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Translated by Selwyn Rose I live in the small village of Rhodah near Ratno, in the western Ukraine, 60 Km from Kovel and 70 Km from Bresk.
From 1939-1941 the area was under Soviet authority. With the outbreak of World War Two the Germans conquered the area and the Russian forces retreated deeper into the Ukraine; we remained under German domination.
In our village were 300 families spread over a large area. Our family numbered nine souls parents, four boys and three girls. The Germans mobilized cooperative Ukrainians into a police force, whom we called Cossacks. There were no Jews in our village but we heard rumours of how the Germans and the Cossacks were persecuting and murdering them.
In the neighbouring village of Gornicki lived Herzl Kaminski. My father, Waclaw, had always been close to him and on good, friendly terms. Not only my father but also many Ukrainians in the area held him in great esteem as an honest and fair man.
My father was a farmer, religious, a simple good-hearted man. When the rumours of the extermination of the Jews became rife, the idea of helping the Kaminski family to escape death took root and flowered in my father's mind.
Indeed, throughout the Holocaust, the family, all seven souls including two young children aged 18-months and three years, found a haven in our home. My father, Waclaw (RIP), prepared a hiding place for them I the barn, next to the pig sty. He contrived a small room within the of bales of hay and straw. The entry was small and low and they had to crawl to get in. On more than one occasion, during the bitter cold and snowy nights, my father invited them into the house to get warm. They hid there for seven months.
During the day, the barn door was kept locked. Every evening the son-in-law, Ya'acov Huchmann, and the son, Ben-Zion, came out of hiding in order to search for food from the local Ukrainian farmers. They received it milk, bread, potatoes, vegetables .My mother, Anna, would prepare everything in a large pot and take it to the barn as if for the pigs and leave it close to the entry to the hiding place.
What prompted my father to hide Jews? He placed himself in great danger. If the Germans had caught the Kaminskis they would have killed not only them but us as well. The motive? Simple humanity; we are all human beings and my father took pity especially on the children. He made a vow with himself to save the entire family and save it he did!
The Nazis advertised awards for any Ukrainians giving information on the whereabouts of Jews. To our good fortune there were no informers.
At the same time, many people knew that they were hiding with us. I had young brothers and sisters and we had been carefully warned to keep the whole thing secret and not chatter to our friends at school or anyone else about our hiding Jews.
When the German army began to suffer its defeats on the front they began retreating. The Cossacks exploited the chance and stopped cooperating. They escaped to the forests and organized themselves to fight against both the Germans and the Russians, intending to seek a state for an independent Ukraine.
They were informed that the Kaminskis were hiding in our house and invited them to join with them in their camp and help by repairing weapons and knitting sweaters and socks.
They had no choice. When they left we parted with tears, hugs and kisses and they travelled to Rascziscza.
Today I am still in close contact with Ben-Zion and thank God that they are still alive. Ben-Zion has visited us three times already.
In 1995 this testimony was conveyed to Yad-Vashem in Jerusalem by Matbijuk Labrin Wokolubicz.
(The Testimony was translated from the Russian to Hebrew by Tova Gandelsman and from the Hebrew to English by Selwyn Rose).
Translated by Selwyn Rose We of the present generation, who experienced the events of the terrible Holocaust, have not done enough to bequeath to the next generation the magnificent heritage of the Jews of Volin.
It is our responsibility to examine the various ways to invite the cooperation of the next generation by nurturing the heritage. We have toiled for decades to guard the spiritual, cultural and social assets of the Jews of Volin and its institutions.
How can we succeed in assuring a continuation of that nurturing of those values?
How can we create an idea to be carried out in practice to achieve that goal?
Let it be said frankly, openly, with clear uncorrupted vision, perhaps even with direct self-criticism, our generation has not succeeded in transferring to the next generation an awareness of the exterminated Jewish community of Volin.
Immediately after the Shoah, we were motivated, through exaggerated caution, with a desire to free our children of the oppressiveness of the awful experiences that had been our lot in the past. The Holocaust remained deeply engraved in those who carried on their backs the weight of the cruelty of the extermination, while on the other hand we were afraid that the young people in Israel and the Diaspora would not to carry the memory forward.
I dare to say within the third and even the fourth generation, there has arisen in recent years the desire to seek out roots, to study, to learn the bitter, cruel truth and so learn how to fight the anti-Semitism still prevalent and growing. Already today the Holocaust deniers and the enemies of Israel are actively rewriting the history so close to us, through tendentious distortion. How can it be that in our own day, when eyewitnesses to the Holocaust yet live, this vile propaganda called The Auschwitz Fraud, or the work pseudo-scientists The Myth of the Six-Million can be disseminated?
If at the beginning, the second generation saw a break between their parents and their parents' roots and a continuation of the biological history of the family, the tendency is growing and strengthening among the third and fourth generation to study and know how such terrible things came to pass. This is already a thought that is not far from the consciousness it is not for them merely a tragic episode not connected to them.
It is true that the Holocaust has not yet penetrated the personal collective awareness and perhaps here is the answer for the interest of the next generation for the tragic past the Holocaust?
The reality of today supplies unceasingly, actual disturbances, accompanied by constant battles for the survival of the State and the people and everything connected to them. As a natural consequence of the security problems, many social topics especially the Holocaust and its consequences are placed to one side. It is no small task, but one that we must not avoid, to mobilize every last ounce of effort, thought and initiative in order to instill into the awareness of the younger generation the values of the Volin Jews and to harness them to the sacred task of continuing to nurture that Jewish heritage and to encourage the continuation of the chain from fathers to sons.
We are a people used to suffering in every generation. The chronicles of the people are sown throughout with the destruction of the First and Second Temples, the exile of the Jewish people from its national home, 2,000 years of exile, treachery after treachery, destruction, strikes against the very foundations of our existence, the inquisition in Spain, frequent expulsions from European countries throughout the centuries both east and west pogroms in Czarist Russia and so on until our very own days. And the worst of all the Holocaust that is unique in its dimensions and barbaric cruelty even now, that we are in a Jewish State, proud and strong, the treachery and the plots for our extermination continue.
Upon us, upon the remainder of the generation of the Holocaust, is laid the obligation to find appropriate ways to bring the message home to the coming generations. The generation of Holocaust survivors is being continually reduced and with their passing essential knowledge of understanding the holocaust. Upon us falls the role to renew the dialogue between the young generation and the Holocaust generation:
We hope that our call and our persistence in this topic will bring our children of the next generation to us as partners in our feelings and awareness for the continuation of the mission.
Translated by Selwyn Rose At the end of the Second World War most of the survivors the remaining refugees, arrived at the decision that they could no longer settle down in exile. Our eyes turned towards Israel Palestine as it was then. Thus it was that we arrived in Palestine, together with ghetto survivors, as illegal immigrants with the intention of building our homes and our futures in the Jewish homeland.
In Palestine, which then was home to about 500,000 Jews, we came across a few tens of families who were from our own area of Kamen-Kashirskiy. They had arrived as pioneers and most were living then on kibbutzim or settlements.
With the United Nations Decision on Partition (29 November 1947) and the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine, there was an immediate outbreak of violence from the Arab side that rejected the UN's decision. All the men were mobilized for the war and some of them fell in battle during the War of Independence:
After the war tens and hundreds of continued to arrive in the country from the town and its surroundings, creating here their home.
- Shmuel Wolnitz Kibbutz Ramat ha-Kovesh.
- Shlomo Klurman - Kibbutz Negba.
- Baruch Shapira - Tel-Aviv.
- their memories be blessed).
A committee of immigrants from Kamen-Kashirskiy and its surroundings was formed which helped in the integration of further immigrants from the area. The Chairman at that time was Yaacov Platt (ZAL).
In addition to helping the immigrants, the committee was also concerned with perpetuating the memory of the victims of the Holocaust in Kamen-Kashirskiy by:
The names of about 900 partisans and fighters who fell or have since died are engraved on the monument. Among them about 50 names are from Kamen-Kashirskiy and its surroundings.
- Publishing Kamen-Kashirskiy including the history of the town and stories by the survivors.
- Instituting a loan fund for immigrants and the needy.
- Planting a copse in the Martyrs' Forest (near Jerusalem) in the name of the victims of Kamen-Kashirskiy and the area.
- Erection of a Memorial tablet at Mt. Zion, Jerusalem.
- Creation of the Volin Shrine (in partnership with survivors from Ratno) displaying historical photographs and the names of those who perished as martyrs.
- Erection of a Memorial tablet to the memory of the Martyrs at the Holon Cemetery.
- Erection of Memorial tablets in the Valley of Death - at Kamen-Kashirskiy and the area.
- Erection of a monument in memory of the partisans and fighters the Jews of Volin - in a copse next to the Volin Shrine. The monument was financed principally by three families from Kamen-Kashirskiy:a. Abba and Zissel Klurman.
b. Yeshiyahu and Rosa Zarotzki.
c. Aharon and Fradal Sokol.
We are also planning a visit to Kamen-Kashirskiy and its surroundings for the next generation in the summer of 1999. Details will be made known in due time.
I would like to mention the good work done by our friend Fischel Leizrock, who has been acting as Chairman of the Association since the death of Yaacov Platt (ZAL). We wish him many more years of fruitful work.
Lastly, I have to praise highly the activities of Abba Klurman (ZAL), who concerned himself so much with the needs of the organization, especially in the last ten years with the assistance given in absorbing the new wave of immigration from Russia.
With his passing (four years ago), Mrs. Zissel Klurman (may she be granted a long life), continues to remain updated on all that is done in the organization and the community. I wish her many more active years in our association and the other institutions in which she is active. May she go from strength to strength.
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