lvov the Ukrainians were the first to kill Jews. The despicable murderers killed thousands of Jews and the Germans did not protect them. After a short time, I was forced to leave my apartment and move to the "Juden-fiertel", the Jewish quarter, and afterwards to the ghetto. From there I went to the Yanovska concentration camp. There, someone turned me in for smuggling weapons and I was sent to the Zundar Commando 1005 death camp. It was a crematorium.
     My story is told in the book The Death Brigade by Leon Welicker Wells and published by the Holocaust Library, New York. Chapter 34 is about me. The book was translated into Polish. The story of how I survived and what I lived through is written in "Moshe Heshell's Opinion" by Rabbi Fishel Ephraim Rabinowitz.
     At the end of the war, I saved five or six children from the clutches of our enemies. Since I was by myself, I was unable to take care of them, so I put them in the care of proper families, who I paid to take care of them. I remember two instances. In one, a three year-old girl was cared for by a Christian woman for money. The Christian woman claims that her name was Schwartzwald. After I had paid the Christian woman, I gave her to the Halbertal family . They did not take any money for her care. Later on I heard that they had gotten her to a family in London. The other girl was about ten years old and I believe her last name was Fedder. They tell me that her family had a stamps store in on Volava Sreet. I gave her to the lawyer Kartin and his wife. They didn't ask for money either. Kartin told me that later on they had all traveled to Krakow. One day a woman, who knew the girl, saw them walking down the street and she fainted. It was her mother. He told me that they live in Israel. They wanted to meet with me, but I didn't want to give them my address so that they shouldn't think that I want any form of compensation.
     In 1945, I returned to Vienna. At that time I helped purchase weapons from Prague. Moshe Sneh was very active in this effort. I also helped the "Escape" people (people smuggling Jews out of Europe to Israel) and the operatives from Israel. For security reasons, only three people knew my address in Vienna: two brothers from Israel, Yoseph and Ephraim Dekel (Yoseph was in charge of special operations, and Ephraim in charge of the Jaffa port) and Brunik Teicholtz, the director of the "Rothschild House" in Vienna. He lives in New York now.
     One day someone rang the doorbell of my apartment in the center of Vienna. I opened the door. A pale and nervous young man asked if he could speak with Dunyu Tirhaus. I said, "I don't know anyone by that name." He grew even more pale. I asked him, "Who sent you?" He told me that his name was Arthur and that Yoseph Dekel had sent him. I let him in. The young man said that a tragedy had occurred and that Brunik Teicholtz and Yoseph had said that only Dunyu could help out. In Lintz, the Russians had caught a transport of about one hundred and fifty Jews from Russia, including military personnel of various ranks, and were threatening to send them back to Russia, where some of them would be sentenced to death. I got in touch with Brunik and Yoseph.
     They told me that Arthur was okay, and that Ben-Gurion and the Joint (UJA) had approved any sum of money needed. To make a long story short, I used my connections and I had the transport freed. Of course I took no money for this "service". On the contrary, Arthur asked me to give some money in order to save orphans. I gave him 500 pounds sterling.
     David Ben-Gurion sent me two letters regarding this matter. I believe that Yoseph (may his memory be blessed) took one and the other one was taken, if I am not mistaken, by Asher Ben-Natan who is Arthur.




About the Brayer Family

Contributed by Dov Brayer of Kfar Saba

(This was written to Dov by Malgosha, his brother Shevah's non-Jewish wife, who was able to move about freely during the Holocaust)

     I got to them, your parents, on foot from Skalat because there was no form of transportation in those days. It was twilight time. They sat in the dark, not daring to turn on the light, and stared out the window. I stayed with them for two days and I helped them pack up their belongings because they had received an order from the Germans to leave town and go to Skalat.
     Your parents were very happy to see me because they had not been in touch with anyone from the family. They missed you very much, Berko (Dov), my dear. You were the youngest of everyone. No one knew what had become of you so we all promised each other that any one of us who survived would find you at all costs.
     The next day they were taken to Skalat where they were murdered along with three thousand other Jews. That was on November 18, 1942.
     As for your brother, Shevah- when the Germans occupied the town I would lock your brother and his friend, Machu Greenberg in a room and I would go out to work so we had something to live from. This went on for about eight months. At that time Aunt Mina came and asked for some bread for Grandfather Shabtai (see note), who was starving. (Aunt Mina was Dov's aunt who lived in Lvov.)
     Haim (Dov's eldest brother) and his family were in the Skalat ghetto. I came to him with Shevah, where he hid in his photo studio.
     On June 30, Gusta (Haim's wife) and Marcel (Haim's son) were killed in front of his eyes. He was taken to a labor camp and Shevah and I returned to Lvov. The trip was awful. All the non-Jewish passengers tried to identify Jews and turn them in to the Germans.
     The situation was getting worse. The Germans were searching for Jews everywhere, including in the attics and basements. We no longer had any means of support after I stopped working and we had sold everything in exchange for food. Shevah grew depressed and broke down completely, crying like a child from the horrible tension and fear of the day to come.
     That was when I decided to get him out of this town and to the Hungarian border, where, according to rumors, one could still survive for a while. I knew a Russian who used to smuggle Jews to that border. And since we could no longer hide in Lvov, we decided that Shevah would try to get to that border on his own, dressed as a railway worker and with the Russian's help. Maybe he could make it.
     We chose January 1, 1943, a Christian holiday, as the fateful day, since many Germans would be on vacation. But as fate would have it, on that particular day, the Jews in a camp in the area staged a rebellion. They destroyed the camp and tried to escape so the Germans conducted a large-scale manhunt and apparently Shevah was captured under those circumstances.
     I don't know any more than this. One thing I do know is that if he had survived, he would have returned. I searched for him for a long time, but in vain.
     Afterward, I went to Haim in Skalat. He had continued to work as a photographer for the S.S. Then he went into hiding at a peasant's house with some other families. But Fate ws cruel to them and on Purim, 1944, a few days before the Red Army liberated the area, Haim was murdered. He and some of the others in hiding were killed by the Bandara gangs (The Bandaras were Ukrainians who collaborated with the Nazis in the hope of gaining independence. They were particularly cruel to the Jews.)
     Uncles Alten and Pinyu were murdered during one of the mass executions in Lvov. Grandfather Shabtai died of natural causes, a few months after the Nazi occupation, at the age of 102.

Note on Grandfather Shabtai:
     Grandfather Shabtai (Shabse) Zach was also from Lvov. He was born in Saloniki (Greece) but settled in Poland (Lvov) at a young age. He was one of the leading artist of Galicia. He was famous for his ceiling and wall murals in synagogues, and for his wood and stone carvings. His works could be seen in synagogues in Skalat, Kopoczinzi, Mikolinzi, Gzhimlov, Radzicov, Zloczov, Zhorbani, Podwolocyska, Bolkhov, Janov, and in Lvov, of course. His works also appeared in churches. He was well-versed in the Old Testament, from which he drew the inspiration for his art, and in the Hebrew language. He also played the violin. He was self-taught. This information was taken from the book Kultura i Sztuka Ludu Zydowskego by Ziemiach Polskich, Luow, 1935 Dresdner Goldstein.
     He had five daughters, one of whom, Zissel, was Dov's mother, and three sons, who were also artists. Painting had been passed down in the family for a number of generations. He died at the age of 103 a few months after the Nazi occupation began.

A note from Dov Brayer: I am publishing this letter in memory of my mother Siesel, my father David, my brothers Haim and Shevah and the entire family. May their memories be blessed!

Rachele Fleshner's (Hirschklau) Story

     When the war broke out in 1941, I was in Podwolocyska. When the Germans entered the town, my family and I went into hiding, along with other families, in a bunker at Tbausher's. But the Germans took us out of there. I remember how one German pulled my father by his beard. I begged him to leave him be, and to my astonishment, he did so. We returned to the bunker. Two days later, the Germans came to look for Jews. The gentiles, of course, pointed to our street, Dr. David Street. On that day the Germans took out a lot of Jews from there, including Shimon Tbausher and Feibush Luckman and his father, and others who I cannot recall. Some of them were cruelly murdered. My father, who was lying in bed then, was taken as well. But two Germans stood at the door of the Bomze house and didn't allow anyone to search there.
     A while later, some families were taken to Skalat and some to Zbaraj. We, my family and my father's sister's family, the Feuyersteins, were taken to the Skalat ghetto. One day they gathered many Jews into the synagogue. My sister and I were there as well. From there, they took us in vehicles to who knows where. They said to Bergen Belsen. My sister Malka and I jumped from the vehicle on the way. We tried to talk the Geller's daughter into coming with us, but the family didn't let her. The two of us were by ourselves in a field.
     Then next day we met some villagers. They told us that the Germans were collecting young people from Skalat into a labor camp. We decided to join them and that's what we did. We worked at various jobs there for a while.
     One day we found out that the Germans had decided to liquidate the camp. That was when we fled. We climbed onto a crate that was near the fence and we climbed over and hid in the fields. We saw others following us.
     We hid in the wheat fields. We saw the villagers riding horses, with masks on their faces, looking for us. Luckily, they did not find us. The next morning we saw them searching for us again, with machetes, perhaps to slaughter us.
     From the fields, we moved to the forests. Some of us joined the partisans who used to strike at the murderers from the forests. But we, and some other families, hid in a bunker in the forest. We got food, such as cabbage, potatoes and carrots, from the fields.
     One day a woman from the village of Kaczanovka near Podwolocyska showed up and suggested that we hide out in a bunker at her house with the Gilsons. As it turned out, Yaacov Gilson had sent her to us. She brought along bread and other food which she distributed to us. Afterward, we got on a carriage and traveled with her to Kacznovka. We spent the rest of the war with the Gilsons in the bunker at her house. The woman and her Ukrainian husband were very nice to us and brought us food once a day. After the Russians reoccupied Podwolocyska, we returned home. There we met Shaike and Etke Birenbaum and Yehuda Laufer and his wife, Isio Jarchower, Etke Pollak and Peppe Glass and her mother and some other Jewish survivors from other places.
     I remember how the Germans recruited Jews for hard labor. I remember how they beat my father and then put him in the market where he enclosed with no food. We hardly managed to get him out of there.
     And I remember my friend Mina Gang. When I was at the Skalat labor camp, I heard that Mina was in the hospital and her legs had been amputated. When she had worked at the train station with some others , they had sought shelter from the rain under a railway car. The Germans saw this and moved the car, and that was how the tragedy occurred. I tried to help her. I brought her food, which was hard to come by. But this did not help. Since she did not receive proper medical attention, gangrene severed the thread of her young life.
     In 1945, we left for Poland. We lived in the town of Bytom in Silesia and were supported by the Joint Distribution Committee. But we decided to leave that land and move to Israel.
     On our way to Israel with a group, we arrived at the Rothschild House camp in Austria. From there we moved on to Munich to a Beni Akiva (youth group) kibbutz. One Saturday, about one thousand of us walked to another camp and from there we traveled to Freibitz. That was where I met Buma. We were married and moved to Bauer Schule near Bayruth.
     From there we came to Israel on the ship "Exodus". As is widely known, they did not allow us to disembark in Israel (then under British rule) and we were turned back to Germany. We went through all the tribulations along with the others. A few months later, we finally made it to Israel.




In memory of my family which is gone

by Zunyu Levinson

     We, the remnants of the horrible Holocaust, are like burning cinders left smoking after a great fire. We must honor their memory.
     It is our holy obligation to tell and write about them so that their names will be remembered after we, who mourn them in our hearts, will no longer be here.

     This is the only thing we could do for them.
     We were five children. We were a loving and united family. Our mother wanted us to be under her constant supervision. This warmth was our glue.
     My oldest sister Sonia, who was humble and quiet could have moved to Israel by getting papers from the Zionist movement because of a fictitious marriage. My beautiful sister Rosia obtained Aryan papers from Marusia Brudavzok. They both refused to leave the house.
     Hessiu, the bright young man who studied at the Hebrew seminary in Tarnipol and who dreamed of being a Hebrew teacher in Israel, was ready with his backpack waiting to run away with some other young people. But then it was decided that we would all stay together and share the same fate.
     Our mother became so worried about the fate of her children that she died of exhaustion and was still able to have a proper Jewish burial. She was buried beside our grandparents, who were victims of the pogrom the Ukrainians conducted the day before the Germans occupied our town. My sisters, after undergoing much torment, found their place in the mass grave on Feitel Hill.
     Hessiu was sent to the notorious Janovka labor camp.
     He managed to escape from there, but he was already sick with typhoid fever, and his fate was sealed.
     I will not try to describe the suffering, fear, hunger, humiliation which lie between the lines I have written.
     Others have described it in books on a number of occasions. I have written these lines in order to honor my family through them along with all the residents of Podwolocyska.
     Let these words serve as their tombstone!




Regarding Aryan Documents

by Zunyu Levinson

     When the residents of the ghetto understood that the Germans were planning to implement the Final Solution on them, they became greatly afraid. These people resembled shadows rather than human beings, even in their misery- they wanted to live!
     Their powerful will to live re-ignited a spark of hope which served as a ray of light during their darkest days and served as a life raft in stormy waters. They grabbed onto the hope of getting Aryan papers.
     For obvious reasons, it was easier for women to hide their Jewish identity than for men, but there were countless dangers in this for them as well. Not every Jewish woman had the necessary Aryan "traits" such as complete fluency in Polish and Ukrainian, blonde hair and blue eyes, and money, lots of money. In some cases there was just enough money to save one daughter. The mother would beg the daughter to save herself and the daughter would insist on staying with her mother.
     Whoever was fortunate enough to obtain Aryan documents had other problems. How would she get from the Ghetto to the Aryan side of town? How would she get to a remote area where no one would recognize her?
     If she managed to overcome these obstacles, she had to know how to behave in a strange society so that her true identity would not be revealed. The Germans discovered this phenomenon and spared no effort, with the help of Poles and Ukrainians, to trap their victims. They searched and interrogated everyone they suspected. These interrogations often ended tragically.
     Anyone trying to hide their Jewish identity had to play their role day after day, hour after hour and adapt themselves to the local customs and habits so as not to arouse the suspicions of those around them. And there were "finks" all around them who would sniff around the streets and markets, houses and even churches.
     The women living under Aryan identities often found work as household help in the homes of rich people. But if the lady of the house decided to let the maid take a few hours off, then she was faced with a dilemma. Should she take a chance and go out and risk being recognized by someone on the street? Yet, If she did not go out, she risked arousing her employer's suspicions because what maid does not welcome a few hours of free time?
     A few women were able to survive the war living under Aryan identities. One of these women was my cousin, Rosa Gottlieb, the daughter of Tobias and Yetke Gottlieb. She experienced all that I described previously. I heard her story during her brief visit to Israel. After the war she married Henik Geller and they moved to Canada, first to Montreal and then to Tornto. They did well in their new home and raised a son and a daughter there, Michael and Janet. It is too bad that she became ill in the land of the free and died. She was the only survivor of what used to be my extended family and now she is gone.
     I dedicate this chapter to her.
     May her memory be blessed.




Lorka Jack-Friedman Tells Her Story

     In Podwolocyska, we had lived on Tarnopolska Street next door to the Tabak family. Our family consisted of seven people, our father Shlomo, our mother Frieda and us children - Dudik, my eldest brother, my older sister Regina, me, and my two younger sisters Betka and Djonka.
     My father made a living from teaching. He taught a number of subjects but his area of specialization was the German language. His students loved him. After his death, my mother opened a small grocery store, and that was how we made our living. She used all her strength to make sure that her children's needs were met.
     In time she was somewhat rewarded. Dudik became an accountant and had married Pepe Friedlander, and they had two children. Regina, my kind-hearted sister married Paltiel Vishniak. He was a good man and shared all of the family problems and concerns with us.
     In 1935, I moved to Israel and all of my family moved to Stanislvov. My correspondence with them was brimming with love and warmth.
     I had hoped to see them again one day, to hug them and to kiss them. But the Holocaust prevented all that. They all perished... The Germans murdered them all - my mother, my brother and his family, Regina, Paltiel, Betke, and Djonka and many more!
     I was told that my brother Dudik survived and that the Germans threw him into a deep well. When he screamed for help, two Jews came out of a bunker to help him and the Germans threw them into the well too and they all starved.
     Of my entire extended family only Vitia Rosenfeld survived and he no lives in Montreal, Cananda. Tsesia, Joseph Friedman's daughter, and her two children remained in Podwolocyska.




List of Podwolocyska martyrs, who were slaughtered on Mt. Feitel on the 7th of Tammuz, 5703

Note: The list was compiled from the recollections of former town residents, and is possibly not complete.

Family Name No. of
persons
Ashkenaza 2
Ashkenaza 4
Babad 3
Barak 2
Bass 3
Bazlinksi 5
Berlin 3
Berlin 3
Biler 1
Biler, S. 2
Birenburg 1
Blumental 2
Bomza 2
Bomza 3
Brandes 1
Brass 2
Brass 1
Brass 1
Brendorf 1
Brenklau (Ambar), Rachela 5
Brenklau, Shlomo 5
Brenklau, Ya'akov 4
Brukstein 2
Buksbaum 1
Chrain 2
Dalogatz 3
Dalogatz-Shneiderman 3
Dart, Moshe 3
Diament 1
Diner, Isaac 1
Dishhel 3
Dorfman 1
Dravner, Mrs. 1
Drimer 2
Edreich 5
Elreich 3
Epstein 5
Feindling, Ya'akov 2
Feinstein 1
Feintoch 1
Feldman, Avraham 6
Feldman, Michael 2
Fisher 1
Flesczner 3
Flesczner 1
Fogel 1
Fogelman 4
Fogelman, Leon 1
Franczua 2
Freidfeld - Jadniskovka 5
Freidlender 2
Freidman 2
Freidman 1
Freidman (Doctor's wife) 1
Frenkel 4
Furman, Solomon 3
Furman, Tsalel 2
Gelber 1
Gelbtoch, Isaac 1
Gilzon 1
Glass, Dissia 4
Gold 5
Gold (Mesuperanovka) 1
Gold (Ofeh) 6
Goldberg 3
Goldman, Izzio 3
Goldstein 2
Goldstein 2
Greeenhoit, Leon (Lejb) 3
Green 1
Greenbaum 3
Greenbaum 2
Greenberg 2
Greenhoit, David A. 4
Greenhoit, Manya 2
Greenspan 2
Greenspan 1
Gross 2
Grossfeld 2
Grossman 2
Halperin 1
Halperin 4
Halperin, Gershon 4
Hamburger 2
Handel 1
Haus 2
Heller 2
Hercz, Mrs. 1
Hirshklau 1
Hochman 2
Hondorf 1
Hoperichter 1
Horowicz, Sara 2
Huan, Lurka 1
Huan, Uziash -Supernovka 4
Iger 2
Jarkover, Bruno 1
Jarkover, H. 1
Jarkover, Hela 1
Jarkover, Kuba 1
Jarkover, Tuvi 1
Jarkover, Tuvi 1
Jerczover 2
Jurish 4
Jurish, Papa 2
Kaczor 1
Kaczor 1
Kahana 2
Kahana 1
Katz, Chaim 7
Katz, Isaac 1
Katz, Ya'akov 4
Kleiner 4
Kornfeld 2
Kornfeld 2
Kornhammer 1
Kozmir 2
Kramer 3
Kramer 3
Kramer 4
Kwicz 3
Lampel 1
Levinson 2
Lorver 2
Marder 3
Marder, Yosef 3
Megidan, Dolek 1
Megidan, Vilo, Shaya 2
Metpas 2
Neuman 1
Neuman, Berl 3
Neuman, Betka 1
Neuman, N. 2
Pepper 2
Pik 1
Polack, A. 2
Polack, Baruch 2
Popper 1
Popper 3
Rabi 3
Ravicz 3
Ravicz, Gusta 3
Rechel 3
Rechel, Nachman 3
Rechel, Nahum 1
Rechel, S. 1
Rechenstein,Papa 3
Redner 2
Redner 2
Reisberg 3
Reiss 1
Reiss 1
Rosen 2
Rosenbaum 1
Rosenbaum A. 1
Rosenblum 3
Rosenblum 3
Rosenstrach 4
Rotstein 2
Rotstein, Papa 3
Sczamai, Ruscovicz 1
Sczechter 3
Sczpeizer 2
Sczperlig 2
Sczpindel 2
Scztrenlicht 2
Scztrohauser 3
Sczuler 3
Sczumesker 3
Sczwarcz, M. 1
Sczwarcz, Mendel 2
Sczweimer 1
Segal, L. 3
Sigman, Regina 1
Teiber, Yanek 1
Teichulcz 1
Teitelbaum 1
Tishler, Helka 4
Turn 2
Urbach, Dushka 2
Vahal 2
Valdiger, A. 1
Valinger 5
Valtoch 1
Varhptig 2
Vigler 2
Vigler, Zigmond 2
Vilner 2
Vingroit 2
Vinzpat 3
Vishniak, Segal 1
Vishrod 2
Zilberman 2
Zilberman 3
Zimet 1
Zimmerman 1
Zimmerman 1
Zuchman 1
Zweig, Uziash 4
Zweiling, Gershon 4

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